Specialized Diverge Gravel Bike Adds Rear Suspension in an Unusual Way

Is it a soft tail, and where is the front suspension? A closer look at the updated Specialized Diverge gravel bike.
All photos Specialized.com.

Specialized recently updated the Diverge gravel bike with a distinctive look and feature set. The brand is adamant that the new design suspends the rider, as opposed to the bike, compared to traditional mountain bikes. Here’s what we know about the tech and design.

Is it a soft tail?

While the Rear Future Shock looks similar to a soft tail design in terms of both placement and stroke length, it’s actually something very different. Soft tail bikes utilize flex stays which allows the rear wheel to travel up and down. On the new Specialized Diverge, only the seat post is moving, and it’s moving along an arc that’s mostly front-to-back. It works a bit differently than existing aftermarket suspension seat posts, some of which pogo up and down while others utilize an elastomer-damped parallelogram design. Specialized says Rear Future Shock offers 30mm of travel.

Because the rear axle isn’t moving — just the saddle — Specialized is right to say the rider is suspended, but not the bike (frame). The system is tunable with both a compression lever and rebound adjustment. In addition, Specialized is offering frame posts (note: this is not the same as the seat post) of varying stiffnesses. Riders can dial in their preferred amount of damping based on weight, riding style, and conditions by tuning the shock or swapping the frame post. Bikes ship with two different frame posts and each post offers two different stiffness values depending on how it’s installed.

The frame post, cartridge damper, and the tendon.

The frame post is attached to the frame at its base, and to the shock using a piece Specialized calls the tendon. The seat post slides into the frame post, and Specialized says even dropper posts can be used with the frame post.

It appears riders will want to adjust their bike fit a bit based on how they configure the Rear Future Shock. In particular, the saddle height and horizontal position will need to be reconsidered.

This short video clip shows the Rear Future Shock suspension in action.

Rear Future Shock is designed and tuned to solve issues specific to gravel riding — i.e. managing vibration as opposed to soaking up the impact associated with jumping and technical riding.

Other notable updates

The Specialized Diverge gets SWAT storage in the down tube and fits tires up to 700x47c. For now the new design is only offered with carbon frames.