by Rob Mitchell
October 21, 2016
After a few months of riding, and some spec alterations, Rob has his final say on the Nukeproof Mega 275 in this final longterm review
Nukeproof launched its range of new Megas at the back end of last year, and while keeping the rough and powerful trail machine characteristics, Nukeproof worked on dropping unnecessary weight and adding clean new aesthetics to a platform that is becoming ever more recognisable on the trails. The 275 platform boasts 160mm of travel at each end, and within an ever growing market of longer travel bikes, Nukeproof does offer a very competitive option, especially at this price point.
Above, is my longterm test bike – the Mega 275 Comp, hiding in the bushes. And below, is me, a vaguely out of breathe Crayons riding said Mega up a hill.
When we featured the bike back in Issue #106 of Singletrack Magazine, the Mega was 99% how it would come from the factory. The only difference was the shock, a RockShox Monarch Plus, rather than the Plus R. Since then, the Mega is now running the Monarch Plus R as standard. In that initial review, I mentioned about how the Mega was ready to ride straight out of the box, but in time, small tweaks could be made to give the bike that personal feel and make it ride even better. So here’s the result of my ongoing experiment with the Mega 275.
In a world of fancy new carbon frames and components crafted from the weaved material, riding a proper metal bike is still fun. There’s something about an alloy bike that gives you a bit more confidence than the higher end (and much more expensive) carbon alternatives. The Mega gives you that stiff and taught frame when it comes to climbing and descending.
Keeping in tune with its rivals, the Mega 275 runs a 65° head angle and a seat tube angle of 75.5°. Add that up with chainstays with a length of 435mm the Mega can be thrown into the tighter corners with real power and at no point do you feel like you’re going to be let down. The long reach and the lower slung top tube means you can get down into the bike, creating a low centre of gravity, which we all know is great on the trails.
From factory, to ST workshop spec – what’s been changed and why?
Since getting the Mega, I have made tweaks to the set up and specification, that has made the bike more in line with my style of riding and the way I like my bikes to feel. This started with small alterations such as grip and tyre choice, to give a more familiar riding feel that I had been used to from previous bikes.
From the WTB Vigilante tyres running at both ends on the factory specification, I swapped the rear to a Maxxis Aggressor, providing a fast rolling tyre, that offered slightly more traction when out of the saddle climbing. On the front I went to a Maxxis Minion DHF, which immediately boosted confidence and let me throw the bike into looser corners where I had been slightly more anxious about before. Grippage has been addressed in the shape of some ODI Rouges but, a pair of DMR Deathgrips are on the shopping list. But what colour and profile? Hmmmm…
Brakes on the 275 Comp come in the shape of SRAM DB5s, and as competent as they are, I did begin to notice slight brake fade from the smaller 180mm front rotor. Adjustability from these brakes is non-existent, so this was something I wanted to upgrade. Running a SRAM drivetrain, I wanted to keep with the theme, to minimise on clamps on the bars.
After looking at some Guide RS brakes, I was offered a pair of REs – the e-MTB equivalent. A slightly bigger calliper housing is the only real difference compared to the RS model, so these went on along with an upgraded 203mm front rotor. After a bedding in period, the difference in braking power and consistency was incredible. Lever adjustment helped me to set the brakes up just how I like to ride and having the larger calliper and front rotor made all the difference in power when it came to being back on the trails.
Keeping up top, the next thing to look at was the cockpit. With the addition of new brakes and slightly heavier tyres, I wanted to try and drop a bit of weight where I could. I hadn’t ridden carbon handle bars before, so when Ian from Renthal came in with some new 35mm components (including a pair of Carbon Fatbars), I jumped at the opportunity to get them on the Mega.
The Fatbar Lite Carbon bar (yep, a mouthful!) was coupled with a 33mm (length) 35mm (clamp diameter) Renthal Apex stem. This brought the reach in ever so slightly, from the 50mm Nukeproof Warhead that sat in its place before. Although the difference is so small, there was a noticeable difference, especially when it came to climbing, but when in the corners, the slightly closer cockpit makes sharp turns easy to deal with.
Nukeproof build the Mega with its own Oklo dropper seatpost on the Race and Comp spec, which as a standard bit of original equipment, did its job well. There were times however, when I became frustrated with its delay in return, and unfortunately, the poor quality trigger took a beating when my incompetence struck and I found the bike cartwheeling down the hill. With an upcoming dropper post grouptest in Issue #109 of the mag, the Oklo parted ways with the Mega and in its place came in a Brand-X Ascend dropper post.
The unknown-to-me Ascend dropper offers 5mm less travel at 120mm, but life was made a hell of a lot easier by being able to bring the post further out of the seat tube. A much better crafted alloy lever was a welcome addition, rather than the previous flimsy plastic lever that was offered on the Oklo. Strapped to the top of the Ascend, I’ve moved to an SQ Labs saddle, which even with it’s slightly odd appearance, has been a great upgrade adding a level of comfort I didn’t quite get from the Nukeproof Trail saddle – my behind is now thankful for the swap.
