Words: Matt Nauthe  Photographer: Lachlan Ryan

Hailing from the Bavarian region of Germany, Cube is an innovative cycling company that has been building and breathing bikes since the early 90s. Starting life as a humble bike shop the founders believed they could do a better job designing their own bikes and set the wheels in motion to design what we see today. With a massive R&D department alongside pro and developmental teams these guys are serious about their products and cycling at large.

Although they have only been in the Australian market for a relatively short time, Cube has firmly lodged itself as one of the go-to brands with its large range and ultra competitive pricing.

The Limited (LTD) Pro sits in the middle of their hardtail range, offering a good blend of parts from the top model but without the premium price tag - the Attention sits below at $1,449 and the Reaction above at $2,599. Notably, the Reaction has a carbon frame which sheds 1400 grams from the overall weight, while the rest of the parts kit stays practically the same. Key upgrades over the base model like the upgraded 2x11 drivetrain & tubeless ready wheel set add great bang but without breaking the budget.

Initial Impressions

First impressions matter. Pulling the LTD Pro from the box I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. The frame itself is a burly 6061 aluminium construction with tapered headtube and trail friendly geometry. The matte grey on matte black colour scheme with neon orange highlights is subtle and stealthy. Internal cable routing keeps the look sleek and the Cube branded contact points make for a cohesive package.

A Shimano XT drivetrain is a solid performer and an absolute steal to get it on a bike in this price bracket. The 2x11 setup gives great gear range that will appeal to a wide audience too. Shimano maintain the reliability of the parts spec with the M315 hydraulic brakes too. Performance + reliability = 2 thumbs up.

The RockShox Recon TK forks are a nice touch with the Motion Control dampening and low speed compression adjustment. It’s worth mentioning they weigh considerably less than previous incarnations due to a reworking of the crown and stanchion configuration making it similar to that of the higher end Reba. With easy access to adjust preload and rebound, dialling the forks in is a breeze.
On paper the LTD Pro has a solid wrap sheet but as Keith Bontrager once said “Light. Strong. Cheap. Pick 2”. The LTD Pro is a little weighty at 13.5kg.

Enough theoretical cycling, though… how does it actually ride?

Out on the trail

The LTD Pro felt right at home on the buffed trails of Brisbane - the super stiff frame coupled with the short chain stays giving the bike a zippy and playful feeling in the groomed stuff. The (slackish) 70-degree head angle makes the Cube feel nimble yet stable on both the ups and downs. Rougher trails, while fun in small doses, did have a bone jarring effect.

Ergonomically, everything feels as it should. All the contact points are up to the task. It proves that entry-level bikes are finally coming out that have a riding position similar to that of higher end bikes. The 700mm bars offer enough width to give stability and provide some leverage to reef against when climbing out of the saddle. Paired with the 80mm stem, the riding position is centred and comfortable - easy to get over the back of the bike but long enough so as not to feel cramped up on longer rides. The Cube-branded Active 1.1 saddle provided adequate comfort for the duration of the test.

The Shimano running gear is on point. The XT drivetrain shifted seamlessly throughout the whole test, while the 2x11 setup gives a huge gear range to allow easy seated climbing on the steep stuff and also the ability to crank out some pretty decent speed on the long firetrail descents. The M315 hydraulic brakes offered great modulation and plenty of stopping power with the 180/160mm rotors.

Charging through the trails was easy enough with the RockShox Recon TK forks up front with their 100mm travel. After some initial fiddling to get the pressure and rebound right, the Recons soaked up the trail chatter and rocks quite well. RockShox have updated the dampener, thus improving the handling characteristics markedly over the previous incarnations, and this is a huge bonus for bikes in this price point.

However, it was when it got a little rougher that they really shone. Although with only using the quick-release axle, the reworked crown and stanchions were plenty stiff enough to allow the rider to confidently pick and stick to a line without fear of the wheel wandering off in another direction. They aren’t going to offer the stiffness or performance of a Pike – but they aren’t that type of fork, and this isn’t that type of bike. The handlebar mounted lockout switch was easy to actuate but, truth be told, was only ever used when we hit the tarmac.

The Schwalbe Tough Tom and Rapid Rob tyres performed fine through the test. It must be noted though that the thin sidewalls coupled with a standard tube setup meant high pressures needed to be run to avoid pinch flatting. This made the ride quality harsher than it needs to be and traction also suffered. The flip side is that the wheels are tubeless ready, so doing away with the tubes (and pinch flats) is a pretty easy process that negates all the previous points. Take the time and spend the cash to do this and you won’t look back!

Our Take

As an entry-level off-road mountain bike the Cube LTD Pro is a solid bike that comes in at a very competitive price point. The build kit is solid, with plenty of dependable parts. The Shimano XT drivetrain and adjustable RockShox Recon are the cherries on the cake.

Though the ride was a little harsh on the rougher trails, the option to convert to tubeless is a fast and cheap solution to remedy this. The LTD Pro offers real bang for your buck and is worth a look if you are keen to get a hardtail with some quality parts on it for under $2000.

Brand Cube
RRP $1949
Weight 13.5kg
From www.cube.eu