TURN UP THE STEREO
THE CUBE STEREO 140 HPA PRO
Cube is a German bike manufacturer, founded in 1993. Despite being a relatively new company (in the grand scheme of bicycle production) Cube are now exporting to 60 countries and are best known for their range of mountain bikes. Anyone with a keen interest in the Enduro World Series will know the brand’s pro team, the Cube Action Team, featuring athletes such as Nico Lau and Greg Callaghan. Though Cube have been in Australia for a number of years, they’re not a major player in the market as yet, although they do offer a complete range of bikes for all mountain bike disciplines: from cross-country to downhill. We tested one of the most popular mountain biking platforms at the moment - a 140mm 27.5” trail bike - in the form of the Cube Stereo 140 HPA Pro. This is Cube’s entry level bike in this Stereo range: sporting an aluminium frame, and a mixture of XT, SLX and RaceFace components, along with the Fox Rhythm and Fox Float DPS shock, and Cube’s own proprietary dropper.
Looks-wise, the Stereo is on point with matte grey and neon orange; a colourway that has been embraced recently by multiple mountain bike manufacturers. Having said that, this colour scheme will likely be quite divisive and elicit a love/hate type of response. The lines of the bike aren’t unappealing. Cube have specced the bike with both black and orange cables which once again is a risky move; what one person will love the next will feel looks cheap. Interestingly enough, the bike features internal cable routing which is aesthetically a win for the end user, and inevitably a bug-bear for your mechanic. The four bar linkage and sturdy welds leave little to the imagination regarding where the weight of the bike is held, though the Answer Atac AM wheel set also holds a fair bit of beef but also plenty of reliability. Continental Trail Kings adorn the hoops, and while they’re not the sturdiest of tyre in regards to side-wall stability, the tread pattern is a good all-round option. The drivetrain is a picture of XT and SLX, with RaceFace cranks and cockpit components - good solid reliable options. The initial assessment of the Stereo was that it was a bit weighty; highlighted by the effort required to hoist it onto the bike rack. But given it is built for more down than up, and has the gearing to get it up a hill if the need arises - would it be an issue on the trail? The bike’s build is a solid pick. If it was our own we would simplify the drivetrain to a 1x set up, crack out the tubeless goop (as the Stereo came assembled with tubes) and add some burlier rubber. However, the question it all boils down to is: “How does it ride?” So we took to the slopes of New Zealand to find out.
ON THE TRAIL
The bike tested was the 18” model; perhaps slightly on the large side for us but not out of the ball park in terms of length when paired with a 50mm stem. The top tube length on the bike, at 590mm, sits in the middle between the long and