Cube’s Agree has always been one of our favourites. Combining a classy chassis with great-value kit is a difficult trick in itself, but package in sharp, racy handling and you’ve got a surefire winner.
Frame & equipment: Classy from chassis to components
For 2012/13, Cube took the Agree back to the drawing board, redesigning the frame to shave weight and make all the cabling internal (and dual-fit for electronic drivetrains).
The fork has also changed, from the original straight-bladed Easton unit to one of Cube’s own design. It’s now all carbon and significantly lighter, but they’ve added a little rake and increased the offset. That’s made the Agree a significantly different bike.
The component spec impresses in the usual Cube way – Shimano Ultegra is complemented by classy DT CSW RA1.0 wheels. These have light rims combined with CNC machined hubs and dedicated straight-pull spokes. The quality hubs are smooth, and the wheels feel supple over the rough tarmac of the UK’s winter-worn roads.
We could induce a bit of brake rub out of the rear when putting down the power, but a quick tune with a spoke wrench cured that. We do like that Cube haven’t compromised on the tyre front, fitting custom Schwalbe Ultremo ZXs to add some fast-rolling, super-grippy class to proceedings.
The cockpit and seatpost all come from Easton’s mid-price EA30 range. We love the aero, wing-shaped bar, with its comfortable profile and short and shallow drop. The stem and post are a little more workmanlike but won’t let you down. The post is topped with Selle Italia’s X1 saddle; it’s deeply padded, long and narrow, and suited our tester’s posterior absolutely fine.
Ride & handling: Fast but stable
The Agree’s ride is comfortable, the frame, wheels and saddle all contributing to a smooth ride. Up front, the longer fork smoothes out rough road surfaces, but the longer length and rake have changed the bike ’ s character.
The wheelbase is now effectively longer, and the steering feels far more sedate. The benefit of this is that you get a very stable bike while retaining a long, low race position. On the flat you can hunker down and power on the pedals – holding mid 20mph speeds is easy on board the GTC.
Things get a bit more challenging when the road starts to twist and turn, especially downhill. Long, flowing curves are the Agree’s perfect hunting ground where its inherent stability is ideally suited. On much tighter bends the Agree feels a little sluggish, and we often felt it understeered.
Climbing is best done in the saddle, as the longer wheelbase is suited to seated efforts and the 50/34, 12-28T gearing certainly suits. You can get out of the saddle and attack but that style doesn’t suit the more languid front end.
The Agree GTC SL is still a brilliant value, classy carbon road bike. Its big brother the Litening is one of the finest handling road bikes around, and the Agree used to be like a Boxster to its 911. Now, though, it’s more fast estate car than lightweight sports machine.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.