Cube Reaction Hybrid HPA SL500

asc99c

Pedelecer
May 1, 2015
78
25
41
I've had my bike, a Cube Reaction Hybrid HPA SL500, for a little under two months now so probably a good time to write some first impressions.

I bought this bike from Damian Harris Cycles for £2500, intending to commute to work, a 22 mile each way moderately hilly journey, which seemed a bit much for me to tackle un-assisted. I'm happy to say it's been largely a success on that front - I've covered 700 miles so far, almost all of it commuting.

I wanted an MTB style bike, as my original commute was along a canal towpath for 10 miles. However it's not too rough so I opted for the narrower tyres, which turned out to be Schwalbe Land Cruisers, exactly the same as I've got on my old MTB.

Strengths:
The bike looks great and feels well made, with good spec Shimano Deore / XT drivetrain. The cassette is particularly impressive, a wide ranging 11-46t set. Gear changes have remained smooth and quick across the entire range. Brakes are easily good enough, discs front and rear. Rims are tubeless ready, which I may take advantage of soon. The frame semi-integrates the battery. I'm still a bit torn on this: I think it looks better in website photos than in real life. It's not ugly, just a bit disappointing.

The Rock Shox forks are great, the remote lockout system particularly so, I switch the settings quite a bit as I go over different terrain. I'd not even been aware such a thing existed previously :)

The motor is the excellent Bosch Performance CX. I tested a few bikes over the last couple of years and definitely prefer the feel of the Bosch system. The 500 Wh battery gets me a lot further than expected. OK on the first attempt at my commute, I ran out of battery, but only after 48 miles. However, I did yesterday and today's commute without a recharge in between. This would have been almost exactly 80 miles. I've taken to leaving the bike in turbo most of the time, letting it accelerate me up to 15mph, and then taking over from there. Since at least now I can pedal above 15 most of the time, I feel like I'm getting enough exercise that way :) It's great through the city, racing off from lights and keeping up with the traffic.

Weaknesses:
The first day I rode this bike in the rain, the motor failed. At that point I'd done 250 miles, and the motor failed within 10 miles of the bike getting wet. Damian Harris sorted it out for me, but other than knowing there were drive problems from the motor, I'd like to have known more detail about what went wrong. Was there a missing seal somewhere? etc. I've had three or four rainy days since then and it's working fine now at least.

Just recently, I've been struggling with punctures, a large pinch puncture from a pothole on Monday, followed by a blowout of half the inner tube on the same wheel on Wednesday. This is partly a 'me' problem as weighing 110kg, and with the bike plus clothes / equipment probably 135kg total, I'm well above the 100kg limit on the tyres. I'm thinking about going tubeless with some Marathon Almotions.

Also maybe related to the tyres, I find the pedals to be too low down. They're a couple of inches lower to the ground than on my old MTB, and I keep bashing them on the floor when I pedal round corners. But 0.85" clearance was lost by swapping the standard tyres for the Land Cruisers... another reason I'm liking the look of the Almotions.

My changes:
I've swapped the provided saddle for my old one with a cut out channel. I've also fitted Shimano M520 clip-in pedals (the bike came without pedals), and Ergon GP1 grips.

Summary:
It does the job I hoped for, which is gets me to work, and in a fit state to get on with work! The last couple of weeks I've been covering 126 miles per week (3 commutes). I'm not quite in shape to do consecutive days on the bike yet (I did today and yesterday, but due to the inner tube blowout, I skipped the last 10 hilly miles home and got my wife to pick me up). But the Strava times are coming down. I'm to the point where cycling takes under an hour extra compared to driving. That was the magic number since instead of going to the gym for one hour's exercise, I'm getting 3 hours in the same effective amount of time.

My main problem is I wish I'd gone for the Giant Road E, 5kg lighter and more streamlined. With a 'minimum' speed of 15mph, I feel like I'm not getting in the way too much on the road and I'm far more at ease on a busy road than I was on my old MTB. My commute now goes along dual carriageways instead of canal towpaths... But that's hindsight, and without a few hundred miles along towpaths and bike paths, I wouldn't feel so comfortable, and without the Cube Reaction, I wouldn't have done those hundreds of miles.

Overall rating: 8/10
 

anotherkiwi

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 26, 2015
7,845
5,783
The European Union
Dual carriageways are verboten on this side of the water... Assuming we are talking two lanes each way? They aren't in Spain if they are limited to 80 km/h and they always have a hard shoulder for cycling there anyway.
 

asc99c

Pedelecer
May 1, 2015
78
25
41
It's through town, so a 30/40 limit along different bits, and in typical UK style, there's bike paths about 70% of the distance, but then whenever it was difficult to add one, they just didn't, and turf you off into the road.

But maybe because you can overtake most of the way, the bits where you can't, cars seem prepared to wait for a bit.

