Review Cube Reaction Hybrid HPA Pro 500 2017

Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
The Bosch CX system comes in for a hard time on here, so I thought that I would offer a different perspective, based on my experience.

My only previous (or subsequent) ride on an ebike was on an old Giant Twist that my mother uses, it is slow and heavy but was quite capable at climbing the hill that my house sits on. I was at the time using an old Trek 1.5 roadbike for half my one-way commute of 26km, driving half way in moderate traffic and parking prior to cycling the remaining congested 13km in Dublin. My aim was to complete the entire journey by bike, something that was not doable for me on the roadbike as a permanent solution.

Driving, my commute was taking 45min in the morning (leaving early) and my return trip time varied from 75-120min in the evening. As a result, I was considering moving job as I have young children and I was not getting to see them in the evenings. The commute is mostly flat and 50% on an off road tarmac cyclepath, the remainder is on street with some segregated cycle lanes. I live half way up a steep hill so that was to be considered and the route is coastal with little in the way of wind protection.

I bought my Cube Reaction Hybrid HPA Pro 500 2017 late on in 2017 from Chainreaction. It was chosen as it was the cheapest ebike with a 500wh battery that I could find within the remit of the Irish cycle to work scheme. Chainreaction had good deals at the time, possibly due to the remaining restrictions on Pedelecs in Northern Ireland, the bike cost ~1950eur. Spec (abbreviated) was as follows:


Fork: SR Suntour XCR32 RL-R coil, 100mm, remote lockout

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore RD-M610-SGS, 10-speed

Shifters: Shimano Deore SL-M610, Rapidfire-Plus

Brake System: Shimano BR-M315, hydraulic disc brake (180/180)

Crankset: FSA CK-745, 15T

Cassette: Shimano CS-HG50, 11-36T

Front Tyre: Schwalbe Tough Tom, active, 2.25

Rear Tyre: Schwalbe Rapid Rob, active, 2.25

Engine: Bosch drive unit performance CX (75Nm) cruise (250Watt)

Battery: Bosch PowerPack 500

Display: Bosch Purion


The bike arrived well packaged but with an EU plug on the charger and no pedals which were listed on chainreaction. I just used a 2-3pin plug adapter. I put the bike together in about 5min, put some SPD clip pedals on it, charged the battery and cycled to work the next morning. To be honest I was disappointed – the bike would fly up to the 25kmh cutoff and then stop. I spent most of the time over the limit but still being passed out by roadbikes on the busy cycle tracks. I wasn’t using much of the battery either with it lasting 2 days on my commute, however the bike would easily climb the steep hill that I live on so I knew that the bike was well powered. Otherwise the bike was very comfortable (bar the saddle but that’s due to personal choice) and very (very) stable on the road. It had excellent brakes compared to the roadbike, which I welcomed in traffic.

For me the speed limit had to change so I bought a Speedbox 2 delimiter from ebiketuning, note that the extra connectors that they recommend are not required. I also bought an isis crank puller and the Ebikespider spanner to remove the bosch chainring nut. Fitting was easy.

Without getting into the semantics here the removal of the limiter was a total relief, I chuckled all the way to work and arrived in record time, under an hour. However, this was to the detriment of the battery range which used 3.5 of the 5 bars on the 26km journey, luckily I had packed the charger.


Upgrades / Purchases / Modifications:

Marathon MTB tyres to replace the crap OE Schwalbe tyres following a sidewall failure in the rear one – no punctures in 8k km.

A spare charger for work

I’ve used Topeak universal frame mounts to fit a bottle cage and a fitting for a Abus lock.

Soon after delimiting I upped the front chainring size to an 18T. This is good for reasonable cadence up to 55kmh.

After fitting a WTB saddle, which was okay but not totally suitable, I went for a brooks B17 saddle which, once broken in, is fantastic, I’ll never buy a different saddle.

A chain washer which works great.

I got a service kit (seal kit and grease) for the motor. I have replaced the seal twice following scare stories on here.

I had the SPD clips on it but forgot to unclip in the driveway and fell over and busted my knee, since swapped for flats.

I’ve used USB lights, the best being a cheapo one bought in Aldi/Lidl.

A Joovuu camera following a crash from a left hooking van.

A Zefal front MTB mudguard and a muddyfox rear one.

Planned Upgrades:

I have obtained Light & Motion Nip & Tuck ebike lights and am waiting on the correct connectors to wire into the bikes circuit. I will do up a review on this following fitting.

New pedals and grips

Maybe panniers, not sure yet, the Osprey backpack has been excellent but panniers may make the commute a little more comfortable.



