DIVERGE ELITE DSW
£1,100 specializedconceptstore.co.uk Vibration-reducing technology makes this an off-road favourite
THE DIVERGE Elite is a brooding, stylish study in strippedback, off-road machinery, packing the American company’s own vibration-reducing technology in the forks and seatstays, plus a Spyre mechanical disc set-up and long-lasting groupset components. FRAME AND FORKS The Diverge’s aluminium alloy frame features Specialized’s Smartweld technology. Not only are the welds very smart, but the ends of the toptube and downtube are rolled before being fixed to the headtube. This creates stiffness at the front end of the bike, but allows the tubes to be kept thinner, and therefore lighter, elsewhere, to achieve our size 52’s all-up bulk of 9.82kg. It’s lighter than the Giant, but effectively in a size smaller, so we’d still expect the carbon-fibre Anyroad to come up lighter in an equivalent frame size. The Specialized also features vibration-reducing rubberised ‘Zertz’ inserts on the fork legs and seatstays. The toptube is sloping, though not as severely as the Giant’s, which has the same effect of lessening the size of the rear triangle while maintaining a fat, stiff downtube. THE KIT The Specialized’s components are more of a mixed bag than our other two bikes’ moving parts. A dip into Shimano’s lower-spec Tiagra groupset parts list has specced much of the Diverge, with this kit supplying the front and rear derailleurs, the gear shifters and the 11-32 cassette. Allied to a Praxis chainset that favours the 48/32 arrangement, rather than the 50/34 compact set-up of our other bikes, it does miss out on the higher gears, but arguably offers the easiest gearing of all three machines when the going gets tough or steep. This bike, owing to its Tiagra specification, has 20 gears, compared to the 22 of our others. Thankfully, the Diverge uses the same braking set-up as the Giant – TRP’s mechanical Spyre kit. It needs only two fingers on the levers to modulate speed and is easy to maintain. Where the Specialized differs from the Genesis and the Giant, is in its tyre choice. The American firm’s Espoir rubber is fitted, in a 30mm diameter, which gives away 10mm to the CDA’s. It is only lightly treaded, so in technical sections of trail or byway, you may find yourself struggling for traction.
THE RIDE Like Giant’s Anyroad, the comparative light weight of the Diverge allows us to get a lick on down flat trails in confidence, and is the best of the bunch if covering distance at speed is top of your priorities. Thankfully, its mechanical disc brakes are more than up to the job of slowing it in a controlled fashion, to account for unexpected obstacles or trickier sections of off-road terrain. However, the tyres rob the ride of a great deal of confidence. Hit an off-camber section of slimy trail, and it’s squeaky-bum time, as you adjust body position to maintain balance and allavailable grip. What the Genesis will happily splash through as if it’s on tank-tracks rather than tyres, the Specialized baulks at. Which is a shame, because in hotter climes or better weather, it would be a blast. As long as your route isn’t too technical, you’ll cover ground with ease on the Diverge, and soon notice its handling is easily up there with some of the best off-road machines we’ve tested. It’s not as razor sharp as a cyclocross bike, thanks to its more relaxed geometry, particularly its raked-out forks, but it’s the flat-out grin machine of our bunch if you’re in need of an adrenaline hit. That said, much of the time was spent descending out of the saddle, trying to get all-available weight over the rear tyre to prevent it slipping.
“As long as your route isn’t too technical you’ll cover ground with ease on the Diverge”
30c Espoir rubber is a good on/off-road compromise, but not for mud
Internal cable routing is extremely neat
Vibration-reducing inserts at the fork tops