After viewing hundreds of bikes and accessories at the Cube 2020 Dealer Show, Hannah brings you her pick of the Cube 2020 Bike Range.
After a couple of weeks of revealing its 2020 range to its network of dealers and distributors, Cube is now ready to tell riders about what you could be buying at your local bike shop in the year ahead.
Cube is a local bike shop favourite, not just because its key dealers stand a good chance of attending the launch event at its German HQ, but because it offers a range of bikes of every kind at a price that can compete with direct-to-consumer brands. For the customer that either wants to shop local, or wants to security of having a real life shop they can wheel their bike into for after sales help, Cube often represents value for money.
Over the course of a couple of days, I had the chance to ride the new Stereo Hybrid 140, an e-MTB, and the Stereo 170, a new enduro offering. But, just as the dealers do, I also had the chance to check out the entire range, as well as finding out a bit more about the brand. There were a few highlights for me: some of them were specific bikes, while some of them more like philosophically heart warming trends.
Who Is Cube?
Cube is privately owned by founder Marcus Pürner, and has its HQ in Waldershof, Germany. Wil got a look round their new factory a couple of years back, but when I was there they were busy building yet another hall onto it – so business would seem to be good. Indeed, by volume Cube is one of the biggest bike manufacturers in the world – and they don’t even sell to the USA (though they have a strong following in Canada).
Marcus has a strong attachment to keeping things local, and while frames are built in the Far East, they are shipped to Waldershof for building up. The exception to this is some of the children’s bikes, which arrive in Germany fully built. It’s a function of economics as well as philosophy – children’s bikes are reasonably efficient to import whole, while it’s more cost effective to build the other bikes (and import all the components) in Germany. As well as fitting all the components to the frames – which includes installing e-bike motors – the HQ is also where all the wheels are built. In the vast halls of the factory, 3,000 bikes a day are produced – it would be 4,000 if it weren’t for the extra time it takes to fit e-bike motors. Of the 3,000 built, a sixth of those will make their way to Oneway Distribution, the distributor for Cube in the UK, Netherlands and Ireland.
With no shareholders, Marcus is free to take the business in whatever direction he chooses, without the red tape of endless board meetings. While this may well play a part in the efficiency of the set up, there is also a physical focus on making all the processes as streamlined as possible. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the factory, but the official pictures give some idea of the complexity of the assembly line, and the technological investment that has gone into it. With size and volume also comes economy of scale and influence – Cube is Bosch’s biggest customer for e-bike motors, so it’s perhaps no surprise to see the 2020 range consists of a significant number of e-bikes. In fact, two-thirds of the range is still ‘pedal-only’ bikes, but 60% of the turnover is in battery assisted models.
What does 2020 look like?
For 2020, Cube is slimming down many of its pedal-only ranges, producing perhaps just three focussed options in a range where previously there might have been nine. This results from learning what customers are actually buying, and focusing on those needs, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. That said, there probably is a bike for every conceivable need here. Belt drive commuter? Check. Enduro race bike? Check. E-assist townie with basket? Check. Tour de France ready road bike? Also, check. With so many to choose from, I’m glad I’m not a dealer having to guess what my customers are going to want – although often a dealer will be able to order in any model in a matter of days. Here is my pick of the bikes that caught my eye.
It’s worth noting that these bikes interest me not necessarily because they are the most technologically advanced, or radical, or beautiful. Instead, it’s the combination of accessible price point with high street purchasing options that gets me excited. These aren’t boutique bikes for the enthusiast with an N+1 habit – these are bikes that will be bought by the masses, often as a first bike. That means more people on bikes, which is always something I’m keen to see happen.
1. Flying Circus
- Dirt Jump/Pump Track Bike
Starting with this largely because it’s fun, and fun is good. It’s a complete bike that’s been redesigned from past years and reintroduced, in recognition of the demand from urban riders wanting to ride what’s accessible to them. We’ve previously talked here on Singletrack how the future of mountain biking may not be in the mountains, and it’s heartening to see the importance and growth of this style of riding being recognised here. It was available as a frame only last year, but this year it’s a complete bike, with BMX cranks, Manitou Circus fork and both front and back hydraulic brakes. Get jibbing.
2. Cargo Hybrid
- For carrying kids and kit
- From £4,199
Off at the other end of the bike spectrum, if the wheels leave the ground while you’re riding this, we want to see the video. Or maybe we don’t – it’s designed for carrying your children, with a two seater bench seat inside it. Alternatively you can opt for a lockable lid, for commercial deliveries perhaps. Tempting as it might be, the lockable lid isn’t compatible with the child seat.
