The Axial WS C:62 is a race-focussed bike built around a carbon frame with a decent spec, good ride quality, performance and a keen price to boot. All in, it's a great all-round package that's hard to fault.
This version — which sits at the top of the Axial WS range — features a quality Shimano Ultegra groupset, a set of Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels and hydraulic disc brakes for consistent braking power whatever the weather conditions.
Cube Axial WS frame
The Cube Axial is, essentially, the Cube Agree unisex/men's road bike frame with slightly different finishing kit designed to suit female riders. Geometry measurements on the two frames are the same, with the main difference being the size range.
The Axial comes in 4 sizes: 47cm, 50cm, 53cm and 56cm, which covers a rough rider height range of 5ft 5in to 5ft 9in or 164cm to 175cm, whereas the Agree range goes from a 50cm frame size up to a size 62cm frame size.
As a 5ft 8in / 174cm tall rider, I tested the 53cm frame and found it to be a good fit, though perhaps a tiny bit long in the overall reach. However, this can be adjusted by shifting the saddle position around and swapping to a shorter stem, something that you can do yourself or that a bike fitter will look at.
The frame and fork are both carbon. In the case of the frame, this is Cube's C:62 Advanced carbon, built to an 'aero endurance' geometry. The forks are, likewise, constructed from C:62 carbon with a tapered steerer for a stiffer front end.
C:62 is Cube's proprietary carbon layup, consisting of 62% carbon - hence the name - in the form of high modulous fibres forming layers, and resin which binds them together. The result, Cube says, is a frame that's stiff but robust enough to withstand hard hits.
Cube has opted for an oversized downtube and substantial bottom bracket area for efficient power transfer. To soften the ride without compromising speed, the seat stays and top tube have been designed to flex to absorb some of the road chatter before it makes its way to the riders derrière.
At the front end, the carbon forks and carbon handlebars perform a similar function, softening the ride just enough to keep arms, wrists and hands feeling comfortable.
Cube Axial WS spec
It's essentially impossible to fault the action of the tried-and-tested Shimano Ultegra groupset — it's smooth, reliable and lasts well.
The more compact hoods on the new Ultegra still look bulky but are a better fit for smaller hands than previous incarnations. It's also relatively easy to tweak the reach on the brake levers to bring them closer to the handlebars, which will also help with control and confidence.
The only departure from Ultegra comes in the form of the Shimano 105 cassette which offers an endurance-friendly 11-32t range. When combined with the 50/34 cranks, this provides plenty of low end for spinning up steep hills, aided by the bikes overall light weight of 8.37kg.
This gear-range seems incongruous when you take into account Cube's race-focussed description of the Axial's capabilities, though it feels like a bike that straddles the generally arbitrary endurance/race boundary, but sits more towards the race side, just without the lightning quick responses of more pure out-and-out race focussed bikes like the Specialized Tarmac.
It's designed to be a more versatile bike that's comfortable enough to clock up the miles and hours, while also putting the rider in a more downward, aggressive position that makes powering along, sprinting and maintaining speed part of this bikes identity too.
Mavic Cosmic Elite Disc wheels are mid-depth aero road wheels, designed to offer reduced aerodynamic drag without the need for full aero commitment and it's associated negatives such as side-wind sensitivity. These are fitted with Continental Grand Prix 4000S II tyres, rated as the 'best all-round clincher' on the market in a recent BikeRadar review.
The benefits of the 12mm thru-axles on both wheels are manifold: increased stiffness and security that's noticeable when on rough surfaces and when cornering, plus reliable placement of the brake rotors between the brake pad surfaces so no annoying squealing as your ride or when you brake — provided of course the brake pad surfaces haven't become tainted.
Finishing kit consists of a Newmen Advanced SL Carbon seatpost which fits neatly into the frame with a concealed Cube seat clamp. This contact points are finished off with a Selle Italia SC1 saddle. The cockpit is composed of the aforementioned carbon Newmen Advanced Wing Bar handlebar with a Newmen Evolution alloy stem and comfortable Cube Grip Control bar tape.
Newmen are a relatively new brand on the components block, hailing from Germany, and produce components for road bikes, mountain bikes and eMTBs.
Cranks are size-specific; the 50cm and 53cm frames have 170mm cranks while the 56cm has 172.5mm cranks.
While Newman Evolution SL R.32 wheels are listed on the Cube site, they have been recalled and so Mavic were spec'd on our test bike.
Cube Axial WS verdict
Overall, if you're looking for a race bike that offers relative comfort rather than out-and-out aggro speed, then the Cube Axial is one to take a look at.
On descents, it feels stable at speed and takes wider corners well though is slightly nervier on tighter bends. Overall though that long wheelbase combined with a good wheelset and set of tyres provides a reliable base for zipping down mountains.
The geometry definitely errs towards the aggressive race end of the spectrum, and while I have happily spent hours riding around on this bike, and it's great to be able to get up a quick lick of speed when you push power through the pedals, it's not one that's going to be comfortable for more leisurely rides despite the relative comfort on offer. It encourages you to blast through the countryside, rather than breeze along
On flat sections,racers, especially sprinters, might find the compact chainset a little limiting in top speed. That said, I was appreciative of the lower end of the range on longer climbs as it provided plenty of options for spinning up and conserving energy on anything steep or long. The gear range and the comfort on offer tweak it slightly back more towards bikes with an endurance focus.
It's responsive in a smooth, sedate way. This bike doesn't quite have the lightning quick responses of some race-focussed bikes, such as the aforementioned Specialized Tarmac Womens, but think of it more as a cool-headed riding partner that's plenty capable and will help you get to your target distance.
However, it doesn't provide quite the comfort and ability of the high-scoring Trek Domane Women's (BikeRadar's women's Bike of the Year 2018) or the Canyon Endurace, both of which have an exciting edge to them that makes the ride that much more memorable than the Cube Axial, with the edge on comfort too.
However, in terms of direct spec-only comparisons this model of the Cube Axial represents slightly better value for money over the similarly priced Women's Domane SL5 Disc which comes with a Shimano 105 groupset compared to Ultegra on the Axial. The same is true of the Women's Tarmac Disc Sport, constructed from Specialized's entry-level FACT8r carbon composite frame and Shimano 105 groupset, and this model isn't available in all territories.
This boosts the base value-for-money of the Axial, and as mentioned it's an enjoyable ride that's fun, forgiving and fast, though doesn't have quite the stand-out ride experience of other models. There's nothing really to fault, and I've had a blast riding it around my local hills and lanes.
Cube Axial WS C:62 price, sizes and availability
The Cube Axial WS C:62 is available in 4 sizes: 48cm, 50cm, 53cm and 56cm and retails for £2599 / €2799.
Looking for a new road bike? Check out our best women's bikes of 2018 list; each one has been extensively tested, and only the top-rated bikes make the list.