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Cube Axial WLS GTC Pro 2013

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£979.99 , save 25% Cube Axial WLS GTC Pro Ladies Road Bike 2017
from Chain Reaction Cycles
RRP £1,299 View specs
Tested by Claire Maxted

Review

The first thing you notice about this bike, before you even start riding, is the brilliant value for money. With high quality components, wheels and a carbon frame for only £1399, you are hard pushed to find a bike that compares without seeing the price hike up to £500 for a Scott Contessa CR1 Team (£1900) or a Specialized Amira Elite (£1800). The Xenith Comp from the less well known American brand Jamis comes close at £1,490 but can't boast the same level of finishing touches such as an Ultegra rear derailleur or internally routed rear brake cable.

Overall the ride is smooth with nippy, very responsive steering. Much of the road buzz is absorbed by the carbon frame and fork while stiffness is maintained by the oversized down tube, chunky chain stays and press-fit BB71 bottom bracket so that it is a pleasure to ride on the UK's shamefully weather-smashed roads. The Axial is also rammed full of specifically womanly features, yet manages not to be pink, which is always refreshing, and these reveal themselves subtly as you ride.

Firstly, the stem is slightly shorter for a woman's reach, although women with longer arms may just have to change it for a longer one! I found the reach on the 53cm sized frame perfect for my 5ft7 height and non-monkey-like arms. Next up while we assess the front of the bike, Cube say the levers are slightly closer to the bars, but when I was down on the drops I could have done with them being just 1cm closer still - I could only just reach them with the tips of two fingers outstretched.

And while we're on the subject of getting low in the drops for racing the odd car on the way to work, or getting out of the relentless Cambridgeshire wind, I could have done with each side of the handlebar being 3cm longer. The rest of the aerodynamically-shaped handle bars were very comfy, complete with gel inserts for extra padding, but on the drops the side of my palm was right on the edge, which wasn't as comfy as other bikes I've ridden, and it put me off using them. For long rides, sportives and races I'd definitely replace this with a longer drop handlebar despite the obvious extra weight that would entail.

From there however, the story gets sweeter, as the rest of the features are positively brilliant. The crank length is shorter (170mm) to take into account shorter legs, and the Selle Italia X1 Lady saddle is wider for a women's behind which makes it comfier. The wheels and tyres are the very light, grippy, high quality Mavic Aksion System and they perform well in a wide range of conditions from wet and greasy to hot and dry.

The frame is Cube's Gran Turismo Modular Fiber Tech Monocoque carbon fibre, the same as the men's but the geometry is slightly different to allow a lower standover height so that your centre of gravity is lower, and therefore safer, when you stand up out of the pedals. Cube also use Twin Mold technology to control the thickness of the frame wall, making it thicker on high stress areas.

The Shimano 105 shifters, front derailleur and cassette with Ultegra rear derailleur offer smooth and reliable shifting while the Shimano BR-R561 brakes worked admirably in all conditions experienced during the test, including minus temperatures and driving rain. It also has a triple chainset (ratio of 50, 39, 30) so riding and racing in the hilly Peaks and Lakes is also far more appealing with a granny ring to drop into when riding get really steep.

All in all this is a brilliant value, light carbon-framed women's bike with good components that are easily upgraded if necessary. It's great for sportives, races and anything that requires a bit of nippy cornering. For a first carbon-framed bike, you couldn't have a better option, ladies.

At a glance

Verdict A brilliant value, lightweight carbon, women’s specific bike with good components ideal for training and racing.
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