S-Works Diverge Relaxing by the River
I’m touring with this awesome new custom-built 2019 Specialized Diverge S-Works bike. And by “custom” I mean everything except the frameset was added to my specifications to ensure a comfortable ride.
It’s an S-Works Diverge frameset, built by Specialized Bicycles. The company was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard, a cycling enthusiast who sold his Volkswagen Bus for $1,500 to fund a cycle tour of Europe, where he bought handlebars and stems made by Cinelli to take back to the US. Sinyard started out importing Italian bike components that were difficult to find in the United States, but the company began to produce its own bike parts by 1976, starting with the Specialized Touring Tire.
“AS A COMPANY OF PASSIONATE RIDERS, WE INTUITIVELY RECOGNIZE THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE AND CYCLING ON OUR OWN ABILITIES TO FOCUS.” – Mike Sinyard
Question: Brian, why Specialized Bicycles? “Simply put, engineering, commitment to quality, and a warranty program that understands; SH!T HAPPENS.”
My Specialized Diverge Frameset:
The frame is the most important part of a bicycle. It’s like the foundation of a house, it needs to be solid and well-made. While the fun begins when you hit the road, you still need a well-engineered bike that’ll support you during your tour. One bike that crushes through road miles and treats the offroad as if it didn’t exist.
My Diverge frameset is made of FACT 11r Carbon (where most touring bikes are steel frames), a Future Shock Progressive suspension with 20mm of travel, and front/rear thru-axles. Why carbon versus steal? Well, most people believe durability outweighs function. I think differently…
All other components should also be high quality, but without using too many fancy high-tech solutions. If something breaks in a third world country, you don’t want to be stuck waiting for spare parts to be shipped from home. ‘Sometimes’, it’s better to favor standard sizes and solutions, but ‘That’s not how Brian rolls!’
- Shimano Ulterga D2i Hydraulic Disc Brake
- Shimano Ultegra DUAL CONTROL LEVER (2×11-speed)
- WTB Horizon 47″ Tires
- Roval CLX 32 Disc 650B Wheelset
- Shimano HOLLOWTECH II Crankset (2×11-speed)
- Shimano HG Cassette Sprocket (11-32T)
- Crankbrothers Candy 7 Pedals
- Thomson Elite Seatpost
- S-Works Power Arc Saddle
The Marked Improvements Compared to My Old Bike:
My first bike was a 2016 Specialized Roubaix.
This year’s highlight, wider tires. I used to tour on 32mm and going off asphalt was never a pleasant experience. Hopefully, with 1,400 miles into my new tour, these WTB Tires will continue to offer a smoother ride on all surfaces.
Brake-Shifters. My old bar-end shifters were okay, but it’s invigorating using the D2i shifters and being able to see, with a quick glance, what gear I’m on. This year I feel safer using the D2i and its noticeable in traffic because I’m not having to look down at my cassette sprocket. Breaking is about the same and a standout function feature this year is being able to shift gears while standing in steep uphills.
Saddle. The Specialized Power Arch Saddle replaces my old Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Comp Saddle. This new saddle is lighter in weight and offers about the same comfort level as my old saddle. The Power Arch has FACT carbon fibre shell and lightweight EVA padding. The shape is also designed to provide ample sit bone support and has been coupled with a shorter-than-usual nose section to keep pressure off of soft tissue while riding in all positions.
Choose wisely! A saddle is equal to a good pillow and we all know a SH!T pillow makes for a crappy night’s sleep. To add, everyone is sold on a Brooks Saddle but not me! The reason why, I have padding in all my shorts, plus my butt forms to the saddle over time. Brooks, well, you’re always slipping and sliding and never comfortable in one place.
Soon after getting bitten by the cycling tour bug, you’ll need to purchase your first ‘real’ bike. The myriad of prices, models and types of bikes available makes the process not unlike buying a car. All I want to add is, maintain realistic expectations about what you need and what you can afford when buying or building a new touring bike.
- Establish a Budget. Modern bikes can cost as much as $15,000, and while these bikes are super cool, there is no need to spend that much to get a bike that will allow you to have a safe and fun ride.
- Start Putting it Together. Once you have your budget established, and your riding style defined, it’s time to try out some bikes! For your first purchase, it is highly recommended to buy local and avoid mail order. Whether you buy new, used, or dealer leftover stock, it is imperative that you throw a leg over your first tour bike before you drop your hard-earned coin. Spend time at local bike shops taking bikes out for short test rides in the parking lot. Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few serious contenders, see if you can do a paid demo or check with the local shop for “Demo Days” where the vendors will set up at a local ride day with different model bikes to test.
- Ready to Buy. So you’ve found the perfect bike! It fits you, it’s within your budget, and you can’t wait to bring it home. Before getting all giddy and handing over your money, do just one more bit of research. Make sure to get the terms of any warranty that comes with the bike. This is important to know before getting out on the road and starting your tour. Also, ask about any follow-up tune-ups. Most shops offer free tune-ups 30 to 90 days after the purchase date, 1 free after the first year, or even lifetime like Simon’s Bike Shop in Vancouver, BC.
Ginger-Bella is Not For Sale at Simon’s Bike Shop. Ginger Just Loves Watching People Purchase Specialized Bikes!!
- Finally. Buy what YOU want and not what someone else tells you to purchase. Guess what? This bike is going to be your home, best friend, Camel, Pack Mule, saviour, trusted companion, and the envy of every weekend warrior for years to come. So, take advice, don’t use advice, be mindful, stay away from the sales pitch, live and learn, have fun, and buy what you want/need. That’s it, folks!
Ride safe and see you on the road.
By Brian Nadon