This week journalists from around the world met up at the Specialized Press Summer Camp in the east coast foothills of the Appalachian Trail. With three solid days of riding, Specialized showcased the family jewels of its 2018 road, CX, and adventure line up. For the 2018 bikes, the company doubled down on its Rider-First Engineered approach to design. The updated Specialized Diverge, Allez and Crux are three immediate standouts.
PELOTON / Images: Alex Quesada
A New Personality for the Allez
There will be some big stories from this year’s camp, but the Allez line is a major surprise in the $750-$1200 bike market. Before yawning and skipping ahead to the full-carbon race gems, consider the number of times you are asked to recommend a first bike for someone. No longer does that option mean a bike that will be traded up in six months. The new Allez is a worthy beneficiary of the Tarmac and Roubaix’s trickle-down down technology.
Each is a wind tunnel tested aluminum frame with Fact Carbon fork. This helps keep them light, nimble, and responsive. While the Allez Sprint is a super aggressive race bike envisioned as the collegiate racer or bike shop mechanics go to bike, the new Allez has more traditional lines and geometry in tune with endurance, not a four corner crit. The $750 Allez is very down market with an eight speed Shimano Claris group, but the Allez Elite for $1200 gets Shimano 105, making it a viable choice for serious rides.
These are perfect entry bikes that will last a couple years before riders need – or really just want – to graduate to their first full-carbon machine with higher spec. The next time that Spin class addict asks about a first road bike, start with the Allez.
The Diverge Gets More Capable
This year’s Diverge is, well, whoa! With a shared platform for the Men’s and Women’s models, it’s fast, supple, agile, and willing to go a lot of places that turn other adventure rigs into shrinking violets. Specialized set out to build a gravel adventure bike that was more than a converted CX machine. The steer tube has 20mm travel in the Future Shock Progressive Suspension. This was brought over from the Roubaix platform. There is a subtle stack bounce when climbing out of the saddle that takes a little getting used to, but it’s worth it. The product team has also added a 35mm dropper post. It comes with 700c wheels and 38mm Specialized Trigger tires, but can also run 650b wheels. In 700c mode clearance is claimed to be 42mm, while in 650b mode it’s a whopping 47mm.
Our test S-Works Diverge absolutely ripped steep, rutted ski runs and tackled flowing or questionable single track with equal confidence. That’s the kind of capability we’d expect out of $9000 bike. Its build is an interesting mix of XTR Di2 rear derailleur and cassette with R785 Di2 hydraulic disc levers and an Easton EC90SL 1x crank for an electronic 1×11 set up turning Roval CLX 32 Disc wheels. $9000 too rich? Specialized is also offering an alloy Diverge with the Future Shock for just $1800 with Shimano 105 and alloy kit, plus lots of options in between those budget extremes.
Pure ‘Cross for CruX
With the Diverge steadily holding down the gravel adventure market, Specialized decided to avoid going the hybridization route. Instead, the company committed to making a pure CX race machine. The 2018 CruX has been given a Rider-First Engineered makeover from the previous version. Specialized claims a 900gram frame weight on a 56cm frame. On our make-shift ‘cross course, this bike was as quick and deft as a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. The S-Works CruX is $7500 with Dura-Ace 9100 and Roval CLX 50 Disc wheels, while the Elite is $4200 with SRAM Force 1 and Roval
SLX 24 Disc alloy clinchers.
Look for more big Specialized updates and salacious camp stories in the coming weeks or go to specialized.com for more details.