> Lightweight cy­clo-cross bike whose ride matches its looks

Cycling Plus - - FIRST RIDE -

Spe­cial­ized’s CruX Ex­pert sits sec­ond in line within the four-bike 2019 CruX hi­er­ar­chy, but costs ex­actly half as much as the range­top­ping S-Works model, and £1200 more than the Elite.

The CruX Ex­pert shares the same FACT 11r car­bon frame and S-Works FACT 11r car­bon fork as the other two car­bon mod­els. Spe­cial­ized claims a 56cm frame weighs around 900g, which is over 400g less than the old CruX and light for a ’cross bike. It has a pur­pose­ful build, fit­ted with SRAM Force 1 and a Praxis Zayante car­bon crankset, and that looks even bet­ter value when you see the wheelset. Ro­val’s C 38 wheels have DT Swiss 350 hubs and 38mm tall, wide car­bon tube­less rims. They’re light, stiff and give su­perb side­wall sup­port to wide tyres at low pres­sures.

Sup­plied with Spe­cial­ized’s Tracer Pro tube­less tyres and in­ner tubes, the bike’s over­all weight of 7.72kg is im­pres­sive, and con­vert­ing the wheels for tube­less run­ning is sim­ple. Tyres seat quickly and re­li­ably – with the nec­es­sary valve and sealant, you’re done. The Tracer Pro has an­gled, slim light­ning bolt-like tread blocks that roll fast and grip well on dry ground and per­form bet­ter than ex­pected when damp. But for more se­cu­rity in au­tum­nal con­di­tions, you’ll want to switch them.

The Praxis ex­ter­nal bot­tombracket cups ef­fec­tively widen the BB30 shell and pro­vide great so­lid­ity for the car­bon crank’s 30mm axle, com­bin­ing with the frame’s stiff­ness to max­imise power de­liv­ery. If you have the re­ac­tions and the power, the CruX trans­lates them in to star­tling get­aways and, trac­tion-per­mit­ting, peer­less cor­ner ex­its.

The ge­om­e­try and 1026mm wheel­base strikes the per­fect bal­ance be­tween sta­bil­ity and agility, al­low­ing fine di­rec­tion con­trol and off-cam­ber bal­ance through mi­nor weight shifts, with a for­giv­ing na­ture that looks af­ter you when sur­prises hap­pen.

The Phe­nom Ex­pert sad­dle is com­fort­able, while lop­ping 20mm from the seat-tube means it fin­ishes flush with the top tube, al­low­ing the S-Works 27.2mm car­bon seat­post to flex more, pro­vid­ing fur­ther com­fort. The al­loy han­dle­bar is an ideal shape, whether rid­ing on the hoods or drops, and the fit for a 178cm rider is great.

Tyre clear­ance at both ends is gen­er­ous with no un­wanted bridges to col­lect mud. They even take 40mm Sch­walbe G-One Bite tube­less gravel tyres for rac­ing. And you’ll want to race and show off this frame as it’s a gor­geous-look­ing beast.

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