Bike Check: Zakarias Johansen's vs Greg Callaghan's Cube Stereo

Sep 30, 2018 at 21:23
by Richard Cunningham  
Greg Callaghan
Zakarias Johansen

Enduro racers Irishman Greg Callaghan and Swedish Zakarias Johansen both spent their first full seasons with the Cube Action Team aboard the 29-inch-wheel Stereo. It's fitting then, that PB photographer Ross Bell caught up with both at the final race of the year and got a chance to quiz them about how they were getting on with their equipment, and compare their setups.

CUBE VS CUBE
Greg Callaghan
Home: Dublin, Ireland
Age: 27
Weight: 84 kg
Height:184 cm
Frame Size: Large, 20"
Wheels: 29"
Brakes: Right-side-front
Pedals: Clips, Shimano Saint
Zakarias Johansen
Home: Falun, Sweden
Age: 25
Weight: 82 kg
Height:185 cm
Frame Size: Large, 20"
Wheels: 29"
Brakes: Left-side-front
Pedals: Clips, Shimano Saint
CUBE VS CUBE


Both Run Fox 36 Forks

Greg Callaghan
Callaghan:
Pressure: 83
Volume spacers: 2
Rebound: HS - 5, LS- 6
Compression: HS - 3, LS - 9

Johansen:
Pressure: 80
Volume spacers: 2
Rebound: HS - 5, LS - 5
Compression: HS - 13/10, LS - 9
Zakarias Johansen


Both Run Fox Float X2 Shocks

Greg Callaghan
Callaghan:
Pressure: 205
Volume spacers: 2
Rebound: HS - 11, LS - 12
Compression: HS - 17, LS - 19

Johansen:
Pressure: 215
Volume spacers: 2
Rebound: HS - 12, LS - 12
Compression: HS - 15, LS - 15
Zakarias Johansen

Handlebar Setup

Greg Callaghan

Callaghan: Race Face Next: My go-to is a 770-millimeter-wide bar. I used to use a 50-millimeter stem with a 20-mil' rise bar, but this year I've gone with a 30-millimeter stem and a 35-mil' rise bar. I feel like the shorter stem gets me a bit more centered over the bottom bracket. The higher bars give me more security.
Zakarias Johansen

Johansen: Race Face Next: I always a run one-centimeter spacer underneath my stem, even if it is steep or very pedally. I am on a 40-millimeter stem and a 760-millimeter bar. I don't change those settings for different courses, I find out what I like in the beginning of the year and then I stay with them.

Drivetrain Choice

Greg Callaghan
Shimano's new 12-speed XTR 9100 for Callaghan.

Greg Callaghan
Callaghan is one of the lucky few who race Shimano's new XTR 9100 12-speed group. Greg says he tried it between races and never wanted to go back.
Zakarias Johansen
Shimano Di2 XTR electronic shifting for Johansen.

Zakarias Johansen
Johansen says he's probably the only rider in the EWS that uses a two-by drivetrain. He says it allows him to take it easy on the transfers and be fresher for the starts.

Brakes

Greg Callaghan

Greg Callaghan

Callaghan: The new XTR, I really like the feel of the brakes. They're less grabby than the Saints, so there's more control and you can keep the wheels rolling better.
Zakarias Johansen

Zakarias Johansen

Johansen: Saint brakes have a lot of power. My riding style is just go, and I brake really hard at my braking points. It's good to have all that power.

Tire Preference

Greg Callaghan
Schwalbe Hans Dampf rear tire (soft), Supergravity casing, 23 psi.

Greg Callaghan
Schwalbe Magic Mary up front (super-soft), Supergravity casing, 21 psi.

Callaghan: I'm really liking the new Hans Dampf it's just out this year. My go-to used to be two Magic Marys. With the Hans Dampf, you can really feel the drift around the corner - you can almost steer with the rear wheel.

Zakarias Johansen
Schwalbe Magic Mary rear tire (soft), 23 to 25 psi

Zakarias Johansen
Schwalbe Magic Mary front tire (super-soft), 21 to 22 psi

Johansen: I only raced the Magic Marys this whole season.
And They Like Narrow Rims

Callaghan: I was toying between 30 and 25-mil' rims and actually, I chose 30's for the start of the year and I really liked them. Then, I realized that I wasn't being as active about about the bike and changing directions much, so I went back to the 25-mil' again and I realized that narrow rim and the rounder tire profile makes the bike ride a bit lighter and be a little more playful.
Greg Callaghan
Johansen: I started the season on 30's, but I took two pairs home and I just went testing back to back. Bikes nowadays, with the carbon frames, I just feel like the bikes are getting so stiff that I wanted to have the 25-mil' rim to have something that was a little more forgiving. And, the profile of the tire - I want to know when I have the grip and when I'm losing it.


