• Pros: Smooth, suspended ride, integrated storage, excellent Shimano parts
  • Cons: Price, tall stack might not be ideal for all riders
  • Price: $1,100 to $10,000. $6,700 Diverge Pro tested
  • Similar Products: Trek Checkpoint, Salsa Warbird, Cannondale Slate
  • Photographed: Elephant Rock and Boulder County
Pop quiz: which do you like more, a rattling ride or a smooth ride? Specialized is betting on the latter with its Diverge, which has 20mm of spring suspension on the steering column and a flexing seatpost. The visual is different than other gravel bikes, but so is the ride.

Future Shock

 
A giraffe in a turtle neck. Old school and undamped coil design. Also, pretty darn effective.
 
I laughed at the Future Shock when it cropped up on the Specialized Roubaix. And when you press down on the handlebars, it responds the way you might imagine it might: it depresses a small amount and quickly responds. Doesn’t that feel weird when riding? Turn out, no, it doesn’t. Especially in the dirt. There, it feels great because you simply don’t notice the movement, you just notice how much more relaxed your hands and arms and shoulders and neck are. 
 
Think of riding your road bike bike with 23mm tires pumped to 120psi on gravel or rough roads. Now think of riding a bike with 40mm tires at 35psi on those same surfaces. Big difference, right? You get a similar benefit with the Future Shock.
 
One complaint articulated by many (myself included, initially!) was that the spring shock isn’t exactly the pinnacle of suspension technology. No rebound damping? Didn’t we leave that behind with the original mountain-bike suspension designs? But here’s the thing: We’re talking 20mm of total travel here. Like the width of your pinky. On most gravel bikes and road bikes, the primary suspension system is the tires. Also a small amount of total ’travel’. Also undamped. And been working just fine for generations.
 

Call it gravel. Call it adventure. Call it what you want. Riding off the trafficked roads is what it’s all about

 

Fit constraints

 
As with any bike, getting your fit dialed is Job One. The Diverge has a taller stack (LINK) than most road bikes and some gravel bikes, so you’ll want to check your measurements or have your local shop do the fitting work before you buy.
 
 
 

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S.W.A.T. 

 
Bags are en vogue these days, aren’t they? Frame bags, handlebar bags, saddle bags, stem satchels. And you can certainly hang any and all of those from the Diverge. But for your basic flat fixings – tube, lever, cartridge, breaker – this bike has you taken care of right off the bat. A flexible plastic storage compartment nestles into the bottom of the frame and is accessible with the flip of a lever. An included multi-tool also snaps into place, covering your bases. 
 

Bottom line: A little cushion goes a long way

Seemingly every brand has a gravel bike these days, with the basic commonality being plenty of tire clearance. The Diverge ups the ante with legit suspension that transforms the ride without adding an excessive amount of weight or complexity. This bike is absolutely worth a test ride so you can see for yourself.
 
Ben Delaney

Ben Delaney

Roll Massif editor

Ben has been riding bikes and slinging stories since he was a paperboy. Professionally, he’s been a cycling journalist since 1999, when racing bikes and studying journalism at the University of New Mexico led to pulls at VeloNews, BikeRadar, Cyclingnews and elsewhere. After traveling the world to report on pro cycling in Europe and manufacturing in Asia, Ben is happy to be at home in Colorado, writing about the incomparable riding and the creative people who drive the cycling culture.

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