Cube Attain GTC SL

8
£1,999.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Some slightly unusual component pairing, but it's all attached to a very good frameset
Comfortable ride
Positive and well-balanced handling
The mix of 105 and Ultegra, if you prefer to see a full groupset
Weight: 
8,770g
Contact: 

The Attain GTC SL is part of Cube's endurance range and it delivers a very good combination of comfort, both from the frameset and the geometry, and performance. It's not a bad weight either, and certainly feels responsive to your input, making it fun to ride fast as well as comfortable for longer, more sedate jaunts. I do find the mixture of Shimano Ultegra and 105 components a little odd though.

Ride

The 56cm Attain GTC SL you see here has quite a tall head tube at 182mm, and the first time I headed out on it the front end did feel a little bit upright – especially as I'd been riding much lower slung bikes like the Orro Venturi Evo 105 and Vitus Vitesse Evo Team eTap, both of which are much more race orientated.

> Find your nearest dealer here

That feeling didn't last long, though, and once I'd adapted to the Cube I was surprised how racy and fast it can be. It can maintain speed over a long period too, the relaxed position being ever so slightly easier on your lower back but still allowing for a stretched-out position on the hoods or in the drops for faster sections.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - riding 2.jpg

The handlebar has a very shallow drop, which means tucking down into them is accessible for all but the most inflexible riders and really allows you to exploit the performance on offer from the GTC SL.

With an all-in build weight of 8.77kg, the Cube is in the right sort of ballpark for the money but it does feel much more sprightly than the scales suggest.

A kick on the pedals away from the lights or when launching into a bit of a sprint sees the Attain respond well. There is plenty of stiffness around the lower section of the frame, especially around the bottom bracket area, and you feel like you are getting a decent return for your effort.

The standard Fulcrum wheels aren't the lightest, but they don't really dampen the spirit of the bike as a whole; you don't feel like you are dragging them around when really putting the power down. I did try the Cube with a set of 1,472g Hunt Carbon Aero Disc wheels, though, and boy did they highlight just how much fun and speed you can wring out of the Attain.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL.jpg

Cube has gone with a 72.5-degree head angle, which tones down the speed of the steering a touch compared to a full-on race bike. It still delivers on the fun factor, but if you aren't the most confident of bike handlers it still lets you enjoy the descents and technical sections without the feeling that you need huge levels of concentration or skill to get you through the bends.

I'm a big fan of high speed descending and on my favourite test hill, which has a little bit of everything – off-camber bends, sharp corners and wide open fast ones, which test every factor of handling – the Cube performed well, especially on the faster, sweeping corners where you just need to pick a line and let the bike go.

In the really tight, testing chicane section I would have preferred a little bit more sharpness in the steering, but on the whole it's not really anything I'd overly criticise the Attain for considering its endurance DNA.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - riding 3.jpg

The feedback through the frame and fork is really good too, which helps you know what the tyres are up to on the road's surface. You can feel if you are carrying too much speed as you enter the bend, and respond to it before you get into trouble – and even if you panic you are unlikely to massively upset the bike thanks to that neutral handling.

The fork legs are much narrower than some, and I did wonder how they were going to cope with heavy braking in the bends from high speeds, but I needn't have worried. Even when going from 50mph to a standstill as quickly as I could there was no noticeable flex in the fork and, thanks to the thru-axle, no twisting at the dropouts though the calliper is grabbing the rotor on just one side of the fork.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - fork.jpg

Topping all of this off is an impressive level of comfort from the frame tubing. It's a stiff bike, but the frame does a very good job of cancelling out any resonation from the road surface – a bit of compliance, if you like, without sacrificing overall performance.

Frame and fork

The Attain follows a common theme: larger tube sections at the front end, down tube, bottom bracket junction and through the chainstays for stiffness and power transfer, while the top tube, seat tube and especially the seatstays are all much slender to promote compliance and therefore comfort.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - seat tube junction.jpg

Cube has gone for a press-fit bottom bracket which won't please all, but to be honest over the last couple of years I've had fewer and fewer issues with creaking from water and grit ingress. One of the benefits is that with the bearings being pressed internally into the frame, the overall bottom bracket shell can be wider without affecting the distance between the pedals (the Q-factor).

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - bottom bracket.jpg

This allows a wider down tube, chainstays and base of the seat tube, which increases the cross-sectional area and therefore adds more stiffness.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - down tube detail.jpg

The bottom bracket area is actually asymmetric on the Attain. The down tube and chainstay on the non-drive side sit out wider, coming out as close as possible to the crank without getting in the way. The other side is stepped back to give clearance for the chainset.

