- A sporty, value-priced, cross style electric bike with high-end Bosch Performance Line CX motor offering great power and torque for light trail use or steep-hill assistance
- Available in a an impressive range of five sizes and two frame styles (high-step and mid-step), 700c wheel size is efficient but raises the bike, powerful Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
- Integrated lights run right off the battery for convenience and the tires have reflective sidewall stripes to increase your visual footprint, matte black frame blends with the battery, motor, and cables
- Value compromises include a basic spring suspension fork without lockout, mid-level 9-speed drivetrain, fenders that rattle a bit, the smaller Powerpack 400 battery vs. 500 watt hour
For this video review, I visited Cit-E-Cycles in Kitsilano British Columbia, Canada. It was the perfect spot for testing in wet conditions, steep terrain, and for having the different skew levels and frame styles offered by CUBE for their Cross Hybrid models. The Cross Hybrid Pro 400 is the more affordable offering which has a less-fancy but very capable Shimano Deore 9-speed, a coil suspension fork without lockout, and a standard capacity 400 watt hour battery. If you want to pay a bit more, you can go for the Cross Hybrid Race which comes in silver vs. matte black and has a Shimano Deore XT 10-speed with Shadow Plus clutch (to keep the chain tighter), an air fork with remote lockout, and the new Powerpack 500 watt hour battery. To me, this upgrade would make sense for people who plan to go off-road more frequently because the chain won’t bounce as much with the clutch enabled (just push the little grey lever into the up position) and that extra gear will aid in climbing. Both of these bikes are incredibly capable, possibly overkill, in terms of power because they use the Bosch Performance Line CX motor… that was built for full on mountain riding. Some e-bike riders in the UK have written to me about their rides with the Bosch Performance motor, riding in muddy terrain, which occasionally suffers from chain suck (where the chain continues on the chainring vs. releasing and traveling back to the derailleur), but again, the Shadow Plus clutch would reduce this. Is it worth paying more for? Probably not for me as a mostly-city rider… but I love that both versions offer knobby tires and are truly trail-capable for a bit of scenic riding during the weekend. You get capable Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with 180 mm front and 160 mm rear rotors with adjustable-reach levers. That’s a big selling point for people with limited hand strength or smaller hands, even those who plan on wearing thick gloves for part of the year. And with five frame size choices, there may be some petite riders on this thing. I love the mid-step trapez frame option because it allows for easier mounting and I have some knee and hip sensitivity. Once you add a rack to the rear (for commuting utility) it becomes even nicer not to have to swing your leg way up high and over the back. So anyway, this is a fairly comfortable, but still sporty, electric bike that looks and rides familiar. Battery and motor weight are positioned perfectly, low and center near the bottom bracket. And, I love how the matte-black paint blends the cables, battery casing, and motor casing into the frame. I’m also glad that CUBE didn’t overdo the colors and graphics but you get a dash of blue on the frame, wheelset, saddle, fork, and even the stem.
Driving this bike is a more-than-capable Bosch Performance Line CX motor delivering up to 75 Newton meters of torque. It’s rated between 250 and 600 watts, but the main selling point for me is how quickly and smoothly it responds. The motor controller measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque 1,000 times per seconds. This means, you can start on an incline and not have to stand up or over-exert yourself to get going, as long as you have chosen a lower gear and turned pedal assist up to the highest Sport or Turbo modes. Sport mode has actually undergone some changes in 2017 which allow it to become EMTB mode (electric mountain bike mode) where you can get low or full power without having to click any buttons. This EMTB mode requires a software update that dealers can perform. It’s a neat feature that again, is probably overkill for a cross style bike. The motor casing on the CUBE Cross Hybrid models is very cool, more angular than the stock oval casing, and well protected underneath by two layers of plastic skid plates. The motor spins a 15 tooth chainring 2.5 times for every crank arm revolution and pulls the same chain you do, allowing you to both benefit from one of the nine gears in the rear. If you shift to an easier gear, both you and the motor will have an easier time climbing and this allows for better efficiency and range than most hub motor designs. You may also notice that both wheels offer quick release which is handy for transport and quick trail maintenance. Working on this electric bicycle is much like working on any other ordinary pedal powered bike because the drivetrain is so independent. Shifting is one way you can empower the motor, but that also puts the chain, sprockets, and derailleur in harms way because of the power being added to the system. And so, while it’s not perfect, the Bosch shift detection software algorithm does reduce strain a bit and sets the Bosch drivetrain apart from most other competitors on the market today. I still recommend easing off of the pedals a bit when shifting to signal to the motor to also ease back and allow for less force and subsequent wear. I want to call out the alloy chainring protector (which will help your pants stay clear of the chain and chainring when riding) as well as the clear plastic slap guard on the right chainstay. This is a key feature considering how close the chain comes to the chainstay tube when pedaling in the highest gears (smallest rear sprocket).
