Specialized has been busy designing FutureShock Rear, a small shock providing 30mm of travel for the back end of its Diverge gravel bike.
But does the system provide anything for the rider? And is that travel worth the £7,500/$7,500 starting price?
Jack Luke has been putting the gravelly miles in and has returned with all of the answers. Here is his expert opinion, but would you buy this gravel bike? Let us know in the comments 👇
#Gravel #Cycling #SspecializedDiverge
1:19 Key Tech
3:04 Spec Overview
3:54 Fiddle-friendly setup
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The specialized diverge Str retains the Excellent ride quality and impressive Versatility of the previous generation Bike adding a rear suspension system That while divisive is genuinely Effective setting up the Future Shock Rear system is a fiddly and involved Process but once dialed in it offers a Creamy smooth gravel riding experience That doesn't feel like anything else Some will balk at the complexity of the System and while it performs perfectly This base model's build isn't especially Competitive for the asking price that Aside the diverge Str is a hugely Versatile and comfortable bike that will Be equally at home costing the delicate Rear of bike path trundlers and spicy go Fast Racers we'll briefly cover the key Tech details from the diverge Str in This video but we're going to primarily Focus on assessing the ride quality of The bike If you want an in-depth look at the bike Check out our original news video There's a link to that in the video Description and in the card above and if You want to jump straight to my ride Impressions check out the timestamps Below In the meantime don't forget to like Subscribe and click that little bell Icon so every time we upload a video Like this you'll get a notification
Before we get stuck in here's a quick Refresher on the key Tech behind the Diverge Str the Future Shock is a small Suspension system that sits between the Stem and the head tube improving Comfort By suspending the rider's hands Specialized first introduce the Future Shock way back in 2017 with the bike of The Year winning Ruby it then ported the Tack over to the diverge gravel bike in 2017. I was initially enormously Skeptical about the system but was won Over after riding the last two Generations of the diverge it really is Effective and has won plenty love among Many of our testers on bike radar and You can actually check out my review of The previous generation diverge in the Cards above the diverge SDR introduces Future Shock rear As the name implies this is a suspension System designed to suspend the rider's Butt improving Comfort Brands build rear End compliance into gravel bikes through A variety of means but dropping the top Tube to expose a large amount of seat Post is the simplest way to accomplish This the SDR takes this concept to the Extreme essentially turning the whole Seat tube into a great big old Wiggly Waggly seatpost a conventional seat post Slots into a flexible frame post this is Clamped low down on the frame and is Designed to provide up to 30 millimeters
Of rearward flex this in turn is Connected to a damper integrated into The top tube this controls the rebound And the compression of the system now That's only a brief overview of what is A moderately complex bit of tech again Head to our original news overview for a More in-depth look at how it works now Let's take a quick look at the spec I Have been testing the specialized Diverge Str expert this is the base Model for the diverge Str which now sit Down for this costs 7 500 pounds or Seven thousand five hundred dollars now For that you get a rival e-tap crank set And shifters with a GX rear derailleur And cassette now that's a nominally Middle of the road build for what was Only a few years ago top end cash while It's not the subject of this video the Top end builds are absolutely Daft money Now thirteen thousand pounds or fourteen Thousand dollars does get you dream Everything but well there's more to say On that specialized is hardly alone in This regard but I'm sure plenty of you Will have something to say about that in The comments before we get on to the Ride quality it's worth discussing the Setup of the diverge every stock diverge Str ships with two frame posts designed To suit a range of Rider weights nine Different frame posts are available in Total each frame post features a
Directional layer offering differing Levels of compliance as you turn the Frame Post in 90 degree increments This results in 18 different stiffness Settings with a quoted Rider weight Range of 44 kilograms all the way to 122 Kilograms all frame posts are available To buy from specialized if you fall Outside the quoted range for the stock Options for example if you're very tall But very light you may want to go for a Different frame post to tune your Compliance pricing and availability for The frame plus is to be confirmed though Now the frame post is connected to a Hydraulic damper integrated into the Bike's top tube via an aluminum strut That specialized calls a tendon this Damper tempers the movement of the Future Shock rear system the same damper Is used across all frame sizes but Rebound speed can be adjusted using a Hex key the system also offers three Compression settings that will be Familiar to any mountain biker open firm And locked out These can be selected on the Fly via a Small lever just behind the strut Specialized says your weight and Preference largely dictate how you set Up the system now while this is a good Starting point fit also had an Unexpectedly large effect on how the System operates
Now I'm jumping ahead just a little bit Here but for example all sizes of the Diverge Str ship with a 20 millimeter Setback seat post with a saddle clamped In the middle of the Rails the Str System felt very very active pushing the Saddle forward to suit my bike fit Greatly reduced the perceived amount of Flex in the system swapping the stock Seat post to an inline post would have The same effect it's also worth Mentioning that the SAG of the system or How much it moves when you actually sit On it also changes the effective seat Tube angle of the bike this impacts fit Further now none of this takes into Account the possibility of fitting bike Packing bags which could further impact The system swapping to a different frame Post or changing its orientation should Get you back to your desired ride fuel But the setup process isn't quite as Simple as specialized claims though Hardly onerous you shouldn't expect to Set and forget on your first ride However once dialed in the Future Shock Rear system is luxuriously smooth the Future shot career is far more sensitive To small bumps than a conventional rear Suspension system This is primarily because as it's Essentially a big old bendy tube it Really isn't subject to the effects of Stiction stiction is the amount of
