Advertisement

Sign up for our newsletter

Advertisement

Cube Litening C:68X Pro review

18 Dec 2020
Verdict:

Find the money for a wheel upgrade and you’ll have a bike that rides as quick as it looks

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Price • High quality frame • Feels fast
Against 
Firm ride quality • Wheels let the spec down

These are perilous times for aero bikes. As we have seen in these pages already, even the mighty Specialized Venge has fallen victim to the convergence of models, as brands learn how to blend aerodynamics, light weight and comfort in a single bike – a bike that is fast, yet easier to live with day to day.

German brand Cube, however, is fighting the aero corner. Far from watering down an aero model, it has taken a lightweight racer and turned it into an all-out speed machine with deep tubes and sharp angles.

In fact, Cube says the new Litening C:68X Pro bears more resemblance to its Aerium TT bike than to the previous Litening model, which was all slim tubes and rounded profiles. As a result, Cube says this new Litening is 30% faster than the old design, and is the fastest road bike it has ever made.

Shifting opinion

I’ll admit that my view of Cube has always been as a brand that makes good-value bikes rather than high-performance ones. So when I got up close and personal with the Litening and was able to properly appraise its exotic-looking C:68X carbon layup and extreme tube profiles, I have to say I was taken aback.

Cube claims the frameset is the product of 100 hours in the wind-tunnel and 1,000 hours of computational fluid dynamics, and I can believe it.

This bike is so shapely – apparently pushing UCI frame regulations right up to their limit in several places – it looks as though Cube has placed a block of carbon in a force 10 gale and simply allowed the wind to carve it into shape.

To buy the Cube Litening, visit Tredz here.

The Litening is nothing short of badass. If it were a person, it would have a mohican and wear leather mitts with spikes on the knuckles. It looks ready to tear up the road, to a degree that almost makes me nostalgic.

While most modern aero bikes are being toned down, the Litening harks back to a time when speed was the only priority. The bike is as stiff as it looks and feels quick, generating the impression that it can keep accelerating way beyond the point at which most bikes hit their peak.

I’d attribute that to the frame. Considering the depth of the bike’s tubes, Cube has done an admirable job of keeping the frontal profile small.

Despite fully internal cable routing, the Litening’s head tube is elegantly scalloped in between the headset bearings, the tops of the bars are dramatically squashed and elongated, and the fork legs and crown are exceptionally svelte. The time refining the Litening’s shape has definitely been well spent.

Compromise is key

Luckily the Litening’s extreme looks, which hark back to classic aero bikes, don’t recreate the heavy and harsh ride attributes of those old designs. The bike’s 7.87kg weight, though pretty chunky, is reasonable for the price, and is made possible by the high-quality frame. This is the fourth-tier model in the range but it uses the same frame as the top-tier one.

Cube claims a 980g frame weight thanks to its use of an updated blend of six types of carbon fibre. The lacquer helps reveal Cube’s layup techniques, one of which is the use of spread-tow carbon to help construct the fork and bottom bracket and head tube junctions.

Spread-tow is a weave known for its high stiffness-to-weight because it needs less resin to bind it than other fibre weaves.

Cube also says the frame is made using ‘twin-mould technology’ – two solid moulds instead of inflatable bladders. This, the brand claims, helps minimise the amount of resin required, which reduces weight.

I did find that the bike transmitted a noticeable amount of feedback from the road, which I would attribute to the sheer amount of carbon in the areas directly below both the seatpost and cockpit.

However, I’d say the ride wasn’t as harsh as it had the potential to be. Bumping up the tyre size would undoubtedly help, though.

The Litening comes specced with now-old-fashioned 25mm tyres, and although they are high-quality Schwalbe Pro One tubeless numbers, I’d welcome the inclusion of 28mm versions as standard instead.

As is so often the case with high-quality frames that have been priced so aggressively, the wheels are the only area of the spec list that aren’t quite at the same level as the rest of the components.

My advice in this situation is always the same: use the money you’ll save against a comparable bike from another brand to invest in a wheel upgrade. All that would be left to do then is hold on tight, because aboard the Litening you’ll be in for a thunderous ride.

Pick of the kit


Sidi Sixty shoes, £330, Buy now from Wiggle

These shoes, released on Sidi’s 60th birthday last year, are the Italian marque’s lightest ever. To keep the weight down, the brand’s adjustable heel mechanism has been ditched and the Sixtys eschew the usual dual Tecno-4 dials in favour of a single dial and Velcro strap. The result is a 516g pair of shoes that doesn’t compromise on build quality and comfort.

The TechPro microfibre upper has moulded neatly to the shape of my foot over time, and while they don’t grip my heel quite as securely as other Sidis, I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in performance.

Alternatively…

Top of the tree


Complete with Sram Red eTap AXS groupset and DT Swiss ARC 62 wheels, the Litening C:68X SLT is around 400g lighter than the Pro but costs almost twice the price at £7,499.

Buy now from Rutland Cycling

All-round performance


For something a little less racy than the Litening but a bit more comfortable, the Cube Agree C:62 SLT comes in at £3,999 with carbon wheels and Sram Force eTap AXS groupset.

Buy now from Leisure Lake Bikes

Spec

Frame Cube Litening C:68X Pro
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2 Disc
Brakes Shimano Ultegra Di2 Disc
Chainset Shimano Ultegra Di2 Disc
Cassette Shimano Ultegra Di2 Disc
Bars Cube Litening C:68X ICR cockpit
Stem Cube Litening C:68X ICR cockpit 
Seatpost Cube Litening C:68X Aero seatpost
Saddle Cube Nuance SLT Road saddle
Wheels Newmen Evolution SL R.32, Schwalbe Pro One 25mm tyres
Weight 7.87kg (58cm)
Contact cube.eu

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£3,999

Read more about: