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?
My S-Works Crux test bike comes in at a whopping $12,000 / £11,300 / €12,200. This sort of price is not unheard of these days, but it’s still pretty hard to get over.
Lacking any mudguards or luggage mounts, it isn’t the most versatile gravel bike out there, but it is sensationally good fun to ride, and that will appeal to many.
Specialized S-Works Crux specs
The spec of my test bike leaves nothing to be desired (as you would hope).
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. This build adds up to a total weight of 7.3kg for my size 56cm bike.
If, like most people, you 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.
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. It’s a truly eager companion on steeper climbs and a joy to spin away on.
The super-light frame also contributes to a responsive feel when riding over lower-speed terrain.
It’s very easy to lift the rear wheel and throw the bike around. Reckless (stupid?) high-speed, last-moment bunnyhops over potholes and obstacles are also dispatched with ease.
The feathery frame also contributes to a responsive feel when riding over lower-speed terrain, particularly on steppy singletrack climbs. In this sense, it feels a bit like a lightweight cyclocross bike – threading my way around sandy pits and through gnarly technical trails were some of the more memorable parts of my testing.
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.
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 wheelset specced on my test bike.
The stiffness that’s welcome on climbs does mean the Crux isn’t the most comfortable ride on rough descents.
Despite its slender fork, the front end is ever so slightly harsh on bigger hits. The relatively thin handlebar tape contributes to this.
Seated rear-end comfort isn’t quite so harsh. I run a saddle height of about 785mm, which exposed a load of seatpost on my test bike. This aided rear-end comfort, as the Roval Alpinist post flexes an impressive amount while seated.
Nonetheless, the Crux isn’t the most comfortable ride on long days and there are better options out there if you’re after a yielding butt-and-hand-cosseting cruiser.
However, due to the Crux’s option to fit 650b wheels with tyres up to a generous 2.1in wide, even the most delicate riders should be able to find sufficient squish with a few component swaps.
While we’re on the subject of tyres, the Crux comes fitted with 700x38c Specialized Pathfinders as stock.
These have a slick central section and roll very fast on smooth surfaces. In testing, I’ve found them to be hardwearing with a tough, abuse-proof sidewall.
However, they do squirm in quite an unsettling way when cornering on the road. They also clog up quite quickly on damp surfaces, and are basically useless in mud.
The differences are small, but in terms of geometry, the Crux feels racier than either the Trek Checkpoint SL 6 or Wilier Rave SLR Ekar I also tested. While other bikes I’ve ridden are sportier across key geometry figures, the Crux simply feels fast.
However, the Crux’s racy personality means it isn’t the most confident ride on steeper descents. This is primarily due to its low-ish stack height pitching more of your weight over the front wheel.
The Crux is notably quiet on rough terrain.
The fact it’s fitted with a wireless 1x 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.
Specialized has built the Crux around the most standard of standards.
The threaded English (BSA) bottom bracket shell means maintenance is a cinch; the 27.2mm seatpost and external seat clamp 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.
The one omission is the ability to run a mechanical front derailleur. The bike will work with any direct-mount electronic derailleur, but it lacks cable routing for a mechanical front derailleur.
This is, of course, not a problem if you’re buying a complete bike (and most riders will), but means for example Shimano’s excellent mechanical GRX groupsets are out of the question if you’re building the bike up from a frameset.
The bike also lacks any mounts for mudguards or bikepacking luggage. That is, arguably, a design decision that’s in keeping with the overall ethos of the Crux, but limits its overall versatility. It does, however, feature a third bottle cage mount on the underside of the down tube.
Specialized S-Works Crux bottom line
The Specialized S-Works Crux is simply a really fun bike.
It’s a whippy and entertaining companion on singletrack, and is appealingly simple.
Perhaps it’s a bit of nominative determinism creeping in here – crux is latin for cross, after all – but if I wanted to dabble in a bit of cyclocross racing, the Crux would be my pick of today’s gravel bikes.
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.
It is, however, stunningly expensive. A cheaper build, such as the Crux Pro, will give nearly all of the performance of the top-end build and still leave a big pile of money to burn on a nice gravel-riding holiday in the sun.
If I had an immense budget and decided I valued owning a lovely bike that rides really nicely over all-out performance or versatility, the new Specialized S-Works Crux would be a strong contender.
How we tested
We set out to test three of the latest gravel race bikes – a fast-developing sub-genre of machines aimed at covered varied ground quickly.
The Trek Checkpoint has been redesigned for 2022 as a versatile gravel bike capable of turning its hand to racing or multi-day riding.
The Specialized S-Works Crux, meanwhile, has been reimagined as a super-light gravel machine aimed at go-fast riding.
Finally, the Wilier Rave SLR arrives as the Italian firm’s take on gravel, with road and off-road builds available.
Our testing involved skittering over the hardpacked Fosse Way in the Cotswolds, cruisy loops on local roads and getting bogged down in the mire of claggy mid-winter byways.
Bikes on test
|Price||AUD $18000.00EUR €12800.00GBP £11300.00USD $12250.00|
|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|