Specialized Crux Comp Disc Brake Cross Bike – Unboxed, Weighed & First Rides
When I first heard I had the chance to test-ride the 2012 Specialized Crux Comp Disc I wondered if it was even worth my time. I’ve been riding/racing on a traditional cantilever equipped Crux for the last ten weeks or so – but I soon realized this was my chance to check out disc brakes on a cyclocross bike and be ‘that guy,’ the over-equipped Cat CX3 racer with a complete pit bike, so I jumped on board.
My test model arrived the week before Thanksgiving, finding me with my family in town thus skipping the Hendersonville NCCX and no racing otherwise for at least a few weeks. Nonetheless, I got it assembled, then adjusted and began studying the small details. Soon after, I began putting in some miles, both CX training/racing and good ole fashioned dirt road riding. Of course I started with some photos and checked in with the scale, so keep on reading for weights, more details and my first impressions…
Specialized Crux Comp Disc Actual weights
My 54cm model (w/ Crank Brothers Egg Beater SL pedals installed – 266grams) weighs 21lbs 7oz. For those who’ve adopted the metric system, that’s 9.71kg – and the EggBeater SL’s weigh 266grams/9.38oz – making the true ‘out of the box’ weight
8.9kg 9.44kg or 20lbs 13oz.
Crux Comp Disc Frame
For 2012, Specialized offers their Crux in five complete builds, two with disc and three with cantilevers, as well as two frameset options. The Crux E5 OSBB Disc frameset (used on my review bike) weighs 2640 grams while the traditional Crux E5 OSBB frameset weighs 2586 grams. Nic Sims from Specialized provided these weights as well as the weight for the two complete bikes – 20.8 lbs for my disc bike vs 20.0 lbs for the Comp Apex model. These figures are reassuring showing a majority of the added weight comes from the Avid BB7 brakes and wheels rather than the frame/fork as some might expect.
My Comp Disc model is spec’d with Sram Apex shifters, derailleurs, and 11-28 cassette, KMC’s X10 CP chain and FSA supplies their Gossamer BB30 crank fitted with 36/46 rings. Specialized uses their own Specialized branded 27.2 seatpost, Comp-Set stem and modern bend alloy bars. The wheels are straight forward, labeled as Specialized Axis CXD, with Specialized Tracer Sport 700×33 tires mounted. As mentioned, the stopping is taken care of by Avid BB7 ‘road’ disc brakes.
Yes, the disc frames have 135mm rear hub spacing.
Frame and Disc Specific Details
As is nearly standard on current road and cross racing bikes, the steerer tube is tapered from 1-1/8″ to 1-1/2″. This serves not only to ‘balance strength, stiffness and compliance’ but in my opinion tapered steerers/headtubes help reduce infamous brake chatter on cantilever equipped bikes. Call it a hunch, but I’m sure disc brake equipped cyclocross bikes benefit from the tapered steerer when dealing with asymetric forces from braking as well as the usual gamut of tight turns, bumps, barrier hops and more from the race course. Nic Sims tells me the fork is an all new design and boasts a new carbon lay-up to help deal with brake loads.
The workhorse drivetrain along with relatively tall chainstays, squared off seat-tube, BB30 bottom bracket and ovalized downtube. AND trick matching red cable housing…
This shot gives a better view of the seat tube – round at the top transitioning to square cross-section towards the BB, and the BB30 bottom bracket/crank interface which shaves weight and offers a narrower stance (along with more heel clearance) than external cup designs (Hollowtech, GXP, Mega-Exo).
The FACT Carbon fork uses carbon legs and a tapered
alloy full carbon steerer tube, but the hidden details are the forward facing dropouts (visible on Specialized’s website – sorry forgot to photo) and the uber-clean post-mount adapter(s). A departure from traditional disc brake adapters, these are more of a super-thick washer combined with Avid’s own perfect mix of washers allowing ‘tri-align’ adjustment. Thankfully the wheels are held on by ‘Shimano style cam’ QR levers rather than cool looking wimpy skewers. Also worth noting, Specialized looks to have chosen post-mount 140 rather than PM160 like a mountain bike fork, meaning you can mount the caliper directly without ‘adapters’ and use a 140mm rotor. I’m not sure I’m ready to experiment with a 140mm front rotor, but then again a handful of strong disc brakes will likely lock up the tire anyways, so maybe ‘140mm power’ is all you need.
