Cube's Nuroad platform was launched in 2012 as a multi-use, all-road machine but has since morphed into a full range containing some of the best gravel bikes out there. The Bavarian brand has an enormous range of bikes available, and this particular one is at the top of their racy gravel section, with other models covering all road and even commuter-orientated builds.
The model I had on test is actually a 2022 model, but the 2023 version is identical in everything bar the color, which is now olive green and not the gray you see in my pictures, and a name change from SL to SLX. Cube has been well-known for great specs and competitive prices for some time but has lagged a bit behind in geometry trends compared to some brands, so how does this one stack up?
Design and geometry
I rode a medium, which, strangely, Cube classed as 56cm. This initially threw me off when looking at the geo charts as I'm usually on a 53 or 54cm bike, but after checking the numbers it was the right size. With a stack of 578mm and a reach of 389mm, it was a good fit for me. Length-wise, it was just right. If I rode without spacers, the height was perfect, too. It's worth noting, though, that at 5'9", I was at the bottom end of the medium sizing, so it would fit taller riders than myself quite easily. Those shorter will be better served with the 53cm.
The head angle is 71.5 degrees and is matched to a seat tube angle of 73.5 – this is a good combination of front-end stability and a comfortable riding position when combined with its wheelbase figure of 1,041mm – not too stretched-out race feeling, but not too upright either. It has an inline seatpost and a short nose saddle, which gives the feeling of the seat angle being steeper than it is, which should suit anyone crossing over from a trail MTB and helps open the hip angle for those riding in a more aggressive position.
The frame has an angular, efficient look, and with its light gray matt finish with minimal graphics, it's a classy-looking bike. Cube says the frame weighs 1,100g, and the full bike weighed in at 8.35kg on my scales – which is very competitive at this price point, especially with a wide-range MTB cassette and without a super fancy set of carbon wheels.
The frame is made using Cube’s advanced twin mold process it uses on all of its top-end carbon frames. It uses an internal and external mold to create the frame shapes, which, to be honest, sounds just like most brands' carbon frame production methods. That said, it's a well-finished frame with neat brake mounts and bearing surfaces. Such details are a sign of a well-sorted product and not one that has been rushed through a factory.
The top and down tubes are square with a rounded edge and joined at a beefy but not cumbersome-looking head tube. Up front, the fork continues the clean look with straight legs and dual mounting points for a mudguard or front luggage. The bottom bracket area is reassuringly solid looking, with dropped chainstays that help to give the Nuroad plenty of room for decent-width gravel tires up to 45mm wide. The dropped seatstays are slim and feature a square profile similar to the main tubes, and they meet below the seat clamp. This gives the top section of the seat tube and post more room to flex, which increases comfort. It is all finished off with a neat seat clamp that looks like an integrated unit but is, in fact, a normal type clamp holding a round 27.2mm seatpost and not a potentially awkward internal wedge design.
All cables are internally routed through head tube ports. No headset cable routing here! The build I had on test had a SRAM wireless transmission, so it was only the brake hose that fed through the frame with no noises or rattling during testing, but with blanked-out ports, you could easily convert it to a cable or wired setup should you wish.
In keeping with its racier intentions, the Nuroad is not packed with mounting points, with fixing points for two bottle cages and fork mounts alongside front and rear mudguards. I'd like to have seen some top tube mounting points for a bento box or bag, but this wasn't a deal breaker. In fact, the lack of holes in the frame goes a long way to giving it its sleek aesthetic.
Components and build
The SRAM Rival groupset with a GX rear derailleur was flawless throughout testing, with solid, reliable shifts at all times, regardless of conditions or badly timed gear changes. I also liked the bigger lever hoods of the AXS shifters. They provide plenty of grip, especially on technical sections. The gearing is wonderfully low, too, with a 40t chainring on the forged alloy rank matched to a wide range 10-51t cassette more usually specced on a mountain bike. SRAM somewhat confusingly refers to having a mountain bike rear mech matched to a road shifter as a mullet setup. Whatever the terminology, I loved the super-wide range, especially on rough climbs with the extra weight of bags and kit when bikepacking. The 40t chainring never felt too low on the road, either. The 10t sprocket on the rear is a surprisingly big gear, and I never felt like I was spinning out, even on fast road rides.
