The CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 is the latest offspring of the Stereo family and with 170 mm travel and big 29″ wheels, it promises to offer loads of reserves as well as agile handling and good climbing prowess. We were very curious to find out if it could deliver.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
Priced at only € 3,999, the CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 is the most affordable bike on test, despite an excellent spec list. With FOX Factory suspension combining a GRIP2 fork and X2 shock, a reliable Shimano XT drivetrain and powerful XT four-piston brakes, CUBE rely only on the best and proven componentry. The only exception are the thin Schwalbe TLE tires, which are completely inappropriate for slightly heavier riders and anything more than a mellow riding style. Unless you’re a featherweight that tends to float over obstacles, we recommend replacing these immediately with a Super Gravity casing option. On closer inspection of the frame, you can begin to understand how CUBE have achieved the pricepoint of the Stereo 170 SL 29.
For such a high-end spec at such a low price, you get a frame that hasn’t been given much love or attention to detail.
The finish is somewhat rudimentary and if you’re looking for smooth, clean lines and beautifully integrated details, you’ll be disappointed here. The shock mount, which is different for coil and air sprung shocks, doesn’t harmonise well with the rest of the frame. Even the chainstay protector could do with a little more attention to detail. The material it’s made of is good, but it’s much too short to prevent the paint on the chainstay from chipping off. Special headset cups allow you to select one of two head angle positions on the Stereo, though we left it in the slacker 64.4° setting for the duration of the test.
Cube Stereo 170 SL 29
Fork FOX 36 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX FLOAT X2 Factory 170 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory 150 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 4-Kolben 200/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT 12-fach 32 - 10/51
Stem Race Face Turbine R 35 45 mm
Handlebar Race Face Next R 35 Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset Newmen Evolution SL A.30 29
Size M, L, XL
Weight 14.66 kg
Geometry and size of the CUBE
The geometry of the CUBE SL 170 SL 29 is almost exactly what you would want from a modern enduro bike. The reach is nice and long, the head angle is slack, the bottom bracket is low and the seat angle is pleasantly steep. However, none of the values are overly extreme and so the bike’s handling promises to be very balanced. The only problem here is the overly long seat tube on the XL frame.
|Seat tube||420 mm||470 mm||520 mm|
|Top tube||581 mm||604 mm||631 mm|
|Head tube||103 mm||113 mm||133 mm|
|Chainstays||435 mm||435 mm||435 mm|
|BB Drop||27 mm||27 mm||27 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,220 mm||1,244 mm||1,273 mm|
|Reach||446 mm||466 mm||486 mm|
|Stack||619 mm||628 mm||646 mm|
The CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 on the trail
CUBE Stereo 170 geometry looks promising on paper and once you take a seat, you feel nicely centred on the bike. However, the rear suspension sags noticeably on the climbs which pulls your weight further back. There’s a noticeable amount of pedal bob too, so it’s worth using the climb switch on the shock. This settles the rear end on forest service roads but comes at the cost of traction on more technical ascents. Going downhill, the CUBE immediately feels at home. The handling is calm and direct as you change direction. You are positioned centrally on the bike, even allowing less experienced riders to generate enough grip on both wheels in the corners.
While the amount of travel might suggest otherwise, the CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 is more a comfortable trail bike than a capable enduro bike.
Tight, winding trails are the preferred terrain of the Stereo 170 since it doesn’t offer the necessary composure to take on demanding high-speed trails, despite its long-travel suspension. This is partly due to the thin casing of the tires, but the suspension isn’t quite up to the task either. The stiff Race Face SixC handlebar and the hard SDG grips don’t do much to dampen vibrations and wear you out on long descents. Those who prefer a longer reach than the 466 mm of size L will have to keep an eye on the seat tube length – CUBE’s sizing here is somewhat old-school, with absurdly long seat tubes on the bigger sizes.
How does the CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 compare to the competition?
The CUBE Stereo is one of the most agile bikes in the test field with handling similar to the Orbea Rallon. However, the Orbea outperforms it on the climbs and is more capable on the descents to boot. When things get faster, every other bike on test will leave the CUBE in a cloud of dust. Despite having the same amount of travel, the performance of the Stereo and the Specialized Enduro is worlds apart!
Tuning tip: swap the tires for the more robust Super Gravity model | a more flexible and comfortable handlebar
While the amount of travel might suggest otherwise, the CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 is more a comfortable trail bike than a capable enduro race rig. It’s handling rewards a more moderate riding style where it remains predictable, intuitive and very agile. As soon as things start getting more demanding, it starts to feel overwhelmed. Both the tires and the rear suspension restrict the bike’s capabilities.
- calm and predictable up to a certain speed
- high-end componentry
- well priced
- rudimentary finish
- flimsy tires
- lacking rear suspension performance on the climbs and descents
You can find out more about the CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 at cube.eu
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD | CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | Giant Reign Advanced 29 0 | Ibis Mojo HD5 | Norco Sight C1 29 | Nukeproof Mega 275C RS | Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | Orbea Rallon M-LTD | Pole Stamina 180 LE | RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built | Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 90 29 | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS | Yeti SB150 T2 | YT CAPRA 29 CF Pro Race
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer/Finlay Anderson/Markus Frühmann