Static friction a system must overcome Before it operates and it can affect the Small Bump sensitivity on conventional Suspension systems the performance of The system is most notable when pedaling Seated on Fast and chattery fire roads Where larger unexpected bumps would Usually Buck the rider off of course or At the very least disrupt your pedaling Rhythm the diverge Str rear Future Shock System really just helps calm things Down a bit this aligns with specialized Key claim around the system with a bit Of Squish for your Peach a rider should Be able to remain seated for longer on Rougher terrain which is more efficient Unlike conventional suspension seat post Which typically move more or less Vertically the scr system moves in an Arc this means your saddle height does Not change as the system works however When pedaling seated the effective reach From the saddle to the bars changes a Small but perceptible amount as the System flexes this will either be Quickly forgotten about or you will find It quite annoying depending on how Sensitive you are to such things now I Fall into the latter category and found The sensation to be quite distracting While very effective when clattering Long and flatter surfaces or when Climbing the system is less useful when Descending it's important to remember
The system is not suspension in the Stricter sense of the word future shot Career only suspends the rider so it Does not help to improve control when You're standing however on untactical Descents the system should help if you Stay seated but I actually found it Impossible to retrain my brain and Overcome this urge to stand up when Descending up front Future Shock is as Effective as ever but you shouldn't Expect the diverge Str to be an Extraordinary descending demon something Like The BMC erz LT or the Cannondale Topstone is the bike for you if that's What you're after or a mountain bike on The subject of comparisons it Bears Briefly talking about Trek's ISO speed Decoupler ISO speed separates the top Tube and seat troops at the seat cluster Allowing the lateral to flex around a Pivot I've ridden both systems and all Honestly they are incomparable ISO speed Is effective in a different way taking The sting out of bumps and vibrations But it doesn't really react in a Noticeable way to big hits which Future Shock clear definitely does those Specialized will curse me for drawing This comparison the closest feeling Equivalent system I've ridden would be The soft ride suspension system the Future Shock rear feels far more refined And doesn't exhibit any of the unnerving
Side to side waggling you get with soft Ride but it does offer a similar Always-on floaty feel that totally Isolates you from rough Terrain in Summary for seated pedaling this old Wiggly waggler is very very effective But a full suspension mountain bike it Is not the diverge Str retains the Versatility that made the previous Generation bike so appealing with Clearance for 650b tires up to 2.1 Inches wide and mounts from mud guards And snack packs really could turn this Bike to many many tasks this level of Versatility is absent from many Mainstream gravel bikes and specialized Deserves praise for including Compatibility with things like front Patio racks other details such as the Swap box further improve practicality on That I noted in my last diverge review That the needlessly long stock bottle Cages stuck proud of the swap box door These would catch anything loose such as A jacket every time you removed it from The box perhaps it's just my massive ego Getting the better of me but I like to Think somebody at Specialized HQ read my Review and acted as the bolts on the new Diverge Str are considerably shorter However as before the square nuts are Not secured to the underside of the lid This makes swapping bottle cages really Fiddly if this test bike were my own I
Would preemptively secure these in place With a dab of Super Glue I don't like The idea of rushing around the bowels of That down tube trying to find an errant Nut call me a patent if you will but That is my job The Rival and GX combo drivetrain offers Reliable and crisp shifting with ample Range on that chunky 10 to 52 tooth Cassette the lovely ruval Carbon wheels Also plump up the much improved Tracer Pro Tires to a supportive profile just Briefly on tires the old Pathfinder Tires specked on the original diverge Were terrible if you like riding in Anything except Boon dry conditions These ones while by no means aggressive Are far better than sort of typically Damp conditions I find here in the Southwest of the UK however from a pure Brand hierarchy snobbery point of view Does sting a little bit to be getting Third tier components only seven and a Half thousand pound bike now I'm no bike Brand apologist you must factor in the Fact this Frame is fairly complex Specialized is also hardly alone here a Rival equipped Trek checkpoint SLR which Set you back only 1 hundred pounds less Is seven thousand four hundred pounds Clearly this is not a bike that intends To hit a competitive price point For those seeking nominative value for Money Shop elsewhere now I'm an advocate
For long-term repairability and the Diverge deserves a little bit of Scrutiny in this area now the same point Could be leveled at any bike that Includes proprietary Tech which is just About all of them these days but the Uniqueness of the diverge Str suspension System raised my eyebrows specialized Vast Market presence means Parts should Be available for many years to come but Who's to say you'll be able to get a Hold of a replacement damper at 10 or Even 15 years again you could level the Exact same point that the Cannondale top Stones or track checkpoints of this World Whether or not this matters to you Depends on your attitude towards Obsolescence but it's something that Would weigh on my mind as a dedicated Home tinkerer I've changed my mind about The diverge multiple times since it Launched from initial mock horror at its Challenging Loops to a growing Appreciation for what is a very Effective bit of tech it's not a bike I Found easy to love nor dismiss outright Truthfully I couldn't see myself buying The diverge that's not to say it isn't Good in fact it's very good at what it Sets out to do but it's just a bit too Fussy for my tastes sticking with Specialized something like the Crux Really tickles my pickle and that will
Be the case for many riders however if You like your bikes to be at The Cutting Edge of performance and can get over the Middling spec for the cash you'll love The diverge Str The quirky Future Shock rear system does Work very well even if it is a bit of a Pain to set up and retains all the Welcome versatility of the old diverge But what do you think this is just my Opinion could you get over the strange Loops of the diverge or do you love it As always leave your thoughts in the Comments and if you have any questions About the bike do leave them there I Always read them and I'll do my best to Get back to you in the meantime thanks For watching this video If you enjoyed It give us a cheeky thumbs up and if you Haven't done so already slap that little Bell icon so every time we upload a Video like this you'll get a Notification Oh