The Specialized Crux DSW Review – A Gravel Bike that Punches Above Its Weight

Specialized Crux DSW review, gravel bike, aluminum frame, cycling, bike review, carbon rival, performance, geometry, tire clearance, D'Aluisio Smartweld, hydroformed tubes, lightweight, versatility, SRAM Apex, handlebar, comfort, DT Swiss rims, Pathfinder Pro tires, comparison, competitors, pricing, conclusion
Specialized Crux DSW review

The Specialized Crux DSW Review : The Specialized Crux DSW has entered the gravel bike market with a bang, positioning itself as a top contender against its carbon counterparts. This aluminum gravel bike boasts a weight and performance that rivals carbon bikes, making it a compelling option for many cyclists. But what’s the catch? Surprisingly, there isn’t much. Let’s delve into the specifics of this impressive bike and see what makes it stand out. Check out Specialized Crux DSW review.


Key Highlights

  • Weight: At 9.2 kg (20.2 pounds), the Crux DSW is just as light as many entry-level carbon gravel bikes.
  • Geometry: Shares the same geometry and tire clearances as the carbon Crux gravel and cyclocross bike.
  • Build Options: Available as both a frameset and a complete bike.
  • Price: $2,600 for the complete bike, $1,700 for the frameset.

Build Details

The Crux DSW is crafted using Specialized’s D’Aluisio Smartweld (DSW) aluminum frame construction. This process involves using hydroformed aluminum tubes to eliminate unnecessary material while ensuring robust weld points. The result is a frame that’s incredibly light for an aluminum bike, weighing just 1,399 grams for a 56 cm frame.

The bike features a hydroformed one-piece downtube and bottom bracket area, which is relatively uncommon among alloy frames due to the added complexity and cost. However, this design choice helps maintain the bike’s low weight and enhances ride quality.

Geometry and Design

The Crux DSW’s geometry is inherited from the carbon Crux, sitting at the intersection of a gravel bike, a road bike, and a cyclocross bike. Its 72 mm bottom bracket drop is higher than typical gravel bikes but standard for cyclocross, making it a versatile option for various terrains.

Performance and Handling

The Crux DSW offers quick handling, which is slightly more work to keep straight on gravel roads compared to more traditional gravel bikes. However, this makes it agile on tight single track paths. The bike’s all-rounder geometry provides a balanced ride, making it suitable for riders who enjoy both gravel and road biking.


Build Kit

The reviewed model came with SRAM’s Apex XPLR drivetrain, featuring mechanical shifting and hydraulic brakes. The stock build includes:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM Apex XPLR groupset
  • Wheels: DT Swiss G540 rims with Specialized Pathfinder Pro tires
  • Fork: 12r carbon fork shared with the carbon Crux models

Pros and Cons


  • Lightweight: Among the lightest alloy gravel bikes available.
  • Versatile Geometry: Suitable for gravel, cyclocross, and road riding.
  • Sustainability: Aluminum construction is less energy-intensive and more recyclable than carbon fiber.


  • Price: Close to entry-level carbon bikes.
  • Comfort: The stock build may require comfort upgrades for extended rides.

Comparison with Competitors

When pitted against other aluminum gravel bikes like the Canyon Grail AL, Cannondale Topstone, and Giant Revolt, the Crux DSW stands out for its premium build quality and responsive ride. It also competes with entry-level carbon bikes, offering similar performance at a slightly lower price point.


The Specialized Crux DSW is an excellent choice for those looking for a high-performance gravel bike without the premium price tag of carbon. Its lightweight construction, versatile geometry, and robust build make it a formidable competitor in the gravel bike market. While it might not have the cachet of carbon, it delivers a ride quality and performance that will satisfy many cyclists.

For those interested in a durable, sustainable, and high-performing gravel bike, the Specialized Crux DSW is definitely worth considering.


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