170 seems to be a hot number these days, at least when it comes to the amount of rear travel on the latest batch of big wheelers. The Cube Stereo 170 is a new addition to this rapidly growing category, an aluminum 29er that's billed as a “mountain flattening machine.”
There are three complete bikes available, all with 29” wheels and all with aluminum frames. The Stereo 170 SL 29 shown here comes with a 170mm Fox 36 Factory fork, a Float X2 shock, Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain and 4-piston brakes, and a Newman Evolution aluminum wheelset shod with a Schwalbe Magic Mary up front and a Hans Dampf in the rear. It retails for $6,999 CAD.
Cube Stereo Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Rear travel: 170mm
• Fork travel: 170 or 180mm
• Aluminum frame
• 64.4° - 65° head angle
• 435mm chainstays
• Price: $6,999 CAD as shown
The Stereo 170 TM 29 has a RockShox Super Deluxe Coil shock with a remote lockout, and a 180mm Lyrik Ultimate fork. Other build highlights include a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain (the shifter is an SLX), XT 4-piston brakes, and e*thirteen's LG1 wheels. MSRP: $ 6299 CAD.
The most affordable Stereo 170 is the $4,899 CAD Race 29 model, which has a Fox DPX2 shock, Fox 36 Float Grip fork, SRAM GX drivetrain and Code R brakes, along with a Newman Evolution wheelset and a Maxxis Assegai / Minion DHR II tire combo.Frame Details & Suspension Design
The Stereo 170 is constructed from hydroformed 7005 series aluminum (there's no carbon version, at least not yet) with an anodized finish on the SL version pictured here that should help it withstand the inevitable scrapes and scuffs.
There are separate mounting positions depending on whether an air or coil shock is used.
It's the two shock positions that differentiate the Stereo 170 from its contemporaries. Having multiple geometry settings on a frame is fairly common, but that's not what those two mounting positions are for. Instead, one position is for use with a coil shock, and the other for an air shock. The different positions and shock stroke lengths (230 x 65mm for coil and 230 x 62.5mm for air) are meant to create the desired suspension characteristics for each shock. In the coil shock position, the bike has a much more progressive leverage ratio curve to keep it from bottoming out too easily.
All of the bikes in the lineup are spec'd with a chain guide and bash guard, and they can all hold a water bottle inside the front triangle. Geometry
Cube have never been known for going too
wild with their bikes' geometry numbers, and that remains true for the Stereo 170. There are three sizes, 18”, 20” and 22”, with corresponding reach numbers of 444, 464, and 484.
The head angle can be altered by .6 degrees by rotating the Across headset cups 180-degrees. The Stereo SL 29 that I rode comes with the cups in the steeper setting, giving the bike a 65-degree head angle out of the box.
Seat tube lengths have been falling over the last few years as longer and longer dropper posts become the norm, but Cube's numbers are still on the longer side, measuring 420, 470, and 520mm for the three sizes. The effective seat tube angle sits at a relatively steep 76.5 degrees.First Ride
I was able to sneak away from the hustle and bustle of Crankworx Whistler to get a lap on the Cube Stereo 170 SL outside of the confines of the bike park. The ride started with a moderately steep fireroad climb, followed by some rooty singletrack made extra tricky by the recent rain, and then finished with a steep rock and root filled slice of trail perfection.
That ride also happened to be a ride that I recently did on the new Specialized Enduro, which also has 29” wheels and 170mm of travel. Those numbers may be the same, but the bikes have very different handling characteristics. The Stereo 170 felt closer to a long travel trail bike, while the Enduro sits much closer to the downhill side of the spectrum.
The Stereo was easy to lift up and over obstacles, and navigate around tight turns, but it didn't seem to have the same level of 'plowability' that the Enduro does. I had to concentrate a little more to stay on line when things got really rough, rather than just dropping my heals and turning off my brain. Keep in mind that I'd been on an S4 Enduro, which has a reach of 487mm and a wheelbase of 1274mm, compared to the 20” Stereo's 464mm reach and 1237mm reach – those number likely played apart in the difference in stability I was noticing.
The thing is, not all longer travel 29ers need to be mini-DH bikes. There's something to be said for more maneuverable, more versatile bikes with some extra travel to take the sting off those really rough sections of trail, which is the category the Stereo 170 SL seems to fall into, at least based on my initial ride impressions.