Specialized’s range of Crux cyclocross bikes has been tremendously successful since its launch, and for 2015 has expanded to offer four alloy and seven carbon models. The two S-Works models have their own carbon frame layup, but the other five all share the same FACT 10r carbon frame, and each model only differs in build specification.
The Crux Elite is the least expensive of the carbon options, but packs a lot in for the price, with a disc-specific race proven frame that doesn’t cut any performance corners. Specialized’s swoopy top and head tubes blend in to a chunky down tube, beefy chainstays and slimseat stays. It’s a well-trodden path, but rear tyre clearance has been increased with lengthened wheelbase and flared stays, and the fork's wide stance gives mud nowhere to hide.
Component spec is a well thought out mixture of Shimano 105 shifters, deraileurs and cassette, with a Praxis Works Turn Zayate chainset, and TRP HY/RD disc calipers and rotors. Praxis Works has become known for high quality, hardwearing chain rings, and the new Zayate crank continues in the same vein, looking great and performing perfectly.
Shimano’s 105 components are reliably efficient and never missed a beat in our company, with ideal gear ratios for testing off road excursions. Meanwhile the cable operated HY/RD hydraulic calipers, although bulky and heavy, are a cut above fully mechanical systems, as the TRPs operate both pads evenly, for more progressive, powerful braking and less chance of rotor rub.
The Crux Elite is surefooted and comfortable on the trails, though its rolling stock lacks a little race pace
Hitting the trails hard, the Crux impresses with surprising comfort, soaking up stutter bumps and broken surfaces, while remaining perfectly poised for direction changes. Slow speed turns after heavy braking don’t upset its balance, and drive out of corners is only tempered by the comparatively average wheelset. With an asymmetric rear rim, Specialized’s own hoops are efficient performers, but along with the Tracer Sport rubber they're shod with, lack the raw speed racers crave. The Tracer’s tread pattern consists of six parallel lines of offset small blocks, which roll fast on tarmac and hardpack, but are soon overwhelmed when the going gets too soft.
Specialized’s own brand finishing kit is tidy, and the Phenom Comp saddle is particularly good, with plenty of supportive comfort, and a shape that allows easy movement when the terrain demands it. The Crux has the heart of a racer, and would make a fantastic asset to any rider keen to swap tarmac for dirt. It’s pleasantly rapid in this spec, but has excellent upgrade potential, with performance only limited by budget and ambition.