At A Glance
There is a trend developing which is somewhat at odds with the gravity fed world of enduro and downhill. Recent history has seen the proliferation of exceptionally capable bikes which can be winched back to the top of a hill time and time again, but what happens if rather than making downhill bikes climb better, you make an XC bike descend better?Buy XC Bikes on
Tucked away in the Cube website lives the AMS 100 TM, not a bike you may have heard of, and not one that has been shouted about much. Their Stereo range is usually where the average mountain biker is drawn to with trail bikes and enduro bikes. The AMS range is their XC line up and until now has been purely for the racers and the Lycra-wearing whippets.
Taking their XC frame, they've ramped up the trail and descending performance potential with some precise component choices. The 100mm carbon frame is joined by a Fox Step Cast 34 fork, boasting a full 120mm of travel. The next most notable feature for an XC bike is a Fox Transfer dropper post, which immediately suggests that fun should be had with this bike. Add some Nobby Nics, a four pot XT front brake and a modern cockpit and it all nods towards a capable trail bike.
Numbers wise, the AMS is an eclectic mix of lengths and angles that don't match up to the enduro trend at all. A 69degree head angle is combined with a 452mm reach (on the XL!) and a 443mm chainstay. This is getting a little slack for an XC bike, but being pretty short in the reach and pretty long on the chainstay, its aim is to make climbing a priority. In theory, this mix should make it capable on the descents, fast on the climbs and very playful.
On The Trail
The Newmen 780mm bars and a 70mm stem give an immediately comfortable position. If you come from an XC background this might seem rather a wide bar, but if you’re looking in from a trail background, you may find the stem unusually long. Once pedalling I was reminded what a really good pedalling bike should feel like; fast, rapid acceleration and an insatiable appetite for power through the pedals. It's easy to get used to long travel bikes that pedal and climb in a passable way, but this is electric (figuratively).
Climbing is obviously what this bike was first designed for, and the relatively long chainstay and roomy cockpit make for easy progress and plenty of breathing space to suck oxygen in. The compact frame and steep head angle do help in a race setting I must admit, sneaking round tight uphill corners between the tape. Out of the saddle sprinting is firm and stiff, the suspension not wallowing and I didn't need to reach for the compression switch.
Nippy, fast and manoeuvrable, the AMS feels inherently unstable, but in a really good way. It's unhappy unless it's accelerating, turning or winding through singletrack at breakneck speed. It's a fantastically engaging bike to ride and feels like you're on the razor's edge most of the time. The 100mm back end takes the sting out of the trail and does work reasonably hard for you in terms of traction, but obviously has its limits. That said, there was never much of a noticeable bottom out unless really pushed.
With the right rider, there is huge scope for what can be done on the AMS, and although barrelling through rock gardens will be risky, technical roots or steep lines are all possible. It's not an armchair enduro bike by any stretch, but will go with you and really try hard to keep you upright through some sketchy terrain. If your local trails lack the extremes of an EWS stage, then a short travel bike could really breath fresh life into your local loop!
The component choice on the AMS certainly opens up the bike beyond its XC potential. Although I did race a local XC race, where it performed brilliantly, it was out in the wild that it really came to life for me. The Nobby Nics provide great grip when compared to a Racing Ralph or an Ardent Race tyre, and as such are a great choice for the TM build as they don't add huge amounts of weight. The dropper post again makes perhaps the biggest shift in performance, allowing a greater range of movement and the ability to use my legs to take up the slack when the suspension runs out of travel.
Up front the Step Cast 34 fork is truly excellent, giving a stiff and precise front end. Given we see 34 forks on trail bikes with much more travel, it's clear it's capable of taking some abuse, even in the lighter weight Step Cast form. The 120mm of travel just lifts the front of the bike a little and gives more confidence to attack the descents. The addition of a four-pot front brake is an inspired choice and represents the speed that can be gained on descents, giving further confidence to push the bike further and faster.
I had great results on big days out where the lightweight and sprightly nature gave for a thoroughly enjoyable time whilst lapping up 50km or 60km of technical trails. What's even better, is that the AMS makes short work of the gravel sections and road climbs, making me consider whether I ever needed a gravel bike...
As a package Cube has done a brilliant job of ramping up the performance of the AMS 100. I would love to see what would happen on a longer frame, as I feel this would open up the capabilities of the bike without making it any slower. The only issue through the test was with the Newmen wheels, which needed tightening due to a knocking from the rear hub, this was an easy fix but not ideal. The lower shock bushing also has developed play pretty quickly, but again this is a relatively easy fix on an otherwise faultless bike. This could well be my favourite Cube bike ever!
Fast, playful and surprisingly confident on technical ground, the AMS100 TM represents the new wave of XC bikes capable of covering ground efficiently without being scared of some proper mountain biking.Buy XC Bikes on
This review was in Issue 59 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.