German manufacturer Cube is a regular in our reviews section, but was a Tour de France newbie this year with the Belgian Wanty-Groupe Gobert team who got a wildcard entry.
The Agree was a favourite of ours in its earlier race bike guise but underwent a major revamp in 2016 when it reappeared as an endurance bike with aero characteristics, bringing together two of modern cycling’s major trends.
Cube says it offers the “high performance of a race bike, yet comfortable for long distances”. This does make for a slightly quirky-looking bike, especially around the head-tube and the junction of the seat tube, top tube and dropped seatstays.
As usual, Cube offers a lot of bike for your bucks. You get a complete Shimano Ultegra groupset including the chain, and Mavic’s Cosmic Elite wheels, whose 30mm-deep rims should offer an aerodynamic advantage.
And though this has endurance riding as part of its remit, the geometry isn’t that relaxed — I'm not talking sit up and beg here. Compared with the Scott Addict 30 – a full-on race bike — the geometry is similar. The Cube’s head tube is a centimetre higher, the head tube angle a fraction shallower, but even the top tube length, stack and reach figures aren’t that far out.
Short seatstays and a sub-metre wheelbase also suggest a bike that leans towards the racier end of the endurance spectrum.
The lively ride backs that up. This really has the performance of a race bike, and that slightly higher head tube makes just enough difference to keep things very comfortable.
This comfort is improved further by quality bar tape around familiar, slightly flattened tops on the Cube Wing Race bar, which feel like a more natural fit to your hands than a round bar. The Selle Italia X1 saddle, atop a round 27.2mm seatpost, proved popular.
That’s the comfort side sorted. How about the performance side?
Shifting and braking from the direct-mount calipers are excellent, and while it’s hard to measure the aero benefit of the Cosmic wheels, I reckon these will be the fastest here in the majority of conditions compared with the Scott, Cannondale, BMC, Giant and BH also on test.
Likewise, it’s hard to measure the aero gains of the frame’s aerodynamic features and flourishes. But the tight, BMC-esque rear triangle feels efficient, and handling from the front end with its 1 1/8-1 1/4in head tube is impeccable. Straight-line speed and acceleration are first rate, and get into the drops and you can snake down descents as you would on a standard road bike.
This is up there with the Giant when it comes to an all-round balance of performance and comfort. Its supposedly endurance geometry is on the Italian side, leaning heavily towards the pacier, racier end of the spectrum. And if you like riding at a decent lick, with your hands on the tops rather than the drops, this is a great choice.
The head tube’s extra centimetre gives you a marginally more upright riding position, but in the drops you can hammer it with the best of them, and it copes exceptionally well with poor road surfaces. But it’s its poise and balance that helps this bike stand out and make it a really polished all-rounder.