Leaves are starting to fall, it’s regularly raining cats and dogs and we are stocking up on winter clothes. The positive side? The cyclocross season is starting! Us Belgians have a particular relation with pedaling and running through the mud for an hour and somehow enjoying it – as do the spectators watching races eating fries and drinking beer. Not much cyclocross racing going on in Finland but most certainly plenty of mud and slush (the melting snow variation) to be conquered. In February 2009 I bought my Cube X-Comp (1250 €) and started my winter training rides. Read: put on 3 layers of clothes, bike an hour, reheat with a coffee, bike another hour and end up at home with frozen feet.
The X-Comp has an aluminium frame with a carbon fork and comes with a Shimano 105 groupset and Truvativ cranks. The wheelset is an Easton Vista SL with Racing Ralph 35c tires and a 12-27 cassette. The stem, seat post and steer are basic FSA parts (SL 280 – OS 109) and basic cantilever Shimano BRR-550 brakes (that Markus reviewed earlier). Only upgrades I made are a 42 Ritchey Pro steer (standard comes with 40 FSA), a Selle Italia Flite saddle and I also removed the double grips for the brakes on the handlebar. For winter training I switch to a nice set of Nokia W106 35C winter tires (106 spikes, and weighing about 800 grams per tire).
After test riding the bike for 3000 km in different conditions I have a pretty good idea about strengths and weaknesses: The geometry (size M, corresponding to size 56) fits pretty well for a guy 1.81m tall and allows agile handling on different surfaces. Typical for cyclocross bikes, as opposed to road racing bikes, is a longer wheelbase and a more upright riding position giving you the needed control. The Shimano 105 group derailleurs and shifters do the job very well while the weakest component are the brakes – but that most likely has partly to do with the fact that I’m used to the braking power of disc brakes on my mountain bikes.
All in all one of my best value-for-money purchases of the last years if it comes to full bikes and/or components. Cyclo cross bikes combine the speed of a road racing bike with the solidness of an MTB making it an excellent companion for commuting and winter training – Cube delivers this one in a solid good quality package without making you afraid to drown the bike in mud and sand.