This article originally published on BikeRadar
After two seasons on an aluminum Specialized CruX, three-time US national cyclo-cross champion Todd Wells has made the move to an all-new carbon fiber chassis for the 2012-2013 season. While his new ride is lighter than last year's bike, Wells says it's the added stiffness he notices most.
"I feel like the carbon in the rear makes the bike accelerate better," he told BikeRadar. "It's stiffer so I feel like when I stand up coming out of corners it has a bit more snap. With the aluminum bike, the geometry became more racy with shorter stays so it also felt faster than the original carbon cyclo-cross bike [the Specialized S-Works Tricross] and now that they have the CruX in the carbon version with the aluminum geometry from the previous years that we've developed, that's the biggest difference for me."
Not surprisingly, moving from aluminum to carbon fiber has also lopped off a significant amount of weight, especially given Wells' larger 58cm frame size. In combination with the latest SRAM Red parts, Wells' new bike is a whopping 610g (1.34lb) lighter than the one he used last year. Total weight as pictured is an impressive 7.29kg (16.07lb).
Many would expect the carbon fiber to offer a more forgiving ride, too, but Wells says he hasn't noticed much of a difference in ride quality on bumpy courses. Mud clearance, however, is exceptional all around with nearly a finger's worth of space around the wide-set fork crown, seat stays, and chain stays.
The build kit on Wells' bike is notably straightforward with no exotic components or hidden go-fast goodies we could find. Included in the list are SRAM's latest Red levers and rear derailleur, a previous generation SRAM Red front derailleur with a steel cage, a SRAM PG-1071 cassette and PC-1091 chain, a Specialized FACT carbon crankset with SRAM 46/39T chainrings, Shimano XTR pedals, and Zipp 303 Firecrest carbon wheels wrapped with Specialized tubular tires.
Specialized also provided the finishing kit, including a Phenom Pro saddle with carbon rails, a two-bolt carbon fiber seatpost, a forged aluminum stem, a classic-bend carbon handlebar, and grippy S-Wrap Roubaix tape.
Wells was still to make a final decision on tread and pressure but for the muddy Colorado Cross Classic at the Boulder Reservoir, he ran Specialized's most aggressive Terra pattern with 30psi out back and 25psi out front.
At least for now, Wells is continuing to stick with Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilevers, retrofitted with lower-profile road cartridge pad holders to accommodate the Zipp 303 Firecrest's wider rims and Zipp Tangente Platinum Pro carbon-specific pads. According to Wells, though, that's mostly a pragmatic decision based on current availability of compatible hardware.
"I ran some disc brakes last year and just starting out this year, I was waiting for the hydraulic discs to come out before I switched over," he said. "I think once they get the disc brakes completely figured out and they're light and they work as well as the mountain bike brakes, then I think everyone will run discs."
BikeRadar also broke some unfortunate news to Wells: his preferred Gore Ride-On Professional System cables are soon to be no more. "It's almost like worrying about the shifting is gone with those Gore cables, and not just for cyclo-cross, but for some of these mountain bike stage races," he said. "You can run those cables for so long and they work so well."
Plenty of clearance at the front end