Just in: Cube Hyde Pro
If you've got some cash to spend on a cycle-to-work scheme for an all-purpose commuter bike then chances are you'll spend a fair chunk of time looking at bikes like this one: the Cube Hyde Pro. It's a hub-geared urban workhorse with an MTB-derived geometry and a solid spec for the £585 asking price.
We've seen urban bikes of this type get longer and more relaxed at the front end over the last few years, mirroring one of the trends in MTB geometry. The Cube uses a double-butted Aluminium frame with fairly classic tube profiles, and that's mated with an all-alloy fork. It's finished in stealthy black with some nice detailing on the inside of the fork and chainstays, and the weld quality looks very good. The head angle of 71° isn't the slackest we've seen (Whyte's urban range dips under 70°) but it's pretty relaxed. That and long stays (plenty of room for mudguards and a decent sized tyre) mean a long wheelbase, over 1100mm in the bigger sizes, that should mean a nice stable ride. Both fork and frame are drilled for mudguards and racks; the fork has a low rider mount for front racks and the rear dropout has double eyelets for rack and guards and a front facing slot to allow you to tension the chain on the hub gear.
The hub gear in question is Shimano's Nexus 8-speed unit. We've had Nexus hubs on a range of bikes over the years and they've always performed very well for what's a fairly low-end unit; Shimano's pricier and more solidly built Alfine 8 and Alfine 11 hubs start to appear on machines a couple of rungs up from here. With a 20T sprocket on the hub itself and a 42T chainring up front, you'll get a gear range of around 27" at the bottom end to 84" at the top. That's a much lower top-end gear than a derailleur setup but this isn't a bike you'll be looking to set speed records on, so the big gear should be plenty. The lowest ratio is about the same as you'd get with a road triple crankset and a wide-ratio cassette.
Obviously to get from one end of the range to the other in eight steps, the steps are pretty big. That can take some getting used to if you've done all your riding on close-ration derailleur setups, but all in all it's a very usable system. The shifter is a twist-grip unit that has a positive action; it doesn't quite have the quality of the Alfine flat bar shifters but it does the job just fine.
Wheel-wise, the Nexus rear hub and a Shimano Deore front are laced into standard depth alloy MTB rims with straight-gauge 2mm DT Swiss spokes. With 36 spokes front and rear they're not going to be light, but they should last, and they're well protected from road shocks by Schwalbe Road Cruiser tyres. Shimano V-Brakes, pulled by Tektro levers, hit those rims to do the stopping.
The finishing kit is all solid and dependable stuff. There's an Easton EA30 stem, bar and seatpost and an SDG saddle. You get some flat pedals thrown in too. The Hyde Pro tips the scales at a touch under 12kg, not bad for a lower-end hub-geared bike. All in all it looks like a very dependable bike for racking up the miles to and from work, or the shops, or the pub. We'll be visiting all three to see if it lives up to the promise of a fuss-free day-to-day ride.