Cube’s carbon framed, 650b Stereo Super HPC 160 Race made a huge impact when it burst onto the scene last year. They pre-sold the entire stock. Not surprising, perhaps, considering we couldn’t believe how fast it was! So we were pretty excited to get a world exclusive first ride on a prototype, alloy framed Fritzz 650b 160 HPA at the Val di Sole World Cup in June (pricing is TBA).
Ride & handling: New shock and incredible DH ability
The HPA Fritzz felt right as soon as we hopped onto it. The most obvious difference in feel was the new rear shock. The Float X doesn’t use Fox’s Boost Valve technology, and has a silky smooth stroke throughout the entirety of the bike’s travel.
The back end still feels pretty efficient when it comes to pedalling though, with the Fritzz keen to claw its way up any hill we pointed it at. It’s when we pointed it back down the hill that our jaws dropped. The carbon Stereo is a remarkably capable bike, but the Fritzz takes things to another level.
The stiffer, burlier alloy frame gives a more solid feel, especially when it comes to pushing the rear end hard into tight turns. Matched with the Float X shock, the performance of the rear end elevates expectations in terms of what’s possible – so much so that we poached a couple of runs down the taped out DH track, just to see how far we could push it.
Cube fritzz 650b 160 hpa: Laurence Crossman-Emms/Future Publishing
Cube Fritzz 650b 160 HPA
Unfortunately the triple chainset seemed to be a massive noise-maker but, as we said, this isn’t the standard production spec and with a single ring in place we’re sure this would change.
Fox’s 2014 Float fork still isn’t quite perfect, feeding back too much vibration through the handlebar and still feeling a little divey when ploughing into those big loamy holes that Val di Sole is known for.
Frame & equipment: Aluminium prototype with Fox suspension
The Fritzz’s HPA frame is still light, our proto coming in at a claimed 2,950g. The HPA alloy construction takes in exactly the same geometry as the carbon HPC frame, with a tubeset that almost mirrors the carbon tube profiling. The only massively visible addition is the gusset between the top tube and seat tube.
The HPA Sensor frame also uses a standard tapered headset, opening up a world of aftermarket adjustment for slack-obsessed riders. The bottom bracket now has ISCG 05 chainguide mounts, too. The fact that they weren’t there before was our biggest gripe with the carbon frame.
The one-piece linkage allows for 160mm of rear end travel: Laurence Crossman-Emms/Future Publishing
The one-piece linkage allows for 160mm of rear end travel
We rode the designer’s personal prototype frame, which he’d built up for us to test. Fox’s 2014 Float X shock and 34 Float fork keep the Fritzz trucking through the bumps, with the shock featuring the prescribed tune for harder riding.
An XTR triple ring chainset didn’t make any use of the ISCG mounts, but the XTR clutch mech meant we didn’t drop the chain once. In production, some models will be dual ring while others have a ‘trail motion’ single ring, hard-hitting spec.
Wheels: e*thirteen TRS+
Tyres: Schwalbe Hans Dampf First Ride
Fork: 2014 Fox 34 Float FIT CTD 650, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Shock: 2014 Fox Float X CTD
Drivetrain: Shimano XTR
Seatpost: Fox DOSS
Weight (prototype frame): 2.95kg (6.50lb)
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.