Cube Litening Super HPC Di2 review£5,899.00

Top-end German racer

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The Litening is Cube’s flagship road model and it’s available with a range of drivetrains, from Ultegra to Record, Dura-Ace, Super Record and this Di2 spec edition.

Di2 is certainly an interesting proposition, using what’s essentially Shimano Dura-Ace equipment but with electronically enhanced shifting. Rather than pushing a brake lever you have two buttons on each hood – one for up and one for down.

Shifting is fast and unerringly precise, and the self-centring front mech is a revelation – no more chain rub or noise ever again! What’s worth noting with Di2 on the Litening is how Cube have managed to integrate it so it’s all internally routed.

Even the battery unit is mounted underneath the rear non-driveside chainstay, making for a remarkably clean looking machine. But while Di2 is going to grab the headlines with this machine, what makes the Litening so good is the chassis – this frame and fork combination is an absolute triumph.

The front end has a 11/8x11/2 head-tube making for a stiffer front end than most : the front end has a 11/8x11/2 head-tube making for a stiffer front end than most
The front end has a 11/8x11/2 head-tube making for a stiffer front end than most : the front end has a 11/8x11/2 head-tube making for a stiffer front end than most

The front end has a 1-1/8x1-1/2 head tube, making for a stiffer front end than most, combined with an all-new Easton EC90 SL fork. Previous versions of the EC90 were always impressively lightweight, but the stiffness left a lot to be desired. This new model is just as light but the increase in stiffness is quite brilliant.

The massively oversized bottom bracket shell features a press-fit bearing system, which means you can do away with the bottom bracket cups and press the bearings directly into the frame (saving weight).

Combining super-deep chainstays (over 1.5in) with the massive bottom bracket makes for super-direct power transfer under acceleration and you can feel the Litening pulse forward with every pedal stroke.

This all sounds very German – they like their bikes stiff and fast – but Cube have introduced a wonderful subtlety to the Litening. They've managed to combine stiff and fast with pencil thin seatstays and an integrated seatmast, which does a wonderful job of smoothing out rough surfaces.

Shifting is fast and unerringly precise, and the self-centring front mech is a revelation: shifting is fast and unerringly precise, and the self-centring front mech is a revelation
Shifting is fast and unerringly precise, and the self-centring front mech is a revelation: shifting is fast and unerringly precise, and the self-centring front mech is a revelation

The front end is long and low with Syntace’s superb Racelite 2 bar and F109 stem making the cockpit a great place to be. Direction changes are instant, quick and incredibly stable with the subtlest body weight shifts enabling the Litening to dart here and there. It’s a superbly exciting bike to ride.

The wheels are a combination of Xentis Squad 4.2 carbon rims and DT Swiss hubs. They’re smooth rolling and super-stiff, but the downside on our test bike was that it wasn’t supplied with carbon-specific pads (Cube assure us this isn’t the case on production models). Our Dura-Ace pads did stop us eventually but with a great deal of noise and a horrid burning smell.

We’ve always regarded Cube’s bikes as great value, well specced machines. What this bike has shown us, though, is that they're also a brand capable of making one of the best handling superbikes we’ve ever ridden. It has the perfect blend of speed, agility and comfort, all combined with subtlety and seriously intelligent design.

As for this model at nearly £6,000? Well if you must have the electronic shifting of Di2, this is one of the cheaper ways to get it. Ourselves? We’d go for the Campagnolo Record equipped Litening, for which you still get all the fantastic riding, but save the best part of £1,000.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine – the manual for the modern road cyclist. Try your first five issues for £5 when you subscribe today.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Location: Bristol, UK
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