With a classy spec sheet and Plus-size tyres, Cube’s long-travel trail bike opens up new lines on old trails
Need to know
- Entry-level 27.5 Plus bike with 150mm travel
- Boost 148mm rear hub spacing and 110mm Boost fork
- In-house 125mm dropper post with neat under-bar remote
- SRAM GX 1x drivetrain with a stiff, forged Race Face AEffect chainset
The Stereo 150 HPA Race 27.5+ shares the same four-bar suspension layout as all of Cube’s longer-travel trail bikes, but this is the first model that’s designed around 27.5 Plus tyres. To accommodate the three-inch wide Schwalbe Nobby Nics — mounted on 40mm wide DT Swiss XM551 rims — it has the new wider Boost dropout spacing front and rear.
Having ridden a few Plus bikes, I think the Schwalbe Nobby Nic is currently the best of the available options, but there’s still a real lack of alternatives in terms of tread pattern, rubber compound and construction.
So, for the moment it still feels like we are really limited by the tyres, and since Plus is all about the tyres, that’s not ideal.
Even though the Nobby Nic is a good all-rounder, I still find there’s a lack of bite in slippery conditions, and it’s difficult to rail an edge. The Cube rolls quickly and feels incredibly lively on technical trails. In fact, the rougher the better.
But throw in some mud patches or a greasy off-camber and I found they drifted more easily than, say, a 2.3in Maxxis High Roller II. That said, the drift always felt less sudden and more predictable.
There’s also no consensus on the optimum pressure to run Plus tyres at. On the Surrey Hills, with its loamy singletrack, I could get away with 12-13psi and the resulting grip and comfort was amazing, but pressures this low don’t work if it’s rocky or you’re banging the bike into turns, because you’re either going to pinch flat, or the tyre is just going to squirm too much and feel vague.
With the right tyres for the conditions, I’ve no doubt the Stereo is going to rock. The build kit really has no obvious weakness and if you didn’t know that you were riding SRAM’s GX groupset you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and the top-end XX1 kit. The shifting really is that good.
All of the other parts are top-notch too — the only thing that’s not a brand name is the in-house dropper post, but it has 125mm drop and a really neat under-bar remote.
Geometry-wise, the Cube Stereo 150 HPA Race 27.5+ is a bit short and upright, and in that respect it doesn’t really feel like many of the other 150mm-travel trail bikes on the market. To be fair to Cube, it was only able to supply a size Medium bike for this first ride and I’d have much preferred the extra length of the size Large.
Still, with the massive 3.0in tyres and 150mm of travel on tap I felt like I was able to take on the world, and there were a couple of times when I managed to hit lines on the Cube that I find totally inaccessible on other bikes.
If you want to try a Plus bike for the first time, the Cube Stereo 150 HPA Race 27.5+ is a great place to start and is impressive value for money. Just be sure to go up a frame size.