The XMS is Cube’s cheapest full-suspension bike, although it nudges over the £1,000 mark. While 120mm-travel trail bikes may be all the rage, the 100mm XMS proves that short and taut travel can still be fun. On a longer-travel bike the Cube’s steep geometry would be unnerving, but it works well here despite rather more heft than you’d want around a cross-country race course.
Ride & handling: Fun, agile ride for those who don’t feel the need for stacks of travel
You don’t see many Manitou forks on complete bikes these days, with the suspension brand having been through some tough times and still working on a comeback. The 100mm Minute on the front of the XMS stacks up well. Tracking is good and while the action is taut rather than supple that suits the nature of the bike.
Transmission and brakes are all from Shimano. Gearing is mostly SLX 10-speed, with the rear mech getting an upgrade to an XT Shadow unit but the chainset dropping down to the ‘non-series’ (but essentially Deore level) M552. M445 brakes are their usual competent but not outstanding selves.
There’s no getting away from the fact that inexpensive full-suspension bikes tend to be on the heavy side. The XMS is actually competitive for its price, but its short-travel race-style setup comes with certain weight expectations. The good news is that once on the trail the Cube’s efﬁcient suspension and rapid-response handling more than outweigh the odd surplus pound.
One advantage of a short-travel platform is that it tends to give the rear shock less work to do, and on the XMS the Suntour Epicon shock proves up to the task. It responds best to a ﬁrm setup, giving a lively ride with enough get up and go to almost make you forget that you’re on a relatively inexpensive bike.
While it’s not ultimately as capable as longer-travel options, the XMS is a rewarding bike to hustle along the trails. A good match of geometry and travel means you’re not lured into charging stuff that the suspension will be hard-pushed to handle.
Frame & equipment: Straightforward and well-ﬁnished chassis with a solid spec
While the XMS frame is visually similar to that of Cube’s more expensive AMS range, it uses a slightly heavier double-butted tubeset, and is built from mostly straight pipes. There’s some stiffness-enhancing shaping of the down tube, though, with a hint of vertical ovalising at the head tube and a considerable amount of horizontal ovalising at the bottom bracket.
Open-ended gussets add strength to the head tube/down tube junction and seat cluster. At the back there’s Cube’s rendition of four-bar, chainstay pivot rear suspension with the Suntour Epicon shock running under the top tube. A channel formed into the underside of the top tube gives extra clearance, although the shock’s air valve sits extremely close to the frame.
A sleek-looking rocker linkage connects the seatstays to the shock, while asymmetric chainstays run to sturdy clevis-style pivots near the dropouts. Endurance riders will be pleased to see that the XMS’s suspension layout leaves room in the frame for two bottle mounts, although the seat tube one won’t take a big bottle in the smaller frame sizes. All cables run along the top tube.
There’s nothing budget about the ﬁnish, with neat anodised bearing covers and satin white paint job. Graphics are a bit Euro-lairy, albeit in a monochrome kind of way, but it’s a good looker. The graphical theme is extended through the XMS’s eye-catching wheel package, which sports special Cube-edition black and white Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres and colour-matched rims.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.