Gotchas:

Sidewall failure of a Smart Sam OE tyre on the way to work. Chainreaction were excellent and sent me an upgraded MTB tyre but in the meantime, I replaced with the Marathon MTB tyres which are rated for Speed-pedelecs.

Crank bolt fell out again on the way to work, probably because I didn’t torque the bolt to the correct setting following a service. Could not find the bolt so I had to walk the bike to the nearest shop which thankfully had a spare.

Forgetting to change the battery at night or in work has left me getting the train home on a couple of occasions.


Cons:

Not much to be fair, I now realise that crank drives require a bit of driveline maintenance. I replace the lot and seem to get 2.5 to 3k km at a time with lax chain cleaning. I enjoy doing my own maintenance and this does not bother me, I buy the parts on bike-discount.com ahead of time for about 50euro.

Upon reflection I would probably get a lower profile bike with less windage and possibly less weight as I never take the bike offroad, I really like the look of the haibike Xduro. This would allow for a higher cruising speed theoretically, but I generally cruise as 40-45kmh so it’s not like I actually need more speed.

The stock grips are a little uncomfortable, but I haven’t replaced them yet.

The battery lock is a bit fiddly.

The speedo isn’t accurate, seems to overread by 2-3kph

CX motor is noisy, a consideration but I don’t care what other cyclists think of ebikes.

The Cube satin paint finish isn’t very durable, seems to mark easily but this bike is a hack and it gets no cleaning / love / anything really.

The whole CX motor seal which lets in water thing scared me into performing my own motor grease and seal schedule. Despite this there are spots of rust on the outer bearing. Like I said I do not go offroad so this issue will hopefully not manifest for me.


Pro’s:

8000km this year and nothing has gone wrong. Had motor checked after an RTA with a Van and the Bosch guy said it was fine. I haven’t even needed to index the gears. I give this bike nothing but abuse, its permanently delimited and is always on Turbo and it is my only form of transport and has so far proven to be 100% reliable – for a bike I feel it has been exceptional considering the only love it gets is a new drivetrain every now and again and a chain wash. I don’t even clean it. Looking at other reviews with similar distance commutes, I am not sure that this is common across different drive systems?

Using the bike has meant that I have been able to remain in my current job without going insane in traffic, I get to see my family more in the evening and I am getting exercise every day. It’s been so effective that I have given up my car and we now have one car for the household. Therefore, the bike has already more than paid for itself (= free bike + extra beer money in my book).


Caveats wrt. delimiting:

Delimiting the bike is illegal, I am not going to debate that, but I feel that it has made the me safer in some respects. Like being able to maintain speed in traffic, I can take primary position on the road preventing passes, and therefore reducing close passes. Driver behaviour in Ireland is poor towards cyclists and I feel that the bikes speed is a defence against this.

There is a huge responsibility in riding a delimited bike. If you are in an accident it will likely be serious. Humility is key and complete deference to other cyclists and to pedestrians is required in my opinion. Also, drivers simply do not expect you to be moving as quickly as you do so I try to make allowances for them, no banging on bonnets when they cut you up, they probably simply did not expect you to be there.


Conclusions:

Despite some of the drawbacks of the Bosch system I feel that I cannot ignore the complete reliability I have experienced. Also, I feel that the performance of the system is top notch. Upon reflection my choice of an eMTB was probably incorrect but it has still done the job and more than met my expectations. Also, I am unsure if a less sturdily built bike would have taken the punishment that’s been inflicted upon it. Like I have said I have not experienced a decent hub drive bike but, for me, the crank drive Bosch will take some beating.
 

Bearing Man

Trade Member
Nice to see someone standing up for the Bosch motor. I have seen inside most ebike motors now, and the Bosch is definitely very well made, with top spec components too.
Yes, the bearings fail if they get a really good soaking, but so do all the other motors out there (hopefully the new IP56 rated Brose will be different? Time will tell I guess)
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
1,422
2,327
North Wales
Excellent report Deno. I too have the Bosch CX system on a Cube MTB. I have done nearly 2000 miles in 6 months and the only trouble I have had was an intermittent fault on the speed sensor. The LBS swopped this out for me and the bike has been perfect ever since.

In the summer I did a lot of off road riding up the mountains of North Wales. The bike went up hills I would struggle to walk up, the CX motor is fantastic.

I don't tend to do much off road in the Winter, mainly sticking to cycle tracks and small country roads. The CX motor flys up any hills I come across and its a massive relief when blasting along with a strong wind well above the cut off, knowing that the motor will help me do about 16 mph on the return journey.

