With lighter evenings offering more riding time, now is the perfect occasion to get along to your local club time trial and test yourself against that least forgiving of judges: the clock. The Aerium Race sits second in Cube’s TT and triathlon aero range – and boasts the German company’s usual striking looks and eye for colour coordination.
At this price, seeing an aluminium frame is no surprise, and the material still has loads to offer. The frame is heavily hydroformed and triple butted, saving unnecessary weight and creating some wind-cheating tube profiles.
The down tube, seat tube and seatstays are all wing shaped, and the seat tube has a truncated trailing edge where it curves around the rear wheel, keeping the wheelbase tight and reducing drag. The top tube is ovalised horizontally, narrowing at the seat tube. Chainstays are suitably chunky.
Matching the seat tube’s wing shape is an aluminium seatpost with plenty of adjustment and a rear-loading twin-bolt clamp. Up front, the flattened blades of the gently curved full carbon Dedacciai Black Fin fork should help to cleave the air to save precious seconds.
The curved seat tube shortens the wheelbase :www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
The curved seat tube shortens the wheelbase
Our 52cm frame was a good fit for a rider who uses a 56cm Cube road frame, enabling a lower position without being too long for an aero tuck. At 12cm, the head tube is ideal, but the headset’s 23mm conical top cap limits minimum stem height for anyone sufficiently supple.
An adjustable cockpit is essential for a time trial bike, and Syntace’s aluminium stem clamps a carbon Profile base bar and extensions. The extensions can only be fitted above the base bar, but are adjustable for length; extensions and arm rests adjust independently for width.
First impressions are of a neutral handling bike that’s easy to settle into – great for time trialling generally and novices in particular. It’s important to be comfortable with your aero position because the gear levers are on the ends of the extensions. The Dura-Ace shifters have a foolproof action, but for riders used to STI, it might require a bit more thought.
FSA’s excellent SL-K Light carbon chainset with 53/39 rings runs in a slim BSA bottom bracket shell with widely spaced outboard bearing cups. Standing start acceleration is good, the oversized frame and stiff chainset efficiently converting energy into forward motion, helped by the stiff Easton wheels.
The EA50 Aeros have a shallow aero profile and bladed spokes, and once up to speed willingly sustain it on the flat, but even the Ultremo ZX rubber can’t hide their weight, and when the gradient increases, the speed suffers.
Ultegra is at the heart of a high quality kit spec:www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
Ultegra is at the heart of a high quality kit spec
The 12-28 cassette gives a wide gear range, but the lack of 16 and 18T sprockets is frustrating, with two-tooth jumps often too much when trying to maintain a constant speed.
Handling is nimble and predictable, resulting in confident cornering on the extensions, and though we found the base bar handholds spindly for large hands, the well-shaped TRP carbon brake levers offer fine control. The Fi’zi:k Arione Tri 2 saddle has a wide, soft nose that helps when you’re riding on the rivet, and adds a modicum of comfort to an otherwise race-focused ride.
Overall, the Cube is a well-appointed entry point for tackling the ‘race of truth’, with quality componentry and contact points. The wheels are the obvious future upgrade, but are very competent performers until budget permits.