Cube AMS HPC XT review£2,599.00

Value-packed carbon racer

BikeRadar score4/5

Cube definitely benefit from having a big German market presence in terms of value, and if you want an ‘old skool’ racer dripping with state-of-the-art composite components you can’t go far wrong.

Very light and remarkably well equipped for the money with a very effective suspension setup, the Cube is potentially a fast, capable and enjoyable short travel trail bike for those who can look beyond the loud Euro racer paintjob and bar ends.

Ride & handling: Take this bull by the horns and it'll charge through the trails

Some people are going to take one look at the loud team edition paintwork, flat bars and bar ends and immediately write off the Cube as a pure Euro racer. Some of our testers who switched onto it half way through tricky technical rides unsurprisingly struggled. Give it some time and an open mind though, and it’s a surprisingly versatile high-velocity ride.

While the head angle is still steep at 70.5°, that's half a degree less than many of the Cube's race-oriented rivals, resulting in a more secure feel at higher speeds or on steeper descents. That’s a 24in flat bar too, so even with bar ends it’s wider than most.

The suspension is really well sorted: unlike most rocker or even FSR systems, it runs a minimum low-speed compression tune for good small bump/ripple sensitivity and excellent traction, and even the short 165mm shock can take a decent hit without knocking you out of kilter.

Cube ams hpc xt: cube ams hpc xt
Cube ams hpc xt: cube ams hpc xt

Despite this, the linkage configuration means it still pedals firmly without irritating bob while the Horst Link chainstay pivot means it’s not bothered by braking either.

If tuneable stiffness is what you want, it’s only a turn of the dial on the Fox RP23 shock and a flick of the ProPedal platform damping lever away.

Add the obvious frame stiffness from front to back, a very low overall weight plus super-fast rolling Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres, and acceleration and altitude gain are no problem.

Seeing a set of bar ends again – about 10 years since we last used them – reminded us how much that extra leverage can help when you absolutely have to get every last muscle twitch you can muster through the pedals.

180mm rotors front and rear mean you’ll never be short of stopping power either. That said, a wider riser bar would really let you capitalise on the stiffness and suspension performance in more technical terrain situations.

While the current economic climate means overall prices are going up, carbon fi bre is defi nitely still falling to more affordable, and not just aspirational, price points.: while the current economic climate means overall prices are going up, carbon fi bre is defi nitely still falling to more affordable, and not just aspirational, price points.
While the current economic climate means overall prices are going up, carbon fi bre is defi nitely still falling to more affordable, and not just aspirational, price points.: while the current economic climate means overall prices are going up, carbon fi bre is defi nitely still falling to more affordable, and not just aspirational, price points.

Frame: Sturdy chassis with sorted suspension

The HPC (High Performance Carbon) frame is typical of the German market where stiffness is king, so it may not be superlight but it is ox tough.

The head tube, curved down tube, bottom bracket area and asymmetric stays are all seriously oversized. A broad X-brace on the stays, deep socketed dropouts and twin buttress fins ahead of the extended seatpost all add extra rigidity.

Cube add a chainstay rather than seatstay pivot to take the wheel path outside of a simple arc. The long, laid-back linkage changes the shock rate and leverage ratio significantly as it pushes through the stroke.

Cube also get props for reasonable mud clearance at the rear, a chain protector behind the chainset and room for two water bottles. The hollowed out CNC machined seat quick-release is a cute detail too.

White carbon bar ends are retro-race-tastic!: white carbon bar ends are retro-race-tastic!
White carbon bar ends are retro-race-tastic!: white carbon bar ends are retro-race-tastic!

Equipment: Full suite of carbon kit, but wider bars would be a control bonus

At this price you normally have a choice between a carbon frame with vanilla components or an alloy frame with fancy bits, but the Cube delivers a proper double whammy deal.

The remote lockout equipped Fox RL fork is worth £685 alone, and the carbon Tundra saddle is also a pricey bit of kit. New lightweight DT Swiss wheels certainly aren’t cheap either.

The super pricey Racing Ralph tyres they’re wrapped in are a superb mix of high speed and better than we expected grip for race/marathon work. You even get a proper custom white-shouldered version to match the frame.

The white customisation extends through the full suite of carbon fibre Syntace finishing kit and even the top-spec Tundra saddle is the perfect match of carbon rails and white upholstery.

In fact the only pimp-free pieces are the Shimano XT kit, but they’re certainly powerful and precise in stop/go terms, and XTR or SRAM X.O versions of the HPC are available for those with much deeper pockets.

The racing ralph tyres are a custom white shouldered version: the racing ralph tyres are a custom white shouldered version
The racing ralph tyres are a custom white shouldered version: the racing ralph tyres are a custom white shouldered version

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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