It might not have the most eye-catching name but can the Cube Stereo 140 HPC TM 27.5 take on the wave of short travel 29ers currently ruling the roost?
Mid-travel 27.5″ bikes with a light carbon frame and a solid spec used to be the cream of the crop, but then we’ve an awful lot more choice these days. Will the Cube Stereo 140 HPC TM 27.5 score another point for the small wheel brigade?
One hundred pounds separate the Cube Stereo 140 and the Vitus Escarpe I also have on test, and it’s fair to say that the two have been approached very differently indeed when it comes to spec.
While the dampers might be identical, that is where the similarities end. Cube have opted to go down the route of a high-end composite frame construction to get the overall weight low. The front end being carbon fibre, and the rear alloy.
Add to the the Fox Factory dampers and dropper, a 36 and a Float DPS EVOL, a mixture of the three lowest SRAM drivetrains and an X1 carbon crank, Code R brakes, RaceFace 35mm carbon bar and stem and a set of Newmen alloy wheels brings the total weight for the medium to a very respectable 28lbs.
It’s safe to say that Cube’s geometry numbers for the Stereo 140 is sensible. A 438 reach on the medium certainly isn’t the longest, but means at 5′ 4″ it’s comfortable and the 420mm seat tube means I can run the 150mm Fox dropper slammed.
A 66.5 degree head angle isn’t anything mad either, but should mean that the Cube puts in a solid effort everywhere, instead of being a bike made for the steep and wild. Most bikes nowadays will have a steeper seat angle than the 75.2 seen here but again, you’ll likely not notice that until you’re in top cog and winching hard.
There is a real urgency to the Cube Stereo 140 on the ups. 28lbs feels lighter than it sounds and for a bike showing as much downhill promise, you’d expect the bike to be a little cumbersome while climbing. Not so…
Any power put to the pedals ends up being converted to forward momentum and it’s only when things start getting loose or technical on the ups that the harder compound Schwalbe Hans Dampf out back gives way before your legs do.
For reasons I can’t quite fathom, the rear shock came with the 3mm compression damping screw on the Fox DPX2 shock wound almost fully closed meaning the rear end felt harsh and unforgiving until it was wound out to something more sensible.
With compression back to normal levels, the Stereo will only start to struggle when the rear Hans Dampf tyre, in this case a fairly thin-sidewalled, hard compound number, breaks grip.
As soon as you let go of the anchors on the Cube, it’s up to speed very quickly. Fast, sweeping trails are no real issue, and the geometry numbers don’t really seem to be as sensible as you might think when you’re pointing it downwards.
Thankfully, Cube have opted to spec SRAM’s Code R brakes, with a 200mm rotor out front and a 180 at the back. Whatever speed you’re going, these anchors will get you under control in no time at all.
With the thin tyre sidewalls needing a decent amount of wind you will feel everything going on at the tyres through the fairly stiff fork and 35mm cockpit. The fork wasn’t quite up to matching the rear shock, and felt too firm from the get-go even when running the compression dials at fully open.
Usually if dampers feel too firm, I just try and re-ride a section or trail faster. The increased speed usually makes sense of the suspension’s unwillingness to open up and you find the bike coming alive.
The solution? Remove almost all the air tokens from the fork to reduce bottom out resistance.
Sadly, even with volume spacers removed, the fork and shock lacked the suppleness at the start of the travel to provide any confidence over rock and root. That combined with the hard compound tyres meant that I would be tip-toeing into sections I would normally blast through. Composure only really arrived on big, low speed hits, G-outs and drops.
What do we think?
Cube have, in the Stereo 140, produced a light, fast all mountain bike that is held back slightly by cheap rubber and a firm compression tune.
Moving the current open setting on the dampers to the mid-point would make this bike a real barn-stormer. Cube have so very nearly got this bike dialled.
I have yet to be convinced by a 35mm cockpit, and it wouldn’t be mad to spec a cheaper alloy 31.8mm cockpit and spend the change on some decent rubber.
SRAM Code R brakes
Could do better
Compression tune too firm
Tyres aren’t up to the task
Check out the full Cube Stereo range on their website here.
Read all our other bike tests on our Bike Reviews page here.