Cube Stereo Hybrid E-Bike | First Ride
September 30th, 2016
Product Full Name | Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 HPA E-Bike, 27.5+
Retail Price | £3799
Available From | Cube Bikes
Cube Stereo Hybrid 140 HPA – e-bike insanity!
The first time I paid any attention to e-bikes, was when an old lady on a sit-up-and-beg cranked past me on a bitch of a climb.
More recently I caught myself chuckling away whilst sailing up that same climb in flip flops, leaving a roadie effing and jeffing behind me.
E-bikes may not be for everyone, but they are bloody good fun and open lots of doors to alternative off road riding.
This is the Cube Bikes Stereo Hybrid 140 HPA, and here’s how I got on with it…
Based around the popular Cube Stereo 140mm travel, four bar suspension frame, the Cube Stereo Hybrid features a 67.3degree head angle; 74degree seat angle and has a 1198mm wheelbase and 595mm top tube (size 18in, as ridden).
The back end is Boost 148mm, and designed to house enormous 27 Plus wheels – in this case with 2.8in Schwalbe tyres, on DT wheels. Up front a 140mm travel Rockshox Pike RC is also Boost spaced.
This model features incredibly powerful Magura MT5 brakes; a trusty 11 speed Shimano XT transmission and comes with a Rockshox Reverb dropper post – the right sort of kit for some decent off road abuse.
Of course the major difference over the regular Stereo model, is the fact this frame houses the 250 watt Bosch Drive Unit, and a Bosch Powerpack 500 battery.
The Bosch Performance Line CX motor offers 75NM of torque (about the same as a 1986 Nissan Sunny); has four settings offering between 50% – 300% assistance and lasts up to 90miles with the Powerpack 500 – depending on conditions, gradient and settings used. Charge time for this battery is 4.5hrs from fully dead, though you can top up without damaging the battery.
The Bosch motor provides assistance to your pedalling input over four settings. On the Turbo mode, top speed on offer is 15.5mph. If you can keep the horsepower down, the bike will do that on any climb you point it towards.
The regular Cube Stereo 140 weighs around 12.22kg/26.9lb – whereas this electric assist model weighs a whopping 22.7kg/50lbs.
Out On The Trail
Three things happen when you get on the Cube Stereo Hybrid.
The first thing is the instant grin – everybody has the same startled grin when they first ride an e-bike.
Second is the surprise of how balanced the bike feels. Thanks to lots of sprung mass, the suspension feels amazing – more like a motorbike than a push bike!
The third is the instant novelty of blasting up every local climb in sight – this tends to happen long before you’ve remembered the fact you can ride this thing off road.
Once I got all this stuff out the system, I headed out for my local test loop. It’s about 20miles, has a few bastard steep climbs, some steep descents and what I consider one of the very best extended sections of rooty single track in the country.
What I expected was easy climbs; a cruise along some flatter sections and some hilarity on the descents – but in reality there was a lot more to it.
Sure, the immense torque on offer will pull you up a climb if you want to be a passenger – but when digging in hard you have to give it everything to keep the Cube Stereo Hybrid operating at speed. There’s a fine line too – exceed that top speed by even 0.5mph, and you’re on your own as the assistance will cut out.
On the local steep climbs, the power on offer is a godsend. And getting it in to the woods is just amazing – flatter sections of trail become as enjoyable as downhills. The slight descending gradient of my favourite trail needs a lot of input to ride it fast usually – but even stabs on the cranks give you surges of acceleration. But the trouble is, when you build up speed you sail over that magic 15.5mph zone – and find yourself piloting a 50lb trail bike.
However, even without assistance it’s still fun – this 50lb beast hugs the ground well, as the combination of the 2.8in Schwalbe tyres and the amazing suspension action bring the bike to life. You have to use the weight to your advantage though – forget dynamic moves, casual bunny hops and skipping across roots as it’s just too heavy for that. Using a combo of weighting the bike in to turns and half cranks for power surges is really effective though, and allows a consistent speed on the trail. Whatever the conditions.
The weight of the bike also brings something else up. For a more casual rider, the weight and tyre combo offers immense traction and predictability. It’s a very flattering bike to ride off road.
But if you’re capable of riding harder it can get all out of shape, as once those big tyres get loose you’re along for the ride. I’ve had this thing sideways longer than anything I’ve ridden – as once drifting the weight keeps it that way. This is hilarious on dry trails, but one hell of a handful on wet, muddy trails!
I rode the same loop on the Cube Stereo Hybrid, and my Mondraker Dune. I’m faster overall round the loop on my Mondraker – sure, the climb hurts more and is slower, but the speed I can carry on the faster sections makes up for it. Strangely, I burnt less calories on my Mondraker, than I did on the Cube.
However, my legs hurt less on the Cube – but I found my entire body ached. You get worked riding these things!
I’ve since ridden the same loop backwards on the Cube Stereo Hybrid – and it’s opened a entirely new ride for me. Same terrain, same place – but it looks and feels 100% different. Bath locals will probably know what route I mean – and will know it’s not worth a look the wrong way round, but on the Cube Stereo Hybrid it’s game on.
(there’s a lot to cover on getting the most from an e-bike, which I’ll look at when I get the next test bike…)
The Cube Stereo Hybrid is an excellent bit of kit – it’s great fun, well balanced and works immensely well. There isn’t much to say about the spec – everything works well and flatters the bike. This review is more about the concept of the E-bike.
And what I love, is that it enables an average rider, or averagely fit rider to ride further, faster and climb more things. But make no mistake, E-bikes are not cheating. They are just a different take.
For me they will never replace a proper mountain bike, but I would love one in my fleet so I could take friends and family to places that only I can get to by bike. It’s a brilliant tool for exploring the countryside.
The Cube Stereo Hybrid broke my e-bike cherry, and now I want in on the action. Watch this space!