Cube Travel SL hybrid review£1,149.00

One incredibly useful bicycle

BikeRadar score4.5/5

If you’re looking for a reliable bike to get you and your possessions around then Cube’s Travel SL sure takes some beating.

The Travel SL is great to ride, can be loaded like a mule and has proven to be utterly reliable. It arrives with everything a serious commuter requires to clock up serious miles and — thanks to some clever spec choices — requires an exceptionally low amount of maintenance.

Cube Travel SL frame and kit

Belt-driven transmission is quiet and smooth under foot but did require infrequent tension adjustment
Belt-driven transmission is quiet and smooth under foot but did require infrequent tension adjustment

The no frills aluminium frameset of the Cube places its rider upright and with a very clear view of the road ahead. Its stealthy black paint finish is tough and prevents unnecessary attention, for when the bike is parked in town centres.

It already arrives loaded with everything a serious commuter bike should have, including a decent rear rack, full-length mudguards and LED lights powered by a dynamo at the front wheel. Despite all of that kit, this bike weighs only 13.8kg for a 58cm model.

The Alfine hub gear requires patience at times but does suit the overall feel of the bike
The Alfine hub gear requires patience at times but does suit the overall feel of the bike

Regularly cleaning and lubricating a drivetrain is a first world problem at best, but it’s one you can forego with this Cube thanks to the Gates Belt Drive transmission.

Compared to a chain, it’s a clean and quiet way to feed motion to the Shimano Alfine 8-speed hub gear.

The Shimano M315 hydraulic disc brakes fitted to this model are hard to fault with plenty of control and power whatever the weather (and two heavily loaded panniers in place).

No rusty chain or oily legs
No rusty chain or oily legs

Cube Travel SL ride impressions

For a bike of this kind, the Cube is entertaining to ride and its relative lack of weight means it feels surprisingly spritely too.

The frame and fork are particularly stiff, so if you’re travelling without additional weight then you’ll probably want to take the tyres down to their minimum pressure. In my experience that’s perfectly fine to do thanks to the excellent puncture resistance of Schwalbe’s Marathon Supreme tyres.

Mudguards, dynamo lighting and a rack mean the Cube is ready to tour
Mudguards, dynamo lighting and a rack mean the Cube is ready to tour

Compared to a regular chain, the Gates belt does leave a feel of slight elasticity under foot. Combine this with the sometimes clunky nature of the Alfine hub gear and you’ve got a transmission that takes some getting used to. I thought the gear range offered from its eight ratios suited the bike well.

I did have to re-tension the drive belt every few hundred miles after it began to slip under high torque situations. Similarly, the shifter for the Shimano Alfine hub gear required frequent tension adjustments to optimise shift quality.

Shimano hydraulics are brilliant whatever the weather
Shimano hydraulics are brilliant whatever the weather

Both of these jobs will be no problem for most home mechanics and actually formed the only routine maintenance this bike required over many hundreds of miles.

The SKS mudguards did a brilliant job of keeping me dry but were sometimes prone to annoying vibration, which is something made significantly more noticeable on a bike as quiet as this one.

The rear light is also powered by a front dynamo hub, its position is perhaps a little low
The rear light is also powered by a front dynamo hub, its position is perhaps a little low

The dynamo lights aren’t going to win any records for their output, but they do a decent job considering their size and they hold power for long enough to keep you illuminated while paused at red lights. Still, anyone riding at night should only use these alongside more powerful lights, in my opinion.

The Travel SL is ready to reliably take you wherever you desire and it's not often that bikes arrive this sorted out of the box. That means it's also top value. In fact, this bike is so good that you’ll probably take it for granted, I know I did.

A Shimano dynamo front hub means you'll never be stuck in the dark
A Shimano dynamo front hub means you'll never be stuck in the dark

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