Cube SL Road SL review£1,499.00

Can high-spec aluminium compete with carbon?

BikeRadar score4/5

Cube’s aluminium-framed SL Road is a hybrid in the truest sense, bringing together high-end equipment from road and off-road worlds, and is designed to be ridden at speed.

With its battleship grey finish and angular tubes, the SL has a distinctly industrial feel. Perhaps because of the drab finish, I had preconceived ideas that this bike would feel slow and sluggish, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

The Cube is competitive weight-wise and, best of all, it pulls away like a bull at full charge; I constantly found myself racing between traffic lights.

From the first pedal stroke, the Cube is lively with superb power delivery. The Superlite Crossroad tapered, double-butted aluminium frame feels like it’s designed for the racer who wants a fast bike for ripping around the streets.

While those aluminium tubes play their part, the power delivery is courtesy of Shimano’s Ultegra R8000 chainset and 11-speed gears. These all work superbly with positive shifting from the RS700 shifters. I was also pleased to see that Cube has specced 170mm 50/34 compact cranks with an Ultegra 11-32 cassette.

Taking from the off-road world, the Cube uses Shimano Deore brakes
Taking from the off-road world, the Cube uses Shimano Deore brakes

To tame this swift mover, Cube has turned to the off-road world, mounting Shimano Deore M6000 hydraulic brakes and levers. They might not be as high up the Shimano pecking order as the drivetrain, but they remain impressive stoppers with lots of manageable braking power.

The quality components continue into the rolling stock with tubeless-compatible DT Swiss Spline R24 Disc quick-release wheels. The well-made hoops benefitting the SL’s ride.

Schwalbe’s slick 35mm Kevlar Kojak tyres are mounted to those DT Swiss wheels, which roll well, even at low pressures, offering a confident ride thanks to the soft rubber compound. The size didn’t feel overly big and allows you to reduce the pressure to help with road feedback on longer rides.

The 66cm bar feels unwieldy at times, especially if you prefer sedate rides, but there is plenty of scope to cut it down.

The Cube’s eclectic mix of parts complement one another, bringing together an impressive package with a high spec. It could be argued this is a trade-off of not having a carbon frame, which although true, it isn’t as straightforward as that. View the Cube as a fast-handling, quality aluminium hybrid with a high spec and you start to understand it.

The SL is a robust bike that has been built for speed
The SL is a robust bike that has been built for speed

The SL is a robust bike built for speed. Arguably, this is at the cost of comfort compared to some of its carbon competitors, especially when you start pedalling for longer than a couple of hours. 

This type of bike is niche but there will be a certain type of rider who will appreciate the ride when others consider it too harsh. It’s just not your typical fitness bike, but is fun to pedal whether you’re in town sprinting between lights or putting in some fast road miles.

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