The Cube team is rolling on brand new prototype bikes at this weekend's notoriously fast and rough World Cup race in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, a legendary track that's a favorite of many racers. The new bike looks a lot like its 27.5'' wheeled Two15 predecessor
, but it's actually an all-new frame front to back that's been designed around 29'' wheels, features revised geometry and suspension kinematics, and is said to be torsionally stiffer than what team racers Max Hartenstern (his bike is pictured here) and Greg Williamson had been on up until this weekend.
The unnamed aluminum prototype employs a familiar looking four-bar suspension layout that looks nearly identical to the production Two15 downhill bike, but small changes in pivot locations can have a major effect on how a bike performs. In this case, the team was looking for more progression from the rear-end, so that's exactly what Cube delivered, Hartenstern explained. That extra ramp-up is always needed when you're hitting stuff at the speed of sound like these guys are, and the change would allow for a wider tuning range for racers like Hartenstern and Williamson because they might no longer need to run as many volume spacers in the shock as they would otherwise. It could also mean that they can go with a coil-sprung shock more often, although that's not the case at this event.
The air-sprung Fox Float X2 on Max's bike has 210 psi in it for this weekend's track, and his Fox 40 has been inflated to 82 psi. On top of the increased progression, Cube says that they've also upped frame rigidity at the rocker link to boot.
More progression, more stiffer, more better? Apparently so, as Hartenstern told Pinkbike photographer Nathan Hughes that he's shaved four seconds off his best time on his local test track. Four seconds might not sound like a lot, but that's a relative eternity in the world of top tier downhill racing. Of course, suspension and chassis rigidity are one thing, but geometry is arguably the most important factor, and the new bike has seen some big changes.
More length seems to be the order of the day all around, and the new Cube is quite a bit longer than its forebearer. In fact, Hartenstern's medium-sized bike that's shown here has the same 435mm length reach as the old large-sized frame that he used to prefer. His teammate, Greg Williamson, has also been able to drop down a size from the extra-large frame that he had been racing on up until this point. One number that hasn't changed from the 27.5'' wheeled bike, despite the larger diameter wheels, is Hartenstern's handlebar height - sits 109cm from the ground.
Max's bike is fairly straightforward as far as setup is concerned, with a set of yet to be released aluminum 29er rims from DT Swiss, a set of Magic Mary tires, and Schwalbe's ProCore system on both ends. His front tire is at 24 psi, the back is at 26 psi, and there's 80 psi inside the ProCore inserts. If there's one place that some extra flat tire insurance is appreciated, it's on the rowdy Mont-Sainte-Anne track.
So, is this 29'' wheeled downhill bike going to replace the current 27.5'' Two15 downhill bike? As is usually the case, we were told that this is just an experiment, although it could very well see production next year if all goes well. Having heard that line a few hundred times now, I can say that it usually means that the bike is going to come to eventually come to life.