It's a bit of a weighty beast, but with sensible gearing and sorted geometry the Cube Nuroad Race FE is a much more fun bike to ride than you might expect. It's comfortable, offers a smooth ride and delivers an all-round decent package for the money. Don't expect the mudguards to keep your feet dry, though.
Using the sizing from its cyclo-cross bikes and the geometry from the endurance-based Attain range, Cube has come up with a quality bike that works across a real mix of terrains without really feeling as though it is sacrificing performance or ride quality on any of them.
The main thing I liked about the Nuroad is that it is so easy to ride. On this 53cm model the head angle is a pretty slack 71 degrees which, when paired to everything else that is going on with the geometry, gives some very balanced steering; you always feel in control.
On the road, while not the fastest handling machine out there, the whole bike feels beautifully weighted and seems to offer plenty of feedback throughout so you can still push on into the bends knowing exactly what the tyres are up to.
Even on steep descents the Nuroad carved a beautiful line between the apexes, and while I wasn't carrying the same amount of speed through the corners as I would be on a race bike, I wasn't far off and it was still fun to push it a bit.
Leaving the tarmac and heading out into the wilderness, that balanced handling remains, and even though the gravel or dirt may be sliding around beneath you, that feeling of composure is still there to boost your confidence.
The 537mm top tube length found on this model is a touch shorter than I would normally ride, but I never felt cramped. Thanks to the relatively short 140mm head tube I could get a decent stretched position, and reasonably racy when I removed the spacers from under the stem to get a lower centre of gravity for stability in the bends.
For longer treks with my hands on the tops or hoods, the shorter reach meant I could sit a little more upright than normal, easing my lower back; that's a particularly good thing here because the lower gearing than you'd normally find on a road bike means you probably won't be getting out of the saddle much.
Those low gears offset the 11.68kg (25.75lb) weight pretty well too, as the Nuroad is actually quite a quick bike to cruise around on. I noticed I was about 1.5-2mph average slower on my usual roads than something like my Kinesis T2, but the Cube doesn't feel sluggish so unless you're chasing personal bests it isn't an issue. If speed is more of a concern you might be better off with the Nuroad Race, which doesn't have the added accessories of the FE and weighs about 10.2kg.
If you do need to get out of the saddle for a steep climb, you won't be disappointed when it comes to stiffness. Attacking short, sharp climbs actually found the Cube to be pretty nippy and responsive – until gravity reminds your legs that they are pushing a 12kg bike skyward.
Comfort is impressive as well. The Nuroad has quite a chunky, box-like frame and it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that the ride will be harsh, but that is far from the truth. It is actually quite refined, and even with the tyres pumped up purely for road use there is little vibration or buzz common through the contact points.
Overall, when it comes to riding around the Cube is loads more fun than I originally envisaged, and it is pretty much the ideal winter commuter or trainer – especially if you want a bit of variety in your riding. I loved the ability to just dart off down a rough track to see where it goes, or being able to string different routes together by linking them with the various byways that criss-cross the Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset landscapes to create some properly epic rides.
There are five Nuroad models in the range, but only two – the Race FE and the Pro FE – come with a few extras to make the Cube even more versatile as a year-round workhorse.
This Race FE comes with a Supernova E3 Pure 3 dynamo headlight powered by the front hub and paired to an E3 Tail Light 2 to complete the package.
At 205 lumens the front light is bright enough to be used as a daytime running light and the beauty is that it is always on, so you never need to worry about charging batteries for the commute or if you get caught out in the dark.
Supernova lights are made to German STVZO lighting standards, so they have a cut-off to the top of the beam to stop you dazzling oncomers. It is certainly noticeable on this one, but it still offers a decent spread of light out in front of you and to the sides.
There is a little bit of drag from the dynamo hub at very slow speeds, and if you have a lot of traffic lights on your ride you'll notice the extra effort for each standing start, but once up to speed it is barely noticeable.
Riding on dark lanes at speeds above 15mph I didn't find the E3 to offer adequate illumination, either in depth up the road or clarity to pick out drains and potholes, so you'll definitely need to add another light to your bar.
The rear E3 is dinky but chucks out some impressive light, and again it's nice to know you don't need to keep checking your battery levels.
Cube has kept the wiring neat and tidy throughout, so the setup looks part of the bike, too.
The Race FE also has a set of Cube's Acid 45 mudguards fitted. Ideally, they could do with being a little bit longer, especially the front. As you can see from some of the photos, they don't do a lot to protect your feet or the drivetrain area of the bike. You also get quite a bit of spray out of the sides which covers the fork legs and the guards themselves.
At least they keep your backside dry, though, and there is no risk of catching the bottom of the guard on rocks when riding off-road.
Finally, there is also the Acid Nuroad Luggage Carrier rack, getting you ready for a bit of loaded travelling.
The frame is 6061-T6 Superlite aluminium alloy and it is a sturdy looking frameset with functional rather than pretty welds. It's well put together and took on plenty of abuse through the test period, on and off-road, especially the paintwork.
Up front you are getting a tapered head tube for extra stiffness, which blends into the oversized down tube to create a firm front end.
