This review is part of the Bike Test feature ‘Hard Tails for Trails’ from Issue 137 of Singletrack Magazine.
- Price: £2,449.99
- From: Nukeproof
Editors’ Choice 2021
This product features in our Singletrackworld Editors’ Choice 2021 round-up.
Hannah: “Why has an alloy hardtail turned my head this year? Not something steel and niche, or an in-another-world on-another-pay-grade carbon fantasy bike? Well, it’s the way it makes me forget that I’m on an alloy hardtail. As I clatter down trails hopping from rock to rock, or dropping in down steep chutes and off rutted steps, I chase friends who are riding the kinds of bikes I think I’m riding: steel and carbon full suspension bikes, beasts with shocks and travel and a few thousand pounds more in technology and maintenance needs. Easing up and cruising along, breath coming in clouds of warmth, heart pumping, there’s an added glow of satisfaction as I sit up and remember that I’m ‘only’ on a hardtail. This lightweight and agile 140mm 29er has got me up and over endless hills on cross-country slogs, as well as down many a fun descent. It goes where I want it to go, forgives just enough errors to instil confidence, but retains enough feel to make for an engaging ride. It’s a bike I want to ride until I reach the ragged edge of my skill set, back off just a little, recover, then go again.”
Nukeproof Scout 290 Pro review
The Nukeproof Scout has been a permanent fixture of the Nukeproof range for a few years now, and for 2021 the playful aluminium hardtail has received a few updates. As many hardtail riders already know, aluminium, in this case, triple-butted 6061 tubing, is great for building lightweight and stiff frames, but if not careful it can return a less than compliant ride. One of the main updates for the new Scout is in the chainstay assembly. Nukeproof’s engineers have changed the profile to provide a smoother ride without affecting torsional stiffness; at the same time the frame clearance has been increased and the new Scout is wide enough to accommodate 2.5in tyres (2.8in if you want to run 27.5+ wheels on your Scout 290) for even more comfort.
Of course, the 2021 Scout also benefits from a longer reach and slacker front end, as most bikes released this year do, but the numbers aren’t way out there, meaning the simple hardtail remains agile and lively. Nukeproof, very helpfully, lists the geometry of the Scout both as static and at sag. For a hardtail this is very important as the geometry does shift when the fork is compressed, meaning a bike with a slack static seat tube angle actually rides with a slightly steeper one. In this case, our medium-sized frame has a reach of 441mm, head angle of 66.5° and a seat tube angle of 74.5° based on the stock 140mm fork with 25% sag, but if you were to run 30% you’ll get an even steeper angle and slightly longer reach. Attached to the frame we get a host of great parts, hardly surprising as this pro spec Scout costs £2,500. The fork is a real highlight, being a burly Lyrik Select with 140mm of travel – you really couldn’t want for anything else on a hardcore hardtail. The drivetrain is built up from 12-speed SLX kit. Brakes are four-piston SLX, wheels from DT Swiss, while the rest of the kit is from Nukeproof’s own in-house brand. In the past, running own-brand kit was seen as a cost-effective way of building up a bike, but the Nukeproof kit constantly impresses and is highly regarded as high-quality aftermarket components. The quality of the build kit along with the beautifully polished frame makes for a stunning-looking hardtail that grabs the attention whenever it hits the trail.
Before we move on to the ride of the bike, we want to point out the excellent tyre choice on the Scout Pro. We were really happy to see an Assegai and Dissector fitted to the DT Swiss hoops, it is a much better and higher-performing combo than the usual DHF/DHR mix we generally see, especially for UK riding that can often be muddy. It may not seem much, but as a pair of tyres can easily cost over £100 it was great to see that the Scout Pro has decent rubber out of the box.
Andi says… I ride a lot of bikes through the year, and most of them are generally longer than the Scout Pro, but I wanted the bike to feel as playful and fun as possible while remaining comfortable for long days. For me, the medium-sized bike meant tons of smiles in Grenoside and Wharncliffe, and a good position for longer rides, though if my intention was to cover more ground and be less rowdy, a large would fit the bill. From the very first ride, the Scout felt dialled. The frame is playful and snappy and eager to pump or jump on smooth sculptured trails as you find at Grenoside and Lady Cannings. The agile handling and generous standover makes lifting and manoeuvring the Scout around a breeze. This is great for when you suddenly come across an unexpected trail feature or for when you and your riding mates want to session a jump/gap/drop or just skid through a pile of leaves.
At 440mm, the chainstays of the Scout are slightly longer than similar bikes, but this helps with the feeling of stability on the bike, which boosts confidence in the air and when committing to gaps and drops. Shorter chainstays can help when lifting the front wheel, for manuals or wheelies, but get too short and the ride can feel a little unbalanced. It’s easy to stay centred on the Scout, even with its relatively short reach, and all those characteristics that make it a riot on groomed trails translate very well on natural, steep terrain.
