Two Paths Diverged In A Wood…

Last week I received a press release about the new Specialized Diverge. Gravel bikes (or adventure bikes, or whatever you want to call them) are obviously the hot marketing segment at the moment, and Specialized are obviously a really big bike company. So a new Specialized Diverge is apparently a Big Deal.

Please note that I’m not trying to be derisive. I myself own a Specialized, and awhile back during a trip to Portland I rented a Diverge from River City Bicycles:

It served me very well and would no doubt make someone looking for an affordable all-around drop-bar bicycle quite happy indeed.

Still, there’s something undeniably “corporate rock” about the Diverge, and it’s in this context that I find the announcement of a new one most compelling. Basically, once a cycling phenomenon gets popular enough, the Big S seizes on it and gives it The Specialized Treatment. For example, remember the Langster? Sure you do:

Specialized may very well have been the first big bike company to offer a pre-distressed fixie, and to date they remain perhaps the only company to model a bike’s aesthetics directly on the type of motor vehicle most likely to kill the person riding it.

Specialized were also very savvy with the marketing of the Tricross. Remember the Tricross?

Cyclocross was already very much on the ascendant when Specialized came out with the Tricross, but they took the extra step as selling it not as a dedicated cyclocross race bike or denuded touring bike but more as a sort of go-anywhere, do-anything go-fast adventure bike (at least that’s how I remember it) so in a way it kind of prefigured the present-day corporate gravel bike.

Anyway, the point of all this is that Specialized won’t initiate the breakaway, but they do have an uncanny ability of assessing whether or not the break will stick–and if they do think it’s gonna stick they’re very good at bridging the gap and telling everybody else in the break what to do.

So here’s the latest Diverge:

Which, according to the press release, boasts the following features:

  • A totally reimagined geometry with a longer reach and slacker head tube give the Diverge stability over rough terrain at speed, while trail numbers keep it nimble and precise at the handlebars.
  • Future Shock 2.0’s adjustable, hydraulically damped travel keeps you in control and on target, all while protecting your hands, arms and shoulders from the battering.
  • Nothing unlocks potential like tire clearance, so we gave the Diverge room for 47mm on a 700c wheel and 2.1” on 650B.
  • The Diverge’s internal SWAT compartment takes gear out of your pockets and puts it low in the frame, improving handling and keeping you more comfortable. Dual SWAT pouches keep it all dry and organized.
  • At under 1,000 grams, the Diverge’s frame is lighter than most stripped-down gravel race frames with skimpy clearance, while being more capable than anything else in gravel.

“Reimagined” is one of those words that gets used so often it has lost all meeting. Sorry, that’s not reimagined geometry–this is reimagined geometry:

Though even that’s not so unique:

I never get tired of prone recumbent videos. Never!

Nevertheless, it’s fair to say the prone recumbent REIMAGINES the geometry of both upright and traditional recumbent bicycles by turning the rider’s head into a veritable crotchal battering ram.

Put on a Pickelhaube and you coudl really do some damage:

And yes, I did have to look that up; I found it by conducting an internet search for “kaiser helmet,” which I had a feeling couldn’t possibly be the correct nomenclature. Now try not to think about a crack legion of crotch-impaling prone recumbent riders for the rest of the day. Also, why the hell are they selling these things as home decor in Home Depot?

That’s one way to make your visitors feel unwelcome.

So yeah, the new Diverge; it “reimagines” geometry by placing two inline wheels within a diamond frame. It also has suspension:

This is interesting because usually with bikes you have to spend more in order to upgrade. However, with the Diverge you actually have to spend less in order to get a bicycle without a bunch of moving parts in the headtube. In fact from what I can tell you have to go all the way down to $1,600 for the Diverge Elite E5:

Other welcome upgrades at this price point include an aluminum frame over the stock crabon, as well as a downtube that doesn’t have a storage compartment in it:

Look, I get it. I’m not a real gravel grinder. I’ve never ridden the Dusty Kanza, or the Dirty Sanchez, or any of these other big gravel events. I don’t go on bikepacking bro-downs, or curate an Instagram feed full of sinewy tattooed forearms grasping ridiculously flared drop bars. Even so, I can’t be the only person who’s never yearned to store oblong objects in their downtube. (And yes, I realize how that sounds.) I mean what the hell are these people carrying in there, footlong subs?

But hey, I may be out of it, but I’m not that out of it, and even I know that the flat bar is the new ridiculously flared drop bar–which is why the Diverge now comes in a flat bar version:

If you’re cynical you may be tempted to point out that with the flat bar Diverge, Specialized have basically just reinvented the rigid mountain bike, or the hybrid. However, this is only scratching the surface. What Specialized have done here is created a mind-bending meta-hybrid. Basically, the first hybrids combined road bikes and mountain bikes. Then came the gravel bike…which is basically also just a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike and a cyclocross bike, so in that sense you could call a gravel bike a three-way hybrid. The flat bar Diverge however is a hybrid of all those things, and more, meaning it’s essentially an infinitely twisting double helix, forever doubling over on itself as it expands endlessly across the space-time continuum. (All of that is too long though, so Specialized just calls it the “EVO.”)

But yeah, the Elite looks like a pretty good deal, I’d totally ride that.

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