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New 2021 Gravel Goes Flat Bar Reviews

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[VidSitePro id=131 ]The new 2021 specialized diverge for 2021 the bike gets a comprehensive refresh adopting the Future Shop 2.0 which we’ve already seen on the Roubaix getting slightly longer slacker and controversially ever.

Slightly higher geometry and increased tire clearances overall alongside the regular drop bar bike which we have behind me specializes also launching a flat bar gravel bike that is right things have gone full circle and an old-school mountain bike is the cutting edge of gravel bike technology in 2021.

The new diverge range features nine different models starting at 949 pounds for the cheapest aluminium model rise into a truly heady eight thousand nine hundred pounds for the top-flight s-works model the launch of this bike comes off the back of well-documented enormous growth of the gravel market now that in itself isn’t really a revelation but what is notable is that specialized says given the growth of the segments of the market they expect gravel to be by far the biggest area for them in the coming years if not with this bike A lot of tech has gone into this bike we’ve got a lot to talk through.

This bike is the adoption the Afra mentioned future shock 2.0 now for those of you that aren’t aware of what the future shock is, is a technology the specialized introduced with the first latest version of the Roubaix and it’s essentially a small suspension system which sits between the cockpit and the head you now we’ve spoken at depth about why specialized went for the system rather than a kind of traditional telescopic fork which places the suspension beneath the head tube.

In brief the system is really designed to kind of reduce fatigue and kind of take the sting out you know chatter on gravel trails or calls as it was originally designed for rather than kind of increasing speed over super rough terrain as you would find with mountain bike suspension now if you haven’t written a bike with the future shot it can feel a little bit gimmicky and to be honest when it first launched I was very skeptical however the technologies come along quite a lot since it was first introduced and I’ve used it in various guises notably on the diverge the previous generation one and I am a real convert.

I’m not the only one a bike rider who’s a big fan of the technology Matthew Allen with his current Roubaix test bike is also a big fan and previously the first generation of the rebate to feature the Future Shop also one-hour bike of the year a couple years back now as I hinted that previously this version of the Future Shop has hydraulic damping whereas before it was just a simple case of adjustable springs we would change how the suspension handled and again we have found that hydraulic damping does make a significant difference to how it handles overall.

Every carbon model in the diverged lineup does come with a future shock but it is only the top four spec models which come with the Future Shop 2.0 all other bikes in the range come with the Future Shop 1.5 and the key difference again is that the 1.5 does not have that hydraulic damping and it also does not have the lockout or adjuster the two very cheapest models in the diverged lineup do not feature the future shock now on to the geometry prepare to the outgoing model the bike gets a longer offset fork a very slightly slack or head angle longer reach overall a slightly longer wheelbase overall and as I mentioned a very slightly higher bottom bracket.

If you’ve been following mountain bike geometry trends in recent years none of this will come as a surprise bikes have become ever longer slacker and they do tend to have lower bottom brackets on the mountain bike side of things again we’ve got lots of videos on this subject and Saeb stop my fellow Scottish colleague describes it far better than I could ever but in brief a longer reach when you match it with a shorter stem makes a rider less pitched over the front of the bike so a steeper terrain you get more control and more confidence likewise with a slacker head angle now the same is true of gravel bikes and specialised has very much adopted that youth with the new diverge it’s actually gone as far to say that the geometry is directly inspired by its new epic hardtail now the crossover between gravel bikes and mountain bikes is increasingly blurred and brands tried to sell them as being quite distinct things which was nice for specialized to just come out and say oh yeah this is very much inspired by a mountain bike it’s a refreshing approach thumbs up now in contrast to those trends with the bottom bracket it’s actually been raised on this bike but only by a very marginal amount and that’s just by five millimeters and the reason specialized has done this is to reduce the chances of pedal strike when running 650b wheels tire clearances on the new diverged have also been increased quite significantly rising from 42 millimeter to forty seven millimeter of 700c wheels and rising to reach truely chunky for gravel bikes two point one inch on 650b wheels.

I cannot imagine a single situation where I would need to tire bigger than two point one inch on a gravel bike because if you do you probably should be riding a mountain bike so there should be more than enough for your fashionable Instagram ready gravel adventures however as always let me say this with pretty much every new bike those figures are quoted with a 6 millimeter gap on either side of the tire so if you really really really need a bigger tire you should be able to squeeze something in a little bit chunkier now thanks to those generous clearances this also means that the bike can run 42 millimeter tires with mud guards it is a rare treat these days to find a truly racy Carbon draw bar bike that has the capability to run mud guards and I love mud guards.

