Specialized, the Morgan Hill, CA-based behemoth of the American cycling industry, has laid claim to a number of wacky innovations over the years. They’ve done everything from the outlandish and impractical (check out its fUCI bike) to the practical and game-changing (like the original Brain shock, an inertia valve-operated rear shock). But the innovation, and subsequent bike, that the brand released today could be its wildest consumer-available technology yet.
The new Specialized Diverge STR, a gravel bike built for riding chunky dirt roads and technical trails, continues to blur the lines between road bike and mountain bike and comes kitted with something the Specialized engineers are calling rear Future Shock. It's a complement to the Diverge’s existing Future Shock, a shock-absorbing feature that lives in the head tube at the front end of the bike and works to soak up road vibrations. Rear Future Shock is entirely different—from the original tech as well as anything else on the market.
The new feature lives underneath the rider in the top tube and seat tube of the new frame. It works by offering 30 millimeters of tunable hydraulic suspension travel through a “frame post,” so-called because the bike doesn't actually have a traditional seat post. The frame post is attached to the Rear Future Shock and can move forward and back to absorb bumps. In addition, the frame post also comes in different stiffness profiles so you can further tune your ride characteristics to get exactly the feel that you want. (If this is all a bit confusing, we're right there with you, but once you take a glance at the photo below and the animation of the technology on Specialized's website, it all makes a lot more sense).
At first glance, the bike almost looks unfinished—the tiny shock absorber that bridges the gap between the top tube and seat post seems too dainty to do anything meaningful other than break. But according to Specialized engineers, it’s just the opposite. In their testing, the new technology provided increased comfort by allowing the saddle to move more and soak up bumps on both rough gravel and smooth gravel when compared to previous iterations of the Diverge. Rear Future Shock also contributed to less vibration at the saddle on a variety of road surfaces.
This is all a lot of technical jargon, but the Diverge STR is a technical bike. To put it plainly, the bike will let you ride on rougher trails more comfortably, allowing you to venture farther off from the pavement than perhaps any other bike can go. Specialized has been working on some version of this bike since 2014 with the simple goal of providing the fastest, most comfortable ride possible on gravel roads. In 2017 we had the pleasure of testing the S-Works Diverge on dream terrain, and it passed all tests with flying colors. This newest iteration stands to raise the bar even further for two-wheel based adventures.
Of course, all of that comfort and speed come at a cost. For the frame alone you’ll be shelling out $6,000. The cheapest fully kitted bike in the range runs $7,500, and for the top-of-the-line S-Works model that will have everyone swooning over your new bike, that will run you $14,000. The future ain’t cheap. But it sure looks fun.
Buy Now: $6,000+