For the 2021 model year, Specialized redesigned their popular Diverge gravel bikes. It feels more confident and stable on descents and at speed thanks to an updated geometry that includes a more extended reach and wheelbase, a slight slacker head tube angle, and an increased fork offset. The stiff carbon frame is responsive and efficient in the flats and on climbs, and handling still feels sharp and direct. The Diverge Comp Carbon frame we tested now features convenient SWAT downtube storage and 20mm of improved Future Shock 2.0 suspension below the handlebar. It also comes with an excellent component specification that enhances its performance and makes it a great all-around bike. Add to that a wealth of bottle cage and accessory mounts on the frame and fork, and this versatile rig is as ready for racing as it is for bike packing adventures.Editor's Note: The Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon review was updated on January 25rd, 2022, with additional tips on what we would buy and more information on product comparisons.
Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon Review
Cons: Not the lightest weight, more expensive
Compare to Similar Products
Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon
|Price||$4,200 List||$4,599 List|
$4,599 at Backcountry
|$2,699 List||$4,599 List||$1,899 List|
|Pros||Modern gravel geometry, 20mm of Future Shock Suspension, SWAT storage, offered in multiple builds||Lightweight, nice build, excellent blend of frame stiffness and compliance||Reasonably priced, lightweight, outstanding price to build ratio, easy assembly||Very lightweight, fast, nice build||Affordable, reasonably lightweight, fairly versatile|
|Cons||Not the lightest weight, more expensive||More expensive||Proprietary handlebar, limited handlebar adjustability and accessory compatibility||Can feel harsh over the rough stuff, narrow non-flared handlebar||Somewhat harsh ride, stock tires aren't great in loose conditions, tubeless conversion required re-taping on both wheels|
|Bottom Line||This redesigned bike is more capable, comfortable, and versatile than the previous version||This lightweight, high-performance gravel bike boasts a well-rounded performance and quality build that's ready for anything||An affordable, capable, and versatile carbon-framed gravel bike with a great build and solid all-around performance||The Ibis Hakka MX is a very lightweight, uncompromisingly stiff, fast, and efficient gravel bike||An entry-level gravel bike that is relatively lightweight, fairly well-rounded, and reasonably priced|
|Rating Categories||Specialized Diverge...||Santa Cruz Stigmata...||Canyon Grail CF SL 7||Ibis Hakka MX Rival||Fezzari Shafer AL|
|Specs||Specialized Diverge...||Santa Cruz Stigmata...||Canyon Grail CF SL 7||Ibis Hakka MX Rival||Fezzari Shafer AL|
|Measured Weight (w/o pedals)||21 lbs 2 oz||19 lbs 2 oz||19 lbs 14 oz||18 lbs 13 oz||21 lbs 11 oz|
|Frame Material||Fact 9r Carbon||Carbon CC||Carbon Fiber||Carbon Fiber||Aluminum|
|Wheelsize||700c (tested), 650b compatible||700c (tested) or 650b||700c (Sizes S-2XL). 650B (Sizes 2XS-XS)||700c or 650b (tested)||700c|
|Frame Size Tested||58cm||58cm||Large||58cm||Large|
|Available Sizes||48, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61cm||52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm||2XS-2XL||49, 53, 55, 58, 61cm||XS-XL|
|Wheelset||DT Swiss G540 rims with Specialized hubs||WTB Asym i23p 700c rims with DT 370 hubs||DT Swiss C 1850 Spline Wheelset||Ibis Alloy 733 27.5" rims with Ibis hubs||Alex GD24, Tubeless Ready|
|Front Tire||Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss 700 x 38c||Maxxis Ravager EXO 700 x 40c||Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 40c||Schwalbe Thunder Burt 27.5 x 2.1"||Maxxis Receptor EXO, 700 x 40c|
|Rear Tire||Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss 700 x 38c||Maxxis Ravager EXO 700x40c||Schwalbe G-One Bite 700 x 40c||Schwalbe Thunder Burt 27.5 x 2.1"||Maxxis Receptor EXO, 700 x 40c|
|Shifters||Shimano GRX 810||SRAM Rival 1||Shimano GRX RX600||SRAM Rival 1||SRAM Apex|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano GRX RX810 11-speed||SRAM Rival 22 Long Cage 11-speed||Shimano GRX RX810 GS 11-speed||SRAM Rival 11-speed||SRAM Apex 1x11|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano GRX RX810||N/A||Shimano GRX RX810||N/A||N/A|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra 11-speed, 11-34T||SRAM PG-1150 11-42T 11-speed||Shimano HG700 11-speed, 11-34T||SRAM PG 1130 11-42T 11-speed||SRAM PG1130, 11-speed, 11-42T|
|Crankset||Shimano GRX RX810-2 48/31T||Easton EA90 175mm||Shimano GRX RX600, 172.5mm, 46/30T||Praxis Zayante Alloy 40T 175mm||SRAM Apex 1, GXP|
|Bottom Bracket||Shimano Threaded BSA BB||Easton BSA||Shimano Pressfit BB72||T47 Threaded||SRAM GXP English BSA|
|Fork||Specialized FACT Carbon with Future Shock 2.0||Santa Cruz Carbon||Canyon FK0070 CF Disc Carbon||ENVE G-Series Carbon||Fezzari Gravel Carbon|
|Seatpost||Roval Terra Carbon, 20mm offset||Easton EA50 27.2mm||Canyon SP0043 VCLS CF Carbon, 20mm setback||Ibis Aluminum 31.6mm||Fezzari XrT Carbon|
|Saddle||Specialized Body Geometry Power Sport, steel rails||WTB Silverado Pro||Fizik Argo Tempo R5||WTB Silverado Pro 142mm||Selle Italia Model X Superflow|
|Handlebar||Specialized Adenture Gear Hover, 12-degree flare||Easton EA50 AX flare||Canyon CP07 Gravelcockpit CF Carbon||Ibis Flat Top Alloy||Fezzari GR Alloy, 18-degree flare|
|Stem||Future Stem, Comp||Easton EA50||Integrated with handlebar||Ibis 31.8||Fezzari Alloy|
|Brakes||Shimano GRX 810 hydraulic disc||SRAM Rival 1 flat mount||Shimano GRX 600 hydraulic disc||SRAM Rival 1 flat mount||SRAM Apex Hydraulic Disc|
|Measured Effective Top Tube (mm)||589||573||576||573||550|
|Measured Reach (mm)||401||390||402||392||386|
|Measured Head Tube Angle (degrees)||71.75||72||72.5||72||71|
|Measured Seat Tube Angle (degrees)||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5||74|
|Measured Bottom Bracket Height (mm)||270||285||278||276||292|
|Measured Wheelbase (mm)||1060||1038||1040||1040||1045|
|Measured Chain Stay Length (mm)||425||425||425||430||435|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Diverge Comp Carbon is crafted from Specialized's Fact 9r carbon fiber. The frame is lightweight and stiff and features a SWAT storage compartment in the downtube. The door of the SWAT compartment doubles as one of the bottle cage mounts, and it comes off completely when opened to reveal a large open space with a zippered storage bag to hold bike tools, room for snacks, layers, or whatever you choose. The frame has internal cable routing and integrated chainstay protection. The Comp Carbon comes with the new Future Shock 2.0, which provides an adjustable damper with 20mm of suspension between the stem and the headset. This system offers a small amount of cushion for the handlebar only, and it does not change the bike's geometry as it goes through its travel. The new frame design also features increased tire clearance with space for tires up to 47mm wide on 700c wheels or 2.1-inch tires on 650b wheels. The frame has mounts for two water bottles within the front triangle, as well as a variety of mounts on the fork, top tube, and rear triangle to accommodate racks and frame bags.
