Developed to give their pro Wanty Group team an aerodynamic advantage throughout the race season, Cube has given their lightweight Litening all-rounder road race bike a complete aero overhaul. Neatly tucking every bit cabling inside aero foil shapes, the new bike is as sleek & integrated as they come, while hiding a surprisingly comfortable ride under the deep frame profiles thanks to a new C:68X mix of carbon fibers…

2020 Cube Litening C:68X aero road bike

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bikeLooking at the profile of the new bike you would be excused for thinking this is Cube’s aero model, not their lightweight all-rounder race bike. But while the outgoing Litening is a mostly thin, round tubed bike, this new version takes plenty of wind cheating inspiration from Cube’s Aerium TT & tri bike.

Much of Cube’s secret to adding all of that aero benefit while still hitting a claimed <980g frame weight for a 56cm (including derailleur hangers & seat clamp) was a new, more advanced C:68X carbon construction. Still using the same high 68% carbon fiber content vs. resin as their previous top-end construction, this vaguely-named C:68X is a more advanced hi-mod mixture of fibers that allowed Cube to drop around 100g over the frame with added benefits of both increased rider comfort and increased handling & drivetrain stiffness.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bikeBesides the now aero tube shaping throughout, the most obvious change from the perspective of the rider is a newly developed one-piece aero bar & stem that integrates with the frame to hide all wires (or cables) and brake hoses completely out of the wind.

Aero optimization

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike
courtesy Cube

Cube set out to turn the Litening into a faster aero bike, putting more development time into it than ever before for one of their road bikes. The goal was drag reduction, and after more than 1,000 hours of CFD flow simulation and 100 hours testing in the wind tunnel, this design resulted with 30W saved, or 30% drag reduction vs. the previous generation.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike
c. Cube

Cube described how the computer simulation time was critical for refining the aero design, as we see more aero bikes looking more of the same. The reason for that is the UCI technical guidelines that define a strict 18cm wide set of boundaries around traditional frame tube positions, where all new tube shapes and transitions must stay inside.

Using CFD allowed Cube to get the most out of drag reduction, while at the same time limiting side force on the bike in a crosswind, and allowing them to maintain (or even boost) frame stiffness. Basically every webbed edge from one tube to the next was pushed to the UCI’s corner boundary to maximize performance, while using horizontally optimized aero profiles to get each lower drag out of each frame tube.

Tech details

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

Looking into the small detail of the new bike, we find those smooth tubing transitions that pushed the UCI boundaries. But they often hide some other technical solutions as well. The lower fork transition includes a built-in, breakaway steering stop to allow for the internal cable routing. And the seat cluster provides an easily accessible wedge-style seatpost clamp, and a small tail to smooth airflow over the rear wheel.

Surprisingly enough, that deep, truncated aero seatpost also engineers in fore-aft flex to provide similar comfort like you normally get only with a small diameter round post. To be honest I was quite skeptical as the post does not flex in your hand or even visually noticeably while riding. But riding the bike over rougher sections of road, pavement stones & even relatively smooth gravel, and there was none of the signature harshness that most deep section aero seatposts exhibit.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

At the bottom end of the bike are sharp angles that move from the narrow aero downtube to more widely set, boxy chainstays. While it looks closer here with the 25mm tires spec’d on the bikes as the bottom of the seattube wraps around the rear wheel a bit, Cube has designed space for up to 28mm road tires. In fact, there is actually plenty of room for real 30mm wide tires, but Cube were being conservative with the max size rating because of the wide variety of rim widths on the market.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

All of the complete bikes that Cube is offering with the new Litening include electronic drivetrains (eTap or Di2). But the new bike is mechanical shift compatible with its full internal routing channels.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

Continuing aero details, frontal area is reduced with an hourglass-shaped headtube, and that super integrated cockpit with cables behind the headset inside through the large stem to behind the steerer tube.

Integrated aero cockpit

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike
c. Cube

The secret to a new aero road bike these days certainly seems to be in integrated cockpits. Curse the poor bike mechanics that have to build these bikes up or adjust rider fit (remember to bring your local Cube mechanic beer or homemade cookies when you pick up your new Litening). But everything does fit neatly inside, through a channel behind the steerer tube in the larger stem clamp area.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

The one-piece bar+stem also includes a small routing port on the underside, which also serves as the mounting point for the included universal fit out-front GPS mount. Cube includes mounting plates to work with Garmin, Wahoo & Sigma, but the mount uses a standard bolt pattern, so any K-edge inserts will fit as well.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike
c. Cube

The complete bikes come with one of only four standard bar width + stem length combinations. But Cube explains that the bar construction uses a modular mold that will allow them to mix and match many more combinations based of rider demand (and include the possibility for more narrow bar widths.)

Geometry

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bikeThe new Litening is available in six stock frame sizes, and geometry developed with their Wanty pro team riders. That results in quick, race-ready handling for the bike. But it still maintains a reasonable bar position as the tall head tubes allow either a simple stack of spacers or more of a slammed stem setup with the dropped bar.

Pricing & availability

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

The new Litening will be available in four complete bike builds, with the top 3 ALL sharing the same C:68X carbon, about 100g lighter that a standard C:68 carbon construction would be.

