Why obsess over trendy geometry when a bike’s this much fun?
The Cube Stereo is constantly evolving, it’s a model that now boasts a bewildering array of different wheel sizes, travels, and even electric versions.
The bike we have here is the 160mm- travel 27.5in edition. With a full carbon C:62 SL frame, it’s easily the lightest bike in this test, with the ‘62’ part denoting a minimum of 62 per cent carbon.
That really is something to brag about when many other carbon frames have more filler and resin than actual carbon-fibre strands.
It helps, too, that the big-boned Stereo uses carbon everywhere, right down to the suspension rocker link.
A modern Boost 148 rear axle and wide PressFit BB are fully up-to-date, and give a nod to increased lateral stiffness, but the frame shape and geometry of the Stereo are less cutting-edge; each frame size is relatively short and tall, compared to the popular, modern, stretched-out ‘enduro’ proportions we’ve become accustomed to.
With the bigger negative volume EVOL air sleeve on the Fox Float DPS shock, small- bump sensitivity is simply amazing.
The 160mm rear suspension has a very linear feel, however, so there’s not much in the way of ramp up when pumping through compressions, landing jumps or slamming berms.
In fact, the damping support is so light on the shock when running 30 per cent sag, you can almost punch through all of the available travel by simply kicking your heels down in the car park.
Don’t expect a tight, progressive race bike then, but the softer tune offers stacks of grip and control, and the Stereo is very predictable — making it easy to ride fast.
SRAM’s X1 11-speed drivetrain is quiet with good chain retention, but Cube has bolted on a Race Face Aeffect chainset, either to save cash or spice up the spec. Trouble is, these cranks aren’t very stiff; leaking power, especially with wide, platform pedals.
Up top, the 760mm Race Face Ride handlebar is a good shape, but won’t be wide enough for most riders on a 20in frame.
Watch: Hottest enduro bikes of 2017
With just 28 spokes, the DT Swiss CSW wheels prioritise weight saving over pure strength. They roll, accelerate, climb and turn really sweetly, though, while being plenty stiff enough for most UK riding.
The reasonably wide (25mm internal) rims give a decent tyre profile with the stock Fat Albert tyres.
The harder PaceStar compound rear tyre has poor braking control, however, and the funky tread pattern lacks any cornering confidence on the front.
Swapping to our Maxxis control tyres completely transformed the ride of the Cube, so factor in an additional £100 for some upgraded rubber when buying this bike.
Thanks to the super-light, yet really nicely damped carbon frame, the Cube is fast and efficient on flatter trails.
It rockets uphill, yet it’s still lots of fun downhill. We sized up to get more space in the cockpit and improved ride stability, but we could have gone two sizes up if it weren’t for the lack of standover clearance.
The shorter front end, and the fact that the bottom bracket hovers really close to the ground, means ripping corners is a blast and it’s also incredibly easy to chuck around for a 160mm-travel bike.
Slapping downhill trails, with the supple rear suspension tracking all incoming hits, is a hell of a lot of fun too.
Sure, burning through most of the 160mm travel is easy, but the Cube never bottoms too harshly, and there’s tons of mid-stroke grip for steep, puzzle-like trails.
Ultimately, there’s less outright security and confidence when going flat-out on bridleways or straight-line rocky sections than the longer, slacker bikes here.
The 160mm-travel Stereo is pitched as an enduro race bike, but Cube’s Action Team riders don’t often use it, likely because it’s more of a long-travel trail bike than a full-on EWS race weapon. This isn’t necessarily a negative for UK riders though; the carbon C:62 SL is super-light, easy to get around on, and has a tuned, comfy ride quality that always had us grinning. Yes, the Schwalbe tyres don’t cut it, the rear suspension lacks support and the overly tall frame shape isn’t exactly cutting-edge, but the Cube still corners like it’s on rails and attacks every trail. Why obsess over trendy geometry when a bike’s this much fun?