Cube Cross Hybrid Exc 500 Allroad 2019 Review

CeeJayCee

Finding my (electric) wheels
Sep 24, 2019
5
2
Hello!

I thought I would start a thread of an ongoing review of this bike. I plan to provide updates as I hit various milestones using the bike and answer any questions that others might have.

Background
I've been cycling since a young age. I started by mountain biking around the Pentland Hills, a local regional park / hill range on the outskirts of Edinburgh. I've been commuting by bike for about the last 10 years, somewhere in the range of 3 - 10 miles each way and I've been using a touring bike and more recently a cyclocross / gravel bike. My current commute is about 8 miles each way on mostly cycle paths, old railways, canal towpaths.

I do a lot of my own bike maintenance, only really using the LBS for hubs or bottom brackets. I'm in my early 30s, fit (enjoy running, able to run a half marathon), but haven't been cycling other than commuting much recently.

We've got a baby under 1, so the e-bike is to make life a bit easier and less tiring, and to avoid buying a second car!

Purchasing
I visited a local independent ebike specialist shop a few months ago to try out an ebike and I was suitably impressed. They didn't have any bikes in stock that were in the style I wanted or suited my budget, but they did point me towards some Cube bikes online.

I purchased this bike online from J E James Cycles. I got quite a significant discount by purchasing an end-of-year 2019 model and got a bit more money off because the bike had a small amount of cosmetic damage to the top tube (which is hardly noticeable!). I purchased using the Cyclescheme, so I'll be saving the tax and NI by paying using salary sacrifice. I expect the total price to cost me about £1200 ish.

The process of buying with Cyclescheme was relatively simple. My work approved the purchase and made the payment within a couple of days. There was then a few days delay when scratches were discovered on the bike during building it and we negotiated a discount. It arrived next day after it was despatched.

Building
I bought the bike mail order and built it myself. Having built bikes bought online before, this should have been easy. This bike had slightly more work required than I expected, based on the conversation with the shop over the phone before buying.

Front wheel, front mudguard, handlebars and pedals had to be attached. I also had to attach the front light, but the provided screws were too long and I had to find others that were short enough to tighten up. No instructions provided if red/black wiring mattered, turns out it didn't. The front disc rotor needed adjusted. I still need to adjust the gear cable tension to stop a slight "ticking" of the gears. During my first commute to work, I discovered the front fork was far too soft and bottomed out with even the slightness bump. On my return journey I locked out the suspension to stop the horrible noise. I ordered a shock pump and added more air (there was so little air in the fork, it almost didn't register on the gauge). Setting the pressure to that recommended on the Suntour website is now much better and I've tested the travel using the zip-tie method. The shop or manufacturer probably should have set a mid-level of pressure, so that's pretty poor on their part.

The battery came with a decent amount of charge, but I left it charging overnight before my first real ride.

The shop provided a reasonably decent pedal spanner and a multi tool. The provided instruction manuals from Bosch were pretty useless, but I found some good videos on YouTube.

I've bought a black plastic bottle cage and I managed to find a Cube branded water bottle as a bonus. I might upgrade the cheap plastic cube pedals to DMR v6/v8s, I don't think I'll bother with SPDs on this bike.

First Ride
The first proper ride was my commute to work. I took about a 9 mile route that was about a 450 ft descent, with a big flat section in the middle. I quickly hit the limiter on the motor, but the Active Line Plus motor had no real noticeable drag when it cut off. I normally put a reasonable effort in on the way to work, but not overly fast, and I arrived slightly sweaty but that might have been due to wearing a jacket because it was 3C outside! Only issues were the front fork, mentioned above. Total distance was slightly longer than usual (I wanted to avoid a muddy section on my first ride), but it took the same amount of time as my acoustic bike.

The return journey was where I expected the bike to shine - uphill all the way home. I took almost the same route in return, but finishing up a muddy steep rough track. I normally get home very sweaty, needing a shower and plenty water. The route starts with some steep roads (14% according to Google maps) that were easy. On the middle section, long and flat, I rode just at the edge of the limiter (about 16 mph on the Purion display) and relaxed; it was almost boring. The final section, up some steep hills (again, about 14%) were so much fun. I actually laughed out loud twice!

