Hamstrung by its geometry, proportions and small volume tyres
There are two versions of the Cube AIM SL and it is sizing that separates them. The 14, 16 and 18in bikes all use smaller 27.5in wheels, while the 17, 19, 21 and 23in frame sizes roll on 29in wheels to keep the proportions of the bikes balanced.
Both models share a beautifully crafted, lightweight aluminium frame, where a square-profile down tube boosts stiffness and a flattened top tube improves standover clearance. To the rear, bridgeless chainstays provide sufficient tyre clearance to prevent you grinding to a halt in mud.
All told, the AIM SL has a high-quality frame for an entry-level bike. The burning question, given its finish, was would this 29er turn out to be red hot or a damp squib?
It didn’t take long for us to discover the Cube’s true colours.
With a very narrow 660mm handlebar, and the shortest frame on test, the AIM SL felt timid and out of its depth on all but the most sedate forest rides.
Yes, the 100mm-travel SR Suntour XCM fork felt smooth and offered decent bump absorption, but its hyperactive action was much less confident at speed.
This, combined with the nervous steering and the bolt-upright riding position, meant the Cube felt more like a hybrid bike.
The ultra-light steering also meant that we were fighting to keep the front wheel in a straight line on the climbs just as hard as on the descents.
The Cube frame offered a softer, more comfortable ride than the Marin, but it’s hamstrung by its geometry, proportions and small volume tyres.