Not For Military Use – Specialized Crux

The Specialized Crux was an established cyclo-cross bike by 2013 ridden by many club and local riders. The Crux in its original aluminium, but ‘pretty in pink’ form won a World Cup cross in the hands of Zdenek Stybar. (Lievin 2012)

The ally Crux has now been joined by a carbon version which is lighter and stiffer, but nonetheless the original Crux marks a high point of an aluminium bike that was fast and reasonably inexpensive, no wonder many riders’ chose to get two of them rather than one expensive machine.

The sight of red and black ally Crux bikes ridden by so many riders not only in the London and South East Cross League, but also across the UK made me think that although I wanted to keep my Crux I did want it to look a bit different.

Having pondered over the obligatory cup of tea (and biscuits) it occurred to me that off road machines are normally olive green or at least military vehicles are. So with my mind swirling with images of camouflage paints jobs I calmed down and asked myself the most important question – get a pro paint company to do it or do it myself?  I went for the latter because I fancied the challenge.

With a frame soon clear of all attachments and equipment I began the laborious process of hand sanding down the frame. Madly rotating abrasive pads or chemicals are not my thing and so my self-chosen ‘labours of Hercules’ began. It took ages to take the paint off being careful to not scratch into the aluminium frame and importantly the carbon fork. It was a labour of love undertaken in my garden and observed by my cat, plus a group of annoyed birds who wanted to take their pick of what my humble London garden could provide. They were to have their revenge later.

With red and black dust cleaned away and the bike now naked a visit to Halfords by the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit saw me hunting for spray paint. A good primer was a given and after some clear thinking a choice was made to go for a straight olive green and avoid the complications of urban or country camouflage.

A huge amount of masking and a greater level of skill would have been required and matt olive green is also a much more easier paint to use than most. Mind you out in the field soldiers would often roughly paint their machines to match the terrain and so any rough finish would have least been in keeping with an utility off roader.

So with my Crux hanging from the apple tree and a mask firmly affixed to my face I applied the first coat of paint evenly and with a deft hand action that might have been on a par with Her Majesty the Queen’s hand only wave. BUT! I hadn’t taken account of a blowing wind in my outdoor paint studio, it made the paint fly away from the frame and although I adjusted my positon I had to stop and only work on dry and still days. After each coat I sanded down the paint before applying another looking for blemishes and the like. Such as a bird making a poo strike on one coat as it dried.

In the end and after many days of spraying, sanding and spraying again I had a finish that I was proud off.  One thing that I learnt very quickly was when touching up work to eradicate bird poo etc. was that it was vital to prepare a wider area than the problem and fade carefully the painting from the good to the altered area. Otherwise you simply get masking tape marks with a line of paint standing proud.

After five coats of olive green in addition to the primer (you soon realise that an unpainted bike is a lighter machine) the next stage was graphics.

I found the application of graphics the tensest. Personally I like stickers and in keeping with the off road theme I had graphics made up in US World War 2 on one side of the frame, and Red Army style on the other.

I did also add a ‘not for military use’ logo for peace of mind.

The knack of logo application is to decide beforehand where they are going to go. Think about it, line the graphic up and check the flow of the frame for fit. Once all is set in your mind use a line of masking tape to keep the graphic straight and then apply.

Finally a coat of lacquer is required and which is less benign than the matt olive green requiring it to be applied even more evenly. Three coats seemed to be enough and although the finish would never be as tough as professional job it would be OK (ed- a year later and it still looks pretty good).

I felt rather proud of the finish and I equipped it from my box off bike parts and chose white equipment to offset the drab green.

Bike Spec
Crux Ally frameset
Microshift CNC/carbon Gears
Ritchey WSC stem and bars
Specialized Classic bar tape.
Roval Wheels
Challenge Tyres
Miche Carbon Brakes
Selle Italia saddle.
Look Sprint pedals
SRAM Force chainset
K-Edge chain catcher
Oval carbon seat pin
A shiny gold chain

UCI YouTube Lievin 2012 (Stybar holds the bike above his head at the finish)