The Cube Agree has always been a firm favourite with our testers due to its combination of fast handling, excellent equipment and outstanding value. For 2012, it’s undergone its biggest ever revamp. Up front, a dedicated Cube CSL Race Carbon fork replaces the previous off-the-peg Easton unit. They’re about the same weight but the CSL has a little more rake and significantly more fore-aft movement. (Side to side, it’s still rock solid.)
The frame is massively different to the 2011 model, too. The oversized round tubes of old have disappeared, to be replaced by intricate shaping. The tapered head tube blends seamlessly into a deep V-section junction with the top and down tubes. Down below is a massive bottom bracket junction, complete with press-fit bottom bracket.
The chainstays start massive and taper out to slim all-carbon dropouts, while the top tube flows from a boxy profile at the head tube to a horizontal flat at the seat tube and then into skinny stays. This is a design feature of Cube’s top-of-the-range Litening series, so it’s great to see it on this lower model.
These changes to the frame and fork have had a twofold effect: comfort over coarse surfaces is vastly improved over the solidly Germanic outgoing Agree, and handling is a little slower. Some testers saw this as a negative for a bike known for its snappy responses but the handling isn’t significantly compromised. The GTC can still mix it up in a dogfight; it’s just that if you want to cruise, it requires much less input and it’s far less fatiguing.
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Frame weight is around 1150g. That’s light for any bike under £2,000, especially one as accomplished as this. The geometry stands out from the crowd, too. Cube eschew the current trend of a tall head tube and short top tube for their distance bike and keep things standard. If anything, the Agree is a little long in the reach stakes. Its endurance capabilities come not from its ride position but from its comfort and its fork. We appreciated the longer, lower position on blustery days as it enables you to hunker down in the drops and push on through headwinds.
Spec wise, Cube are offering a fine mixture for your £1,800. Full Shimano Ultegra, including brakes and chainset, is a first for the company. Previously they’d slip in a deviation or two to cut a few quid here and there. That practice has gone, which is a good thing. Easton’s EA50 Aero wheels are a step up too. We’ve seen Eastons fitted on other bikes at this price but that’s usually the original-equipment-only standard Aero. The EA50s get a better hub set and weigh a few less grams.
It’s a good looking set of hoops, with the premium quality build and ride we’d expect from Easton. The semi-deep profile carries a bit of weight over the equivalent Mavic or Fulcrum wheels but that’s countered to some extent by the Schwalbe Ultremo tyres, which combine low weight with great grip.
Up front, the cockpit is from Germany’s Syntace. The Racelite bar, with its defined rearward sweep on the tops, is one of the best around for long rides. When on the flat tops you lose a few centimetres in reach and this sits you more upright, which is ideal for taking a breather or having a stretch. The stem is Syntace too, beautifully made and light at under 150g. Selle Italia provide the X1 saddle in custom Cube colours. It’s well shaped, simple and thickly padded. Plenty of riders tried it, with almost no complaints.
It’s pleasing to see that Cube haven’t rested on their laurels with the highly successful Agree. The frame is totally new and while it’s very different from last year’s it’s a definite step forward. The finishing kit is among the best value around and the overall finish is of the highest quality. If you can stretch your budget to £2,495, the Agree GTC Di2 should sorely tempt you. It shares the frame, gains a lighter all-carbon fork and lightweight DT Swiss wheels to tip the scales at under 7.9kg, and that’s not forgetting full Ultegra Di2 to boot.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.