Spotted: a redesigned Specialized CruX

A refined race-focused cyclocross machine

Following the lead of the new Epic hardtail, we spotted an updated version of the CruX at Sea Otter. The updated CruX appears to be lighter and more race-focused than its predecessor

The 'no-frills' (mostly) round and straight tube shapes are the new way for the Specialized engineering team - light and stiff
The 'no-frills' (mostly) round and straight tube shapes are the new way for the Specialized engineering team - light and stiff

When the carbon CruX was launched in 2012, it was well positioned in the front group of high-performance, dedicated race bikes. But within just a few years other manufacturers were quicker to innovate, leaving the CruX behind.

On the flip side, the CruX possessed a few tricks of its own. It was incredibly stable, thanks to a low bottom bracket, and in choppy terrain provided notable compliance.

It appears that all that is behind us now, as we’ve spotted a new version of the CruX at Sea Otter.

There's nothing official from Specialized. The company has declined to comment on this new bike until June. The timing of the announcement means the new product will likely be available in time for race season.While that seems only logical, for a lot of brands the start of ‘cross season is a moving target that’s impossible to hit.

Race-focused design

Complimenting the disc brake design with massive clearance is sure to make 'crossers happy
Complimenting the disc brake design with massive clearance is sure to make 'crossers happy

With the previous generation CruX, there was a list of feature/benefits that perked the ears of Specialized retailers. However, a few of them erred more on the side of feature, and less on benefit.

But with the new machine, from first glance, it appears as though the marketing commentary will be "light and fast." 

The industrial design on this bike is minimal. Straight, round tubes that do away with the bulbous headtube, the hand grabber thingy on the down tube, flared seatstays and the recessed water bottle bosses of the previous generation.

All those things had their claimed purpose, but they all added weight. This new bike, although not officially weighed, was exciting for a bike geek. I did the ‘bike shop pick up’ and the 56cm S-Works version immediately felt very close to the UCI limit. Sure, it was dressed in its Sunday best (carbon this, carbon that).

These race refinements appear to have moved the CruX away from being a potential ‘dual purpose’ (‘cross and gravel-adventure-thing) to a focused ‘cross race machine. So that begs the question, will we also see an updated Diverge soon?

The new frame appears to share the same internal cable routing interface as the new Epic hardtail. Riders can choose how many cables to run without losing the aesthetics of molded frame holes. While this is good news, it’s something other frame manufacturers have been doing for several years.

Specialized has also updated the seatpost mount, which is now an internal system. Not sure if there’s a benefit, but probably something to the effect of increasing seatpost flex.

That internal seat binder better be secure when the post is vacant! And Does the bridgeless design mean disc-only? We'll see about both in a few weeks
That internal seat binder better be secure when the post is vacant! And Does the bridgeless design mean disc-only? We'll see about both in a few weeks

The seatstays are bridgeless, which has a very tidy aesthetic. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a difference in lateral rear triangle stiffness as a result. Maybe the thru-axle system, which is likely something ‘standard,' will keep things nice and crisp feeling.

The bridgeless design should make for some flex in the vertical plane. And of course mud clearance would be more than sufficient, but the brake bridge (on disc bikes) is rarely the limiting factor. Speaking of which, there appears to be plenty of clearance at the bottom bracket.

I also noticed when eyeballing for clearance that there’s no front derailleur mount. However, the seat tube seems to be truly round, allowing for a traditional band-clamp mount for a 2x setup.

Although it's light, this thru-axle requires a tool, meaning this may not be a working-man's race bike (in fairness, this was a pro's bike). Maybe by the official launch they've got something more friendly to those of us that have spare wheels, not spare bikes
Although it's light, this thru-axle requires a tool, meaning this may not be a working-man's race bike (in fairness, this was a pro's bike). Maybe by the official launch they've got something more friendly to those of us that have spare wheels, not spare bikes

Last but not least, Specialized has moved from post-mount to flat-mount for the disc brake standard. This also begs the question of whether or not the bike will be disc only? With the bridgeless design, I’m guessing there’s won’t be a cantilever option.

The end result

Although it's light, this thru-axle requires a tool, meaning this may not be a working-man's race bike (in fairness, this was a pro's bike). Maybe by the official launch they've got something more friendly to those of us that have spare wheels, not spare bikes
Although it's light, this thru-axle requires a tool, meaning this may not be a working-man's race bike (in fairness, this was a pro's bike). Maybe by the official launch they've got something more friendly to those of us that have spare wheels, not spare bikes

For hardcore racers, anything more high-performance is welcomed. This emphasis on simplicity seems to be pulsing through the Specialized engineering veins as of recent.

Will this be enough to top the Focus Mares, Trek Boone, new Cannondale SuperX or the Felt F1X?

We’ll find out more in June.

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