Cube offer their AMS line of full-suspension bikes with a bewildering variety of spec and travel options. Our 110 Race occupies the middle ground between the racing-snake short-travel options and the boulder-swallowing trail machines.
It’s up against some very strong competition at this price and is let down by its constipated rear end and a front that’s too high and too long. But if you like your suspension on the firm side, it’s decent value, and the handling would be fine with a shorter stem.
Ride & handling: Firm-feeling marathon bike that’ll appeal more to racers than trail warriors
Getting the best from a full-susser is partly down to making sure the weight distribution is right. The AMS 110’s longish head tube and long stem don’t mesh particularly well, giving the steering a wayward feel on steep climbs that a shorter, slightly lower front end would prevent. It’s easily sorted with a shorter stem and the removal of a headset spacer, though.
At the rear the Horst-esque four-bar suspension system keeps things active whether you’re pedalling, braking or coasting – or at least, it should. Cube have specced Fox’s RP23 shock in the highest available compression damping tune and this, inevitably, compromises small bump sensitivity.
If you’re the kind of rider who frets about suspension ‘bob’ you’ll love the firm, connected feel delivered by the AMS 110’s rear end. We’d prefer a slightly less constipated shock and the option of dialling in a bit more ProPedal platform damping.
Frame & equipment: Slick-shifting X0 transmission and some neat frame design touches for the money
One of the marketing-inspired acronyms adorning the Cube’s frame (there are plenty to choose from) is ‘HPA’. It stands for ‘high performance aluminium’. It sounds good, but it’s just Cube’s way of saying that the AMS 110’s 7005 alu tubes have been custom butted and hydroformed into a stiff, light chassis.
The detail’s certainly impressive. Each frame size features its own custom-designed shock linkage to ensure that the suspension works optimally. Even the main chainstay pivots are spaced as far outboard as possible to maintain rigidity – there’s as little as 1mm clearance from the crank on one side and the chain on the other.
Internally routed gear cables reduce clutter on the front triangle, help keep grit and water out, and even cut weight by reducing the length of cable housing required. The weight saving is minimal, though, and when it comes to replacing cables, you can expect the process to be a little more fiddly than usual.
Backing up the well thought out frame is a spec list that’s very respectable for the money, including an air-sprung Fox RP23 shock and RockShox Reba fork. SRAM’s X0 transmission gets the power reliably to the trail via a nifty set of straight-pull DT Swiss wheels shod with Schwalbe’s grippy, comfortable Rocket Ron tyres, while Formula RX brakes bring it all to a stop again.
We’re less keen on the 100mm Syntace stem fitted to our 18in test bike – it’s too long. And, while we’re griping, the foam grips are comfy but hold onto water when conditions are wet. If you’re the kind of rider who occasionally likes to drop their saddle out of the way – for a particularly tricky descent, for example – then the Cube’s seatpost will be a welcome sight. No need to guess where your preferred pedalling height is – there’s a handy scale etched into the front.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.