Cube Peloton Race – first look

Here’s our ‘first look’ at the 2013 Cube Peloton Race.

One of the trends we noted at Eurobike was the ever more affordable pricing of aluminium bikes, to a point where we suspect a machine sufficiently economical to be ridden through winter without replacement parts costing a packet will also have the performance for summer duties.

We’ve chosen to review the aformentioned Cube, but the German concern was far from the only manufacturer at Eurobike with an aluminium framed, carbon forked offering equipped with a Shimano 105 transmission, and a price tag circa £1,000 (the Cube Peloton Race retails at £1,079). Away from Eurobike, Trek have introduced a £1,000 Madone 2.1, with, yup, an aluminium frame and a (mostly) Shimano 105 drivetrain.

Cube Peloton Race – side view

It wasn’t so long ago that such a machine would have cost significantly more. With carbon fibre, still many people’s first choice, becoming ever more affordable, manufacturers have had to lower the price of their aluminium offerings. This trend strikes us as positive, but the proof will be in the riding and the riding we’ll be doing will be aboard the Cube Peloton Race. Let’s take a closer look.

The frame is fashioned from 6061 series aluminium. Its double butted tubing tapers to half-thickness as it journeys from the tube junction. The cables are internally routed, disappearing neatly into the down tube (gear cables) and top tube (rear brake).

Cube bill the geometry across the Peloton range as ‘Ready For Race’ (RFR). There’s nothing on paper to suggest an overtly aggressive geometry, but we’ll clock up some miles before passing judgment.

What we can say at this early stage is that the Peloton Race feels low, an impression created visually by  the sloping top tube, but borne out by our short time aboard it. Our tape measure agreed with the 53cm sticker, but it feels like a much smaller bike. This impression doesn’t emanate from the front end, where a 140mm headtube is another nod to contemporary carbon machinery (Trek’s H2-fit Madone 7 has an identically sized headtube in its 52cm incarnation, for example), but in all other areas, it feels smaller than every other machine of similar measurement we’ve ridden this year. Curious.

The design is informed by the latest trends in carbon manufacture. The head tube tapers from 1.5″ to 1-1/8″, affording the use of a larger lower bearing for a stiffer construction. The slim, ovalised seat stays are another design standard on many carbon offerings, as is the broad, flat-topped top tube and sizable downtube.

Some modern aluminium frames have smooth welds, affording them the appearance (from a distance at least) of carbon. That’s not the case here, but will perhaps have given Cube money to spend elsewhere on the bike.

A carbon bladed fork should absorb some of the road chatter, as well as offering a weight reduction over an equivalent aluminium unit. The carbon ends at the blades, sadly (a fork with a carbon steerer would offer more the advantages just described) but to expect a full carbon fork at this price point is unrealistic.

The specification for a machine of this price is excellent. Cube deviate from a full Shimano 105 groupset only at the brake calipers, which are Shimano’s BR-R561. Elsewhere, the kit is from Easton (EA30 wheels, absurdly shaped bars, stem, and seat post) and Selle Italia (a Cube-logoed X1 saddle).

The star of the specification show, however, is the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX rubber. The tyres supplied here are stamped with small Cube logos, but if they’re of the same compound and construction as aftermarket covers bearing the same legend, Cube have equipped an affordable bike with a £50 tyre set – a refreshing change.

We placed the Peloton Race on the scale and recorded a weight of exactly 20lbs (just over nine kilograms) with LOOK Keo Classics attached; an impressive weight for an aluminium steed.

Check back soon for a full review.

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