As is commonplace these days, the Cube has full internal cable and hose routing for cleanliness and that really does highlight all of the cool lines of the various tube profiles. It really is a boxy but interesting looking frame that still manages to flow at the intersections.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - head tube.jpg

I also like the matt red finish – it highlights the angles without making them look too harsh, and it's hardwearing too, although I'm not too sure about the orange decals... they're a bit of a clash for my eyes. It's also available in Carbon/White too.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - top tube decal.jpg

The Attain comes with 28mm rubber fitted as standard and I'd say that is about the biggest it'll take, especially if you are using a wide rim. But to be honest I don't see any reason to go wider on what is essentially a high-speed road bike.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - clearance.jpg

Groupset

Back in the day, to make a bike look a bit more expensive many companies would upgrade the rear mech to the level above. Bunging a 105 mech on a Tiagra-equipped bike gave you something to aspire to.

That sort of disappeared, though, along with FSA having a bit of a monopoly on chainsets fitted to bikes as original equipment, which helped calm my issues about everything not looking the same.

Here, though, Cube has reverted and gone for a mix, speccing the GTC SL with Shimano 105 R7020 STIs and brake callipers

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - lever.jpg
2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - rear disc brake.jpg

and an Ultegra R8000 chainset and front and rear mechs.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - front mech.jpg
2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - rear mech.jpg

I'm guessing it's a cost-cutting exercise – and Ultegra and 105 disc brakes are very similar – but to me it's an odd pairing that just doesn't look right. I appreciate I might be in the minority here, but although it's great to have the Ultegra parts, for the money I'd be happy to have a full 105 groupset for a more harmonious theme.

> Read our complete guide to Shimano road groupsets

Thankfully, both the 105 shifters and the Ultegra components are top notch. Using the 105 shifters and brakes alongside Ultegra – which I am pretty much always able to because of the number of bikes I test a month – I can detect the slightly sharper and quicker shifting you get from the latter. In isolation, though, you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference, and on the Cube you get precise gear shifts with a defining click as the chain skips across the sprockets and chainrings.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - drop bar and lever.jpg

Gearing-wise Cube has gone for a compact 50/34-tooth chainset and an 11-32-tooth cassette. It's a slightly lower range than you'd find on a race machine but a welcome one for the riding the Attain is intended for. Those couple of extra bailout gears mean you can stay seated for a bit longer on the climbs and conserve a bit of energy.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - drivetrain.jpg

Braking performance from the 105 levers and callipers is good. You know the drill – plenty of stopping power and modulation. It really is true, though. All of Shimano's hydraulic braking systems give you so much control, especially in the wet, and if you manage to lock the front up in anything but icy conditions you need to lay off the grip strength exercises.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - front disc brake.jpg

The SM-RT54-S 160mm rotors don't quite offer the same amount of bite as their Ice-Tech stablemates found on more expensive setups, but it is a minimal difference unless you are really hauling on the anchors.

Finishing kit

As for the rest of the kit, it's all Newman Evolution, with matching orange decals and made from aluminium alloy.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - stem.jpg

The handlebar is ever so slightly wing shaped, and while it's nothing to really set your pulse alight it works well. I like the shape, and it certainly has plenty of stiffness without feeling overly harsh, helped a bit by the Cube Grip Control bar tape.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - bars 1.jpg

For this sort of money I'd like to see a carbon seatpost; it doesn't affect comfort as much as some think, but it looks a little classier. The alloy post here does the job, though: it didn't slip and it's easy to adjust.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - rear.jpg

Stubby saddles have become very popular, but it's rare to see one as standard on an off-the-peg bike. The Cube Natural Fit Nuance Lite is just 240mm long and I loved the shape. I found the padding pretty much spot on too: not too soft, yet not too firm, as Goldilocks would say.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - saddle 2.jpg

Wheels and tyres

Fulcrum makes some good wheels – often not the lightest or the cheapest, but durable and always delivering on ride quality. The Racing 77 DBs fitted to the Attain have a shallow alloy rim and a pretty weighty build, with 28 spokes front and rear. They never put a foot wrong when it came to taking plenty of abuse on crappy road surfaces.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - rim.jpg

They use Fulcrum's two-way fit system, so are tubeless ready.

Tyre-wise Cube has gone with Continental's Grand Sport Race, in a 28mm width.

Continental offers a quality range of tacky compounds, found even on its entry-level tyres. The Grand Sport Races offer a decent amount of grip in the bends, even in the wet, making for plenty of confidence in the corners or when taking roundabouts at speed.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - tyre.jpg

Rolling resistance is a bit average, so an upgrade along with some lighter wheels will really unlock the performance of the Attain.

As for durability, they can't really be knocked. In about 800 miles of testing they haven't picked up a single mark or show any signs of wear.

Value

At £1,999, the Attain GTC SL isn't bad money compared with some similar options.

I really liked the Orro Pyro Evo 105 Hydro, which had a very similar ride feel to the Cube – fun, easy to live with while delivering on the performance front, and comfortable too. It's 100 quid cheaper than the Cube, but you aren't getting the Ultegra components, and the Orro is a fair bit weightier at 9.2kg.

> Buyer’s Guide: 21 of the best bikes for long, fast endurance rides

Another similar riding and handling machine is the Lapierre Pulsium SL 500 Disc. It's a really comfortable endurance machine that also deserves a lighter set of wheels. It comes with a full 105 groupset, but the price is a bit higher at £2,199.

