Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 Race 500

Cube is a German bike manufacturer who make everything from leisurely city bikes to massively sprung freeride machines. More recently, they’ve taken a big interest in the world of E-bikes. That’s where the Stereo Hybrid comes in as their trail/all mountain offering.

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The Stereo is as stereotypically German as Bratwurst and Beethoven. Seriously. The German designed and engineered alloy frame? German. The high-powered Bosch Performance CX motor? German. The generously voluminous Schwalbe tyres? You guessed it! German.

With 140mm of travel hung on its 27.5 wheeled aluminium chassis the Stereo is a happy medium when it comes to the spectrum of bikes on the market. Geometry is very much on the conservative end of things, with a relatively upright 74 degree seat angle and middle ground 67.3 degree head angle. More notable, however, is proportioning; this bike has a tall front end! Once you add up the 140mm forks, 120mm tall head tube (tall for a bike of this size) and a pancake stack worth of spacers on top of that, this bike is pushing for a very upright riding position out the box. Removing some spacers helped a lot, although for reasons unbeknownst to me Cube have chosen to bring back conical spacers on this bike, limiting how low you can go…

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Geometry

The 1179mm wheelbase for my 18” frame tester isn’t particularly out there, until you realise that a significant portion of that length comes from the chain stays; 471mm to be exact. There are bikes out there pushing the limits of how slack they can make the front and how short they can make the rear; “Business out front, party out back” if you will. The Cube knows its place and doesn’t partake in this game. (It should be noted that the geometry on the “acoustic” version of the Stereo 140 is quite different to the electrified version, going much slacker and more aggressive and shorter in the back end).

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Motor

Cube has built this bike around the Bosch Performance CX motor, arguably the heart of an e-bike. This is one of the more premium offerings on the market, with a lot of torque and a smooth feel. I’m a fan of the new “E-MTB Mode” on the latest generation of this motor, which is very intuitive out on the trail. Speccing the low profile “Purion” display is a great choice as well, sited where a front shifter would be on your bars with a simple set of metrics. It’s uncomplicated and low profile, which I appreciate. I was also happy to see the higher capacity 500 watt hour battery fitted for extra range.

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Parts

Gearing is a mix of Shimano SLX and XT 11spd, with a massive 11-46t cassette. The Bosch motor only supports 1x front rings, but I doubt you’ll find yourself ever in a situation where you’d want more than one with the extra power available helping you up steep climbs.

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Braking duties are allocated to a set of very German Magura MT Trails with 180 mm rotors. I was intrigued to see that Cube had opted to spec a quad pot calliper on the front but a more conventional (and slightly less powerful) dual pot calliper on the rear. They’ve got a decidedly linear feel quite similar to the popular SRAM Guide, and a lot of carbon in their construction. They’re a quality piece of kit.

Fox takes over control of keeping you well sprung on rough terrain. A Grip damper up front is very low fuss to operate, installed on stiff 34 stanchions (although the more technically minded will likely mourn the lack of the more adjustable FIT damper), while the rear shock gets the new lighter EVOL air sleeve as part of its build. These are reliable pieces of kit that just get on and work. They’re a good match.  

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The one notable absence on a bike of this category is a dropper post. The Stereo comes with a fixed 31.6mm diameter post, which means swapping out to a post of your choice shouldn’t be hard, but it is strange to see a bike without one in a day and age where even some cross country bikes are coming with droppers as standard.

Ride

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the Stereo at first. It’s a 140mm bike with big, 2.6” wide tyres, but a very upright front end and long rear. It’s got 1x gearing and powerful brakes, but no dropper post. That said, time in the saddle is the truest test, and once on the dirt things became much clearer.

The Stereo is a very safe bike, and that becomes apparent once you step back and look at the bike as a sum of its parts. A tall front end obviously gives the rider an upright riding position, which is generally comfortable for new riders, but it would usually also serve to unweight the front wheel, which isn’t great for braking or cornering traction up front.

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But, with Cube’s long chainstays, when standing on the pedals, more of your weight is distributed to the front wheel than on a bike with shorter chainstays. This effectively counteracts the high front end, allowing the rider to have an upright body position, but still retain front wheel traction. Now, this isn’t the best set up for really steep descents – you’d need to push your weight back over the seat a long way in order to keep your weight centred on really steep downward facing pitches. And it’s not that easy to manual. But on moderate descents, like most riders ride, most of the time, the position it puts the rider in is ideal because you just stand on the pedals in the middle of the bike and let the bike take care of the weight distribution. In fact, it weights the front wheel so much that it also compliments that shallower head angle I mentioned earlier, giving you even more grip in the flow sections. Additionally, when winding the motor up to full power on a steep, loose climb you can keep pedalling without the front wheel unweighting and washing out. This describes the majority of riding for many riders, especially a lot of e-bike riders.

That’s not to say it can’t move. After all, safety doesn’t have to mean slow. Once I’d slammed that stem and set the seat post at slightly lower than normal for descending, the Stereo showed its capabilities. In corners it sticks like crazy, thanks to those big tyres and a super low centre of gravity proffered by the placement of the battery and motor. Add in that the aforementioned geometry favours front wheel grip and there’s nothing stopping you on this bike; it’s best described as the ultimate flow trail companion. Hard climbs feel effortless, with a motor that can generate torque for days and a geometry that truly lets you use it.

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I’ve taken to jokingly calling this bike the “Cube Stereo-type” as it goes some way to summing up who this bike is for. E-bikes have a reputation of being built for riders who are either new to the sport, or for those that can’t or don’t want to hammer as hard as they used to. Not all examples fit that mould but there is a market for safer bikes, bikes that anyone can hop on and just ride. Bikes that allow you to explore further without necessarily pushing you to go harder and faster. The Cube Stereo is that bike.

At $7299, the price is pretty sharp. Compared to some similarly priced e-mtbs the Stereo Hybrid has better forks and gears, though it does lack a dropper post, so you may need to factor that in to the price.

It wears that “stereotype” badge with pride and makes no apologies for what it is. It’s the bike for the more laidback rider who wants to let the bike take some of the work rather than smashing themselves to get out front at every opportunity. It’s a well-mannered companion for beginners getting into the sport who might not have the fitness to keep up with their friends, but still leaves a bit of room to grow over time. Those Germans sure know their stuff.

Key Specs

  • Frame: Hydroformed Aluminium
  • Motor: Bosch Performance CX (75 Nm), 250 watts
  • Rear Travel: 140mm
  • Front Travel: 140mm
  • Shock/Fork: Fox 34 Rhythm/Fox Float DPS
  • Drivetrain/brakes: Shimano XT and SLX/Magura MT
  • Wheels/tyres: Shimano Deore Hubs-Cube rims/Schwalbe Hans Dampf
  • Price: $7,299.00
  • Weight: 22.8kg (w/o pedals)

Distributed by: Trifour  www.trifour.co.nz


Words & Images: Robin Page & Cameron MacKenzie

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