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Ridden and Reviewed: Specialized Diverge Elite

February 22, 2016

“Please don’t get a flat.”

That’s what I muttered to myself as I realized I didn’t bring a tube when I set out to give the Specialized Diverge Elite a proper test ride on the Holey Roller course in Smithville, TX on Friday afternoon. I grabbed the 56cm Diverge from our Rental Department, threw on Speedplays and a Garmin mount, and I was ready to hit every road terrain conceivable.

Diverge Edits-1

The Specialized Diverge falls into the broad category of All-Road bikes. Is it a cross bike with slick tires? Is it a road bike with fatter tires? Carving the niche for the all-road bike means getting down to the technical features of the bike. It has the classic endurance geometry that Specialized has refined with years of making the renowned Roubaix, sporting a taller head tube for more upright riding and a slightly longer wheelbase than a standard road bike for increased stability on looser sections of roads. For added vibration reduction, the bike features ZERTZ inserts on the fork and seatstays, and a cobble-gobbler seatpost for additional vertical compliance. On the Diverge Elite, we get the incredibly stiff yet compliant DSW smartweld frame and a carbon fork. The combination of all these features gives you an incredibly smooth ride that doesn’t necessitate stopping every 15 miles to realign your spine and shake out your hands.

I wanted to push the bike and myself to the limits, so rather than ride the Holey Roller course at a leisurely pace, I decided to up the watts and go for KOM for the entire course. All 50 miles of it. If you’re doing the Holey Roller this year, there’s a challenge for you at the end of the article.

Strava Route for Holey Roller

The first section of the course is on standard Texas pavement, relatively smooth with some chip seal patches along the way. The bike rolled along with ease as the plush 32mm Roubaix tires made short work of the rougher patches. It wasn’t until mile 12 that I could test out its gravel crushing capabilities.

This first gravel section was the mildest. I was chugging along at around 23-25mph in these sections, and admittedly was skeptical if the bike could handle these higher speeds in this terrain. But this is where it really WOW’d me. I never lost a bit of traction in the marble sized gravel. When I stood up to put power on the uphills, the bike never washed around beneath me.

The downhill sections were rougher. The gravel got bigger, and the washboards caused by car tires made me feel like I was riding a BMX pump track. Still, the bike never faltered and tracked perfectly through these sections around mile 17.

The farther along I got into the course, the more I appreciated what Specialized had created. The Diverge Elite is a great value at $1,499. Equipped with the updated Tiagra 10 speed, courtesy of Shimano’s trickle-down effect, the price drops in comparison to other models yet provides tried and true Shimano shifting.

Back to the ride.

The Holey Roller course has a long, formidable gravel hill to tackle around the halfway point. I was still making good time, but I noticed my heart rate pumping towards +173bpm. I figured I should hydrate but, “No! My bottle was gone!” I assume somewhere along the course it rattled free of its cage, leaving me parched and in pursuit of the KOM with only a small amount of water left in my other bottle. I pushed on. I was too far out and too committed to stop now. And pushing this bike to the limit was too much fun!

Diverge Edits-2

At this point, I had reached the second leg of the course. The scenery changed abruptly. I came out of the tall pine forest, some of which was ravaged by previous years’ fires, and into a bucolic paradise. On previous gravel rides on my race bike, I had to carry a bandolier of tubes and still call someone to pick me up (5 flats is my limit). The Diverge gave me the confidence to plow through the choppier sections without hesitation. Sure, at times I second guessed going 30mph down a gravel road, but the bike didn’t. I got that same white-knuckle thrill I do from riding BMX.

I rounded the last few turns and hopped back onto the original road where I started this ride. One final hill was left, and the KOM was in my sights. Cresting over the top and seeing that smiley faced water tower was a relief. I got to test out one last critical capacity of a bike — high speed descending. The beefy tires hugged the road like no other as I careened at 45mph into Rocky Hill Ranch.

Versatile. That’s my one-word summation of the bike. Want to do some light bike touring? The Diverge has front and rear rack mounts for your adventure needs. Doing a gravel race? The clearance on the bike is immense, accommodating up to a 35mm tread. All those compliance features smooth out the edges of a rough ride, but don’t sap all your power. For central Texas and beyond, the Diverge is an ideal option. And again, $1,499! It’s a whole lotta bike that won’t break your bank.

Now, the KOM. For those of you participating in the 2016 Holey Roller, I have a challenge for you. The male and female KOM/QOM on the segment BSS Holey Roller 2016 will get a Bicycle Sport Shop prize package! Just upload the route to Strava and we’ll contact the winners. The prizes will be at the Lamar location Monday after the ride.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2016 6:18 pm

    Go kitty @ 1:06!

  2. Zachary Preece-Scaringe permalink
    May 6, 2016 7:33 am

    Great review, thanks! Just got me a diverge 😀

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