Cube Cross Race cyclo cross bike at the wallet friendly price of £999
German super-brand Cube has spent the last two decades creating bikes that are well specced, competitive and good-looking. For years, they’ve been popular with mountain bikers, but more recently you’re just as likely to see them riding on tarmac.
Now we’ve had the chance to get our hands on one of the firm’s cyclo-cross bikes, the Cross Race, and we’re keen to see if Cube can conquer this growing crossover market, which appeals to fans of both on and off-road disciplines.
Out of the box, the bike looks great, and that’s always a good start. The wet paint finish has a satisfying look about it, and the colour scheme and frame design sit really well together, making for a bike that seems really comfortable with its appearance. At the rear, the skinny seatstays and the race-style Selle Italia saddle add a little extra to the design, giving us a few clues as to why Cube has labelled this machine the ‘Cross Race’.
The Cube comes with a Shimano 105 groupset, which for the price is a real treat. The 10-speed gearing and cyclo-cross-specific chainset proved perfect across tough terrain but I found it a little harder on steeper off-road climbs at times, where I found I was missing my usual compact chainset. That’s the price you pay for cyclo-cross specificity.
The factory tyres are Schwalbe Rocket Rons, a great knobbly option for off-road riding through thick, slippery mud. But be warned, they wear quickly when riding on road, so if you’re planning to mix weekend rides with a weekly commute, you’ll do well to invest in something slicker for those tarmac days, saving the knobbles for your weekend fun rides.
The bike has internally routed cables, protecting them from the elements that riding off-road throws at them. I didn’t have any problems with the cables but I can see how they could be damaged easily, as they are quite slack at the front, making them easy to pull or catch. On the flipside, if treated with care, they should last a lot longer before requiring replacement.
Extra brake levers on the top of the handlebars are a blessing on steep descents, giving you more control on uneven surfaces. For less experienced off-road riders, or even for riders used to a flat handlebar, they offer a lot of extra confidence. They are also very handy for commuting. The more upright position is slightly more relaxing, and enables you to keep your head up while cruising through traffic.
The frame lacks mounting options for attaching a luggage rack, which I certainly missed. That said, it is known as the ‘Cross Race’ and I’m finally understanding that, despite its Cycle to Work-friendly price tag, this model from Cube is actually designed first and foremost for, you guessed it, racing. Everything else is secondary to this goal.
Throughout testing the Cross Race, I rode a variety of events to see how it would hold up. I took part in various cyclo-cross races, adventure-cross sportives, a multi-day off-road tour and many commuting miles. All of these were cross bike firsts for me. The bike felt great through all the events — comfortable enough for the longer rides but light enough and fast enough during the races.
At £1,000, this bike offers value with which I don’t think many other cyclo-cross bikes can compete. It has to be said, though, that despite making a bike that’s comfortable across all disciplines, it’s off-road where the Cross Race really shines. I’ll be enjoying another adventurous ride on it very soon.