It wasn’t so long ago that alloy frames were the new black, and the material of choice for the discerning rider who had to stay one break ahead of the peloton. How quickly things change… Carbon is in, steel is making a comeback and poor old alloy has been cast down the pecking order, tarnished with the throwaway inference that it makes for a stiff, fast but uncomfortable ride.
An alloy frame does have one huge advantage over its carbon cousin. Because the production of aluminium worldwide is so prodigious, the cost of the material has plummeted, making for a real value proposition when it comes to a bike build. Finally, you can now have light, cheap and strong in the same equation.
In addition, aluminium construction techniques are years ahead of where they were only five years ago. Hydroforming (shaping tubes with fluid pressure), advanced welding techniques and CAD-assisted stress analysis can now yield cutting-edge performance at a reasonable cost. And if you can get the frame cheap, you should be able to spend more on the other bits.
Cube is a German brand with a range a mile long; so long that the range almost trips over itself in its offerings. The Streamer is intended to be an all-day sportif machine for the beginner-to-middling rider, and it certainly cuts a dash right off the bike shop floor. Bold graphics—the logos are applied as paint layers which is unusual, a strikingly bright and complex paint scheme and white-spoked Easton wheels unique to Cube guarantee you’ll twist necks when you roll out with the coffee bunch.
It’s equipped with a budget-minded mix of Shimano components, with an Ultegra rear mech and shifters combining with 105 chain, rear cassette, bottom bracket, dual-pivot brakes and a black 105 crankset. Generic Taiwanese parts make up the seating arrangements, and it’s a similar story for the control room. The Easton wheels, a Cube bespoke configuration, spin freely and in eerie silence. There’s not a single peep from the rear hub so if you ride on shared cycle paths it’s something to keep in mind.
Upon closer inspection, the Cube reveals a few characteristics we wouldn’t expect from a bike of this price point. Our chief beef is with the quality of the welds on the double-butted 7005 T6 frame; they’re plenty robust enough, but they are incredibly industrial in their presentation. In fact it’s reminiscent of a mountain bike frame from the late 1990s. As well,We we’re also surprised – and a little disappointed – by the bike’s heft. At 9.1kg, (size XL), there’s no getting around the fact that this is a heavy road bike.
Aluminium has certainly lost its lustre as a frame material on the shop floor, especially as carbon-framed machines swim down the price river to more affordable levels. But it’s value for money where alloy-framed bikes can shine, and it's here where the Cube needs to prove itself. There’s little doubt welds aside, it looks the part; prominent graphic integration, bold colours, those white spokes... It all presents brilliantly, let down slightly by the low-rent black finish on the otherwise perfectly functional 105 crankset. I don't know about you, but to me black drivetrain parts just don't look right on road bikes.
The value equation also comes into play when considering the finishing components. It’s a fair bet that the bars, stem and post came out of the same factory as, say, FSA parts—so why not add a bit of cachet this way and possibly shave a few grams off what is already a heavy bike? The Ready To Race logo is pretty cringe-worthy, to be honest. Where most of its direct competitors pitch in at the mid-eight kilo mark, the Streamer as previously mentioned, tips the scales at 9.1kg. For the RRP of $2399, that's a hard sell. It wouldn't be tough to tip it into the eights, but perhaps it should be there in the first place.
I ride 57cm and 58cm as a rule, so I was a bit bemused to see a 60cm sticker on the seat tube. Surely the editor made a mistake sending this one over for me to review? Imagine my surprise when I measured the seat tube at 57cm and the effective top tube at 57.5cm. Cube seem to do this through their entire range, so be aware when purchasing. About the only clue giving the 60cm game away is the massively long (19.5cm) head tube. This has the effect of keeping the rider's weight high and centred on the bike, even with the stem running flat against the headset. Hopping back aboard my own 58cm sportif ride felt like riding one of Cadel's TT bikes by comparison. The bottom bracket feels low and forward, and the 73-degree head angle makes for a neutral-to-slow front end that needs a bit of persuasion to turn.
The Cube is, as you'd expect from large-tubed alloy frame, keen to jump forward under pedal pressure and resists flex admirably. What is surprising is the level of damping the thin seat stays provide on dimpled tarmac. You can certainly hear the impacts through the rear wheel, but small and medium amplitude stuff is filtered out surprisingly well. It's not the thin saddle or stout seatpost, either—these stock items would be very high on my 'bits to replace' list, and would give you even more potential for long-haul comfort. In fact, comfort is probably the key to this bike. If you suffer from back pain but don’t want to give up riding, the combination of a high front end and the amazing damping of the frame would be perfect. Climbing is OK, though nothing to write home about given the bike’s overall weight, though the Easton wheels show minimal deflection under a hard graft, and the cassette picks up quickly and quietly under load. While on the subject of the cassette, it’s very nice to see Cube putting an 11-28T on a bike. This is a much better choice for the rider the bike is aimed at than a 12-25T.
The front end is a bit of a challenge to tame with the tall front end and the shallow 73-degree head angle, and the carbon fork isn't bad at absorbing road chatter, though not as good as the stays, though the always-excellent Schwalbe Ultremo tyres help with both good grip and suppleness. Be prepared to lay some weight over the bars to get the reaction you’re looking for.
The Streamer is an absolute head-turner of a bike, and while its asking price is a little higher than we expected, it might be worth trying to sweet-talk the shop guys into a keener deal. Throw that change towards a lighter seat and seatpost, and the Cube will make for a bulletproof fast road cruiser that will make other bikes jealous with its foxy good looks.
This is a nice frame but I did feel that the welds were a little too prominent. The saddle/seatpost mix was also rather weighty. However, the bike does stand out from the usual red, white and black bikes on the showroom floor and has no problem getting up to speed.
As stated, the sharp aluminium responsiveness is certainly there with the Cube Streamer. But it also comes with plenty of comfort. It has a good choice of wheels but with its weight it will always lack a bit of when the road goes up. However, the 11-28T cassette makes up for this somewhat.
Cube bikes go from Asia to Germany and then back to Australia before they hit the showroom floor which tends to bump the price slightly. We think the suggested retail of the bike is a bit too high. But if you could get $150 knocked off it, then you’d be right in the ball park and you’d have a smashing looking machine.
The Cube Streamer is certainly worth a second look. Nice graphics and paint scheme with a reasonable parts mix, including an 11-28T cassette. It does stand out from the crowd and shows that Cube aren’t just a boutique brand. If you’re looking for a bike at this level with a more upright position then the Streamer deserves your notice.
Frame: Alu Superlite 7005 AMF Double Butted, RFR-Geometry, inner cable routing.
Fork: Dedacciai DBHT Black Hole Technology Carbon
Head Set: FSA Integrated
Stem: FSA OS 190
Handlebars: FSA Wing Compact
Saddle: RFR Natural Shape
Seat Post: FSA SL280
Shift Levers: Shimano Ultegra 10sp
Brakes: Shimano BR-R560
F Derailleur: Shimano 105
R Derailleur: Shimano 105