‘It’s all about the bike’ ……. an often-quoted phrase in the cycling world, which I happen to think is an over simplification. This blog post, however, is unashamedly all about the bike because I have just bought a new one. It’s been a long time coming.
My swap from road bike to mountain bike and back to road bike has been guided by where I live more than a preference for either road or mountain. Pushing the pedals around is all! I currently live in London, which is not known for its mountains, but is known for its traffic and its drivers with a loathing for bicycles. So, what’s my current preference? Small quiet lanes, jeep tracks and anything that is rideable on a light bike with limited suspension. You can call it Adventure road riding or Gravel riding and its competitive cousin is Cyclocross, but for all I care you can call it Bob!
The first adventure road bike that caught my attention was the Cannondale Slate (drop handlebars, with 3cm of suspension in the front fork and 26” rather than 700c wheels). I was intrigued but when I saw it in the flesh, it seemed more mountain bike than road bike, and anyway I wasn’t ready to part with so much cash. The next thing that caught my eye was the new suspension system in the stem of the Specialized Ruby/Roubaix, and when I heard that it was being added to the 2018 Diverge range, I had to investigate. I rang the Specialized Concept Store in Ruislip and what happened next is something that a friend of mine would describe as ‘the planets being aligned’. It resulted in the creation of the Specialized Diverge ‘Lava’.
Paul from the Concept Store answered the phone, and quite by chance owned a Diverge, but that’s not all. Last year he took his bike to Hawaii to climb Mauna Kea one of the most extreme cycling climbs in the world, and to give himself the best chance of completing it, he increased the ratio of the rear cassette from 11-34 to 11-36 teeth (which necessitated changing to a long cage derailleur to cope with the extra chain length), and he also changed from Shimano to SRAm. On his return he replaced his volcano climbing set-up for something more moderate and so had a once-used part SRAM groupset sitting under the counter waiting for a new owner. The reason I discovered this was because at a certain point in the conversation, I told him that what I really wanted was SRAM double-tap gears with a wide ratio rear cassette (which is on my current bike). It must have been music to his ears. A deal was struck.
I love the fact that parts of my bike started their useful life on the flanks of a volcano and there really was only one suitable colour for the bottle cages, molten lava!
Maybe one day I’ll do Mauna Kea, but slowly …….as is my way!
Although the Men’s Diverge Comp arrived in the UK in the latter half of last year, I wrongly assumed that if I waited long enough someone would import the Women’s Diverge Comp (partly because I didn’t want another white bike and also I wouldn’t have to change saddle/handlebar so less cost, and hell, I am a Women so why wouldn’t I want a Women’s bike?!!). In the end I realised it was Men’s model or no bike. It is frustrating to see that Specialized has created a model for Women, but for it to be un-available in the UK. For me, it is one of those chicken and egg situations; are there less Women specific bikes (in the UK) because there are less women cyclists, or are there less women cyclists because there are less women specific bikes?
Whilst I’m on the subject of Women’s specific bikes, something which is often overlooked on a Women’s bike is the gearing. An average Women’s legs are not as strong as a Man’s but the gearing rarely reflects this. You could argue that this leads to Women having super-strong legs, which is great if you are fit, confident and very competitive, but I worry that a lot of women who start riding are put-off the hilly sections because the bikes lowest gear is too high to maintain a sustainable pace, which makes climbing hills more painful than it has to be, and ultimately off-putting. Avoiding hills because of this affects your enjoyment of the sport. Nuff said!
I have to add that I chose Specialized bikes because in my opinion they lead the way with Women specific bikes, although a lot of other brands are getting with the plot!
Frame – Specialized FACT 9r carbon, Open Road Geometry, 12x142mm thru-axle, Future Shock Progressive suspension, 20mm of travel, flat mount disc, BB386
Fork – Specialized FACT carbon, flat mount disc, 12x100mm thru-axle
Stem – Specialized, 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 7-degree rise
Handlebars – Specialized Shallow Drop, 6061, 70x125mm, 31.8mm clamp
Tape – Specialized S-Wrap
Shifters – SRAM Red.
Front Derailleur – SRAM Red
Rear Derailleur – SRAM Force 22, long cage, 11-speed
Cassette – SRAM PG 1170, 11-speed, 11-36t
Crank – Praxis Alba 2D, BB386
Chain – Extra long Red chain!
Chainrings – 48/32T
Pedals – Rusty Shimano SPD’s!
Saddle – Myth Sport Saddle WMNS.
Seatpost – Alloy, 2-bolt clamp
Front & Rear Wheel – Axis Sport Disc (700c)
Inner Tubes – 700×28/38mm, 48mm Presta valve
Front & Tyres – Roubaix Pro Tyre, 700×30/32c
Front & Rear Brake – SRAM Red Hydro, Hydraulic disc
After my first 20 mile spin back from the bike shop I am thinking about reducing the stem length, but apart from that it is a dream of a bike, super comfortable.
Pictured Right is Paul measuring me up for a saddle. The two blue blobs on the screen are my sit-bones. Who’d ‘av guessed!