There will be four models available in the UK, all with e-assist, and you can choose from options with either one or two batteries, depending on your journey needs and access to charging points. It has a weight capacity of 200kg, and the cargo box is made of EPP foam – a substance used in motorbike helmets. The Bosch motor has a cargo specific tune to it, and there will be a ‘Sport’ model with derailleur gears, or a model with cargo specific Enviolo hub gears. The frame allows for future models to be made available with a belt drive – something which appears on a number of functional or utility bikes elsewhere in the Cube range. The height adjustable bars (and saddle) will best suit a rider between 1.6m and 1.9m tall, and it comes equipped with integrated lights. While there are other cargo e-bikes out there, this one is at a competitive price point and the potential for purchasing through a local bike shop will surely help normalise ‘bikes as transport’. Hopefully this helps open up this market to the general population looking to avoid a car wherever possible, rather than appealing more to the existing bicycle enthusiast who is prepared to seek out a cargo bike from a specialist retailer.
3. Reaction TM
- Trail-ready hardtail
The Reaction line-up is one of the ranges to have been simplified this year, with the TM being the more trail orientated configuration of the three alloy options coming to the UK. With 130mm of travel, an X-Fusion RX32 fork, SRAM SX Eagle drive train, dropper post and 25.5×2.6in tyres, all for the magic sub-£1k price point – I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few opting for this as a ‘bike to work’ scheme option. Long way round commute, anyone?
4. Stereo 120 Youth
- Full suspension for kids
Not a bargain bike, but for the progressing youngster this comes in cool ‘team colours’, has a Suntour 120mm XCR 34 Air fork, Magura MT Thirty brakes, a mix of SRAM SX and NX Eagle drive train, and looks every bit the proper full suspension shredder. We’re seeing more and more ‘proper’ full suspension options coming from bike brands these days – hopefully it’s a sign that kids are riding more and harder, rather than parents are just buying bigger trinkets to sit in the shed.
5. Low Standover Bikes
- Touring and urban electric an acoustic
Across the ‘Tour’ and ‘Urban’ ranges of both electric and acoustic bikes, Cube has introduced a dropped top tube but not badged them as ‘women’s specific’. The company has recognised that, particularly the e-bikes, are attracting an older customer with reduced mobility – and the dropped top tubes often appeal to them. More people on bikes, and more people staying active for longer? It’s got to be good.
6. Bikes with racks, mudguards and integrated lights
Lots of bikes came with a ‘utility’ option: full mudguards, a rack and integrated lights (either dynamo or powered by the e-bike battery). These are the bikes that will take us to work, to the shops, or to school – and out of our cars. Having them as off the peg options rather than additional upgrades to be retrofitted must surely help making the choice away from petrol power that little bit easier.
7. 20in Compact Hybrid
- One size fits all e-bike
This had a lot of bike shop owners excited, and they were to be seen whizzing around the car park and local bike paths doing skids and popping wheelies on these nippy little town bikes. With 20 inch wheels, this is a one size fits all bike thanks to an adjustable height handlebar (that also turned sideways with a quick release for easy storage) and low standover. It also comes with built in lights, mudguards, and a substantial rear rack for carrying luggage (with optional front rack as an extra). The Mainland Europeans were all excited as they could see how popular they’d be for those catching a train for part of their commute, but although they’re compact they’re not going to squirrel away like a Brompton – which seems to be just about the only way of guaranteeing you’ll get your wheels on a train in the UK. Nevertheless, for those with limited storage space at home who want the boost of e-assist and a nippy little luggage carrying runaround, these look like a lot of fun – and they’ll fit multiple people in one household. For the business looking to have a small fleet of bikes for employees to use for business travel, these would also make a seriously interesting option.
8. AMS 100 C:68 SLT
- Full suspension carbon bling 29er
Rounding things off now, we turn to two mountain bikes. First up, the full suspension AMS 100 comes in four different specifications, all using the higher end C:68 carbon layup. This top spec SL (Super Light) option comes with SRAM AXS, 100mm Fox 32 Factory Fork, and Fox Float DPS Factory shock. It’s a race ready XC bike that won’t mind some trail riding and it might well be the lowest priced AXS equipped bike we’ve seen yet. If you don’t want all the weight saving there’s a TM trail version with ‘bog standard’ SRAM Eagle X1 and dropper post at £4,299.
9. Elite C:68X SLT
- Hardtail carbon bling 29er
Using the same higher end C:68 carbon layup as the AMS 100 above, this is the race hardtail of the family. This is a slightly mind boggling price point for a bike with a SRAM AXS drivetrain, 100mm Fox 32 Float SC FIT4 Factory fork, and SRAM Level Ultimate brakes. Perhaps you can buy yourself fast after all?
Just picking out those highlights has been quite a strain. I’ve not mentioned the town bikes in lovely colours. The black and extremely reflective ‘Blackline’ lycra kit. The teeny weeny kids’ helmet with MIPs. The mudguard that fits onto your suspension fork. The really nice purple beanie… I was a little taken aback at just how much stuff Cube actually produces. It’s mass production, and it’s for the masses – now, if it could just translate into a mass move towards bikes, the world will be a better place.
Hannah’s travel and accommodation was covered by Cube/OneWay Distribution