If you’re after a trail bike that’ll flatter both your skill and your fitness on long-haul epics and leave others scratching their heads as you saunter over techy sections that have left them stalled, then look no further than Cube’s top value, super-smooth big-wheeler.
Ride & handling: Trail smoothing cruiser designed for deceptively fast and fun long distance efficiency
Cube have used the top-corner-rocker-link AMS platform for years as a simple and effective way of joining the suspension dots. Add a top-of-the-range, low leverage Fox shock, big tyres and wide handlebar, and there’s almost nothing that’ll stop the 120mm-travel 29 Race.
It’s the unshakeable steering authority of the 750mm-wide, flat carbon fibre bar that dominates initial ride feel. The monster width means the tips move more for a given change in angle at the wheel, making it easier to put in small, traction saving/line nudging movements.
It also makes it harder for rocks and roots to pull you off line, giving you more control in technical situations. A mid-length (80mm) stem also means a less twitchy steering feel than a short one. It does tend to tuck under suddenly if you’re braking hard into a downhill corner if you’re not careful though, so think lazy rather than lairy.
Squeezing the long-stroke Kashima-coated shock with such a big-leverage linkage means an outrageously smooth ride at the rear. The result is that the Cube glides across rocky, rooty sections that chip the forward momentum of smaller wheels or firmer suspension setups. In fact, ground connection is so consistent and hovercraft-like we regularly thought we’d punctured the rear tyre.
This super-easy shock movement does come at a price, though. Even with a full range of Adaptive Logic low-speed compression damping settings on the RP23 shock it takes an experienced tuner to stop the suspension squelching through its stroke with every hard pedal dig or larger impact.
Use the triple chainset to keep revs high and pedal pulse low and what the AMS will winch itself up is astonishing. Because it’s so smooth and encourages efficient spinning rather than angry stomping it also reduces fatigue on longer rides. While it tends to be gapped on the early climbs it nearly always spins up the last one in the lead.
Frame & equipment: Simple but usefully stiff chassis; excellent value, control friendly componentry
The AMS 29’s uninterrupted front triangle gets big hydroformed and anodised pipes for strength and scratch proofing, with a tapered head tube and press-fit bottom bracket for oversized stiffness. A DT Swiss RWS screw-through axle stiffens up the chainstays, so despite a skinny looking, open-basket rocker linkage it’s usefully tight on the trail. There’s room for a conventional down tube bottle mount and loads of space round the rear tyre, too.
Kit is all top quality: a Kashima-coated Fox RP23 shock and RLC fork, SRAM 3×10 transmission and Formula R1 brakes with alloy spider rotors to match the smooth rolling, Schwalbe-shod DT Swiss wheels and other blue trim. A flat carbon bar completes a medium-weight but undoubtedly top value bike.
Trail Bike of the Year preview
The testers reflect on this year’s crop of bikes
|Name||AMS 29 Race (12)|
|Description||17, 19, 21, 23in sizes|
|Front Wheel||DT CSW MA 2.0 29er wheelset|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evolution Pacestar Kevlar, 2.25in|
|Top Tube (in)||23.5|
|Standover Height (in)||29.7|
|Seat Tube (in)||18.5|
|Bottom Bracket Height (in)||12.9|
|Stem||Syntace F109, oversized, 80mm|
|Saddle||Selle Italia X1|
|Bottom Bracket||SRAM Press Fit|
|Rear Shock||Fox Factory Float RP23 boost valve, Kashima coat|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM X0|
|Handlebar||Syntace Vector carbon low rider, 750mm|
|Grips/Tape||Cube ultralight screw-on race grip|
|Front Derailleur||SRAM X0|
|Frame Material||HPA 7005 advanced hydroform ERC triple-butted alloy|
|Fork||Fox Factory 32 Float 29 FIT RLC, 15QR, taper, 120mm|
|Cranks||SRAM S1400, 44-33-22T|
|Cassette||SRAM 1070, 12-36T|
|Brakes||Formula R1X, 180/180mm rotors|
|Rear Wheel||DT CSW MA 2.0 29er wheelset|