Adventure bikes are the hot right now. With long distance gravel races like the Dirty Kanza in the US and Dirty Reiver in Northumberland proving popular with cyclists looking for a new challenge, and the deteriorating state of British roads pushing cyclists towards ever wider tyres, adventure bikes are really catching on.
We've certainly seen more interest in these bikes - just check out this crazy Moots Baxter 29er in our build gallery!
The adventure category is growing with ever more dedicated bikes being launched. Specialized unveiled its Diverge, a fully committed adventure bike, back in 2014 but for 2018 it has completely redesigned the bike. The changes and there are many of them, are aimed at making it even more capable when you point the Diverge down a dirt trail, gravel track, bridleway or forest path, whilst still being right at home on the road.
"While the fun might start where the road ends, you still need a bike that'll get you there-one bike that shreds gravel and dirt and crushes through road miles with equal expertise. Sure, some have tried to make their 'cross bikes more "road-capable" (whatever that means), and others have made their road bikes more "adventure-ready," but we created one bike that makes no compromises between the two. Get acquainted with the all-new Diverge," says Specialized.
To provide a smoother and more controlled ride on rough terrain, it has borrowed the radical Future Shock from the Roubaix, providing 20mm of bump-absorbing suspension. The cartridge is cleverly located between the stem and head tube so there's no change to the geometry during the suspension travel. Specialized has also firmed up the spring compared to the Roubaix so it handles the big hits better.
Elsewhere, the carbon frame is lighter, now sub-900g for the range-topping S-Works model, while the newly dropped seatstays are designed to allow the seatpost to deflect more. Most of the Diverge range are equipped with the CG-R seatpost from the Roubaix, but the S-Works gets a 35mm height adjustable height seatpost activated by a small lever on the handlebar so you can get the saddle out of the way when tackling technical and demanding descents. Like disc brakes, it's another technology borrowed from mountain bikes.
Geometry has also taken a turn towards providing better
stability and control on rough terrain. Inspired more by mountain
bikes than the cyclocross bikes that some adventure bikes are very
closely related, the Diverge has a much lower bottom bracket,
lowering your centre of gravity, along with a slacker head angle
and shorter wheelbase and chainstays.
The geometry, which Specialized is calling Open Road Geometry, is claimed to "provide playful handling and predictable steering for endless dirt skids and mid-corner drifts. These changes make a bike that performs equally well over both the dirt and road."
Wider tyres are obviously a big part of adventure bikes, and with 40mm tyres, a commonly accepted happy medium between providing cushioning and grip on gravel and dirt roads and rolling speed on the road, Specialized has increased tyre clearance from 35 to 45mm. It'll also take a 650bx47mm wheel and tyre as well if you want to go down the Road Plus route.
As well as tackling rough and varied terrain, adventure bikes are also popular with cyclists that demand a bit more versatility from their bikes. We can see the Diverge being popular with cyclists that want a comfortable long distance bike, a suitable bike for taking on short tours or pan-European adventures, or the office commute.
For added practicality, Specialized has also added concealed mudguard mounts, rack mounts if you don't want to go down the bikepacking route, and also integrated the optional Swat Box concept from its Roubaix. This small box nestles in the bottom of the frame and is used to store tools and spare tubes. It's an interesting alternative to a saddle pack but its looks are decisive, to say the least.
The Diverge range is going to include eight models priced from £799 for the aluminium version up to £8,500 for the range-topping S-Works edition. You can also buy the S-Works frameset for £3,500 if you want to build your own specification bike.
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