The new Diverge has what Specialized calls "the most progressive geometry we've ever created for a drop-bar bike." They have increased the frame's reach, slackened the head tube, and included a longer offset fork than the previous design. Our 58cm test bike measured with a 1060mm wheelbase, a 590mm effective top tube, and a long 401mm reach. The head tube angle has been slackened to 71.75-degrees with a 73.5-degree seat tube angle. The chainstays measured 425mm in length, with a low bottom bracket height of 270mm. Our test bike tipped the scales at 21 lbs and 2 oz set up tubeless without pedals.
- Available in Carbon Fiber or Aluminum frames
- SWAT storage compartment in the downtube of the frame
- 20mm of Future Shock 2.0 front suspension
- All-new gravel geometry
- Clearance for up to 700 x 47c or 650b x 2.1" tires
- Fork, top tube, and rack mounts
- Carbon models from $2,500 up to $10,000
- Aluminum models starting at $1,150
The Diverge Comp Carbon has a confidence-inspiring downhill performance and comfortable ride quality. Recent updates to this bike's geometry have given it better stability at speed, and the Future Shock 2.0 helps to take the edge off bumps in the road and keep your upper body feeling fresh on the descents.
The 2021 redesign of the Diverge included a major overhaul of its geometry. While it doesn't look much different, some of these changes were pretty significant and have noticeably improved its downhill performance. The effective top tube length and reach were both increased by 14 and 10mm respectively on our size 58cm test bike. The head tube angle was slackened by 0.75-degrees to 71.75-degrees, and the fork offset was increased by 5mm to 55mm. The chainstays were also lengthened by 4 mm to 425mm. All these changes combine to extend the wheelbase by a whopping 35mm. The final result is 1060mm, with the most notable change in the location of the front axle. The front wheel is now significantly further forward than it used to be, a change that results in a calmer and more stable ride at speed and when hurtling downhill. It gives the rider the feel of being a little behind the front axle rather than right on top of it, a welcome change when letting it run down rough or loose gravel roads. Despite these changes, the Diverge's handling still feels quite sharp and direct, and it responds well to rider input. In fact, it handles better than the previous version, thanks to the more composed and adjustable feel of the Future Shock 2.0.
Twenty millimeters of suspension may not sound like much, but the Future Shock 2.0 works surprisingly well, especially when compared to bikes with rigid front ends. The previous generation of Future shock suspension had a relatively springy and less controlled feel, but the 2.0 version feels much more controlled and refined. It has an adjustable damper with a knob at the top of the steerer tube that you can change on the fly depending on conditions or your preferences. This small amount of suspension helps to smooth out rough sections of road and does wonders to enhance rider comfort, especially in the hands and shoulders, over the course of a long ride. While the suspension is nice, it can only do so much. We found that it worked much better on single impacts, and it had a hard time recovering from successive bumps in the road.
The component specification of the Comp Carbon build we tested was largely excellent on the descents. The Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brakes are definitely a highlight, and these powerful stoppers felt way better than the brakes on most other bikes we tested. Due to the increased power and easy lever feel of the GRX brakes, we found ourselves able to brake from the hoods almost as effectively as when we were in the drops. Although we felt it was a little on the narrow side for dedicated gravel riding, the Specialized Hover Adventure Gear handlebar was quite agreeable and had a nice 12-degree flare. We really liked the rolling speed of the Pathfinder Pro tires on mixed pavement and gravel rides, although we found the lower profile tread to feel a bit under-gunned in looser or rougher conditions.
The Diverge Comp Carbon is not the best in the group but is still a solid climber. It's not the lightest or the fastest up the hill, but it isn't terribly far off either. With a reasonably lightweight, stiff carbon frame and a stretched geometry, we found this bike to be comfortable and efficient for any length of climb.
