Triple-butted 7005 series aluminium is used for every AMS frame, be it the 100mm version tested, or the 125mm option. You’re getting a good quality base, ripe for any future upgrades. With predominantly round tubing for both the front triangle and the rear end the look is understated but, when you get a little closer, the exceptional attention to detail becomes evident. Shock mounts and forged linkages all share a similar styling cue: organic curves, there are no hard edged machined pieces here.
Rather than use a single rear end, bolted to a variety of frame sizes, Cube has a system called Size Tuned Kinematics. Each frame size gets a dedicated rear assembly and upper link. The 3d Active Link not only shares the curved styling but is effectively a U-channel shaped design, allowing the link to be stiff without being too heavy. To continue the quality finish, all suspension hardwear is stainless steel and the main pivot bearings have bevelled aluminium covers. A boxy Horst link (the pivot sits between the rear axle and main BB pivot) uses wide bearings, which combined with the ‘hollow’ linkage and solid wide main pivots goes a long way to explaining the stiffness of the rear end. Keeping the rear suspended is Manitou’s simple, yet effective, Radium RL shock.
RockShox provides the dual air-sprung Reba SL. A bar mounted Pop-Loc switch — with floodgate adjustment — means anyone with racy pretensions or with large road transfers to do is well catered for. Thankfully, when the terrain gets interesting, the adjustable rebound, 32mm stanchions and hollow crown keep things in touch with the ground and pointing in the right direction.
While Rigida’s Taurus 2000 rims may not have the Kudos of Mavic or DT, these eyeleted rims are lightweight and remained straight as a die. A well tensioned wheel build no doubt helps, and XT hubs will mean these hoops won’t wear out anytime soon.
Schwalbe provides not only the excellent quality inner tubes but also their protection: Nobby Nic up front and Racing Ralph out back. They’re fast-rolling treads but the front lacks tall side knobs and can waver somewhat on hard surfaces.
A full Shimano drivetrain graces the AMS, with only the cassette and shifters falling below LX level. This Deore kit works fine and is a sensible cost-cutting option. An LX two-piece crank is a welcome sight as these stiff units are great performers, even if the rings are a little soft.
Only the Hayes Nine brakes felt out of place on the bike. It has nothing to do with their performance, they work well enough, however, compared to the stoppers specced on the other two bikes, they are a little agricultural in feel.
Great spec and a laterally stiff suspension design bode well for the ride of the AMS, and thankfully the geometry allows the rider to get the most from the bike. Sat in the middle of the bike, singletrack is as much fun as it should be; this is not a bike you fight on the technical stuff. Taller tyres than anything else on test raise the bottom bracket but in reality it’s only half an inch higher than the Pinnacle. Cornering is marginally less fun, but simply running a tad more sag would solve that.
Manitou’s Radium RL shock does a fair job of keeping the back end propped up, with the non-adjustable, platform damping preventing too much unwanted movement, and with little adverse effect on small-bump sensitivity. The lockout is barely needed on a bike that pedals this well, and is a throwback to the bike’s Euro racing roots.
To be honest we were apprehensive about this ‘Euro’ brand. We half expected the Cube to be a real XC race sled, all steep and over the front, but we were wrong. The AMS is well balanced; a 68.5 degree head angle combined with plenty of length up front maintains stability when it gets fast.
A short, size specific, rear triangle keeps the back wheel tucked under aiding climbing traction, and the rock-solid frame just keeps on rolling. The bearings and minimal platform damping keep everything plush. And when the only issue with a bike is the narrow bar and wooden brakes, you know you are onto a good thing.
MBR RATING: 9/10