I’ve ridden a few compact wheel urban e-bikes that I’ve really liked; the Tern HSD and Corratec Life S spring to mind. I don’t think any of them have quite matched this Cube Compact Sport Hybrid for overall performance, usefulness and value though. This is a great bike for cities, for lots of reasons.
“Towns and cities are in trouble, plagued by slow-moving traffic and poor air quality”, says Cube. “But getting around can be fun, safe and doesn't need to involve sitting in a tin box.” And getting around is fun on this thing. Like a lot of compact urban bikes the Compact Sport Hybrid is built around a one-size-fits-all frameset. At 189cm I’d expect for it maybe to feel slightly compromised as I’m nearing the upper limit of what it would be designed for, but I never felt like it was a cramped ride. There’s plenty of length in the seatpost, and the bars can easily be raised and lowered too, thanks to the Speedlifter stem. At the limit of its travel there’s a lot of steerer showing, and that can lead to a bit of rattle creeping in at the front end, but while it was noticeable it was never an issue. If there’s more than one person in your family that needs access to an e-bike, something like this Cube is perfect.
The Speedlifter has another trick up its sleeve: flip the lever and you can twist the bars round so they’re parallel with the frame. This is a real bonus if you have limited storage space at home or at work. Because of the small wheels the bike’s footprint isn’t very big anyway, but the Speedlifter means you can store it in a hallway, for example, without blocking it.
Out on the streets the Cube is an enjoyable bike to ride. The 64mm Schwalbe Super Moto-X tyres mitigate the lack of suspension; it’s not the most comfortable bike I’ve ridden around town (That would be the Riese & Muller Homage GT but it’s fine over the very ordinary surfaces we have to ride on round here. The gearing is a mix of Shimano Deore shifters and a compact Shimano Zee rear mech. The 10 ratios are well considered, and I was more likely to run out of gears at the fast end of the cassette than the slow, which is the way I’d always want it.
We’re richly blessed with hills in Bath, and on those hills I discovered that the new generation Bosch Performance Line motor is probably the best urban motor I’ve yet tried. Really. It’s fantastic. We first saw (and briefly rode) the motor last year at Bosch’s 10th anniversary gig but this is the first time I’ve used a bike with the new motor long term, and I love it.
What’s changed from the previous version? Well, the rated torque is up 2Nm to 65Nm, and the weight is down the best part of half a kilo to 2.9kg. It has a 1:1 drive ratio like the newer Active Line motors, so you use a standard chainring instead of the smaller drive ring.
Practically, what’s changed is that it feels much nicer to pedal: the new internals don’t feel anywhere near as draggy as the previous version, which means that it’s better when not under power. And when you do turn the motor on, you’ll immediately notice the reduction in motor noise. This motor system is, for the most part, functionally silent: for the majority of the time it wasn’t the noisiest thing on the bike.
Point it up a hill and there’s masses of easily-applied and natural-feeling power. I loaded the Cube up with a socially-distanced weekly shop that included about 15kg of milk, fruit juice, wine, tonic and Fanta; by the time I’d finished strapping everything on I could barely lift the rear wheel off the floor. It’s worth noting at this point that the single kickstand isn’t really designed for that kind of load and couldn’t really cope. Anyway I pointed it towards my house, which is up a 1.5km hill that averages 5% and tops out at 12%, and up we went with the absolute minimum of fuss. I used all the gears but it never even began to be a struggle, even with the best part of 30kg of shopping on the back. This is a motor that will cope with anything you’re likely to do with this bike. The rack at the back will take two big panniers, and there are mounting points on the head tube for front luggage too, so load her up! The Shimano Hydraulic disc brakes are easily up to the job of pulling you to a halt, even fully loaded.
The Compact Sport Hybrid is a practical bike too. You get integrated lighting, and the Herrmans H-Black MR4 front light is a class above what you normally find on bikes like this, kicking out plenty light for excursions on unlit lanes if you fancy. The mudguards are solid, with the front ‘guard coming down nice and low to minimise the transfer of road spray to your shoes. The kickstand, as I’ve mentioned above, is okay so long as you’re not doing heavy duty shopping, in which case a swap to a folding double kickstand might be wise. The Compact Sport Hybrid is designed to take a frame lock for securing it while you nip into the shops but it doesn’t actually have one fitted, which is a shame.
Range-wise the Compact Sport Hybrid is firmly in the middle of the pack: the Bosch PowerPack 500 battery was good for four laps of my 9km commute (down and then up a great big hill), or five if I was a bit more careful with the modes; that’s what I’d expect. On flat terrain and sticking to the lighter assist Tour mode you’d probably get 60-80km out of it depending on your weight. The bottom line is that the range is more than enough for the kind of use a bike like this will get.
Overall the Cube Compact Sport Hybrid is a really enjoyable and likeable bike. Cube says “The Compact Sport Hybrid is so much fun, so versatile and so easy to live with, you'll wonder why no-one came up with this idea before”; the reality here is that Cube isn’t really doing anything particularly ground-breaking or new, but they have put together a bike that’s excellent in its utility with a brilliant motor system and a keen price tag. So there’s plenty to recommend it to you, especially if you have more than one family member interested in going electric, or you’re short on storage space