It comes with Cube's brand Newmen Evolution SL X.R.25 wheels fitted. They are a lightweight low-profile wheelset with straight pull spokes and an inner diameter of 25mm, which provide ample support for decent-width gravel tires. It has excellent WTB Riddler tires in a 45mm width, which worked well in all but the muddiest conditions. They come set up ready for tubeless but with tubes fitted. They ship this way to prevent mishaps from leaking sealant in transit. Having received bikes with a sealant disaster where it looks like a seagull has left a mess all over your bike before, I was fine to receive the bike this way, and converting it to tubeless was a straightforward task. Still, as Cube deals with bike shops, you can always ask your retailer to convert it for you.
Bars are Easton's excellent EC70 AX Carbon Gravel Bar. They are wide at 45cm at the lever hood and flare gently to 52cm at the drops. They are covered in Cube's own thin rubberized grip tape, which, although not that thick, was grippy and comfy. I think a lot of this was due to the inherent damping properties of the carbon bar, which even has some neat little scoops near the stem to rest your thumbs in when climbing with your hands on the tops near the stem.
The seatpost is another own brand item, the Newmen Advanced. It's an inline carbon seatpost in 27.2, with a Nuance SLT short nose saddle with carbon rails. I liked the saddle, and it has just enough padding and support without feeling too harsh. I sometimes find shorter saddles lack support on longer rides, but this worked well for me and suited the intentions of the bike, though, of course, saddles are a very personal choice.
Ride and performance
The Nuroad is a fast ride, but at no point did it feel rushed or edgy. Instead, I'd say it was a responsive but balanced bike. It was on the right side of twitchy, too. I find some gravel bikes with super-relaxed geo very dull, but there is a fine line between racy and plain scary, and Cube has got it right.
In keeping with its edgy looks, it's a stiff frame, with no discernible flex at the headtube or bottom bracket, but with clever spec choices, it remains comfortable. It doesn't have the magic carpet ride feel of the Ribble Gravel Ti Pro I recently tested, but it is far from harsh. The wide tires, shallow rims, and carbon bar all add to the bike's comfort on rough terrain.
As with all gravel bikes, a lot depends on the terrain you ride, and it performed very well on smoother and medium-sized trails. It struggled a bit when things got chunky or very steep, but that's to be expected on a racy carbon bike. If that's your normal terrain, you may be best served elsewhere. It also felt great on smoother woodland singletrack, the responsive handling lending itself well to high-speed trails. The frame angles and riding position encourages quick cornering and snappy direction changes, and its low weight makes itself felt on out-of-corner accelerations.
I loved riding the Nuroad – its feeling of controlled speed was addictive, and I found the responsive ride really enjoyable. Whenever I went out on it, I always returned with a smile; the engaging ride had me pushing it harder than I would have on a slower, more relaxed bike every time. Despite its stiff and responsive frame, though, it remained comfortable, partly due to some clever frame design as well as some well-picked spec choices that take the edge off what could possibly be a harsh ride.
It may lack some of the kudos attached to more expensive brands, but its build kit, ride, and handling make it a fantastic option for those looking for a fast bike for going the distance and the occasional adventure.
- Surface: Tarmac road to gravel and mud
- Trails: Roads, national cycle routes, fire roads, farm tracks, double tracks across moors, singletrack through woods, etc
- Weather: Late summer sunshine to 6-degree C muddy winter slogs
Tech specs: Cube Nuroad C:62 SL
- Price: $3,299 / £3,599 / €3,699
- Frame material: C:62 Advanced Twin Mold carbon
- Forks: Cube C:62 Technology, 1 1/8" - 1 1/4" Tapered, Flat Mount Disc, Fender & Lowrider Mounts
- Size: XS 50cm-XL 61cm
- Weight: 8.35kg (56cm tested)
- Wheel size: 700c
- Chainset: SRAM Rival 1 Wide, DUB, 40T
- Shifters: SRAM Rival eTap AXS
- Rear Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle AXS, 12-Speed
- Cassette: SRAM XG-1275 Eagle, 10-50T
- Brakes: SRAM Rival eTap AXS (160/160)
- Wheels: Newmen Evolution SL X.R.25
- Tires: WTB Riddler, TCS Light Rolling Fast, Kevlar, 45-622
- Bars: Easton EC70 AX Gravel, Carbon
- Stem: Cube Performance Stem SL, 31.8mm
- Saddle: Natural Fit Nuance SLT Road Carbon
- Color: Light Gray/Gray
- Rival bikes: Canyon Grail CF SL 7, Trek Checkpoint SL 6 AXS