For 2013, the Stereo no longer comes in a 26in wheel option. There’s now a choice between the 160mm (6.3in) travel 650b enduro shredder and a 140mm (5.5in) travel 29er sled. We managed to get an exclusive first ride on the 650b bike.
Ride & handling: Fast and fun, with confident steering
The 650b wheels are close enough to 26in that you don’t notice a huge difference. They didn’t slow the handling – even with the slack 66-degree head angle, the steering was responsive yet stable at speed.
We kept the Fox 34 TALAS fork confined to Trail mode, because it lacked support in the Descend setting. It was a similar case with the shock; the Descend setting felt plush around the car park but too soft when it came to smashing our way down the hill. The middle setting on the Trail mode was where we found the sweet spot – here, the shock remained composed and supportive.
The Fox shock worked better in Trail mode than Descend
On the descents, the Stereo enticed a bit of childish behaviour, making us want to hit things harder, jump bigger and try gapping roots that probably shouldn’t be gapped.
When climbing, the back end was surprisingly bob-free, with a small amount of movement rearing its head when winching away in the granny ring, but not enough to have a detrimental effect on the ride. It’s a 160mm travel bike after all – and we wouldn’t even have the granny ring if it were ours. We’d go straight for a 1×10 setup, especially since the bike weighs a crazily light 12kg (26.5lb).
Frame & equipment: Super-light with some spec stars but 3×10 gearing
Cube’s new HPC (High Performance Composite) frame is moulded in a way that lets them make the whole front triangle in one piece – a technique they also use on the rocker link and the chainstays – while the seatstays use a bonded bridge to increase strength and stiffness.
Even the bearing seats are moulded without any inserts, making the frame light and apparently stiffer too. Cube claim it tips the scales at 2,080g, which would make it one of the lightest 160mm (6.3in) travel frames ever.
There aren’t any ISCG mounts on the Stereo – something that would have been handy considering the intended use of the bike. Apparently Cube are working on an aftermarket solution though.
The Stereo has 160mm of travel up front, courtesy of Fox
This SL build sits in the middle of the range, but still features some trick components. Easton’s Haven bar and stem create a comfy cockpit that doesn’t need changing – at least not initially – and the brakes are Formula The Ones.
Gearing comes courtesy of SRAM’s X0 setup with a Type 2 rear mech. As we said above, the 3×10 gearing did confuse us – a 2×10 or even 1×10 drivetrain would have made more sense. The Reverb Stealth seatpost tops the build off nicely.