Specialized Diverge gets a 1989 makeover

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This carbon-fibre Specialized Diverge, pays respect to a very special bike, from 1989 (Photo: Specialized)
This carbon-fibre Specialized Diverge, pays respect to a very special bike, from 1989 (Photo: Specialized)
  • Specialized celebrates its gravel bike history, with a stunning new Diverge
  • It draws inspiration from an iconic Specialized mountain bike, that was way ahead of its time
  • Retro is often done wrong, but everything about this Diverge celebration bike looks great

If you want to see how far mountain biking has evolved in three decades, scrutinize the specification of a retro bike.

The geometry numbers and components of a classic mountain bike are curiously close to that of modern gravel bikes. And that is not accidental.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, suspension fork technology was crude, and most mountain bikes were simply all-terrain touring bikes.

Most riders used them for exploring, not shredding singletrack or navigating steep technical descents. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Exactly. The contemporary gravel bike is fulfilling that all-terrain exploration role, that was a feature of mountain bikes, three decades ago.

gravel bike
A clever product planner at Specialized, saw the gravel thing, way before it became a trend (Photo: Specialized)

Before gravel bikes, had a name

To celebrate this happy coincide and illustrate how the gravel bike resembles a classic mountain bike, Specialized rolled out a showroom condition RockCombo, dating back to 1989. This is a mountain bike that foretold the eventual rise of dedicated gravel bikes, more than two decades later.

With its elegant chromoly tubing, bizarre aero drop handlebar (look at that stem geometry!) and 1.5” tyres, the RockCombo was designed to roll huge gravel and fire road miles, efficiently.

Celebrating this iconic datum point in the trajectory of gravel bikes, Specialized recreated the RockCombo colourway, on a Diverge. The graphic design team meticulous matched the original RockCombo colour, from 1989, which look great on the sleek Diverge frame.

gravel bike
This was an extreme handlebar idea, in the late 1980s (Photo: Specialized)

Many, many years ahead of the trend

Comparing the two bikes side-by-side, shows how far geometry has evolved and also proves that someone at Specialized had powerful intuition about drop bar width.

The RockCombo’s stem might have an extraordinarily strange rise, but those handlebar drops are wide, predicting the current trend to wider drop handlebars on gravel bikes.

Will Specialized release a heritage edition RockCombo colourway for the Diverge? There are no details of any such development, but this one-off Diverge certainly proves how great it would look.

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