Hamstrung by its geometry, proportions and small volume tyres

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 6

Cube AIM SL 2016


  • Superb frame quality and finish for the price


  • Nervous steering, cramped cockpit and skinny tyres


Cube AIM SL (2016) review


Price as reviewed:


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.

>>> The best cheap road bikes ridden and rated


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.

>>> Hardtail of the Year 2016: £500-£1,000 (VIDEO)

The Cube frame offered a softer, more comfortable ride than the Marin, but it’s hamstrung by its geometry, proportions and small volume tyres.



Frame:Aluminium Lite AMF
Fork:Suntour XCM RL, 100mm travel
Wheels:Shimano TX505 hubs, Cube SX24 rims, Schwalbe Smart Sam Active 29x2.1in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano Tourney chainset, Altus shifters and f-mech, Acera r-mech
Brakes:Shimano M355
Weight:13.9kg (30.6lb)
Sizes:14, 16, 18 (27.5in), 17, 19, 21, 23in (29in)
Size tested:19in