There is plenty of material around the bottom bracket area and the chainstays are on the beefy side to help transfer the power through the drivetrain.
Elsewhere, things are a little more slender for comfort, with the top tube tapering down as it heads towards the seat tube, and the seatstays are on the slender side for comfort without sacrificing strength on a bike designed to live a hard life and carry some load.
One thing that is a little bit odd is that Cube has gone for a press-fit bottom bracket, which many brands are moving away from on their frames. The main issues are getting the tolerances of the BB shell to match those of the bearing cups – it is the tiny slop between the two that allows water and grit in, which creates the creaking. So far, though, with about five weeks of testing on some really muddy gravel tracks, wet roads and canal paths, the BB is still running smoothly.
The front half of the frame has internal cable routing, keeping the look clean and uncluttered, before it exits just above the bottom bracket through a small port.
I've mentioned the mudguard and rear rack mount but the Nuroad also has a rack mount on the carbon fork (with alloy steerer) for extra load carrying capability, plus you get two bottle cage mounts.
As you might expect, the wheels are held in place with 12mm thru-axles front and rear, and the callipers are attached via flat mounts.
Tyre clearance isn't class-leading at 40mm, but it's not to be sniffed at either. There are plenty of decent tyres around in that size option, like the Schwalbe G-One Bites, which work really well on the road and hardpack surfaces.
The Cube actually comes with a set of G-One Speeds but in a 35mm width, to provide clearance for the mudguards.
The Nuroad is available in five sizes, with an effective top tube length of 517mm on the smallest 50cm frame, rising to 591mm on the largest 60cm size.
For 2019 the Nuroad Race FE came with a Shimano 105 road setup, but for 2020 it is specced with the new gravel-specific GRX groupset which really suits its riding style.
GRX is available in three levels: 10-speed GRX400, this mid-range GRX600 found on the Nuroad, and 11-speed GRX800 available in mechanical and Di2 options.
The main benefits of it is the smaller chainring options over Shimano's road groupsets. The Cube has a 46/30 chainset which, paired with an 11-34 cassette, gives you those low gears I mentioned earlier that counteract the overall weight of the bike and benefit climbing.
I also like the shape of the brake levers with their flattened fronts compared to, say, 105. The flat section gives you a better grip for holding onto the brakes when trying to stop on rough surfaces.
The groupset as a whole works really well, offering the usual precise shifting found on Shimano's components, and the braking power and control from the BR-RX400 hydraulic callipers is absolutely spot on.
Cube has gone for 160mm rotors front and rear, which I found to be ample in all conditions.
The alloy stem, handlebar and seatpost are all Cube-branded items and exactly what I'd expect on a bike at this money.
The Gravel Race bar has flared drops, which increase the width from 44cm at the hoods to 49cm at the drops. This provides extra stability when travelling at speed off-road thanks to the wider stance, and it also works well on the road, I've found, especially in the wet.
The Natural Fit Venec Lite saddle has more padding and is slightly wider than I'd normally ride on the road, but I found it worked for me, especially considering how much time I was spending on it. It's firm enough that you aren't bouncing around on it, but still plush enough to take out the bumps.
Cube also supplies the wheels, its RA 0.8 CX models. They're a 28-spoke build front and rear and seem to be pretty tough – they certainly stood up well to all of the abuse I gave them without grumbling.
The hubs both ran smoothly throughout the test period and the wheels remained true and perfectly tensioned.
Tyre-wise, I've already mentioned that the Cube comes with a pair of 35mm Schwalbe G-One Speeds and they are very good indeed. Being the Performance model that we often see specced as original equipment they aren't tubeless-ready, which could be an issue for you for gravel riding, but they roll and grip on the tarmac very well. They feel almost like a set of road tyres but able to handle the rough stuff just as well. That's as long as it's dry... even the slightest layer of wet mud can see them become a bit skittish.
Priced at £1,499, the Cube represents decent value for money for the package. The standard Nuroad Race costs £1,299, and on this FE model you are getting a near-£200 lightset, dynamo hub, rack and mudguards.
It's £100 more than the Shimano 105-equipped Ribble CGR AL do-it-all machine, which Jon over on off.road.cc found to be hugely versatile; that's also fitted with mudguards and able to take slightly larger tyres than the Cube.
Another bike with similar capabilities to the Nuroad is the Kinesis G2, which has an alloy frame, carbon fork and plenty of mounts for attaching things to. It's pretty light at 10kg, but that is only 200g lighter than a 'naked' Nuroad Race, and costs £1,500 for a 1x SRAM Apex build.
Overall, I really like the Nuroad Race, especially in this FE build. Other than high speed road riding it has pretty much every discipline covered, and it is just so much fun to ride whatever the conditions.
The handling works whether you are an experienced rider or someone who is a little less confident in the bends, and having the extras like the dynamo lights and rack just adds to the year-round versatility.
And if you want a quicker bike for the summer, you could just strip all that stuff off and be left with a reasonably light gravel machine.