With the alterations made in the past few months, the Mega is currently sitting pretty at a respectable, but not barrier-breaking 31.7lbs. I never wanted to drop a whole load of weight by changing the build, more just getting the bike to ride how I prefer. And right now, the bike is a real dream.
As stock, the PIKE on the Mega 275 comes with one bottomless token already installed. After riding with the standard set up for a few months, the token was then removed to change the feel of the fork. Going through a range of different fork set ups, I want to go the other way and increase the amount of tokens, and therefore reduce the air volume within the fork and make the ride slightly stiffer. This is more suited to the kind of riding that I prefer, so I was hoping for a decent change in ride feel and performance.
Adding tokens into Rockshox forks is an incredibly easy job. All you need is the new tokens, an 8mm allen key, a 24mm socket and a bit of grease. Oh, and a shock pump for removing and adding pressure at either end of the process.
Once installed, the tokens will help reduce the risk of bottoming out the fork, by changing the air-spring curve to give the more aggressive riders the option to go bigger and harder when out on the trails.
Playing with pressures is the next job, especially when riding to make sure the fork is performing to the best possible standard. When tokens have been added, usually the pressure will be dropped to counter the space in the air chamber that has now been taken up by the tokens. This all depends on rider weight though, and the style and type of rider you are. For myself, at around 78kg (who actually weighs themselves regularly to know the exact weight?), two tokens and around 62-64PSI seems to suit pretty well.
Playing with rebound after adding the tokens is always suggested, as the smaller air volume will cause a more progressive curve from the fork. Slowing the rebound down using the adjustor at the base of the leg, will help compensate for this and after many trials and many errors, will create a plush feeling fork that compresses and rebounds just as you want.
Back to the full bike then, and if I was out on the search for further weight dropping, and to try and get a slightly different riding feel out of the bike, I would definitely look at a wheel upgrade option. Something with slightly more compliance than the stock SRAM Roam 30s could give the bike a completely alternative feel. For now, the stock wheels have stood up to all the abuse that has been thrown at it, and after a couple of tubeless rim tape replacements and a few bottles of sealant later, they’ve performed well.
The Nukeproof has been with me for the past few months, and by making slight but effective alterations has really become a bike I love riding. It’s stiff enough to feel sturdy on the trails, but at no point have I felt as if the bike wants to kill me. When it comes to the the tighter trails, the wheel size and set up of the bike has made the playful side come out and it’s been a pleasure.
Climbing isn’t my favourite thing in the world, and I’m no XC racer, but even saying that, the Mega climbs remarkably well for such a big bike. If you’ve got the right tyres on, and pedals that are supportive and ready to be stamped on when you hit a sharp climb, the Mega will winch its way up pretty much anything, it’s only me that is letting the bike down, rather than vice versa. Going back to a longer stem would make life easier, but making the sacrifice to improve riding feel when it comes to the downhills is one I’m more than happy to stick with.
Bikes like this are there to be shown the trails, in a pointing downwards kind of sense. This is exactly where the Mega wants to be, and the bike is so capable on such a wide range of trails. From steep technical descents, the bike performs well and grip is exactly where you want it. The low slung top tube provides ample clearance meaning you can throw body weight over the bike when you need to, and of course, having 160mm of bounce at each end gives you plenty of security hitting drops, rock gardens and jumps.
Nukeproof has grown its enduro team massively in the last year or so, and that is all down to the Mega and just how capable it is – just look at Sam Hill this season, smashing a bunch of enduro podiums on his trusty Mega. If it’s good enough for Sam Hill, then it’s defiantly good enough for us. For a bike at this price point and even at the original spec, it is hard to find any serious criticism with the Mega 275.
Nukeproof has done its homework on the Mega, it it’s easy to see. With the new versions for 2017 now available, with a few updated spec options, and a range of fancy colours, they are fast becoming a bike that can fill the void for a lot of riders. I’d be intrigued to give the slightly shorter travelled, and 29in wheel sized version a go, but as it stands the 275 is a do it all bike that is a world of fun and ready to rip holes in pretty much any trail you point it at.
Nukeproof Mega 275 Comp Specifications:
- Frame // Custom hydroformed T6 6061 Alloy
- Shock // RockShox Monarch Plus R, 160mm
- Fork // RockShox PIKE RC, 160mm
- Hubs // SRAM Roam 30
- Rims // SRAM Roam 30
- Tyres // Maxxis Minion DHF 3C Maxx Terra EXO 2.4in front & Aggressor EXO 2.3in rear
- Chainset // SRAM GX-1, 32t X-Sync chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM GX-1
- Shifters // SRAM GX-1
- Brakes // SRAM Guide RE, 203mm front & 180mm rear
- Stem // Renthal Apex 33mm
- Bars // Renthal Fatbar Lite Carbon 760mm
- Seatpost // Brand-X Ascend 120mm
- Saddle // SQ Labs 611 Ergowave Active LP
- Size Tested // L
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL
- Weight: 31.7lbs (14.4kg)