Cube’s new flagship race machine, as used by Pro-Continental team Circus Wanty Gobert, is the C:68X Litening.
The major development from previous efforts is its carbon construction that utilises what Cube terms advanced twin-mould technology. Instead of the traditional mould-and-inflated bag method of forming tubes, it uses two solid mould pieces.
This, says Cube, means you enjoy greater control over the ratio of resin to carbon fibre, resulting in six different fibre types in the frame lay-up alone. This versatility adds strength and shaves weight where needed.
And it really does save weight. It’s still under a kilo, which is remarkable if Cube’s claim of a 30 per cent drag reduction compared to past models is to be believed.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Cube Litening C:68X Pro is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
The ICR aerobar conceals cables and hoses in its one-piece design, with an aero-bladed top, smooth leading edge and flat stem to help reduce drag. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The frame design is uncluttered and takes its cues from Cube’s Aerium C:68 time-trial rig with bespoke adaptations.
Look at the new one-piece cockpit. The ICR aerobar’s aero-bladed top and smooth leading edge offers significant drag reduction over a standard setup, while the stem section’s noticeably flatter than most. It also conceals the hydraulic brake hoses and Di2 cables.
The Litening’s only available with electronic drivetrains, so the chassis design is optimised for Di2 and SRAM eTap.
The Litening’s frame shapes are all designed to minimise air turbulence. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Defined edges at the top of the fork crown and beneath the stem channel airflow down the frame that flows onto the aero-shaped seat tube.
It’s all designed to minimise turbulence, as is the bottom bracket, featuring a similarly edged and aero design.
Cube has forgone integration here in favour of compliance. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The seatpost is a slimmer diameter than the seat tube yet retains an aerofoil shape. It looks at odds with the integrated design of the chassis but, Cube tells us, adds compliance.
The C:68X Pro comes with decent gears for the money, the highlights being Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 and 160mm Ice Tech rotors. While the mechanical version is excellent, it doesn’t have the wow-factor of the electronic alternative seen here.
Shimano Ultegra Di2 with a 50/34, 11-32 gear ratio. David Caudery / Immediate Media
On paper, the sportive-friendly 50/34, 11-32 gear ratio is at odds with the lightning-fast design pitch; in use, it’s pretty much spot on.
It’s not the only surprise. You’d think the cockpit’s chunky design would be rigid, it’s not, which must be down to the stem’s height. It’s not particularly thick, offering enough vertical give to dampen vibrations.
Newman’s R:32 wheels have a 32mm-deep rim and are fitted with Schwalbe’s Pro 1 TLE tyres, which are tubeless compatible. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Newman’s R:32 wheels are built around a 32mm-deep rim. The rim is broad and shapes the excellent Schwalbe Pro 1 TLE tyres well.
The wheels and tyres are tubeless compatible, but Cube ships its bikes with inner tubes fitted.
Switching the 25c Schwalbe Pro 1 TLE tyres to tubeless would save the bike a few grams. David Caudery / Immediate Media
A switch to tubeless would save a few grams over the already impressive 7.83kg total, which is nearly a kilogram less than a Cervélo S3 Disc Ultegra.
The Newman’s alloy construction feels suitably stiff on the road and, at 1,650g a pair, they’re competitive compared to equivalent level wheels from the likes of Mavic or Fulcrum.
The Newman Evolution R:32 wheels weigh 1,650g a pair and use Shimano Ultegra disc brakes with 160mm rotors. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Cube’s Nuance saddle lends a nod to the ever-fashionable ‘short shape’, made popular by Specialized’s Power.
That short nose makes it easy to maintain an attacking position for longer. That’s a bonus for a slammed frame like this, featuring a low 580mm stack (on my 58cm model) and long reach of 403mm.
It’s also comfortable, which isn’t a holistic theme as the stiff chassis, stiff alloy wheels and 25c tyres remind you that this is an aero bike – its ideal terrain is silky smooth tarmac, not my Wiltshire testing ground. Handling’s arguably un-aero-like, those tube shapes coping admirably with high winds.
The Cube Nuance R SLT saddle is a short saddle, a design that is becoming more popular with riders. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Traditionally, an aero bike’s curvaceous tubing comes at a weight cost, but the C:68X Pro’s a good half a kilo lighter than its immediate aero rivals and it shows when heading toward the Gods.
Once you’ve crested the hill, the Litening’s aggressive ride position equals peak speed, which is enhanced further by the steep 73.5-degree head angle that induces confidence-inspiring cornering.
Cube Litening C:68X Pro geometry
Size (* tested): 50, 52, 54, 56, 58*, 60cm
Seat angle: 73 degrees
Head angle: 73.5 degrees
Seat tube: 54cm
Top tube: 58cm
Head tube: 16.5cm
Bottom bracket drop: 6.7cm
With thanks to…
BikeRadar would like to thank 100%, Q36.5, Lazer, Garmin and Facom for their support during our Bike of the Year test.