Bike giant Specialized sent us the Diverge Comp Carbon for our bikepacking group test. Designed as a gravel bike, it’s been a talking point among bikepacking greats like Lael Wilcox since its introduction. Does it have what it takes to win our group test?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best bikepacking bike in review

Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon | 9.36 kg in size 56 | Manufacturer’s website

After the presentation of the brand new Specialized Diverge in spring 2020, we were so impressed with the new stealth bomber from the US brand that we invited it to compete in our bikepacking group test. As a modern gravel bike, it doesn’t fit the test field perfectly at first glance, but with numerous mounting points, the integrated SWAT box in the down tube, a threaded BSA bottom bracket and eyelets for mudguards, it has a lot of all-round potential. It has also competed in some of the most gruelling long-distance races of our time with the undisputed queen of bikepacking, Lael Wilcox. The mechanical 2×11 Shimano GRX RX810 groupset with its small gear steps and wide range suits the performance-oriented character of the Diverge Comp Carbon well.

The adjustable Future Shock 2.0 system is integrated in the steerer tube. Together with the ergonomic Specialized Adventure Gear hover handlebar, it provides a lot of comfort up front. The shape of the handlebars may seem unconventional but reveals its full potential when using a handlebar bag, providing enough space to hold onto the bars despite the straps of the bag. Anything you don’t need immediate access to can be stowed away safely in the SWAT storage compartment, keeping the weight distribution nicely balanced. We found it perfect for things like CO2 cartridges, tools and spare tubes. The rest of the componentry is well-specced and brings the € 3,999 bike to a total weight of 9.36 kg in size 56.

Nice side effect
The rise in the handlebar is primarily intended to give you a more upright riding position. Conveniently, it has another useful bikepacking feature: keeping the straps of the handlebar bag in place and freeing up room for your hands.
High fives all round
A threaded BSA bottom bracket and additional mounting options for bottle cages and gear. The area around the bottom bracket has a lot to offer.
Dials for everyone
In contrast to its predecessor, the damping of the Future Shock 2.0 system can be adjusted using the integrated dial. This allows the rider to adjust the level of damping needed at the front.
Added storage space
You can store all the little things that you don’t need to access that often in the down tube. We used it to store our CO2 cartridges and replacement tubes.

Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon

€ 3,999

Specifications

Seatpost Roval Terra Carbon
Brakes Shimano GRX RX810 160/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano GRX RX810 48/31 (11–34)
Stem Future Stem, Comp 90 mm
Handlebar Specialized Adventure Gear Hover 420 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss G540
Tires Specialized Pathfinder Pro 38C

Technical Data

Size 48 52 54 56 58 61
Weight 9.36 kg
Wheelsize 700C

Specific Features

Future Shock 2.0 suspension with damper in the steerer tube
SWAT Box in the down tube
bosses on the fork, 2 per side
rack and fender eyelets and bosses for a bag on the top tube


ORTLIEB
Handlebar Pack (9 l, € 99.99) and Accessory Pack (3.5 l, € 54.99)
Frame-Pack Toptube (4 l, € 99.99) | Seat Pack (16.5 l, € 139.99) | Cockpit Pack (0.8 l, € 49.99)
Size 48 52 54 56 58 61
Seat tube 390 mm 430 mm 470 mm 500 mm 530 mm 560 mm
Top tube 529 mm 542 mm 558 mm 573 mm 589 mm 605 mm
Head tube 99 mm 104 mm 116 mm 133 mm 159 mm 185 mm
Head angle 70.0° 70.5° 71.3° 71.8° 71.8° 71.8°
Seat angle 74.0° 73.8° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
BB Drop 80 mm 80 mm 80 mm 80 mm 80 mm 80 mm
Chainstay 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm
Wheelbase 1,019 mm 1,026 mm 1,032 mm 1,042 mm 1,059 mm 1,076 mm
Reach 365 mm 374 mm 383 mm 392 mm 401 mm 410 mm
Stack 571 mm 577 mm 592 mm 610 mm 634 mm 659 mm

The Diverge makes far, easy.

Helmet KASK PROTONE | Glasses Rapha Explore Glasses | Jersey PEdAL ED Hane Lightweight Jersey
Shorts PEdAL ED Tsuki Bibshort | Socks Giro HRC Team | Shoes Giro Republic LX Reflective

Although the Specialized takes a little more effort and time to get up to speed, it makes up lost ground with its excellent efficiency at speed. Stiffer bikes like the Bombtrack, Marin or Canyon are much quicker in acceleration. However, the Diverge is a comfortable and efficient climber, benefiting from the gear range of the cleverly specced 2x groupset. With all of our bags strapped to the bike, the handling is as we expected it to be when we felt the way it sprints: the frameset is a tad too soft for quick direction changes and, in conjunction with the Future Shock 2.0 system, feels slightly vague in tight corners and on demanding terrain.

Fortunately, there’s none of that behaviour on straight sections and wide corners. Here, the Specialized shines with its composed handling and excellent straight-line stability. Despite the lack of precision, it remains predictable at all times and never fails to instill its rider with confidence. This is not least thanks to the Diverge Comp Carbon’s excellent vibration damping. The Pathfinder Pro tires are fast rolling and comfortable, as you can read about in our gravel tire group test. You can also always rely on the braking performance of the Shimano stoppers. Specialized prove once again that they have done their homework with regard to biomechanics. The moderately stretched yet balanced riding position, the vibration damping of the frameset and the ergonomics of the cockpit get ten out of ten from our testers.

Tuning tips: Use small, super light panniers and follow the call of packing light & travelling far

Conclusion

The Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon excels at fast tours on almost any terrain. The only drawback is that you’ll be limited in the amount of luggage you can carry. If you want to get from A to B quickly and only need minimal luggage, this is a very capable and comfortable bike. For us, the Diverge is a perfect randonneuring bike: speed, control and a lot of composure on- and off-road.

Tops

  • high level of comfort
  • very composed
  • maximum efficiency at cruising speed
  • SWAT box in the down tube

Flops

  • frameset not stiff enough for heavy luggage
  • lack of precision in off-road corners on loose surfaces

For more info head to specialized.com.

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best bikepacking bike in review

All bikes in test: Bombtrack Hook 2 (Click for review) | Canyon Grail AL 7.0 SL (Click for review) | Fern Chuck Explorer (Click for review) | Marin Headlands 2 (Click for review) | Mason Bokeh GRX (Click for review) | MERIDA SILEX+ 8000-E (Click for review) | RONDO BOGAN (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD AXS Mullet Build (Click for review) | Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600 (Click for review) | Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon | Specialized S-Works Epic HT AXS Custom (Click for review) | Trek Fuel EX 9.9 XTR Project One (Click for review)

Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Benjamin Topf, Robin Schmitt, Valentin Rühl