Cube's non-electric version of the Kathmandu is a respected hybrid bike available at a range of price points and levels of components and finishing kit.
The e-bike takes the same great frame and adds a Bosch CX drive system and swaps the drivetrain out for an e-bike specific Shimano Di2 XT transmission.
The double butted aluminium frame has a comfortable trekking geometry for long miles in the saddle and competent Rockshox Paragon Gold Air front forks which soak up bumps and can be locked out for increased pedalling efficiency on smooth roads.
The Shimano XT series groupset is powerful, durable and reliable. Hydraulic discs front and rear provide ample stopping power in varied terrain and the 11-speed cassette has fairly seamless shifting which helps maintain flow.
Finishing kit is mostly Cube's own and is ample for the job, only the very picky will want to swap components out.
Power is taken care of by a top of the line Bosch system - the Performance CX which makes the Kathmandu a real performer. The Shimano Di2 XT transmission communicates with the motor to provide smooth, seamless gearshifts and the combination of a wide gear range, low bottom gear and punchy 75NM motor hauls you up the steepest of hills with ease. The Bosch Intuvia display and controller are both small and user friendly but offer all the information you could need. The controller sits beside the left hand and the chunky buttons are easy to operate without taking your hands off the handlebars. The display is easily removeable and slips into your pocket when you're off the bike for theft prevention. Beside the normal bike computer functions the Intuvia lets you cycle through a range of riding modes which offer different levels of assist. The 'turbo' mode at the highest setting cranks the motor up to max and although the range is drastically reduced using this mode it is undeniably good fun. For a more balanced riding experience we've found the 'Tour' mode to provide fatigue reducing levels of assist while maintaining a good range.
The battery isn't integrated into the frame like with some e-bikes but it is mounted as far down as it can go, this lowers the center of gravity and helps with stability. The Kathmandu feels surefooted on its Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres, an expedition touring tyre which is robust, puncture resistant and maintains grip across a wide range of surfaces.
Cube have neatly integrated a kickstand, front and rear lights and a rear luggage carrier into the Kathmandu. Far from being token gestures these are all of an excellent quality, making the Kathmandu a bike that you really can load up, get on and go.
Cube market the Kathmandu as an urban e-bike but given the name, mixture of expedition and MTB components and powerful long-range motor we think it's a highly capable touring and expedition bike that would be somewhat wasted on the city streets.
The Kathmandu SL500 retails at £3,399. Like with anything else you get what you pay for and although you can get a low-grade e-bike for £1000 it won't be nearly as competent as this.