Bikes of Unbound Gravel: two throwback Specialized Diverges

by Dan Cavallari

photography by Dan Cavallari


The throwback graphics on Alison Tetrick and Ian Boswell’s Specialized Diverge bikes for Unbound Gravel look like they could fit right in as a set piece on Stranger Things, which is no accident.

The designs hearken back to the Specialized RockCombo, the Big Red S’s first official ‘gravel’ bike that hit the market back in 1989. Of course, these Diverges are modern machines equipped to help Tetrick, a former Unbound champ, and Boswell, a former road pro, reach the top step of the podium at Unbound Gravel. Tetrick won in 2017 and then came second in 2019, less than 17 minutes slower than winner Amity Rockwell. 

The world of gravel sponsorship is a bit different from the team system on the road. Tetrick and Boswell are riding the same bike brand, but the details of both builds don’t mirror each other. The differences are primarily found in accessories, which make up an important part of an Unbound bike. Tetrick has a sponsorship with Lezyne and Boswell works with Wahoo. They’ve gone for different bar and stem setups and saddles, and only one of them is running tire inserts.

Tetrick has SRAM’s eTap AXS system at her disposal. Out back, she’s running a 12-speed, 10-50 cassette. Up front, a SRAM Red crankset with a 44-tooth cog and a Quarq power meter rounds out the drivetrain. 

While it comes as no surprise that much of Tetrick’s bike is outfitted with Specialized house brands like Roval, saddle choice is just as personal to her as it is to most riders. Yet Tetrick is sticking with Specialized; her bike is adorned with the Specialized S-Works Power saddle with Mirror technology. This 3D-printed saddle offers plenty of cushion for the long road ahead. 

Boswell parted ways with a successful WorldTour career at the start of 2020 to focus on gravel. Unfortunately, COVID thwarted his transition to off-road racing, so the 2021 edition of Unbound Gravel will be Boswell’s first appearance at the race.

Like a handful of other Specialized-sponsored riders, Boswell gets to sport the same throwback graphics.

The eye-catching graphics aren’t the only bits on Boswell’s bike that make you sit up and take notice. The Coefficient RR handlebars jut out from the head tube along a 130mm stem. Old WorldTour habits die hard, it seems. The combination can be jarring at first, but Boswell explains that the ergonomic benefits of the handlebar and stem combo mean he expects to stay comfortable much longer into the 200-mile journey through the Flint Hills. 

Notably, the Coefficient handlebars also feature a curved inset on the drops, which Boswell says is perfect for resting his thumbs while riding in the drops. It gives him a more stable, yet aggressive, hand position that will undoubtedly come in handy in the later miles of the race. 

Boswell is also running Cushcore inserts, as evidenced by the lovely little Cuschcore valves poking out of his rims. These thin foam inserts allow for lower tire pressures and help prevent pinch flats and cuts.

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