Like so many brands these days, the new Specialized Crux has made the shift from cyclocross to gravel. But it’s the execution here that sets it apart, using their ultralight layup and design concept from the Aethos to create a bare bones, spare no expense gravel race bike that weighs next to nothing.

With frame weights as low as 725g, they say it’s the lightest gravel bike frame in the world, and with the S-Works build, it’s gunning for the Lightest Gravel Bike in the World title, too.

But giving up weight didn’t give up its goal of crossing the finish line first, so they tweaked the design, geometry, and features for the express purpose of making it not just the lightest, but also the fastest. Here’s how they did it…

How they made a 725g Crux frame

frame details on new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

The S-Works Crux gets a shimmery, barely-there paint to save weight.

Like the Specialized Aethos, there are two versions of the Crux, an ultralight 725g S-Works version with FACT 12R carbon, and the 825g Pro version that’s 100g heavier and will eventually come in Expert and Comp builds, too.

The weight savings come from employing the same minimalist approach used to create hte 525g Aethos S-Works frame. Straight tubes with as few curves at the joints as possible plus minimal overlap of carbon fiber sheets saves a lot of weight. It also lets them use longer sheets and more continuous fibers running throughout the frame, which maintains the necessary strength and durability.

frame details on new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

frame details on new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

They say the layup alone saves 150g, and then the tube shapes do even more. Check out our Aethos coverage for a deeper dive on how and why this construction method works.

For the Crux, they definitely needed to beef it up a bit, but it’s still a featherweight. All models use the same FACT 12R carbon fork, which comes in at 400g cut for a size 56cm frame.

closeup details of the new specialized crux gravel bike

While we could guess why the Crux is heavier than the Aethos, we wanted Specialized’s take on it. Crux product manager Stewart Thompson told us  there are “two reasons the Crux frame gains weight over the Aethos. Mainly, the stresses of off-road riding are subsequent strength and durability testing requirements are much higher.”

closeup details of the new specialized crux gravel bike

“With 47c tire clearance, this bike has so much capability and we made sure that the frame was strong and durable enough to handle anything you could throw at it. The layup is reinforced across the board but particularly in the seat tube and head tube regions. Additionally, the frame has more surface area and is larger overall to accommodate things like the tire clearance, which adds some weight.”

There’s more to it than less carbon

frame details on new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

A lightweight frame is worthless if it doesn’t ride well and fit all the current standards. The new Crux clears 700×47 tires (or 650B x 2.1″) without using dropped chainstays or other curvy designs. In fact, they’re using the same straight, hollow chainstay design as the Aethos, and it’ll still clear big tires and a 2x drivetrain with front derailleur.

They’re (jokingly) introducing a new standard to hype this: Clearance to Weight Ratio (CTR), and here’s how they say the competition stacks up:

specialized crux gravel bike tire clearance comparison chart showing competing models

In addition to large tires, the frame’s minimal plies, thin seatstays, and intentional layup combine with a 27.2mm Roval carbon seatpost that adds a bit of flex to enhance rider comfort. It’s dropper post compatible if you want to run one.

2022 specialized crux geometry chart

The geometry is race oriented, with a 10mm longer reach and low stack. Combined with a 72mm bottom bracket drop (3mm lower than prior Crux), it puts you in a comparatively low, racy riding position, but not so low that you can’t ride long hundred-miler events on it. The design also pushes the front wheel out of the way of your toes to eliminate clearance issues.

A shorter stem and low stack helps keep enough weight over the front for adequate steering traction. All of it creates a bike that borrows a bit from mountain bikes to create high speed stability and center the rider weight regardless of whether you’re going up or down, or just hammering along the flats.

And since this has to also serve as their cyclocross race bike, it maintains just enough low speed snappiness and cornering ability to wiggle between course tape chicanes, too.

So what did they give up?

frame details on new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

Compared to the Diverge, a lot. There are no fender or rack mounts. There are no top tube bag mounts. And there’s no FutureShock suspension in the steerer tube. If you want all that for an adventure bike, get the Diverge. If you want a pared down ultralight gravel race bike, get the Crux.

It does have three bottle cage mounts, albeit one’s under the downtube, just in front of the bottom bracket.

frame details on new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

It uses the same minimalist dropouts and recessed thru axle bolts as the Aethos, and keeps a simple threaded bottom bracket. Despite the weight and appearance, it passes all the same safety and strength tests as the Diverge, though, so you won’t need to be gentle with it.

And, the frame has a 275lb (125kg) rider weight limit…though some complete bike builds have a lower 240lb (105kg) rider weight limit due to component selection.

new specialized crux gravel bike

The Crux Pro gets a fancier paint job.