I haven't de-restricted the bike and have no intention of doing so. I ride purely for pleasure having retired, but due to the hilly nature of most of my rides and usually a strong wind blowing. I must average around the 18 mph range for most of my rides.

I can understand that for commuters having to deal with heavy town traffic there is a strong temptation to de-restrict. I think as you say, it probably is safer to keep up with the traffic rather than have most of it trying to pass you, so I can understand why you have de-restricted your bike.

In conclusion I absolutely agree with you that the CX is a terrific motor. I think it comes down to human nature, if you have 20 people with a CX system, and 1 of them has a problem. That person is quite possibly going to write on a forum about it, the other 19 however aren't probably going to write anything.
 

Ballynoes

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jul 13, 2017
256
146
Perthshire Scotland
I too love my Bosch motor and have zero problems in the first two years, I don't get where Bosch is being bashed on here, maybe I just don't see those posts.

As for de-restricting, I have no intention to do so, as I am more interested in getting 30-40 miles into the hills rather than 5 miles at 30mph.

It will be interesting to see what happens if there is a collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian.... and PC plod finds you were actually doing 30mph unrestricted... think about it.
 
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Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
So at the end of 2018 I did a review of my years commuting.
  • Distance travelled ~11,000 kms
  • Breakdowns = none
  • 3 x sprocket, cassette and chain replacements (the final one being an e-bike rated chain which may last longer).
  • 1 x replacement disks and 2 x replacement pads
  • I think I’ve only cleaned the chain 5-6 times but I have been getting better at that.
  • I have rebuilt the rear hub after I wore through the hardened surface on a cone. I regreased the front hub even though the grease was still green.
  • Still haven’t washed the bike
I do have a couple of minor concerns for reliability.
  1. I have overheated the battery twice, both times in really windy weather. Not sure if this will damage the battery but it seems that the limit is there to prevent damage. Note that the bike did not cut out, it just flashed the outside and middle LED’s on the battery when I went to recharge. Both occasions logged a fault on the system.
  2. I seem to be getting slower. Not sure on this one but I think that I am fitter yet on average my commute has taken longer recently. May coincide with winter and higher winds etc. but its puzzling. The wheels still seem to turn freely, and the brakes are not binding. If its not the weather maybe the battery / bike is down on power or the motor is dragging somehow. If anyone has experience of this, I’d be very interested.
  3. I think that I have some slight movement in the headtube but its not too bad at the moment.

I have completed some upgrades recently:
  1. Wired lights. I purchased Light & Motion Nip and Tuck (front and rear) ebike lights on Amazon. The Nip has an 800 lumen output. I was disappointed that these are not exactly plug and play and require a harness to plug into the bosch system. You can get them here: https://www.bike-discount.de/en/buy/bosch-light-cable-for-rear-light-520800. I fitted the lights as per the following link https://www.emtb-news.de/news/en/workshop-install-lights-bosch-e-bike/ as there were no instructions included in the packaging. Methinks they do not like DIY. I had suspected the lights would not switch on as the functionality had not been enabled on the system, this was the case so I went to my local dealer, GreenAer in Dublin, to see if they could switch this on. The lads did this for the princely sum of €10 (cannot see how they make money) and couldn’t be nicer to deal with - recommended. Another gotcha on this is that I used heatshrink crimps on the connections between the lights and the harnesses and these were not suitable for the thin wires. I will be redoing these with solder in due course. Generally, the fitting of the lights was a pain. Fishing the cables through the frame was difficult (I used a straightened clothes hanger) and I made mistakes with the connections but the performance has more than made up for it. The front light is particularly good. Sone of the cycleway I use is unlit and this is now much better with the light being quite diffused and therefore useful and less blinding to others. Also I have noticed that cars ‘see’ me more readily now. I still use a couple of USB lights to further increase my visibility. Note: there is a quirk with the function of the lights if you use a dongle. You must switch on the dongle (pressing walk mode) prior to switching on the lights or else the limiter will not disable – took me a little while (15k), and more than a few expletives to figure that one out.
  2. Only yesterday I fitted some nice SKS bluemels 75 u mudguards to replace what I had before. https://www.bike-discount.de/en/buy/sks-germany-bluemels-75-u-mudguard-set-782388. These fit well to the bike but I had to buy some additional Strut-Mounting Clamps to bolt the front mudguard stays to the front forks as there are no mounting bosses. Still fine tuning these but the quality is excellent, and they supply loads of extra nuts and bolts to adapt to your bike, instructions could be better however.
  3. I fitted some ergon GP1-L grips and have found these to be excellent. Less hand pain and seemingly less shoulder pain that what I was previously getting. Also bought some Roeckl Palacino - Winter Gloves which are pretty good warm (so far in this mild winter) and also have good padding on the palms too.

