With a true racer pedigree, the X-Race Comp is destined to stay within the tapes, but that doesn’t mean its strengths don’t transfer effectively to the world of trails and Tarmac.
Ride & handling: The combination of light weight and quality frame is lightning fast
From the gun, the Cube is fast. It bowls along the Tarmac with ease and comes alive when you point it off-road, taking everything from swoopy carving turns to stepped plummets in its stride. It’s light, manoeuvrable and stamping on the pedals to initiate a sprint unleashes speed you didn’t quite know you had in your legs.
There’s no disguising the race pedigree, or that it’s been designed to stay irmly within the trail tapes – but that didn’t stop it being a real hit with our testers out on the trails; the light weight and flickable feel had us hammering along routes we’d normally only be taking flat out on mountain bikes.
We weren’t keen on the cockpit setup, though. A 40cm (edge to edge) bar is way too narrow for most people – offering it as an option for very small riders is okay, but speccing it as standard cramps space for hands as well as impacting on the rider’s ability to steer effectively.
A wider 42 or 44cm bar would offer greater leverage for climbing and steering, and more room to breathe while in the drops, as well as making more space on the tops for the secondary brake levers. It’s a simple enough problem to remedy, but when a bike costs this much it’s not unreasonable to expect it to be specced to best effect right from the word go.
Chassis: Versatile compact frame and vibration-damping fork
One look at the X-Race Comp will convince you it’s quick. Everyone knows red bikes are fastest, but when mixed with black and white the effect is trebled!
Easton’s carbon expertise means the fork complements the frame to perfection. It’s stiff enough to withstand forceful steering inputs, whether they come from the rider or the trail, but still does a grand job of soaking up vibration, leaving you less fatigued. It’s supported by a stubby, oversized head tube that gives ample reinforcement and the FSA headset keeps the stack height low.
The top tube has a wide and shallow profile, with cables positioned along its outer corners, avoiding problems not only when shouldering, but also with standover, although the compact frame means the top tube’s well out of the way for botched dismounts.
Kinked seatstays leave plenty of room for mud and the rear brake stop is frame mounted. There’s a chainstay brace behind the seat tube and while this underlines the stiff rear end, it’s also a favourite hiding place for mud.
Though this is a race bike, there are still two sets of bottle bosses, which will be a boon if you’re into long rides, but the seatstays do lack rack eyes, though full guards can be fitted at both ends.
Equipment:Classy 105 gearing and brakes from Shimano, but narrow bars cramp the cockpit
Shimano’s 105 mech, cassette and shifters deal with 10-speed drive duties. Truvativ’s compact Elita chainset teams a 34-tooth inner ring with a 27-tooth sprocket out back to give a super-low gear. FSA’s Intellaset combines cable stop and headset top cap to tidy up the front end.
Easton Vista SL wheels are shod with Schwalbe’s Racing Ralphs, another emigrant from the 26in world. Sealed cartridge bearings should stand up to plenty of wet treatment and the mixture of open and close-spaced tyre tread make for a good compromise between fast-rolling speed on hardpack and progress through slop.
Shimano’s cantilevers pin the cyclo-cross style of braking down to perfection – scrubbing off speed rather than stopping on a dime – and use standard V-brake cartridge pads rather than the bulky traditional cantilever pads. They’ll wear out more quickly but fiddly canti setup is eased by conical washer stacks that allow toe-in to be set accurately with a single hex key.
Cube’s own saddle is long enough for position changes and we didn’t notice it at all during testing, which is always a good sign. Cockpit comfort was hampered by shonky bar tape, which would have been plentifully grippy had it managed to stay on the bar, but that’s something the supplying bike shop should be able to fix for you in a jiffy.
The stubby, oversized headtube gives ample reinforcement and the fsa headset keeps the stack height low: the stubby, oversized headtube gives ample reinforcement and the fsa headset keeps the stack height lowSeb Rogers