Cube Stereo






104 Comments

  • + 242
 Also, THIS is how you do a bike check.
  • + 47
 why doesn't shimano just not coat their cranks? ends up looking like crap in 2 weeks
  • + 4
 +8
  • + 10
 =15
  • + 13
 +3x11
  • + 8
 = 48
  • + 13
 Treeeeeee fiddy!
  • + 3
 420
  • + 1
 weight reduction bro
  • + 42
 Might want to do a little edit, Falun is In Sweden. The paint job on the bike is a bit of a giveaway too
  • + 2
 Yeah I was thinking something was incongruent
  • + 2
 His surname ends with "sen" though. Thats how Danish and Norwegian surnames end. Swedish surnames end with "son".
However, 15 days ago Zakarias Johansen narrowly won the Swedish Enduro Championship in front of Robin Wallner.
  • + 16
 Oops, Got that city/country info from the EWS. His Cube Bio says he is Norwegian-born. I can fix that, now that I know. Thanks!
  • + 5
 @RichardCunningham: He is from Norway, but moved to Sweden for high school and have lived there since.
  • + 38
 2kg between them in weight and 45psi difference on rear shock.
  • + 3
 same thinking here!!! thats a lot of pressure difference
  • + 10
 the lighter one also is the one with 45 psi more...
  • + 4
 Animal!! That thing must be impossible to bottom out for use mere mortals
  • + 3
 @sprocker1 that's only half the story. Maybe one likes a more linear feel and has a different shim stack than the other.
  • + 4
 the one with higher shock psi has lower rear tire pressure. Actually quite a bit lower if it's not a typo. Also compression settings are a bit lower on higher psi shock. Again, different shim stack makes all this speculations bananas.
  • + 35
 Wow, 2x drivetrain and narrow rims.
  • + 2
 Callaghan used to be about the 2x drivetrain too. Not sure whether he's on a different sponsor program than Johansen with Shimano. So now that they released the wider range cassette, they need him to use it.
  • + 7
 @vinay: they still have 2x for the new 9100 groupset
  • + 22
 but but but bike companies said that 1x and wider rims were better
  • + 4
 @Chingus-Dude: they also said that v-brakes and 3x rings were the best
  • + 3
 @Tr011: v-brake or did you mean to say u-brake?
  • + 3
 @PNdubRider: u-brakes are the shit
  • + 6
 I wouldn't mind trying the 2x di2 setup, big range and if you're using syncroshift you really don't need to worry about the front derailleur. I'd never use one on a mechanical setup (except on a road bike)
  • + 1
 @Tr011: they were much better than cantilevers ,
  • + 13
 Such good information! Amazing bike check, and to be able to contrast the two setups is really interesting. The rim width thing is fascinating. I'm starting to get the feeling that while 30mm+ is the standard for most rim companies, a lot of racers are liking the feel of 30mm-.........
  • + 19
 You see this over and over again, bars get wider, soon everyone is riding 800mm+ bars at the trails on the weekend, the pros settle at 760-770. Tyres get wider, amateurs need 2.6"+, pros still running 2.4". Travel getting longer, I totally need a 180mm enduro bike. Maes' bike was 150mm. Now again with rims. Again with how long and slack bikes are getting.

Not saying any of those things are right or wrong, but once a trend comes in amateurs and weekend riders will just push it further and further, since pros need to actually win they're more likely to test it against the clock and often settle on something wider/longer/slacker/whatever than before, but not as extreme.

Brands are happy to push bigger and bigger numbers because it sells new gear.
  • + 4
 @markinator: Rude is pushing some bigger numbers on the items you listed. May be skill, the physics of it all or cherry picking. These two guys plus Hill are relatively normal sized riders...oh plus they are smoother than the rest of us.
  • + 5
 @Loamhuck: yeah no argument. At the very least they're more skilful so can, for example, run a faster rolling tyre over absolute grip. I just do think there's this thing of marketing pushing bigger numbers, and we always end up over-shooting and then coming back a bit. The experimentation is good, bikes are improving at an incredible rate, but I do think lots of people end up riding stuff that is less good for them and their trails as a result. One obvious example being the people lugging enduro bikes around my local XCish trails.
  • + 4
 @markinator: Part of the enduro bike on xc trails is people only able to have one bike but wanting to ride everything (aka me). I'd rather ride an enduro bike on the xc loop with some extra pressure in the suspension than take an xc bike to the local shuttle-able downhill trails. Plus riding the enduro bike for everything makes you stronger.
  • + 1
 @casman86: Riding DH on your xc bike makes you stronger too.
If it doesn't kill you or your bike.
  • + 12
 Cushcore valve stems but no mention of it.

