Which is the most exciting and innovative bike on test? That’s right, the Specialized Diverge STR Pro. The Future Shock suspension turns this adventure gravel bike into a true full-susser, but is that enough to make it a great adventure bike? We put it through the wringer in our big adventure gravel bike group test to find out.
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and test field here:
For fans of classic designs, the Specialized Diverge STR Pro isn’t love at first sight, yet the future shock, colour, and general look will have you rubbernecking – it’s an intriguing machine. But why complicate everything with flexing frames and proprietary, hidden shocks? The Future Shock 2.0 up front and Future Shock Rear system should provide plenty of comfort on the Diverge STR, but how much difference do they really make, and how do they hold up compared to the other suspension concepts in our big adventure gravel bike group test?
Value for money and the Specialized Diverge STR Pro?
Even if it shouldn’t be, the design is probably the biggest deciding factor when buying a new bike – looks matter. And that’s where the Specialized Diverge STR is different. When it was introduced, the integrated Future Shock in the top tube and offset seat stays caused quite a stir. But after a while, you get used to the compact, quite sleek design. Nevertheless, the area around the seat post clamp looks somewhat incomplete, as if something is missing. The glittery salmon-coloured paint job also looks really nice in itself, but it doesn’t suit the Diverge STR, making it look a bit podgy. It’s not like the typically stylish design we’re used to from Specialized.
The wide range of in-house components, on the other hand, is absolutely typical. Except for the SRAM Force eTap AXS mullet groupset, everything is supplied by Roval, Specialized’s in-house component brand. In this case, however, that’s not bad. The 420 mm Roval Terra carbon handlebar looks great on the bike and is ergonomically flattering, too. As always, the Specialized Power Pro saddle is a matter of personal preference, but has been well received by our test crew.
The Roval Terra CL wheels are built up around carbon rims with a depth of 32 mm and an internal width of 25 mm, mating perfectly with the 42 mm Specialized Tracer Pro tires. This doesn’t just result in a very fast combination, but also offers a ton of off-road grip. Coupled with the squishy Future Shock elements at the front and rear, the setup seems ideal for adventure gravel riding. Extra storage space is also provided: there are bosses for three bottle cages, a top tube bag mount, as well as mounts for luggage racks and mudguards on the fork legs, making the bike ready to tackle any adventure. For quick post-work sessions, you can put a repair kit and small snack in the SWAT storage compartment in the down tube. Gone are the days of misshapen saddle bags! Considering the € 9,000 price point for the complete build, you could almost say it was good value for money with the Specialized Diverge STR Pro.
Tuning-Tipp: clip-on mudguard at the rear
Specialized Diverge STR Pro
Fork rigid fork
Seatpost S-Works Carbon Seat Post
Brakes SRAM Force 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Force eTap AXS / XO1 1x12
Stem Future Stem, Pro 100 mm
Handlebar Roval Terra, carbon 420 mm
Tires Specialiozed Tracer 28"
Size 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight 9.42 kg
Future Shock Suspension System both front and rear.
Very high level of compliance
SWAT Box storage compartment in the downtube
Many parts are in-house designed and manufactured
Smooth is fast! – The Specialized STR Pro in review
If the look promises one thing, then it’s an unparalleled riding experience. And so, as expected, the compliance is on a completely different level. The rear Future Shock can be fine-tuned to suit the rider with the help of different inserts, and you can adjust it on the fly with the lockout lever. As at the front, the suspension doesn’t lock out completely, so there’s always a little bit of movement. But that shouldn’t bother anyone too much on a gravel bike like the Diverge STR. The performance of the suspension is simply too good, not just damping vibrations, but also absorbing medium to large impacts, resulting in a buttery smooth ride. As such, the Diverge STR delivers an incredible amount of control and instils you with tons of confidence even when you head far from the tarmac. This is further supported by the grippy Specialized Tracer tires, which provide ample traction despite the shallow tread pattern.
Nevertheless, the bike is playful and agile, allowing you to weave through obstacles on tight trails, which makes it feel a bit nervous on fast descents. Therefore, it’s better off in the hands of a slightly more experienced rider with the appropriate off-road skills.
In contrast, the gear range offered by the SRAM Force mullet groupset with a massive 11–52 t cassette and 40 t chainring is suitable for all types of riders, and even the steepest climbs.
The Diverge STR is a super fun bike: whether on potholed asphalt or rough trails, it can deal with it all and put a smile on your face in virtually every situation.
Pure comfort and fun – hands down, the best suspension in the test field.
The perfect Specialized Diverge STR Pro adventure
Even though the Specialized Diverge STR is more of a specialist that’s out to set the bar in terms of comfort, the lack of a complete lockout means it doesn’t excel on road rides, hard-pack, or hard efforts. But the suspension performs convincingly throughout on rough surfaces and moderate trails. Like the BMC URS, that makes it an excellent choice for going off-road, but it can also cut a fine figure as a bikepacking bike. However, if you’re planning to haul a lot of luggage, you’ll have to adjust the Future Shock system to cope with the added weight. In general, it’s more of a bike for relaxed tours with the occasional fast and technical trails thrown in.
Our conclusion on the Specialized Diverge STR Pro
Specialized present a cool and well thought out concept with the first generation Diverge STR. But even once you get used to the unusual look, it’s still one of the least attractive bikes in the test field. If you can turn a blind eye to that, the bike has a lot to offer. The trend-setting and perfectly integrated Future Shock provides ample comfort and control. In combination with the fun handling, the Diverge STR Pro is best suited for daily jaunts and quick adventures on your own doorstep.
- incredibly smooth on bumpy terrain thanks to the Future Shock
- a ton of fun thanks to the agile handling
- the most comfortable bike on test
- rear future shock looks unusual and sticks out visually
For more information visit specialized.com
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the test field here:
All bikes on review:Argon 18 Dark Matter | BMC URS 01 ONE | Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 Lefty | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail | Falkenjagd ARISTOS TRAIL GRAVEL | Focus Atlas 8.8 | Ghost Asket Advanced | Giant Revolt X | Merida Silex 10k | Mondraker Dusty XR | Orbea Terra M21e Team Custom M | Ridley Kanzo Adventure | Rose Backroad AL Plus | Santa Cruz Stigmata | Scott Solace Gravel eRIDE 10 | Specialized Diverge STR Pro | Trek Checkpoint SL 7 AXS | Wilier Adlar | YT Industries Szepter Core 4
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Words: Calvin Zajac Photos: Mike Hunger