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Compact electric bikes offer the middle ground between fully folding and regular bikes. They usually have collapsible handlebars and can be easily fitted into the back of an SUV or estate car for ease of transport. Another great feature is they are designed to be adaptable for riders of all sizes – from a teenager through to a 6-foot-plus adult.
A lot of manufacturers are catching on to this new trend in urban transport. In this review, I will be looking at the Cube Compact 20″ Hybrid electric bike.
Having previously ridden a Tern GSD and Orbea Katu E, I can honestly say that I’m impressed with these bikes. Their initial appearance can be somewhat deceptive. When I first laid eyes on the Katu I thought ‘That’s way too small for me’ but after some adjustments to the seat height and handlebars, I felt at home the minute I sat on it.
The same is true of the Cube compact. Its design ethos is the same as the aforementioned bikes – small, medium or large – one size fits all! You can adjust the height of the handlebars (and angle) and also alter the saddle height plus the step-thru design means anyone can ride it with ease.
Like the Orbea, the Cube uses a Shimano Nexus internally geared hub. On the Cube it is a 5-speed (as opposed to an 8-speed on the Katu).
Most fully folding electric bikes have small hub motors in the front or rear wheel. These are fine for city riding, but they’re not as energy efficient as mid-drives like the Bosch motor, nor do they produce the same level of torque. The reason mid-drive isn’t usually found on fully folding e-bikes is that motor placement can affect the foldability of the bike. This is where compact hybrids come in – you can have a rigid framed bike with a short wheelbase and a mid-drive motor.
Bosch Active Line Plus
The Bosch Active Line Plus motor sits at the lower end of Bosch’s e-bike motor range and it is specifically designed for city bikes and hybrids. It doesn’t produce the sheer grunt of the Performance Line motor, but what it lacks in overall torque it makes up for with efficiency.
The maximum torque output of the Active Plus is a respectable 50Nm, which when compared to the average hub motor of 35Nm is a considerable improvement. But where the Bosch motor comes into its own is in the way the motor produces that power.
All Bosch motors use a sophisticated torque-based pedal sensing system – this ensures the electric motor is giving you the right amount of assistance in proportion to the amount of effort you are putting in. If you are cruising along at a nice steady cadence of flat ground then the motor will give you a little help. The second you come to an incline and need to pedal a little harder, the motor will amplify your effort seamlessly.
Bosch’s neat Purion display offers the rider 4 levels of assist: Eco, Tour, Sport and Boost – in Eco mode, you will barely notice the motor assisting you, but pedalling will seem so much easier. Stick it to Boost mode and it will amplify your pedalling input by up to 260% making you feel like an Olympian!
Bosch 500Wh Battery
The Cube Compact uses the Bosch PowerPack 500Wh battery, which should give a potential assist range of anywhere between 50 to 80 miles. It’s even possible to squeeze 100 miles out of a single charge, but you will need to stick to Eco mode and use it only on hills. Check out your potential range using the Bosch eBike range calculator.
Considering the compact nature of the Cube, they haven’t skimped on components. The sturdy aluminium rigid frame is lightweight, yet tough and this bike is equipped with all the optional extras you will ever need. Including front and rear mudguards, a pannier rack, kickstand, lights and of course, the excellent Shimano drivetrain. Extra wide 2.4″ tyres ensure extra comfort, regardless of the terrain.
The Shimano Nexus 5 geared hub is complemented with an FSA 44t crankset with 165mm crank arms, giving you ample gear range for most city riding. My testing ground is rural Cornwall and couldn’t be further from this bike’s intended domain.
I have some very steep hills where I live and although the Cube coped surprisingly well considering the limited gear range, I did find myself having to still put in a fair bit of effort on the 15% climbs.
On the flat and moderate hills, it performed excellently and I would have no hesitation in saying this bike would be perfect for urban use.
The great thing about internally geared hubs is you can change gear when stationary, meaning you don’t need to down-shift when approaching traffic lights or if you need to stop suddenly.
Braking is provided by Shimano’s reliable BR-MT200 hydraulic brakes. Although these are entry-level brakes, they do the job well enough. They are much better suited to city riding and I felt they offered more than adequate braking power.