Figured they must be on some kind of tire insert system with such low tire pressures. Also weird that Johansen is running higher pressure on the front. That correct?

Nice bike, love these team based comparisons.
  • + 3
 Higher pressure front means only cushcore in the rear
  • + 2
 But they are running the same stems front and back hmmm
  • + 2
 @makripper: it says his front tyre is a lower pressure now, might have been an error.
  • + 1
 @dingus: that make more sense
  • + 11
 Woop! Would you look at that! Another 2x drivetrain in the wild, careful now, ya wouldn't wanna scare that beauty away, crikey!
  • + 11
 So bars and rims getting narrower. Who would a thunk it...
  • + 8
 I think the push back to narrower rims may be driven by riders trying to make DH casing tires stuffed with inserts flex a little in the turns.
  • + 3
 @RichardCunningham: Only they aren't running DH casings...
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham: I thought the idea was that you don't need a DH casing with an insert?
  • + 2
 @SonofBovril: tyres still get shredded and cut. Casing and insert mostly so that you can run lower pressures and not tank your rims or get slashed. The "not needing dh tyres" thing was IMO a marketing sham for those not riding mega tech & gnarly trails like these guys do.

Ride flow trails? Fine - go for lighter weight casings and an insert cos there's not much chance of a ninja rock slice ruining your ride. Riding gnar, and want to run slightly lower pressures? You still need sidewall protection or you're gon' get cut, yo. Put an insert in for the added protection.
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: interesting Richard I didn’t know about that. I just assumed it was to create the better tyre profile . That’s why I have stayed with25mm
  • + 8
 Sorry to be a pedant, but are those damper setting numbers from zero (like how most people would say) or backwards from max (like how Fox talk about settings)?
  • + 5
 The typography (spacing) is messed up, but I think the "minus" signs mean backwards from max.
  • + 10
 Paint schemes = on point.
  • + 9
 I wonder if The Privateer took note of the fork and shock settings?
  • + 6
 Johansen running more pressure up front than in the rear?
Also interesting to see that while having similar fork pressure, Johansen has a much stiffer rear end.
  • + 7
 Cube bikes have gotten 100x better looking this year!
  • + 3
 Thats exactly what i was thinking.. Wasnt too hard however
  • + 5
 21psi in the front tyre of an EWS racer? How's he getting away with that?!!!....
  • + 5
 Line choice... very good line choice lol
  • + 5
 I ride some pretty full on terrain and the thought of anything over 21psi up front makes my palms sweat. I tried 23/24 up front and it felt horrible. Low pressure and cushcore is the future
  • + 6
 @code26: SUpergravity casing and Cushcore
  • + 2
 @RollinFoSho: ^ what he said ^

on the front that is doable with a strong casing even without an insert
  • + 2
 @howie286: Wow. I too ride some full on DH terrain on my YT 29er and can not fathom dropping below 28psi. Usually ride +30psi standard. Maybe it's time to see what these inserts are all about...
  • + 3
 Much better bike check.

Tire width though?

Also. No mention of grips. Riders are definitely particular about their grips....
  • + 11
 There are two big pictures of the grips and you can easily tell what they are.
  • - 9
flag Dustfarter (Oct 1, 2018 at 13:15) (Below Threshold)
 @bman33: Not diameter, durometer and WHY they prefer them...
  • + 8
 @Dustfarter: The grips shown are the ODI Elite Pro (no durometer or diameter options, just color). The other set is Lizard Skins Logo Lock-On (no durometer or diameter options, just color. The pictures answer those questions, just not the 'why'.
  • + 2
 I work at a shop that carries Cube. I wasn't totally stoked on what we we're carrying a few years ago, but the new models are absolutely dialled. They look good, feel good, and are competitively priced. Kudos to Cube!
  • + 4
 Hans danf wa a great rear on my dh apart from being ripped to bits and getting holes. Would be good in right casing maybe
  • + 3
 Very nice bike check RC keep 'em coming! Now, if Greg's bike has the colours of his home country's flag, why does Zakarias' bike has Sweden's colours and not Norway's?
  • + 3
 Zakka's got dual citizenship, lives in Sweden and recently won the Swedish enduro champs, although he competes for Norway internationally. And BTW @RichardCunningham, Falun's situated in Sweden, not in Norway.
  • + 2
 He is the freshly crowned enduro champion in Sweden, and if I'm not wrong he got double citizenship.
  • + 5
 Thank Ross Bell. He 's the photographer that goes the distance with the tech shots and gets the intel..
  • + 3
 Cool... being on this side of the pond, I hardly ever see anything about Cube. I'm considering getting a 2017 Stereo 160 HPA Race. Can anyone advise?
  • + 6
 Geo on the 160 is very dated, get the 150 instead.
  • - 1
 Be wise,
don't tell lies,
take lip from
the mothership
look those girls
in the eyes

