CUBE Bikes STEREO HYBRID 140 HPA Race 500 27.5 2017 Mountain Bike Review

CUBE Bikes STEREO HYBRID 140 HPA Race 500 27.5 2017

Reviews / Electric Bikes

CUBE Bikes 354,485

At A Glance

Cube have been at the cutting edge of e-bikes since the beginning, and a huge amount of their sales are now electric, across all types of bikes. The Stereo range is the heart of their full suspension mountain bike line up, and have 'e' versions to match their purely human powered siblings.

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The Stereo 140 is simply their 140mm chassis, and the edition of the electric motor shifts the frame geometry a little, but the core of the bike remains the same with Cubes tried and tested geometry. It gains 35mm on the chainstays and is slightly shorter in the reach, giving a pretty compact frame size with a 435mm reach in the Large, growing only to 440mm in the extra large.

Featuring the now classic and well proven Bosch CX motor and a 500Wh battery, it's pedal assist power output is arguably the current industry standard. This is combined with Shimano XT for the rest of the drivetrain including some tiny gears thanks to the 46t cassette. Braking duties are again Shimano XT, a high performing set of stoppers which is important with e-bikes and the added weight.

The suspension rests on Fox 34 Performance forks on the front end and a Float DPS on the back. Cube impress on value again as the price comes in at £3699, which is pretty amazing for an e-bike of this calibre, bearing in mind some new e-bikes are hitting the market at close to £10,000.

Finishing kit and components are mostly from the Cube range, including bars, stem, grips etc. The major niggle for me is that it rocks up with narrow 740mm bars and an enormous stem, which all looks rather dated.

Kudos to Cube for putting durable tyres on, and the Hans Dampfs are always predictable and reliable, especially in the Super gravity format (reinforced sidewalls). These are attached to some wheels built from a mix of XT hubs and some Cube own brand rims.Also, we see Cube's own branded 150mm drop post; it’s functional, has a pretty good lever and helps keep the overall cost down.

On The Trail

E-bikes and their character can first be understood from the way the motor assists the rider. With the Bosch motors, it always feels like someone has strapped a rocket to my bike, regardless of the power mode, and instant acceleration is alarmingly impressive. Rather than just feeling like you have legs of steel, it's a serious push forward and gets you up to speed very quickly. There is no hiding the electrical assistance.

The improved display from earlier models means it is now smaller and fits nicely on the bar rather than the big central screen. This gives easy access to the power modes which range from eco, tour, sport and turbo. Turbo is nuts, and most of the time the other three power modes suffice for 99% of riding.

Climbing instantly becomes a joyful and rather exciting experience. The longer chainstays help keep traction for the back end and keep things stable as you rocket up the hill. The long stem helps keep the front down but feels a bit unwieldy with the power of the bike. Tuning in the power mode and gear choice helps find the best mix of torque and traction. Just turning up the power is not enough, and balance needs to be found to avoid spinning out on loose or wet ground. Get this balance right, and there are few climbs that cannot be conquered.

The whole bike is a compact affair, which gives the bike a somewhat manoeuvrable feel but being weighed down by the battery and motor, this is then reduced. At speed, the weight helps keep everything stable, but the short nature of the bike doesn't compliment this stability and works against it. Trying a shorter stem and wider bars helped keep the unit on line, but further shortened the bike and left me feeling a little vulnerable up front.

The Stereo 140 really shines on flowier and berm laden trails, where the short frame can give an advantage and feel fast between turns or over the jumps. The assistance on offer opens up so many variations of trails, taking on descents as climbs and vice versa. Looking for long technical ascents becomes a real focus, and trying to achieve what Bosch call 'Uphill Flow' which sounds funny until you get on an e-bike and put the power down.

All this uphill flow means that being able to sit down and spin is important, and I struggle to see the justification for hardtail e-bikes. The 140mm is enough to soak up plenty of terrain while still being able to keep on the gas.The range of the battery is hugely dependent on the way the bike is ridden, and which power setting is chosen. Getting a 40km ride with 1000m of ascent is easily possible without being too frugal with the battery. Alternatively, I found myself hitting my local loops harder and faster, rather than looking for the long distance routes. However you use it, the battery indicator is clear, with five bars to show you what’s left, and reduce 'range anxiety'.

The range of the battery is hugely dependent on the way the bike is ridden, and which power setting is chosen. Getting a 40km ride with 1000m of ascent is easily possible without being too frugal with the battery. Alternatively, I found myself hitting my local loops harder and faster, rather than looking for the long distance routes. However you use it, the battery indicator is clear, with five bars to show you what’s left, and reduce 'range anxiety'.

With 2018 coming rapidly over the horizon, it's clear that the next wave of Cube e-bikes will build on this solid foundation and further cement their position in the electric bike market. For now, the Stereo 140 is still relevant and is extremely versatile and very powerful.

Overall

The 140 Stereo Hybrid is a great example of a modern electric mountain bike. The geometry may be a little behind the current fashion, but the components, price and raw power from the Bosch motor give a heady mix that is hard to ignore. It’s exciting to ride, both up and down the hill and if you are one of the riders out there knocking e-bikes, maybe swing a leg over one and try to understand what they are all about. An hour or so on this will not only have you converted to their true potential; you’ll be grinning from ear to ear!

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This review was in Issue 49 of IMB.

For more information visit CUBE Bikes

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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