Cube’s 160mm (6.3in) travel, 650b wheeled Stereo has been one of our favourite bikes since its overhaul a couple of years ago, so finding out that a 140mm (5.5in) version was to be added to the range for 2015 got us pretty excited. Better yet, we scooped not only a tantalising first look, but also an exclusive day on the new bike while visiting Cube’s German HQ.
Frame and equipment: ready for some trail-slaying
The 140mm frame will be available in alloy (HPA) and carbon (HPC) versions. Both get identical geometry, but the carbon chassis does without the alloy frame’s ISCG-05 chain guide tabs and angled headset compatibility.
Though the frame sizes are still referred to as 16, 18 and 20in, as on the Stereo 160, the seat tube has been drastically chopped down – from 470mm to 400mm on the 18in size, for example – giving the frame a huge amount more standover and a long, low look.
Cube has worked hard on the custom shock tune – and it’s paid off
A 67.5-degree head angle, short 435mm chainstays and 590mm effective top tube (18in frame) show just how much trail slaying potential the Stereo 140 has.
We rode a pre-production bike and the spec list and price hadn’t yet been finalised, but the main details should stay the same. A Fox 32 fork sat up front and a specially tuned Fox Float CTD shock controlled the rear end. Cube’s wheels made in partnership with DT Swiss are proven top performers and were shod with Schwalbe rubber. Our bike was fitted with a 2x10 Shimano XT transmission.
Ride and handling: an insatiable experience
The guys from Cube were so confident about the bike that they took us straight to their local DH test track, complete with chairlift. Swing a leg over the Stereo 140 and it’s clear from the get-go that this is one fun beast to ride.
The shortened seat tube gives a crazy amount of standover, making the Cube feel as low-slung as a jump bike but with DH bike proportions. This makes for a super-stable ride that can still be seriously thrown around. There’s masses of lateral stiffness in the frame too. Despite smashing into turns stupidly hard, we were unable to get the Stereo out of shape – it kept coming back for more, ensuring the grins were never wiped from our faces.
The 140mm Stereo is ridiculously stable and eager for some serious punishment
It’s clear that the rear shock has benefited from some serious background work on the tune. There’s an incredibly supple beginning to the stroke, and a predictable ramp up in the last 30 percent of travel that was never harsh enough to mess up balance or blow feet off flat pedals, even when clattering through rock gardens.
The only weakness in this package is the Fox 32 fork – it’s flexy chassis means it can’t keep pace with the super-capable frame. The HPA Pro model will come with a RockShox Pike, which should solve that problem nicely.