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2018 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Review – The Do-It All Philosophy

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The 2018 Specialized Diverge is a bike series to be reckoned with! Capturing a gravel bike nature that stands out amongst those that claim to have found that ‘Do-It All Philosophy’.

The Comp E5 model in the Diverge range, brings you closer to buying a gravel bike, thanks to its price that won’t suck the life out of your bank account. While the bike itself, does have that optimistic approach to the road, or dirt, ahead; does it supply a worthy amount of ‘Do-It All’ medicine to your riding? I’m eager to find out!

The Frame:

The Diverge Comp E5 rolls out with a trusty E5 Premium Aluminium frame. Hardly anything to boast about, at that. However, Specialized did deliver some carbon relief on the fork. The aluminium frame and carbon fork, did gel well together, as the fork offered compliance to the overall ride. Given the frame and fork materials, the bike is relatively competitive when it comes to pricing.

Future Shock FTW!

Saving the day, and providing the bike with that taste for adventure, was Specialized’s Future Shock. Offering 20mm of shock travel integrated into the top part of the fork steerer, the Diverge’s Future Shock immediately took the edge off those bump-riddled gravel roads. By suspending the rider, as opposed to the entire bike, the Future Shock can now stop any unappetizing vibrations from being transferred through the bike and onto the rider. Thus, decreasing fatigue on your arms and hands. During the ride I found that I could ride faster downhill, whether on-road or off-road. I think it added that extra bit of confidence, that a gravel bike needs.

Match Any Terrain 

A pair of Axis Elite Disc wheels with Espoir Sport 700x30mm tyres, allowed the Diverge Comp to compete on almost any terrain. The thickness of the tyre was enough to absorb minor obstacles, yet narrow enough to provide lower rolling resistance on the tar. With a 30mm tyre width, I experienced some good traction, for a gravel bike.

Because the bike is designed to blend a mountain bike and road bike together, you don’t get the sort of nerve on dirt with these wheels, as you would with a mountain bike. However, you can keep up with road bikes, due to the wheel nature. All-in-all I got enough balance coming from the wheels to tackle dirt roads and single-track, while minimum rolling resistance on the open tar roads.


The 2018 Specialized Diverge comes locked and loaded with Open Road geometry. On first impressions, I was quite surprised at its sprightly cornering motions. It felt like it had a mountain bike’s will for single-track. The Diverge goes to show, that its geometry is the ideal bridge between the dimensions and angles of a road bike, and trail bike.

From the previous models in the Diverge range, you immediately see that the 2018 version has a lower BB, slacker head-tube, and shorter chain-stay. While maintaining a 73.5-degree seat-tube angle, and 72.5-degree head-tube angle, specific to a Men’s 56cm frame size. With those metrics having been mentioned; I can say that the riding position did feel stretched out, and airy. Since that is what you’d expect from a gravel bike.



 FRAME: Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum

FORK: Diverge disc, FACT carbon fibre

BRAKES Tektro Spyre

WHEELS: Axis Elite Disc

TIRES: Espoir Sport

DRIVETRAIN: Shimano 105 11spd

SADDLE: Body Geometry Toupé Sport

HANDLEBARS: Specialized Shallow Drop

The Ride:

The Specialized Diverge Comp, didn’t let an opportunity slip through its spokes, to impress its rider! I can say from my side; I was quite eager to let the bike loose on dirt. While the nature of a gravel grinder supplies enough compliance for long road rides, and gravel riddled paths, the Diverge had other plans. A bone rattling experience awaited me, when I finally mustered up enough valour (which the bike had plenty of), to head-off onto some single-track.

Despite being rocked to the core, and speed deprived on the single-track, the Diverge Comp E5 handled delightfully like a mountain bike. Since Specialized have worked in some of their Trail Geometry, one doesn’t feel as though you’re navigating a road bike along dirt paths. The bike was increasingly swift with the turning of the handle bars.

Pure, open, gravel roads were also on the cards during my evaluation of the Diverge. Settling into a nice cruising gear was made simple by Shimano’s 105 11spd gear-set. Together with the Future Shock technology taking the edge off uneasy obstacles; the bike served as a perfect example the adventure character that every rider looks for in a gravel bike.

Living up to that Do-it-All philosophy? I certainly think so!

On the tarmac, the Diverge instinctively acted like a road pedal-power machine. The dropper bars, were something I took pleasure in using. Even if it was to just duck out of the winds. The Specialized branded, Toupé Sport saddle, and well cushioned cockpit area, demoted overall fatigue on the road. For example; the numb-bum factor didn’t even pop its head out of the ground. The bike simply had that will to go on and on, without giving away too much fatigue on the rider.


Okay let’s face it; the Specialized Diverge Comp E5 gravel bike model, is not the lightest or most technically advanced gravel bike out there. However, I’ve come to find that it upholds that Diverge character quite well, despite the lower spec. Plus, for the price range its competing in, it brings the average cycling enthusiast, closer to buying one.

I’d like to see some hydraulic disc brakes come through on this particular Diverge model. Even though they may nudge the price up a little. It would certainly be worth it.

2018 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Review – The Do-It All Philosophy
Price: R28 000 

6 thoughts on “2018 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Review – The Do-It All Philosophy”

  1. Joel, you talk about the stock tires that come with the bike on your review but the photos show you rode it with the tracer pro tubeless tires as well… Do you have anything to say about the way the bike behaved with said tires and how much clearance for bigger tires the is on the frame? Thanks!

    1. JoelM

      Yes I do, actually! The tires we rode in the review were equipped to make the bike more adaptable to our test terrain. At the time of testing, we were well into our summer season, where the trails were quite loose on grip, and extremely dry and dusty. The Tracer Pro, tire-set was just more suited to this type of conditions.
      As for sizing; you could probably run a 700x38mm tire size on the Diverge Comp E5, as opposed to a 700x30mm (which we rode).

  2. Hi Joel. Very good post! I am realy thinking about this bike. I can see you rode a 56 frame size bike. Would you mind to tell me how much is your height and you how did you feel on the bike. I am in doubt about 56 and 58 sizes. Thanks a lot.

    1. JoelM

      Hey Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment! Yeah my height is 1.83-meters, so the 56cm was ideal. However, if you have a relatively longer upper body, I recommend going for the 58cm frame size.

  3. Ive just bought this exact bike, but in a 58cm size. I sold my 2016 Diverge Carbon Comp, and bought this.

    This review is somewhat of a head scratcher, as throughout you got the tire sizing incorrect, and even concluded that the 30c tires were a weakness, however in the picutres you are clearly running 38c tracers (front, 33c back).

    You also make a comment about the mechanical brakes, and in the conclusion you say the specification isnt that great too. From my direct comparison, there is literally no immediate difference between the hydraulic Shimano 105 brakes i had on the Carbon Comp and the mechanical variant on this bike. I think hydraulic brakes are highly overrated these days considering that mechanica brake technology has jumped forwards in heaps (in fact its the rotors and pads that have made this a comparable technology, but you can see that in the new flat mount design they have re thought out the “feel” of mechanical brakes).

    At the price point of R28k (2019 price is now above R30k – thanks Cyril!) the carbon variant of this bike at almost double the price is not that much better in spec (still 2×11, still axis allow wheels etc).

    Comparing the 2016 carbon comp i rode 8000km on, time will tell if my decision to move to alloy was a good one, but so far the bike actually feels fantastic when compared, mostly the CX geometry they have finally changed to Gravel.

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Built for: Dual Suspension Trail
Year launched: 2022