While climbing, the most noticeable geometry changes from the previous version of the Diverge were the increased length of the effective top tube and the corresponding increase in reach. Our 58cm test bike had a 401mm reach measurement, a full centimeter longer than most other models we tested. Combine that longer reach with a 100mm stem and 20mm of seatpost setback, and this bike felt a bit long. Thankfully, the rise designed into the Hover handlebar brings the bars up a little higher than usual, so you don't feel too stretched out, but we'd probably get a shorter stem to bring the bars a little closer if we were keeping this bike. We didn't notice the slackened headtube or lengthened fork rake affecting uphill handling, and the front end felt nice and planted on steep climbs. The 73.5-degree seat tube angle is about the norm for this style of bike, lining the rider up for direct power transfer down into the pedals. The rear end also feels nice and stiff without feeling punishing, with little energy wasted through unwanted flex. That said, it doesn't feel quite as snappy or lively as some other bikes we've ridden, a slight tradeoff for its increased comfort through compliance.
Speaking of comfort, the new and improved Future Shock 2.0 also impressed us on the climbs. While the previous version tended to bob around and feel too springy during out-of-the-saddle efforts, the 2.0 version has a much more controlled feel. Even with the adjustable damper all the way in the open/softest setting, it never felt annoyingly bouncy or too active. Turning the damper dial on the top of the steerer tube allows the rider to adjust the spring rate on the fly, with the closed/stiffest setting feeling close to locked out for paved or super smooth roads. The shorter seat tube length at the rear end of the bike leaves a good amount of the carbon seat post exposed, which inherently has a little bit of forgiving flex in it. The seat post helps take the edge off of vibration, but it can still feel pretty harsh over washboard or larger bumps.
Overall, we found the components of the Diverge Comp Carbon to perform well on the climbs. The 2 x 11-speed Shimano GRX drivetrain has a massive range with plenty of gears for the steepest climbs and descents, and shifting was crisp and accurate. However, we did feel that the jump from the 48-tooth big chainring to the 31-tooth small ring was quite large, and it required some serious forethought when shifting between them to keep a steady cadence. It didn't take long for us to fall in love with the Body Geometry Power Sport saddle. This saddle proved to be exceptionally comfortable, no matter the length of the ride, with an excellent shape and a generous anatomical relief channel/cutout. The Pathfinder Pro tires were a bit of a mixed bag on the climbs. We enjoyed their rolling speed on pavement and smooth, hard gravel roads, but we found that they didn't provide a ton of traction in loose or rough surfaces.
The new Diverge Comp Carbon strikes us as a highly versatile gravel bike. This bike is ideally suited for any gravel riding you have in mind, from casual spins with friends to hardcore training, racing, road riding, and even bike packing if that's your thing.
Clearly, this bike was designed with gravel riding in mind, but Specialized also went out of their way to add a plethora of mounts to the frame and fork to make it a capable bike packing rig. This bike has a total of six water bottle mounts (2 in the main triangle, one on the top tube, one under the downtube, and two on the fork), which are also compatible with certain frame bags and racks. The rear triangle is ready for a rear rack, and fender mounts have been cleverly hidden front and back. Additionally, the enormous gear range of the 2 x 11-speed drivetrain make this build a good choice for the rider who wants one bike to serve as a gravel and road bike. The Diverge can run with either 700c or 650b wheels and tires, depending on your preference.
The Diverge Comp is relatively lightweight, but it does weigh a couple of pounds more than the lightest bikes we tested.
Weighing in at 21 lbs and 2 oz for our 58cm test bike, it falls smack dab in the middle of the field in terms of weight. It turns out that features we love, like SWAT storage and Future Shock suspension, add a little weight, so comfort and user-friendliness are a bit of a tradeoff in this case. While we certainly wouldn't classify the Diverge as heavy, it can't quite compete with the competition in this metric. That said, it doesn't feel cumbersome while riding, though the additional pounds may make a difference throughout a long ride or race.
Our evaluation of a bike's build considers features and components such as drivetrains, brakes, pedals, and more. Different build kits can significantly influence how comfortable and functional a bike is.
The Diverge Comp Carbon comes equipped with a very nice build that performs well, earning a 9 out of 10. While the Comp specification is very far from the top of the line, it feels excellent and functions perfectly. It also helps to keep the price of this bike below the $4K mark.