As for drivetrains, it’s 1x and 2x compatible, with the only caveat being that it will only work with electronic 2x groups (AXS, Di2, EPS), and you may not be able to run all gearing combinations. Specifically, Thompson told us that max chainring size depends a bit on the specific crank.

With SRAM 1x, max is 46t. SRAM 2x eTap can use all double chainring configs. Shimano GRX, all cranks and ring sizes are compatible. Shimano 2x road is not compatible, Shimano road cranks with 1x can go up to 42t ring.

The front derailleur mount bolts on, so if you are running 1x, you’ll have a clean appearance by just putting the bolts in there instead.

2022 Crux Models & Specs

studio photo of the new specialized crux s-works gravel bike

2022 Specialized Crux S-Works

The Specialized Crux S-Works gets all the lightest Roval bits, including their 200g Terra handlebar, 136g Alpinist seatpost, and 1296g Terra CLX carbon wheels. Complete bike weight is a claimed 7.25kg (15.98lb)

Remaining spec includes an S-Works Power Saddle with carbon rails, SRAM Red eTap AXS drivetrain and brakes with XPLR 10-44 cassette, 40-tooth chainring, and powermeter crankset. MSRP is $12,000 (£10,750 / €12,200) and you get one choice of color: This lightweight Satin Carbon/Spectraflair/Gloss Abalone.

Across the entire lineup, you’ll find Pathfinder Pro 700×38 tires with transparent sidewalls and Supacaz Sticky Kush bar tape on all models.

new specialized crux pro gravel bike

2022 Specialized Crux Pro, Expert & Comp

Claimed weights for these models, which all use the same FACT 10R frame, are:

• Crux Pro – 7.6kg (16.76lb)
• Crux Expert – 8.1kg (17.86lb)
• Crux Comp – 8.5kg (18.74lb)

The Crux Pro gets SRAM Force eTap AXS with XPLR cassette, Roval Terra CL wheels, Roval Terra carbon handlebar and seatpost, and their Power Pro saddle. It’ll come in this beautiful mouthful of a color called Gloss Coral Lilac/Carbon/Limestone/Papaya/Gray/Black, as well as a Satin Dusty Blue/Ice Papaya option. MSRP is $8,000 (£7,000 / €8,000).

new specialized crux expert gravel bike

The Crux Expert steps down to SRAM Rival eTap AXS with XPLR cassette, Specialized Adventure Gear flared handlebar, Power Expert saddle, and Roval Terra C wheels with Terra carbon seatpost. MSRP is $6,000 (£5,500 / €6,000), and it comes in Gloss White Speckled/Dove Grey/Papaya/Clay/Lime or Satin Forest/Light Silver.

new specialized crux comp gravel bike

And the Crux Comp gets SRAM Rival mechanical 1×11 group with 11-42 cassette and KMC chain, Power Sport saddle, and the same Adventure Gear handlebar and Roval Terra carbon seatpost, but with DT Swiss G540 wheels. MSRP is $4,200 (£4,000 / €4,000) and colors are Gloss Arctic Blue/Tarmac Black and Satin Smoke/Black/Cool Grey.

An S-Works frameset ($5,000 / £4,000 / €4,500 ) will also be available in three colorways and includes the Roval Alpinist seatpost and seat binder with titanium bolt. Or go for the standard FACT 10r frameset ($3,200 / £N/A / €3,000 ) which leaves off the seatpost and gets a standard binder bolt. Both framesets include the same S-Works level fork and thru axles with all frame hardware.

Stay tuned for our full review, but here’s a little teaser, plus video walk through of the new Crux frame and first impressions…

Specialized.com

19 comments

  1. Seraph on

    The Crux is still one of the best looking traditional gravel frames out there. The new one is no exception, except for some of those paint jobs…

    I got my 2021 down to 15.75 lbs with a 9-50 cassette and XX1/Red AXS so they were already pretty damn light. If I didn’t like the gloss Spectraflair so much I would consider getting the new one to make mine sub-15 lbs.

    Reply
  2. tech9 on

    Working in a specialized shop and being a CX racer I can certainly say I am excited for this bike. However, Specialized marketing this as a “gravel” bike is total b.s. and the real reason they are throwing the “gravel” word on the crux now is because the Diverge’s future shock plain and simple keeps a lot of potential buyers from buying it. They are scared, or just don’t want a shock on their gravel bike. I try to put their fears at bay since the diverge does ride nice, but people simply just don’t want a future shock. This is specialized’s way of trying to cover lost potential sales from the future shock.

