New Specialized Crux goes hydrophobic… and fast

The new Specialized Crux is light, fast, and feels like a pure race bike. Plus, it has a special hydrophobic paint.

Specialized redesigned its Crux with a sole purpose: rocketship speed on the ‘cross course. It makes no plays to be a gravel bike (for that, check out the new Diverge). Instead, it remains true to its CX race roots. It’s not trying to be everything to everyone, and that’s very much to the Crux’s advantage.

The Crux’s carbon frame is nearly 300 grams lighter than its predecessor, with the full Expert X1 model weighing 17.65 pounds (size 56cm). It’s built with Specialized’s stiffest carbon fiber, and through a process Specialized calls “Rider First Engineering,” each frame size is designed independently to optimize ride through different tube shapes and carbon layups. That essentially means each size has its own tailor-made ride quality.

Photo: Alex Quesada

One glance at the geometry indicates the Crux is a pure race bike. A low 155mm head tube and long 563mm top tube (size 56cm) offer an aggressive position while the 73.25-degree seat tube angle keeps the rider in a powerful stance over the pedals. A moderately tall bottom bracket (67mm BB drop) helps riders pedal through more corners while navigating twisty ‘cross courses. The previous model had 69mm drop for a 56cm frame.

The S-Works Crux comes equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes. A carbon crankset with 46/36-tooth chainrings is paired with an 11-30-tooth Dura-Ace cassette — ‘cross-specific gearing. We would have liked to see a 1x offering for the S-Works category, though. Single-ring diehards might consider the Expert X1 Crux model that can be spec’d with SRAM Force 1x drivetrain.

Photo: Alex Quesada

The S-Works model comes with Roval CLX 50 disc, carbon, tubeless-ready wheels. These are pretty fancy wheels for training. We were surprised to see the flagship S-Works model doesn’t come with tubular race wheels. Still, tubeless wheels are more versatile and require less setup effort.

If you do want to swap your tubeless wheels for tubulars on race day, you’re in luck. Specialized ditched the old Crux’s unconventional rear spacing, opting for the common 142×12 millimeter axle. This opens up a wider range of wheel options. Up front, the Crux’s carbon fork is built around a 12×100 millimeter thru-axle.

The Crux’s flashy color combinations are a fun, but the paint isn’t just for looks. Specialized is working with a new high-tech paint concoction designed to shed water and mud more efficiently. The hydrophobic paint purportedly keeps mud from building up. This could keep the bike from accumulating heavy mud on sloppy days.

Specialized Crux on the course

We hopped on the Crux Expert 1x for some hot laps around a makeshift cyclocross course at the Crux product launch. In the few short minutes of pedaling, the bike felt impressively quick and responsive. The bike accelerated well out of corners and climbed a small dirt hill on course with ease. The Crux is noticeably light with nimble handling.

The Crux might not feel as stable on long, loose descents during training rides, thanks to its bottom bracket height. It felt agile through tight ‘cross corners, coherent with the bike’s singular purpose. The 1,026mm wheelbase and 425mm chain stays lend some stability the ride, however, for a balanced feel on varied terrain.

While we’ll need more testing time to make a full assessment of the new Crux, early impressions were positive. It’s light, fast, and feels like a pure race bike. Pulling back from the “do everything” mindset, Specialized seems to have succeeded in designing its best ‘cross specific bike yet.

The Crux will be available in seven models including a frameset only option and two aluminum selections. Prices range from $7,500 for the S-Works full bike to $1,500 for the Crux Base E5 aluminum bike.