So did the Cube live up to expectations? Absolutely. In fact, I’d go further: it’s almost sub-£1,000 cycling perfection. Of course, you can always hanker after a better groupset, or better components, or a carbon frame. But in the real world, from a mainstream manufacturer, you can’t ask for much more than this.
Complete Shimano 105 groupset
Mavic wheels and tyres
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Isaw Cube’s Peloton Race at the NEC Cycle Show back in September, and with its red, white and blue colourway, my patriotic inner voice decided it was the prettiest bike I’d ever seen. If I’m honest, the Boardman has since eclipsed it in the image stakes, but it’s still a fine looking machine.
It’s even finer when you look at the spec sheet: a complete 105 groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels and excellent finishing kit. Like the Boardman, the frame is a fairly traditional affair by modern standards. It’s a compact shape — the top tube slopes down from front to back, with rounded, though not all perfectly round, tubes used throughout.
As you might expect, in this test there are sweet details like internal cable routing and the down tube is particularly interesting, going from almost round to something approaching a Colnago-style cloverleaf at the bottom bracket. This, in theory, should add strength.
Fulfilling its promise
Because of its quality, this is the bike I’ve been waiting to ride. But sometimes that can be a poisoned chalice; if it disappoints, it’s an even more galling experience.
But the Cube does not disappoint.
On the road, it lives up to all its promises. There’s a similar eager temperament to that which we found with the Boardman, a head-down enthusiasm slightly missing from the other two bikes on test. And that’s teamed with great, razor-sharp handling. You can flick the bike into bends at speed and it clings on. As with most really fun bikes, it seems to behave better the faster you go.
Stopping isn’t an issue either. It’d be interesting to compare the performance of the 105 calipers to that of Avid discs in normal road conditions; in the dry, they’re superb. As on the Fuji, the 105 gearset works fine.
So it’s a quick, direct bike that rewards confident control and power input, but there’s another nice surprise. Perhaps unexpectedly, given the core of the bike has so much in common with the Boardman, it matches the Merida and Fuji with a 34x32 smallest gear set-up. That means, in theory, you can climb as casually as the best of them. In fact, the only area where it loses out, and then only just, is with comfort: a tad more road feedback gets through to the rider than with the Fuji.
One important point to raise concerns the Mavic Aksium wheelset. Few manufacturers — with the notable exception of Giant — fit great wheels on complete bikes at this end of the market, but the Aksiums and the Aksion tyres here are very impressive and feel of higher quality than the other hoops in this test.
I liked the finishing kit too, particularly the Cube Wing Race bars. I know opinions are mixed on wing-shaped bars, but as part of a whole package, there’s something rather satisfying about getting a good hold of something firm and chunky, utterly confident the bike will do what you want. It’s like wrapping your fingers round a leather-wrapped steering wheel in a sports car.
See this and the rest of Cube's Road Race range here
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