Powering the CUBE Cross Hybrid Pro 400 is a… surprise! 400 watt hour Bosch Powerpack. This thing is proven, very well designed, and the mounting interface is forward compatible with the newer Powerpack 500 battery that offers 25% more capacity. Both packs are built into the same plastic casing which has an LED charge level indicator on the left side, a molded plastic loop at the top, and a proprietary charging port at the base. You can charge these packs on or off the bike and they only weigh 5.4 lbs and 5.7 lbs respectively. They are awesome in most ways, but not as hidden or sleek as some of the new proprietary battery designs from Brose (where the bike manufacturer designs the battery to work with the motor). The downside is style but the upside is easy and cheaper replacement, along with quicker access. I like this battery, especially on a black bike. Notice how it and the motor are about as low and center as they can be on the frame? That improves balance and handling. I love that for the diamond style high-step frames, CUBE managed to squeeze on some bottle cage bosses. I found that the seat tube length was extra long and wouldn’t allow the saddle to go all the way down because of these bosses (or maybe the motor mounting plate) so the folks at the shop told me that they occasionally use a hack saw to shorten the seat post. Coming back to the battery position, design, and integration, I love how it powers the backlit display and two integrated lights. I also appreciate how compact and lightweight the charger is… but believe that you get the slower 2 Amp charger with this bike. Bosch also offers a 0.3 lb heavier and slightly larger 4 Amp charger but seems to be including those with the higher-end bikes now.
Operating this electric bike is very easy. Once you charge and properly mount the battery pack, press the power button at the top edge of the Purion display panel. This is a display and button pad built into one, and it looks gorgeous. There are some downsides to the smaller size and those include more limited readouts, non-removability, and unfortunately, you cannot use the Micro-USB port on the side for charging your own portable electronic devices. It seems to be reserved for software updates and e-bike diagnostics at this time. I have found that interacting with the display can be frustrating at first, if you try to press the + and – power level buttons directly in because they pivot at an angle, with the hinge near the lower left edge. Press near the higher right edge for consistent and easier action. So, once the display is on, you will see your current speed, a readout about trip stats or your assist level in the middle, and a five-bar battery infographic at the bottom. I would prefer a battery percentage or maybe a ten-bar battery infographic… but at least there’s a range estimator readout to provide more feedback about the battery. You can access range, the odometer, trip meter, and assist level by holding the – button for a few seconds to cycle through. It’s a bit more clunky and definitely slower than the i button featured on the larger Bosch Intuvia display. This display is removable, does have an active Micro-USB port, and the buttons are easier to click. I am told that some shops can upgrade the display for you if you wish to pay more, but again, this thing does get the job done. Hold the plus button to activate or de-activate lights. Hold the minus button and tap the power button to switch units (mph to km/h). And, walk mode is enabled here! If you’re planning to occasionally walk through crowds, get off for steep hills, or haul groceries and supplies with this bike, then walk mode is a great feature to have. Just press the walk mode button near the base of the display and hold plus to get it going. Surprisingly, not all electric bike manufactures have enabled this feature, so it’s neat to see here from CUBE.
What CUBE has delivered with the Cross Hybrid Pro and Race is a very capable, efficient electric bike. Capable, because it can actually handle steep inclines and light off-road packed trails. Efficient, because of the mid-drive motor and larger 700c wheelset with medium width tires. The angled stem, ergonomic grips, suspension fork, and even the Selle Royal saddle do a lot for comfort and you could always upgrade the seat post to a value suspension post like this if you’re on a budget. This is, after all, one of the budget options from CUBE. In my opinion, the $2,600 price point is extremely good for what you get. The bones of this bike are solid and there’s a lot of potential for fun and utility. It looks great, comes with an excellent two-year comprehensive warranty, is sold through a select network of dealers in Canada and the US (as well as Europe), and it just works. I don’t see any major mistakes with this electric bicycle. In fact, I see CUBE going above and beyond to protect the chainring with that bash guard, keep the downtube nick-free with a plastic sticker guard, and keep you safe with lights and reflectors. They added the rack mounts and bottle cage option, they ran the cables through the frame to look nicer, and they went with reinforced rims for strength. Big thanks to CUBE for partnering with me on this post and to Cit-E-Cycles for letting me showcase a few different versions of the bike back to back so you could see the differences. Again, I love the mid-step because it makes riding more accessible and comfortable for me but still looks sporty and even masculine with the black paint.