So all in all a successful year. I hope that the bikes reliability continues into 2019.
 
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anotherkiwi

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2015
7,845
5,784
The European Union
  1. I seem to be getting slower. Not sure on this one but I think that I am fitter yet on average my commute has taken longer recently. May coincide with winter and higher winds etc. but its puzzling. The wheels still seem to turn freely, and the brakes are not binding. If its not the weather maybe the battery / bike is down on power or the motor is dragging somehow. If anyone has experience of this, I’d be very interested.
Yes I have been going slower, first I thought it was old age creeping in...:oops:

I think that before you are really fit you try harder, once you get fit everything seems much easier so you settle back and relax. Highly subjective I know, but I think it has more to do with the man than the machine. I noticed this last year when I started commuting again - at first I was trying to set a reference time to get to work in order to fix a departure time. Then when you factor in weather and traffic and whatnot I just decided to leave five minutes earlier and relax en route.
 
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Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
I tend to push hard all the time as I am always late. I have been recording my commute times (I got a Garmin watch last xmas and this is all I use it for) so looking at the data:
1547570918152.png
My mean commute is to work is 2.5min longer from Autumn to winter. Similarly my return journey is 2min longer. Not a lot of time I agree but the trend is towards longer journey times. The weather seems a possible culprit, my commute is seaside so there's little shelter. I'll have to wait until spring to see if the times come down.

Now back to work!
 

Nealh

Esteemed Pedelecer
Aug 7, 2014
14,632
5,675
58
West Sx RH
Head winds are a killer if using timing as a means of improvement.
 
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Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
Yeah but if you take enough instances over a suitable timeframe you get a picture of the environment and can use that average as a baseline. Then you can look at other variables like fitness or mechanical issues. But yeah, headwinds are a killer full stop.
 

anotherkiwi

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2015
7,845
5,784
The European Union
150 seconds lost over 26 km? A whole 5.8 seconds per km?

There must be something wrong! :rolleyes:
 

Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
1,422
2,327
North Wales
Head winds are a killer if using timing as a means of improvement.
On an e-bike I will actually be faster (on a round trip) when there is a head wind and then a tail wind or the other way around. This is totally different to when riding an un- assisted bike.

Hopefully the following example will help explain what I am trying to say.

On a still day and a flat course I will be doing about 17 to 18 mph in both directions, so will average around 17.5 mph on an out and back run.

On a windy day riding into the wind I will be doing about 16 mph (my motor completely cuts off at 16.8 mph), with the wind however (this depends upon wind strength) I will be doing about 25 mph. This gives an average of 20.5 mph. So when its windy I find I can do faster times on round trips than when its still conditions.

A similar thing happens on hilly routes (up and down not just up). I find I can do around 16 mph up most hills unless they are extremely steep, and then coming down I can be traveling at over 30 mph. So unlike on a conventional bike where a hilly route would reduce the average speed. I find on an ebike a hilly route (lots of ups and downs) actually increases the average speed.
 
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Nev

Esteemed Pedelecer
May 1, 2018
1,422
2,327
North Wales
Yeah but if you take enough instances over a suitable timeframe you get a picture of the environment and can use that average as a baseline. Then you can look at other variables like fitness or mechanical issues. But yeah, headwinds are a killer full stop.
What do you wear when riding in Summer compared to riding in Winter? When I first got my e-bike I didn't have any cycling gear so just rode in jeans an old jumper and sometimes an old coat if it was chilly.

I then bought some tight fitting cycling clothing and the difference this made was huge. It makes a massive difference to wind resistance, I couldn't quite believe how much of a difference it makes.

Now that the Winter is upon us though, I am wearing fairly bulky clothing once again and so will greatly have increased my wind resistance. If you are doing the same thing this will probably explain your drop in speed.
 

Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
Yeah I wear cycling clothing year round so not much difference there. Like I said I’m not that concerned with the overall commute time, I was just wondering if the difference was due to weather, bike or me.

Anyway, I hope to put another 11-12k on the bike this year. It’s still in warranty till November but hopefully the motor will hold up to this use. The battery also.
 

Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
I said that I would report back on the e-bike rated chain, well on Friday it started skipping gear on the highest gears after 1500miles which is less that the 1900miles I got on the previous KMC non e-bike chain. To be fair I think that it was the rear cassette that let go first at there was no slipping in the lower gears. Its confusing as I cleaned this chain more frequently than before but then the time of year is perhaps exacerbating wear. Could it be possible that a tougher chain could wear the cassette more quickly? I replaced with another e-bike chain as I had bought two so I will see how this one does.
 

anotherkiwi

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2015
7,845
5,784
The European Union
My Wippermann Connex has over 3600 km and I am not kind to it, it gets peaks of over 700 W. True I hardly ever use top gear around town but still... I think it might be due for a little dry lube though :)

The KMC chain I took off the old rear hub motor bike was trashed at the same distance and IIRC was the second chain in 3600 km.
 
