At A Glance
The Cube Stereo range stands in the market as an extensive arsenal of weapons. A popular and long-standing bike which comes in many differing guises, from 120 to 160mm travel and with frames made of either aluminium or carbon fibre, this one being the 160 C:62 Race. This means that it sports 160mm of travel at both the front and rear, the frame is made from a material with a carbon content of 62 percent and is designed to be fast in the toughest of racing situations. This is essentially Cube's more affordable carbon enduro racing machine, pricing in at a respectable £2999 GBP.Buy Enduro Bikes on
The Stereo C:62 Race is well equipped for all-mountain and enduro adventures, thanks to a Fox 34 Fit4 suspension fork and Fox Float DPS shock. Shimano's 2x11 XT groupset might have some of you talking about the good old days, and the new XT brakeset is a reliable and precise set up for solid stopping power. Robust and light Answer Atac wheels wrapped up in grippy Schwalbe Hans Dampf, and Rock Razor tyres keep the beast rolling while a splattering of good Raceface components rounds out this total package.
Always striving to improve, Cube have made some nice looking changes to the frame in their aim to set new standards for weight and performance. The reach has been increased to improve the cornering and downhill capabilities; the head angle is a touch slacker. The stand-over height is lower to allow greater freedom of movement; the chainstay length has been shortened to keep her nimble, and the seat angle is steeper to improve its climbing prowess. There is now room for a shock with a piggyback reservoir, and the frame is ready to accept Shimano’s electric Di2 shift technology if you fancy upgrading at some point. The new model also sees the introduction of an ISCG mount, updated internal cable routeing and a Boost 148 axle. Needless to say, the design team have listened to previous feedback and worked hard to make the changes needed to make this bike an even more desirable enduro unit.
The frame is a neat looking chassis using their Advanced Twin Mold Technology which layers up the carbon to keep a good balance between weight and strength. The four bar linkage system remains as a proven piece in the Stereo jigsaw and holds the Fox Float shock in a position which makes switching between climb, trail and descend easy while on the move.
On The Trail
My first ride was one that would pose a stern test for any bike. On the long climb which involved some carrying and technical steep pedalling I instantly became a fan. Thanks to the low weight of such a ‘big’ bike (12.8kg), carrying it for long periods felt a joy in comparison to some heavier steeds I’ve slung over my shoulder before. When it came to pedalling up, the bike felt extremely capable, being not too long and with a steeper seat angle, it ploughed onwards through a mess of big rocks with enough ease for me to feel immediately impressed. The tyres provide good traction, and the suspension felt great after a quick and easy set up before setting off. So far, so good!
Once at the top, it was time to slam the seat (no need to get the Allen keys out as the 150mm RockShox Reverb just required the push of a button), click the suspension into ‘descend’ mode and we were ready. The descent to follow is one that always provides a tingle of nerves, the knowledge that ahead lies some full on steep riding over loose scree and boulder fields of sharp rocks where getting it wrong isn’t an option. Immediately I became aware of the immense stiffness of the frame beneath me; it felt solid. Combined with the plush long travel suspension set-up, I was inspired as I confidently picked my way down some steep, loose and tight corners. By the time we got to the bottom, I was stoked with my ride. I had managed to ride through sections that had previously had me shaking and pushing down, but the Cube had allowed me to point at my line and dispatch it with relative ease.
The more I rode the bike, the more I liked it. The pedalling power is very direct thanks to the stiff, light frame and the effective four bar linkage system at the rear. The front end doesn’t wander, and it feels equally as consistent whether climbing a smooth or technical surface.
The fun factor is high; it feels great popping off every feature possible and pumping it out of corners. I will admit that even though the Stereo 160 has been given a slightly longer top tube over its predecessor, it still feels a little short. But does this necessarily mean it’s a bad thing? Like most things, it’s down to personal preference. I liked the ‘shortness’ of the reach at times as it adds to the playful feel of the bike, encouraging you to ride with a bit of style rather than smashing the straight line. That said I’m shorter in my torso and longer in the leg so it didn’t feel overly cramped around the cockpit for me, but make sure you try before you buy. It would be really interesting to see what it would be like with an extra few centimetres of reach though!
At high speeds, it certainly felt more exciting and scary than some longer bikes I have tried, a little twitchy at times, but then when it gets steeper and more technical, it comes into its own. When the Cube 160 is pushed hard over challenging terrain, everything underneath you feels in-sync. The rear suspension matches what the forks can take with ease providing a balanced feel, almost making what should be a hair-raising descent feel a little bit safe. The Fox 34’s have upped their game too, and they complimented the bike perfectly, keeping the front end in control at all times.
The kit that clads the impressive frame is all good stuff. I changed to some slightly wider bars with a bit more rise, and this brought the bike to life a bit more. The 2x11 setup seems a bit overkill; it would be just fine with a 1x11 instead which would take away some weight and the cluttered feel in the cockpit. Saying that, it never skipped a beat and provided crisp shifting all the time on the rare occasion that I used those unfamiliar left handed buttons.
A top quality carbon fibre frame kitted out with a more than decent list of components makes this a very attractive package for the price. Cube have worked hard to make some significant changes, and it shows. This is a bike that instils confidence while keeping the rider smiling, the stiff frame is excellent, and the suspension platform ensures a smooth, predictable ride even in the roughest of terrain.Buy Enduro Bikes on
This review was in Issue 43 of IMB.For more information visit CUBE Bikes
By Ewen TurnerEwen 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.