Last year, Christopher Blevins soared to a U23 National Championship aboard his Specialized CruX cyclocross bike. With the young phenom focusing solely on mountain biking now, the CruX needed some fresh faces to ride it to a title at Louisville Nationals.
One of the riders who did so was also one of the youngest who raced in Louisville that weekend.
Racing in the Junior Women’s 11-12 race and perhaps a little out of her element as a Golden Stater, Eire Chen survived the Midwest mudfest and rode and ran to a national championship in the youngest title category.
“This was one of the first times I ever rode in mud,” she said after her race. “I kept my hands on the brakes a lot just in case I fall down. I always try to stay at the top of the high line.”
After her win, we took a closer look at her Specialized CruX alternatively colored pink and mud for our latest Nationals Bike Profile.
Eire Chen’s Junior Women’s 11-12 Nationals Specialized CruX
Chen’s CruX was not the only one to win a championship on Saturday at Louisville Nationals—we recently profiled Sarah Sturm’s glamorous singlespeed setup. The frame also won U23 World Championship under Tom Pidcock and a Canadian Nationals title with Maghalie Rochette.
Chen’s hot pink Specialized CruX Elite she raced in Louisville featured a SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain and the same Fact 11r carbon frameset raced by Elite riders such as Rochette, Cody Kaiser and Allen Krughoff.
The Crux underwent a drastic redesign for 2018, gaining flat mount brakes and losing its seatstay bridge for greater mud clearance. Like most current generation cyclocross frames, it routes all cables and hoses internally and features 12mm thru-axles.
While Chen rode the smallest size available, her Specialized Phenom saddle was still pushed as low as possible to get a good fit. Interestingly, she elected to race with a bottle cage on the seat tube.
In addition to the 2,000-plus mile trip Chen and her father made from California to Louisville, the team had to deal with some other issues to get to the start line at Joe Creason Park.
In the weeks leading up to Nationals, Chen damaged her race wheels and had to use mismatched wheels at Nationals. Her Nats wheelset included an Easton SL alloy tubeless clincher with the outgoing Specialized Terra Pro in the front and a Chinese carbon tubular with a Donnelly BOS in the rear, with the mud tire selected based on the conditions—the tread mix and match is similar to what we saw Katie Compton do at Hartford Nationals.
“She had a choice of [the Terra] or another wheel with a Donnelly BOS [for the front],” Chen’s father Maison explained.
Further modifying the bike, Chen used a Shimano 105 R5800 crankset with a 36t Wolf Tooth 1x chain ring. “The stock crankset was 170mm, too long for little legs,” the elder Chen told Cyclocross Magazine. “I had a 105 crankset with 165mm [arms] laying around, so it went on the bike.” The chain ring paired with a SRAM Force 1 rear derailleur.
Mounting Shimano’s 24mm spindle did post a challenge since the CruX uses a BB30-compatible version of Specialized’s OSBB platform. Chen the elder used a reducer for the installed BB30 bearings to adapt the crankset.
Chen attached Crankbrothers Candy pedals to the crankarms.
The rest of Chen’s bike was largely a stock build. SRAM Rival HRD shift-brake levers pair with the flat mount Rival calipers. Chen’s cockpit included a Specialized alloy stem and a 38mm Specialized Shallow Drop handlebar wrapped with S-Wrap HD bar tape.
For a closer look at Chen’s CruX, see the photo gallery and specs below.
For more Nationals bikes, see our bike profile archive.