Specialized S-Works Diverge 2021 (Stunning Gravel Bike)

The Absolutely Stunning 2021 Specialized S-Works Diverge

My absolute favorite dream bike, but way out of my price range, like many of the other top-end bikes in 2023. A great bike frame that looks and handles perfectly. But what a price you must pay to own one of these.

The 2021 Specialized S-Works Diverge is an impressive bike with looks and specifications. It is a gravel racer that flies on the gravel, whose quick handling and relatively short wheelbase make it an admirable bike with loads of positive feedback.

This bike can stand up against the opposition as it has a lifetime warranty on both the frame and the wheels. Something not many of its competitors offers.

The Future Shock suspension that sits between the head tube and the stem sets the top-end Diverge models apart from many other gravel bikes. The Future Shock takes the edge off the vibration and jarring of your wrists when the surface is rough or makes a mistake.

Like the excellent Canyon Grail, the Diverge has quite aggressive geometry compared to many gravel bikes, which goads you into pushing just that little bit harder into the corners or on descents.

At a weight of 8.95kg, the S-Works Diverge, with its carbon frame, is one of the lightest gravel bikes on the market, and you can feel it when pedaling up a hill in anger.

The 42, 10-50T drivetrain assembly offers a wide spread of gearing to ensure everything from the steepest of inclines to fast, rolling roads are effectively dealt with.

Sure, you could shave off in the 300-400g if you bin the dropper post for something more traditional like a carbon seat post.

Frame and Fork

The Specialized Diverge comes in aluminum and carbon fiber, with this model is the S-Works Carbon offering with its FACT 9r frame. It is available in both men’s and women’s versions.

It is a real quality piece of kit, offering a great balance of stiffness and comfort, ideal for standing up to the rigors of off-road riding.

Specialized has followed the usual route of oversizing those parts of the frame likely to see the largest loads from pedaling, steering, and braking. A beefy head tube, large-diameter down tube, and ample seat stay keep the bike planted and flex-free, helped by being held together by the chunky BB386 Pressfit bottom bracket shell.

Geometry-wise, the Specialized is at the racier end of the spectrum thanks to its Open Road Geometry. What does that mean?

This 56cm size has a 73.5° seat angle and a 72.5° head angle; most gravel bikes usually are around 71° at the front end. It has a relatively short wheelbase for this type and size of the bike at just 1,011mm, all of which adds up to the sort of quick-handling, responsive riding style you can get from the S-Works Diverge.

The Wheelset

The Roval Terra CLX has a 25mm inner width carbon rim and a 32mm depth. They are not heavy and do not hamper the bike’s ability. With a 21-spoke build at the front and a slightly beefier 24 at the rear, they are aimed more at faster, unloaded gravel riding than others on the market. The best thing about these wheels is that they also have a LIFETIME WARRANTY for the original owner.

The Pathfinder Pro tires fitted are 38mm wide and suited more to bigger aggregate gravel as the tread is quite small, so when riding on smaller stones, they can be quite skittish.

They work well on hard-packed surfaces like dry mud and chalk and are great on grass. If things get wet, though, away from the gravel, you might as well be on slicks for all the bite they will give you.

Value For Money – NO CHANCE

The Diverge Pro Carbon is priced at nearly $7,000. The S-Works version is a few grand more than that. So NO value for money here at all.

This is the one area where the Diverge falls short. I have referred to the Canyon Grail in my reviews, and the main reason is that it is a top no-nonsense road racing and gravel bicycle out there.

UPDATE. There are now excellent choices from the likes of Boardman (Halfords) in the UK and Decathlon bikes that far outweigh both of these bikes in 2023.

It seems a top-end price war is going on between all the major bike manufacturers, leaving those who want something just as good but NOT at that price looking lower down the scale and price range for top-quality frames and parts. Both Boardman and Decathlon fit this bill.

While the diverge is close in performance to the Canyon Grail, what you are paying for doesn’t quite match.

Components

The S-Works Diverge is fitted with a list of quality components,  including the SRAM AXS groupset. It is a quality piece of kit, being that it is fully wireless. It is also fitted with SRAM Red ATX Hydraulic Brakes, amongst the best in the business.

Five Things You Need to Know

Future Shock 2.0 introduced on select models

The Future Shock 2.0 is an adjustable coil suspension cartridge with 20mm of travel housed in the fork steerer. This allows the cockpit to move up and down relative to the frame and fork.

The Future Shock 1.5 is still used on cheaper bike versions and has swappable springs (soft, medium, and firm), but does not feature the hydraulic damper or adjuster.

Specialized opted for this system rather than a conventional telescopic as it is a lighter overall setup that does not significantly affect handling.

It is designed to smooth out rough roads and trails to help in reducing upper-body fatigue. It is not designed to take big hits on rocky descents; it is not a mountain bike suspension fork.

Revised Geometry for Improved Off-Road Performance

The geometry is important on any bike, but to get the best of your bike on gravel tracks and for a smooth and comfy ride the geometry needs to be a little slacker than on a road bike.

Tyre Clearance Increased to 47mm (700c) / 2.1in (650b)

Another plus is to allow bigger tires when needed. I don’t need anything bigger than a 35mm to 38mm tire, as I like smooth single tracks and roads rather than rough gravel mtb tracks.

Flat Bar Diverge Evo Also Launched

I have not seen this one yet, but I am sure it will be a popular choice for many. I am not a flat bar fan these days, but if you are more into mountain bike tracks and offroad riding, I am sure a flat bar bike would be a better choice.

