Nukeproof launch the third iteration of the ever-popular Scout hardtail and Jamie headed to South Wales to give it a run out.
The rain in Spain falls mainly on Jamie Edwards at the launch of the third generation Nukeproof Scout.
Photos by Laurence Crossman-Ems.
With so many of us having big wheels and big travel in the garage, you’d be forgiven for thinking that people don’t really care about hardtails anymore, and rightly so, right?
Less efficient A to B over rough terrain, reduced grip, constantly changing geometry… there’s a whole heap of arguments why the hardtail doesn’t make sense, particularly when there are so many very good, very affordable full-suspension options out there these days.
Hold that thought.
When Nukeproof announced that their latest big launch was in fact a hardtail, the new-and-improved for 2022 Nukeproof Scout, I suppose I was a bit ‘meh’. Not underwhelmed or unimpressed, just not falling over myself to get involved. After all, I have a gravel bike for covering distance, a short travel full suss for the local laps and a big-hitter for the weekends. I wasn’t entirely sure where a hardtail would fit into my life or necessarily into yours, dear reader.
But there I was, sat in Tiny Rebel Brewery in South Wales at the press event to launch of the bike. Nukeproof had hired out the brewery, challenged us to build our own bikes and took us out riding to test our new creations in the Black Mountains.
It wasn’t necessarily the geometry, or the spec or the longer-lower-slacker that struck me it was a sales figure quoted by the Nukeproof team. The Nukeproof Scout is Nukeproof’s biggest selling bike in their range. It outsells the Mega, the Reactor, the Giga and the Digger and is a bike that’s consistently flying out of stock quicker than they can make them.
Sure, you’ll say I’m drinking the KoolAid but you can’t argue with those numbers. You guys want hardtails. There’s clearly a place for them on the trails and in the modern mountain biker’s collection. With that in mind, I was pretty interested to see whether the new Scout was enough to tear me away from my perfectly good full suspension bike.
First up, let’s take a look at the new Nukeproof Scout in detail.
Alloy frame, available in 27.5″ and 29″ wheels and plenty of sizes. Nukeproof say “an all new frame, completely new tube profiles, with improved and updated geometry, revised sizing in both 275 and 290 platforms and a host of other small tweaks”.
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing the ‘longer, lower, slacker’ from bike brands, but in the case of the Scout it’s at least true.
Nukeproof have added more sizes to the range and there’s now a Medium, Large, Extra Large and Extra Extra Large for you super tall bois. The BB is lower, the head angle is slacker, the chainstays are longer and the seat angle is steeper. All sensible stuff.
There’s also now the awesome UDH gear hanger, mounts for a strap on the underside of the top tube, two water bottle mounts and some really neat rubber protection on the downtube and stays. The UDH hanger is SO good. Bike manufacturers, please all use this.
So why was I sat in a brewery, hearing about Nukeproof Scouts?
Typically, when a brand is ready to tell the world about their new bike they invite a load of journalists along and show them a good time. They’ll fly them to a far-flung destination, take them riding, fill them with good food and booze and give them a hands-on intro to the bike and a chance to meet the team behind it. The journos then go away, write up what they’ve found out and publish a piece like this.
For us, the venue was Tiny Rebel Brewery in South Wales. Not exactly far flung but great fun and a really nice chance to hang out at a booming UK business that’s already won the Beer of Britain award.
A big part of the event was that Nukeproof intends to launch the Scout as a frameset first on 1st June 2022 and then follow on with complete bikes in July and August. To capture the frame-only vibe, we spent the first day building our bikes from scratch, with a mix of components from brands like Hayes, Schwalbe, Microshift and Nukeproof’s own components brand.
The reality of the day was that the old global supply chain is making life hard to source components – and this was Nukeproof’s way of using their imagination, putting on a press event and getting us on bikes where components are hard to source.
It was fun, I built a bike up, it was the same experience you’d have at home if you ordered your own frame. I can happily report that the bike went together hassle-free without any weird standards, pain in the arse internal routing or jobs that would be a nightmare in your garage. Winner.
So – riding hardtails then, the reason you’re reading this. Is the 2023 Nukeproof Scout a good bike?
The first day’s riding on the bike was brilliant and brutal. We took the Scout on a day in the Black Mountains with WyeMTB and dropped some dirty great big Welsh old school. It was blowing a gale, pissing rain and about as wet and wild as it gets. If you’re one of those ‘hardtails for the winter cos they’re easy to maintain and clean’ folks, this was the ride that proved you right.
With plenty of climbing, fast and sprinty sections and slippy, natural descents the ride felt like a great match for the Scout. We’d start with a winch up a fire road or gravel path, then a bash along a hill top and then a hurtle down a big, rough, nasty descents. Plenty of slithery rocks, gritty turns and ice-skating grass traverses.
Climbing and traversing, the Nukeproof Scout feels very comfortable. The geometry feels just right to sit and spin, whilst also being lively, fun and responsive when you stand up and hit the gas.
The Nukeproof designers have worked hard on what they call “Saddle Offset Theory”, meaning they’ve made the seat tube angle steeper than previous bikes, and made the seat tube angle specific to each size, to match the shape of the bike to a rider’s height.
In theory, this means your seat height should be nicely matched to your height and taller riders aren’t hanging off the back of the bikes when their seat is up and messing up their geometry. I’m an unremarkable 175cm but absolutely look forward to hopping on the Scout and spinning up that first hill on my local ride, something I don’t experience on all of my bikes.
My argument against hardtails for the last few years has been when the terrain gets tricky. If you can ride a perfectly efficient full suspension bike, why would you make life more difficult with a hardtail?
Guess I was wrong on that one.
Sure, hardtails are more of a handful in some ways but I’m having an absolute blast on the Scout. The geo feels easy to throw around, very playful to ride in tight and technical stuff and perfect for man-made, bermy, fast trails. Riding rough, rocky, natural trails took a bit of adjusting but after a bit of brain-adjustment I was able to crack on just fine. Slower than my full suspension for sure but no less fun and certainly a lot more engaging. If you like a bike that gets your neurons firing but doesn’t scare the shit out of you… The Scout feels like a great option.
What Do We Think?
Like almost every Nukeproof I’ve ridden, the Scout’s geo is pleasing uncontroversial. This isn’t one of those big, long, slack ‘enduro’ hardtails with a crazy head angle. It has a compact but not cramped feel and does a good job of feeling very easy to ride, very easy to move around and perfect for all but the rowdiest of trails.
I don’t think the Nukeproof Scout is my one bike for every ride, but it’s a bike I’m grabbing for almost every local, pedally blast right now and one I’d be perfectly happy to find myself at home on further afield in the bigger hills.
It’s comfortable up the hills, super engaging and surprisingly confidence building on the way back down. Easy to build up, actually in stock without a year’s wait.
What’s not to like?
Great all-rounder geometry that’s really fun and easy to ride.
No wacky standards or odd shapes and sizes, making it easy to build up from a frame-only.
Could Do Better:
Fans of more extreme geometry may prefer something longer and slacker.
You can check out the new Nukeproof Scout V3 over on their website here.
Big thanks to Rob and the team at Nukeproof for having us along to the launch.