The Cube Agree GTC road bike tested, rated and reviewed
Cube Agree GTC
Resplendent in red and white, Cube’s Agree GTC isn’t in any way a shrinking violet. It’s not at all performance-enhancing, but we do like the bar tape that changes colour halfway down the drops. There’s more to a good bike than its looks though, and under its warpaint the Agree certainly delivers.
Frame and fork
When we pulled the Agree out of its box, rear wheel first, we thought for a moment that we’d got a steel bike by mistake – the first bits we saw were the pencil-thin seatstays. The Agree is a fine example of the increasingly popular “fat underneath, thin on top” school of carbon fibre frame design, with a high-volume bottom half – to remain stiff under power – and a slender upper half – to help maintain comfort levels.
Cube has used an 86.5mm wide bottom bracket shell for a Shimano press-fit bottom bracket, and it’s taken full advantage of the width to push the down-tube out as far as possible – it’s actually rectangular in cross section at the bottom bracket. Heading forwards, the down-tube meets a 1.125in-1.5in tapered head tube to accommodate the friendlier handling of the tapered fork, while deep chainstays head aft. There’s lots of volume around the BB shell, too.
The top-tube tapers to a flattened oval as it approaches the seat-tube, merging into those skinny seatstays. Only the rear brake cable is run internally routed, with the gear cables following a traditional external route. Cube has opted to use in-line barrel adjusters on the gear cables rather than adding them to the cable stops. The fork is a carbon unit with gently curved blades and smooth integration with the head-tube.
Cube has kept things simple with the spec – the Agree has Shimano Tiagra throughout. The latest 10-speed generation of Tiagra is good stuff, with light, accurate shifting. The levers don’t feel as solid as the 105s that some bikes can muster at this price, and Tiagra still has exposed gear cables, but it does a perfectly sound job. The Cube’s Tiagra brakes are rather more convincing than the non-Shimano units found elsewhere, too.
The wheel package includes Fulcrum 77 wheels shod with 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres. Slightly bigger tyres are becoming increasingly popular, but it’s still quite a brave choice on an aspiring race bike. They’re fine by us, though – for most purposes a tiny bit more tyre volume works well.
All the finishing kit is Cube’s own, with the most noteworthy piece being the Wing Race bar. It’s a conventional enough compact shape, but the tops are flattened into an ‘aero’ section. With brake cables under the tape as well, the tops work best if you don’t grip too hard – they can feel a bit fat. The shape doesn’t lend itself to fitting clip-on tri-bars either, which is well worth bearing in mind if you’re wanting to adopt an aero position for racing.
Cube describes the Agree’s RFR geometry as “relaxed and comfortable”, but it’s got the shortest head-tube in the test and the back end is tucked well in too – it’s much more a race-style bike than a sportive cruiser. The compact bars mean that the riding position isn’t crazily aggressive, but it’s easier to get low and aero than on the taller bikes such as the Specialized Roubaix for example.
It’s also easy to pick up speed – the Agree weighs well under 9kg and all that volume in the bottom half of the frame gives it a mighty kick when you put the power down. The big tubes running all the way from the headset to the rear axle make the Cube highly resistant to twist, and even if you’re not one for sprinting, you’ll benefit from the accurate tracking and positive handling.
The clever bit is that it’s supple on cruddy roads, something of which there’s no shortage of supply. There are a couple of obvious component choices that help – those 25mm tyres are immediately more compliant than 23s, and Cube has opted for a traditional 27.2mm seatpost that gives significantly more bum-saving flex than the larger-diameter items often found on modern bikes. It’s not all in the components, though. You can pump the tyres up hard and it’s still smooth, and a skinny seatpost doesn’t do anything when you’re standing up.
Somewhere between those slender stays, flattened top-tube and Cube’s carbon layup, road vibrations all but disappear and even carelessly tackled potholes result in more of a whump than a thud. The Agree has a great blend of rush and cush.
+ Superb balance between stiffness and comfort
+ Low front end makes it easy to get low
– Flat-topped bars aren’t great for clip-on aerobars
– Spec is good but not outstanding for the money