Long term test bikes are an important part of the way we test and play with the products that come into Factory Jackson. New components need a home and that home so far this year for DH parts has been the Nukeproof Scalp. A bike that needs no introduction, but after little over a year on the scene has already become the privateer’s bike of choice here in the UK and with distributors popping up in every corner of the globe, the rise of both Nukeproof and the Scalp has only just begun.
Affordable bikes with pedigree and looks have been few and far between, wait, rewind that; non-existent. Why can’t affordable bikes looks good and be desirable? This question has never truly been realised in mountain biking, but Nukeproof have hit the nail on the head here and we are not the only ones thinking this.
Words: Olly Forster
Photos: Nathan Carvell
It’s no wonder the Scalp has proved so popular, with looks and lines that scream dialed geometry and ultimately the ticket to a good day on the hill. We went for the black option, smothered in a mixture of red parts to give it a little depth past just the usual array of black and silver.
Up front we’ve got a full Renthal cockpit finished off with Odi grips, Avid Code brakes and an X0 shifter. The Rock Shox Boxxers have had the J-Tech treatment with thrust bearings and custom internals to match the Cane Creek rear. The Avid Codes were a last minute decision and proved to be a pain to set up needing a lot of time removing stubborn air bubbles, but now there done and bedded in, they are really, really nice. This bike is a lot of fun, but we’ve only just started playing with it…
With a 63-degree head angle, 47.12″ wheelbase and a 14” static BB height (medium size) the Scalp is all about smashing steep and technical trails with a high smile factor. Although slacker and higher than many DH frames on the market, the extra few mil in the BB height does offer you some extra clearance, but with the sag you can run on the Cane Creek, it makes a whole load more sense on the trail. Build weight on this bike isn’t amazing at just under 40lb’s, but with some lighter cranks, a ti spring and light weight parts here and there, it wouldn’t be too hard to get it down to 38lbs or less. Weight aside, the Scalp’s ride characteristic is anything but heavy. Playful, yet planted is my initial reaction when asked about the bike, but it’s still early.
All the graphics on the Scalp and indeed all Nukeproof frames are moto style 3M stickers. This direction definitely goes against the grain of the standardized lacquered over water transfers found on pretty much every other bike out there, which although look great in the show room, can look pretty tired after a few months and if you get bored? Well, come on bike companies, we all like a little customization, we just need the canvas to fully realize it! If time permits, I might look into some custom graphics, so watch this space…
Ask anyone who rides moto what they think about Öhlins suspension products and you’ll get a good reply. Pretty much the best after market MX suspension parts out there and thankfully available to us via Cane Creek. I talked to Jim at J-Tech Suspension prior to getting the bike in and he was all about this shock over the Rock Shox option. After a few rides, all I can say is wow, he was right! We’ll be doing some GoPro stuff in the alps this year to see how the ‘fallout’ linkage works up close and personal!
Dust or mud, rain or shine - I know what I prefer! We went with the burly and super sealed Nukeproof ‘Warhead’ headset. Installation was a pain in the ass due to the size of the cup’s sleeves, but we got there in the end and they ain’t going no where!
Fresh bars! These are the new 30mm rise option and after a year on the Sam Hill inspired 38mm’s, these certainly make for a more realistic option for us mere mortals on your average DH track. Super stiff and when coupled with the Integra stem mean light weight meets strength head on.
I’ve been testing grips like a crazy person over the last few months so expect grip reviews to start dropping soon. These BMX inspired beauties are the Sensus ‘Swayze’s’. Designed by Red Bull Rampage winner Cam Zink and partner in crime Kyle Strait, these are awesome and super tacky! We went with some matching red bar end plugs to finish the red theme off and wired ‘em on there for when the heavens open.
Slight modification on the right hand flange to increase access to the X0 trigger, but the flanges are designed not to infringe on shifter access – MTB specific! But the beauty of push-on grips is it only takes a sharp knife and some inspiration to get customizing your controls.
Flat Pedal Thinder! Another re-occuring theme on FJ test bikes, at least mine anyways. Burgtec Penthouse MkIII flats are expensive, but we live in a world where you get what you pay for and nothing comes close to these bad boys in terms of grip and support. I’ve heard the cheap pedal argument a million times, but how many shit, cheap pedals do you really want to go through before they break mid ride and what about if you’re racing? I really don’t think you can put a price on ruining a day of doing what you love.
Not sure the guys at SDG knew this was going on a DH bike, but here it is. The Duster is out and out trail saddle designed with comfort in mind, but I live in the UK and queue for everything – uplifts, racing and even my turn to rip down the practice track so having something comfy to rest my butt on is paramount. Comfort aside, the main reason I went for this is it’s the best looking saddle on the market, at least I think so. What do you reckon? It’s also proving to be pretty bloody good on the gravity sled too, easy to move around on and yeah, I like it a lot. Review dropping in a week or so…
The drivetrain is a full Sram affair with an X0 shifter and mech pushing a 971 chain on the 970 11-26 DH specific cassette. It’s done the rounds and I know it doesn’t fit in with the general colour scheme, but this green X0 rear mech is still running as sweet as the day I bought it three seasons ago. We are also on the same shifter and cassette too, but the chain has been replaced between bike builds. If it ain’t broke?
We had our Boxxer R2C2′s re-valved and tuned by J-Tech suspension and with the K9 Thrust Bearings still in there from last year, I’ve got some pretty special forks indeed. Looking to get the most from your bike, drop Jim an email and unleash the potential!
Rolling stock! The Hope Hoops are a no-brainer in terms of build quality and spare parts back up, but we are talking to Profile Racing so watch this space for even noisier freewheels…
I’ve been running High Rollers for ten years so I’m very curious as to how these will fair over the coming months. Initial impressions are good, not terribly good on hard pack, but it it’s loose and moist, were talking! Check the bent spoke
So, there we have it. One of our long term builds in all its glory and so far I’m loving it! With a trip to the Alps in a few weeks, I’ll be giving this a good seeing to on some of Europe’s gnarliest tracks so expect a full review late July. If you’ve got any questions of comments, fire ‘em over to our Facebook page. Happy trails!