The new Specialized Crux is claimed to be the world’s lightest gravel bike, boasting a 725g frame for a 56cm bike.
Despite its stunningly low weight, the Crux is a real joy to ride and makes no serious concessions to practicality in pursuit of feathery figures. However, the price is… well, it’s a lot of money, isn’t it?
The pictured top-end S-Works Crux comes in at a whopping $12,000 / £10,750 / €12,200. This is not unheard of these days, but it’s still pretty hard to get over.
In between eating frites and chugging Trappist beers, I got a chance to ride the new Specialized S-Works Crux for two days around the gnarliest cobbled bergs, chundery gravel farm tracks and shreddy singletrack trails near Leuven in Flanders.
Though limited in both duration and elevation, these two rides gave me a good sense of how the bike performs. Read on for my full ride impressions and, if you want to learn more about the bike and the Crux range, head over to our in-depth news story.
Specialized S-Works Crux specs
The spec of my test bike leaves nothing to be desired (as you would hope on a $12,000 bike).
The top-end S-Works frameset gets Specialized’s lightest and stiffest 12r carbon fibre layup, which saves around 100g over the cheaper 10r layup seen on the Pro, Expert and Comp level bikes.
The finishing kit all comes courtesy of Specialized, including the S-Works Romin Evo with Mirror saddle that my test bike was fitted with – a heady £390/$450 upgrade over the stock Specialized S-Works Power saddle.
This build adds up to a claimed total weight of 7.25kg (yes, I did forget to bring my scales to confirm this – please don’t shout at me).
If you’re a normal person and don’t have $12,000 lying around, prices start at £4,000 / $4,200 / €4,000 for the new Crux, for a build with SRAM Rival 22 1×.
Specialized S-Works Crux ride impressions
Setting off on the new Crux, its impressively low weight is, unsurprisingly, its most noticeable attribute.
As BikeRadar’s editor in chief, George Scott, said of the Specialized Aethos – the brand’s ultra-light road bike that the Crux is based on – an aero bike will almost always be fastest, but a super-lightweight feels fast.
The same is true of the Crux, and I would argue it’s even more noticeable when riding off-road, where speeds are typically slower and climbs steeper – the two places where aero performance is less of a consideration.
Mashing my little pale leggies as hard as I could up steep climbs, the ride quality of the Crux is pretty remarkable – I won’t call it effortless, but the bike has a really addictive and lively feel that’s quite unlike any other gravel bike I’ve ridden before. It’s a truly eager companion on steeper climbs and a joy to spin away on.
Despite its low weight, the bike doesn’t feel noodly or hesitant.
If anything, I’d say it’s one of the stiffer-feeling gravel bikes I’ve ridden, though some of that may be to do with the deep-ish Roval Terra CLX carbon wheelset specced on my test bike.
The feathery frame also contributes to a responsive feel when riding over lower-speed terrain, particularly on steppy singletrack climbs. It’s very easy to lift the rear wheel and throw the bike around.
In this sense, it feels a bit like a lightweight cyclocross bike and riding with a group of ‘cross-mad Belgians in the heart of the sport definitely went to my head – threading my way around sandy pits and through gnarly technical trails was one of the most memorable parts of our ride.
Of course, I’m not suggesting it’s impossible, or even that hard, to lift up the rear wheel on a heavier gravel bike, but the Crux does stand out as particularly animated and fun here.
Though the reach has been increased a touch on the new Crux, the overall geometry of the bike is still relatively racy, so it isn’t the most confident gravel bike I’ve ridden on steep drops.
If you’re looking for a pseudo mountain bike that’s good for steep singletrack shredding from Specialized, the Diverge is more likely the bike for you (or, you know, an actual mountain bike).
The stiffness that’s welcome on climbs does mean the Crux isn’t the most cosseting ride on rough descents.
Despite its slender fork, the front end is ever so slightly harsh on bigger hits. The relatively thin handlebar tape also contributes to this.
Rear-end comfort isn’t quite so harsh – I run a saddle height of roughly 785mm, which exposed a load of seatpost on my size 56cm Crux. This aided rear-end comfort, as the Roval Alpinist post flexes an impressive amount while seated.
I was also really impressed by just how comfortable the Romin Evo with Mirror saddle is. It’s unbelievably expensive but its performance, almost frustratingly, makes up for it. Stay tuned for more on this saddle soon.
Given the bike has clearance for gravel tyres up to 2.1in wide on 650b wheels, I’m sure a swap to something fatter and a bit more time spent perfecting my tyre pressures would also help soften things out.
On our short sections of road riding and on fast dry gravel, the bike’s 38mm wide Specialized Pathfinder tyres were a great companion for the most part.
These have a slick central section and roll very fast on smooth surfaces, but – as I found when I reviewed the Diverge – they tend to squirm a bit when cornering on the road. They also clog up quite quickly on damp surfaces.
The new Crux is notably quiet on rough terrain. The fact it’s fitted with a wireless electronic groupset helps, but even when smashing along cobbled roads at a fair clip, the bike is nearly silent.
I think the overall shape of the frame contributes to this – its relatively narrow round tubes are very slender when compared to the boxy and cavernous versions seen on most modern carbon gravel bikes, so rattles and clunks aren’t amplified by the frameset.
This was my first time on any of SRAM’s XPLR eTap groupsets and I came away suitably impressed.
eTap’s shifting layout is still excellent and, as noted by my colleagues, the 10-44t cassette is very well laid out, and I never found myself wanting for range at either end.
If I had a bucket load (a wheelie bin?) of cash burning a hole in my pocket and a desire to build a truly go-fast gravel bike, it’s good to know I would also have the option to spec a 2× drivetrain.
I was also pleased to see Specialized spec normal standards throughout the bike.
The threaded English (BSA) bottom bracket shell means maintenance is a cinch; the 27.2mm seatpost is as standard as standards come; and sticking with a two-piece cockpit with a normal round steerer opens up fit options massively.
While a fully integrated cockpit looks cool and is often more aero, that’s worthless if you can’t find said integrated cockpit in a size and shape that suits you.
Specialized S-Works Crux early conclusion
The Crux inhabits a slightly odd middle ground.
Being in the middle ground isn’t always a bad thing though.
It’s hard not to draw similar conclusions about the Crux as George did with the Aethos (and it’s never a bad idea to flatter your boss).
Objectively, the new Specialized Crux is a technical marvel and is undoubtedly hella light, but that aside, the delight of owning a beautiful bike that simply rides well will be justification enough for many.
Once we all got over our collective horror at the price, many of our readers also expressed admiration for the stripped-back and ‘pure’ riding experience the Aethos offered.
As someone with limited racing aspirations and only a fleeting interest in aero optimisation for gravel riding, I’d probably count myself among that number.
Though it’s too early to draw firm conclusions, it’s safe to assume that if you have an immense budget and value owning a lovely bike that rides really nicely over all-out performance, the new Specialized S-Works Crux will delight you.
|Price||EUR €12200.00GBP £10750.00USD $12000.00|
|Available sizes||49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61|
|Cassette||SRAM XPLR XG-1271, 10-44t|
|Chain||SRAM RED 12-speed|
|Cranks||SRAM Red AXS power meter, 40t|
|Grips/Tape||Supacaz Super Sticky Kush|
|Handlebar||Roval Terra, carbon, 103mm drop, 70mm reach, 12 degree flare|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Red XPLR eTap AXS|
|Saddle||Specialized S-Works Power|
|Shifter||SRAM Red eTap AXS|
|Stem||S-Works SL, 6 degree rise|
|Tyres||Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready, Transparent Sidewall, 700x38c|
|Wheels||Roval Terra CLX|