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Cube Cross Race C:62 cyclocross bike review

13 Mar 2018
Verdict:

An understated race machine that is a match for its better known rivals

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,499
For 
Nimble and rapid off-road, aggressive position, good tyre choice
Against 
Terrible saddle, slightly sluggish on road

The lack of Cube bikes in both the professional road peloton and cyclocross paddock means they can often leave our radar of bikes we consider to be pro racing machines. 

Beyond Belgian ProContinental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert, seeing a pro aboard a Cube is almost non-existent. Their presence in almost every breakaway at last year's Tour de France helped nudge a reminder but only for the three weeks they graced our television screens.

This is somewhat unfair as in large part, Cube has been a staple of the European bike industry since its inception in 1993, offering reasonably priced yet extremely capable bikes across the board.

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It's this lack of coverage by the world's best cyclists that I believe has affected our knowledge of the Cube Cross Race C:62 cyclocross bike.

Fully carbon, weighing just 8.1kg with an aggressive geometry yet comfortable frame, this bike should be no different in performance to those used by the likes of Mathieu Van Der Poel and Sanne Cant. 

The rough stuff

As you hit the off-road, it becomes immediately obvious that the Cube Cross Race has been designed to gobble up the rough stuff and not the tarmac. That may seem obvious for a cyclocross bike, but I feel like there is extra emphasis with this machine on its capabilities off-road than on it.

Take the tyre choice for example. The front and rear tyres are different and while both are a chunky 33mm in width, the rear is a Schwable X-One Allround while the front is a Schwable X-One Bite. The heavier tread on the front allows more grip in the deep mud and noticeably goes aways in propelling you forward.

Fitted to a set of Newmen Evolution SL R.32 carbon wheels, the mixture of heavy-duty and lightweight complemented each other keeping you fast even through the gnarliest of surfaces.

You could feel that if raced upon, this wheel and tyre combination would help you surge through sections of mud much easier than those on less forgiving choices, making you faster than your rivals.

The drawback of this heavy tread was that the Cross Race felt slightly laboured on tarmac. Maintaining 30km/h became a chore that required extra watts not otherwise spent on rival cross bikes.

The frame itself was capable of holding the speed but the choice of wheels and tyres saw me constantly rolling to stay on top of a gear.

However, this is quickly forgotten when you rediscover the trails. Transferring from tarmac to gravel or mud, you feel yourself almost instantly speed up.

A steep 73.5° seat angle coupled with a 72° head tube is a stable enough position to keep you planted rubber side down yet is aggressive enough to enable solid power transfer through the pedals.

Close to me I have a trail that leads out to the River Thames. I often use it as a litmus test for off-road machines. The ground is mainly grass, littered with chunky rocks washed up from years of river swell.

It's not fast till the very end and you need to be constantly on the pedals otherwise you will stop dead.

The mixture of robust and stable positioning coupled with hearty tyres allowed me to speed over the trail faster than usual. The usually uncomfortable route met its match as the Cross Race clawed its way through. 

In terms of gearing, Cube has made the correct decision by opting for a mixture of the 1x Easton EC90 SL carbon crankset with Sram Force. The 40T 11-36 range is capable of tackling almost all gradients and seldom leaves you wanting an extra gear. 

Shifting was smooth with the gear ratio allowing you to sit at a comfortable gear regardless of gradient or surface difficulty. The Easton crankset also helps drop weight thanks to being carbon and increase aesthetic appeal thanks to a stylish stencil design.

Being slightly heavier (92kg, built for the Classics etc. etc.), I was pleased to find a pair of 160mm Sram Force hydraulic through-axle, flat mount, disc brakes. This allowed me the confidence to enter bends with more speed knowing I could stop, almost, on a sixpence when needed. A rarity for someone of my size. 

Carry on crossing

Being a machine designed to race, you would expect Cube to focus heavily on the weight of its frame. Cube says that to shave extra grams from the Cross Race C:62 takes the 'utmost finesse'. 

'C:62 stands for a carbon fibre content of 62%. More carbon equals less resin, and less resin means less weight. Using a special lay-up technique, we guarantee stability and stiffness without compromising on comfort.'

Fully dressed, the Cube Cross Race C:62 tipped the Cyclist scales at an impressive 8.1kg. That's 100g lighter than the Canyon Inflite CF SLX 8.0 and only 300g heavier than what I would consider one of the market leaders, the Trek Boone 7.

This low weight paid its due in two ways. Firstly, chucking the bike over my shoulder to vault the occasional stile, I didn't feel lumbered with the bike pretty easy to negotiate over obstacles.

Secondly, and most importantly, an 8kg bike helps when going uphill, off-road. It was noticeable to me that Cube's weight savings had made this bike a capable climber off-road and while I rarely pushed myself to the limit, I could feel myself ascending at good speed.

Being lightweight and impressively nimble off-road, you may expect a compromise in comfort. To achieve speed while keeping weight down, you will have to substitute out feeling comfortable. This bike is designed to race after all.

Well thankfully, Cube has also found a way of making the frame comfortable. The semi-integrated, recessed seat post clamp allows a gap between post and frame. This flex, although small, goes a long way in keeping you comfortable while rolling over tough terrain.

While the seat post increases comfort, the saddle atop it does not. For me, the Selle Italia SC1 saddle partnered with this bike was too clunky and constantly forced me into readjusting to find a more agreeable position.

Saddles are a very personal choice and my toilet seat may be your throne but personally I felt as if Cube had missed the mark here, especially considering this bike is designed to 'race'. 

The Cube Cross Race C:62 SL may not be the first bike to roll off your tongue when considering top-end cyclocross bikes, mainly because it's a bit of a mouthful, but I quickly came to the conclusion it should be. 

Buy now from Tweeks Cycles for £1,499

With a quick change of saddle and the purchase of a second set of tyres for when the days are less rough, I feel like the Cube Cross Race C:62 SL is a bike that can perform at the very top for all surfaces you can imagine a cross bike taking on, and at £2,499 it doesn't exactly break the bank.