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It’s no secret that we were massive fans of the 2013 Cube Stereo, so we couldn’t refuse when we were offered the chance to get a leg over the new model.

The frame
Cube’s HPC carbon technology allows them to mould the entire front triangle in one piece and means the pivot bearings can be pressed directly into the frame with no need for alloy inserts, increasing stiffness. The headset bearings press directly into the head tube too, which removes any possibility of fitting an angle-adjustable headset. Our biggest gripe with last year’s bike still hasn’t been addressed – the Stereo lacks ISCG mounts on its press-fit bottom bracket shell, severely limiting your choice of chain guides if you decide to ditch your front derailleur.

The kit
The SL bike we tested is a mid-range model shod with good hard-wearing kit – and you’d hope so too, considering the price tag. Easton’s Haven bar and stem combo creates a comfy cockpit, with the drivetrain and brakes coming from Shimano’s dependable XT line-up. A 1x drivetrain would be better suited to the bike than the 2x10 specified, but it’s not hard to change that later down the line. A RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post tops the build off nicely.

The ride
The Stereo hasn’t lost any of its character or speed since last year, combining top-notch pedalling efficiency with a dependable and predictable suspension feel. We did feel the Fox CTD shock would benefit from a volume spacer change for heavier or harder riders, simply to gain more ramp-up towards the end of the stroke.

We also found ourselves using the Trail mode for most of the test, thanks to the extra support it gives through the travel. The back end doesn’t exhibit any noticeable bob when climbing unless you’re winching hard in the granny ring, and that disappears when the Climb mode of the shock is engaged.

The 66-degree head angle, 320mm BB height and 1,170mm wheelbase give impressive stability at speed while still allowing you to tear around tight, steep turns with ease, partly thanks to the short 440mm chainstays. The 650b wheels only offer a marginally different cornering feel to 26in hoops too.

Schwalbe’s Hans Dampf tyres are some of our favourites for all-conditions riding, while the fast-to-accelerate lightweight DT Swiss wheelset is still stiff and hard-hitting enough to plough through any section of trail without flinching.

The Easton bar and stem are comfortable choices, although we’d have liked to see a shorter stem on a bike of this calibre, rather than the 70mm offering that comes as standard. We also found it hard to mount the Reverb remote lever in a position that was easily accessible, due to the shape and clamp location of the shifter and brake lever. The XT gear was solid, dependable and easy to use though.

FRAME Super HPC carbon fibre, 160mm (6.3in) travel
FORK Fox 34 TALAS CTD FIT, 120-160mm (4.7-6.3in) travel
SHOCK Fox Float CTD with Trail Adjust
WHEELSET DT Swiss CSW EM 3.7 wheels, Schwalbe Hans Dampf 27.5x2.35in tyres
BAR/STEM Easton Haven, 750mm/Easton Haven, 70mm S
EATPOST/SADDLE RockShox Reverb Stealth/Selle Italia X1
WEIGHT 12.8kg (28.2lb) with pedals

PRICE: 5770$ (complete bike)

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