CUBE Stereo SHPC 140 29″er Final Review: by c_g
Editor´s note: Due to technical issues the two posts dealing with our testing of the CUBE Stereo have bee lost during the temporary site crash late this summer. In order not to leave you wondering about this bike brand new long travel 29er c_g has compiled his findings once again and posts them here in this article – for the full 2-piece review (in German), go here.
OK, I´ll give you the good and the bad news right away.
• GOOD – the CUBE Stereo SHPC 140 to me is one of the closest to being a perfect All-Mountain/Trail 29″er I have ridden!! Yes it is!
• BAD – CUBE is not yet present on the US market (OK, but it is present pretty much everywhere else, so this bad only for the US folks ;).
If you have followed the introduction to 29″er news by CUBE earlier this summer, you may remember how the Stereo SHPC currently is the lightest and likely one of the most advanced long travel 29″er sussers around. Just like SCOTT there will be a 27.5“ and 29“ version only, eliminating a 26″er altogether.
For full details on the Stereo SHPC 140 with its special construction and suspension layup (that completely departs from this year´s Cube Stereo design) see the post here.
But now to where it really matters – how does it ride?
• Despite its super-light frame, our sample cam out more than adequately stiff and precise. Neither power transfer, nor steering did show any deficits whatsoever.
• The suspension performance has been simply great for my taste and riding style. It´s 140 mm front and rear feel more direct than the seemingly endless travel of the SANTA CRUZ Tallboy LTC (quick review here), but still has a plenty linear stroke to tackle any size bump with great confidence. I really enjoyed it both on my woody home trails as on the boulder strewn alpine trails I took it this summer.
• The shock settings have been well chosen with the CTD Trail Tune Factory series shock – „Trail tune“ stands for 3 additional platform settings in Trail-mode. When in Decend mode the rear end is maximum plush which is great for bombing down the trail but form y frequent ups and down at home I usually ran the shock in the lightest possible platform setting. This compromise took away only minimally from the downhill performance, but added greatly in riding efficiency. On the epic alpine trips I opted for a higher platform setting more often on the ascends, simply to keep the rear dive to a minimum. I tried the super stable Climb mode occasionally but didn’t find it to help in anything but XC-style out of the saddle efforts (which on long climbs I rarely do.)
• Interestingly I felt the rear suspension on Open „Descend“ mode surpassing the F34 up front in plushness and capabilities, which to me says a lot.
• One of the biggest surprises to me had been what climbing qualities the CUBE Stereo showed. I really put it to the test when climbing some well known technical downhills and usually my aerobic capacity would reach the limit much sooner than the Stereo would. Awesome for a 140 mm 29″er!!
• Looking at the geo numbers, the Stereo looks rather shortish (especially the larger sizes) and I can only speak for the size 18“, but that rode perfectly nice, no issues with efficiency even on extended rides.
• If everything above said had caused me to call it near perfect, it was the perfectly universal and balanced handling, that set the CUBE Stereo SHPC apart from any other LT29″er I had ridden so far. Playfulness … check! Confidence … check! XC- capabilities … check! All-Mountain worthiness …. double check!
• Though being a mix of the SLT and the SL version I found my testing sample to be almost perfect in its component spec – the RS Reverb Sealth post, SCHWALBE Hans Dampf 2.35 (TrailStar front, PaceStar rear) and FORMULA R1 brakes made it ride super securely under all circumstances and the SRAM XX drive train with RACE FACE Next SL dual cranks (24/38t) lowered the weight to a respectable 12.2 kg (about 27 lbs) – which is light for such a bike but not so light it would lead me astray in some light bike euphoria.
To double check my lack of criticism with the CUBE Stereo SHPC 140 – I put it under a few other riders (one being a former BMX pro and 29″er hater, the other a single speed only rider which thinks suspension is for sissies only) and each one came back deeply impressed.
SUMMARY: The CUBE Stereo SHPC has seen lots of different trails this summer, and it has won me over completely. I could find absolutely no fault in its geometry (it rides a lot better than the shortish numbers suggest), in its handling, stiffness and overall ride qualities. Somehow the Stereo has no preference in riding style either.
With such good qualities, the frame´s record weight is merely icing on the cake – it would be one of my favorite AM-29″er even I fit came with a (heavier) alloy frame … which may well be a good idea for a mid season model, because as it is, even the most affordable „Race“ version is not really a budget bike (though a great value still)