Cube's Aerial Comp is the entry-level model in a range of four aluminium (Comp) road race models; they also produce a carbon (Pro) and monocoque-carbon (HPC) range.
Cube's Aerial aluminium frame has exceptionally neat welding and some unusual and nicely executed features such as the square section chainstays, and seatstays that, instead of being welded to the seat-tube, are part of the top-tube itself.
Cube use weight-saving Ritchey Comp finishing kit, though a couple of seasoned roadies felt that the stem was too short. The inclusion of a triple chainset adds weight but the novice riders in particular will be able to manage the steeper gradients more easily than they would using the compact chainset of rival bikes. The Cube's Scape saddle looks like the Fizik Arione with its long, flat top, but that's where the similarity ends: it's far too soft and lacks adequate support for all but the very lightest rider.
The Cube uses Shimano's entry-level WH-R500 wheels, and while they are 200g heavier than those found on similar bikes, their reliability record is good, although a couple of distributors have remarked that they occasionally need truing up. The hubs run on traditional ball and cone bearings, and although they aren't as smooth as the Ritchey cartridge units, they will provide years of service if treated to a periodic course of regreasing. The Schwalbe Blizzards are excellent, being resistant to intrusion-type punctures.
The Cube's stiffness makes it feel quick off the mark but, typically for bikes at this price point, it feels lifeless on the climbs, and this was exacerbated by the shorter than average 10cm stem, though things improved after we swapped it for a 12cm model. The Cube's stylish Ritchey handlebars have a 'bend' that fills the middle ground between that of a curved and anatomic bend, and their high level of stiffness gives a safe and secure feeling when launching into a sprint, though we preferred the 'pistol grip' shape of the old models.
Weight weenies will be interested to know that the Cube's frame is some 160g heavier than the Specialized Allez, but the attraction of the Cube Aerial above any other bike around £500 is in its frame, the Deda fork and the 'branded' Ritchey finishing kit. Some will argue that a compact chainset would have made this bike unbeatable, but if a triple chainset is something you need and you have £499 to spend then buy one of these bikes while stocks last.