The top-level Litening SLT C:68X gets a complete SRAM Red eTap AXS double groupset and DT Swiss ARC 1100 62mm deep tubeless carbon clinchers with ceramic bearings for £7500  / 7500€.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bikeThe next Litening SL C:68X features a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 setup with the steel bearing DT Swiss ARC 1400 62mm carbon wheels for £6500 / 6500€.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

The Litening Race C:68X in Cube’s team-edition style paint job gets a SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset and Newmen SL R.38 wheels for £4500 / 4500€.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike

Lastly, the Litening Pro uses the slightly heavier C:68 the same C:68X carbon together with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and Newmen SL R.32 wheels for a price of £4000 / 4000€.

2020 Cube Litening C:68X road bike, light aerodynamic carbon disc brake road race bike slips out lighter, more integrated aero road bike
photo by Felix Meyer

Cube dealers are accepting pre-orders now for the bike that is set to debut later this week at the Tour de France. Consumer availability for the new bikes is slated for October 2019 delivery. We had the chance to ride the bike in some hot & windy Dutch weather last week, and will share more thoughts on the surprisingly comfortable bike soon.

Cube.eu

25 COMMENTS

  1. I love these new, integrated, semi aero frames/ bikes that have been coming down the pipeline lately. For me, its getting harder and harder to choose which one would be my next bike. This and the Cannondale that was shown a couple days ago, are definitely in the running. The Cervelo S5 is probably at the top though.

    • I guess you’ve never set up one of these new bikes? The cable routing on this new generation of frames is ridiculous. Have you looked through the Cervelo S5 manual?

      • No, haven’t seen the Cervelo S5 manual, but I’m confident with my bike building skills and besides, how often do change, or even mess with your hydralic hoses, electrical wires or cables? me, maybe once a year. Anyway, I’ll only have to route my brake lines since I’ll be using Sram etap on my next build.

        • brain surgery is hard
          rocket science is hard
          tying your shoe laces is as hard as routing brake/gear cables, because next to pencil sharpener a bike is one of mans most simple creations

  2. The way they handle size scaling for smaller size should be highlighted and ashamed.
    Same reach across size 50,52,54, just different stack.
    Single fork offset for the entire size range. Varying head tube angle to get desired toe clearance without worrying about trail value that is the result of head tube angle and fork offset combination.

    Basically, you get compromised geometry if you buy size 50 and 52 Cube Litening.

    • Another “great” product from Cube. My Shop sells Cube Bikes since 1997, and they’ve never been a good choice for determind athlets. Every Cube Bike and Accessoires was flowed in some way or another, and the new Litening fits proudly in this heritage. As a mechanic i look in fear at the integrated bar/stem. Hopefully i won’t even sell one of ’em.

      • ?? What short of mechanic you are.
        Improve your self, learn, how to repair no external cables bike. learning is the eraser of fear.
        Support the brand feed you,
        Anyway no matter what you saying disc brakes and internal cables will be standard in couple of years.

    • Cube should be shamed for the front center distances on the frames. I guess it’s okay if you otter-sized feet.

    • “Same reach across size 50,52,54, just different stack”

      You are not interpreting stack and reach correctly. The same reach value, when coupled with increasing stacks, corresponds to the steering axis moving farther away. Try to visualise it. Therefore the larger bikes are really longer even if the reach value stays constant.

      • Look at wheel base field. They are all 980-981mm, actually the 50 and 52 have longer wheelbase than 54.

        I’m not saying steering axis are not further away. I’m saying it doesn’t even try to make reach and stack scale linearly as it should be, or try to maintain handling charactoristic (trail value). They use lazy convenient approach. They set minimum front center length (which result in 980mm wheel base). Then slacken head tube angle (but keep the same fork) to get to same reach value at various stack height.

  3. Vous êtes rigolo, tous, notamment Maestro Hexsense, tu y es monté sur le vélo avant de critiquer ? tu es ingenieur ?

  4. I bought it!
    As a matter of fact I pre-order it.
    Is the best deal at the market right now.
    1500-2000 less than any other bike out there.
    And is cube! Reliable, good Brand.
    I’ll have it first days of December.
    The teamline , race. sram etap force.
    No cables, aero, etc.
    Giant is more expensive but has power meter.
    But the frame of cube looks fresh and aero.
    To buy trek or specialize I had to sell my lever.
    Italian brands are also expensive.
    Scott is excellent but not aero …and 2000 more.
    Nothing with no cables from canyon.

    I think is a good choice

  5. I have a Cube Agree C62 Disc 2017. I changed the wheels to Hunt 50mm, and added carbon fibre stem and seat post. In size 58 it weighs 7.95kg was 8.50kg as standard. With 12mm axles bikes is super strong on hills but flex on bumps and flat. 140mm Shimano discs are excellent on descents. I’m 83kg. Toe space is tight admitted
    Ly but was also tight on my 2013 Trek Madone. Cube are very well priced and C68 looks competitively priced and would be on my list or aero bikes as it’s lighter than SystemSix and Some Trek SLR at £6-9000!!!

  6. Looking at this thing again 6 months later: The cable routing looks horrific to set up. The bottom bracket shell used is a total mystery still… no specs anywhere. And the front center distances are too short.

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