When the first Specialized Roubaix debuted with 20mm of Future Shock suspension at the rear in 2016, it was an innovative solution to help riders glide over the brutal cobbles of the spring classics. Since then, the technology has become popular among professional and amateur riders alike who are searching for extra comfort on the rough stuff.
As gravel riding has skyrocketed in popularity, Specialized has found an even better home for its Future Shock technology, releasing the first Specialized Diverge gravel bike with Future Shock front suspension in 2017. Three years later, the brand developed Future Shock 2.0 on the 2020 Specialized Diverge, which allowed riders to lock out suspension rather than not being able to adjust it at all. Ian Boswell has since ridden this bike to victory at Unbound Gravel in 2021 and it is regularly seen on the podiums of some of the biggest gravel events in the world. Today, Specialized has gone one step further with Future Shock by releasing the new Diverge STR which is adorned with suspension at both the front and rear of the bike.
The front of the Diverge STR sticks with the same Future Shock 2.0 seen on the previous iteration: 20mm of adjustable, damped front travel that aims to keep riders in control and relieves impact on a rider’s frontal area – hands, arms and shoulders. On the go adjustment means that riders can turn the Future Shock on and off depending on the severity of the terrain, while the fork of the bike is rigid to aid handling.
It’s at the rear of the bike that the Diverge gets the biggest upgrade. Technicians developing the Diverge STR note that the main conundrum when creating the bike was making riders comfortable on rough roads while also retaining the instant acceleration that comes from a rigid frame. The solution, they say, is suspending the rider, rather than the wheel.
In order to do this, Specialized has added 30mm of travel to the back of the bike through Rear Future Shock. The system is made up of three main components: the framepost, the tendon, and the damper. As the frame post acts as a spring, the damper controls the movement of the spring and the tendon ties them together.
As a rider hits a bump or pothole, the framepost moves backwards in response to the movement of the wheel. Its direction of travel is then equal and opposite to the wheel’s path as the damper controls the movement of the framepost backwards and forwards, ensuring a smooth ride in the saddle and keeping the rider in the same position.
Specialized says that “its hydraulic damping controls travel to eliminate ‘bobbing' under power and ensure big hits never catapult you from the saddle, all without compromising fit or pedalling efficiency.”
The Future Shock Rear travel is controlled by a hydraulic damper fitted in the top tube and attached to the frame post by the tendon. The lever on the damper provides three levels of compression damping, while rebound speed can be adjusted with a hex key through a hole in the base of the top tube. If they desire, riders are able to dial in the correct level of rear compliance even further by adding an alloy dropper post as part of the Future Shock Rear system.
Specialized explains that to provide the right “spring” for every rider, each bike size has two different frameposts, and each framepost can be oriented in a stiffer or softer orientation. This framepost is then supposed to work with the seat post to provide the optimal amount and path of rear travel for every rider, regardless of their bike, size, weight, or the length of the exposed seat post.
In terms of the Diverge STR’s geometry, this almost matches that on the previous Diverge apart from a few very minor changes to the BB drop, chainstay length and seat tube angle. The bike shares many characteristics with the Diverge: Future Shock 2.0, tire clearance (6mm of clearance), SWAT down tube storage and geometry. The Diverge STR is compatible with a front lowrider rack or any cages on the fork and a full fender can be mounted on the fork, but there are no provisions on the frame for a rear bolt-on rack or fender. The Diverge STR is compatible with any 27.2mm seatpost. Specialized says that the S-Works Diverge STR Fact 11r adds 100 grams compared to the older S-Works Diverge frame.
S-Works Diverge STR
The most premium offering when it comes to the Diverge STR is the S-Works version of the Diverge STR. It is equipped with SRAM’s Red eTap AXS Eagle groupset and a 10-50 cassette. The bike comes with a Quarq power metre, Roval Terra CLX II wheels and 42mm Tracer Pro tires. Terra carbon bars, an S-Works carbon seatpost, and S-Works Power with Mirror saddle complete the bike. It retails for £13,000.
Diverge STR Pro
The Diverge STR Pro also features Future Shock suspension front and rear and Specialized’s FACT 11r carbon frameset. It is built with SRAM’s Force eTap AXS Eagle groupset and also has a 10-50 cassette. It comes with Roval Terra CL wheels and the same 42mm Tracer Pro tires as the S-Works version. It also has Terra carbon bars, an S-Works carbon seatpost, and Power Pro saddle and costs £9,000.
Diverge STR Expert
Finally, the Diverge STR Expert is Specialized’s cheapest offering in the Diverge STR range. It keeps the FACT 11r carbon frameset with front and rear Future Shock suspension but is built with SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS Eagle groupset and a 10-50 cassette. It has Roval Terra C wheels with 42mm Tracer Pro tires and Adventure Gear alloy handlebars, an S-Works carbon seatpost, and Power Expert saddle. It is priced at £7500.