We’ve had a few Cube bikes through the doors and they’ve always impressed with value for money. We enjoyed riding the Acid, but found ourselves wishing that Cube had gone for a slightly lowlier transmission spec in order to give themselves the scope and budget to include a posher fork. It’s good as it is, but the spec does feel slightly uneven.
Ride & handling: Lively, but twangy fork proves limiting
Traditionally, European hardtails have been heavily inﬂuenced by the demands of cross-country racing, and the Cube is deﬁnitely in that vein. The riding position isn’t terrifyingly racy, with a high, see-where-you’re-going front end, but it’s relatively light. The tyres prioritise low rolling resistance over grip and the stout frame takes putting your power down very seriously.
We were glad of the 2.25in tyres when the going got rough, because the Acid packs a pretty unyielding chassis. The low-slung frame means plenty of seatpost sticking out, but it’s a fat post without much give in it. The Acid’s race DNA means light and lively handling well suited to wiggly, woodsy singletrack – it’s at home dodging in and out of the trees.
Inevitably the ﬂexy RockShox Dart fork proves a limitation, although in its 100mm-travel (3.9in) incarnation it’s noticeably less twangy than the 120mm (4.7in) model. Also working in the fork’s favour is the relatively steep cross-country style geometry, which feels more at home tackling sections with a bit of ﬁnesse rather than battering through and letting the bike do all the work.
While the overall weight of the Acid is agreeably low, it carries quite a proportion of it in the wheels. So while climbing isn’t a chore, it’s not quite as brisk under acceleration as you might expect. It rolls along perfectly well once up to speed though, thanks to the shallow-tread tyres.
Frame:Compact and stiff, but not the comfiest
Cube don’t really go in for extravagant tube shapes, and the 7005 aluminium Acid is a model of subtle forming. The rear triangle is distinctly beefy, with chunky stays terminating in a neat replaceable hanger that bolts in from the back – the threads are in the hanger rather than the frame, minimising the chance of damage to the frame itself. Up front is an oversized, machined head tube that takes a semi-integrated headset.
Joining front to back are ﬂared and ovalised top and down tubes, both with roughly triangular cross-sections. We were pleased to see a full-length strip of protective tape under the down tube, ready to ward off damage from rock strikes. Cube have routed the cables and rear brake hose under the top tube, out of the way unless you need to shoulder the bike. There are two sets of bottle bosses and rack mounts at the back, which could be useful if your bike needs to double as a commuter.
Equipment: Top-notch transmission setup
The Acid is part of Cube’s extensive hardtail range – so extensive in fact that there are six bikes cheaper than this one in it – and it packs a pretty impressive spec. Eschewing the generally Shimano Deore-level parts of the competition, Cube have managed to include an SLX-based 3x10 transmission. There’s even an XT rear mech – a clear attempt to appeal on the shop ﬂoor, but it works.
More worthwhile is the two-piece outboard bearing Shimano chainset. Hayes Stroker Ride disc brakes also stand out, but they’re not all that impressive in use, with a somewhat wooden feel and adequate but not mighty power. Inevitably something has to give to accommodate that little lot in the budget, and in the Acid’s case there’s only room for a RockShox Dart fork.
We don’t want to have too much of a downer on the Dart, which is in many ways entirely competent, but you don’t have to spend very long on even a Tora (the next model up) to ﬁnd the Dart distractingly bendy. It does come with a remote lockout lever, which is either very handy or just annoying bar clutter, depending on your point of view.
Finishing kit is a mix of Easton bar and stem, and Cube’s own saddle and seatpost. The wheel package combines Shimano hubs with Cube’s own-brand rims and Shwalbe Smart Sam tyres to sturdy if somewhat portly effect. Cube are keen on their graphics and colours, and while the black-and-white Acid may not have much colour beyond the odd splash of red, the graphics extend over everything. Frame, fork, rims, saddle – all follow the same design theme to create an eye-catching overall effect.