Every year it seems there’s a bike that just doesn’t look as cool, or as good as we’d like it to. This year that bike was the Cube Stereo Hybrid 160. It looks like a relic of the last generation eMTBs, before tube shape changes, lines improved, and brands worked to hide the clunkiness of eBikes better. Furthermore, the name-brand cockpit components and entry-level suspension package had us wondering how this 27.5” wheeled bike would hang on the demanding trails of Windrock Bike Park. While some of the crew was a bit skeptical of the German e-Enduro machine, others were eager to throw a leg over the Cube and let it rip.
Pretty quickly their smiles and hoots were enough to get other riders to line up for a chance to try it for themselves. While this bike certainly wasn’t our favorite, it is quite a capable and fun machine that has more than a few good traits about it. Of course, like anything, those traits could be downsides for other riders looking for more. First up, the relatively short and high Cube Stereo Hybrid is quite a climber. Combine that with the powerful Bosch Performance Line CX drive unit and it was easy to see why some of the most technical and tight climbs were devoured by the Stereo 160. Even though we suspected the smaller wheels would lead to more pedal strikes, the relatively high BB meant we were actually able to keep spinning the cranks over technical terrain with ease. Similarly, navigating tight switchbacks, both up and down, was fast and easy thanks to the smaller wheels and shorter wheelbase. While the 65-degree head tube angle is not ideal for those seeking out the steepest, fastest downhill trails, it makes traverses, flatter trails and technical maneuvering a breeze.
When it came time to charge the downhills, the crew’s feedback was a bit more split. While everyone loved climbing the bike and attacking technical bits of trail, downhill trails presented different challenges for some riders. First up is the relatively short and steep geometry. The 460mm reach is about 15-20 less than our dream numbers and 25 shorter than many other in the category. Similarly, the head tube angle is much closer to many of the bikes in our Trail category and 1.5-2.5 degrees steeper than more aggressive bikes in the mix. This led to some riders having a little less confidence and stability on very steep or high-speed trails. Others enjoyed the more playful nature of the bike however, but we all agreed a slight update in geo could help make it a better descender for those looking to ride hard, fast or want more stability.
The suspension on the Cube Stereo Hybrid 160, plush and sensitive as it may be, feels a bit linear. This means heavier riders or those hitting bigger terrain will likely need to add volume reducers to keep the bike from bottoming out frequently.
From a spec perspective, our testers were rather impressed at how the bike performed. The entry level Rock Shox suspension products have been doing well across the board and we’re happy to report it rides quite well. We would have liked to see a better brake pad compound spec, as the Magura brakes offered nice modulation and lever feel but lacked overall bite. The the rest of the spec is pretty entry level and seems relatively competitive to other bikes on the market. This particular bike was provided to us for testing by Fly Rides USA bike shop, who also extended our reader a discount code on any eBikes they have in stock, which of course does help give a bit better value if you can take advantage. Use “TLW” during checkout at Fly Rides USA to save $150.