Calibre Two Cubed review£400.00

One hell of a bike for the price

BikeRadar score4.5/5

There are always going to be compromises at this price, but GO Outdoors’ in-house brand has done a great job with the Two Cubed. Its contemporary geometry and impressive kit for the cash make it a great buy.

Calibre Two Cubed frame

The Two Cubed replaces the Two Two. It runs on 650b (rather than 26in) wheels and gets a new frame with impressively up-to-date trail geometry. That includes a 465mm reach on the large size, which makes it longer than the Voodoo Hoodoo and Vitus Nucleus, and a lot lengthier than most bikes at this price. The wheelbase is also the long.

At 67.5 degrees, the head angle is relaxed enough to add stability without being too stubborn at low speeds. The 44mm head tube means you can upgrade to a tapered fork at a later date. While the high bottom bracket improves pedal clearance, it can give a slightly precarious feel in corners.

There are no upper rack mounts to match those on the dropouts and no routing for a stealth dropper. The lack of bottle bosses on the seat tube means you can slam the fixed post right down though, and it’s a ride-smoothing 27.2mm number.

If you’re not worried about lifting the bottom bracket even higher, there’s room for bigger tyres too. To minimise costs, Calibre doesn’t do XS or XL sizes, but there’s a choice of two colours.

Its contemporary geometry and impressive kit make it a great buy for the price
Its contemporary geometry and impressive kit make it a great buy for the price

Calibre Two Cubed kit

Calibre has managed to fit kit that would shame most big-brand bikes costing well over £500. You get a 3x9 Shimano crankset, gears and hydraulic brakes. It has a RockShox fork too, even if the 30mm legs and coil spring with fixed rebound make it a skinny and not very adjustable unit.

The Schwalbe Tough Tom front tyre is a remould of the classic Nobby Nic tread and gives acceptable dry-conditions grip despite its hard-compound rubber. While the Smart Sam rear tyre is tough and fast-rolling, it’s got definite slip issues off-road.

The rims are drilled for car-type Schrader valves, not the Presta style found on most MTBs. Although the 60mm stem is longer than I’d choose, the 760mm flat bar gives ample steering leverage. You even get lock-on grips.

Calibre Two Cubed ride impressions

While there are inevitably aspects of the Two Cubed that need to be worked around, its geometry and overall shape really stand out for the money. Not least because that’s the one part of a bike you can’t upgrade or significantly modify.

Yes, it lacks the tapered head tube, wide ‘Boost’ back end and other future-proofing features of pricier bikes. But its ride quality is surprisingly good, with a smooth rear wheel feel.

The generous reach/wheelbase and 67.5-degree head angle mean it puts its wheels in the right place and keeps them there
The generous reach/wheelbase and 67.5-degree head angle mean it puts its wheels in the right place and keeps them there

The generous reach/wheelbase and 67.5-degree head angle mean it puts its wheels in the right place and keeps them there far better than any other £400 bike we’ve ridden — and many more expensive models.

Even the plasticky front tyre has a better chance of staying hooked up in such a sorted chassis. Given that clattering pedals and twitchy steering can be distracting for newbie riders, I’ll even forgive Calibre the slightly-too-long stem (cheap and easy to swap) and higher-than-needed bottom bracket.

Even the best £400 / $634 / AU$889 bike comes with compromises though. The almost continual centre-line tread of the rear tyre gives it easy speed on the road but means it spins out on any vaguely damp, loose or lumpy terrain.

While it manages a veneer of smooth control on lightly-rippled bridleways and flow trails, the XC 30 fork soon gets panicked and jarring on rowdier surfaces too.

The Shimano brakes could also do with a bigger rotor for hacking off speed faster. That said, it’s important to remember that most of the Calibre’s price peers still use spongy, adjustment-needy cable disc brakes.

Despite its chain slap, the mostly Shimano Altus gearset is also a definite win at this price. In other words, while it’s not perfect, I’ve never tested a more trail-ready bike for under £400 than the Two Cubed.

Calibre's Two Cubed
Calibre's Two Cubed

Calibre Two Cubed details

Budget bargain: There are only three size options, but the Two Cubed’s geometry is sorted and the ride feel of the frame is remarkably good.

Slippery Sam: A Schwalbe Tough Tom tyre adds traction up front but the fast-rolling Smart Sam rear rubber isn’t so clever when it comes to off-road grip.

Fork flaws: Even the best £400 bikes have compromises and while RockShox’s cheapest fork is okay for cruising, it really is a shocker over rocks.

Calibre Two Cubed specifications

  • Weight: 14.18kg
  • Frame: 6061-T6 aluminium alloy
  • Sizes: S, M*, L (*tested)
  • Fork: RockShox XC 30 TurnKey, 100mm (3.9in) travel
  • Headset: 1.125in
  • Hubs: Shimano TX505
  • Axles: 100mm QR (f)/135mm QR (r)
  • Rims: Alloy
  • Spokes: 32x steel
  • Wheel weight: 2.32kg (f), 3.09kg (r), inc. tyres
  • Tyres: WTB Trail Boss wire bead 27.5x2.25in
  • Crankset: Shimano MT100, 40/30/22t
  • Bottom bracket: Square-axle cartridge
  • Mechs: Shimano Altus
  • Shifters: Shimano EF505 (3x9)
  • Cassette: Shimano HG200-9, 11-34t
  • Chain: KMC
  • Brakes: Shimano MT200, 180/160mm
  • Bar: Alloy, 760mm
  • Stem: Alloy, 60mm
  • Grips: Entity lock-on
  • Seatpost: Alloy
  • Saddle: Calibre

Calibre Two Cubed geometry

  • Head angle: 67.5 degrees
  • Seat angle: 73 degrees
  • Reach: 440mm / 17.32in
  • Bottom bracket height: 330mm / 12.99in
  • Chainstay: 435mm / 17.13in
  • Seat tube: 510mm / 20.08in
  • Top tube: 620mm / 24.41in
  • Wheelbase: 1,150mm / 45.28in
Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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