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Cube Kathmandu Hybrid One 500 review: The Rolls-Royce of e-bikes

Jonathan Bray
19 Oct 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,399
inc VAT

A well-made commuter e-bike that eats up the miles and rides like a dream

Pros 
Well equipped
Bosch CX motor is very smooth
60-mile range
Cons 
Heavy
Battery clip mechanism could be better
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E-bikes, once a rare sight on our roads, are now becoming mainstream and few firms know this better than Cube. The German bike manufacturer has been building e-bikes for commuters and mountain bikers for years now and the Cube Kathmandu Hybrid One demonstrates it knows exactly what it's doing.

While you can buy cheaper bikes, moving up the price scale gains you a number of key benefits: better components, nicer build quality and a more comfortable, smoother riding bike that has the range to go pretty much anywhere.

READ NEXT: The best e-bikes to buy

Cube Kathmandu One review: What do you get for the money?

The Kathmandu ticks all these boxes and then some, but at £2,399, it definitely isn’t the cheapest around and it’s much more expensive than the Gtech Sport I reviewed recently. However, the Gtech is a basic bike for those who don’t mind sacrificing features to save money; the Cube is a different beast entirely. It’s absolutely laden with luxury features and, with a much larger battery, it’s far better suited to longer journeys as well.

As per UK law, the Cube delivers power assistance up to a maximum of 15.5mph and it does so via a 250W mid-drive Bosch CX motor (4th gen) that sits in the bottom bracket area of the bike. A 13.4mAh, 13.6V, 500Wh battery delivers up to 60 miles of range, which should be enough for most commutes, although you can purchase a 625Wh version of the bike that has even more range.

The rest of the bike is comfortable and feels exceptionally well made. The aluminium frame has an oversized downtube that hides the battery inside it. To get at it, just clip off the plastic cover and use the supplied key to release the battery from its mount. The frame also comes with a sturdy, welded-on rear luggage rack; fitted, full-length mudguards; LED lights at the front and rear; and a chain guard to prevent oil and road muck from getting on your clothes.

Elsewhere, there’s a pair of SR Suntour XCM suspension forks offering 100mm of reasonably supple travel at the front. A Cube-branded suspension seatpost at the rear smoothes out small bumps in the road, although does clunk a little when absorbing larger lumps. There’s also an adjustable stem to help you to achieve a comfortable riding position without having to replace components.

I tested the large (58cm) model for this review but Cube also offers the Kathmandu in small (50cm), medium (54cm) and XL (62cm) sizes. If you’re uncertain about which will fit you, there’s a frame fit calculator on Cube’s website to help.

Whichever model you choose, though, you’re also getting a decent drive train with a nine-speed Shimano RD-3100-SGS rear derailleur paired with an SL-M2010-9R shifter upfront. The bike has good stopping power, too, with Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulic disc brakes at the front and rear.

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Cube Kathmandu One review: How does it ride?

This all contributes to a ride of rare quality and the star of the show is that mid-drive Bosch CX motor. It’s an absolute beauty. In Turbo mode, it develops up to 85nm of torque and, despite that, power delivery is amazingly smooth.

Thanks to torque sensors in the mid-drive unit, the harder you pedal, the more power is fed into the motor unit, and much of the time you’ll barely notice there’s any assistance at all. Even when you hit the upper limit of 15.5mph, there isn’t that abrupt cut-off you get with some e-bikes. The Bosch motor gently tails off the power just before you reach the limit so you don’t feel, all of a sudden, that you’re riding through treacle.

Plus, with the whole lot riding on 29in x 2.2in tubeless Schwalbe Big Ben tyres, the bike effortlessly swallows up bumps and imperfections in the road for a ride that feels, much of the time, as if you’re floating on air. That also means, although this is no mountain bike, that it copes beautifully with forest paths and gravel tracks.

Cube Kathmandu One review: Is there anything we don’t like?

The only thing you might want to be aware of here is that the Kathmandu is on the heavy side. At a total of 25.2kg all in, this isn’t the bike you want to buy if you live in an upstairs flat with no access to a lift.

I’m not too keen on the clip mechanism for the battery, either. Once you unlock it with the key, there’s a retention mechanism to stop it dropping out, but you still need two hands to stop it dropping on the floor (or your foot!) – one to disengage the clip at the top, one to hold beneath it. Fortunately, you can charge the bike with the battery in place via the socket just in front of the mid-drive motor on the left side of the frame.

READ NEXT: The best e-bikes to buy

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Cube Kathmandu One review: Should you buy it?

Despite such minor grumbles, however, there’s a lot to like about the Cube Kathmandu One.

It’s generally well equipped, has impressive range, looks great for a hybrid and the ride is phenomenally comfortable.

Yes, you’re paying a little bit more than average for that Bosch CX motor, but £2,399 isn’t extortionate for a bike with this level of equipment. For commuters with a lot of miles to cover, it’s a cracking ride.

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