Conclusion

Overall, my groupset-mixing reservations aside, I really like the ride quality and the handling of the Attain GTC SL. Cube has delivered a really good frameset that's relaxed enough in its geometry that you can really tap out the miles, but if you have one of those days when you really want to get out and just smash it about it'll also deliver the fun factor.

2020 Cube Attain GTC SL - front.jpg

Verdict

Some slightly unusual component pairing, but it's all attached to a very good frameset

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Cube Attain GTC SL 2020

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Cube lists:

FRAME

GTC Monocoque Twin Mold Technology, Flat Mount Disc, Road Comfort Geometry, AXH, 12x142mm

SIZE

50, 53, 56, 58, 60, 62

FORK

CUBE CSL Race Disc, Full Carbon, Flat Mount, 1 1/8" - 1 1/4" Tapered, 12x100mm

HEADSET

FSA I-t, Top Integrated 1 1/8", Bottom Integrated 1 1/4"

STEM

Newmen Evolution 318.4, 31.8mm

HANDLEBAR

Newmen Evolution Wing Bar

REAR DERAILLEUR

Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000-DGS, 11-Speed

FRONT DERAILLEUR

Shimano Ultegra FD-R8000-BM, 31.8mm Clamp

BRAKE SYSTEM

Shimano 105 BR-R7070, Hydr. Disc Brake, Flat Mount (160/160)

CRANKSET

Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000, Hollowtech II, 50x34T, 170mm (50/53cm), 172.5mm (56/58cm), 175mm (60/62cm)

CHAIN

Shimano CN-HG600-11

COLOUR

red n orange

HANDLEBAR TAPE

CUBE Grip Control

SHIFT/ BRAKE LEVERS

Shimano 105 ST-R7020

CASSETTE

Shimano CS-R7000, 11-32T

WHEELSET

Fulcrum Racing 77 DB

TYRES

Conti Grand Sport Race SL, 28-622

SADDLE

Natural Fit Nuance Lite

SEAT POST

Newmen Evolution, 27.2mm

SEATCLAMP

CUBE Screwlock, 31.8mm

Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Cube says, "The Attain GTC SL is a masterpiece of both aesthetics and function, even if we do say so ourselves. A high-performance race bike in its own right, it combines the sublime comfort of a high-tech carbon frame with the speed-enhancing safety of the latest in disc brake technology. The ultimate high-speed endurance machine? We like to think so. Shimano's peerless Ultegra gears, compact and elegant 105 disc brakes and a Fulcrum Racing 77 wheelset blend the taut, elegant and surprisingly comfortable carbon frame to make a consummate long-distance mile-muncher. Carbon fork blades and deliberately slender seat stays help filter out harsh vibrations from rough road surfaces, while 12mm axles front and rear combined with a tapered head tube and cross-ovalised down tube ensure that all your effort goes into propelling you forward - and that the powerful brakes can bring you quickly and safely to a stop, whatever the weather. Efficiency, comfort and performance: it's all in the Attain GTC SL's genes."

I think Cube has delivered the bike it set out to design. The frameset is really good and balances that blend of performance versus comfort well which is important for an endurance machine.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

This is the top end of the Attain range. Below it sits the GTC Race, SL, Race and Pro which are all disc equipped. The standard Attain is rim braked – you can read our test of it here.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The quality is very good; there is a smooth transition from each tube and the paint takes plenty of abuse.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

The frame and fork are both carbon fibre. Cube doesn't give away many details though.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The head tube is quite tall, which gives a position that is a touch more relaxed than a race bike, while the head angle is relaxed which gives neutral steering.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

This 56cm model has a stack of 591mm and a reach of 385mm, pretty typical for this style of bike in this size.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yes, the frame has been well designed and really delivers impressive comfort levels.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Cube has focused on the bottom bracket area which really delivers plenty of stiffness.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

It's held back a little by the heavy wheels but on the whole, thanks to the stiffness of the frameset and the weight, it does feel efficient.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The handling is well balanced. It's right where it needs to be for this type of bike: quick enough to be fun but neutral enough to help if you aren't a confident descender.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I liked the short saddle, striking a good balance on the padding front.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

You can't fault the Shimano Ultegra chainset when it comes to stiffness.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

I'd upgrade the wheels and tyres to really exploit the performance of the frameset.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

A bit of a mixture but, aesthetics aside, everything worked well.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

Decent enough wheelset but their weight does limit the performance of the Cube.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

Decent grip and rolling resistance from what is an entry-level tyre.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

All-round decent performance from the components. I'd like to see a carbon seatpost for this money but it's not exactly a deal breaker.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

If the mixing of groupsets doesn't bother you then you are getting some Ultegra components on the Cube that you don't get with the Orro and Lapierre mentioned in the review, which are similar money.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

The heart of any bike is its frameset and this is where the Cube delivers. The ride quality is great and the performance matches that so, while I'd question a few of the component choices, as a whole the Attain GTC SL is a very good bike if you want to go fast in relative comfort.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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