I got back in the same amount of time as usual, but without any sweat. I didn't need a shower and got to spend time with my daughter straight away. I usually wear "cycling" clothes, but maybe I won't need to now.

Overall

I bought the Allroad version, which comes with mudguards and lights. The mudguards are SKS plastics and a bit cheap looking but seem fine, although the downtube was covered in spray from the final muddy section when I got home. I might need to attach one of those "flaps" to the bottom of the front mudguard. Its a shame the bike doesn't come with a rack or with decent rack mounting points, given that its advertised as "allroad" and for trekking. I've ordered a CUBE ACID Rear Carrier SIC PURE 28" RILink rack, which I'll fit over the weekend. The lights are reasonable, but seem to be more "be seen" rather than "to see by". I've got some decent lights from my acoustic bike I'll use when it gets really dark.

The gears are smooth and responsive. I've come from a cheap Claris 2x8 setup on my acoustic bike, so Deore 1x10 is nice and much simpler to use - no double changing front and rear gears to find the right one. When using Turbo mode, the gear changing is pretty clunky. I've got to remember to completely stop pedalling to let the motor stop before changing, even though I can hear the motor cutting out automatically. Lower power modes don't have this issue.

The brakes are great, good modulation and strong stopping power. I've got Shimano hydraulic brakes on my mountain bike, but these feel better. I think the 180mm rotor up-front helps a lot.

The motor is the Active Line Plus and is more than powerful enough for my commute. It pulls nicely away from traffic lights. In fact, on some of the rougher sections, I felt like it was a bit too much power in Turbo. I like that there is no drag when I reach the limiter and the lower power should give me better range than the Performance CX line. I've not removed the limiter and don't know if I will. 16 mph does feel a bit slow, but going at that speed might result in a more relaxed and enjoyable commute. Most of the commute is off road on shared paths, so any faster is probably anti-social anyway.

I can't comment on the range yet really, but when I got home from my 20 mile commute (which I had on Turbo all the way home), I still had all 5 bars on the display. On the way to work, I saw Eco mode showing 150 miles range, but I suspect that might not be very accurate (it was mostly flat or downhill). The bike has a 500Wh battery.

The battery cover is plastic and quite cheap feeling, although I think it looks fine on the bike. I think Cube could have put a bit more effort in here, the rest of the bike feels high quality except for this part.

More to come.
 

CeeJayCee

Finding my (electric) wheels
Sep 24, 2019
5
2
Update after a few days.

Gear "ticking" sorted itself.
Brakes bedding in better now.

Had a short ride (4 miles each way) to test the new suspension. Much better with more air in; I actually might need to take some air out because it could be too firm now. Rode in jeans and a winter jacket, no sweat, easy peasy up the hills.

Fitted the Cube rack over the weekend. More complicated than a normal rack, you have to drill holes in the existing mud guard, but not too difficult. I'm sure Cube could have made it easier by pre-marking where these are supposed to go. The bolts provided were too short to mount to the stays with the provided mud guards, but I had some others bolts I could use. It does look quite smart integrated into the mudguard. The existing light integrated in to the mud guard is still visible. Not tried any panniers on it yet, but it looks and feels solid.

Got insurance through AssetSure, about £100 for the year. Slightly more expensive than adding to house insurance, but won't affect my no claims on that if I need to claim. Weirdly they only require a Sold Secure Silver lock for a bike costing under £2500.
 
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sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
2,728
2,120
On the way to work, I saw Eco mode showing 150 miles range, but I suspect that might not be very accurate (it was mostly flat or downhill).
Yes, the range estimate on the Bosch (at least on our 3 year old Intuvia display) is silly as it is based on a very short history so gives very high estimates after a couple of downhill miles, and very low ones after a couple of miles uphill.
 

soundwave

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 23, 2015
11,765
4,832
DSC_0111_01.JPG
:p
 

soundwave

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 23, 2015
11,765
4,832
i dont look at it anymore it is just guessing lol, id get a garmin if you want to track the mileage but the kiox display might be better but sod £350
 

sjpt

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 8, 2018
2,728
2,120
Mileage done is pretty accurate; it's just the range that is so silly. I'm not sure how much better the Garmin would be than my £100 Chinese smartphone.