All bicycles are adventure bicycles, but some just prove to be more adventurous. How steel, aluminium, carbon and rubber can combine into a machine which appears to have a wanderlust I can’t explain, but the Specialized Diverge certainly does.
|Bike:||Specialized Diverge 2016 Model|
|Wheels:||Alex Elite Disc|
|Tyres:||Specialzed Trigger Pro (38c front & 33c rear)|
|Brakes:||TRP Spyre-C (Mechanical disc)|
|Extras:||Specialized SWAT storage system|
|2018 Model:||Specialized Diverge Comp E5|
It’s versatile and hardy. I’ve clocked up over 3 500km on my Diverge since I bought it in September 2016. In that time I’ve ridden a 185km longest ride on it and completed two three day tours, one on road and one very much on gravel/jeep track.
I’ve taken it off the beaten track in search of back roads and ended up hike-a-biking it more than once over a fence or through a field because the jeep track came to an unexpected stop. On the tar it rolls well and having ridden with a group of 30 roadies in the Cape Classic 380, a three day road tour from Montagu in the Western Cape, I know I match the group on all but the longest climbs on it. That being said the aluminium frame and wheels designed to soak up gravel hits don’t make it the lightest bike on the market by any means. At 10.8kg it is by no means light.
The weight does lead to an added sense of security once you head off the asphalt however. The aluminium frame and inexpensive wheelset means I never feel too precious about the bike and will gladly push its limits – as I did on the three day, rough road, Bikamino recce.
The other benefit of the Alex rims are the fact that they ship tubeless ready. Though the initial set of tyres the Diverge was specced with were unfortunately not road-tubeless compatible. Since then I’ve worked my way through a Specialized Trigger Pro 33c tyre on the rear wheel and bought a set of 38c Trigger tyres. (I also have a set of Specialized Roubaix tubeless road tyres.)
There are three things any would be gravel grinder should know before buying a gravel bike, be it a Diverge or anything else. Firstly gravel tyres can be hard to come by. Most shops do not carry large numbers in stock and the brands don’t even import very many. This is changing slowly, and has been exacerbated in my case by the fact that I can’t fit more than a 35c tyre on my rear wheel – so my options are currently very limited. Secondly, tyre clearance on gravel bikes is the primary limiting factor to the comfort on rougher roads. If you want to do pure gravel road riding you will ideally need something which can take 40c and bigger rubber. And finally, road-tubeless rims tend to be a little more lightweight in their construction than their mountain bike alternatives; it seems an obvious point. But what isn’t obvious initially is that some sealants react with aluminium and will gradually eat the valve hole wider. The thinner walled aluminium road-tubeless wheels will therefore start leaking air and sealant around the valve within about two years; unless the gap between the valve and the hole is thoroughly plugged with tubeless tape – thereby limiting the opportunity for contact between the ammonia in the sealant with your rims.
Despite the tyre related hassles I absolutely love the Diverge. I often go through months of not riding my mountain bike and only riding it, because the direct feedback from the road provides such a pure cycling experience. It can be bone jarring at times, but mostly it’s just great fun.
Ive got the carbon variant of this bike and have too done a couple of events (a couple of K2C’s included).
I initially used 33c terra tires on the bike which were designed for grass/cyclocross type events, and really didnt work well – the 38c triggers were a game changer for the bike adding much needed resonance absorption, adding comfort (i dont feel the cobble-gobler post adds any comfort unless you are riding a longish seat that can provide some leverage, i ride a power saddle which doesnt flinch at all).
In terms of weight, mine weighs in at 9.2kgs with pedals and swat pack mounted which is quite reasonable.
In terms of performance on gravel roads/mountain climbing etc my overall opinion is that a short travel softail (100mm) is still the way to go, gravel bikes are novel and fun to interact over, even grow a beard, but if you really want to do long hauls and enjoy the country side, would not recommend this form of transport.
38c’s definitely make a massive difference, but the alloy Alex rims are very prone to developing a wobble, so the clearance for the rear tyre quickly becomes an issue. For bikepacking I’d like to try a 27.5+ hard tail, but for longer races and rides a 100mm travel full suspension bike is just far more comfortable and forgiving. The allure of the gravel bike on gravel is at least 70% masochism. Ideally, especially with 33c tyres I prefer rides with at least 50% tar.
I have the Diverge(Carbon) with the standard set up of front – 48/32t and rear – 11/34t. I am sorely being tempted to change the front and rear to something like 53/34t and rear 11/34. I am not a mountain biker but got the diverge so I can go on Bridleways when I want to just go through the nice green English countryside as well as the road.
I do mostly ride on the road but the Diverge gives me the option to go on river canals and muddy/wet roads and be safe at the same time.
I struggle on hills not that its a problem downhill as my weight helps there definitely 🙂
What do you think ? Is it worth changing ?
That’s a tough call. Keeping with the compact chainrings upfront will definitively help you on the climbs. And unless you’re spinning out on the flats there’s no reason to go for a 53t big ring. I’ve got a 50/34 combination and I definitely feel the size of the 34 on longer gravel climbs. Though on tar it’s never been an issue. I seldom run out of gears on flat roads though, unless the wind is absolutely pumping from behind. If I were to make any drivetrain changes it would be to install a clutch rear derailleur to keep the chain in place on rougher gravel roads, but it sounds like you spend more time on smoother terrain so you can probably stick with the standard road derailleur.
I hope this helped rather than leaving you with more questions.