Gravel bikes have always been around but more recently on the rise by popular demand, and for good reason. It makes a lot of sense to me to have a bike with options that is capable of mounting up a set of 700c wheels with 38c tires on it for a gravel ride, and then easily swapping them with a set of deep-dish road wheels for a fast-paced group ride. Having a bike that can do it all is huge when you’re a rider that has multiple disciplines. I met up with my friend Dee, a local Long Island mountain biker, road & gravel cyclist for a Q&A on her Specialized Diverge bike that she tackles the road and trail with. Let’s take a closer look.
Q: How long have you been mountain biking?
Dee: I began mountain biking in 2016. Living on Long Island I was a bit resilient to invest in the sport because where are the mountains on this island? But, definitely fortunate I did because it led me to more time on trails less traveled & gave me reasons to explore. Since understanding the different categories of mountain biking, such as enduro and cross country, I found Long Island has a lot of great trails.
Q: When did you start riding gravel and/or road?
Dee: I started riding gravel & road in 2019 once I purchased my Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon. I found a bike that could be versatile for every kind of riding – one that could take on the single track, lead me to rail trails, and provide smiles for miles on the road.
Q: What got you into cycling?
Dee: I got into bike riding because of working at a bike shop, Brands Cycle & Fitness. The growth for biking has only grown since my time being there. Starting with hybrids, performance hybrids, to mountain, gravel, & road. I found biking only has enhanced my lifestyle and further defined my characteristics of being adventurous, outdoorsy, & free-spirited.
Q: I know you like to travel quite a bit, where would you say is your favorite place to go ride?
Dee: It’s hard for me to say I have a favorite. I find the thrill of having a bike allows me to explore uncharted territory to myself. And to me, it’s about having a bike capable of showing me more trails, new scenery, & new places overall! My passion for biking goes hand and hand with my passion to travel. I plan trips around destinations I want to go riding and then working out what would be the best bike to bring along. My next trip coming up is taking my gravel bike along the carriage roads in Acadia National Park, Maine.
Q: Tell me about the bike and how you have it set up for different rides?
Dee: I have built the ultimate bike to handle both road and gravel. I have a 2X11 drive train to give me better gearing on the road, yet allowing me to hammer out a single track. I upgraded my derailleur to Shimano GRX, which allows me to have a clutch engaged to prevent chain slapping on the trail, yet smooth shifting on the road. Along for trail enhancements, I added Maxxis Rambler 700×38 tubeless tires on my DT Swiss aluminum wheelset. The most notable trail feature is the future shock the bike comes with, naturally integrated into the headset to smoothen riding vibrations.
For my road set up, I upgraded my touchpoints to the Specialized S-Works carbon handlebar, S-Works power saddle, & a carbon Reynolds A41 wheelset with 700x 25 Continental Grand Prix 5000 tubeless tires. I find the wider tire on the road helps with the nonperfect paved Long Island roads I’m surrounded by. Also, after riding trails I prefer having a more forgiving tire set up. Also, I personally prefer to ride with disc brakes & always tubeless. Depending on the ride I easily swap out wheelsets & then I’m ready to rock!
Q: Do you prefer the gravel setup or road setup?
Dee: I admire both setups. Any terrain my Specialized Diverge & I can be there with smiles for miles!
Q: Any changes or add-ons you plan to make?
Dee: Honestly, I’m super thrilled on my set up! I’ll ride everything till it breaks or wears & then needs replacement. I see myself adding racks, bags, and more hydration to equip me to get involved in bikepacking trips.
Parts List Breakdown
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About The Rider
Dee is a mountain bike rider who also enjoys road and gravel cycling. Not only does she know how to take a line on the single track or hold it during a road ride, she can also turn a wrench with experience working at local bike shop Brands Cycle & Fitness. She’s loves to travel and has skills on the snowboard during the off season. Instagram – @dee_borodin
This review is based on personal opinions and experience from the rider. All parts were purchased at the rider’s expense and links provided are affiliate partnerships with Amazon.