Specialized Diverge EVO: a flat-bar gravel bike

The gravel bike concept as a whole is in a continual state of flux, ebbing and flowing as new innovations pop up with every passing season. And of all the manufacturers, Specialized is one that keeps tearing up the gravel bike script. 

Having just unveiled the third incarnation of its successful Diverge gravel bike, Specialized has concocted and launched something entirely new alongside it - the Diverge EVO. Aimed to appeal to a broader audience, the EVO will look to bring the wonderment of gravel riding to those of the rowdier trail and enduro mountain bike persuasion.

The Diverge EVO has been penned to push the limits of what was previously considered achievable on a gravel bike. Boasting flat bars and a more progressive geometry layout, it offers a slacker, 70-degree head angle, a five millimetre lower bottom bracket and an additional 30mm longer reach over the regular drop-bar model. It will be available in two guises, Expert and Comp.

While some may argue the Diverge EVO is more mountain bike than gravel bike, the concept certainly blurs the lines between both disciplines and makes for an interesting debate. Whatever it is, we like it.

For now, a carbon frame is not an option on the EVO. Instead, Specialized has paired its E5 aluminium frame material with a carbon fork to help reduce weight and improve vibration-damping. Like the regular Diverge, the Future Shock is present albeit in two separate states of tune. The Expert EVO will utilise the 2.0 version while the Comp will make do with the stripped-down 1.5 version, which gets the same 20mm of progressive travel but forgoes the adjustability. 

The rhetoric behind Future Shock hinges around what Specialized calls axial compliance. By positioning the shock above the headtube, the engineers have been able to create a rigid platform that promotes better compliance, performance and response - suspend the rider, not the bike.

The EVO has enough frame clearance for of up to 47mm (700C wheelset) and 2.1in in 650b configuration. It will be available in 1x setup only, utilising a 40T chainring in combination with a Shimano XT 10-45T 1x12 cassette (Expert) and SRAM NX 1x11 (Comp). Component wise, both models get an X-Fusion Manic dropper post (50mm travel), a Specialized Power saddle and Rhombus Pro 42C gravel tyres but differ by way of wheels. 

With pricing pegged at £2,399 for the Expert and £1,599 for the Comp, the Specialized Diverge EVO is expected to go on sale in the UK in late June.

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Aaron Borrill

Aaron was the Tech Editor Cyclingnews between July 2019 and June 2022. He was born and raised in South Africa, where he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. Throughout this career, Aaron has spent almost two decades writing about bikes, cars, and anything else with wheels. Prior to joining the Cyclingnews team, his experience spanned a stint as Gear & Digital editor of Bicycling magazine, as well as a time at TopCar as Associate Editor. 

Now based in the UK's Surrey Hills, Aaron's life revolves around bikes. He's a competitive racer, Stravaholic, and Zwift enthusiast. He’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, completed the Haute Route Alps, and represented South Africa in the 2022 Zwift eSports World Championships.

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB