aesop, who, like many a modern day pop star seems only to have had or used one name, was an ancient greek fabulist or storyteller who lived around 500 years before the birth of christ. though there are the remains of statues purporting to be likenesses of the fellow, proof of his existence remains somewhat thin on the ground. in actual fact, no writings ascribed to aesop survive to the present day, but there are a number of moralistic fables that have been attributed in his direction and are collectively known as aesop's fables. if you're of a certain age, you may recall those being part of the english curriculum at school.
while many of us struggle to scribble a letter to mum or dad, aesop allegedly wrote quite a substantial number (over 100 by current estimates). titles such as the dog and the sheep, the lion and the fox and the the boy who cried wolf introduced the ancient greeks and subsequent civilisations to the notion of moralistic behaviour, though the current state of the planet would tend to suggest that at least one or two folks have paid less than diligent attention. however, one aesop epithet which frequently ended several of his fables that has entered the contemporary lexicon, is the phrase 'familiarity breeds contempt'. the more time you spend with someone or something, the less inclined you'll be to find favour with them/it.
the oddity here, at least from my point of view, is of a saying that seems to be every bit as much false as it is true. i can think of a number of people and objects with which i have grown to admire or like better as time has progressed. take the 2017 specialized crux that has been in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed for the past four or so months. despite being shod with 33mm rubber that is anything but smooth while several other occupants of the shed are more specifically allied to the road most travelled, the crux has effectively become my go to bicycle for everything from a friday afternoon jaunt to debbie's to scrabbling through the undergrowth, to a good 85km of road work. i would not kid you that the latter was completed with the alacrity of the colnago fitted with specialized cotton turbo tyres, but the bicycle's balance is impeccably suited to whichever particular discipline du jour is on the menu.
though i have protected the underside of the large downtube and the back of the seat tube with clear film, the bright red and green paintwork shows no sign of wear and tear whatsoever. considering the amount of crap on islay's roads and less than controlled scrabbling when off the beaten track, that's quite impressive in my opinion. additionally, those previously mentioned tyres look every bit as good as they did when i dragged the crux from its cardboard box. given a good clean (sorry, specialized) you'd scarcely separate it from a showroom model.
at one time i was defensively proud of my mechanical knowledge and prowess, but with the advent of electrics, hydraulics and press-fit bearings, i'd be a touch more reticent to maintain that particular stance. for instance, i have yet to bleed a set of hydraulic brakes and it occurs to me that it may be prudent to check the life expectancy of a set of sram rival pads before unpalatable marks begin to appear on the rotors. meantime, those discs have both saved me and scared me; squeezing the levers with enthusiasm does stop the crux very, very quickly. impressively, other than when collecting one or two foreign bodies in the undergrowth, they have remained impressively quiet in use, with no great propensity to squeal even when wet.
however, the bits most likely to incur feelings of contempt would surely be those constituting the rider/bicycle interface, most obviously the saddle and bars. though generally i have little real problem with stock saddles, in the majority of cases, were the bicycle my own, i'd be inclined to fit a brooks cambium variation. but the specialized phenom comp fitted to the crux, one of those hole-in-the-middle doo-dads has remained firmly in place for the sole reason that it's darned near perfect, whether on or offroad. additionally, the cx pro gel bar tape is worth the price of admission alone, offering more hand protection than a tube of aloe vera lotion. though i've been unable to find it as an aftermarket item, i think mr sinyard ought to seriously consider placing it on the bike shop shelf.
though i have heard discriminatory murmurings regarding the efficacy of a single chainset married to eleven rear speeds, i actually rather like it. not once has the chain found its way off that single chainring and the tighter chain angle hasn't, so far, had any adverse effect on the sram rival gear shifting. i confess to having offered several luddite propaganda moments concerning the necessity of thru-axles on the hubs, but in the absence of any independent scientific data, i'm pretty darned sure that this innovation offers far greater steering rigidity than the apparently outmoded quick release.
granted, getting a wheel on and off is slower than with a q/r, but in the case of proper cyclocross, wheel changes are all but unheard of, while in my own case, well, what the heck. it's a teensy bit more awkward to position the rear wheel prior to fitting the axle, but in the hope that it's not a frequently repeated action that's of no great concern.
in my original review, i had the temerity to state that the crux elite may well be the finest bicycle i have ever ridden, a statement that doubtless gained more than its fair share of incredulity amongst the naysayers. having had several months to reconsider, i can honestly say i'm inclined to stand by my initial response. the bicycle's versatility remains as impressive as ever, all the more so if replacing the 33mm cross tyres with 33mm road rubber when riding into the sunset beckons.
i'm inclined to figure that few serious cyclocrossers, midway through their season, will be currently considering a new frame or bicycle, but this is a class of bicycle that plays well across all manner of velocipedinal strata. it lends itself equally well to enthusiastic non-specialists such as myself. several bottle cage mounts and a front gear hanger still in place allow not only for variations in componentry choice (if purchased as a frame) but also the ability to undertake lengthy road rides and several hours of 'cross training while remaining appropriately hydrated.
with all due respect to aesop, i'd happily modify his attributed statement to read: 'familiarity breeds content(ment).. by the truckload.
friday 16 december 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................