The World Cyclocross Championships is taking place this weekend and besides the brilliant racing action, there is some interesting tech to take a look at. Here’s the super lightweight Specialized S-Works Crux of Britain’s Cameron Mason.
Launched late last year, the 2022 Crux has been transformed into a lightweight gravel race bike that Specialized says can still compete at the highest levels of cyclocross. A benefit of moving your cyclocross bike towards the gravel market is that the wider tyre clearances mean extra space for mud to not get suck around the UCI maximum width 33mm tyre.
While Specialized was likely reacting to the market shift that has seen cyclocross become an increasingly small niche, Mason’s results this year suggest that the Crux is perfectly capable when it gets thrown into a traditional Belgian cyclocross race.
A win at the U23 World Cup round in Dendermonde made Mason a favourite for this weekend’s World Championships and a very impressive 9th place while racing in the Elite field at the Overijse World Cup suggested that once the 21-year-old makes the permanent step up to the Elites, he’ll be just fine.
Mason rides a 54cm frame and, for a cyclocross bike at least, pairs this with a longish slammed stem.
The paintwork is stock standard matte black which is a very sensible choice for a discipline that takes place in a near-constant mud bath.
While Mason is one of cyclocross’ top racers, he doesn’t run a top-end groupset. Instead, SRAM’s Force eTap AXS gives wireless shifting along with hydraulic braking.
Gearing will depend heavily on the course and conditions, but here Mason looks to be pushing a 42T 1X chainring with a 10-33T cassette out back. Mason opts for a 160mm rotor up front with a 140mm at the back.
Supplying data for post-ride analysis is a Quarq power meter, though in a race with multiple bike changes, data might not be available for the whole race.
Cyclocross riders on the professional circuit will have multiple bikes that have to be identical as, in muddy conditions, they may be changing bikes up to twice per lap. While the bike they hand to the mechanics gets dashed off to be washed with a pressure washer, the rider will want the bike that they jump onto to be a perfect match to the one getting hosed down.
As a result, cyclocross can be rather expensive, so second-tier components are a relatively common sight.
Another common sight under SRAM-sponsored athletes are Zipp 303 wheelsets. Disc brakes might have replaced cantilevers for cyclocross but tubulars have not been ousted by tubeless just yet.
Mason runs the 45mm-deep carbon tubular wheels with Challenge 33mm tubular tyres. He will have the freedom to choose any of the Challenge treads and on this bike, the Griffo is used, offering grip and fast-rolling in dry to medium mud conditions.
The 2022 Crux borrows finishing kit from Specialized’s other bikes and the handlebar is a Terra carbon model from Specialized’s gravel range. This bar is lightweight, very shallow and also flares out at the drops for a little extra control on technical terrain.
The seatpost, meanwhile, is the Alpinist model and is borrowed from the Aethos road bike. Again, it is a lightweight carbon model and atop this sits an S-Works Power saddle.
Pedals are supplied by Look in the form of the X-Track Carbon.
If you’re wondering where the bottle cages are, cyclocross racing lasts for just one lung-searing hour and with riders needing to shoulder their bikes quickly, a water bottle and its cage just aren’t needed.
The racing is on this weekend with the American location meaning that races will be starting in the evening UK time. Mason's U23 Men's race is on Saturday 29th at 8pm. You can watch it on Eurosport and GCN+.