Cube Agree GTC Race Compact £1399

This machine just loves to climb

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Our initial round-the-block test ride turned into a two-hour spin because we immediately fell in love with the Cube's nippy handling, light ride and climbing prowess.

The super-efficient frame is a gem to ride and its responses are instant – your extra effort never goes unrewarded. And the spec is high quality throughout – all good. The only thing you need to ask yourself is whether you’ll be happy with the bike’s flat-backed riding position. If you prefer a more relaxed set-up, steer clear. But if you’re down with getting down, the Cube is a fabulous proposition.

Admittedly it’s a little more expensive than similar Shimano 105-equipped bikes, but the Shimano Ultegra SL group is worth the extra. If you're happy to compromise a little on wheels its Pro model stablemate is available at £1199 – Ultegra-equipped with Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels on the same frame.

Ride: superb climber, confident descender

The first time we rode it, we only intended to nip around the block to check the gears were indexed properly and ended up staying out for two hours just because… well, it’s one of those bikes that encourages you to miss your tea.

It’s nippy from the off. At 17.6lb – and we were on the 58cm big boys’ version – the Cube is one of the lightest bikes in its class, and it actually rides a little lighter than that thanks to the rigidity of the frame. Yes, the higher price pays for the reduction in weight, but even in its £1199 build the Cube would be about 1lb lighter than just about anything comparable.

Whether you’re in the saddle or up on the pedals, kick those cranks around and away you go; direct, responsive, and virtually no wandering of the bottom bracket. And you know those rare rides when you surprise yourself with how well you’re climbing? You get more of them than usual on the Cube. Plus there’s hardly any unwanted fork flex on fast descents or tight corners either.

Frame: elegantly minimalist

If this were a beauty contest, the Cube’s frame would certainly take the sash and tiara. Rather than going nuts with tons of features, the designers have taken a less-is-more approach to produce an extremely classy chassis.

Everything is round or oval in profile apart from the top-tube; that starts out as a curve-edged triangle pointing upwards and gradually morphs along its length until it’s pointing down. The chunky head-tube is relatively short – 155mm on our 58cm model – so you could easily set up a low and efficient ride position if you wanted to take the Cube on the occasional time trial, while the broad down-tube provides loads of rigidity through the centre and helps clamp the bottom bracket shell tight for a super-solid pedalling platform. The Dedacciai fork, like most in this range, comes with an alloy steerer but it’s light enough and the carbon blades iron out most road dimples and vibrations without adding much flex.

Equipment: tinted Ultegra

The Cube puts Shimano’s new Ultegra SL component group at the heart of the mix. How’s it different from regular Ultegra, the long-standing second tier group from the Japanese giant? Well, SL comes in ‘ice grey’, standard Ultegra comes in silver. Granted, there are a few minor weight savings too but they total under 80g across the entire range so, essentially, it’s a tint thing.

Ultegra, in whichever guise, provides slick and dependable shifting, powerful and well modulated braking and surprising durability all round. And it’s all a little lighter than 105. Incidentally, the Cube is unusual in this price range in using a front mech mount on the frame instead of clamping it round the seat tube. That makes a lot of sense to us on a carbon frame where a turn too many when fitting a new front mech can send your pride and joy to the great skip in the sky.

The crankset is the carbon SL-K Megaexo compact set-up from FSA that’s everywhere around this price point for 2008. Stiff, light and just a little bit bling, it’s worthy of its popularity but you could opt for an Ultegra triple (52/39/30) at the same cost. The aluminium Syntace bar and stem combo provides sound performance despite plain Jane looks and the same goes for the RFR post.

As for the saddle, we reckon the deep-pile Fizik Aliante Delta saddle looks like a fugitive from a mountain bike jailbreak although, to be fair, plenty of people love the spongy approach.

Wheels: fast and reliable

The Cube comes with Fulcrum Racing 5 Evolution wheels that have proved themselves to be solid performers since their redesign last year. Smooth-spinning cartridge bearings are well sealed inside oversized Fulcrum hubs, while the rims are laced up with 20 flat-bladed spokes up front and 24 at the rear. Actually, that’s not quite true – the spokes on either side of the valve hole, opposite the joint, are a heftier plain-gauge for balance.

Unlike the more expensive wheels in the Fulcrum range, the rim beds of the Racing 5 Evolutions are drilled but they’re still taut for their weight and transfer your energy efficiently into road speed. And don’t let the smooth tread of the Schwalbe Ultremo tyres give you the impression that they lack wet-weather grip. That’s a fallacy – you get plenty even though durability isn’t the highest.

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