Nukeproof Giga Carbon 290 Elite review

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Nukeproof has always tended to lean on the gravity side of the spectrum, but the development of the new Giga was more gravity-driven than usual.

Editors’ Choice 2021

This product features in our Singletrackworld Editors’ Choice 2021 round-up.

Andi: “If you follow me at all then you’ll know that I spent much of the year on a YT Izzo, and have now switched to a Santa Cruz Tallboy. Both of these bikes have been amazing as they climb really well and descend far better than a short travel bike really has the right to be able to, but the Giga almost changed all that.

“To be totally transparent, I offered to purchase the Nukeproof Giga after reviewing it. Yes, that’s just how good that bike is, but I was able to keep it for a long-term review and it was eventually bought by someone else. If I ever have a big travel fork going spare though, I’ll certainly be hitting the ‘buy now’ button.

“Why is it so good? Well, firstly because a 170mm travel Super Enduro bike shouldn’t really climb as well as the Giga does. It’s not Tallboy fast, but it isn’t Commencal Meta 29 slow either. For a big burly bike, it ticks off climbs with ease. Then when you do hit the top, you have a whole 170mm of front and rear travel to enjoy on the way back down again! It’s just so much fun. Nukeproof managed to make this big travel bike fun, lively and engaging – it’s a bike you ride, not something that takes you for a ride.”

Nukeproof Giga Carbon 290 Elite review

The Giga all started with the idea of turning a Nukeproof Dissent downhill frame into a super enduro bike to see how it would handle climbing up trails as well as blasting down them. The idea stemmed from the fact that the Dissent’s suspension is incredibly supportive, offering great small bump compliance, firm mid-stroke and progressive end stroke. Because prototyping and building one-off test mules is an expensive business, the chaps at Nukeproof thought to simply build a Dissent downhill frame into a makeshift enduro bike, saving time and money. The original Giga mule was based on an alloy Nukeproof Dissent downhill frame built up with a pair of long-travel single crown forks and a dropper post. The whole thing was so ghetto that the dropper post had to be installed the opposite way around to give a decent seated position. It was an interesting experiment and one that quickly confirmed that they were on to something. It soon became clear that the efficient downhill suspension system with effective pedalling support could work for an enduro bike and with this as a starting point, the carbon Giga frameset was developed.

Shock linkage keeps weight low down

Unsurprisingly. as it is based on a World Cup downhill race frame, the Giga isn’t simply an enduro bike, but a Super Enduro bike – a machine that promises more suspension travel than your average EWS race machine. This makes it even more capable in extreme terrain, yet Nukeproof has managed to balance the suspension, geometry and handling of the Giga to offer a long-travel package that still surprises me on the climbs. The Giga has tons of travel, modern geometry, and you can choose your wheel size, but don’t discount this bike based on its big mountain looks as the Giga has a few surprises and tricks up its headtube.

Matching rubber keeps looks up and noise down

The Bike

Superficially, the Giga and Dissent share a similar profile and are both based around a, new to Nukeproof, linkage-driven suspension platform that sees the rear shock located way down in the frame. Keeping the shock low down helps to reduce the centre of gravity and while we see this quite a lot on downhill bikes, there is only a handful of enduro, trail and super enduro bikes that use this layout. The various suspension linkages and pivots are all made of CNC machined alloy that bolt to a newly developed carbon chassis. Nukeproof manufactures the Giga from 700/800 UD carbon with differing layups for the front and rear triangles. The mainframe is built to offer precision and stiffness in the types of aggressive riding situations that Sam Hill is likely to find himself in on any given day. A more compliant carbon construction is used on the rear triangle to help aid grip and tracking. The two sections are joined by super-enduro-standard hardware and each bearing is a high-end Enduro Max Bearing for longer life, smoother operation and a reduction in maintenance time.

When it comes to the kinematics, Nukeproof has given the Giga the same anti-squat as the Mega with good mid-stroke support to offer the right balance of small-bump compliance and climbing traction. The Giga goes a little further though and actually employs a two-stage flip-chip located on an asymmetric axle so riders can fine-tune the kinematics on the trail. Using an 8mm Allen key the chip can be flipped between the setting 1 with 25.5% progression and setting 2 with 29% progression. Switching the position of the flip-chip gives similar tuning characteristics as adding or removing a volume spacer from an air shock, so it’s a handy way of dialling in a bike without having to constantly open up your rear shock. This tunability should also be helpful to riders opting to run a coil shock rather than an air shock.

Enduro by name…

The flip-chip isn’t the only smart piece of Giga design though. Take a look at how Nukeproof has approached the problem of mounting a 750ml water bottle into the mainframe. We’ve seen some manufacturers resort to smaller bottles or bottles mounted beneath the downtube, but the Giga’s sculptured frame offers room in the main triangle, away from dirt and exactly where you need it to be. For riders preferring to hit the trail without a pack, there is also an accessory mounting bolt beneath the top tube.

