2018 Specialized Diverge

The New 2018 Specialized Diverge Light Touring Bikes

With the adventure category of bikes really taking off, Specialized have been working hard to make sure they hit every niche. The Specialized AWOL is the bombproof long-distance touring rig and the Specialized Sequoia is the capable light-touring bike. But what if you want to pack light and stick mostly to the main roads? The 2018 Specialized Diverge may just suit you best!

The most noticeable difference for 2018 is the addition of the Future Shock to most Diverge models. This small shock absorber located below the stem offers 20mm of travel and is designed to isolate both vibrations and larger hits. A new progressive spring ramps up through the travel to suit gravel roads.

Other than additional front-end comfort, the Diverge is looking better than ever as a light touring bike. All models now have front and rear rack capability, along with mounting points for full fenders. The maximum tyre size on the carbon frame has been boosted from 35mm to 42mm using a 700c wheel (38mm max on the aluminium frame), but if you install a 650B wheel you can stretch that out to 47mm. There’s a third set of bidon mounts under the downtube; the two inside the frame use the 3-boss system so that you mount cargo cages for extra water or gear storage.

The geometry has been tweaked to suit long distance riders too. The frames are a little shorter, but ~20-40mm taller across the board which makes the Diverge not your typical ‘aggressive’ road bike. The bottom bracket is 5-8mm lower and the chainstays 1-7mm longer (both depending on size) which will make the bike a little more stable at speeds.

There are four different levels of Diverge frame. The premium Diverge S-Works has its own ’10R’ carbon layup while the rest of the carbon models share the same ‘9R’ carbon layup, all with the Future Shock. The top aluminium model (the Comp E5) features the Future Shock, while the rest of the aluminium models share the same aluminium frame and fork, albeit without the shock. You’ll find the carbon frames all use BB386EVO press-fit bearings, while the aluminium frames use threaded bottom brackets (!).

Let’s take a deeper look at the range and what each Diverge model can offer you. 

The 2018 Specialized Diverge S-Works

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge S-Works

Specialized’s flagship bike is the Diverge S-Works. This is a different frameset in terms of carbon layup and resin (called 10R) but it still shares the same frame geometry as the other carbon models. Specialized have matched a Di2 road shifter with an XTR Di2 MTB derailleur to fit a larger cassette on the bike, and you could go to 46t if you needed the extra climbing gears (the current small gear works out to be 28.7 gear inches). A 35mm dropper seatpost has been fitted to the S-Works with a handlebar-mounted remote in order to reduce your centre of gravity on technical descents. Carbon Roval wheels (1350g!) and carbon Easton cranks, as well as a SWAT box (tube, co2, levers and multitool) complete the build and result in a weight under 8kg (17.6lbs) without the SWAT tool box (56cm). The S-Works Diverge is available as a frameset for US $4000 or you can get the complete bike for US $9000.

The 2018 Specialized Diverge Expert

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Expert in Orange
2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Expert in Grey.

The Diverge Expert Carbon is another 1x bike, but it employs SRAM Force 11 gearing to achieve a 1:1 climbing ratio (27.3 gear inches). The 9R carbon layup adds a little weight but you’ll find it will be largely unnoticeable out on the road. A really nice 1500g Roval SLX 24 disc wheelset comes with the Expert, complete with DT Swiss 350 hubs. Interestingly, this model is delivered with the Fact carbon seatpost rather than the gravel-specific CG-R on the Diverge Comp. You can expect the Diverge Expert to weigh in at about 8.5kg (18.7lbs) and cost US $4000.

The 2018 Specialized Diverge Comp

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Comp in Blue.
2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Expert in White.

The Diverge Comp Carbon is spec’d with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset and Praxis Alba cranks and 48/32t front chainrings, offering a 27.3 gear inch climbing gear. It’s also the only model to feature the ultra-flexy CG-R carbon seatpost with built-in elastomers to maximise comfort. You can expect this bike to weigh around 9.3kg (20.5lbs). The Diverge Comp is the only carbon model available in the XXL (64cm) size and can be purchased for US $3000.

The 2018 Specialized Diverge Sport

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Sport.

The Diverge Sport is the lowest cost carbon model at US $2100. Costs are saved on this bike by using the awesome TRP Spyre cable disc brakes (as opposed to hydraulic) and by fitting a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra groupset. A great feature of the new Tiagra is the 11-34t cassette which when combined with the 32t front ring provides a climbing gear of 25.7 gear inches! You can expect this bike to weigh around 9.6kg (21.2lbs).

