The Cube Attention hardtail has head-turning specs for the price, but the geometry and handling are looking over their shoulders in the past.
For a hardtail mountain bike with the most recent overhaul, the 2022 Cube Attention SL manages to plant one foot firmly back. Yes, it has a lightweight alloy frame, trendy tan-wall tires, remote lockout for the air-sprung RockShox fork and a state-of-the-art 1x Shimano drivetrain with a wide-range 10-51t cassette. Dig into the numbers, however, and the bike immediately seems dated compared to the best hardtail mountain bikes on sale now.
The top-end bike in Cube’s entry-level hardtail range
Double butted alloy frame with internal cable routing
The air-sprung RockShox Judy fork offers 100mm of travel and gets remote lockout.
Flat mount rear brake and FM kickstand mounts look creative.
Available in six frame sizes: XS and S use 27.5in wheels, M to XXL use 29in wheels
Flat mount brake mount and integrated kickstand fitment
The 445mm chainstay measurement is considerably longer than the reach, even in the L size. So the weight distribution is more negatively skewed at the front end of the bike in the middle of the size. And with size-specific chainstay lengths becoming increasingly popular on hardtails, the Cube really missed an opportunity to get out in front of its competitors here.
Also, with plenty of 29er full suspension bikes being as short as 435mm, there’s really no excuse to stay longer on a modern 29er hardtail, unless it’s intentional on larger frame sizes.. Fortunately the two smaller Focus SL frame sizes use 27.5in wheels and get shorter 427mm chainstays.
It’s a similar story on the front of the bike. And even if we ignore the truncated 427mm reach on the L size, is there really any room for a steep 69.1º head angle on a hardtail in 2022?
As the BMC FourStoke, the bike that took Pidcock to Olympic XC gold, is a beat fraction of three degrees slacker and hardtails need to be slacker still to achieve the same dynamic geometry as full suspension bikes, the answer should be a resounding no.
Now, I’m not saying that every hardtail has to be a hardcore hardtail, far from it. I’m highlighting the fact that even XC bikes don’t have the same geometry as the Cube.
Well, the kickstand mount on the non-drive side dropout gives it volume for its intended use. Also the narrow 680mm handlebar makes it ideal for manoeuvring in and out of traffic.
This made the cockpit feel even more cramped and left me hanging my hands off the end of the grip to gain some extra leverage and keep the front wheel in the direction I wanted to go.
The frame itself is easy on the eye, but again it’s not without flaws. The internal routing looks neat when the down tube enters behind the head tube, but turn the bike over and you’ll see that the bottom of the down tube is barely open, creating a large exit port and muck and an equally large entry point. ugly
A cable rubs on a fork crown, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until it starts eating through the alloy crown, the same way water carves a channel in rock, but it takes months rather than decades. ..
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And even though the frame is die straight and has a relatively long 470mm seat tube, I still had to cut the seat post down 27.2mm so I could drop the saddle height adequately on the descents. Yes, you can fit a dropper post and it also has internal routing, but the thin 27.2mm diameter post really limits your options here.
That’s how it rides
I’ve tested a lot of hardtails over the years to know what works and what doesn’t. And I think I’ve been pretty thorough in explaining what the Cube got wrong with the Attention SL. Now is the time to address the balance.
The 303mm BB height is bang on the money and of all the metrics, BB height is probably the most important to get right. Also I’m not a fan of long travel forks on hardtails as they tend to steepen the head angle due to increased sag; Additional travel causes large changes in dynamic geometry. So the 100mm travel RockShox Judy on the Attention SL supports mitigate some of those problems.
It has a smooth, plush action, even if the 30mm top tubes and 9mm quick release lowers don’t give you steering precision and the confidence to charge hard. Again, I don’t think this was the Cube’s intention, well, at least I think so, otherwise it failed miserably.
In terms of overall specification the Cube has some highlights here as well. The Shimano two finger brakes have a light smooth lever feel with stacks of modulation, so it’s easy to control your speed without overwhelming the traction available from the thin Schwalbe tires. Shifting is also on point thanks to the 12sp Dior shifter and XT rear derailleur.
And even though the Cube doesn’t get a Shimano chainset to match the rest of the drivetrain, the Acid unit is still a two-piece, pinch-bolt design with a threaded Shimano BB, so reliability should still be first rate.
The most surprising thing about the Cube Attention SL isn’t how far along it is as a trail bike, it’s how compliant the frame is, even with the 2.25in Schwalbe Smart Sam tires and their relatively low profile tread.
With the Shimano XT clutch derailleur damping chain slap, the alloy Attention SL frame’s resonant feel is quiet. I half expected the cacophony of warning bells as I ratted down the trail before riding the Cube. Instead, the Cube offers a relatively smooth and quiet ride, so you may need a bell if you’re riding the Cube in its natural environment, which is fire roads and canal towpaths.
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Frame Fork, Wheels: Aluminium Light, AMF
Fork: RockShox Judy Silver w/PopLoc, 100mm travel
Wheels: Shimano HB-M4050/FH-MT401 hubs, CUBE ZX20 rims, Schwalbe Smart Sam Active 29×2.25in tires
Drivetrain: Acid 32t 170mm chainset, Shimano XT derailleur and 12sp Dior shifter, Shimano Dior 10-51t cassette
Brakes: Shimano MT 200 two-piston, 180/160mm rotors
Components: Cube Rise Trail 680mm Bar, Cube Performance SL 60mm Stem, Cube Performance 27.2in Post, Natural Fit Venek Light Saddle
Sizes: M, L, XXL (29in), XL, XS, S (27.5in),
Weight: 13.79kg (30.4lb)
Ride Size: L(20in)
Rider Height: 5 feet 11 inches
Head angle: 69.1º
Seat Angle: 73.9º
BB Height: 301mm
Chainstay: 445 mm
Centre of front: 700 mm
Down tube: 700 mm
Seat tube: 470mm
Top Tube: 600mm
Product: Cube Attention SL Hardtail: Head-turning spec for the price Manufacturer: Cube
Checked Price: £1,149.00
Elastic frame felt
As for the Cube, if I say it’s the perfect bike to hone your skills on, I get the distinct feeling that it’s designed more for off-road touring than singletrack slaying.