Having spent its formative years planted in the cyclo-cross category, the Specialized Crux has branched out to the ‘gravel and adventure’ range. While the cynics out there may suggest it’s merely a rebadging exercise by the brand, the truth is somewhat more complex.
The Crux is dead, long live the Crux
The previous 2018 Crux had nailed its colours to the CX mast. As such it was only ever capable of running 37mm tires max, while the new Crux has been reworked and now can skip along with a pair of 47mm, or 2.1 if you pop in a 650b wheel. While this does align with other gravel/adventure bike offerings, it belies the fact that the 2022 Crux is still very much a race weapon.
The bike heavily borrows from the Specialized Aethos. Specialized says its fluid tubing shapes, which do away with angular butting, and reinforced stiffness requirements allow for longer carbon thread, less of it and less glue to hold it all together. As such, the S-Works Crux is the lightest ever gravel frame at a crazy 725g for a size 56. To put that into context it’s 225g lighter than the 2018 iteration.
The geometry has had a sweep of tweaks rather than a total rework, with key numbers for a size 56 on old versus new delivering a slightly lower stack (582 v 578), longer reach (388 v 397), lower bottom bracket (69 v 72) and ever so slightly longer wheelbase (1026 v 1033). It’s a gentle nudge in the direction of increased stability but doesn’t lose its racing DNA.
While the lightweight credentials of the Specialized Crux steal much of the limelight, what piqued my interest is the build. As you would expect on the range-topper, there’s a plethora of carbon and titanium. It comes with the brand’s own in-house Roval Terra CLX wheels with tubeless-ready 38c Specialized Pathfinder Pro tyres. What is less common is the wireless 12-speed SR AM Red eTap AXS x1, with power meter as standard. The 40t chainring is teamed with a 10-44 SR AM XPLR cassette, and the performance is insane.
On a scale of one to Utopia, the Specialized S-Works Crux needle points to the top of the dial. The balance of agility, stability, and suppleness is sublime. It’s clearly not going to be a cushioned ride, but it’s by no means a bone rattler.
Riding alongside the Evil Chamois Hagar, at the total opposite end of the gravel bike riding spectrum, the Crux is noticeably engineered specifically for PBs, KOMs and general ’aving it.
The lightness of the bike is outrageous. It makes it unbelievably nimble, which, when coupled with its sure-footed geometry and fat tyres, covers up a fair amount of inept off-road riding skill.
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