Specialized Crux E5 review£1,200.00

Swapping daily versatility for dirty velocity

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While some brands dilute their cross bikes into do it all utility machines, Specialized has so many versatile options like the new Diverge and AWOL machines they can concentrate on the Crux of cyclocross performance.

The performance intent of even this E5 base model (there are five Crux series bikes) is obvious straight away from the absence of practical features such as 'guard or rack mounts and there’s more proof as soon as you push the pedals. Having been really impressed with the alloy frame of the new Specialized Allez road bike we shouldn’t have been surprised how good the Crux felt, but it still shone brighter than expected.

The tapered carbon fork and smoothly tapered and butted E5 Premium alloy frame transfer precise handling geometry and power onto the ground with a real ‘have a go hero’ race vibe, whether you’re actually fighting round a ticker tape corner, or chasing squirrels through the woods. It’s a big credit to Specialized’s engineers that they do it without numbing your hands or battering your backside if you’re pushing the limits of what a cyclocross bike should be expected to do. The fat, lightly knobbled tyres provide cushioning and grip regardless of whether it’s frost cratered Tarmac, the local towpath/bikepath or a soggy school field of a local 'cross race underneath them.

Gel bar tape assists both comfort and confidence; a stainless steel stem bolt is a nice foul-weather touch:
Gel bar tape assists both comfort and confidence; a stainless steel stem bolt is a nice foul-weather touch:

Gel bar tape assists both comfort and confidence; a stainless steel stem bolt is a nice foul-weather touch

Despite the reinforced chassis and disc brakes, switching to skinny road boots will drop weight to that of a ‘proper’ road bike for longer faster commutes, training rides or sportives. The Tracer Sport rubber rolls well enough once you’re up to speed though, and suits the overall character of the bike. It’s a very purposeful character – that’s reinforced wherever you interact with the Crux – too.

The clever opposing pad movement, stirrup actuated Tektro Spyre brakes are powerfully weather ignorant. Gel bar tape reduces vibration and gives a chunky feel to the already stout, confident handling and the FSA cranks benefit from a BB30 bottom bracket and oversized frame shell to bolster stiffness.

The crux e5's lively, precise alloy frame will reward updating over time:
The crux e5's lively, precise alloy frame will reward updating over time:

The Crux E5's lively, precise alloy frame will reward updating over time

Clean internal cable routing and wide ranging gears are all practical advantages that work wherever you take the Crux and it’s great to see details like a reusable split chain link and stainless steel stem bolts on a bike that’s likely to see a lot of mucky race missions and frequent post ride cleaning.

From experience side exit gear cables on the Sora STI shifters run smoother for longer than more expensive shifters that force cables through tight loops to sneak under bar tape. It’s a frame well worth upgrading over time if you get the CX or gravel race or random rough stuffing bug.

This particular model is not available in Australia, however the Crux Sport E5 is available for AU$2,299 and the Crux E5 Disc frameset is AU$999.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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