Don't you just love the winter months? Sure, it's colder outside and the slick tarmac can present some hazards, but that's why for so many of us, we adorn the skinny nobbly tyres and venture off-road.
Cyclocross has spread like wildfire throughout the cycling community where, for a few months a year, riders from all disciplines take part in gruelling races that require both bike skill and stamina. It's also perhaps one of the more gender equal disciplines of cycling when it comes to media coverage and participation.
Specialized has been a long supporter and promoter of women's cycling, catering for all disciplines of rider with their wide variety of bikes and apparel. One of their latest creations for cyclocross fans is the Specialized CruX Elite X1.
"Before we get onto its performance, let's take a gander at the spec because, after all, that's what will largely determine how it rides.
"While the frame is light and stiff for speed, it's also wonedrfully compliant for cyclocross"
The Specialized CruX Elite X1 has a frame that's 400g lighter than previous versions and this is because Specialized has implemented Rider-First Engineered technology that uses size specific tubes and layups. While the frame is light and stiff for speed, it's also compliant for cyclocross. Races are won in the corners and to help give you the competitive advantage, Specialized has lowered the bottom bracket height to provide stability, control and improved transference of power.
So what's on this vibrant lightweight frame? A full SRAM groupset with Rival crankset and levers which operate a 1x11 drivetrain. Simple and totally appropriate for a bike of this discipline as the 11-speed cassette offers plenty of aid to ease up the climbs and over the troublesome terrain.
Arguably one of the most important aspects of a cyclocross bike is the wheels as they need to grip, carve and withstand the beatings of the sport. Upon the Specialized CruX Elite X1, we have tubed Roval SLX wheels with Terra Pro tyres which are nobbly little beasts, offering both control and confidence.
To finish off the build, Specialized has built the cockpit from their own components with the bars, stem and tape specifically designed for 'cross performance and comfort.
Specialized CruX Elite X1: Verdict
(Un)Fortunately for me, Wales is a rather wet part of the world to live in and even more so in winter. With cyclocross being pretty popular over here, there are always races on the go and places to hone your skills at.
Ok, let's address the elephant in the room because I know what has crossed your mind; "Urgh - It's pink". Yes, it is but this is NOT a women's specific bike. It's a vibrant colour, it's hot and striking and, personally, I love it.
I had a great deal of fun riding this bike. It's quick, compliant and handles so well on rough terrain. Cyclocross can be an extremely messy sport for you and the bike which is why Specialized has ensured a 33mm clearance around all sides of each tyre, something that greatly helped to shed the mud.
With some personal tinkering and set up, this bike felt great carving through the slop and although the frame is light and stiff, the level of compliance was enough to take the sting out of the terrain.
The hot pink Specialized CruX Elite X1 retails for £3,000 but if that is a little too much out of your price range, there are other builds to accommodate varying budgets:
Specialixed CruX Expert X1 - £3,900
Specialixed CruX Elite X1 - £3,000
Specialized CruX Sport E5 - £1,750
Specailized CruX E5 - £1,300