There are lots of things that are big in Germany that aren’t so big over here, David Hasselhof is a good example. Cube Bikes are massive in Germany, but unlike ex-Baywatch stars they’ve been making inroads into the UK lately and for good reason. They make a staggeringly huge range of bikes, all the way from specialist triathlon bikes to 16″ wheeled kids’ bikes as well as a large range of mountain bikes in all flavours. We tested their Stereo trailbike in the Issue 58 Head To Head (Premier users see HERE and HERE) and we loved the suspension and handling. Earlier on this year, they invited us to go to Germany and see what’s new for 2011 in Cube-world.
It’s a bit of a cliche to describe the Germans as being somewhat obsessed with details but Cube take their engineering very seriously and they are incredibly keen on testing their bikes to make sure they’ll perform and last a long time. They make sure that their products don’t just meet the European DIN EN testing standard but that all frames and components that they use conform to the even harsher DIN Plus tests. Every carbon frame and fork they make is tested in-house before being sent out and they keep a record of the frame’s test results so that if a customer returns a crashed frame then they can test again and compare before-and-after figures to see if there is any internal damage.
The attention to detail goes as far as tuning the suspension design to the specific frame size for all the bikes in the AMS range. Cube call this Size Tuned Kinematics and while each bike will have the same travel, different sized frames will have it’s own size specific seat and chainstays as well as rocker link to provide the same handling.
The AMS Range
AMS stands for All Mountain System and for 2011 the range of bikes has expanded, covering all options from the racey 100mm travel, full carbon AMS Super HPC to the all mountain, alloy framed AMS 150, with, you guessed it, 150mm of travel. They all use a four bar design with rocker link driving the shock and conventional front triangle layout, unlike the laid back seat angle seen on the Stereo or Fritzz, both of which remain unchanged for 2011.
We’ll start with the AMS Super HPC. It’s obviously aimed at the XC race and endurance riding (‘marathon’) set with a frame weight, including Fox shock, of just 1,900g. They’ve achieved this by using all their know how in carbon manufacture and reducing the amount of alloy components to a bare minimum. The dropouts are fully carbon, the press fit BB is carbon, the post rear brake mount is carbon, the shock linkage is carbon and the bearings for the tapered 1.5″ to 1.125″ headset fit directly into the carbon frame – the only bits of alloy left are the bonded pivot sleeves.
The AMS Super HPC is the only carbon frame in the range, the rest of the AMS bikes using triple butted hydroformed HPA alloy frames. They all use asymmetrical chainstays for improved stiffness, with post style disk brake mounts and a very cunning lightweight, forged, two piece, press fit BB shell which also serves as the lower pivot mount.
The AMS 110 sticks with a 1.125″ internal headset while the longer travel 130 and 150 bikes use tapered steerers as well as Syntace 12×142 dropout system which is an option on the 110 bike. All the bikes have very tidy internal cable routing too.
We test rode the AMS 130 on the trails of Bullhead Mountain and it’s a rather impressive bit of kit, pedalling nicely, feeling stiff and snappy with quick handling and classic four-bar bump absorption – the true handling potential was masked by the frankly huge stem – it’s an easy fix though.
We particularly liked the fact that, despite Fox moving to two position TALAS for 2011, the 15QR Fox 32 TALAS fork on the AMS 130 kept three positions, the 150mm option providing an extra bit of give for the really rough stuff as well as the standard 130 and 110mm settings. It’d be a bike we’re keen to test in the UK where we reckon it’ll be suitable and fun for a broad range of riding.
The AMS test bikes we rode all had final specification builds but had pre-production finishes, hence the bare metal on show.