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Cube AMS 100 C: 68 Race 29 Review – Marathon full suspension top-dog

The Cube AMS 100 is a full suspension XC bike that you can confidently take to a race, be it an XCO competition or a marathon. Thanks to its well-designed suspension system, it can climb the steepest of rocky slopes and provide a clear advantage on downhills compared to its hardtail companions.

I quickly put my hands on the AMS in Brac, afraid of someone forestalling me. Performance-oriented MTB bikes are my weakness. I like to ride fast but I prefer not to feel every stone on the terrain, so my heart is set on the bikes which are designed primarily for competition. Up until now I have only ridden the Stereo 120 from the Cube lineup, which has 120mm travel, but it proved to be a little bit sluggish for my liking. All in all, I enjoyed the experience, but it’s clearly a different league from the AMS series. So I was curious what the German manufacturer could put out in the XC bike segment.

The Cube is not selling a surprise packet. Hence the AMS designation tells almost everything about the bike’s intended use: the “100” indicates the suspension travel, the “C: 68” refers to the frame material, the “29” is the wheel size, and the “Race” is for the level of the components. Those who are familiar with the German manufacturer’s model lineup can more or less know to expect based on the model name itself. The Cube put a lot of technology into the AMS’s carbon frame, so much that it’s actually difficult to enumerate all. So I’ll just highlight the most important ones.

We have been writing a lot about the Twin Mold Monocoqe technology, which is presently one of the most advanced carbon frame manufacturing methods. Thanks to this technique, it’s now possible to build frames that are strong, safe and lightweight at the same time. The “AC: 68” is not just a marketing term, but actually indicates the percentage of carbon fibres in the frame, the rest being the resin. One might be surprised that 68% carbon content is something a manufacturer may want to boast about, but this is well above the industry standard (60% carbon fibre ratio). And why is it better to have more carbon? The answer is simple: less material is needed to produce a frame of same strength, which makes it easier to create lighter frames. But we can also reverse the idea, and say that the Twin Mold Monocoqe technology allows Cube to produce stronger frames for the same weight.

The Cube is now a leader of industry trends, hence all the cables in the AMS series runs inside the frame. This is quite an achievement in engineering, on the other hand it makes the job of mechanics a bit more difficult. The integrated PM disc brakes, the PressFit bottom bracket and the Tapered headset are also indispensable features of the higher end Cube bikes these days. The wheels also employ the latest development – the new BOOST 148 standard – which moves the dropouts 3-3 mm outboard on each side to make a stiffer wheel. In the case of the 29″ wheel size, BOOST results in a 21% improvement in stiffness compared to the older 142mm dropout standard.

Cube employs the so-called FSP4LINK suspension system in the AMS series, which is actually a improved version of the classic virtual 4-bar linkage system. It is designed to avoid unnecessary bounce while pedalling and also the stiffening effect when braking. In order to achieve better efficiency, the Rock Shox Monarch XX rear shock features a remote compression damping lockout installed on the handlebar.

The front fork choice was clearly not dictated by economy: Cube installed the top-of-the line 100mm travel Rock Shox SID XX for this AMS top model with a paired handlebar mounted hydraulic lockout feature. Both front and rear suspension can be locked with the same remote lever, making on trail adjustment a simple affair. The 15 mm Maxle Thru Axle axle secures the wheel for the greatest rigidity.

The drive-train, shifting and braking elements all come from the proven Shimano XT component group, which seem to dominate the mid-high end of the new bike market. The crankset is equipped with 2×11 gearing, 36/26T front chain-rings paired to a 11-42T cassette at the back. There are very few places where the rider can not climb up with the Cube AMS, in addition to offering a good tempo on the plains.

There is a factory wheel set for the AMS, outsourced from a specialist brand. Cube selected the Fulcrum Red 44 wheels with 28 spokes front and back and the new BOOST standard to provide the out-most stiffness. Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron – Thunder Burt duo is responsible for the great traction, both are the 2.25″ wide LiteSkin versions, contributing somewhat to the bike’s agility.

We have used to seeing own brand accessories on Cube bikes, and the AMS does buckle this trend. It’s worth noting that the German brand put a lot of effort into designing its accessories (handlebar, stem, saddle and seat post), there is a serious engineering behind them. They set standards unmatched even by specialist brands, representing the highest level of quality.

The Cube always payed close attention to the appearance of the bikes, therefore the AMS is visually tuned to the last detail. The complete bikes is black and blue, which is somewhat dimmed in the greyish background when the pictures were taken. Unfortunately the images here do not do justice to the true look of AMS: it looks a lot better in real life. I would also like to point out that Cube AMS is very difficult to photograph due to the black matte finish. Not everyone appreciates such a design, but personally I like the “technically-inspired” appearance typical of this German brand.

During the ride, it took no more than a minute to realise that this is a really good bicycle. It is beyond description how beautifully the AMS rode on the rocky Croatian trails, where the other bikes turned out to be a scattering experience. The feeling that I truly need a mountain bike of this quality quickly caught up with me. Uphill the AMS was faster than any of the mid-level hardtails on test, even though there were no obstacles to conquer where the rear suspension could assist the rider. The difference in climbing prowess from one bike to to the other was easy to demonstrate, as our base camp was on the top of a steep hill. Every single test bike had to climb the “wall” several times, and AMS came out on the top of the rank. With closed suspension settings it was a beast to ride uphill, even when I had climb the hill the 10th time for the best photo. It did not make me tired, and I enjoyed every minute of the excellent power transfer and acceleration.

Compared to a hardtail bike, the 100mm rear suspension travel is a great blessing on the downhills. The wheels remain on the ground for the best possible traction, even on a uneven trail surface littered with obstacles. Fortunately the suspension movement of the AMS remains XC-ish, so you still can feel the back of the bike, unlike on a fat tire or an overly plush long travel bike. It makes me aware what I have ridden over. With a rigid hardtail, the rough terrain is a bone-jarring experience, transmitting too much vibration from the trail. The rear suspension made me go faster, as the back end did not tend to bounce off the ground. The suspension of the AMS is active, even when the brakes are applied, making it easier to direct the bike toward the best lines. The Cube AMS is exactly the type of XC “fully” bike I tend to enjoy: it’s agile and fast, but makes great strides to smooth out the ride.

I would full-heatedly recommend Cube AMS not only to professional riders, but to everyone who can afford such a bicycle. It is also an excellent choice for hobby MTB marathon competitions (I would primarily use it for this type of riding) or perhaps for performance-oriented bike touring. Finally it’s also ideal for those who like to go fast and demand a well-tuned full suspension setup.

Recommended retail price: 1 299 990 HUF
(This particular bicycle in the review can be purchased at any Cube dealer at a 30% discount for 899 990 HUF.)
Weight (measured): 11.94 kg
More information can be found on the manufacturer’s website.

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