‘Jack of all trades’ is a term usually levelled at somebody, backhandedly, who claims to be able to do everything. It’s usually followed by ‘Master of none’ indicating that they spend so much time doing a bit of everything that really they never get to grips with any one thing in particular. The ‘Jack’ of cycling has long been established as the Hybrid bike and the concept is pretty simple, road sized wheels, a frame more akin to a hardtail MTB, and front suspension. They ride off-road and they ride on road and do it to a decent level. Master? Well they can’t really go near the speeds of a road bike and they can’t really tackle Fort Billy either.
Enter the 2015 Specialized Diverge: a road bike? Cyclocross bike? Urban steed? Tourer?
The Diverge from Specialized has emerged from cyclocross riding but isn’t really a cyclocross bike. On paper it looks like a road bike but isn’t really that either...well...not totally.
Firstly the Diverge will do road miles and it will do lots of them. The ride position is relaxed and comfortable, similar in feel to the Roubaix, leaving you to pedal to your heart’s content on the tarmac. Road gearing with a double upfront also veers the bike toward the road side of things. 700c wheels are fitted with 30c tyres for extra cushioning and surface contact which will affect your top speed. This may be a negative if you’re that way inclined but are a bonus when you leave the smooth stuff behind.
And leave it behind you will. Point the front wheel down that lane you always ride past, wondering what was down the end of it, or ride through that woodland on the distant hill to get to that tasty descent on the other side and the Diverge’s hidden talents come to the fore.
The frame contains Specialized’s Zertz inserts which are designed to absorb vibration from the surface and stop your arms taking a battering. The rear stays have that distinctive ‘gazelle leg’ shape to do the same job with your rear end. The relaxed position that allows you to sit pretty on the road gives you much more command over steering on tricky terrain, better than many cyclocross bikes whose emphasis on speed tends to over look the control aspect. Disc brakes provide great stopping power even when covered in brown slime.
There’s even pannier mounts to carry packed lunch.
Obviously the off-road aspect is limited. Without suspension you’ll never tear up the juicy end of the Forest of Dean on a Diverge (although the Akriggs of the world probably could) but keeping up with friends on their road specific bikes is definitely possible, and you can go where they can’t.
“Yeah. I’ll just catch up with you in the cafe in a bit”
Jack of all trades? Yes.
Master of none? Well, its road knowledge is expert and its off-road is certainly ‘enthusiastic amateur’, rider ability is probably more of a restriction. But if you want to go out of your front door and not be restricted by the orange and yellow lines on the OS map on a day, weekend, week-long ride, then yes.
It’s got adventure mastered.