Cube has an almost bewildering array of full-suspension bikes, including options with different geometry but the same travel.
The AMS has been its all-rounder mainstay for a while, and for 2014 it’s available with a choice of 650b or 29in wheels. This is the 650b (27.5in) version.
Frame and equipment: well-rounded with no obvious weak points
The layout of the AMS is as old as the hills. While some manufacturers put a lot of effort into positioning the rear shock as low in the frame as possible, Cube keeps things simple – the shock is positioned horizontally under the top tube and driven by a rocker linkage at the top of the seatstays.
In theory a shock positioned down low gives a beneficial low centre of gravity, but anyone who’s picked up a modern air shock will likely agree that’s going to a marginal advantage at best. Cube’s setup has the very real benefit of simplicity, as well as keeping the Fox shock well away from the dirt and making the CTD lever easy to reach.
Straightforward it may be, but the AMS frame has plenty of subtle details, like the top tube that’s scalloped underneath to give clearance for the shock as it compresses. There’s a port in the seat tube for ‘stealth’ dropper post hose/cable routing and you’ll find all the modern frame features you’d expect – a tapered head tube, press-fit bottom bracket, direct-mount mechs and post-mount rear brake.
You’ll find bits from several Shimano groupsets here, with Deore, SLX and Deore XT all getting a look-in. Cube has wisely opted for Shimano’s smaller 22/30/40t crankset option, which gives a very usable range of gears with the 11-36t cassette.
As you’d expect, it all works very smoothly, although a clutch rear mech would cut down the clatter, especially with all the chain you need for a 3x10 transmission. We were happy to see Shimano M615 discs, which follow the minimal lever design of the more expensive XT and SLX brakes, and give ample control and excellent reliability.
The wheel package is a highlight – Sun Ringlé Radium wheels shod with Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25in tyres. Nics aren’t to everyone’s taste, but they’re a solid choice for variable conditions. It’s a well-rounded spec, with no obvious weak spots, and the all-up weight of a smidge over 30lb is entirely acceptable. You even get a bike computer with it.
Ride and handling: good performance across the spectrum
Cube describes the AMS as being for “long rides, transalp tours and all-mountain fun”, which is pretty much on the money. It’s not a raked-out blaster and it’s not a singletrack razor, instead aiming for a geometrical middle ground that works pretty well for most things,
It’s a relatively short bike, which means you don’t have to move your weight all that far forwards or backwards to have a distinct effect – it’s an easy bike to move around on, which helps when it comes to controlling the grip in turns. There’s scope to go a little wider on the bar or shorter on the stem, though given the relatively short front end it’d be a good idea not to go too far – there isn’t masses of room to spare and you don’t want to end up all scrunched up when in the saddle.
Cube have taken the opportunity presented by redesigning the AMS for 650b wheels to rejig the rear suspension too, and it’s paid off. We’ve found previous versions to have a slightly on/off suspension action, not moving all that much over the small stuff but enthusiastically exploring the depths of the travel once the bumps get big enough.
The 130 HPA Pro doesn’t go as far as feeling progressive, but there’s more sensitivity and it feels as if there’s more in reserve. The climb/trail/descend positions of the Fox CTD shock are useful too.
Because the fork is from RockShox, there’s no matching CTD lever up front. Fortunately the Revelation has good enough performance across the spectrum to provide suitably balanced performance even if you’re flicking the shock between settings.
To get the best suspension balance you’ll need to pick a shock mode and match the fork to it, but you can do that without it feeling wildly off-kilter in one of the other settings.
Overall the Cube AMS puts up a strong account of itself. It’s well (if not spectacularly) equipped, decently stiff, has entirely competent suspension and good all-round geometry that’s not hugely biased towards any one kind of terrain or riding style. Roll in good dealer support and it’s well worth considering.