Cube has managed to pack a lot of value into the Analog despite still selling through local bike shops, but sketchy tyres and a cramped cockpit give you all the wrong signals when you tackle tougher terrain.
- The best mountain bikes under £500
- Best mountain bike: how to choose the right one for you
- Best mountain bikes under £1,000
A neat feature of the Analog is that Cube tries to match wheel size to rider size. That means that you get the choice of 650b wheels in the 14”, 16” and 18” frames, and 29” items on the 17", 19", 21" and 23" models, giving medium sized riders plenty of choice and larger or smaller riders better tuned handling. We opted for the big wheeler to make the most of their smooth rolling and speed boosting properties.
If you don’t mind slightly more ponderous handling and the extra rotating weight of the large hoops, then it’s a good compromise to make as the extra stability boosts confidence and helps to mask the bump eating limitations of the budget SR Suntour XCR32 fork.
It’s coil sprung, preventing proper adjustment to rider weight without taking the fork apart, but it does get a remote lockout and external rebound control. It’s surprisingly smooth and well damped, feeling impressively supple for a budget unit. It definitely helps rather than hinders you when it comes to keeping the front end under control on the bumps, though the damping does get overwhelmed on extended rough sections.
Despite the long legs it’s reasonably stiff and pretty precise, without too much noticeable flex in the corners.
We’re not so taken by the Schwalbe Smart Sam tyres however, which lack a cornering edge and are unpredictable on the limit. Thanks to the hard compound, that limit is found pretty quickly too.
They’re better suited to mixed commuter style duties rather than proper off-road riding, so if you intend to get properly dirty then budget for a replacement set or haggle with the shop when you buy. The wheelset is decent enough, but you will need to keep on top of maintenance for the Shimano cup and cone hubs as they’ll need feeding grease and keeping tight. The Cube rims are eyeleted to help boost durability too.
The frame feels pretty tall and cramped, with a conical headset spacer preventing you from dropping the stem any lower to help counter this. That means it can feel a bit slow and clumsy when you want to quickly change direction, especially with the long stem.
Tiny handlebars are the final insult to the dynamic injury, preventing you from stamping any authority on the front end, especially once you get up to speed. That’s a real shame, as the frame is really nicely made with smooth internal cable routing and a narrow 27.2mm seatpost that offers up a bit of flex to help take the sting out of the back end while seated.
The own brand saddle is decently comfy too and it’s good to see a twin bolted micro adjust seatpost — it should be easy to get it set up perfectly and it’ll be tougher than a single bolt item too.
Despite Cube selling through conventional bike shops — with all the pre-sale advice and post-sales support that brings — they’ve managed to get a decent selection of kit for the relatively limited budget. That means a Shimano Deore rear mech shifting over a nine-speed 11-34T cassette by Acera shifters. There’s a triple chainset up front with 40/30/22T ratios to help match the gearing to the big wheels.
The Shimano M355 brakes have got decent feel, power and a positive bite that gives you plenty of confidence to wait until the last minute before you get the stoppers on. At 14.2kg / 31.3lb it’s not the lightest complete bike, which definitely makes itself known when you’re climbing or when you want to try and punch out of a tight corner too.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.