11 models in total from £949 / $1,100 to £8,899 / $10,000

A nice selection of Specialized Diverge bikes to choose from. I would opt for a carbon frame as a minimum if you are buying new, as you will get a lifetime warranty with the frame.

In 2023 I would not even bother looking at Specialized bikes, or most of the top end frame manufacturers. Their greed has gone beyond the norm. Both Frames and components from SRAM and Shimano are creeping up in price like we have not seen for years.

AS for frames, I would now look at Boardman and Decathlon (see above) and even stretch to Youtube and look at all the components coming out of China that are getting rave reviews. All of the major companies seem to be getting too expensive these days.

Technical Specifications

Accessories

SWAT – Integrated SWAT door, internal storage system

Frameset

Frame – S-Works Diverge FACT 11r carbon, SWAT™ Door integration, Future Shock suspension, threaded BB, internal routing, 12x142mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc

Suspension

Fork – Future Shock 2.0 w/ Damper, Smooth Boot, 11r FACT carbon, 12×100 mm thru-axle, flat-mount

Cockpit

Handlebars – Easton EC70 AX Carbon Adventure Bar, 16-degree flare

Stem – S-Works Future Stem

Tape – Roubaix S-Wrap

Saddle – Body Geometry S-Works Power, carbon fiber rails, carbon fiber base, 143mm

Seatpost – X-Fusion Manic Dropper, 50mm travel

Seat Binder – Alloy, 30.8mm

Brakes

Front & Rear Brakes – SRAM Red eTap AXS Hydraulic

Drivetrain

Shift Levers – SRAM Red eTap AXS Hydraulic

Rear Derailleur – SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS

Cassette – SRAM XG-1295 Eagle, 12-speed, 10-50t

Crankset – SRAM RED AXS

Chainrings – 42T

Bottom Bracket – SRAM DUB BSA 68

Chain – SRAM XX1 Eagle, 12-speed

Wheels & Tires

Front Wheel – Roval Terra CLX, 25mm inner width carbon rim, 32mm depth, Roval AFD hub, 21h, DT Swiss Aerolite spokes

Rear Wheel – Roval Terra CLX, 25mm inner width carbon rim, 32mm depth, Roval AFD hub, DT 240s internals, 24h, DT Swiss Aerolite spokes

Front Tire – Pathfinder Pro, 2Bliss Ready, transparent sidewall, 700x38mm

Rear Tire – Pathfinder Pro, 2Bliss Ready, transparent sidewall, 700x38mm

Inner Tubes – 700×28/38mm, 48mm Presta valve

Warning

* Specifications are subject to change without notice

Pricing: Specialized S-Works Diverge

S-Works Carbon eTap – £8,899

Pro Carbon eTap – £5,999

Expert Carbon eTap – £4,499

Comp Carbon – £3,399

Base Carbon – £2,199

E5 Comp – £1,999

E5 Elite – £1,599

E5 – £949

E5 Expert Evo – £2,399

E5 Comp Evo – £1,599

S-Works frameset – £3,499

Frame and Fork Warranty

Those looking to buy a new bike often overlook the frame and fork warranty. Yet, buying a gravel bike is “THE“ most important part.

One small issue with the frame or the wheels and it can cost you an arm and a leg to get the problem sorted.

A lifetime warranty should be high on your list of priorities when purchasing a new bike.

Frame & Forks Warranty – LIFETIME WARRANTY

Specialized warranties are amongst the best in the business. So they should be with a bike of this price as they are very expensive compared to many of their rivals.

Wheels – LIFETIME WARRANTY

They also offer a great wheel warranty, which is a big bonus on a gravel bike.

As with most warranties, this applies to the ORIGINAL owner ONLY. A real bummer if you cannot afford to buy one new.

Check out this video for a view of the S-Works Diverge

Questions & Answers

Can I use Specialized Diverge as a road bike?

The Specialized Diverge can be a road bike, gravel bike, drop-bar mountain bike, touring bike, or adventure bike and now comes with a flat bar option.

Is Specialized Diverge Comfortable?

The Specialized Diverge range has a comfortable ride quality and can be used for singletrack within reason. The latest Future Shock 2.0 helps to take the edge off the hardcore stuff and keeps the body supple.

Conclusion

Overall, the Diverge offers an excellent ride and is suited to those who want to get out and explore the countryside at speed. It comes down on price compared to some of the best in the business, which is its biggest issue. You would want more bang for your money!

Specialized does not do anything without going to town on it. Not only do they make one of the nicest looking gravel bikes around, but they also back it up with an excellent warranty, which to me, for any bike today, is very important, as most top-of-the-range bikes now cost as much as a small car.

As is usual with Specialized, you will need a bank loan to buy the top-of-the-range bikes. However, if you can afford one, they are certainly worth considering.

Don’t forget to check out the Garmin & Wahoo computer alternativeYOUR mobile phone option at a fraction of the cost. We all love Garmin & Wahoo products, but they are not cheap. This alternative IS.

Verdict

A bike I would like to own but probably never will due to the price. It is a great-looking bike that can deliver an enormous boost to anyone who owns one, as just owning it would be enough to get you on the road.

The biggest downside is the price. Like many other top-of-the-range bikes, they are just too expensive for the average person. And do not forget, you will need a good quality BIKE INSURANCE on top of the bike each year, as they are VERY stealable.

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