CUBE Bikes Sting Super HPC Race  2012 Mountain Bike Review

CUBE Bikes Sting Super HPC Race 2012

Reviews / Trail Bikes

CUBE Bikes 368,457

At a glance

We have been lucky to have ridden several offerings from Cube over the last couple of years and so far none have disappointed. So, when the Sting turned up it was very welcome and within an hour of it’s arrival it was built up and ready to roll.

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With its well thought out livery and attention to detail Cube have put together another very fine looking machine that represents great value for money.

The Sting is a 120mm travel bike which utilises the Dual Trail Control design that Cube uses to great effect on its longer legged trail bikes, so how will this smart looking shorter travel steed stack up?

Tech heads

Cube uses nothing but its top end materials and technologies in its Super HPC bikes which means the Sting is light, stiff and strong.

The front end has a tapered head tube that is joined to the top and down tubes by a large carbon yoke that is there to ensure stiffness. The down tube then flows down to the 3D box press fit bottom bracket area , the seat tube starts out some way up the down tube and the top tube slopes down to meet it quite low down and then has a brace to just beneath the seat clamp. All this adds up to a compact front triangle which helps to reduce flex in the frame.

The Dual Trail Control system places the shock behind the seat tube where it could be exposed to mud and muck but Cube mount a guard on the seat stay bridge to protect it.

The concept of the system is to minimise pedal bob and provide a neutral platform that also reduces pedal kickback, the placement of the shock also helps to keep the centre of gravity low.

Kit wise Cube have always spec’d their bikes with top end kit and the Sting is no exception.

Shimano XT is used for the drivetrain and brakes, Cube have stuck to 3 x 10 speed on the Sting. Fox take care of the suspension both front and back with Syntace stem, bars and seat pin. Wheels are DT Swiss CSW MA with a 15mm front and X12 rear axle, tyres are fast rolling Schwalbe Rocket Rons in 2.25.

Geometry

Sting Super HPC Race 18’’ Medium

Seat tube 460mm
Effective top tube 590mm
Head tube 130mm
Chain stay 428mm
Front triangle 689mm
Wheel base 1117mm
BB height -20mm
Head angle 69.5°
Seat angle 74°

Weight w/out pedals 25.1lbs

On the trail

The bike arrived with a whole bunch of spacers under the stem, 5 minutes into the ride these were swapped to above the stem and straight away the Sting felt better.

First impressions once onboard the Sting was that of a nimble, light bike that rolled very easily on fast tyres.

Looking at the geometry chart the 69.5º head tube angle had suggested that the Sting might be a twitchy generously travelled xc racer, but in reality the Cube is a pin sharp handler and while it could be raced that is not its forte.

Geometry wise Cube has made a point of putting the rider very central on the bike and this has worked. This bike climbs wonderfully, with just enough stretch to allow you to really get the power down and the balance is spot on for making the most of the plentiful traction dished up by the Dual Trail Control suspension system, add to this the light weight and fast tyres and you have a bike that will see you clean climbs that have had you beaten in the past.

Speed comes to the Cube easily and maintaining it on swooping singletrack is a breeze, a blend of agility and comfort make the Sting an efficient yet fun bike that corners fast and accurately without being twitchy. Jumping on the power stiffens the rear end for a moment and this ensure swift acceleration, pedal hard through rough sections and the rear end tracks well without kickback.

For a 120mm travel bike the level of control and composure offered by the Dual Trail Control is surprising and this is a real boon once the going gets tough. The majority of the time the bike was run with the Propedal on the RP23 set at 1 which helped give some resistance to push against on the berm rich trails that we tend to ride, being switched off when looking for the plushness required for rooty or rocky trails.

Turn the Sting downhill and it impresses with its ability to tame trail that would normally require a 140mm rig. The Fox fork up front did a reasonable job, but was slightly outclassed by the rear ends composure, very careful fork set up helped narrow the gap but it was always the fork being overwhelmed that meant we had to ease off the gas. That said, we were riding it hard over terrain that would ask serious questions of a longer travel bike so the fork certainly was worked hard.

Drops up to 4 foot and jumps can be taken on but some finesse is required, on 2 footers and general trail obstacles though everything flows smoothly together.

Conclusion

This is a very capable trail bike that accelerates quickly and holds its speed with ease, handling is precise and the suspension is a controlled plush rather than firm.

All this adds up to a fantastic package that makes every ride fun and long rides are a pleasure. In fact, the combination of light weight, comfort and the ability to hold speed meant that we found we could ride further, faster for less effort than any other bike we have ridden. It almost felt like cheating!

No doubt the excellent Schwalbe Rocket Rons played their part in the overall feel of the bike, but once the weather turned we ran Continental Barons and the general feel of the Sting remained.

So is the Sting HPC Super Race perfect? Not quite, though the only niggles are spec related so will not be a big issue to the vast majority of riders. We would love to see the Sting come with a dropper seat post, yes it is only a 120mm xc/trail bike, but it is a very capable machine and more suited to trail riding than racing. The other slight bug bear was the stem, at 90mm it was long, but it was not the length that was the problem but the rise. A quick rifle through our kit box turned up both an old dropper that slotted straight into the 31.6mm seat tube and a 0º rise 80mm stem, with these fitted the bike felt even better.

While we are impressed with the Stings abilities it is not a bike for riders that like to get gnarly or fly a lot, but for the vast majority of riders that love to ride their local trails, maybe the odd xc race and look forward to the occasional trail centre weekend away this bike will not only be a faithful companion but one that will encourage and inspire.

Overall a cracking bike that made us smile every time we went out on it.

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This review was in Issue 17 of IMB.

For more information visit CUBE Bikes

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By Nigel Garrood
Nigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!

Tried this? What did you think?