German brand Cube has a well-earned reputation for damn fine bikes at very competitive prices, consistently offering value in high street bike shops that competes with online-only specialists.
Like most of its rivals, Cube offers its road bikes in a range of carbon grades and technical build specs, with the pinnacle being the C:68 designation.
C:68 uses the company’s advanced twin-mould technology — two solid mould pieces are used to form the tube shapes, rather than the traditional mould-and-inflated bag method — so there can be closer control of the ratio of resin to carbon fibre, imperfections (creases) can be managed more efficiently with greater control of the structure overall.
The Litening’s shape maintains a pretty traditional twin triangle design, similar to Cannondale’s Evo and Trek’s Émonda, although the slim, rounded tubes of the Evo or curvy ribbed sections of the Trek are replaced by a mix of squared off down tube, slim stays and a slender top-tube. You could say the Litening looks simple, but I prefer to think of it as understated.
Geometry-wise the Cube follows the classic short, sharp geometry you find on a lot of European bikes. It mixes parallel steep 73.5-degree angles with a short 991mm wheelbase. The ride position is aggressive too with a low 563mm stack [vertical distance between the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube] and a long 398mm reach [horizontal distance].
On the road the Cube feels every inch the pro tour superbike, the handling is razor sharp and the short wheelbase makes it feel incredibly nimble through twists and turns. The SLT is running Shimano’s exemplary Dura-Ace Di2 with a well-placed range of 11-28 combined with a 52/36 chainset.
However, the Cube’s front disc had suffered a knock in transit so I did get a bit of ticking on my first ride out from the slightly bent Icetech rotor. A bit of fettling with a rotor straightening tool sorted it for our successive rides.
Cube’s new partner component line Newmen supplies the slick carbon seatpost, well-shaped carbon bar and minimal alloy stem. The bike should have been shipped with matching Newmen wheels but delays in production mean that the bike came with Dutch wheel brand Scope’s excellent tubeless-compatible R4Ds, replete with Schwalbe’s equally impressive Pro One tubeless tyres.
The ride is firm, but that’s countered somewhat by the great tyres and wheels. The ride is never harsh and the firmness feels well balanced with the sheer speed at which the Litening can be shifted in any direction.
The acceleration impresses thanks to the solidity through the drivetrain. It’s only on climbs where the Litening doesn’t quite match the flyweight of bikes such as the Trek Émonda, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, or Cervélo R5 Disc, but I'm really splitting hairs here as the SLT is a brilliant all-rounder, but those three are stratospheric in their ability to shine uphill.
While the Cube isn’t the most refined or lightest bike, it is great value, and I’d go so far to say it’ll be the best value bike in the whole peloton.