Ripping around Wharncliffe I was stunned at how capable this hardcore hardtail can be. The combination of sorted geometry, components, a top-notch fork and quality tyres really do add up to a fun-filled ride. With a little commitment, easy when a bike feels like the Scout Pro, trails can be dispatched with ease. There was one particular loose and steep track that I hit during our photo shoot that had me giggling all the way down the trail, even now I can’t believe how confident and fast I felt on the Scout.
The Assegai and Dissector tyre combo helps a lot when the going gets tough, but the changes Nukeproof has made to the chainstays to improve compliance really do seem to work. Whereas some aluminium frames feel very taut and can lead to fatigue on rough terrain, the Scout is considerably more comfortable. It’s not the same level of compliance a quality steel frame offers, but it’s plenty to tame choppy terrain.
That confidence, and the larger 29er wheels, also means that this hard-hitting hardtail is a joy to ride for hours on end. The relatively low weight, fast-rolling tyres are a pleasure on longer distance stints, and while it won’t offer the comfort or grip of a full-suspension bike, it does serve up plenty of smiles.
Hannah says… Having bought my youngest child a Cub Scout earlier this year – the kids’ version of the Scout – I’m now thinking I’ve made a terrible mistake. On the assumption that the Cub is even half as good as the Scout, I’ve probably ruined him forever, by starting him off with a really great bike – either that or I’ve created a future loyal customer for Nukeproof. One day he’ll be big enough for the Scout – I just hope by then he’s got a paper round.
The fit of the Scout for me is spot on, and I really don’t think I’d change anything about this bike beyond the saddle and grips. All the components are as good as you could want for, with no feeling of compromise anywhere. It feels great to just ride along and I’ve been happy to get some moorland miles in on this. Wriggling along the kind of narrow singletrack trails you get around my way, where a rut or a rock mean you have to have balance and time your moves just to maintain momentum, the bike lets you shift between seated and standing, picking your way between slow tech obstacles.
Heading downhill and picking up speed, this Scout really made me feel like a better rider. It induced that wonderful sensation that the bars are a mere resting place for hands, and I’m actually steering with my feet and shoulders. I chased down techy descents, front end staying on track while the back end seemed to do just what my feet and body had planned for it. It felt confident in corners, encouraging me to lean over and take them at speed. I am not a ‘body English’ kind of rider, as any riding shot of me will show, but the Scout had me feeling fluid and ‘at one’ with the bike, pushing myself to speeds and lines I’d normally save for full suspension. I’m sure the designers would say it’s science, but I half think there might be some witchcraft involved in the making of this bike – I’m not quite sure how else to explain the apparent skill and speed boost that comes to me when riding this bike.
Thankfully my son thinks it’s funny rather than deeply uncool that we’ve been riding around on matching his and hers/mum and son bikes. Sadly, he gets to keep his Nukeproof and I have to hand this test bike back… but maybe not just yet… please?
The Nukeproof Scout Pro is an amazingly capable and fun bike. It comes with the best spec of any of the hardtails on test here – and not just the best, but the best thought-out. You might think we’re banging on about the tyre choice, but it’s important – getting the right rubber on a bike can make a good bike so much better – and as hardtails are often bought for winter riding, the Assegai upfront is a real plus. But then again, this build should be impressive – at the same price as an entry-level full-suspension bike, the Scout Pro isn’t cheap – but if your trails don’t require full-bounce and you’re after maximum smiles, the Scout Pro would be sitting firmly at the top of our wish list.
Nukeproof Scout 290 Pro Specification
- Fork RockShox Lyrik Select Charger RC 140mm
- Hubs DT Swiss
- Rims DT Swiss M 1900 SPLINE 29in
- Tyres Front: Maxxis Assegai 29in x 2.5in, Maxx Terra, EXO, TR Rear: Maxxis Dissector 29in x 2.5in, Maxx Terra EXO+, TR
- Chainset Shimano SLX
- Rear Mech Shimano SLX 12-speed
- Shifters Shimano SLX 12-speed
- Cassette Shimano SLX 12-speed 10-51T
- Brakes Shimano SLX M7120 4-Piston
- Stem Nukeproof Horizon, 50mm
- Bars Nukeproof Horizon V2
- Grips Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature
- Seatpost Brand X Ascend 150mm
- Saddle Nukeproof Horizon SL
- Size Tested M
- Sizes Available S, M, L, XL
- Weight 12.9kg/28.5lbs
|Scout 290 Pro
|by Hannah and Andi for