by Dave Anderson
May 14, 2013
The Mega is set to be a real cult favourite. The privateer's choice.
The first Nukeproof Mega had a few teething problems. Lesser bikes would have crumbled under such (internet based) scrutiny and hearsay, but Hotlines dealt with any warranty issues and it only seemed to strengthen the cult of the Mega.
The fact that it was available as an off-the-peg bike as well as frame only was an attraction. The fact that it was an incredibly good value complete bike made it almost unique. Want a 150mm bike with cutting edge geometry, decent suspension and uncompromised components for less than ￡2.5k? Get a Mega.
It’s named after the Megavalanche. But just like the Megavalance is actually a serious race behind the spectacle, the Nukeproof Mega is intended to be a functional and capable tool as well as a primo playbike.
The 6061 aluminium frame is suitably utilitarian. There are straight tubes where straight tubes belong, a dipped top tube for standover, a tight rear triangle made of stocky square-section tubing with a stout black linkage pushing a RockShox Monarch RT3 shock in the middle. There’s no paintjob as such. The decals almost look as though they are there principally for protecting the frame.
The Mega is a linkage-driven single pivot, ostensibly like the Cotic Rocket but with a markedly different ride feel and handling. This time the linkage system is called Erosion and is intended to offer a progressive rate with a “well controlled mid-stroke to avoid wallowing under pedal loads”.
The Mega is one sturdy looking machine. The bolt-through dropouts are chunky, the asymmetrical chain stays are very deep and sport an oversize bridge behind the seat tube. The pièce de résistance comes as the back end joins the front triangle. The bottom bracket area is a CNC machined piece of industrial art. It’s a well thought out and well executed area of the bike that belies its modest price tag and will no doubt go mostly unnoticed by many, so kudos to the designers for bothering. There’s a set of ISCG 05 tabs tucked away down there too.
Geometry stuff: slack 66° head angle, steep 75° seat angle, 23.4in effective top tube (Large size), 17.3in chain stays, 115mm heat tube length (44mm standard), 13.69in bottom bracket height.
It feels like the bike can withstand being thrown into terrain that you’d think would be beyond the remit of a 150mm travel bike. The RockShox Lyrik up front also does its fair share of the work. The Lyrik is a brilliant fork, arguably the best range that RockShox have ever made in my opinion. Although fatter stanchioned forks do come with a weight penalty (roughly 1lb over their 32mm siblings) there’s no denying that they work significantly better in terms of controlled damping as well as overall stiffness.
The rear shock is not so amazing. It felt very much like the mediocre link in an otherwise exceptional chain. We just never found a setting that felt right, particularly the rebound. In the end we opted to run the shock with a healthy 33% sag, plenty of rebound and minimal compression damping (to prevent it from being overly strangled and un-lively). Upgrading to a new shock would be something that we’d be saving up for while we were enjoying our first few months on the Mega, if it were our bike.
The geometry for out-of-the-saddle, preferably descending, riding was spot on. Low slung and suitably slack, encouraging the sort of proper over-the-front, elbows-out handling that often results in big smiles and huge waves of adrenalin. It’s more of a ground-hugging, line-clinging bike than some 150mm bikes, which is both a good and bad thing depending on your point of view. Downhill riders will love it. Those with a more pedal-propulsive point of view may find it requires a tad more body English to react to rider input.
The steep seat angle takes some adapting to and we’re not entirely sure we like it. It makes the bike feel like two different bikes depending on whether you’re standing up or sat down, and the change between the two can be jarring.
At the end of the day, the Mega is for gravity-assisted behaviour, where pedalling is encountered but treated as a necessary evil rather than a potentially rewarding part of the ride. The suspension is nice and stable, with no problematic bob to speak of. The overall weight (32lb) will be the thing that tires you out, not any suspension squidge.
It corners amazingly. It’s fearless off drops. It can go just as fast you can – probably faster in fact. With a different shock, this bike would be untouchable.
The Nukeproof Mega has some niggles. Most off the peg bikes do. Despite an underwhelming rear shock and a Jekyll and Hyde seat angle the fundamental radness – yes, radness – of the bike shone through. The potential of this bike is awesome. Buy it, rag it hard for a season, upgrade some bits, end up with a blisteringly rapid and fun mountain bike.
The Mega is set to be a real cult favourite. The privateer’s choice. The Nukeproof Mega is a mini downhill bike par excellence. It thunders along with immense stability. It’s one of the stiffest frames we’ve ever tested, which helps its invincible feel when you’re really tanking it at the limits of your talent or nerve.