I’m a complete novice at press camps, so without further preamble (and without wanting to make you too jealous) … What. A. Treat. That was fun. Mind you, joining a group of seasoned journos in southern Italy to test two new bikes from Nukeproof is never going to be one of the worst aspects of this job, even as it’s a teeny bit daunting.
And so it was that I found myself on a plane bound for Nice. Which was all very lovely, and was swiftly followed by an hour’s car journey to the almost unpronounceable Dolceacqua (which means Sweetwater, language fans). However, we were greeted by disappointingly familiar grey skies (boo) and that light drizzle that gets you wet through – which probably has some sort of Italian name, like acquerugiola inzuppare (look it up). The astonishing views down the valley from Dolceacqua brightened the mood quite a lot, though, as did the industrial quantities of ice cream I was about to ingollare.
Our job for the week? To send the new Nukeproof Mega up and down some hills. Hopefully with us still attached. Sounds good enough to me! It turns out that the Mega is now available in both 27.5in and 29in flavours. The two bikes are called (wait for it) the Mega 275, and the Mega (can you guess?) 290 respectively.
But they are still true Nukeproofs at heart. The 27.5in model runs at a respectable 160mm of travel, and the 29er only loses 10mm to proudly end up with 150mm. This is in contrast to a few other brands which use the 29er platform for their ‘trail’ models, and stick the hurly-burly bike on 27.5in pins.
The Megas have a stylish new facelift, taking on characteristics from the gorgeous Pulse, which is, in your scribe’s humble opinion, one of the best looking DH bikes on the circuit.
Let’s start with the smaller wheeled machine. Running 160mm of travel at both ends, the Mega 275 is available in 4 different specifications. From cheapest to priciest, we’ve got the Race, the Comp, the Pro and finally the Team. The Race starts off at £1999.99, and comes with a Manitou Mattoc fork, a Monarch Plus R Debonair keeps the back wheel on the ground, and things go and stop with a predominantly Deore level drivetrain and brakes. And arse altitude is modulated thanks to a Nukeproof OKLO 125mm dropper post.
At the other end of the scale, the Team is festooned with SRAM XO1, and offers bounce control from a Pike RCT3 and Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair on the front and rear respectively.
We rode the mid (but still rather swanky) level Pro model, with the same fork and shock as the Team spec, but the somewhat less rarefied SRAM X-1 drivetrain.
Specs are pretty much the same on the 275 and 290 versions of the Mega – except that the lowest iteration of the larger-hooped beastie is the Comp, running at £2599.99, which has a Pike RC fork, Monarch Plus R Debonair and SRAM GX drivetrain.
The Mega 275 boasts a 65 degree head angle, a 75.5 degree seat angle, 435mm chainstays and a long top tube in sizes ranging from S all the way up to Xtra Lofty. Yes, it’s long, low and (wait for it….) slack. Similarly, the 290 shares the same numbers except for an extra degree on the head angle, up to 66 degrees. Seat tube and top tube lengths are the same, and the chainstays are 450mm long. These numbers tell you all you need to know.
I started off on the Mega 275 – I rode the large. Reach was great; very comfy, although I found the grips to be too thin for my delicate little paws [great thwacking lumps of ham, more like – Ed]. Replacing them with the Sam Hill Series grips half way through the first day made life much more comfortable.
Climbing was never going to be gazelle-like on a 160mm travel bike, but it pulled along surprisingly well. I didn’t notice much pedal bob, even out of the saddle, which is pretty impressive. The same could be said of the 150mm Mega 290, too, with the added bonus of larger-hoop rollability (I’ve just made that word up – leave me alone). But honestly, it’s the descents which put steam in this particular man’s strides, and the Megas delivered in spades.
The 275 presents a more playful ride of the two, perhaps, and is slightly easier to throw around (as to be expected) in the tighter more technical trials. After a day or so of chucking it about, I found myself looking for alternative lines which presented more of a challenge, rather than playing it safe. And there aren’t many finer compliments than that.
The 290 had an added safety net for when rolling over rocky sections. In some tight corners the wheel size may restrict turning circle, but on the whole very good indeed. On the climbs, the larger wheels ploughed through loose rocks with ease and when it came to looking (rather than falling) down the mountain, line choice wasn’t as crucial as it was on its smaller wheeled sibling.
If I was pushed, perhaps over two days the 275 came out slightly top in my eyes, but if you were climbing 1400m a day over differing terrain, then maybe the 290 would be my preferred choice. Especially as you’ve still got a whopping (in 29er terms, anyhow) 150mm of travel to play with. When it comes to the downhill sections, though, both bikes gave great accounts for themselves.
Overall, the Megas have everything a gnarpoon should have; they more than hold their own in the new wave of super-stylish Enduro bikes. With competitive pricing and well thought out specs, the new Megas could be just the job for the ever growing, Enduro loving population. Plus, who doesn’t love a florescent green paint job?
You can find more details about the new Megas at Nukeproof’s website.