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

CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | 170/170 mm | 14.66 kg | € 3,999

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.

Nice try
The chainstay protector on the CUBE Stereo 170 is made of the right material, but it’s far too short. Paint chips on the chainstay are inevitable.
Variable
The CUBE Stereo has two different shock mounts for coil and air sprung shocks which are supposed to offer optimised kinematics for either option.
Over the limit
We can’t repeat ourselves often enough – Schwalbe’s light TLE casing has no place on an enduro bike.
Super stiff
The Race Face SixC handlebar is very stiff and in combination with the hard SDG grips, there is little to absorb vibrations except for your hands. We recommend swapping these out for something a little more forgiving.

Cube Stereo 170 SL 29

€ 3,999

Specifications

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

Technical Data

Size M, L, XL
Weight 14.66 kg


Only the best
CUBE have specced only best components for the suspension, brakes, drivetrain and wheels, with no compromises made.
Nice detail
We often find our shoes rub the paint off the chainstays of a lot of bikes. However, CUBE have thought of this and supply the bike with frame protectors where your shoes would rub. Nice!
Variable
The headset cups can be rotated by 180°, allowing you to adjust the head angle by 0.6°. Although it’s easy enough to do, it takes time and isn’t something you can quickly do on the trail. We left it in the slacker setting.

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.

Size M L XL
Seat tube 420 mm 470 mm 520 mm
Top tube 581 mm 604 mm 631 mm
Head tube 103 mm 113 mm 133 mm
Head angle 64.4° 64.4° 64.4°
Seat angle 76.7° 76.7° 76.7°
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
Helmet Giro Tyrant MIPS | Glasses Oakley Airbrake PRIZM Trail | Jersey VOID Orbit HS Jersey | Pants VOID Rage Pants | Shoes Specialized 2FO Cliplite

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

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

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.

Tops

  • calm and predictable up to a certain speed
  • high-end componentry
  • well priced

Flops

  • 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

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer/Finlay Anderson/Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

Christoph loves to be kept on his toes – both on the bike and in his role for ENDURO. He’s known as the guy in charge of the bi-monthly magazine and masquerades as both its editor and photographer. You’ll usually find him tearing up the mountains on his bike, soaking up the flow or tackling technical, narrow trails.