So we are celebrating two firsts on Two Wheels Better with this post; our first review of an e-mtb (well it’s a hybrid really) and the first piece of content by new arrival to the mothership (shed) Matt Treviss (henceforth known as TT…only he knows why).
We could waffle on about the good or evil of electric bikes but the truth is they are here to stay so we asked TT to have a proper look at one of the more low cost and beginner friendly options the Cube Cross Hybrid Pro 400.
So below you can read his musings, TT (like McC) is not a journalist he’s a cyclist who loves bikes (so much he runs the big bike bash in the UK) so please don’t expect this to be a full on geek fest. Read it for what it is, the musings of a bike lover.
Cube Cross Hybrid Pro 400 – First Ride Review
On paper the Cube Pro 400 is arguably one of the best value e-bikes on the market at only £1,499 so naturally we were keen to see how bike actually performed on the trails. On the surface the bikes looks good and takes on the classic cube styling, the design is very minimalist and the frame isn’t plastered with Cube logos which we like. Cube only offer the bike in the black colourway, probably to maximise the appeal to both male and female riders.
The first thing you’ll notice with the Cube is that it’s not the lightest bike in the world and to be honest that’s the case with pretty much every other e-bike on the market. However as soon as you jump on the bike it comes to life and any concerns about the bike’s weight are quickly forgotten. This is thanks to the Bosch motor which provides pedal assistance.
For any e-bike newbies, TT wrote a really good e-bike buyers guide which is a great place to start and walks you through all the e-bike basics.
Motor & Battery
Getting geeky for a moment let’s talk about motors.. They are lots of different e-bike motors out there by various manufacturers including Bosch, Yamaha and Shimano to name a few. Cube use Bosch motors which we have found to be incredibly reliable and user friendly. The Cube Pro 400 uses a Bosch ‘Active Line’ which generates 250 Watts of power. An average cyclist might produce anywhere between 50 – 150 Watts when pedalling, so when the motor kicks in, it amplifies your pedal power. Bear in mind though that the motor assistance cuts out when you reach 15.5 mph so you won’t be breaking any land speed records just yet. For the average rider looking to explore gravel tracks in the forest or country lanes 250 Watts is plenty of extra power.
The Cube comes with a 400Wh battery which plugs neatly into sturdy cradle positioned on the downtube. On test we road the bike for a good two hours, switching between the different power settings and still had plenty of power left to get home. There are four power settings on the control unit: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo. Battery life really depends on how conservative you are with the juice and the terrain you’re riding on. What’s really cool is the centre console until will give you an estimated range based on the power setting selected and the battery life remaining so you can plan your route and make sure you have enough juice to get home.
On the speed controller there is also a neat little ‘move button’. When you’re moving the bike out of the shed or walking the bike through the town centre you can hold the move button down and it will engage the motor to essentially push the bike along for you.
Cube Cross Hybrid Pro 400 – Gallery
Brakes & Transmission
Being an e-bike we would expect to see a good set of brakes on the bike to cope with the extra momentum generated by the motor. The brakes on the Cube didn’t disappoint considering they are a fairly stock set of Shimano BR-M355. The pads bedding in quickly and levers were easy to pull and provided plenty of modulation for controlled stops.
The gears are a simple 1 x 9 setup so a small ring at the front and 9 gears at the back which are selectable give the rapidfire Shimano Altus shifters.The gear shifter has a nice little shifter window so you can see what gear you’re in without having to look down towards the back of the bike. Overall, we had no problems shifting, no miss-shifts and when it comes to replace the chain and rear cassette it’s not going to cost an arm and a leg!
The bike come equipped with a Suntour Coil fork which are common among hybrid and commuter bikes. They provide 80mm of travel which is plenty for forest roads and the occasional bump in the road. They had a nice lock out feature which can be easily reached whilst riding. The lockout always you to turn the suspension on and off. This is great if you’re climbing a steep hill out of the saddle and you don’t want to be bobbing around.
Tyres & Saddle
The Schwalbe Smart Sam tyres really surprised us. On test there were some deep muddy sections of trail which the tyres had no problem cutting straight through. The tyres rolled very well on the road too with very minimal resistance and offered plenty of grip when turning corners. The saddle is also worth a special mention. Usually, bikes are equipped with stock saddles which let’s face it are generally the first thing to be changed. Saddles are a bit of a personal preference, but Cube Active 1.1 was pleasantly surprising and really comfortable.
What Cube have created is an e-bike that makes cycling more accessible and that can only be a good thing. It’s also a bike that would make anyone smile as soon as they start pedalling. For experienced riders looking to encourage their not-so-experienced friends, family and loved ones into giving our amazing sport a go it’s perfect! Imagine going on a group ride without the worry of holding people up? Don’t forget you can also turn the motor off if you’re feeling particularly fit. For the amount of fun you can on this bike, the price tag of £1,500 seems like an absolute steal to us so it’s no surprise they’re flying out of the Cube factory.
If you are looking to pick one up then try Hargroves Cycles where you can pick up a Cube Cross Hybrid Pro 400 for £1,499.