There’s no shortage of top machines to lust over at Kona. We test four mid range rides that could easily go the distance. Words: Guy Kesteven, Photos: Mick Kirkman
Cube Aerium Super SL £3,499 cube.eu/uk
A machine for riders brave enough to hang on and get the most from its super aero aggressive set up.
Cube’s state of the art Aerium Super HPC SL is potentially aero enough to give anyone delusions of breaking the tape on Kona’s iconic Ali’i Drive.
Frame and Forks
If you like your aero bikes aggressive you’ll love the aesthetics and drag dodging design of the Aerium. The already short head tube gets cut away at the top for a broad, flush fit stem with a hinged plastic front fairing that contains the junction box for the Di2 shifters.
The bottom of the head tube is cut away to sync with the dropped top tube and the fork faces are inset to integrate the TRP V brakes. The rear brake is hidden under the low level chainstays, which kick up dramatically to the rear wheel in a Scott Plasma mimicking ‘twisted wing’ style design.
Hidden screws in the fully carbon dropouts keep the wheel exactly in place against the wheel hugger. The seat stays separate from the seat tube in a distinctive wing design to keep airflow clean too and the aero seat post is
forward kinked to create a super steep seat angle. Overall proportions are very aggressive with a very short reach compared to a tall seat tube, which meant we had the seat post slammed as low as possible on our medium sized test bike.
A Shimano Ultegra Di2 electric shift system is the obvious kit highlight, turned by a flash looking Rotor Flow aero chainset. Mavic’s Cosmic wheels are semi aero at 30mm deep and the chopped nose Fizik saddle is ideal for the Cube’s geometry.
While the electric shifters might be the call out on the shop floor there’s no doubting that the ride position and handling are what dominated impressions and divided our test team’s opinions on the road. For a start the steering lock is dramatically limited by the inset stem and fork design to the point where turning in a single lane road is an impressive feat and you’re likely to stumble regularly as the bike suddenly chokes when you try to trickle it round tight corners.
Move on to the open road and into a tuck and you’ll find the inset stem and forward swept seat post throw you
forward right over the front wheel so you’re gripping the tri bars pretty tightly just to avoid getting squeezed off the ends.
The bars are so low in stock form that even sitting up on to the wing bars is a serious clean and jerk commitment rather than a casual position switch. So much weight over the front end makes standing on the pedals pretty sketchy at first and you need to watch your knees on the arm rest pads if you’re out of the saddle too.
While the saddle and rear end are reasonably comfortable, the front end is pretty harsh over bumps, increasing shoulder fatigue noticeably as you try to cling onto control. The kickback for this unforgiving position is one of the most aero efficient flat backed positions we’ve ever found on a stock bike.
Right angled arms are the cleanest way to get your upper body through the air and the steep seat angle opens the pelvic angle right up when you’re perched on the blunt nose of the Tritone saddle. That means if you can get past the initial panic and relax rather than fight the front end, it’s a speed sustain supremo comparable
to other superbikes.
The combination of kinked chainstays and short 170mm cranks definitely doesn’t feel as dynamic as the other bikes power though so you’ll need to be patient with acceleration as well as brave with the handling to get the best from what looks a stunning bike on paper.
It might be a bike for the brave, but if you’re in a heroic mood, you might just get the best results you’ve ever had.
Head to our Training Section to make sure you’re prepared.