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Specialized Crux Pro Carbon Disc

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For the past two seasons I had been riding a 2012 Specialized Venge Expert. It was a good bike. It was fast and fun but seemed to lack any sense of adventure. I bought it because it was a super good deal and it was my first road bike so I didn't really want to spend a whole ton but wanted something that would perform well. 

After the first year riding the Venge I got a better idea of what I wanted out of a road bike. By the end of the second season I had planned its replacement. I wanted a bike that I could do it all on. Similar to my Enduro, I wanted a bike that was a bit of a Swiss Army knife, a one road bike quiver.

There was no contest for what the replacement would be; a Specialized Crux carbon disc frame was my choice.

My requirements for a new bike pretty much covered all ends of the road spectrum. I wanted a bike that could do well in three different categories:

Performance Road - Most of my day to day riding is after work group rides and longer distance weekend day rides. Distances range from 40km to 200+km so I want the bike to be fast, stiff, comfortable, and climb well with gearing that allows for a good top speed.

Gravel Grinding - Not something that I will be doing a ton but with so many gravel forest service roads and a few mellow enough mountain bike trails I would like to be able to use some fat knobby tires and go explore. For this my requirement was some easier gears, strong wheels, brakes that don't suck, and lots of tire clearance. This setup would also be good for early season road rides when the roads are dirty and in rough shape.

Cycle Touring - My big plan for the summer is to do some multi day rides with camping gear. I needed a bike that was a bit slacker head angle than a traditional road bike so that it wouldn't be twitchy. I also wanted some easier gears, option for a bit more upright body position, disc brakes so that rims wouldn't get worn from braking.

 

Shimano came out with two very exciting sets of components last fall that really helped set the ball rolling to build up the Crux to meet my weird requirements. The first thing is the r785 road hydraulic STI levers and calipers. There was no way that I wanted to use mechanical disc brakes since they are so finicky to set up and keep adjusted with STI levers and canti brakes were totally out of the question because they suck hard. The only potential problem with the r785 levers is that they are Di2 which previously had meant that there weren't many options for derailleurs. The largest spread cassette that I could have used would have been an 11-28 which for anything other than general road riding would force me to use a compact crank. A compact crank would give me some good easy gears but at the sacrifice of top speed. Luckily Shimano trickled their 11 speed drivetrain down to an Ultegra Di2 level and introduced a long cage derailleur with an 11-32 cassette option. To get more nerdy about gear ratios, this means that I can get an easier gear using a mid-compact (52-36t) crank and an 11-32 cassette than you can get with a compact crank (50-34) and an 11-28t cassette. At the same time by using the mid-compact crank I can still get a respectable top speed. This combo seemed like the best range of gears for all types of riding. 

The other tricky component to choose was the wheels. Since disc brakes on high end road bikes are still pretty new there aren't a ton of disc compatible wheels available. To make things even harder I needed a set of wheels with an 11 speed compatible freehub body and something that would use centerlock rotor so that I could mount 140mm Icetech Freeza rotors. When I chose my wheels there were basically two options. Shimano has the RX-31 which is a very affordable option and being Shimano would be pretty reliable. My build seemed to long for something with a bit more wow to it so I went with my second option. Option 2 was the Roval CLX40 wheels from Specialized. Though they were far more expensive than the rx-31's they definitely brought a little extra to the table. They're lighter, full carbon rims, DT Swiss hubs, with Ceramic Speed bearings. I stomached the inflated price tag and bought a set because they're pretty baller. Compared to other wheels in their class, the CLX40's are a super good deal... looking your way rip-off Zipp.

Since getting my wheels Shimano has announced a higher end road disc wheel at an Ultegra level called the RX-830. It is light, wide, centerlock, 11spd, carbon laminated rim, and will be my replacement if I nuke the Rovals. In my opinion Shimano wheels are very underrated. 

 

The rest of the build was a pretty nice combo of Ultegra 6800 parts combined with mostly Pro Vibe stuff. I decided that I should go with 3 sets of tires to cover my different types of riding and went with some 23c race tires for road riding, 28c more durable tires for touring, and a faster rolling 35c knobby for gravel and early season.

For all of my gear for bike touring I will be using my BOB Yak trailer. Using the trailer is my only option with this bike since there are no rack mounts and I think it's a good option. I'm not a huge fan of dedicated touring bikes at the moment since they are pretty much only good for one thing. Using the trailer takes a lot of the load off of the bike and should allow me to get away with a much lighter weight build. It also means that when I get somewhere it only takes a couple of seconds to unhook the trailer and I am left with a bike that is actually fun to ride on its own with no stupid racks or fenders permanently bolted onto it. 

The Spec

  • Frame - 2013 Specialized Crux Pro Carbon Disc 52cm
  • Wheels - Roval CLX 40 Clincher Disc
  • Shifters - Shimano R785
  • Brakes - Shimano R785 calipers with 140mm Icetech Freeza rotors
  • Front Derailleur - Shimano Ultegra 6870
  • Rear Derailleur - Shimano Ultegra 6870 GS
  • Crankset - Shimano Ultegra 6800 (52-36t)
  • Cassette - Shimano Ultegra 6800 (11-32t)
  • Chain - Shimano Ultegra 6800
  • Pedals - Shimano Ultegra 6800 carbon
  • Bar - Pro Vibe anatomic bend, 42cm
  • Stem - Pro Vibe UD Carbon 70mm
  • Seatpost - Pro Vibe Di2
  • Saddle - Specialized Romin Evo Pro 142mm carbon rail
  • Tires - Maxxis Cormet 23c, Schwalbe Durano 28c, Schwalbe Smart Sam 35c
  • Other - Specialized Speedzone Elite Computer, Pro Digital Carbon tape, SKS Raceblade XL fenders

The Photos

 

Initial Impressions

So far I have put around 500km on the bike since building it up. I started the season with the knobby 35c tires to deal with crappy spring roads. The first few rides I was very impressed with how smooth the bike rolls. I attributed that mostly to the tires at the time but even now with my 23c Maxxis Cormets on the smooth roll still seems to continue; most likely this is from the carbon wheels. I can't imagine that there is going to be any performance handicap compared to my old Venge since this bike feels pretty much just as quick. I say that as a recreational rider with no desire to race who at under 120 pounds fully clothed has enough natural aerodynamic advantage to not require it in a bike. I figure that nicer wheels will help me far more than a sculpted frame. 

The gearing seems to be pretty good so far. The only time I have used my full easiest gear was climbing up some mellow mountain bike trails. I'm sure pulling a 50 pound trailer will make me wish for a compact crank at times though.

The brakes were terrible for the first roughly 200km. They were only terrible because they are so good at dissipating heat that it took that long for them to burn in properly. Now that they are fully burned in they are incredible. They basically feel like my current generation XT and XTR brakes. 

I'm super happy with how this bike turned out. With pedals and cages it weighs in at a bit over 18 pounds. Apparently my idea for this build wasn't too far out there since a few months after I planned this Specialized released a limited production of Crux Evos with a very similar build.

 

 

Comments

Liam - Specialized Crux Pro Carbon Disc | Blair Altman

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