    @ 286mm BB Height this is 100% a cyclocross bike and not a gravel bike.. Yes I understand everything can potentially be a gravel bike, but selling something with this geometry as a “gravel” bike is …well..go ride it for yourself.

    btw. the diverge is a great bike, and i am sure this crux will be the top CX bike there is out there.

    Reply
  3. Astro Kraken on

    72mm of BB drop is pretty in line with most gravel frames. They seem to range from 65-67 from European brands to 70-75 from American brands. There are a few 80-85 outliers, but 70 is the most common I see.

    Reply
  4. Pete on

    Spesh totally hits the mark here! Whatever it’s designated use, it’s an off-road Aethos.

    But photos suggest that the Pro, Comp & Expert 10R series, just like the Aethos, has the downtube entry for mechanical cables. Are you sure that all models are electronic only?

    Reply
  5. Seraph on

    @tech9: I ride my ’21 Crux as a gravel bike with 38s in the winter and a road+ bike with 35s in the summer. I appreciate that it has Tarmac-like geometry for better handling at lower speeds. I’ve been pushing the Crux as a gravel bike for a few years now and I’ve had a lot of satisfied customers. You’re right that a lot of gravel purists don’t want the Future Shock, and I don’t blame them.

    Reply
  6. Craig on

    With a longer front centre, and a bike of this price, I would have liked to see the chainstays go to 430mm and 435mm as the sizes get bigger. Keeping chainstays at 425mm is ridiculously unbalanced beyond a 56cm size. 425mm across the size range is nothing more than a cost saving measure.

    Reply
  7. patrick on

    An off-road aethos is super cool. Very smart of them to include that name and look after the Aethos was so well received. And kudos for finally getting serious about tire clearance. It’s nice to have a bunch of extra for the dirty races. That’s some wild pricing though. Force AXS with middling carbon wheels and an 8k price tag? Seems like that would have been 6k just a year or two ago.

    Reply
  8. Craig on

    @Seraph. I’m one of those people too so why would weight distribution not be consistent across frame sizes? I’m 6’1″ tall and can rip a gravel bike with 445mm chainstays just like a hardtail. So no, the same length chainstays on all frame sizes still doesnt make sense. My comment stands: Its nothing more than a cost saving measure.

    Reply
  9. Dinger on

    Cool bike. I think they did the right things to make it “gravel-able” without killing its ability to do well in CX. Keep the stays short as that has a big effect on how lively the bike is in acceleration and turns but lower the BB (BB drop is ~1cm lower than typical for CX) to make it feel more stable, again without killing it’s maneuverability. Most gravel isn’t like Kansas gravel. Lots of it is smoother/faster and a “gravel grinder” feels too heavy and slow.

    Still can’t tell if it has mudguard mounts. I feel every CX bike should have this so they can be used in the off season for commuting/foul weather riding. Lacking those is a deal killer for me but then, so is the price.

    Reply
  10. typevertigo on

    @John
    Seems like there’s indeed no way of routing a shift cable AND keep it in enough tension to pull a front derailleur. That’s why Spez is saying it won’t support 2x mechanical.

    Reply
  11. Seraph on

    @MerlinPete: claimed weight of 373g for the cassette. I run an E.13 Helix R that weighs 345g (9-50) on my SW Crux and the lightest I’ve gotten it was 15.75 lbs with 35c tires. The Terra CLX wheels weigh 1296g which is light for a gravel wheelset but not featherweight. Additionally the S-Works model for 2022 comes with a power meter which is not light by any means.

    Reply
  12. Jeff on

    2007 welcome back. now all the dentists can pay extra for those super unique “round” tubes. who would have thought of using a round tube on a bike. the answer is only that Dank dude. that is why we get the privilege of paying $12k for this frame. what a joke. Also any company that touts their carbon frame as hand made is just trying to screw you over. every carbon frame is hand made. even those china knock off ones. if you had a machine made frame then that might be worth talking about.

    Reply
  13. Speshy on

    So let me get this straight…The Venge is now called a Tarmac. The Tarmac is now called Aethos. The Aethos now comes with big tires and is called the Crux? And the Crux is no longer a a CX bike it’s a gravel bike with super tight geometry so it doesn’t handle well off road? WTF is going on here? Why don’t they just make a stripped down version of the Diverge with out the future shock? That would be a GREAT gravel bike and they could keep a pure bred CX bike on hand. I wouldn’t buy this OR the diverge for a gravel bike and I’m a specialized fanboy.

    Reply

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