Solid all-rounder for road and off-road excursions that offers a fun yet stable ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cube Nuroad Race FE
Size tested: 53cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Aluminium 6061 T6 Superlite, Gravel Comfort Geometry, Flat Mount Disc, Fender & Rack Option, 12x142mm, AXH
50, 53, 56, 58, 61
CUBE Nuroad Disc, One Piece 3D-Forged Steerer/Crown, Carbon Blades, 1 1/8" - 1 1/2" Tapered, Flat Mount, 12x100mm
FSA Orbit Z-t ECO, Top Zero-Stack 1 1/8" (OD 44mm), Bottom Integrated 1 1/2"
CUBE Performance Stem Pro, 31.8mm
CUBE Gravel Race Bar
Shimano GRX RD-RX810, Direct Mount, 11-Speed
Shimano GRX FD-R810
Shimano BR-RX400, Hydr. Disc Brake, Flat Mount (160/160)
Shimano GRX FC-RX600, 46x30T, 170mm (50/53cm), 172.5mm (56/58cm), 175mm (61cm)
CUBE Grip Control
SHIFT/ BRAKE LEVERS
Shimano GRX ST-RX600
Shimano 105 CS-HG700, 11-34T
CUBE RA 0.8 CX w/ hub dynamo
Schwalbe G-One Speed, Perf. Kevlar, 35-622
Natural Fit Venec Lite
CUBE Performance Post, 27.2mm
CUBE Screwlock, 31.8mm
Supernova E3 Pure 3
Supernova E3 Tail Light 2
ACID Nuroad Carrier
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, "Fast, fun, versatile: an impossible combination? Not with the Nuroad Race FE. Featuring Shimano's new gravel-friendly GRX 2x11 transmission and hydraulic disc brakes, we combined all the best qualities of our Attain and Cross Race series, then threw in a dynamo-powered Supernova E3 lighting system and an Acid Nuroad luggage carrier, too. The 35mm Schwalbe tyres are fast, grippy and comfortable and leave plenty of room for the Acid Gravel mudguards, so you can stay cleaner and drier whatever the weather throws at you. And, as you'd expect, the Nuroad Race FE's lightweight aluminium frame is built for comfort, confidence-inspiring handling and all-round versatility. Internal cable routing keeps gear shifts clean even in gritty or muddy conditions, and a replaceable derailleur hanger means that an accident doesn't mean a written-off frame. The result of all this attention to detail? An adventurous, adaptable thoroughbred. Take the less obvious route to work or load up for a longer backcountry trip; either way, the Nuroad Race FE will get you there quickly, in comfort and wearing a big grin."
If you want to ride on various terrains on the same ride then the Nuroad range is a very good option. The added accessories of the Race FE makes it even more versatile.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The Nuroad range is split into three models: SL, Race and Pro. The SL gets a Shimano GRX800 groupset and Mavic wheels for £1,599, the Race uses GRX600 for £1,299 and the Tiagra-equipped Pro costs £999.
Both the Race and Pro get FE options though, including dynamo lights, guards and rack for £1,399 and £1,099 respectively.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The welding isn't the prettiest I've seen but it is well finished and suits the style of the bike overall.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame uses 6061-T6 aluminium alloy tubing while the fork is a mixture of carbon fibre for the legs with an alloy steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It is a mixture of a slack front end, which gives relaxed handling on the road, and a steep seat angle, which puts you in quite an aggressive position if you want to put the power down.
Overall it creates a very balanced bike to ride, offering plenty of stability but fun when you want it.
Full details are here. https://www.cube.eu/en/2020/bikes/road/cyclocross-gravel/nuroad/cube-nur...
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
This 53cm has a stack of 557mm which is a little lower than most bikes like this because of a shorter head tube than the norm. The reach of 382mm is about right.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the Cube was comfortable to ride. Even with the tyres pumped up hard there was no harshness through the frame.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is certainly at the level needed for the type of riding it'll see.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Considering the weight it feels pretty efficient, mostly down to those lower gears getting you off the line or up the hills quicker.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
Yes, but not a huge problem unless you forget about it when track standing.
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 could be described as a little lazy on the road but it works. Loads of feedback from the frame lets you know what the front end is up to and it is easy to control when off-road on various surfaces.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle is a good balance of comfort and firmness for support.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are a strong build and felt stiff enough for climbing out of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The 46/30T chainset helps acceleration and climbing.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It's a great groupset that works on and off the road.
Wheels and tyres
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?
The front wheel has a bit of drag from the dynamo hub, but once on the move it's fine. Strong and stiff as well.
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?
One of the best tyres for performing on both road and gravel with little in the way of compromise.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Decent enough components and I was glad to see a flared handlebar, as it is a must for gravel riding.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, it would make a welcome addition to cover commuting, winter training and gravel excursions.
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?
The Cube competes well on value when compared to other similarly capable bikes like the Kinesis and Ribble models I mention in the review. For similar money the Cube comes with extra goodies compared to the Kinesis.
Use this box to explain your overall score
For the money this really is a good package: a decent frameset that is well specced, comes with plenty of accessories and is great to ride. The only downsides are the short mudguards and the potential for a creaky bottom bracket at some point.
About the tester
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!