From the first push of the pedals, it’s clear the Cube Reaction is a cross-country race bike. Its stiff, box-like belly helps ensure every ounce of power is delivered to the rear wheel.
It’s traditional in shape, apart from its 110mm stem, and Cube has used its buying power well to fit a decent spec, but how does this all tie in together between the tape?
Cube Reaction C62 SL frame
The Reaction’s frame is a game of two halves, with the down tube and chainstays fairly big and boxy for maximum power delivery, and a more svelte top tube and seatstays keeping weight sensible and adding a touch of comfort, on paper at least.
In theory, the skinny 27.2mm seatpost should add a bit of ‘give’ too. The frame is dropper-ready, but the seat tube diameter limits your options.
Cables enter at the front of the head tube to minimise rub. There’s also plenty of protection against chain suck on the driveside chainstay, although this is less of a problem with 1x drivetrains, as fitted here.
The rear axle requires an Allen key to remove, which will slow things down in a race situation. Mud clearance isn’t the most generous, so you’d struggle to fit a tyre much wider than 2.25in.
Frame geometry is middle-of-the-road compared with the other bikes on test, with 69-degree head and 73.5-degree seat angles plus a 441mm reach (21in size).
The long stem and narrow bar are a definite throwback to sketchier times – a shorter stem would improve handling no end. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Cube Reaction C62 SL kit
Fox’s 32 StepCast is a popular XC fork for good reason, with a low weight and race-focused damping, which prioritises efficiency over smoothness on small chatter.
You get a full Shimano 12-speed drivetrain and brake set-up, and the bike rolls on Fulcrum wheels, which I had no issues with in testing.
Schwalbe provides the Racing Ray and Racing Ralph tyre combo. The rubber compounds aren’t the softest, but the treads were among the most aggressive on test.
Cube’s own Newmen brand provides the long stem, narrow bar (740mm) and fairly slim grips.
Cube Reaction C62 SL ride impressions
The Reaction’s reactions are punchy, with the direct-feeling back end thrusting you forward with each pedal stroke.
That race-optimised damping keeps the 32 fork stable in open mode, and there’s also an on-bar lockout for tarmac sprints, which I used to good effect on my faster test loop.
Fox’s 32 StepCast fork has cut-out lower legs to keep the chassis narrower and therefore lighter, while still fitting a Boost front wheel. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The Cube is great for sprinting up short, sharp climbs, but on rougher ascents the fairly hard-compound tyres leave the bike scrabbling for grip as they struggle to mould over rocks and roots.
That said, the Reaction performs well in loose, muddy conditions. This is because the Ray and Ralph tyres have sharper, more spaced-out treads than tyres such as Ikons, Rekons and Fast Traks found elsewhere, giving more purchase in the slop.
The difference is marginal, but the Cube powered up slippery climbs. On steep drags, the broad range of the Shimano gearing and the stretched position, thanks to the long stem, mean there are few excuses for not getting to the top. With your weight towards the front axle, there’s no front-wheel lift or wander.
On the way down, the Cube doesn’t quite make the grade. The back end is stiff and the tyres have to be run relatively hard (the skinny carcasses mean you can’t reduce pressure much to increase comfort without risking punctures), leading to a jarring ride that makes it hard to maintain speed over rocks or roots. There’s little noticeable flex from the skinny seatpost.
On tight, twisty tracks, the long stem slows reactions, leaving the Reaction feeling a touch more ponderous than the other XC bikes I had on test.
When it’s steep, your weight is shifted further forward over the front axle, leading to a more nervous feeling; the short 423mm back end does little to add stability here.
On fast, flowy terrain though, the Cube holds speed reasonably well, and it thrives on mellower trails, carving between berms with the XT drivetrain and brakes never missing a beat.
Cube Reaction C:62 SL geometry
Sizes (* tested): 15, 17, 19, 21*, 23in
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 69 degrees
Chainstay: 42.3cm / 16.65in
Seat tube: 51.5cm / 20.28in
Top tube: 62.8cm / 24.72in
Head tube: 13cm / 5.12in
Bottom bracket drop: 6.5cm / 2.56in
Bottom bracket height: 30cm / 11.81in
Wheelbase: 1,133mm / 44.61in
Stack: 67.67cm / 26.64in
Reach: 44.1cm / 17.36in
How we tested
The bike was tested as part of a four bike carbon hardtail test with a price-point of £2,000 to 2,500.
Testing took place before the Covid-19 lockdown regulations on local cross-country loops, and included short sprints through the woods on natural and purpose-built trails. Comfort was also tested on longer rides.
Bikes also on test: