2018 Buyer's Guide

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Specialized S-Works Diverge

Spencer Powlison /

#2 in Gravel

  • SCORE 92.6/100
  • SIZE Medium
  • WEIGHT 19 pounds
  • MSRP $9,000.00
SCORE 92.6/100
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BUILD 14.3/15
COMFORT 24.4/25
VALUE 11.4/15
PEDALING RESPONSE 14.4/15
VERSATILITY 23.8/25
AESTHETICS 4.3/5

Specialized S-Works Diverge

We all know someone who loves gadgets—the stuff you might find in a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. We’ve found the perfect bike for that person.

Specialized went all-in on innovative components to make the ultimate gravel bike in the S-Works Diverge. From the dropper seatpost to the Future Shock suspension, it feels like the bike of the future. The good news is that, when it comes to fundamentals of good frame design, Specialized hit it out of the park, too.

Before we get to the gadgets, a bit about the frame. Specialized gave the Diverge stable geometry, with a 1,004-millimeter wheelbase, 85 millimeters of bottom bracket drop, and a relaxed 71.9-degree head tube angle.

This bike feels enough like a road bike that it’s comfortable in brisk group rides or on paved switchbacks. It’s also capable of riding out rough descents on gravel roads and trails. Overall, the frame strikes the right balance between the familiar good manners of a road bike and
confident handling on dirt.

Which brings us to the gadgets. Specialized outfits the Diverge with features more commonly found on mountain bikes. Up front, the Future Shock suspension is integrated into the fork’s steerer tube, right below the stem. This affords 20 millimeters of travel that isolates the rider’s hands from washboards, potholes, or other bumps.

Specialized put a more progressive spring on the Diverge than that used in the Roubaix endurance bike. This gives the front end a less-bouncy feeling, but the suspension is still pretty active. We got used to it after a few rides, and it does improve comfort on long, rough days on the dirt.

The Command Post dropper seatpost also sets it apart from traditional gravel rigs. Like the Future Shock, the dropper offers short travel — just 35 millimeters of drop (some mountain bike droppers go down as much as 150 millimeters). The cable-actuated lever is cleverly positioned next to the left brake hood.

The dropper is nice for particularly hairy moments on trails or jeep roads, but we often forgot to use it. To a certain extent, the short travel didn’t make a huge difference. Also, it just feels a little weird to ride a drop bar bike with the seat so low. However, for riders who aren’t so confident on squirrelly trails, the dropper will help you get a little more rowdy.

The components spec trended toward the more conventional: Specialized made smart picks with the Shimano XTR Di2 rear derailleur. The clutch helps keep the chain where it’s supposed to be. The Roval CLX 32 carbon wheels are exceptionally light — our favorites for road riding, and just as good for gravel with a 21-millimeter inner rim width.

To a certain extent, the S-Works Diverge is a personality test. If you’re a curmudgeon who subscribes to the K.I.S.S. mantra, you might chafe at the suspension and dropper. But if you want the next level of gravel technology, Specialized is nearing perfection.

We hope you enjoyed this online gear selection. For the complete VeloNews Buyer’s Guide, which is only available in the magazine, subscribe to VeloNews, visit your local newsstand, or buy the single issue.

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