Did anyone end up buying a 2018 Diverge? There seemed to be a lot of interest. A review by any owners would be great.
I’ve had the Diverge Comp (2018) for a few days and have 70 miles on it. 85% of that has been on gravel. So definitely not a long-term review, but enough for some initial thoughts. For some perspective on my perspective, I live in middle-America, which has endless gravel roads but I’ve ridden road bikes almost exclusively for 20+ years. I ride a Look 695, which is basically the opposite of what the Diverge is. But the option to pick a road - any road, was calling.
Weight: My first impression of the 2018 Diverge Comp is that it’s heavy. I have some carbon cranks and an Ultegra group that I will be upgrading to pretty quick, so that should help. I’ve also read that the Trigger tires are pretty heavy. I like them well enough that I’ll run them out and look at other options later. I’m far from a weight-weenie snob but the bike feels a bit beastly and does impact performance. I can certainly feel the extra weight on climbs. I knew what the weight specs were before I bought it but was still a bit surprised by it.
Future Shock: It just works and works surprisingly well. I’m currently running 75 psi in the tires. I know that’s high, but I’m waiting on some tubes to come in and don’t want to pinch flat. I’ll look at going tubeless later but for now, the Future Shock is doing a great job even with stiff tires. It doesn’t do much for big or moderate hits, but I can see and feel it working on large chunky gravel. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with it. And its performance on broken pavement is smile-inducing and fun. Something my road-specific bike is not. I do think that the cockpit would probably still benefit from a carbon stem and bars and I plan to add at least a carbon stem at some point to see what it does. I have had the Future Shock unit out, and it is surprisingly heavy. I wonder if Specialized will ever introduce a carbon version of some kind. Who knows. But I think the Future Shock is no gimmick, at least in this specific case. I hope they continue to develop and refine it because I honestly believe they are on to something. I’ve read so many forum posts about how ridiculous suspension is for gravel bikes but I also remember reading debates on the benefits of mountain bike suspension and whether it should be used at all, in early 90s bicycle publications. So, the Luddites can rant on about suspension in the gravel world but I like it and think it has its place.
That CG-R seat post: That thing flexes so much. I typically ride a 56 but a 54 in the Diverge and it fits me well with a 100mm stem. Due to the design of the bike, a lot of the seat post mast is exposed and probably just a bit more in my case. I’ve found the amount of flex while on pavement to be annoying, especially at higher cadence. I can really see and feel it bouncing. But once the bike is on gravel, I don’t feel the “bounce” anymore and only feel it sucking up road chatter. I was focusing on what the seat post was doing on some especially large and rough gravel and it was just fantastic. I stayed seated during miles of big gnarly gravel and was completely comfortable. It wasn’t even something I was conscious of for quite a while, so I think that’s a good sign. It really works that well, and for that reason, I’m going to keep it. I’ll probably never love how much it flexes while on the pavement, but it’s a small price to pay for the excellent job it does on gravel, which is where this bike will spend a bulk of its time.
Performance: Stable… so nice and stable. Even in thick loose gravel, it holds a line. My bike- handling skills are nothing to write home about and I can feel the benefits of the Diverge’s geometry. I’ve read concerns about the low BB height, but in my specific case, that is not a concern. I don’t ride or have tight single track, I have miles upon miles of rolling gravel roads. So I can’t speak to other types of terrain, but the Diverge eats up middle-American gravel with pleasure. Climbing has been nice but I’ve wanted more gears. It’s fine for now, but climbs get steep and loose enough here that I imagine I’ll add some teeth to the cassette at some point. I do feel the CG-R seat post bounce a bit when spinning up climbs but it’s not terrible or too distracting, but it is there. I have also felt more road chatter in my feet than I expected while on rougher gravel. I suspect that once I put the carbon cranks on, some of that will be muted a bit.
I wish: I wish they had added a seat post retention system like the Roubaix. I’m not crazy about a seat post collar in 2017, but it’s not the end of the world. Lighter Future Shock… speaks for itself. Higher quality carbon - I’m honestly not that familiar with Specialized’s carbon tech, but I assume their higher end carbon layups would be lighter. I know there are “reasons” for the carbon they used, but I’m assuming that the weight of the FACT 9r carbon is higher. And with weight being a thing on this bike, any little bit would help.
Conclusion: I doubt this bike will propel me to a CX or a bunch sprint victory, but neither will my legs these days. It just does several things pretty well. I wanted to be able to hang in a group road ride without needing too much extra wattage and then turn off onto a dirt road and hammer out miles of gravel. It seems to do that. Specifically, I was looking for a gravel bike that had a little suspension, could do a bit of bike packing, eat up lots of gravel, and perform well enough on pavement. When considering price and everything else I was wanting, this bike ticked all of the boxes. Expectations rarely meet reality but In the case of the Diverge, for me it has. Even with the limited mileage I’ve put on this bike so far, they have been almost entirely new roads to me. That is fun at the purest level. I know any number of bikes could do what I’m looking for but I feel pretty confident that I’ve made the right choice for my wants. I won’t be hanging up my road bike by any time soon, but the Diverge has added an entirely new dimension to my enjoyment of this sport.