Cube is one of those brands that have historically come in and out of view every few years here in Australia. The German bike maker is well known in Europe but less so elsewhere, and has changed distributors in Australia semi-frequently. This year Cube has linked a new deal with 99 Bikes. The 99 Bikes chain has over 25 stores across four states, and more on the way.
Don’t be surprised if you start to see more and more Cube bikes on the road in the near future.
Our immediate benefit from this new supply chain is the Attain GTC Race, which features a top to bottom frame refresh for 2016. The Attain is Cube’s version of the fondo/endurance bike, with GTC standing for ‘Gran Turismo Composite’ no less. We’ll receive this model as well as the Attain GTC Pro Disc in Australia, paralleled by the racier Agree C:62 Pro and SL Team models. A browse of the Cube catalogue reveals an extensive range, with 99 Bikes cherry picking these four models to hit price points for riders in the recreational and club racing segments.
The GTC Race is a nicely specced machine out of the box, running an almost complete Ultegra group and Mavic wheels at a sharp $3,000 price point. The new Agree GTC frame is a modern piece of kit. The only round tube is the seat tube, everything else is flared, squared or tapered, the effect being a very purposeful and precise looking machine. The carbon fork blades are shallow and slender, connected to an alloy crown and steerer enclosed within a 1.25 inch lower bearing. Cable routing is smoothly executed, and flipping the bike over reveals tidy cable ports in the bottom bracket and a clear adhesive downtube rock protector. Flip it back over and you’ll notice a small graphic warning against clamping the down tube on bike racks.
Attention to detail on the Attain is high. Every component is color matched perfectly with the pin sharp paint, but more so each of Cube’s in house parts (bar, stem, post, saddle, tape) is an excellent item in its own right. Sure, the saddle was a bit bulky but it was comfortable none the less. The bar tape was tacky, just squishy enough and looked great. The bend of the bars was spot on. The overriding impression is of a bike that could be worth more than the asking price.
In order to relax the ride into Gran Turismo comfort territory, the Cube comes with the almost obligatory skinny seat stays, and a 27.2mm seatpost. The seat tube is quite short, exposing a lot of the skinny post too. Otherwise, the frame is reasonably solidly proportioned. The down tube is big and boxy, forming the backbone of the Attain’s ride alongside the minimalist fork.
The stock Mavic tyres run at a modest looking stated 25mm with lots of room to spare, I’d hazard that 27-28mm tyre could clear without too much fuss (depending on the brand). The front of the Attain has a generous stack height, placing the rider upright rather than flat. Cube runs a 74mm bottom bracket drop which puts the Attain at the lower and stable end of the spectrum, and the 410mm chainstay length adds to the wheelbase for even more stability.
I truly had no idea what to expect of the Attain before I saddled up; it was my first ride on a Cube and I don’t ride with any Cube owners … and this was a brand new model in any case! The skinny stays and post suggested a cushy ride and the tall stack height had me envisioning a lazy day on a soft deck chair. I was unsure what to make of the skinny fork, and also the alloy steerer. It took a couple of rides before I got the Attain dialed in to my liking, including removing the 10mm headset top cap to get the bars lower, but once I had it all just so I found the Attain to be a cracking good ride.
The biggest take out from the Attain is not the measure of comfort that the bike provides, but the feeling of speed. Despite the various skinny tubes employed, the Cube is a very solid bike from front to back, and especially so at the head tube. This means that when you get up out of the saddle the bike feels attentive and enthused. The front wheel darts precisely along with your swaying of the bars and jumping up from the saddle to inject a burst of speed is a gratifying experience.
The bike isn’t light due to the entry-level Mavic Aksium wheels and full spread of alloy cockpit parts, but even so it manages to ride light. The rigid spine of the Attain is clearly a part of this, and the road feel is its foil. The Attain is far from a harsh ride; it supplies a reasonable amount of buzz and feel from the road without bashing you up. I held concerns about the alloy steerer providing a jarring ride, but these concerns were unfounded on the road. The Aksium wheels were a perfect choice, they rolled along beautifully once up to speed and pick up the speed reasonably well for a price point wheel. In terms of feel the Attain is more closely aligned with some of the softer riding race bikes out there than many of its fondo competitors, but provides a more upright ride at the same time.
Having more of the fork steerer supported within the tall head tube helps to provide a more precise steering response and a solid bar feel when compared to a stack of headset spacers flapping out in the breeze. As I noted, I needed to remove the conical headset top cap to get the bars low enough for my liking, but riders that don’t need an out and out race position but still want a responsive feeling frame will be onto a winner in the Attain for sure.
The Attain offers as much as could be asked at the price point. It’s a smart looking package, beautifully finished, and comes with great drivetrain and wheels which provide excellent performance.
Snappy and precise, the Attain delivers beyond the usual fondo bike brief. The position is relaxed but the ride is spirited and enthusiastic, more in line with bikes that trumpet their speed credentials over comfort. But the Attain will go all day too.
Spec on the Attain is almost the riders dream for a $3,000 price tag. Quality wheels and drivetrain, and excellent in house kit too. There’s no need to upgrade anything on the Attain, though there is room to reduce weight for some extra.
As a rider that is reasonably fit but not always in a hurry, the Attain was an overwhelmingly positive experience. The Attain is as happy to take a long ride in the country as it is willing to work some max effort hill repeats or a fast paced group ride. The combination of speed and comfort is easy to like, and the value proposition is right up there too. This could be one of the biggest sleepers on the market.
FRAME: GTC Monocoque Road Comfort Geometry
FORK: CUBE CSL Race, One Piece 3D-Forged Steerer/Crown, Carbon Blades,
HEADSET: FSA I-t, Top Integrated 1 1/8″, Bottom Integrated 1 1/4″
STEM: CUBE Performance Stem Pro, 31.8mm
HANDLEBAR: CUBE Wing Race Bar Compact
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Ultegra RD-6800GS, 11-Speed
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano Ultegra FD-6800, 31.8mm Clamp
SHIFT-BRAKE-LEVERS: Shimano Ultegra ST-6800
BRAKE SYSTEM: Shimano BR-RS500
CRANKSET: Shimano Ultegra FC-6800, 172.5mm
CASSETTE: Shimano CS-6800, 11-32
CHAIN: Shimano CN-HG700-11
WHEELSET: Mavic Aksium Elite
TYRES: Mavic Aksion, 65A Compound, 25-622
SADDLE: CUBE RP 1.0
SEAT POST: CUBE Performance Post, 27.2mm
SEATCLAMP: CUBE Screwlock, 31.8mm
WEIGHT: 8.1 kg
DISTRIBUTOR: 99 Bikes