Buses are as ever the worst offenders, but there's not many, and I know from experience both personal, and reading the horror stories on road.cc, to stay the **** out of their way!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk
 

asc99c

Pedelecer
May 1, 2015
78
25
41
I rode to work in the rain. I went through a reasonably deep puddle, maybe 6 inches of water, under a canal bridge. But that puddle was always there and no problems then. I parked the bike in the bike room at work for the day.

Then on my journey home, the screen started showing a 500 error and assistance cut out. So I am assuming possibly a QC issue and water ingress caused it. But it is just conjecture: when I got the bike back, it came with a diagnostics report. But that was evidently after the motor replacement and just said there were now no problems.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3003 using Tapatalk
 

asc99c

Pedelecer
May 1, 2015
78
25
41
Update for the 1000 mile mark. I'm still not having a lot of luck with reliability. On my journey home on Wednesday, the chain snapped. As it happened I was up the hill from a bike shop so I've replaced it with a new Shimano one (old one was KMC). I'd have said I was doing an alright job looking after the chain, I'd cleaned and relubed it at the weekend. It looked in OK condition other than the snapped link.

This morning, another puncture on the rear tyre has cut my journey short. I'll be heading to the bike shop for a set of Schwalbe Marathons over the weekend I think, shall ask their advice on tubeless options also.

On the electronic side nothing new to report. It's now done 750 miles flawlessly, and the last couple of weeks have included much worse rain than previously so I'm cautiously optimistic. The motor assist still feels very smooth and there's no extra rattles or noises appearing.

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asc99c

Pedelecer
May 1, 2015
78
25
41
As I'm stuck waiting on the phone for some out of hours support work, let's do an update on my bike.

I'm now closing in on the 1 year mark and 2500 miles with this bike. It's been a much smoother journey since my last update.

Got the Schwalbe Almotion tyres, but they turned out to be the wrong ones for tubeless running. However they've been great, it's well over 1000 miles with no punctures at all, touch wood. In fact in the 1500 miles since my last review, there have been no mechanical issues to interrupt any ride.

Battery is holding up OK... I'm pretty sure the range has dropped maybe 10% but given that it very much depends on how much I'm pedaling it's hard to know for sure whether I just lost some fitness over the winter. My first ride in January I got through the whole battery, but I'm now back to having nearly 40% charge left after 42 miles. Was closer to 60% last summer though.

Still happy with the bike, and still getting through the miles I hoped to do when I bought it.

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Trevormonty

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jul 18, 2016
1,135
564
14
NZ
As I'm stuck waiting on the phone for some out of hours support work, let's do an update on my bike.

I'm now closing in on the 1 year mark and 2500 miles with this bike. It's been a much smoother journey since my last update.

Got the Schwalbe Almotion tyres, but they turned out to be the wrong ones for tubeless running. However they've been great, it's well over 1000 miles with no punctures at all, touch wood. In fact in the 1500 miles since my last review, there have been no mechanical issues to interrupt any ride.

Battery is holding up OK... I'm pretty sure the range has dropped maybe 10% but given that it very much depends on how much I'm pedaling it's hard to know for sure whether I just lost some fitness over the winter. My first ride in January I got through the whole battery, but I'm now back to having nearly 40% charge left after 42 miles. Was closer to 60% last summer though.

Still happy with the bike, and still getting through the miles I hoped to do when I bought it.

Sent from my Swift 2 X using Tapatalk
Battery capacity is drops off in cold, so summer range should be better.
 

asc99c

Pedelecer
May 1, 2015
78
25
41
Updating to reflect 18 months / 4000 miles of ownership...

Not long after my last update, I got a bit annoyed by the gearing (16t front ring). Was barely using the lower gears and running out of gearing down hills. So I've upgraded to a 20t. The original cassette was fairly well worn after 2600 miles, much of it on the smaller cogs, so that had to be replaced as well. Am hoping with the larger sprocket, I'll get more mileage out of the next cassette.

Was hit by a car 600 miles ago, which in the end just trashed the front wheel. The LBS was quite keen to write the bike off which I understand, but there's no visible frame damage, and I think the frame would have been cushioned by my leg, so I'm not convinced it took any direct impact. LBS have replaced the front wheel, but everything else has survived.

There's definitely some noise coming from the bottom bracket area that wasn't there before. Cleaned it all out as best I can (don't have crank extractor etc. so haven't dismantled it or anything though). At the moment there doesn't seem to be any effect on pedaling; the bike is running as well as ever.

The rear tyre sidewall has failed but it's managed 3000 miles (Schwalbe Marathon Almotion) so not terrible, but also not great. Although I am pleased to say no punctures at all over those 3000 miles.

So overall impressed with the bike. It's not getting an easy life, but is holding up well!

Sent from my Power_3 using Tapatalk
 
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