- CUBE produces higher quality but still good-value bicycles and e-bikes, and the Cross Hybrid Pro 400 aims for the lower price point of ~$2,600 while still delivering five frame sizes and two styles (high-step and mid-step)
- You get an industry-leading two year comprehensive warranty and five years on the frame, CUBE is sold through dealers who provide quality build, fitting, and post-purchase service
- All of the CUBE electric bikes I have reviewed offer purpose-built frames with internal cable routing that looks nice and stays out of the way, with the Cross Hybrid Pro 400, you also get an integrated mid-motor with angular casing that I prefer to the standard oval casing on other bikes, I like how low and tight the battery mount is as well
- Rear rack mounting points and a seat tube bottle cage mount offer utility and convenience, the stock fenders are sporty (not quite as long as some pure city models)
- Perfect tire choice, the Schwalbe Smart Sam is on the narrow efficient side and offers reflective sidewall stripes to stay visible in urban environments but also has a soft knobby tread for a jot on the trails
- Adjustable-length rear-mount kickstand stays out of the way and has a sturdy spring to reduce bouncing if you take on some trail riding or encounter a rough street, it supports the rear portion of the bike well if you do add a rack, this stand can be lengthened without a tool! just twist it to extend
- To me, this is a sportier bike, the Cross alludes to cyclocross but also a cross between urban and trail, so I love that they took comfort into account with ergonomic grips, a slightly higher 16-degree angle stem, and a suspension fork, consider adding a 27.2 mm suspension seat post to further reduce back, neck, and arm fatigue (just keep in mind that it will raise the minimum saddle height by ~3 inches
- The Bosch CX motor is one of my favorites because it offers up to 75 Newton meters of torque, responds incredibly fast to pedal motion and power, and now offers EMTB mode so you can get a full range of power output without having to click up or down on the control pad (which can be distracting in busy or rigorous ride conditions)
- I love that this e-bike has an integrated headlight and taillight! this improves safety and convenience, so you don’t have to add your own and remember to turn them on/off or have the chance of theft because they are bolted on and wired in, there’s also a decent flick-bell that comes standard on the bike
- High-quality Shimano branded hydraulic disc brakes offer smooth, powerful stopping and the adjustable-reach levers accommodate small and large riders alike (which is great considering the wide range of frame sizes)
- This bike just looks good, the matte black paint job hides black cables, wires, the battery and motor casing, and you get a gentle splash of color that matches (saddle, rim stickers, frame, fork, even the stem)
- The Bosch Powerpack 400 and 500 use the same interface, so you could get this bike and eventually upgrade to a larger capacity, I like that the battery has a built-in LED charge indicator, can be charged on or off the frame, and has a little loop at the top for easier (safer) carrying
- I wasn’t able to test the bike in water, but the bottom bracket and headset use sealed bearings to reduce rust and wear, and the battery charging port plug seated well to keep it clean and protected
- As with many mid-drive electric bikes (especially those with traditional cassette and derailleur) both wheels offer quick release, this makes flat fixes, general maintenance, and even transport faster and easier… but consider replacing these with locking bicycle hardware (event the seat post clamp) if you commute and want to reduce the potential for theft
- The downtube has a clear plastic sticker on it to prevent chips if rocks fly up from the tires, you also get a clear plastic slap guard on the right chain stay, and there’s a dual-layer plastic skid plate beneath the motor for protection and an alloy chainring guard to keep your pants clear… nice details
- Minor plus here, the rims were upgraded for strength and had reinforcement eyelets to reduce the possibility of cracking under heavy load or off-road use
- The Bosch Performance CX motor is very strong, and really benefits as you shift gears to either climb or reach the 20 mph top assisted speed, but it also offers shift detection to reduce wear on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur
- I’m glad this bike has a suspension fork but might be willing to pay more for the Cross Hybrid Race model to get lockout and air, the fork on the Cross Hybrid Pro only has preload which requires you to take both caps off and turn clickers manually in sync and I believe it’s heavier than the air fork
- Note the smaller chainring and how close the chain is to the right chainstay, this is the result of the unique Bosch sprocket system which spins 2.5 times for every crank revolution, it improves chain grab but might rough your chainstay up and produce more noise
- The Bosch CX motor is powerful, responsive, and efficient but it also produces more mechanical noise (even when pedaling with the bike powered off), you may notice a high pitched whirring noise when riding in the higher levels of assist at higher RPM
- As cute and compact as the Bosch Purion display is, you don’t get a functioning Micro-USB charging port and the LCD is not removable as it is on the larger Bosch Intuvia which could expose it to more weather wear or scratching at public racks, some shops will let you pay more and upgrade the display panel
- Minor consideration here, I was told that some CUBE electric bikes run large, and given the taller 700c wheelset here and possibility of a rear-rack, the frame might be bigger feeling and difficult to mount for some, so keep the mid-step trapez frame in mind as an option or consider going smaller in general… just note that the mid-step trapez frame does not have bottle cage bosses because they wouldn’t fit and you might need a crossbar adapter to mount this frame on some bike racks
- When riding on bumpy terrain, I did notice that the fenders were rattling a bit, despite having additional support struts, I think plastic just tends to rattle more and since the bike doesn’t come with a rack to also support the rear fender, there’s just more play
- As much as I love the headlight, how it runs off the main battery, is aimable up and down, and has side-windows for increased visibility for cars, it is mounted to the slider portion of the suspension fork and may bounce around more than if it were mounted at the head tube or handlebar
- If you’re riding in really thick mud, the large sidewall of the motor casing and smaller chainring can allow for some chain suck to occur, the upgraded Race model has a tighter derailleur with Shadow Plus clutch to reduce bounce and possibly reduce chain suck too
- The + and – buttons on the Purion control pad seem to work best if you press near the screen vs. down towards the left edge of the unit, they pivot in vs. pressing down evenly and this can take some getting used to or result in inconsistent selection if you don’t take the time to figure it out