Review: Co-Motion Divide

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The Co-Motion Divide’s rugged looking frame is hand-built in Oregon using oversized Reynolds 725 chromoly tubing. Co-Motion’s tandem expertise is evident in the massive chainstays and the 40-spoke wheels, built using DT-Swiss 540 tandem hubs (with 145mm rear spacing for a dishless wheel) and Velocity Cliffhanger rims. The stout 44 mm-diameter head tube on the Divide is another clue that this bike means business.

The Divide rode like it meant business, too. As soon as I got her built, I zipped through the mean streets and hit the local trails. The bike felt incredibly stiff and well built. I took that as an encouraging sign for the loaded tour that lay ahead—a 355-mile self-supported tour along the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

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For this trip, I swapped the stock Continental Race King 2.2 tires for a set of Continental Country Plus 42mm tires, which I felt would be more efficient and well suited for the dirt roads and crushed-stone trails on my planned route. That speaks to the Divide’s versatility with regards to tire compatibility—it opens up a great range of both 29er and 700c tire options. The 3×10 drivetrain (48/36/26-tooth rings and 11-34-tooth cassette) also contributed to the versatility of this beast of burden.

Braze-ons are plentiful and well placed, but there was barely enough fork clearance to fit fenders with the stock tires. The Co-Motion’s 418mm fork length is 50mm shorter than the suspension-corrected fork on the Salsa Fargo. If you want to run 29er tires and fenders, you might end up with a tight squeeze.

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With my gear stowed in the front and rear panniers, the fully-loaded Divide weighed in at 70 lbs. I figured the additional weight would reveal any frame flex that I hadn’t felt during my unloaded test rides. I figured wrong. No matter how hard I mashed on the pedals, I could not produce any frame or wheel flex. Similarly, the Divide never waggled when rumbling over washboard ruts, nor blasting through potholes. I came away very impressed with just how solidly this bike rode.

The top tube on the tested 55cm frame is 56.5cm long, and the head- and seat-tube angles measure 70.5 and 74 degrees, respectively. The numbers added up to a balanced, slightly aggressive, rider position. The Divide fits like a touring bike on steroids, rather than a mountain bike built for touring. If you’re comfortable in a typical touring position, you should be good to go.

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Handling on the Divide was predictable and stable, which is how I like my touring bikes. Even fully loaded, the bike handled intuitively and put my mind at ease. I never felt a hint of shimmy or shake, which was reassuring, especially when rolling fully loaded at high speeds. Full load, no hands, no problem. Fortunately, Co-Motion didn’t de-tune the handling to the point of making the Divide feel sluggish—the bike had enough quickness to bust a move when needed.

With the touring gear removed and the 29er tires re-mounted, the stock Divide proved a capable monstercross rig, and I had a blast ripping around on rides that included railroad ballast, unpaved trails, and singletrack. The only downside was that riding railroad ballast on this rig might have rattled some dental work loose. You certainly could make the Divide your everyday scoot in between tours—just don’t expect to be pampered by a soft ride.

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The Divide is offered in 53cm, 55cm, and 58cm stock sizes. Co-Motion feels that there are too many 29er-related design compromises to go any smaller than 53 (they recommend their 26-inch Pangea adventure tourer for shorter riders). And if you’re a taller rider, or prefer a custom fit, a $300 upcharge will get you custom geometry.

The base price of the Divide with standard touring kit is $3,995. However, my test bike included a $250 upgrade from bar-end shifters to Ultegra STI, and a $225 up-charge for two-tone paint. The Tubus Tara front rack and Cargo rear rack (both 29er compatible) represent $110 and $120 up-charges respectively (for a grand total of $4,700).

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You don’t have to spend four grand to get a bike that’s capable of hauling your gear into the hinterland. But I figure that the Divide will appeal to a sub-set riders who are looking to invest in the best adventure tourer they can lay their hands on. Thanks to its solid construction, attention to detail, great handling, and versatility, I’d rate the Divide as investment-worthy. It even comes with a lifetime warranty.

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Vital stats

  • Country of origin: USA
  • Price: starting at $3,995, $4,700 as tested
  • Weight: 28.31 lbs.
  • Sizes available: 52cm, 55cm (tested), 58cm, custom
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