I don’t like having a wet bump and all that no you can also run a rear rack on this bike certain front racks are also compatible with the fork the specialized has some quite clear guidelines but what you shouldn’t shoot me use em so refer to their website if you have any questions about now to accommodate those larger tires as well as single and double chain set specialized in develops like a solid carbon yoke that sits on the drive side chainstay now the reason it’s done this even though it’s supposedly adds a little bit of weight is because it wanted to avoid using either a raised or dropped chain stay as is seen on something like the allied able there’s no real reason given for this and to be honest I think it’s more of a kind of taste question rather than an engineering question that I was totally my speculation.

I can imagine that for a consumer it’s quite a hard thing to stomach if you’re just getting into bikes and that’s one thing I should really stress with this with the diverged bear in mind that specialized is thinking this is gonna become its biggest category the range for the new bike is massive it covers a huge amount of price points and this bike really could do it as many other gravel bikes can do all from many many riders and I think that kind of approach to building in capability with the bike and increased capability is something gonna see from more manufacturers in the near future now another feature which is being ported on to this bike and I’ve previously used it on the stock jumper is the SWAT storage box in the down tube.

This is only seen on the comp expert Pro and s-works model of the diverge essentially specialized is taking full advantage of the big chunky down tube to create a little like a little sandwich box in the down tube and that’s accessed with a lockable kind of lid which sits just below the bolt cage I’ve used this system in the past and it’s the sort of thing that as soon as you have it you’re gonna wish every bike had genuinely I know it sounds like I’m drinking the specialized kool-aid from that very swap box but honestly is so useful particularly on something like a gravel bike where you might want to take more spares more tubes Dyna plug style kits that sort of thing ah yes the elephant in the room the diverge Evo now the diverge Evo is a longer slacker more aggressive version of the diverge and yes it has flat bars it’s almost as if flat bars make sense for riding off-road who knew now the evil name has been used for quite some time by specialized to define more left-field or alternatively for the lack of a better phrase rowdier versions of bikes in its lineup and the diverge Evo is no different as I mentioned it’s a slightly longer frame overall and the reach is increased by about 30 millimetres roughly across all sizes the head tube is just got that little bit slacker and the bikers stock comes with chunkier tyres but yes it also has flat bars this just tickles me endlessly because on the one hand it’s a marketing coup it’s a genius move on the part of specialized where you look back at something like the Canyon grill and it’s crazy hover bars and everybody was talking about that bike all internet went crazy for it because it was just so far out and I think with the diverge Evo specialized is probably hoping for the same thing because everyone’s gonna remember the diverge name then a chunky tired rigid flat bar gravel bike which you could call a hybrid by any other name isn’t quite as controversial as something like the hover bar but still an interesting development and what specialised is kind of pitching it as as maybe the future of gravel they haven’t said as much and I did ask them in the launch for it you know what were they gonna name this category and don’t forget specialized is a brand that loves to name everything by its own admission and they just decided to stick with gravel for now but that’s not really up to them I think it’s gonna be you the viewers who decide that one.

What is the new category is it the performance aggressive hybrid is it gravel Plus is it mountain biking let me know what you think in the comments the bike is available in two different builds both of them are based on an aluminium frame notably with the future shock 2.0 and most of the components come from the mountain bike side of things so some interesting crossover there and I’m really interested to see how the public is all accepts or detests this bike now if you’ve seen our videos before you will know that this is roughly the time where I would tell you how the new bike rides usually off the back of a launch but guess what I’m filming a video in my bedroom things are not quite where they usually are I haven’t actually had a chance to ride this bike yet all of our testing is on lock down for now we don’t think it’s appropriate to continue with that given the current climate.

You’re gonna have to wait now regardless this is a very interesting bike and one we’re really looking forward to heading out on the trails with and you can expect a full review one day when things are a little bit more back to normal I think to round things out I’ll say that the new diverge is more like a refresh of the model rather than a wholesale change there’s some really welcome changes in there in particular at the future shock the new one on those top-end models I really think that’s gonna make a difference to offer mood control and comfort compared to the outgoing model is honestly universally liked here at bike radar we’ve all spent a lot of time on it and it is a very very clever little system the other changes such as the increased tire clearance and the kind of update geometry they’re all gonna be very welcome but I think it’s gonna be that new Future Shop which just pushes it a little bit further ahead compared to the outgoing bike.

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