�The Cube Aim SL ticks boxes on spec and comfort and dealt with standard cross country with no fuss. A well-thought-out Sunday bike ride package.�
Cube are a comparatively young company in the bike manufacture game, but have quickly become established as a brand who deliver high quality and components at a competitive price. A good measure of a brand's kit-to-price ratio is their hardtail MTB range. Despite the meteoric rise of road cycling, it appears everyone still loves a semi-decent hardtail in the shed - for mucking about on in the winter, or with the family. But can you make a good bike for a keen price?
The Cube Aim SL is made with the well-proven 6061 aluminium, mechanically formed to draw the tubes into thinner walls with butting for strength where needed. You can also get internal cabling, which at this price point is a nice touch. The Geometry edges more towards the relaxed side of riding, which again for the price is understandable. Rarely are XC racers on the hunt for a sub £550 bike, but for the leisure and family riders who just want to get out there and have fun, it's a great match. It also has an easy mount for a kickstand - the embodiment of German practicality.
The drive train is full Shimano, including the chainset, and gives you 8 speed shifting with an Altus rear mech. Hydraulic Shimano brakes take care of stopping and the SR Suntour XCT front fork gives you 100mm of travel. Compared with Specialized's comparative offering, with mechanical disc brakes, the Aim looks pretty good. The Cube is £25 more, but that's a significant upgrade for the money. The Fork gives you 100mm upfront (80mm on a lot of other bikes out there), which is more than enough to take the hits from a XC ride out, and it also gives you a remote lockout. Winner.
The Aim SL (like most of Cube's ranges) gives you the option of either 27.5� or 29� wheels. It's down to you which you prefer, but your overall height, or where you ride, will probably affect your decision. Either way, you get a Cube own brand rim. No wheel set at this price is going to set your world alight but they're round, and sturdy enough for what the bike is designed to do. The Hubs are a set of Shimano HB-RM33s. Shimano is a by word for smooth and reliable and will do the trick but the bearings, as is often the case at this price point, aren't sealed. So, it's worth keeping them greased and check the cones over once in a while. Both wheels are a standard QR.
I opted for the 29� wheel as a ride around Grafham is mainly fast XC. As predicted the riding position veered towards upright and comfortable. A quick ride down a well concealed piece of singletrack tested the bike. When it hit speed on the tight, down pointing turns between trees the riding position put centre of gravity too high to really pull it through. Back on the flat wide tracks in the woods and around the water the ride was stable and commanding enough to build a decent speed and glide it nicely round corners. At the end of ten miles of XC riding I felt pretty comfortable and could easily go another ten.
�It's not a trail centre ride, but at this price what is? As a leisure bike it ticks boxes on spec and comfort and dealt with standard cross country with no fuss. A well-thought-out Sunday bike ride package.�
Without wanting to adhere to stereo types the Aim SL is a German bike, everything about it is functional and efficient. No jazzy paint work and no ridiculously high spec individual piece of componentry to make you jump for your wallet. There is nothing peculiar on this bike, the back end won't suddenly step out and it will only ever skid in a straight line. But it will do everything you would expect an XC MTB to do and it will do it exceptionally well for the money paid. A solid introduction to mountain biking, and even when you've moved on to glitzier things you'll always want to keep this in the stable.
FRAME Aluminium Lite, AMF, Internal Cable Routing, Easy Mount Kickstand ready
SIZE 14", 16", 18", 20"
FORK SR Suntour XCM RL Disc 29", Remote Lockout, 100mm
HEADSET CUBE No. 10 semi-integrated
STEM Level 9, 31.8mm
HANDLEBAR Level 9 Riser Bar, 660mm
GRIPS CUBE Performance Grips
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Acera RD-M390, 8-Speed
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Altus FD-M313-M6, Downswing, 31,8mm
SHIFTERS Shimano Altus SL-M310, Rapidfire-Plus
BRAKE SYSTEM Shimano BR-M355, Hydr. Disc Brake (160/160)
CRANKSET Shimano FC-M311, 42x32x22T, 170mm
CASSETTE Shimano CS-HG200, 12-32
CHAIN KMC Z7
RIMS CUBE SX, Disc
FRONT HUB Shimano HB-RM33
REAR HUB Shimano FH-RM33
TIRES Schwalbe Smart Sam Active, 2.1"
PEDALS CUBE PP MTB
SADDLE CUBE Active 1.1
SEAT POST Level 9 Post, 27.2mm
SEATCLAMP RFR Varioclose 31.8mm