Specialized has equipped the Diverge Comp Carbon with Shimano's new GRX gravel-specific drivetrain and brakes. It comes with a 2 x 11-speed GRX RX810 drivetrain that has a considerable range and shifts crisp and clean as we've come to expect from Shimano. The cassette is an 11-34T paired with a 48/31T front chainring combo. Speed control duties are tasked to powerful GRX 810 hydraulic disc brakes and center lock 160mm IceTech rotors.
The Diverge Comp Carbon rolls on a pair of DT Swiss G540 tubeless-ready rims with Specialized hubs. These sturdy wheels are laced up with DT Swiss Champion 14G stainless steel spokes and DT Swiss brass nipples. A matched pair of Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss ready tires with tan walls come stock on the bike. It comes with tubes, but converting it to tubeless only requires some tire sealant and tubeless valve stems, a quick, affordable, and worthwhile upgrade. The Pathfinder tires have a smooth center tread that rolls quickly on paved and smooth dirt road surfaces. A little textured tread on the shoulders of the tire helps them have a little cornering bite, but they are far from aggressive.
The Diverge Comp Carbon cockpit is comfortable and consists of house brand components. A 100mm alloy Future stem clamps a Specialized Hover Adventure Gear alloy handlebar with a 12-degree flare. The handlebar is wrapped in thick Roubaix S-wrap foam handlebar tape. A Roval Terra Carbon seat post with 20mm of offset supports a Specialized Body Geometry Power Sport saddle with steel rails. This snub-nosed saddle has a large anatomical relief channel and cutout, and we found it impressively comfortable.
Specialized makes the new Diverge in carbon and aluminum frames in many different build options to suit a wide range of budgets. We tested the Comp Carbon model toward the lower end of the carbon models in their lineup.
Specialized makes two less expensive carbon-framed models of the Diverge. Both the Sport Carbon and the Base Carbon feature the same geometry, a Fact 8r carbon frame, and Future Shock 1.5 suspension, but they do not have the SWAT storage feature. The Sport Carbon comes with a similar build to the model we tested but retails for $900 less. The Base Carbon costs $2,500 and comes with a SRAM Apex 1 x 11-speed drivetrain and Apex hydraulic disc brakes. Beyond these more affordable models, Specialized makes three more expensive carbon models ascending in price up to the top-of-the-line S-Works Diverge that will set you back a whopping $10,000.
Specialized also produces five affordable aluminum-framed models of the Diverge, which share the same geometry as their carbon siblings. Three of the aluminum models come with drop handlebars, and two, known as EVO models, come with flat handlebars and dropper seatposts. E5 aluminum Diverge models range in price from $1,150 to $2,600.
The Diverge Comp Carbon comes thoughtfully built and doesn't really need any upgrades. However, depending on where and how you ride this bike, you might want to consider swapping out the stock tires for something more aggressive. The Pathfinder tires work very well on firm and smooth surfaces, although they don't have a lot of bite when things get chunky or loose. Otherwise, those looking to shave some weight from this bike would be wise to consider upgrading the stock wheels to a lightweight carbon fiber model.
Should You Buy the Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon?
The Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon is an excellent gravel bike. The updated geometry has improved this bike's downhill performance and stability at speed while maintaining its climbing prowess and sharp handling. The improved Future Shock 2.0 works well and helps to make this one of the most comfortable gravel bikes we've tested. The addition of SWAT downtube storage is an excellent user-friendly feature that we thoroughly enjoyed. On top of all that, this bike comes with a superb build kit and all of the frame and fork mounts you could ever need to load it up for overnight adventures. It may be a touch heavier than we'd like, but that wouldn't stop us from recommending this highly versatile gravel rig to anyone.
What Other Gravel Bikes Should You Consider?
The Diverge Comp Carbon is one of the most expensive gravel bikes we've tested. That said, we still feel it is a solid value considering its all-around performance, versatility, great build kit, and quality carbon frame. If the Comp Carbon model is out of your price range, the Canyon Grail CF SL 7 is another excellent bike that costs significantly less. You may sacrifice some features on the build, but overall performance is top-notch.
— Jeremy Benson
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