The newest incarnation of Cube’s Litening – the C:68X – is very much a product of our time. Cube says it aimed to make the fastest bike possible within the UCI’s regulations: a machine built ‘without compromises’ and a bike to deliver ‘ultimate speed’ to the Litening-riding Wanty-Groupe Gobert team.
Even though the C:68X is all about large, aero-shaped tubes, Cube claims to have achieved a 30 per cent reduction in drag by reducing the Litening’s frontal surface and reducing the number of wider, larger-diameter tubes.
There are also six different fibre types used in search of stiffness where it’s needed – head tube and bottom bracket, for instance – and compliance elsewhere, such as the seatstays and fork legs.
Other bang-up-to-the-millisecond features include much greater integration, disc brakes and electronic gearing. There are no exposed cables at the front, creating a super-clean-looking one-piece stem and bar pairing.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Cube Litening SLT C:68X 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.
That clean looking one-piece bar and stem. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The front end’s dominated by that new one-piece cockpit – the ICR. From the saddle it looks huge, but the ICR stem’s remarkably flattened and only deep enough to take the hydraulic hoses of the SRAM Red AXS HRD group.
Out on the road, the bar’s stiff when pulling on the hoods climbing or down on the drops sprinting but, neatly, the stem flexes vertically to take the sting out of road buzz.
The stem is flatter than it looks and houses all of the SRAM Red AXS hydraulic hoses. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The ICR sits atop a deep head tube that routes everything internally. The fork crown integrates into the head tube with a pronounced edge to the base that flows into a straight edge running across the truncated airfoil down tube.
This means there’s a steering stop in place. You won’t notice it except when trying to turn tightly at walking pace, and it’s there to protect the hoses and the head tube in the event of a crash.
The deep head tube and fork crown are integrated and there’s a steering stop for protection. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The bottom-bracket shell is deep and flat-sided with another signature edge running from the down tube across the shell and into the deep seat tube.
The seat tube wraps around the rear wheel, helping to keep things aero and the wheelbase compact. Sitting on top is a much slimmer, airfoil-shaped seatpost.
The post’s slimmer size and longitudinal fibre orientation is there to encourage give, which balances the comfort at both front and rear. That’s critical to any race bike and Cube’s nailed it.
A seven-and-a-half-grand bargain
A superbike this good, priced at £7,499 / €7,499, is actually great value. SRAM’s Red eTap AXS HRD is a wireless wonder, given another dimension thanks to the AXS app. Here, you can add automation to shifts plus display myriad metrics on a compatible head unit.
The 12-speed gear range combines a 48/35 chainset and 10-28 cassette. It’s superb, the highlight of which is the auto-compensation mode where it corrects the rear gear to the next best when shifting the front.
SRAM’s Red eTap AXS HRD wrieless groupset. David Caudery / Immediate Media
You can also go fully auto where the system shifts the front rings when necessary. SRAM’s Red brakes are powerful and quiet.
The SLT runs on DT Swiss’s ARC1100s in a truly aero 62mm depth. The super-deep wheels certainly help the Cube to carry impressive levels of speed and, despite their slab-sided design, they held their own in some strong winter crosswinds.
DT Swiss’s 62mm deep ARC1100s run on DT 240 hubs and are fitted with tubeless compatible 25mm Schwalbe Pro 1 TLE tyres. David Caudery / Immediate Media
The rims are built onto ever reliable, lightweight DT 240 hubs running ceramic bearings and, even with their deep dimensions, they tip the scales at an impressively light 1,597g.
The rim is a broad 27mm wide externally but internally they’re a more traditional 17mm – pretty much the optimal size for the 25mm wide Schwalbe Pro 1 TLE tyres. Both the wheels and tyres are tubeless compatible.
Cube Litening SLT C:68X overall
In all, the SLT is a fantastic aero road bike. It’s blisteringly rapid, holds onto speed supremely well and is surprisingly comfortable with it.
The handling is assured and extremely stable but, above all else, it’s a full-on superbike with a spec deserving of that title at a price that’s significantly less than other Grand Tour proven designs. Cube deserves high praise for that alone.
SRAM’s Red 48×10 pairing provides a 127in top gear, much higher than a standard compact’s 50×11–120in top. David Caudery / Immediate Media
Cube Litening SLT C:68X 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.