Cube Stereo HPC Pro Review

180696 171110806268010 100001072758539 379964 4908564 n1 300x225 Cube Stereo HPC Pro Review

Cube Stereo HPC Pro £2600

To begin, why did we choose this bike in the first place??

The simple answer is that we needed a new demo bike. Up until now we had 2 demo mountain bikes in the shape of a Scott Spark 20 and a Scott Genius 30.  Scott Sports UK had been kind enough to loan us these bikes though the duration of winter but now it was time to give them up.

Both the Scott bikes were excellent performers but only really excelled when used for their designed purpose – The Spark being an out and out X-country racer (although proved a rapid trail centre tool) and the Genius making the perfect marathon / all day bike.

What we wanted now was more of an all-rounder, something more suited to our local trails (the Quantocks) where most of our customers ride on a regular basis.

Well, the Stereo is described as “designed for Alpine mountain biking”.  Not exactly our local trails! So what the hell were we thinking ordering a £2,600 that didn’t match our brief??

Basically, we took a chance. There is a lot of “buzz” around the Cube brand and in particular the Stereo. If we get a call or a customer visiting the shop with a Cube in mind 90% of the time it’s the Stereo they are asking about. At least if we have one, people can try it and decided one way or another if this is really the bike for them.

For local trails and Trail Centres what most people really need is a 120mm full suspension trail bike or for the more hooligan amongst us some kind of long travel hard tail. But looking at the stats for the Stereo it reads 150mm travel at the front 140mm for the rear, slack head angle and short top tube. That’s “Alpine” numbers and in theory total overkill for the majority of UK trails. But, numbers don’t tell the whole story.

How does it ride?

In a word – FUN

More words  – lots of FUN!

The first thing you notice when out on the bike is the short top tube. For anyone more used to a “race” or stretched out riding position then this is going to come as a surprise.  Our bike is an 18” (46cm) and I am 6ft with long baboon arms so the short top tube was very obvious!

At first this meant that the long fire road climbs were never going to be comfortable and pain in the lower back became inevitable.  However, moving the saddle back on its rails has (so far) cured this problem and hasn’t caused any problems keeping the front wheel on the ground on steep loose climbs.

We have taken the bike over a variety of terrain from long Ridgeway’s, fast flowy single track and steep down hill runs and it’s definitely most at home on the steep stuff. Previously on the Spark (and to some extent the Genius) and bikes with a longer reach coming down some of the steeper trails was just downright horrible but on the Stereo it’s a doddle. Wind out the fork to 150mm, saddle down and just let it go.

But here comes the surprise – you can actually cycle back up! Like I mentioned earlier, numbers don’t tell the whole story because the numbers would suggest some kind of hooligan downhill rig but its so much more than that. I am not suggesting that you should be using this as your X-Country race ride or even a marathon bike but you can use it over extended rides without the feeling that you are carrying too much excess baggage.

In the HPC Pro guise you still get a 2 position (110mm or 150mm) Rock Shox Revelation fork and an RP23 Fox rear shock with pro pedal so you can firm things up a bit when you want to start covering some serious miles.  It’s the same with really steep climbs; you can get yourself up and out of the saddle and it only ever losses traction on all but the steepest and loosest trails.

Like I said, its not a race or marathon bike but it does do a great job of smoothing out the trails and making a really comfortable all day bike as long as you aren’t in too much of a hurry.

Specification

The Stereo range starts at £1850 for an all aluminium-framed version rising to £4400 for the range topper.

This is the HPC Pro, which is the first of the Carbon framed models.  We could have opted for the all aluminium framed “Race” model, which comes with a Fox fork and XT GROUP, but we felt the investment is better spent on the frame. The carbon frame is lighter, stronger and offers much greater upgrade potential.

What you get on this model is the “sensible” build but with some nice touches. Most of the drive train is made up of 10 Speed Shimano SLX but with an upgraded XT rear mech. This is our first ride on 10 speed and we have to say we are very impressed. Super smooth shifts even in extreme gloopy conditions. We did have some initial reservations over durability (10 cogs at the back = thinner chain) but these doubts seem to be unfounded. We have talked to other bike shops and they aren’t reporting any problems. If anything the drive trains are lasting a bit longer as the shifts are so much smoother.

Suspension is taken care of by a Rock Shox Revelation RLT fork adjustable to 110mm or 150mm at the flick of a switch and also comes with a remote bar mounted lock out – seems fairly pointless on this type of bike but its there if you want it. At the back it’s the brilliant FOX RP23 with boost valve. Both the Rock Shox and Fox suspension have been custom tuned to the frame and they work well together. No hint of any mismatch.

Unusual on original spec is the choice of Formula Brakes. First impression of this system is extremely impressive, lots of progressive stopping power with minimal fade. Time will tell on durability so we will report back with how they get on. No problems so far though.

Summary

Back to the brief, is it the perfect all rounder we were looking for??

Probably not BUT it is a much better all rounder than we thought it would be. What this bike does offer is access to the steeper more technical trails that on other bikes would have been (to a certain extent) off limits.

If you are looking for a bike that loves to be thrown downhill at speed but still want to be able to ride back up without your mates laughing at you then you really need to get the Stereo on your shortlist.

The real reason we chose this bike – ITS GOT BLUE HUBS!!

Associated 2011 - 2012 items:

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Tags: Cube bikes, Cube Stereo bargain, Cube Stereo demo bike, Cube Stereo HPC Pro, Taunton bike shop

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