It’s new bike season and we’ve just been treated to a look at the all new 2018 Nukeproof range.
Jamie spent a day at the Forest of Dean riding new bikes and meeting the new carbon Nukeproof Mega.
words by Jamie Edwards / photos by Callum Philpott
The all new Mega … in carbon
Up to this point the Nukeproof bikes range has been 100% alloy. Nope, no carbon bikes at all. As of today, there’s two of them.
The Nukeproof Mega 275RS and the Mega 275 Factory – both with front triangles built in carbon and both on 27.5″ wheels. There’s also some updates to the 29’ers, a new look Scout hardtail and an all new Digger.
I recently spent the day over at the Forest of Dean with Nukeproof’s Rob Sherratt to learn all about the new 2018 range and ride the new carbon Mega.
Here’s what I learnt …
Nukeproof Mega RS
The Nukeproof Mega RS is the big dog in Nukeproof’s range. It’s the highest spec and the highest price and is what you’ll have seen the Chain Reaction Team, under Sam Hill, racing this year at the Enduro World Series.
The Mega RS is built around RockShox suspension, SRAM XO-1 Eagle and DT Swiss wheels. Short of getting crazy with carbon wheels and Di2 shifting the bike is about as high a spec as you’re ever going to need to go out and go very fast down big hills.
Despite the high end built kit, the Mega RS keeps the price relatively sane and Nukeproof have obviously saved some cost by speccing their own brand Warhead bar, stem and seat.
The Nukeproof Mega RS will cost you £4,599. Not an inconsiderable price but compared to its competition, pretty reasonable indeed.
Nukeproof Mega 275 Factory
The Nukeproof Mega 275 Factory sits underneath the Mega RS in price but is nonetheless a beautifully specced pushbike. It comes with Fox Factory suspension, DT Swiss wheels, Shimano drive train and Schwalbe rubber.
The components are high-end and high performance but, again, stay away from crazy poshness and crazy prices.
Whilst £4199 is a hell of a lot of money – 275 Factory RS puts the carbon Mega well on track to competing with those direct sales giants like YT or Canyon.
The big thing on the 275 Factory is Fox damping … seen for the first time on the Nukeproof range. Up front there’s the Fox 36 Float Factory 170mm FIT with Kashima and out back there’s a Fox Float X2 Factory, again with Kashima.
2018 Nukeproof carbon bikes geometry
Riding the new Mega RS
Our test ride wasn’t long enough for a proper insight into the bike … but a lap of my favourite off-piste trail at the Forest of Dean was a pretty good hint.
Our first section of trail was a fast, flat, rooty pedal across the top of the hill. Despite a recent overdose of Eurobike catering I got the power down and sprinted happily down the trail, chasing Rob’s back wheel.
Where some longer travel bikes are a pig, the Mega does a great job of dropping the hammer and getting power quickly and sharply from your legs and into the trail. It’s not a stiff, short travel ‘trail’ bike but there’s a definite feeling that it can be punted down a trail with reassuring ease.
Pausing for a quick chat, Rob explained that they’d gone for carbon to give the bike a more ‘direct’ feel. There’s a wider lower pivot, the back end is boost and they’ve deliberately stiffened up the front triangle. They’ve designed the bike to give more stiffness and a more direct transfer of power out of corners – helping you go faster, quicker.
I can’t say I’ve ridden the bike long enough to prove that but I found it fun and easy to fire down flat trails and out of flat corners.
As the trail increased in roughness, so did the fun I was having on the bike. I wasn’t battling to hold my line or keep the speed up. Instead I was cutting corners, trying stupid lines, hopping natural gaps in the trail and shouting at my riding buddy. A stop watch is a great judge of a bike, but I’d argue so is that feeling of just having fun and arriving at the fire road grinning. For a 170mm bike, it sprinted well and felt playful and surprisingly sprightly.
The second section of the trail is steeper, faster and full of tight, natural corners. The 65d head angle (the same as the previous bike) gives me bags of confidence when diving into steep turns and the size and shape of the bike treads a nice line of being stable whilst also feeling very playful. Again, I arrived at the fire road with that classic “that trail was awesome!” raving that you only get after a cracking descent.
Why carbon and why now?
Riding the Mega was a chance to ask Rob a few questions about the process behind the new Mega. My first question of Nukeproof was “why now?”.
The answer seemed to be that they weren’t confident that they could make a bike that was good enough, for a good enough price.
A couple of years of behind the scenes work has gone by, Sam Hill has raced and tested the bike and Nukeproof are now happy that they can give us a bike that can stand up to the abuse of Enduro World Series (and downhill World Champs) racing whilst still being affordable.
And why no carbon back end? Rob explained that they felt that the performance improvements all come from the front of the bike being carbon. They weren’t able to create any significant steps up (other than price) with a carbon rear end so, they kept it alloy.
And what else is new?
There’s a couple of interesting changes to the 275 Mega frame that are hiding under the surface.
The main one is that the lower linkage is now redesigned to be 1X drive train specific – meaning that it can be wider and stiffer. That means that the flex of the 2017 bike should be reduced and the bike should, in theory, feel stiffer and a little easier to pop out of corners.
The bike is also now boost at the rear end for the first time which will again, on paper, make the bike a little stiffer.
Perhaps the most positive improvement to the bike is the most subtle. On all RockShox equipped bikes, there’s now a needle bearing on the rear shock rather than a DU bush. So what? We’ve always struggled with the DU bush in the Mega and found it to wear quickly. The new bearing should, hopefully, reduce mechanical hassles and keep the bike feeling tight for longer.
But alloy isn’t going anywhere
The Nukeproof range will still feature a tonne of alloy framed bikes … which will be good news to many riders.
The Mega 29’er range won’t see any carbon bikes for the moment. Nukeproof told us that they aren’t ready to put the work into designing, testing and refining a carbon version of their big wheeled bikes and have no plans to. Rob explained that they concentrated on working with Sam to nail the 27.5″ bike and were happy to focus on getting that right.
… and that’s it. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a carbon Mega for more time on the trails and a bit of testing with a stop watch against the alloy version. Stay tuned.