There was a time not long ago where wheel size was a major factor in determining the capabilities of a mountain bike. 29 inch wheeled bikes would have less travel and be more trail or XC orientated, whilst the smaller 650b wheels would be reserved for the exciting stuff.

Cube launched their new Stereo 140 last year, with its new frame and geometry, but with small wheels, leading to plenty of questions about where the 29er had gone. It’s was clear that the Enduro team were running something different, but the details weren’t clear, until now.

Whereas in the past the 29er versions were shorter travel machines, for Cube the Stereo 150 has more travel, is more aggressive and most importantly has larger wheels. The Stereo 140 650b may well be a trail bike, but the 150 29er is definitely an Enduro bike. How times have changed.

History

The Stereo range last had a full update in 2013 where things moved on from the AMS system. When the Enduro ‘Action Team’ started racing they used the Stereo 160 initially before Greg Callaghan got interested in the Stereo 140 29er. The 140 was certainly not designed to be raced in Enduro, but Greg pushed on and won the Irish round of the EWS in 2015 aboard the 140. When asked about this it’s clear that as well as being obviously ecstatic about winning, there was also some relief and vindication that he chose the right bike for the job!

This led to further issues, as the team moved onto the 140 29er around the same time the 160 Stereo Action Team model was launched in 2016. So despite the team having access to cutting-edge enduro race bike, they kept leaning on the 140 29er to get the job done. Since then, Cube has been working hard on the new Stereo platform and what we have now is a bike born from racers choosing to race the ‘wrong’ bike, which is now very much, the ‘right’ bike.

The Bike

As the name suggests the 150 has 150mm of rear travel and is paired with a 160mm fork. The wheels are obviously 29er and the whole bike is unashamedly enduro in every respect. The important numbers sit at a 66-degree head angle and a 75.5-degree seat angle, which bring things up to date. Reach numbers in large are 457mm and the chainstays sit at 435mm and are shorter than the old 29er, this has in part been aided by Boost spacing.

Interestingly there is still space for a front mech to be mounted behind a hatch if required. The team still use a double chainring with a Shimano Di2 set up which seems to work well for them.

Cable routing has been important for the designers, with forward facing, front mounted entry at the headtube. These entry points are interchangeable allowing for one or two shifters, but also different diameter cable for the Di2 wire. They push in and clamp the cable firmly so there is no chance of cable rub.

The shock is a trunnion mounted version and all the pivots run on full 100% grease filled bearings. The seat stays and chainstays have no bridge and offer plenty of clearance, but the frame is designed around standard tyres rather than 2.6inch versions. ISCG05 tabs allow for a chain guide if required.

The suspension has been improved over previous models giving a leverage ratio that gives twice as much progression than previously. Essentially this gives the bike better sensitivity, more mid stroke support and better bottom out resistance. Anti squat, anti rise and kick back have all been addressed and tweaked to improve the performance. Less squat under power and more active under braking, the Stereo 150 is definitely a revamped system.

The materials on offer are either the C:62 or the C:68 carbon frames. Both use three components of inter modulus fibres, ultra high modulus fibres and nano resin to create the magic material. The difference between the two is the 68 has 68% carbon rather than 62% and therefore uses less resin in the construction. It also contains Spread Tow fibres and all this combined this gives 25% thinner walls in the C:68.

Spec and Pricing

Four models are available, the C:62 Race comes in at £2999 and features Fox 36 performance forks and a DPX2 shock. It runs a double chainring but is easily converted and uses a generally XT build. At the price, this is exceptional value.

The C:62 SL gets a Rockshox build with a Lyric RCT3 and Super Deluxe RC3 and comes in at £3499. This is a one by drivetrain with SRAM Eagle, a Cube dropper post and Newmen wheels.

The C:68 TM is the Factory model with Fox 36 and X2 2019 shocks dealing with the suspension. It’s race-ready with decent tyres, Eagle drivetrain and Fox dropper. The price is £3999.

There is one other model, the Action Team model, which although we have a price of £5499, we as yet have no further details. I would expect full Di2 and Fox for this model though, and maybe carbon wheels (pure speculation).

The Ride

We were invited to Finale to try out the Stereo and give it a good testing on the trails of the legendary riding area. The model to test was the TM edition with full Fox factory suspension. Uplifting all day meant this was really a test of the descending capabilities of the machine, rather than hill climbing but descending is what this bike is made for.

Sizing is the first thing of note about the Stereo, which has grown in length from the previous models. The 22inch now gets a reach of 477mm which is longer than previous and gives more cockpit space for the tall. Pedalling along the flat the riding position is comfortable, with the steeper seat angle giving the ride a purposeful and efficient feeling.

If you are looking for the longest and slackest enduro bike out there then the Stereo 150 won’t be on your shortlist. The first impression is that they have kept the Cube feel in the new bike and it is lively manoeuvrable and impatient in its style. Power through the pedals is impressive and shows a well balanced bike that can both sprint and plummet.

Dialling in the suspension was straightforward, and with the 2019 Fox suspension, it’s always possible to get the perfect set up. I felt the bike suited it’s progressive suspension well and was able to give a depth of travel whilst retaining a lively and playful personality.

The trails were rock strewn chaos and covered in a mixture of rapidly drying moisture and mud from previous rainstorms. these were tricky conditions and the Stereo did a great job of instilling confidence. Having a bike with decent tyres is always a joy, and Cube has sensibly specced the Stereo with Magic Marys and Hans Dampfs for an aggressive ride.

Moving to more mellow trails once the suspension was dialled it was clear that the Stereo is a fast bike. Cornering is a nimble and fast experience and powering the pedals between corners felt like energy well spent. The support from the suspension also gave a platform to push against and pump every roller and back side available.

I felt that the Stereo would still rather jump over the rocks than plough through them, and seeing Greg Callaghan ride it was clear that the Stereo is a dangerous race weapon in the right hands. For my ability, I felt a longer bike would have given me more confidence to open the throttle in a straight line, but that could perhaps be at the expense of the spritely character of the bike. More time on the bike will tell, but being well over six foot, a double XL size would sweeten the deal for me and make me feel a little more at home.

Endless corners, punchy pedalling sections and gnarly rocks that want to eat your bike, this is a combination that suits the Stereo very well. Many big Enduro bikes lose the snappy speed and manoeuvrability but the Stereo plots a fine line that mixes it all together. This could be a bike that is many things to many people. The Enduro tag attached to the bike certainly wouldn’t preclude the bike being used for heavy duty trail riding or all day epics.

Cube has remained true to their style and created a bike that is light, efficient, yet ready to attack the most technical trails. The balance of confidence and agility is the real win here for the 150, which means it is a hugely fun bike to ride.

Conclusion

This is one fast bike. The Stereo is a lively bike which combines some of the best attributes from many different styles of bike. Fast both on the pedals and on the descents it’s a lot of fun to ride and excels through tight, twisty, playful trails. There is little that this bike won’t be able to do, and it’s all been put together into an exceptionally good-looking package.

Wed 25th Apr, 2018 @ 9:30 am

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