German company Cube have carved themselves a very healthy slice of the UK bike market in the past few years. The Fritzz certainly looks the part but it prioritises easy pedalling efﬁciency and travel use over enhanced control.
Ride & handling: Confident ride position and angles but its suspension action divides opinions
While the quality Syntace stem and bar are more trail than downhill in terms of dimensions, the basic angles of the Fritzz are deﬁnitely descent-ready, with a slack head angle creating naturally stable, steep safe steering. The big 36mm Fox fork legs, stiff frame and screw-through axles front and rear mean precise tracking too, in theory.
We say ‘in theory’ because while the 2.4in Schwalbe Fat Albert tyres add plenty of protective cushioning they add little in the way of traction and seem to skate rather than stick across most surfaces. This isn’t helped by the action of the rear suspension. Like many Euro bikes the suspension naturally sits very high in its travel with little reaction to small bumps or pedalling/braking forces.
Hit anything bigger though and it blows straight through the travel. This is great for smooth trails or riders who are less aggressive than they want to look, because you get both efﬁcient pedalling and regular ego-boosting use of the 160mm travel. It also goes really well down steps. On anything more testing or random though, it just doesn’t provide the progressive control a long travel bike should, with square-edged hits catching it out particularly badly.
It also makes cornering unpredictable, with regular front or rear end slide-outs as the shock squats suddenly under cornering load. However much we tweaked and tuned the suspension it either skated around on top of the trail or wallowed around deep in its travel, adding to the already sluggish feel of the relatively heavy complete bike weight.
Frame & equipment: Stiff chassis with great spec and colour co-ordinated good looks
The Fritzz frame remains unchanged for 2011, but it’s not off the pace in terms of technology. The OnePointFive head tube takes a Fox fork backed up by big triple-butted and hydroform-shaped main tubes. A split top tube reinforces the steeply back-sloped seat tube that allows room for the shock to be mounted vertically between frame and wheel and creates extra cockpit stretch as you raise the seat.
The back end uses a 142x12mm bolted axle to create a stiff wheel-to-frame connection. The rear pivot is placed well forward on the chainstays. The seatstays get a big-hooped bridge for stiffness without compromising tyre clearance, the cable/hose routing is tidy and there’s room for a bottle. The Fritzz scores on fork spec too, with a fully travel- and damping-adjustable Fox TALAS RC2.
Formula RX brakes give superbly ﬁne controlled stopping through big rotors. The trustworthy Shimano SLX transmission gives a full 30-speed gear selection, complete with an XT rear mech. Broad Sun Equalizer wheels are wrapped in big custom-colour tyres and the linkages, seatpost and other ﬁxtures have anodised blue highlights. Syntace cockpit equipment completes the deal.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.