The Cube Stereo 140 29 is a lightweight, and a confident climber
Two years ago we tested a Cube Stereo 140 29 HPC Race, and after sifting through Cube’s comprehensive range (there are 22 Stereos to go through) we’re confident the Stereo 140 C:62 SL 29 is the 2017 version of this bike. Probably. It has the same travel, but there are a couple of improvements to the frame in terms of material and geometry.
The older model had a carbon front end with aluminium seat and chainstays, whereas the new Stereo is full carbon. Cube is using a new lighter carbon fibre lay-up too, and while it’s vague about how much weight this actually saves, the complete bike is over a kilo lighter.
Geometry is evolving so rapidly it’s hard to keep track of current trends, but this bike is a much better shape than its predecessor. The main change is to the reach, which is 12mm longer. It also has a longer top tube, wheelbase and more standover clearance. Some things remain the same however – the 150mm long head tube is still too tall, and it’s worse this year because, for some reason, Cube has fitted a FSA headset with a thick conical top cap.
Instead of a RockShox Pike RC, Cube has swapped to a Performance series Fox 34 Float suspension fork on the Stereo 140 C:62 SL. It has Boost 110mm axle spacing, so feels similar in stiffness, but the damping doesn’t feel as sophisticated. It’s smooth off the top, but on high-speed impacts the fork felt harsher by comparison.
Rear suspension is taken care of by a Fox Float DPS, which has the EVOL (Extra Volume) air can. The idea behind the bigger air can is to increase the negative spring volume, which results in better small bump sensitivity. The rear suspension on the original Stereo did require quite a big impact to get it moving, then it would rip through the mid-stroke, so this is a welcome addition. However, the Stereo is still soft, so to get it to feel more positive when sprinting and climbing, we ran more air in shock and did most of the climbs with the compression lever in the mid setting.
The Cube Stereo is the only 29er here with a 2x drivetrain. This does result in a wider spread of gears, but there are negatives – with an extra shifter, the cockpit is more congested, it’s heavier and the chain is less secure.
Cube fitted a RockShox Reverb dropper post last time round, but it’s now resorted to a cheaper, cable-operated Cube branded post. It has 150mm drop, but is sluggish to return to full height and there’s quite a bit of play in the shaft.
Like the Whyte, the Schwalbe Nobby Nic Trailstar tyres on the Cube are set up tubeless. However, when we swapped the Nics for mud tyres, we noticed the sealant had dried out. Obviously it’s not going to seal punctures like this, so our advice is to get the dealer to check this, especially if it’s been on the shop floor for a couple of months.
Like most 140mm 29ers, the Stereo feels solid and stable even when descending. This is improved by the high handlebar position, and it’s almost as good as the Stumpy, with the ability to hit more direct lines without feeling nervous or unstable. The longer reach measurement means we were a lot more centred on the Stereo, which is great for steeper terrain, but what works on the descents holds the bike back on flatter trails.
With that long head tube and the conical spacer jammed under stem, the steering is sky high. The long 60mm stem does help to push rider weight further forward, over the front tyre, but the steering is still way too light and hesitant, especially in loose turns.
At under 13kg, the Stereo is lightweight, and a confident climber, but again the lofty handlebar means that if you have to pilot the bike round an uphill hairpin – the sort of turn you often see at trail centres – the front end tends to push wide.
Cube has made some positive changes to the geometry and handling of the Stereo 140 C:62 SL 29 for 2017. It’s also upgraded to a full carbon chassis, added a carbon bar and fitted better Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres. However, the front end is too high and the build is a step down from the jaw dropping specification we saw two years previously. The price has also gone up by £800 since then. The fact that the YT Jeffsy is a similar price to the Stereo, but gives you so much more bike for your money, also plays a part in the final rating.