Made completely from carbon fibre, the Giga comes with 170mm of rear-wheel travel when opting for the 29er, or 180mm for the 27.5in bike. Both wheel sizes come in a range of five sizes from S to XXL and each frame boasts paint protection covering, threaded BB, a low seat tube and internal cable and hose routing. The medium-size bike we have on test has a reach of 460mm a seat tube length of 410mm, 63.5° head angle and a 77.75° seat angle, moving to 78° on the L to XXL bikes.

The Ride

I mentioned this over on the website first look, but as soon as I sat on the Giga I felt right at home – it was after turning the pedals for the first time I knew I was riding something pretty impressive. I get to ride a lot of bikes through the year, and I also own some pretty damn good bikes, but the way the Giga turns every rotation of the chainset into forward motion is impressive. If you’re watching the rear shock you’ll see there’s some bob, but in terms of what you feel – well, there really is nothing – and while winching up some pretty nasty climbs in the Peaks, I had to keep reminding myself what I was riding.

As good as the Giga is at climbing it’s never going to match a shorter travel bike for efficiency, but it’s good enough for me to reach for this 170mm travel 29er over my down-country bike for a spin around my local trails. It’s well worth it too, because once the Giga faces downhill and begins picking up speed the level of grip and potent cornering are addictive. I’ve ridden plenty of similar travel bikes and been impressed by how they pick up speed, find grip where there doesn’t seem to be any, all while keeping the fatigue-inducing impacts isolated, but the Giga just seems a little better in every respect. There are times that I’ve ridden into a trail and calmly said to myself ‘that was way too fast’, but the Giga just grips, turns and ensures I remain in control. I don’t know what the trick is – perhaps the Giga actually reads my mind, but I have genuinely never felt this calm while riding so fast!

It’s not all down to the great suspension, geometry and frame, because Nukeproof has also given the Giga a great specification. The Michelin tyres are epic – they’re pretty narrow (just how I like them), but plenty spiky, so they not only dig into the earth, but also spin along pretty well too. Our test Giga is fitted with Fox suspension front and rear including the impressive 38 upfront, which simply cannot be faulted; the same can be said about the DT Swiss wheels, Nukeproof build kit and Shimano SLX drivetrain. In fact the only issue I ran into while testing the Giga was with the front SLX brake, I’m not sure how Shimano hasn’t solved this issue yet, but I’ve found SLX and XT brakes still suffer from the dreaded variable bite point problem – a real shame as the SLX four pots are more than powerful enough for most conditions


The Giga is a lot of bike, but it rides so well it never really felt like too much bike on my local trails. For sure it’s not meant for groomed trail centres, but if you have some half-decent local trails then there’s no reason not to consider the Giga. Climbing is simply incredible, thanks to that sorted geometry and suspension, and when pointed down, well the Giga is right up there in my top big travel bikes.

Nukeproof has managed to dial in the geometry and suspension and equip the Giga with parts that just let you get on with enjoying the ride. The only thoughts that go through my mind while riding the Giga are ‘I don’t usually get through there so fast’, ‘holy crap was that a shralp’ and ‘this is probably the best climbing 170mm travel bike I’ve ridden so far’…

Frame: Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon, 170mm
Fork: Fox 38 Performance Elite, Grip 2, 180mm
Shock: Fox Float X2 Performance, EVOL, 2 Position
Hubs: DT Swiss
Rims: DT Swiss E1900
Tyres: Michelin Wild Enduro 28 x 2.4 Gum X Front / Michelin Wild Enduro 29 x 2.4 Gum X Rear
Chainset: Shimano SLX M1700 12-speed, 170mm, 30T
Rear mech: Shimano SLX M1700 12-speed
Shifters: Shimano SLX M1700 12-speed
Cassette: Shimano SLX M1700 12-speed
Brakes: Shimano SLX M7120 4 piston
Stem: Nukeproof Horizon 50mm
Bars: Nukeproof Horizon V2 25mm rise, 800mm
Grips: Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature
Seatpost: Brand-X Ascend 170mm, Shimano lever
Saddle: Nukeproof Horizon Enduro
Size tested: Medium
Sizes available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Weight: As Tested 15.2kg/33.4lbs

Andi is a gadget guru and mountain biker who has lived and ridden bikes in China and Spain before settling down in the Peak District to become Singletrack's social media expert. He is definitely more big travel fun than XC sufferer but his bike collection does include some rare hardtails - He's a collector and curator as well as a rider. Theory and practice in perfect balance with his inner chi, or something. As well as living life based on what he last read in a fortune cookie Andi likes nothing better than riding big travel bikes.

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  • Nukeproof Giga Carbon 290 Elite review
  • sharkattack
    Full Member

    I’d like to ride one of these back to back with a Specialized Enduro but both bikes are rarer than Bigfoot for the foreseeable future.

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