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Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
Good going! I might think about the Wippermann chain but its a bit more expensive than KMC. What cassette do you use? I use a shimano HG50 cassette and I would say that I am 70% of the time on the smallest 3 cogs, which obviously wear faster.
 

Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
Just thinking about this, if I move from 18T to a 20T front cog it would roughly move me down 1 gear on the cassette (worked out on sheldon brown gear calc.). This would give me 2 more teeth per cog to reduce wear. If I ran out of low gears (empty battery situation) I could go 11-42 on the cassette (not yet - have 2 11-36's in the garage). Does anyone run a 20T front cog with a 11-42 cassette?
 

anotherkiwi

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2015
7,845
5,784
The European Union
Good going! I might think about the Wippermann chain but its a bit more expensive than KMC. What cassette do you use? I use a shimano HG50 cassette and I would say that I am 70% of the time on the smallest 3 cogs, which obviously wear faster.
The fact that the GSM has a normal sized chainwheel might help wear? The experts will chip in on that. I am using the HG20 but I swapped out the 12 tooth cog for an 11 tooth from the bits box.

The price of the Wippermann chain from bikediscount.de wasn't much more expensive than the KMC one and it is certainly much better value for money in my case. I think that if you have a mid motor you want the best drive chain components you can afford (within a reasonable price range).
 
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Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
Its worth thinking about, I have put 4 new chains + cassettes on the bike in the 14 months I've commuted on it, anything to increase longevity of chains will pay dividends in time and money (not that I don't enjoy getting my hands dirty ;-)).
 

Deno

Pedelecer
Jan 24, 2018
71
45
41
Dublin
16000km / 10000mile update:

The bike has continued to perform flawlessly with no issues or breakdowns other than replacing wearing parts.

Its on its 5th drivetrain, I noticed no real improvement between the normal KMC chains and the ebike rated KMC's in terms of mileage until they started to skip. In truth the ebike chains lasted less time but to be fair they were on over the winter.

In the latest swap I used a YBN ebike rated chain and at first I thought it was awful, skipping constantly, but this turned out to be a fault with the freewheel jamming and 'pushing' the chain forwards - causing it to skip. Chain seems fine now, I will see how it lasts but I expect not very well as I had done 800mls on it while it skipped, this undoubtedly increased drivetrain wear.

I actually replaced the rear wheel, freewheel and all as the previous hub rebuild I completed did not seem to last and the axle wasn't spinning freely. Simple job apart from forgetting to refit the speed sensor magnet - something I only realized when I'd cycled from home down a hill before the error message popped up :oops:

When I went to buy my drivechain parts I happened on a Hebie front cog that is supposed to be used with their chainglider system. Its offset and moves the chainline out a bit in order to fit the chainguide but I bought it to align the chain with the smaller cogs on the cassette as I am in them most of the time. Seems to work well in the higher gears but there is a bit more clicking in the lower gears. Disadvantage is you cannot swap the cog when you change the chain but I had resolved not to do this anymore anyway as the front cogs are so cheap. This is the cog https://www.bike-discount.de/en/buy/hebie-sprocket-for-chainglider-bosch-18-t-698759.

Other than that the bike is overall starting to show its age. The front fork is a little stiff - to be fair I never cleaned or oiled it. The drivetrain is fine but I suspect if I jumped on a new CX powered bike tomorrow I would notice a big difference as I think the motor is getting a bit worn. The battery range is definitely worse but the bike still does what I need of it, I never expected that the system would perform this well for so long.

I also have bought a 2nd hand Qeridoo sportrex two seat childs trailer for the kids which has been great. They seem to like it and its great to get to and from the local playground with them. The return is up a 10% hill so I was glad I did not go bigger than the 18T front cog. In saying that the bike pulled well up the hill. One issue with the bike trailer is that there is no cutout for the kids helmets which causes their helmets to be pushed down, something my youngest wouldn't suffer at all - I plan to put a pillow behind them to push their backs out so that they can wear helmets comfortably. Some trailers don't have this issue however.

I am actually moving jobs soon and, due to poor roads on the new commute, I will have to drive so the bike will not be used as much. I might still use it in the summer and there are plans to build cycle routes along the commute in the distant future so who knows.
 
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