The Tracer Sport CX tire is a welcome tread that I look forward to riding/racing in fast hardpack-y conditions. However I think a grippier tread would be more suited for this disc brake equipped cross bike, designed to excel in nasty weather. Perhaps their Terra CX tread would be more at home on this bike, but then again racers will choose their own tires (hopefully tubulars!) for racing anyways. Having ridden/raced the Terra on classic North Carolina grassy cross courses I was satisfied with it even as my ‘all-arounder’ much like riders prefer Michelin’s Mud2 as an everyday tire. Either way this Sport level (60tpi wire bead) Tracer tire can be ridden, trained on, and raced in dry/medium conditions. Its worth noting that swapping out these tires for folding bead is the quickest way the weight-weenie crowd can shave a few grams- a set of kevlar bead tires will drop 300grams or more. I’ll swap the tires out with the Terra Pro for the upcoming NCCX race then after calling it a ‘season’ I’ll put Houffalize on for cruising dirt road rides around Watauga county – which is what I’m really looking forward to riding with this bike.
(Editor’s note: There are also a plethora of high end 135 disc wheelsets coming out for ‘cross, too, which would really drop some weight when it’s time to upgrade.)
The Crux frame uses full length internally routed cable housing. The shift housings – easily installed – enter the downtube and exit under the BB, and are then routed with zipties along their respective paths.
The rear brake housing enters on the underside of the toptube and is also easily fished out the exit on top near the seat-tube. The exit point features a removable cover making cable housing installation a breeze (although I’d rather remove the small screw with a torx wrench or small hex – this uses a philips screwdriver); the shift cable ‘exit’ is even more straightforward. Some riders may prefer ‘more traditional’ internal routing with exposed cable inside the frame, but understanding this bike’s purpose to perform in inclement weather I can support full length housings. Like my last few mountain bikes, this should allow increased time between service, and when combined with a lightly greased stainless cable, I don’t notice added friction at all.
One of my first complaints during assembly is the front derailleur cable housing stop angle. On the back of the seat-tube the housing stop is essentially vertical, I think front shifting may be smoother and front shift cables would likely need less frequent replacement/service if the housing stop were angled. Imagine if the cable stop was angled like a hand on a clock pointed towards the ‘1’. The bike comes with normal steel cables, but this could be a big deal when running GORE coated cables since they seem to shed some of their coating at these harsh angles.
On the right is, yes, a blurry photo, but I wanted to show the additional tire clearance afforded by the lack of cantilever brakes. So far it looks good for super muddy racing.
The rear braking is taken care of by another Avid BB7 with 140mm rotor – this area of the build took a little extra time since I’m only comfortable working on my fully hydralic brakes -OR- my Sram Rival road calipers. Also one of the only noticeable departures from the standard Crux frames (other than lack of canti studs) is a reinforcement to help spread the disc brake forces over the seatstays/chainstays. Here we see a fairly traditional rear IS brake mount and it uses a rear IS adapter to fit with 140mm rear rotor.
Sizing and Fit
I generally ride a 54 or 56 road bike, depending on brand, model, etc and went with the 54cm Crux for a few reasons. At 5’9.5″ I have a relatively low saddle height around 72.5cm. On road bikes this is no problem, just lower the saddle and keep the stock stem and generally I’m comfy. On my personal Crux though, fitted with a Thomson setback seatpost I’m almost at the minimum saddle height possible due to the bend in the Thomson post. I knew a 56cm model wouldn’t work for this reason, let alone the standover height, taller headtube, etc. I will be swapping over to a 110mm stem from the stock 100mm to get the proper reach. It seems to be an unwritten rule that if you’re in between sizes for your road bike you generally go down a size for the cross bike, and even if you’re happy with your road bike size sometimes you still need to drop down a size. I just wanted to make this point for any readers that might be on the fence with bike sizing.
As far as the numbers go, the Crux uses a 71.5º head angle, 73.5º seat-tube angle and 1016mm wheelbase – a welcome departure from Specialized’s previous Tricross offering – making this a true racing bike. These numbers are pretty spot on with other popular cx race bikes from Ridley, Trek, Cannondale and Stevens.
After some quick rides around I’ve noticed the disc brakes feel very different from my Tektro cantilevers and will continue to take some getting used to. I’ve always felt that mechanical disc brakes have a sort of ‘on or off’ feel – just that you’re either stopping hard or you’re not stopping. Avid’s BB7 is certainly at the head of the pack for mechanical disc brakes. This will be a welcome trade-off for modulation of canti brakes when it comes to muddy race days or for winter time sloshing around and big gravel road loops. So far I’ve been happy with my own Crux and other than the hiccups with tire selection and front cable guide and I’m thinking the Crux disc will continue to impress.