CUBE Bikes Stereo 140 HPA SL 27.5 2017 Mountain Bike Review

CUBE Bikes Stereo 140 HPA SL 27.5 2017

Reviews / Trail Bikes

CUBE Bikes 359,254

At A Glance

The Stereo range is broad and is a name applied to lots of bikes in the Cube range. They all feature the same suspension platform but come in 4 different travel sizes, 120mm, 140mm, 150mm and 160mm. They are available in aluminium or carbon (in some models), 27.5 or 29er and the 150mm version is now with Plus size tyres. This gives more than enough choice, and I challenge a rider not to find a bike they wouldn’t like in the Stereo range.

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So what do we have here? This is the Stereo 140 HPA SL 27.5 featuring 140mm of travel, an aluminium frame and 27.5-inch wheels. The suspension system as mentioned travels across the range and is a tried and tested four bar design with a chainstay pivot, removing much of the braking input from the system to keep it active. Up front, this is matched with a set of Pikes at 150mm to give a balanced set up all round.

The equipment is a mixture of tried and tested quality kit, with SRAM X1 handling the shifting with an addition of a set of RaceFace Aeffect cranks to finish it off. The braking is again by SRAM and this time in the shape of the reliable Guide Rs. Things get more exciting in the wheel department with a set of DT Swiss CSW AM 2.7 Straightpull wheels which add a bit of colour to the mix. The seat post is a generous 150mm drop Reverb in Stealth, which is great to see, especially on larger sized frames. No expense has been spared on the kit with RaceFace bars, stem and an SDG saddle rounding out the package. Worth a mention is the rubber, the new Fat Albert’s from Schwalbe, which look a little odd but they are based on a classic tyre and have been revamped.

The whole bike is a bright and confident looking machine with a proven setup and spec ready for action.

On The Trail

There is no getting away from the fact that Cube bikes are somewhat compact. With the world of trail and enduro bikes getting longer and longer, Cube still represents what they would call Agile Trail Geometry, which keeps frames low for maximum manoeuvrability but not super long. For me, the optimum size is a 20inch frame, despite the bigger 22inch, this only gains 4mm of reach, so I prefer to have a lower standover height as the 22inch gets a little tall. As always sizing is a personal thing, so swinging a leg over is always the best way to check.

Having ridden most of the Stereo range, the 140 was the size I have neglected most and spent the least time on. Hopping on board, the feel is one of familiarity, and the bike immediately makes you feel at home. There is no outlandish geometry or quirky touches; just a well thought out trail bike that's eager to go. This is definitely what I would call an easy bike to ride; I didn't take much time at all to get it dialled in and comfortable.

Pedalling off the mark felt dynamic and efficient, and I would expect so too, with such a well-developed platform used across the range. Climbing is an engaging affair, the relatively short feel of the bike allows for plenty of body movement around the frame on technical climbs, easy to get your inner trials rider out if need be. Spinning up roads again is not an unpleasant experience, and although the tyres don't feel dragging, they don't suggest that smooth ground is their forte.

Get the Stereo going with a bit of pace, and it starts to light-up and responds well to twisty sinuous trails with plenty of air time and tight technical corners. Pumping and pushing into corners is a pleasurable experience while attempting to find the limits of those tyres... Now I mention it; those tyres aren't as bad as I first judged on appearances. The rear is definitely good, with a fast enough rolling centre but with some good bite on the edge. The front is a bit different, with its spacious knobs looking a bit like a mud tyre but with less pronounced spikes, it definitely is better on softer mud where the edges can dig into something rather than hard-packed ground. I'd take the rear but would prefer a reliable Hans Dampf on the front.

Taking the Stereo into some more wild terrain didn't feel like a terrible idea, having shown its nimble trail fighting abilities to be excellent. On the steeper loamy and rooty ground, the balance between front a rear wheel felt good, with the active back-end fighting for traction no matter how much brake I grabbed. I did find that it was just lacking in a bit of front length to really feed the nose around steep corners, but it did it's best on terrain which was perhaps a little extreme.

There is little to write home about from the parts on the Stereo as it's a mix of reliable and well-known kit. The tyres are different, but the drivetrain and braking systems are solid, and the wheelset stayed stiff and true throughout.

Overall

The 140mm travel version I feel is the best of the Stereos, allowing the bike plenty of capability for performing on rough ground and being pushed hard while still keeping it all under control on climbs. The kit is pretty much faultless and takes the best of what is on the market at the moment. My only wish would be for a little more length in the reach of the frame, but that is probably because I am slightly taller than your average human at over 6’4”!

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This review was in Issue 47 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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