The 2018 Specialized Diverge Comp E5

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 in Blue.
2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Comp
The 2018 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 in Grey

The best value-for-performance bike in the range has to be the Diverge Comp E5. You’re still getting the 20mm Future Shock and Shimano’s midrange 105 11-speed groupset. This model employs the brilliant TRP Spyre cable disc brakes which are known to be the best cable brakes around. The Praxis Alba crankset yields a 1:1 climbing ratio (26.8 gear inches) and the wheels are the same as those on the US $3000 Diverge Comp Carbon. All Diverge aluminium models come with 30mm wide tyres, presumedly so that they can be marketed as ‘capable’ road bikes too. Total weight is 9.80kg (21.6lbs) in size 54cm. The Diverge Comp E5 is the only aluminium model available in the XXL (64cm) size and can be purchased for US $1800.

The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Elite

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Elite in Black.
2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Elite in Orange.

For US $1400 you can get the Diverge E5 Elite which uses 10-speed Shimano Tiagra gearing to achieve a rather low 25.2 gear inch climbing gear. Despite being the most expensive Diverge NOT to have the Future Shock, the ability to run wide tyres will still make this bike a comfortable ride. The Diverge E5 Elite tips the scales at a touch over 10kg (22lbs).

The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Sport

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Sport in Black.
2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 Sport in Grey.

The Diverge E5 Sport uses the same wheels and brakes as the Elite, however, it’s a bit cheaper due to the Shimano Sora 9-speed groupset. Despite its low price, it’s still using the same Praxis Alba cranks featured on every Diverge up to US $3000 – this helps to achieve a 1:1 ratio that measures out to be 26.8 gear inches in the smallest gear. The Diverge E5 Sport will weigh around 10.5kg (23.1lbs) and is US $1150.

The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5

2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 in Black.
2018 Specialized Diverge
The 2018 Specialized Diverge E5 in Red.

The Diverge E5 is still a killer bike for the price. You’re getting a really capable frame and fork, still a 1:1 climbing gear (26.8 gear inches), Claris 8-speed STI shifters and the same wheelset as the US $1400 model. Expect the Diverge E5 to weigh around 11kg (24.3lbs) and you can get your hands on one for just US $970.

Want To Compare These Touring Bikes With Dozens of Others?

Check out the Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide which compares touring bike steering, sizing, gear ratios, specification, pricing and more. The Bikepacking Bike Buyer’s Guide does the same thing, however, with a focus on lighter bikes and models with more off-road capability. Both of these guides are updated annually with the latest models at no extra cost!

Helpful Resources

All About Touring Bike Brakes
Frame Materials for Bicycle Touring
How to Select Touring Bike Gearing
Understand Bicycle Frame Geometry
What’s the Difference between Cyclocross and Touring Bikes?

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  1. Hi Alee, any idea what the load limits are for these bike’s pannier mounts? I haven’t managed to find anything online about weight limits, but I had thought it wasn’t a good idea to put a front rack and panniers on a carbon fork?

  2. A rack and panniers isn’t a huge concern on a carbon fork, as it can certainly be easily be engineered to handle a load (Specialized hasn’t released a maximum capacity as far as I know). I’d suggest mounting no more than 10kg to the fork or chainstays, not only to be prudent, but also because the Diverge bikes use road bike components and wheels which are not up to the task of heavy loads.

  3. If the alloy version had gone to 42c they could have scrapped the Sequoia. Now your probably saying – but the steel bike can be welded in the middle of nowhere right? Wrong. Most welders don’t have the skills to weld these sorts of frames. Steel rides better right? Again you’d be wrong and stuck in the year 2010. That issue was put to bed ages ago with newer manufacturing techniques. Its all about tyre volume and Brooks saddles. My main rig is steel but there are plenty of alloy bikes that ride just as smooth as Reynolds.

  4. Tested a Comp Carbon. Remarkably comfortable – bought it. Went tubeless, added a Brooks B17, 11- 42 cassette, XT RD, Tanpan and 44/28 Sugino crankset. Fantastic comfort combined with 18 to 108 gear inch range can go anywhere. Rear rack and mudguards make it a good practical bike but 32mm tubeless ( blow up to 34.6mm) and lower tire pressures of 55/60 psi make it by far the most comfortable road or touring bike I have ever ridden.

  5. Hey I just bought the E5 Sport! Awesome Bike can only recommend it!! I was thinking about applying a front rack. Does anyone know if the specialized pizza rack fits? Because there is no horizontal screwhole in the fork. Any advise for front racks for the 2018 diverge?
    Thaaanks and greets Gilles

  6. Not really to be honest. But I believe the pizza rack from Specialized will not fit. For a front rack you can use a lowrider front rack and then add the usual bike bags.

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