£ Wireless SRAM Red on a pro-level Litening aero frame
Weight 7.54kg (56cm) Frame Cube Litening C:68X Gears SRAM Red eTap AXS Brakes SRAM Red eTap AXS Wheels Mavic Cosmic SLR 45 Disc Finishing kit ICR Aero Cockpit System, Cube Nuance SLT Road Carbon saddle, Schwalbe Pro One TLE, 700 x 28c tyres
THE CUBE LITENING C:68X SL is the German brand’s take on the pure aero road bike. With a claimed drag reduction of 30 per cent over the previous Litening C:68 SLT Disc, Cube has flipped its racing bike design philosophy for this latest generation, moving away from a boxy, traditional design that achieved the best stiffness-toweight ratio possible, to going all-in on aerodynamic optimisations. At 7.54kg for a 56cm, it’s also impressively light, with a claimed frame weight less than a kilo. Crucially, though, the Litening C:68X SL is a bike that feels fast and exciting to ride, no matter what the numbers say. Read our Cube Litening C-68X PRO Review.
Though the geometry suggests a bike that’s only slightly more aggressive than a classic road racing bike, in practice there’s a palpable difference. Thanks to the steep 73.5-degree seat tube angle and zero-offset seatpost, the saddle position on the Cube ends up being higher and more forward over the bottom bracket. With 389mm of reach and 563mm of stack, the result demands you ride in an aero position (fortunately, you can run a few spacers under the stem).
Riding position aside, the Litening C:68X SL feels racy and sharp on the road. The relatively steep 73.5-degree head tube angle combines with a shortish 100mm stem to offer quick handling, well suited to flicking the bike through tight corners. Standing on the pedals, whether for steep climbs or sprints, also elicits a snappy response with no detectable flex. In high winds, however, sudden gusts can catch the Cube’s front rim to translate into unwanted steering inputs.
The Litening C68:X SL’s finishing kit is largely well thought out. The only miss for me is the Cube Nuance SLT Road Carbon saddle, which, despite it being well made and pretty light (170g), I didn’t find that comfortable. Cube’s own proprietary integrated cockpit has a strikingly flattened stem and handlebar tops that present a minimal frontal area to the wind. While stock bikes come with a predetermined stem length and handlebar width, other options are available separately.
Stem lengths run from 90 to 130mm in 10mm increments, with bar widths of 400, 420 and 440mm. Most riders should therefore be able to find a pairing that suits, but the range doesn’t cater for those whose requirements differ. The lack of an option under 400mm could be a deal-breaker for fans of narrow bars, as the frameset is only compatible with this cockpit.
The Cube Litening C:68X SL is specced with a SRAM Red eTap AXS groupset. Though its front shifting performance is bettered by Shimano’s Dura-Ace R9200 and Ultegra R8170 Di2 groupsets, the difference is minimal and AXS gets the job done with minimal fuss. Elsewhere, drivetrain performance is excellent, with quick and reliable rear shifts, and a smooth gear progression even on the wide-ranging 10-33T cassette. Though it means more batteries, it’s hard not appreciate the elegance of SRAM’s wireless system. The excellent hydraulic disc brakes also offer fantastic stopping power.
“The Litening feels racy and sharp on the road, and standing on the pedals elicits a snappy response with no detectable flex”
The competitively light 1,470g Mavic Cosmic SLR 45 Disc wheelset is a highquality option. It has 45mm deep rims, with 26mm external and 19mm internal widths. That’s fairly conservative by recent standards, with the best road wheels trending towards wider rim widths that can offer improved aerodynamic performance with larger tyres. The 19mm internal width poses no issues, but the edges of the 700 x 28c tyres do bulge beyond the width of the rims, which likely hurts aero performance. You could size down to 25c for maximum aero performance, but that’d come with a comfort hit away from smooth roads. Cube has specced Schwalbe’s Pro One TLE tyres, among the best tubeless tyres for speed, grip, comfort and puncture protection.
Whether you can match your bike fit to the sizes of the integrated cockpit is a potential issue, but otherwise there’s little to complain about. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap, but the Cube is competitively priced compared to similarly specced competitors. I’m also thrilled to see Cube has abandoned the drab matt-black-dominated paint jobs in favour of brighter options.
Verdict A fast and exciting aero road bike at Cube’s usual very attractive price
• A little more…
Cube Litening C:68X SLT £
If you’d rather have Shimano gears than SRAM, then this build, which features the latest 12-speed Dura-Ace Di2 R9200 electronic groupset, could be the one for you.
• A lot less…
Cube Litening C:68X PRO £
If dropping a hefty £ in price while adding only around 300g appeals to you, then Cube’s SRAM Force eTap AXSequipped Litening C:68X PRO will be right up your street.
Feels fast; excellent spec for the money; reactive handling; lightweight
Proprietary integrated handlebar might not be to everyone’s taste