Cyclocross

Specialized S-Works Crux gravel bike in review – GRAN FONDO Cycling Magazine

The Specialized S-Works Crux is designed to be the ultimate gravel race machine, combining cyclocross and gravel, minimal weight and maximum tire clearance. To find out whether it can master this balancing act, it had to prove itself against 18 of this season’s best gravel bikes.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best gravel bike 2022 – 19 models on test

Specialized S-Works Crux | 7.15 kg in size 56 | Manufacturer’s website

Many associate the name of the Specialized S-Works Crux with the biggest cyclocross events, Belgian fries, Trappist beer and crazy fans, as that’s what the bike was originally all about. But that’s set to change as the Crux, originally designed specifically for cyclocross duties, now also serves as a super-light gravel racer. The lightweight technology of the S-Works Aethos (review here) and the cyclocross genes of the previous Crux were combined to create the lightest gravel bike on test, weighing in at just 7.15 kg in size 56. The bike borrows a few of its design elements from the Aethos.

As such, the Crux isn’t as big on integration as many of its competitors, leaving the cables exposed around the cockpit and not integrating the seat post clamp either. Regarding the components, Specialized have reached for the top shelf, speccing the wireless SRAM red eTap AXS groupset, including Quarq DZero power measurement. The 1×12 drivetrain consists of a 40 t chainring and a 10–44 t cassette, offering sufficient range for most speeds. Steep climbs pose little problem thanks to the bike’s low weight. However, the dual-sided power metre will record large output spikes while doing so, but that kind of riding suits the Crux’s sporty orientation. The S-Works Crux also plays in the Champions League in terms of price, setting you back by € 12,800.

Give it your all
The dual-sided power metre measures the force applied to the cranks and suits the Crux’s intended use well.
Easy maintenance
The threaded bottom bracket can be easily removed, serviced and replaced if necessary.
Adaptable
Thanks to the front derailleur mount, the Crux can be set up with a 1x or 2x drivetrain.

Specialized S-Works Crux

€ 12,800

Specifications

Seatpost Roval Alpinist
Brakes SRAM RED eTap AXS HRD 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM RED eTap AXS XPLR 1×12
Stem S-Works SL 100 mm
Handlebar Roval Terra 420 mm
Wheelset Roval Terra CLX
Tires Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready 700 x 38C

Technical Data

Size 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight 7.15 kg

Specific Features

by far the lightest bike on test
by far the most expensive bike on test
dual-sided power meter as standard
almost feels like a road bike when riding on asphalt


Easy maintenance
The cables around the cockpit aren’t completely integrated, but their accessibility makes working on the bike a whole lot easier, and the classic handlebar and stem combo offers maximum adjustability.
Not much to offer
Besides the additional bosses under the down tube, the Crux hasn’t got much to offer in terms of mounting points. No mudguards, no racks and no additional cargo cages or bags. However, it suits the bike’s racing ambitions.
Utilitarian
Specialized chose not to integrate the seat post clamp, taking a step backwards compared to its predecessor. However, the clamp works well and is easily accessible. It’s also said to reduce the bike’s weight.

Lightweight technology and sophisticated frame design at its finest! The S-Works Crux goes like a rocket when you sprint.

The cockpit consists of a classic handlebar and stem combo, offering the rider maximum versatility in adjusting the riding position to suit their personal preferences and fine-tuning the fit. The 420 mm wide Roval Terra handlebar has a 12° flare with pleasantly long and compact drops, convincing all our testers with its great ergonomics and excellent vibration damping.

Size 49 52 54 56 58 61
Seat tube 466 mm 496 mm 521 mm 546 mm 576 mm 606 mm
Top tube 512 mm 539 mm 549 mm 568 mm 582 mm 599 mm
Head tube 100 mm 115 mm 130 mm 147 mm 167 mm 190 mm
Head angle 70.5° 71.3° 71.5° 72.0° 72.3° 72.5°
Seat angle 75.5° 74.0° 74.0° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstays 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm 425 mm
BB Drop 74 mm 74 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm
Wheelbase 1,008 mm 1,014 mm 1,023 mm 1,033 mm 1,045 mm 1,059 mm
Reach 375 mm 382 mm 388 mm 397 mm 405 mm 415 mm
Stack 530 mm 547 mm 560 mm 578 mm 598 mm 621 mm
Helmet HJC FURION 2.0 Team Replica | Glasses 100% Hypercraft
Jersey Shirt Second Hand | Pants Levi’s 501 | Shoes Suplest Crosscountry Pro
Socks VOID Performance Sock 16 | Special Watch Uhr

The Specialized S-Works Crux also has a lot in common with the Aethos in terms of acceleration, getting up to speed extremely fast. The Crux goes like a rocket when you sprint. Regardless of the situation, whether you’re on flat terrain or a mountain pass, it consistently propels you forward with every pedal stroke. Once the Crux has been brought up to speed, it can easily stay there, too, scoring high on efficiency.

