The Specialized CruX Sport has a compact and relatively aggressive geometry, and uses Specialized's E5 aluminium, resulting in a bike that offers good weight savings, excellent stiffness and a responsive ride.
The CruX Sport’s frame is constructed using E5 aluminium and is paired with the carbon fibre CruX disc fork. Adding to the frame’s material and geometry, the Specialized produced alloy seatpost does result in a distinct lack of comfort on the bike and while training I did feel every lump I rode over.
However, for a bike that is essentially ready to race out of the box, one shouldn’t expect too much comfort. Specialized also provides a more than adequate alloy stem and handlebar combination, which when paired with Specialized’s CX Pro Gel tape, is both comfortable on the upper body and durable even after several crashes.
For me, combining a responsive and stiff frame with a groupset that performs throughout a cyclocross season’s demands was a must. The entry-level CruX has more than capable Shimano Tiagra shifting paired with Tektro Spyre mechanical discs, while the CruX Sport has hydraulic Shimano BR-785 series disc brakes — which were consistent and performed superbly throughout the six months.
The shifting is a combination of Shimano 105 11-speed components and Praxis Alba cranks, with 46/36t chainrings and an 11-28t Shimano 105 cassette on the rear. Having the option of two chainrings on the front of the bike was a beneficial decision (over the more expensive 1x options of the Specialized CruX), and although it adds weight, smoother gear changing options and a wider range of gears was a plus.
Wheels and tyre choice
The Axis Elite disc wheels are paired with 33mm Tracer Sport tyres as standard. At 2.95kg, the combination definitely contributed to the overall weight of the bike at 9.61kg, but as is the general theme of this bike, it offers more than adequate value and the wheels are easily something you can upgrade later down the line.
Although occasionally slipping out on a wet tree root, the Tracer Sport tyres were fast and provided good grip in the loose dirt and the (unusual for this time of year) dusty surfaces, I generally opted to run the tyres at 28psi on the front wheel and 30psi on the rear wheel.
When the ground became wetter and muddier later in the season, the Tracer Sport tyres didn’t shed the mud very well due to the fairly dense spread of knobs on the tyres. I opted to switch out the tyres to some with a wider spaced tread pattern, which paid off on muddier courses and rides.
Racing and riding
The elliptical top tube of the CruX not only contributes to the stiff characteristics of the bike, but also makes shouldering the bike relatively comfortable — even without a padded shoulder skinsuit. Internal cable routing also ensures that cables are protected from the rigours of racing and the inevitable mud, although this can cause some challenges when it comes to servicing or replacing cables.
The overall ride of the CruX is both stiff and responsive, and while constructed from slightly heavier aluminium, the manoeuvrability of the bike was a breeze. The short stem and fairly aggressive head tube angle contributes further to this and it didn’t take long to feel completely connected with the bike.
The ride to some may be too harsh, and when spending several hours blasting around on non-race weekends the bike does give your whole body a battering. However, when partaking in shorter training rides or races this wasn’t a problem.
The gear set up is very similar to my regular road bike, a Bowman Palace, yet pedalling the CruX feels incredibly efficient and consistently engaged; helping on both technical, punchy ascents and long, steady drags. Having an 11-28t cassette means that shifting is smooth with closer gear ratios than you would find on an 11-32t cassette, which is what the range topping 1X CruX is equipped with.
The bike offers exceptional value with great components and at a competitive price point. Essentially, ready to race out of the box, Specialized has offered savings only where necessary and although the finishing kit is more than adequate, a less stiff seat post may suit some riders.
The saddle is, of course, personal preference and ultimately a lighter wheelset is an expected eventual upgrade on most bikes.