work out what
make your heart skip
dig deep, get yo sleep
know when to fall,
and when to rise


ring that bell
give 'em all hell,
but know you're
in heaven; how?
because you're alive.
  • + 2
 @spaceofades: Yeah, the geometry looked to be the worst part; it got mixed reviews, but definitely seems short in reach, if nothing else. Thing is, I can get the 160 for 1.1k. The components look awesomely solid... GX 10-42 1x11, Guide brakes, Yari fork, 150mm dropper, etc... better than anything else I can find for that price. Otherwise it's spend a few hundred more and hope to get something with better geo, or maybe a Pike/Lyrik.
  • + 3
 @spaceofades: Plus the 2017 150 is a bit more expensive but with the same geometry. Idk if the 2018 is better, but the cheapest I can find that is like 2k. For that price I wouldn't go Cube... I have much better options... I was just asking about the 160 'cause the great deal. FWIW, it would be the 160 vs a 2015 Altitude 750 MSL, a 2017 Meta AM V3 Origin, or a 2016 Jamis Defcon 3. Other than that the price goes up.
  • + 2
 @spaceofades: Edited: I mean the 2019... the 2018 is the same as the 2017 geo-wise, and at brand new 2019 prices... forget that. I could just get the '17, and if it's horribly cramped or something, use the parts and get a different frame.
  • + 2
 Good value for money, but try before you buy. The geometry is not according to fashion, but some people like it for the playfulness versus stability of longer frames. Try both the 160 and newer 150 and decide which one you like better. The 150 is a fair bit more expensive though. I personally love my 160, but lots of people hate it. It also depends on your trails and riding style. I ride primarily AM type trails, but want to do the occasional bike park. If it were the other way around, I would have bought a more aggressive longer framed bike.
  • + 1
 @Mac1987: Thanks. That sounds like my riding; I have an XC hardtail that I currently use for everything, so I want something for the bike parks/big trails that are still pedal-access. My only quandary ... I'm a bit over 6'3", so I figure something decently long in reach would be good, but then again, my newest bike is from 2011, so what do I know lol. I would definitely love to demo... trying everything previously would be best... but does anyone know how to demo Cube in the PNW? According to Cube's website, they don't even have dealers in the country. And yeah, I'm aware that the new 2019 150 is better... but it's almost 4k. *Slight* difference. Unfortunately, that's nowhere near attainable for me right now. Like I said, just asking because that model was in budget and comparable to some others, so I wondered if one was objectively better... Thanks for the help everyone... keep it coming! Smile @FuriousGeorge, you got anything?
  • + 5
 This is the bike check that I like. Pleass keep it up :thumbs up:
  • + 1
 Okay, so is the dude from Norway or Sweden?
I've had 7 or 8 concussions in my life, and even I remember they're two separate countries
  • + 4
 Born in Norway, lives in Sweden
  • + 3
 for the F1 fans: force india and sauber bikes Smile
  • + 1
 Love the x2 beta! knowing what clicks and pressure they run is comforting knowing I am in the same ball park. Getting my x2 setup was a process and a half.
  • + 1
 I don’t know how Greg weighing 83kg gets away with running 23psi in the rear.. especially in finale. I would expect them kind of pressures in mud.
  • + 1
 Cube just rocked it. Iam Irish and Swedish so tough decision but I will say Irish paint job for the win. Great bike check.
  • + 1
 Left side front break FTW that’s all I had to see before I chose a favourite
  • + 2
 Shimano Saint Clip Pedals on both.
  • + 2
 deets on the bottles please!
  • + 1
 Interesting they both prefer the more narrow rims
  • + 1
 Any bike looks good with that much shakira coat on it.
  • + 2
 Awesome looking bikes!
  • + 1
 is johannson from sweden or norway….? Little bit confusing,,,,
  • - 2
 Looking at the pics "Both Run Fox Float X2 Shocks"...that could be about 6 different bikes...the new GT,Kona Process, Trek Remedy...and yes, a Session
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