About a week ago we took delivery of a pair of brand new Cube Stereo bikes from our friends at Zero G in Bristol. Cube are one of the most rapidly emerging bike brands in the UK at the moment, and with their help we have been equipped to ride their products during 2011. Here are our first impressions of the £2649 Stereo Race and the £2399 women's specific Stereo WLS.
We have been waiting some time to get our hands on the Stereos for some time, such is the demand for Cube's bikes this year - and we also have a Fritzz downhill Bike due to be delivered sometime soon too! Cube are the first German brand we've come across who look set to join the ranks of "Euro bikes that break the mainstream", like Lapierre from France and Commencal from Andorra before them. Following a makeover this year the bikes are now strikingly stylish, with some models - such as our Stereos - sporting a trendy new look.
We have been out on them a few times now - and we're pleased to report that we have lots of extremely good things to say about them, with only a couple of very minor points which might be improved upon for next year.
Both bikes are alloy framed, with extensive hydroforming, and have a super-plush 140mm rear end driving a Fox RP23 Boost Valve shock. The front end is mated to 150mm forks on both bikes. There are bolt through axles front and rear - giving super accurate handling, which combines perfectly with the relaxed geometry perfect for technical trail riding.
The women's specific WLS has tweaked geometry for smaller ladies - and it's one of only two140mm travel full sussers we can think of on the UK market (the other being the Orange Diva). The bike has a shorter top tube and a low standover height - George is small, so the 15" frame with a short reach is a blessing! Too many magazines downplay the usefulness of women's specific bike - but for a shorter rider we think they are often a far better option. The WLS is also tweaked with female specific contact points to further tune the bike to girlies!
The spec of the Stereo WLS is impressive - 150mm Rockshox Revelation 2-Step with Poploc, there's a full 10 speed XT drivetrain, colour coded DT Swiss Wheels shod with Schwalbe Fat Albert tyres, Formula R1 brakes and excellent Syntace finishing kit means that the complete bike weighs in at an extremely respectable 12.2kg / 26.9lbs.
The Stereo Race has an XT Drivetrain with an XTR rear mech, Formula The One Brakes, carbon Syntace finishing kit and the same DT Swiss Wheels as the WLS - albeit in green rather than white! The big difference here is that the Race is specced with a FIT-damped Fox Talas 150 Fork.
We're finding that both bikes love speed - the low bottom bracket makes the bike feel incredibly stable - and that the relaxed geometry makes steep, technical riding a pleasure. The bolt-thru axles really make the bike feel extremely solid - George has mentioned that she in particular feels that the bike is far more capable and solid in its feel than her old Giant Trance W.
The rear ends of both bikes are identical - the Fox shock is driven from both ends, and is fully active at all times. I have to say that this is the least pedal-affected bike I've ever ridden - far more so than the FSR on my 2008 S-Works Enduro or the Contact System on my old 2009 Commencal. Even compared with my old Scott Genuis I am finding climbing on the Stereo a revelation! Even without using the Pro-Pedal the bike clambers up even the rockiest of climbs climb quickly and efficiently.
Point the bike downhill and it really rips - the back end is tight, nimble and the quality of the suspension makes the travel feel far longer than it really is. Riding "The Wall" trail last weekend it was clear to see that the suspension action front and rear is really well balanced - the bike doesn't dive into switchbacks, nor does it wallow at all as the trail rises and falls - but hit a rocky section like "The Graveyard" at speed and the bike simply takes it entirely in its stride.
The only points we'd like to see improved really are very minor - the stems are a fraction too long (maybe 10mm), the conical spacer on the WLS means it's tricky to reduce the height of the bars for smaller riders and the windows on the Shimano XT shifters aren't compatible with the Formula levers - meaning that if (like us) you want to run the brakes inboard of the shifters you'll have to remove the indicator windows.
There will be a full review of the bikes on the Singletrack Safari website once we have put a few more miles in - but for now thanks again to Zero G in Bristol for their support and we're eagerly awaiting the final bike's arrival!