The 700 x 38C Specialized Pathfinder Pro tires (review here) also play a role here, harmonising perfectly with the Roval Terra CLX carbon wheelset with an internal rim width of 25 mm. Due to the smooth centre tread, rolling resistance is kept to a minimum, though this comes at the cost of grip when accelerating and braking on loose surfaces. The small shoulder knobs bite into the ground on dry to damp, compact surfaces, asphalt and hardpack, generating plenty of cornering traction. However, the braking performance suffers in wet conditions due to the smooth tread in the middle. The SRAM RED eTap AXS HRD brakes are paired with 160 mm rotors front and rear, allowing you to reliably scrub off speed if necessary.

Tuning tip: higher volume tires for more comfort and slightly less direct handling

Specialized have kept the handling of the S-Works Crux direct and precise. The rider should know exactly what they’re doing since the Crux demands to be guided with a firm hand. The steering remains very direct no matter how fast you’re going, though the front end feels relatively soft due to its compliance, which can be difficult for inexperienced riders to get to grips with when pushing the limit. Agility takes precedence over composure aboard the S-Works Crux, but that’s to be expected from such a high-performance bike. If you’ve got the skills, it rides well on moderate singletrack, though it isn’t made for that kind of terrain and you’ll quickly find yourself underbiked. You’ll notice this regarding comfort too. It’s too stiff for riding over roots or along rough gravel roads. That said, it has many sources of comfort, offering a good level of vibration damping for all-road use or fast hardpack. It provides sufficient feedback from the ground yet never feels harsh on bigger impacts. The riding position is compact and feels nicely integrated with the bike. It’s aggressive enough while striking a good balance between aerodynamics and everyday suitability. The Crux isn’t out to be a bikepacker or trail shredder, inviting you to go on high-speed jaunts on compact surfaces and along winding routes instead.

Riding Characteristics

4

Agility

  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

  1. boring
  2. lively

Comfort

  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data

Specialized
S-Works Crux

Size: 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight: 7.15 kg
Price: € 12,800

Indended Use

Smooth tarmac 1

Allroad/Gravel 2

Everyday/Commuting 3

Our conclusion on the Specialized S-Works Crux

The Specialized S-Works Crux has a need for speed as it’s unparalleled in terms of acceleration. It feels most comfortable on compact gravel roads and requires a skilled rider when things get rough. If you want to ride trails, you’ll quickly find yourself in underbiking terrain, but a high-performance gravel racing machine like this doesn’t belong there anyway. The Crux falls short on cargo mounting points and it would need more forgiving handling for a place on the podium.

Tops

  • consistently high-end spec
  • super light
  • full-on racing performance
  • clearances for up to 700 x 47C tires

Flops

  • compromised integration
  • no additional mounting points


You can find out more about at specialized.com

The testfield

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best gravel bike 2022 – 19 models on test

All bikes on review: 3T Exploro Ultra (Click for review) | BMC URS LT ONE (Click for review) | Cannondale SuperSix EVO SE (Click for review) | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 eTap Suspension (Click for review) | Cervélo Áspero GRX Di2 (Click for review) | CUBE Nuroad C:62 SLT (Click for review) | Curve Kevin of Steel III (Click for review) | Falkenjagd Aristos R (Click for review) | Felt Breed 20 (Click for review) | FOCUS ATLAS 6.8 (Click for review) | GIANT Revolt Advanced 0 (Click for review) | OPEN WI.DE. (Click for review) | Ridley Kanzo Fast (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD EKAR LTD (Click for review) | SCOTT Addict Gravel Tuned (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Crux | Stelbel Nina XCr (Click for review) | Storck GRIX.2 Platinum (Click for review) | Wilier Rave SLR (Click for review)


Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of GRAN FONDO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: Mike Hunger Photos: Benjamin Topf, Peter Walker