CUBE Bikes Stereo 170 SL 2020 Mountain Bike Review

CUBE Bikes Stereo 170 SL 2020

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

CUBE Bikes 372,314

At A Glance

Continuing from the well-received Stereo 150, Cubes latest addition to the Stereo range is the long travel Stereo 170. The Stereo range has never had such a long travel bike, but modern riders are now demanding more travel, bigger wheels and very little in the way of compromise. Cube has not strayed too far from the traditional Stereo design and the shape of the frame is clearly a Cube, as is the value, which they are famous for.

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Cube claim you can have it all with the Stereo 170; all the big hit confidence of a long travel bike with the playful agility and climbing prowess of a short travel machine. The aluminium frame features Cubes Agile Trail Geometry and uses there tried and tested four-bar suspension design. Interestingly there are two shock mounts, one for an air shock and one for coil, which allows the frame to work with both types of suspension easily. With internal routing and covered bearings, the frame is sleek and is of the quality we have come to expect from Cube.

On paper, the geometry Cube use remains conservative regarding short reach numbers and long seat tube lengths. My extra large has a reach of 486mm which is very much on the short side and a 520mm seat tube means long droppers are out of the question unless you are very tall. The head angle is more modern at 64.4 degrees (adjustable by 0.6 degrees) and the seat angle is 76.7 (effective). Couple all these numbers with a short rear end at 435mm and you have a recipe for a playful bike.

Available as SL, TM or Race, the Stereo hits some impressive price points starting a £3000 and rising to £4099 for the SL tested here. The TM is notable as it comes with a coil shock as standard and gets a whopping 180mm fork to match!

The SL leaves little to be desired with Fox Factory suspension front and rear, which combined with a Factory dropper creates a bike dripping with Kashima bling. Shimano's new XT drivetrain is proven to be great and alongside Race Faces Next Carbon cranks give a solid drivetrain. Four pot braking from Shimano and Newmen wheels just add to the great spec and decent rubber means you are ready to roll straight onto the trails.

On The Trail

Swing a leg over the Stereo 170 after riding a bunch of long bikes came as a bit of a shock. This is a short bike, which is not necessarily a bad thing but is in stark contrast to where bikes have been heading recently. With a reasonably steep seat angle and a tall front end, the seating position is upright and my knees felt pretty close to the bars when pedalling.

Climbing is comfortable and efficient given the good wheelset, light tyres and plenty of suspension to find grip. The effective seat angle looks good on paper, but I still moved the seat forward to keep the front pinned to the floor and this further shrunk the space available for my knees. When tapping out a long steady climb on easy ground, the Stereo 170 barrels along happily and the 170mm of travel is forgotten apart from a gentle bob from the suspension. On difficult climbs, the bike just felt too high and unstable with all that travel and I struggled to maintain balance on challenging climbs.

Point it donwnhill, the 170 is a mix of contrasting attributes and styles. It's manoeuvrable, nippy and playful due to its lightweight and compact sizing, but the huge depth of travel confuses things. Let off the brakes and the travel will take whatever you can throw at it, but the lack of front centre length means it never felt truly stable. As speed increased it was the geometry that held me back from finding the limits of travel.

There was, of course, a sweet spot when a trail would allow a good amount of speed, but still benefited from the long travel. Imagine tight twisty singletrack interspersed with short sections of gnarly rock gardens and massive drops. The Stereo allows you to skim through the trees, pedal hard and then huck off a cliff... It's an interesting combination.

Get the terrain right and the Stereo 170 shines, happy to be pointed down anything with the slack front end, and safe in the knowledge that you have more travel than you probably need. Pedal hard and power transfer is great with the bike zipping along like a trail bike. This massively helps as speed is what makes sense to the Stereo and anything other than 'fastest' just doesn't work. Push the bike hard and it comes alive, but go gentle and it really won't deliver the goods.

The kit on board can't be faulted, the suspension is about as good as you can get and is delivered well from the four bar linkage. Transmission and braking from Shimano just work exceptionally well and Newmen wheels continue to impress. A longer dropper would be nice, but with the tall seat tubes, this isn't possible. Given the capability of the bike, I would consider a more robust casing on the rear tyre, but the standard Hans Dampf covers all bases.

Overall

More of a long-travel trail bike than an enduro monster, the Stereo 170 goes against the grain to produce a short and playful 'big' bike. The Stereo 170 range hits some impressive price points and offers a spec that leaves little to be desired.

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This review was in Issue 62 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.

Tried this? What did you think?