It might only have 120mm of travel but Cube’s Sting packs in a serious amount of all-mountain attitude for she-shredders on a budget.
Frame and equipment: chaos-proof piece of kit
It communicates its chaos-proof character straightaway via comparatively wide (for a female-specific bike) 720mm bars connecting to a 69-degree head angle. That might not sound particularly slack in unisex terms, but there’s a definite trend for women’s bikes to be more upright – and uptight – in terms of handling, which makes the Cube relatively radical.
The long stroke rear shock and rocker linkage action also gives a much plusher, linear feel than usual for a 120mm travel bike. That means it naturally sits down lower at the back when riding and slackens and lowers the effective angles. Very long (452mm) chainstays mean that even while our extra small sample was appropriately short in reach up front the wheelbase still delivers a long and stable baseline. Broad main tubes and gusset reinforcements on the frame, plus clips for an externally routed dropper post show it’s ready for more rowdy action too.
That’s not to say it’s a slouch when it comes to the climbs. The top value Shimano XT transmission is impeccable. The lightweight Schwalbe Racing Ralphs spin up easily, and the overall weight is impressively low for a full suspension bike.
The Sting is happiest when you point it downhill
Ride and handling: loves gravity – but has its limitations
You do have to use the Climb and Trail settings on the Fox CTD shock to temper the Sting's naturally soft and bouncy pedalling manners if you’re in a hurry. The short reach and low bars also took some of our test crew a while to adjust to for climbing and general XC work.
When the time came to point it downhill though, feedback became much more positive. The short cockpit position gave plenty or room to play about when standing and the rear end sucks up impacts greedily so even relatively gentle riders feel like they’re getting the full benefit of choosing full suspension.
Our more progressive riders started to uncover some issues as they pushed harder though. That same linear suspension doesn’t give much support when you’re pushing round corners unless you over pressure the rear shock and/or keep it in Trail mode. The short front, long rear balance feels odd in corners at first too. Both wheels are also secured with QR skewers rather than thru-axles, which reduces tracking accuracy for aggro moves. The 370mm standover height is relatively high and the curved seat tube prevents full seat drop.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.