Specialized Crux DSW: The Ultimate Lightweight Aluminum Gravel Bike?

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Review: The Specialized Crux DSW Feels Like All the Bike You Need

Specialized Crux DSW The Ultimate Lightweight Aluminum Gravel Bike
Specialized Crux DSW The Ultimate Lightweight Aluminum Gravel Bike

The Crux DSW: A Game-Changer in Aluminum Gravel Bikes

The Crux DSW is an aluminum gravel bike that rivals carbon on weight and performance. What’s the catch? Not a whole lot, honestly.

Pros and Cons of the Specialized Crux DSW

Pros:

  • Shares the same geometry and tire clearances as the carbon Crux gravel and cyclocross bike.
  • Available in both frameset and complete bike options.

Cons:

  • Price bumps up against entry-level carbon bikes.
  • Stock build could use some comfort upgrades if you’re riding for more than a few hours.

A Premium Aluminum Gravel Bike: What’s the Deal?

The formula for building an aluminum gravel bike is fairly straightforward: build it to meet a price point, offer two paint schemes — one conservative and one that’ll pop on the sales floor — and print money. After all, an aluminum gravel bike is often one’s entry into cycling, not just gravel biking. So what’s up with this Specialized Crux DSW, which Specialized positions as a premium alloy gravel bike?

Specialized says its new Crux DSW gravel bike is the lightest aluminum gravel bike frame ever made. That’s a heady claim, but at 1,399 grams for a 56 cm frame, that weight means most traditional carbon gravel bikes are only about 1 pound lighter (~400 grams) than this.

Better still, the Crux DSW shares the same geometry and tire clearances as the Crux gravel and cyclocross bike. That makes it a compelling option not only for folks who might not want carbon fiber, but for just about anyone looking at a gravel bike.

Below are build details, prices, comparisons to other gravel bikes, and my riding impressions aboard the Specialized Crux DSW. But I’ll spare you the details: aluminum bike fans are going to adore Specialized’s latest gravel bike.

Quick Hits: Seven Things to Know About the Specialized Crux DSW

  • Crux DSW is an aluminum version of the carbon Crux.
  • A 56 cm frame is “lightest alloy gravel bike ever made,” at 1,399 grams.
  • Max tire clearance: 700c x 47 mm or 650b x 53 mm.
  • Features a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH).
  • Geometry carries over from carbon Crux.
  • Available in both frameset and complete bike options.

Build Details

The launch of the latest generation Specialized Crux carbon bike really stirred the pot amongst gravel bike fans. The Crux was lighter than just about any other gravel frame out there at 825 grams for a painted 56 cm frame. The S-Works model managed to be even 100 grams lighter than that, making for a gravel bike that was lighter than many top-tier race road bikes.

Rather than carbon fiber, the Crux DSW uses Specialized’s familiar DSW aluminum frame construction. DSW–short for D’Aluisio Smartweld–essentially means the bike uses hydroformed aluminum tubes without old-fashioned mitering. The DSW process shaves weight by removing all unnecessary material while ensuring plenty of material at weld points.

The Crux DSW also uses a hydroformed one-piece downtube and bottom bracket area. This is relatively uncommon among alloy frames, as doing so adds considerable complexity and cost to the build process. In the case of the aluminum Crux, however, it allows Specialized to keep the weight down while having greater control over the bike’s ride quality.

Like the carbon Crux, there’s hardly anything proprietary going on. No internal cable routing at the handlebars; rather, brake hoses and shift cables are routed through the down tube and seat stays to accommodate both mechanical and electronic shifting. There’s a round 27.2 mm diameter seat post with a standard seat post clamp. A BSA-threaded bottom bracket complements the rest of the system.

This Crux DSW comes with a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger (UDH), allowing easier hanger replacement and compatibility with whatever 13-speed SRAM direct-mount derailleurs there might be.

Up front, the Crux DSW uses the same 12r carbon fork as the rest of the Crux lineup. There are three bottle cage mounts (two in the main triangle and one just ahead of the bottom bracket), and not much else. It is a Crux, after all.

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