Wheels and Tyres
The wheels are Cubes own EX30 32h 20″ rims which are designed to cope with the rigours of city streets. I found they also handled the back lanes of Cornwall rather well, and the 2.4″ wide, high-volume Schwalbe Super Moto-x tyres negated the need for suspension. These tyres will make riding on multiple surfaces easy. You could even get away with a spot of light trail riding. These tyres also offer a good degree of puncture protection.
The alloy superlite frame is designed to be light and durable, while at the same time offering a comfortable riding geometry. I found the handling to be very nimble and sure-footed. There are also mounting points for a bottle cage and a large front basket.
The overall finish and feel of the frame is one of high quality. Neat internal cable routing finishes off the package nicely.
Cube comfort trail handlebars with a width of 720mm and a 15-degree setback add to the relaxed nature of this bike. There is also a ByShulz Speedlifter twist pro stem, that can be adjusted for reach and height, and the handlebars can be fully collapsed, making transportation much easier.
The Cube Compact is fully kitted out for city riding and commuting, with all-weather protection from full-length front and rear mudguards. There is also a rear pannier rack a kickstand and front and rear lights. If you want to carry extra cargo, there is the option of a front cargo rack that can carry up to 12kg in weight.
|Frame:||Aluminium Superlite, Comfort Ride Geometry, Semi-Integrated Carrier, Double Butted, Front-Carrier Ready, Slider Dropout|
|Headset:||FSA No.10, Semi-Integrated|
|Stem:||BySchulz Speedlifter Twist Pro SDS T14|
|Bars:||Cube Comfort Trail Bar, 15° Setback, 720mm|
|Front Brake:||Shimano BR-MT200, Hydr. Disc Brake (180mm)|
|Rear Brake:||Shimano BR-MT200, Hydr. Disc Brake (160mm)|
|Shifters:||Shimano Nexus SL-C7000-5|
|Rims:||Cube EX30, 32H, Disc, Tubeless Ready|
|Front Hub:||Shimano HB-TX505, QR, Centerlock|
|Rear Hub:||Shimano Nexus SG-C7000-5D, 5-Speed, Nut|
|Front Tyre:||Schwalbe Super Moto-X, Double Defense, 64-406|
|Rear Tyre:||Schwalbe Super Moto-X, Double Defense, 64-406|
|Seat Post:||Newmen Evolution, 27.2mm|
|Saddle:||Natural Fit Nuance Lite|
|Chainset:||FSA Metropolis Comfort, 44T, 165mm|
|Pedals:||Basic Resin Flat|
|Motor:||Bosch Drive Unit Active Plus Generation 3 (50Nm) Cruise (250Watt)|
|User Interface:||Bosch Purion|
Who is the Cube Compact Hybrid Electric Bike aimed at?
I can see the Cube Compact Electric hybrid bike having a broad appeal – it is equally suited to weekend recreational riders as it is the busy urban commuter or delivery rider. It would also make a great e-bike for all the family, and despite its size, it can carry quite a bit of cargo (especially with the optional front basket fitted).
There are many applications with a bike like this. One that springs to mind is it would make a great bike for delivery riders. The decent battery range means you can cover a lot of miles on a daily basis between charging.
Compact hybrid bikes are a fairly recent addition to the cycling world, they offer relative portability (when compared with regular bikes) and they are designed to carry reasonable loads and can be used by all the family.
The Cube Compact Hybrid Electric bike is a contender in the price steaks, it’s a bit pricier than the Orbea Katu E-30, but a lot cheaper than the Tern GSD S10. It offers everything you would expect from a versatile e-bike – comfort, battery range, nimble handling and the ability to carry (small) amounts of cargo.
Another great thing about the Cube is the way it handles rough terrain. Having extra wide tyres on smaller wheels is important, especially when riding roads littered with potholes and debris. I found the Compact handled some of the very rough back lanes of Cornwall with ease and not once did I feel the bike was going to slip from under me.
My overall opinion is it’s a great little e-bike in a neat package and with its cargo-carrying potential it could quite easily replace the car for small journeys and even trips to the shops.