When Specialized contacted us to say they wanted to give us a hand full of Diverge Expert X1 Carbon bikes to allow our customers to experience them first hand out in the wild, it was an offer we couldn't refuse.
The Specialized Diverge has been the quiet achiever in the road range for a few seasons now but always one that people approach with a little confusion. "What? A road bike you can ride off road? Why wouldn't I buy a CX bike?" This is how we answered those questions.
A select group of genuinely interested people were selected to join us and try out the bikes for an entire weekend. We put the bikes through all possible conditions. City roads, country roads, fast descents, high speed turns, dirt roads, long climbs, technical off road climbs, technical descents and all in one ride.
The biggest surprise for people was how smooth and fast the bikes rolled on road with bigger tyres , handled on high speed descents and climbed off road.
We departed the store with much enthusiasm with some of the crew just happy to be free of the kids for 24hrs.
Heading out of town we pointed the bikes towards the back roads of the Sugarloaf Range throwing the bikes at the steep steps and relentless pinches of Archery rd.
One of the biggest challenges we found was the fine line between too much pressure and not enough once we hit the dirt. Most riders found a happy medium which was rewarded with good traction but enough to avoid pinch flats. Others weren't so lucky getting a little too excited on descents and squaring off too hard in the rocky sections.
Pushing across to the summit of Mt Sugarloaf fatigue was starting to set in but everyone still had their stoke on hitting speeds of over 90kph as we took in the sunset down Sugarloaf Rd.
With dinner on our minds we raced the sun back through minmi and across the punishing final hills of Blackhill to pull up stumps at a small farm house which we would call home for the night.
Tony Harrison from the Lowlands Bistro who had joined us on the ride, put on a feast for sore stomachs which really hit the spot and as the night wore on everyone kicked back by the fire to speak of battles old and won.
The next morning sore heads bore a well response to Tony's cold brew coffee and B&E rolls before we stretched out and climbed about the Diverge for the ride towards home.
We rolled a solid paceline back across the main roads back into Newcastle testing the group ride potential for these bikes sitting on a comfortable high average all the way back to Lambton for another well deserved coffee.
All in all the best part of the weekend was just how surprised at the capability and versatility of this bike. With the inclusion of pannier mounts on most models and the growing interest in touring and bike packing it really leaves nothing out of reach for the everyday rider. If you are looking for a bike that is a bit of a Jack of all trades, this would have to be it.
Diverge and Conquer.
Seek and Enjoy
Massive thanks to Jeff Moore and the crew at Specialized Australia for their on going support.