Understated and nonchalantly cool this bike is equally at home on the trails, on gravel and on the road.

The Specialized CruX Elite EVO cyclocross bike is a big brother in the CruX range of cross and gravel bikes. Featuring Specialized FACT 10r frameset and SRAM TRP HY/RD hydraulic disc brakes this is a bike that boasts some serious credentials, and whilst it has been made to get dirty it certainly has the potential fly. And although this model doesn’t have the shout-out-loud colour scheme of some of its siblings in the CruX range, it still offers a stand out ride.

This is a striking looking bike with a notable spec that’s on the market for bang on £2,000. Ride it and there’s a guarantee that you (and the bike) will be admired.  What’s most obvious when you hop aboard this top-of-the-range Crux is the precise handling and stiffness offered by the frame and fork – take it to meandering track, throw it around a bit and you’ll see for yourself. Much of this stiffness comes from the oversized bottom bracket and the tapered headtube and steerer tube, which is 1-1/8” at the top to 1-3/8” at the crown. 

It’s worth noting that this not a pure cross bike, like its twin the CruX Elite Carbon. Instead this bike is designed primarily for gravel racing, a growing trend in bike riding. And whilst you might not be attempting the Dirty Kanza, a 200-mile-long gravel race in Kansas, this bike is great for getting to places that a road bike just want let you.

My first outing was a few laps on the gravel path around my local park, the second was on a road commute to work and the third was a 70km on-road, off-road adventure. It’s fair to say that each offered a great ride in equal measure but the bike certainly comes into its own when its away from the tarmac. What’s more, there’s something about getting off the road and out of Lycra that gives you a license to have fun on a bike.

The step up from mechanical disc brakes to hydraulic is noticeable from the outset – there’s way more power on offer from the TRP HY/RD hydraulic brakes than any mechanical brakes I’ve ridden before; for someone with small hands it was far easier to apply pressure without having to really squeeze the levers. The downside is that if they’re not set up properly the noise that comes off them can make small children cry. 

I was surprised just how fast you can roll on this bike – the combination of the Axis 2.0 wheels and Specialized Trigger Pro tyres with their low rise tread pattern really allows you to get up speed. The 38c tyres aren’t so great on loose gravel though, as a found out when I pushed it just that bit too far around a tight bend. (With frame clearance for up to 40mm tyres it’s easy to put something chunkier on if you need to.)

The Shimano 105 11-speed groupset changes well and is perfectly adequate for a bike at this price point but the finishing kit might need playing around with and personalising for maximum comfort; the first thing that I changed out was the saddle. It’s worth noting here that this bikes comes in a seven sizes but that the jumps between sizes are, in some cases, quite big. The 49cm model has 516mm horizontal top tube whist the 52cm, the next size up, measures 537mm, which is a big leap. I added a longer stem to my 49cm model rather than go up a size of bike.

One of the Crux Elite Carbon EVO’s standout features is the CG-R seatpost, which  has a carbon leaf spring and an elastomer Zertz insert. This allows the saddle to travel up to 18mm, which should eliminate that bouncing feeling that can blight an off road ride.

The Specialized Crux Elite Carbon EVO is a superb all round bike that can be used both on, or off, road. It’s perfect winter bike, but comes into its own on well-maintained tracks and trails where you can shred to your hearts content and feel like a kid again. 

Model Specialized Crux Elite Carbon EVO Disc
Groupset Shimano 105 5800 11 Speed
Wheels AXIS 2.0 disc