Nukeproof added an ebike to their line-up recently with the MegaWatt 297, we took a look at how it came together.
Pete sat down for a chat with Steve Jamison, Nukeproof’s Product Manager, about how Nukeproof brought their first ebike from concept to reality.
What was the impetus for adding an ebike to the Nukeproof range?
Customer demand was a biggest driving force. The eBike market has rapidly evolved in the past few years and we have been getting enquiries from dealers and customers demanding one for years now. But like most NP products, it really happened because we wanted one.
Once you’d made that decision, what happens next?
We wanted to be on the forefront of the technology curve, so it was a matter of timing. We didn’t want to adapt one of our current bikes just to make an eBike as to get it on sale as fast as possible. We took the time to investigate the market and seek out the correct partner to work with for the drive system. A brand that offered not only leading edge technology product but have the infrastructure in place to support customers during ownership.
Whilst we were at the start of the redesign of the Mega platform, Shimano approached us with their plans for the EP8 motor. This allowed the MegaWatt to be on the forefront of Shimano technology as well as leaning on their This allowed us to start the packaging and design of the new Mega (V4) and the Megawatt in tandem to ensure they shared the same DNA and optimised the performance both with and without assistance.
How many people are involved and what do they do?
Nukeproof has a small talented team, so everyone plays their part one way or another throughout the process. The major ones that worked on it directly would be myself (Product Manager), our Lead Engineer (Dale McMullan), Matthew Hyndman (Design Engineer), Alan Boyd (Design Manager), Enrique Repolles (Creative Lead Designer), Colin Goodman (Graphic Designer) and Rob Sherratt (Marketing Manager). Lots of other people were also involved throughout the process so sorry if I have forgotten to mention anyone. You know who you are.
What did you want to achieve with this bike?
The brief for the Megawatt was fairly simple. As with anything bearing the Mega name it had to be able to compete at the Megavalanche and be in the same vein as the Mega, an Enduro spec machine. Essentially, we wanted a Mega with a motor so that we could get back to the top of a trail faster, so we could do it again, again and again.
Did the Mega platform lend itself well to taking an E-bike motor and battery?
The kinematics of the Mega required little adaptation to suit the MegaWatt. That is not to say packaging the motor and battery was straightforward. One of the key changes for the Mega V4 was to add clearance in the down tube for the motor as well as still integrating a water bottle. Packaging this was a challenge, so a lot of design went into the bottom bracket area to house the motor/mounts and battery interface.
In doing this it created a few subtle changes that needed to be made to the MegaWatt- most notably that the MegaWatt is a mixed wheel size bike (29” front, 27.5” rear). Which brought a few positives for the design and after many hours of cad work create room for a decent size water bottle.
How did you work out what motor and battery you wanted?
As mentioned earlier, this was the very first stage of the Megawatt process. We did a lot of testing to work out what we wanted and then spoke to several motor manufacturers at the time. It really came down to who had the best future technology hidden up their sleeve which would work to our timelines. Also the global distribution and service centres that Shimano offer customers gave us the confidence that if there ever was an issue or parts required our riders would be looked after.
Did you ever consider a full 29” wheel setup on this bike?
We did but the reason we went for a Mullet set up was perhaps not the same as some other brands who wanted a bigger PLUS rear tyre for climbing grip. We wanted the geometry to be as close to the Mega as possible (you will see that the Mega 290 geo is very similar). If we had made it with a 29” rear wheel then the chainstays would have had to be longer than we wanted. We also knew from testing other mullet bikes that the shorter RC and smaller rear wheel would really help manoeuvrability on an eBike with the extra weight of the battery and motor.
How many prototypes did you go through before getting to the finished product?
There are various prototyping stages that we go though. Firstly the computer modelling which you can check various measurements, clearances and simulations, through to rapid prototyping and modelling all to create a final working prototype to check we got all our maths correct. Once that’s signed-off we order various test models for our athletes and test team to use.
How important are athletes in developing new bikes?
Athletes are always a great barometer for our products. Our full time pro’s put in more miles in a week than many customer riders will in a month across a variety of trails and terrains so this helps accelerate the product lifecycle and shows up any points we can strengthen or improve upon. They are also pretty quick so push products to the extremes, ensuring any Nukeproof product isn’t the limitation for our customers riding. We’re fortunate to work with some talented riders that have an interest in the development. They are a fundamental part of our design and development process, even if the product isn’t a race product.
How did you know when you’d got it right?
On the first ride. We obviously don’t have a long heritage in eBiking as a brand, but that’s not to say we haven’t been out there trying the benchmark bikes and quiet a few of our riders and testers had used other brands products. With the MegaWatt, once we had dropped into the first run we knew we had a good one.
I really love it when we get delivery of the first 3D printed frame. This then gets built up with real parts to make a 1:1 scale model. This is our first chance to see the bike in the flesh and check out all of the details that took so long to design in. Taking delivery of the first real sample is also always a special too, especially when you finally get to ride it.
Any disasters? (Other than COVID)
Me, 1st run excitement on only our 2nd day of testing. Crashing in the mud, smashing the one off 3d prototype battery door and breaking my brake levers for good measure.
Where next for Nukeproof?
When you’re constantly learning and being inspired it’s difficult not to be developing the “next” thing. We enjoy what we do so it’s difficult to stop, so you can be sure there are some interesting projects on the drawing boards, but we will stay tight lipped on them.
Find out everything you need to know about the Nukeproof MegaWatt 297 here.
Read Jamie’s review of the Nukeproof MegaWatt 297 Elite here.