We review the Cube Agree GTC SL road bike
Cube Agree GTC SL
Cube’s Agree GTC has been a high value all-round stalwart for several years and it’s both better equipped and cheaper for 2014. Can it compete with the best of the latest bikes when it comes to effervescent feel though?
Frame and fork
The Agree GTC SL frame has been gradually evolved over time and it’s now a really well proven piece of composite engineering. Actually to be precise it’s two pieces, as Cube uses a Twin Mold technology to make sure each half of the mainframe is laid up as accurately as possible and that all excess heavy resin is squeezed out of the structure during manufacture.
It’s totally up to date in terms of features too. Cube’s own-brand full carbon tapered fork uses a tapered steerer from 1.5in at the bottom to 1.125in at the top to give crisp and accurate steering.
At the far end you get the seemingly inevitable tapered to flat in the centre seatstays that act as a badge of the distance friendly club. The bottom bracket is a press-fit style that can take any axle size should you decide to change from the conventional 24mm Shimano spindle bearings it comes with.
Gear and brake cabling is internal and different covers on the cable ports tucked aerodynamically into the spine of the down-tube can be configured for either electrical or mechanical shifting.
While the frame is tidy and well put together, it’s undoubtedly the kit that is the biggest gain from choosing the Cube. Complete Shimano Ultegra 6800 transmission would be coup enough due to its featherlight shifting across 22 closely spaced gears, but you also get Ultegra’s excellent powerful but feedback-rich symmetrical dual pivot brakes too.
The slotted red hub, straight-pull spoked DT Swiss wheels feel good and look even better while the Schwalbe Ones are some of the best performance tyres around. A quick check of the tyres’ folding edges shows Cube aren’t playing their previous top-quality-carcass-on-heavy-steel-bead cost cutting tricks anymore either.
German lightweight performance specialists Syntace provide the crisply detailed, distinctively back-swept bar and stem and Cube’s seatpost is a Syntace copy too. Even the bolted seat clamp and the two tone bar tape on the compact bend bars looks super clean and suggests a much more expensive price tag. Top kit also takes complete bike weight below the 8kg mark at 7.98kg.
As well as the low weight, the compact nature of the Cube is obvious straight away, with our 56cm sample matching a 54cm frame such as the Scott Solace in top-tube length and, despite a more relaxed seat-tube, it’s fractionally shorter in reach due to less seatpost layback.
The backward swept top section of the Syntace bars looks weird at first, but the way it puts the bar under the heel of your palm is actually really comfortable for relaxed riding. While the lower bar might make it less suitable to stiff backed riders, it also drops weight lower over the front wheel. Add an accurate feeling fork, relatively slack 72-degree head-tube and the excellent Schwalbe One tyres, and it’s a very reassuring bike to push through dirty winter corners and technical descents on.
The Ultegra brakes need treating with care at first but the extra power and control are great to have on hand once you’re used to them and the trustworthy tyres let you take a bit more liberty with late braking and entry speeds.
It’s certainly not a barge though; the short wheelbase keeps it snappy and agile when it comes to changing lines. The DT Swiss wheels are usefully sharp and responsive if you’re chopping around through pothole patches or in a pack of random riders.
Dodging the big holes is a wise precaution too; the frame and the long length of exposed seat-tube and flat-topped bars screen out some buzz and rumble, but there’s more chatter than some of the competition on properly rough surfaces.
The Schwalbe One tyres are proper top quality though, underlining the ride with a very smooth, clean-rolling feel on smoother surfaces. Low complete bike and wheel weight combine with smaller jumps between the ratios on the 11-speed cassette to make it easy to sustain a smooth cadence on rolling terrain.
In a drag race sprint or hill climb and you can sense a slight dullness through the pedals, but it’s certainly no slouch on climbs or kicking out of corners.
+ Outstanding value Ultegra, DT Swiss, Syntace and Schwalbe kit
+ Light and agile compact frameset creates enthusiastic ride character
– Low slung, relatively firm frame won’t suit stiff-backed riders
– Dull drive feel when you’re really cranking hills hard or sprinting