SPECIALIZED CRUX ELITE X1
£3000 › In the pink?
Thanks to the financial markets and some welcome improvements, the 2018 CruX Elite X1 costs £700 more than last year’s. The frame has upgraded to Specialized’s FACT 11r carbon, weighing a claimed 900g in 56cm, over 400g lighter than before, and the S-Works FACT 11r carbon fork is new too.
Redesigned for flat-mount disc callipers, the frameset has been streamlined with neat universal cable routing ports. The down-tube is slimmer and vaguely triangular to reduce mud build up. The third bottle cage mount and the front mech mount have gone too, asserting the CruX’s status as a ’cross racer.
SRAM’s Rival 1x drivetrain takes care of go and slow, and the only other change from 2017 sees Roval SLX24s replace DT Swiss R470s. They’re 23mm wide externally and 28mm tall, making the 33mm tyres a useful 35mm, with reasonable rotating mass, 12mm thru-axles and a willing nature. Inner tubes are fitted, but the tubeless-ready rims and tyres promise a performance hike.
Huge clearance at the fork and bridgeless seatstays is backed by 8mm chainstay clearance on each side of a 33mm tyre, and no obstructions behind the press-fit BB30 bottom bracket. Dynamically the Elite X1 is a net improvement, with a robust front end that resists the torsion of sprinting out of corners or late braking in to hairpins superbly well. No matter how technical the terrain we pointed it at, reflex flicks over roots and hard downhill corners were confidently dismissed, and line choice is a lesson in nimble precision.
The 40t ring and 11-32 cassette manage 25 per cent loose climbs and short, sharp woodland banks equally well, without feeling gappy at high road speeds, and the brakes are more than able. Generous main triangle space and the flat top-tube help shouldering, and the Phenom Comp saddle plus additional seatpost deflection make seated riding more comfortable and efficient.
A bit too grippy for dry conditions, the Terra Pro tyres could nevertheless get you through a season, as their widely-spaced chunky tread blocks are great in mud.
With a riding position and performance to suit the most aggressive racers, the CruX Elite X1’s frameset is built to fly. Those with podium ambitions will want faster wheels, but as an out of the box, completely sorted package, there’s lots to recommend this bike, especially if you embrace the pink!