2023 Specialized Diverge STR, new rear "suspension"

Spesh info:






No thanks. Just more stuff to break that I can’t service myself.


Looks like a SuperCaliber


Nope. Hard pass. Looks terrible cosmetically and functionally. Glad for innovation.

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I literally text my sponsor Spesh shop owner and told him this thing looks like a supercaliber haha.

I followed it with why didnt they just do a short travel Evo Brain with drop bars and future shock haha

I like it. Especially because I love dropper posts for gravel, so I don’t get to enjoy the benefits of comfy carbon seatposts.

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Yikes, gravel bikes are getting out of hand. It’s cool but at what point do you just buy a full suspension mountain bike instead. I think this works well for people doing ultra gravel races? Or do the Dylan Jawnson style build?

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At what point are gravel bikes mountain bikes with drop bars?

Yeah, Supercaliber + Checkpoint blended to me. My very first thought was Trek IsoSpeed on steroids. Spesh dropped the pivot point a TON and added a damper to handle what I presume is greater overall travel distance.


How much weight does it add? I feel like if I am riding something so rough that I want a rear suspension, I might as well step up to a full suspension XC bike.


I get your point, but I just see gravel taking the same trajectory that we have seen with road & MTB bikes. Each of those offers a nearly infinite range of bikes that run from hardcore racer to comfort rider.

Gravel is doing the same where we have minimalistic race bikes like Open and Cervelo, through more middle ground models like the regular Diverge and Checkpoint, out to the more long day packable bikes.

Suspension is one of the variables mixed in or left out of the equation there, that includes stuff like tire size, handlebar setup, frame geometry, 1x vs 2x gearing and other details that separate these.

Sure, there is some crossover that leads to questioning these approaching stuff like XC MTB race bikes (HT & FS) along with the prior existence of true drop bar MTB (Salsa Spearfish as the typical example).

When we look at the spectrum that exists between the sharpest road bike for crit & RR, all the way to the 200mm travel DH beasts, I think that having more options at each stage is a GOOD thing generally speaking. It’s funny to see people complain about having more options. Sure, there may be more options you choose to ignore because they don’t meet your needs & desires. But it sure doesn’t invalidate that choice for someone else.

Pick with your wallet and leave the rest those that want them. Let the marketplace help decide what stays or goes. A great side example is the fat bike revolution. It went from fringe to mainstream with tons of options with tire size, suspension and specs blowing up the industry for several seasons. Look at that area now and it has refined back down to a much narrower set of options with some brands dropping them entirely.

Gravel will likely play at that same game with more options than you can shake a stick at for a while. But I have no doubt that the exploration we see in this space will be refined over time to what makes the most sense from a mixed consumer & manufacturer perspective. Again, SOS we say with the progression that took place for MTB suspension since it exploded in the early '90’s.


Exactly this. Well said.


So, is the front suspension only the handlebars, but the rear is actual “read wheel travel”?

About 2-3 years ago?

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That is one reason I like the Trek Checkpoint SL models. They keep a standard seatpost configuation, but include the rear IsoSpeed that I think works so well. It may well be damped a bit compared to the seat mast cap option in their SLR line (like I have and love on my Boone), but from all I have read, is still one of the best “suspension” systems for otherwise rigid bikes.

The STR is still “rider suspension”, not “bike suspension”. This is the same discussion we had decades ago during the infancy of MTB suspension development.

The Diverge STR Futureshock front is “suspending the rider”, not the bike since the point of separation is ABOVE the frame in an overly simplistic view. Compare that to the gravel suspension forks that have the spring suspended element UNDER the frame (again overly simplified).

  • Like anything, there are pros/cons of each concept that we don’t have to dive into now.

Jump to the rear end here, and the rear tire in particular is still mounted rigidly to the main frame. The rider is “suspended” via what is effectively a leaf spring that flexes in a very rearward biased arc. That direction of movement is from the location of support and degree of freedom of the seattube to bend rearwards. This is just an extreme version of what Trek offers with their rear IsoSpeed.

Essentially, this STR is a rider suspension, not what we consider “full suspension” that is more like what Niner offers in their MCR 9 RDO gravel bike. That is more like “real suspension” that is typically seen in the MTB world.


Right. The Diverge STR Expert is $7500 US, and I suspect they will eventually come out with a lower cost Comp (I’d expect $5500 based on Diverge vs STR pricing gap). However how little I ride gravel/XC (have to drive 30+ minutes), I can get a nicely equipped Intense XC FS MTB from Costco at $3500 ($1000 discount vs direct).


I didn’t know this was a thing. :exploding_head::exploding_head::exploding_head:

No kidding… in store only or online??? :open_mouth: