If you are not having fun on your bike then something’s wrong, either with you or with your bike. If it is you, go buy a football or some golf clubs and forget it ever happened, but if it’s your bike, then all is not lost and such matters can be easily fixed. By easily I mean by finding the right bike for you personally; one than befits your needs, where you ride and more importantly, how you ride. Today’s bicycle market has never been so good. So many great bikes and products separated by nothing more than defining the needs of the individual end user and if that end user wants to have fun, well, this will be a bike you’ll want to know about…
The Nukeproof Mega is a bike designed to let you explore and have fun on the way and one that could be just what you are looking for. With a combination of aggressive geometry and an unpretentious robustness which has become uniquely very in keeping with the brand, the Mega has literally put a smile on my face for nearly a year now. So, it’s that time again and I’ve got to sum this bicycle up in words and pictures and hopefully convey to you, our loyal reader, all about this fun loving bicycle.
The heart of the Mega revolves around this one piece machined component called the ‘Erosion Link’ – this pushes the Rock Shox Monarch RT3 through it’s 150mm of travel. Over-sized bearings keep everything running smoothly and the Monarch’s Solo Air spring, controlled with a single valve supporting both the negative and positive air chambers does a good job of soaking up the bumps. A firm favourite here at FJ, the Monarch RT3 offers three stages of floodgate compression; 1 being for climbing, 2 for singletrack (and rhythm sections) and 3 for descending or on rough terrain.
The frame is exceptionally well finished considering the price and smothered in well thought out features, which only adds fuel to the fire that this bike was designed by someone who not only knows what they are doing, but also what the consumer wants too. From the cable guides to the tapered steerer ready, 44mm headtube and all the way to the 12mm DT Swiss RWS axle – the Mega is ready for action…
The Mega is reassuringly ‘built’ and in all the right places, especially the swingarm – the CNC’d rear dropouts support a 12 x 135mm hub and when bolted up to a solid rear wheel, make for a stiff rear that’s ready to be pushed hard into corners. The rear dropout does however lack any supporting ledges for the hub to sit in, so installation can be fiddly until you get the hang of it. The DT Swiss axle also came loose on several occasions and became one of those things to check regularly.
The frame is manufactured from 6061 double welded aluminium and very neatly welded I might add too – the whole frame has a very well put together feel that only inspires confidence out on the trail. The BB assembly, like the erosion link, is made from a single piece of material; super stuff and ready to go. The Mega is also ISCG 05 ready…
The Mega’s main attributes are a long wheel base, short top tube, slack head angle, steep seat tube and with a low BB. What this equates to is a bike that favours fast descents and offering great stability and control with a saddle position that will allow you to ascend back to the top to do it all over again.
If you start to play the numbers game against other AM specific bikes, in this case we’ll compare the Mega to the Specialized Enduro, which I feel is a comparable bike along similar lines, you’ve got 14.3mm less in the reach, 20.5mm more in the chainstay, 11mm more in the overall wheel base and a BB which sits 3.28mm below. These numbers suggest a nod towards the kind of riding you have in high Alpine areas and it’s no surprise that this bike shares the name of one of the most iconic events that takes place in such an environment; the Mega Avalanche.
Being a long term test bike, the Mega spec has changed over the year and it doesn’t look like it does in the picture here when it came time to write this review. Be that as it may, I thought it prudent to include a spec list of what was on the bike when we did the photo shoot and include links to the various individual product reviews – so if you want to know our thoughts on Burgtec pedals, Renthal Bars or WTB tyres, just click the links…
Bike Build Spec:
|Frame||2012 Nukeproof Mega, Size Medium, Black|
|Forks||Rock Shox Lyrik Coil DH, 170mm Travel|
|Shock||Rock Shox Monarch RT3|
|Stem||Renthal Duo, 50mm|
|Bars||Renthal FatBars, 20mm Rise x 750mm Wide|
|Grips||Odi Longneck ST|
|Saddle||Charge Bikes Spoon|
|Post||Rock Shox Reverb|
|Brakes||Avid Elixir 9|
|Rear Mech||Sram X7, Short Cage|
|Chain||Sram PG1031 10 Speed|
|Cassette||Sram PG1070 12-36 10 Speed|
|Chainset||Truvativ Stylo, 175mm|
|Chainring||Renthal SR4, 34, 35 & 36T|
|Pedals||Burgtec Penthouse Mk III Flats|
|Wheels||Hope Pro II on Mavic EN721|
|Tyres||WTB Bronson TCS 2.3|
Out on the Trails.
By the time the Mega arrived, the old ‘long term’ trail bike had long since departed and the last DH test bike was on its way, so my needs from my one and only bike pretty much dictated the Mega’s build and the approach I took towards where we went and the kind of riding I was planning on doing. As far as classifying a bike goes, the Mega is on the edge of the trail bike spectrum and certainly belongs within the confines of what you would class as an ‘All Mountain’ rig. It’s not about travel, but about numbers and the Mega’s add up to a bike that will to let you get to the top under steam and descend the other side like your on rails.
Although the long stays and wheel-base aren’t what you’d want for a snappy, playful bike, the short reach does allow the front end to be raised and put where you want with relative ease. Manualing through dips and compressions wasn’t as easy as it is on some bikes, but like most things, getting a feel for what you’re riding and adapting your technique to it, is always the way.
This is where the Mega comes into it’s own and certainly where it’s popularity as a gravity enduro bike stems from. The long wheel base offers up a good degree of DH bike stability and the faster you go, the better it gets. The slack head angle, which is about 65 degrees with the 170mm Lyriks, is only a degree off what’s considered an industry standard for DH bikes and it certainly helped control the Mega when things got a little hairy.
Choosing coil sprung forks with 20mm more travel than the air sprung rear was a remedy for an unbalanced bike. If I was to spend more time on the bike or to build it again, I would certainly have gone no further than 10mm past what the Monarch is spitting out in the rear and probably for an air sprung unit too. I would even go as far to get the shock professionally tuned as there’s definitely room for improvement with the supplied RT3, which although a great shock, did feel somewhat challenged on repeated square edge hits and from what I’ve heard, Nukeproof have been worked closely with Sram on delivering a better tune on next year’s shock.
Although I’d jeopardised the balance of the build with the forks, the Mega was easy to point, shoot and smash through and over the rough stuff. Although not terribly agile from the flat, the Mega’s nature and angles make it very poppy when confronted with anything you could consider a jump or prospective lip. The sturdy manufacturing behind the Mega also increased my confidence to push hard on challenging and fast terrain.
Climbing and Singletrack.
It’s when you ride the kind of terrain where a hardtail would cut it, that you begin to realise that the Mega is a party animal and not a run of the mill trail centre regular. But that’s also exactly what it is and perhaps by default. Any bike designed these days with the ability to bolt a front derailleur and indeed, with geometry such as a 75 degree seat-tube and cable routing for a dropper post, means that it can go up as well as down. The only issue with such bikes is their bias for one or the other. The Mega, like I’ve mentioned, is a ticket to ride and what I really mean, is that it can take you to those far flung parts of the forest where the jumps and rad descents are and it can also get you back again. But it’s the fun stuff where the Mega is in its element and everything else is just removing the need for an uplift.
Climbing on 150mm travel bikes with 1 x 10 transmissions and carrying a few extra pounds to let you hang it out when required, is all about technique or just ignoring the fact that you should probably have installed a 2 x 10 system. With a 34 tooth on the front and 36 on the back, you are going to have the best balance between not blowing up on the climbs and not spinning out on the descents… I tried a 35 and a 36 tooth as well, but the 34 was as good as it got and still not quite there. Although off topic here, these bikes are about compromise and if you want a bike that won’t throw its chain as much as it won’t suck shredding downhills and whizzing over jumps, you have to make some decisions…
The 75 degree uninterrupted seat tube does help put your weight where it needs to be when ascending on a bike like the Mega and as much as climbing sucks, the pay off over the brow will be worth it, trust me! Running a dropper post is a must on a bike like this and without one, you’ll be frustrated with interrupting your flow to lower your and raise your saddle. Routing for the post isn’t the best and I tried a few differing routes, settling on a pretty standard set up with a loop by the seat-tube.
Rolling singletrack and the man made trail centre style terrain wasn’t the blast I’d hoped for on the Mega, but it was something I could happily put up with, knowing that when I got to the top of a climb, what lay before me was nothing more than options for having fun. The Mega can get you up there, just don’t expect to be challenging your 140mm/ carbon/ 29er mates – you get to smoke them on the other side though, so you need to know where you want ‘your’ bias to be.
The Fun Stuff…
A low BB coupled with a slack head angle and 150mm of travel is exactly what you need to extract some wild times from the trail below and the Mega doesn’t disappoint. The layout only aids the bikes ability to be pointed where you want it to go and it certainly liked where ever I pointed it providing it wasn’t up! The stand-over is excellent, especially for a pretty traditional frame design and it certainly allowed me to put my weight where it needed to be without any cause for concern. Even with a low main pivot and BB, the linkage and shock’s position in the frame gives the Mega great poise through corners, letting you unweight the rear and flick it under braking where you want it to go while accelerating or popping out of berms was nothing more than what this bike was destined for when it was still on the drawing table.
The Mega is a capable flier in the right hands and certainly robust enough to help out those who are less than capable.
If we start by looking at some negatives, I can round off with the positives and you can walk away knowing this bike is awesome, but not perfect, but then what bike is? To start with, my biggest gripe with the Mega is the sizing. Coming in around 10-15mm shorter in the top tube than the average bike for its size and category, you might find it’s either spot on or a tad small. For me, it was a touch too small and merely jumping to the size above or running a longer stem would have alleviated some of the issues I had from prolonged periods riding, but it goes without saying that cross referencing geometry charts should be where you start looking with a new bike on the horizon.
Another thing that might not be an issue in the grand scheme of things, at least for some of you, is that the Mega has quite a few attributes that come from its connection to the Mega Avalanche, and in doing so, may also be negative attribute to the scenario most of us find ourselves in on a Sunday. The long wheel base offers you fantastic stability at high speeds, but on rolling, technical singletrack and twisty trails, you’ll have to adapt your technique to compensate. But this is also a quintessential gravity enduro bike and not a trail centre wonder. What does stand out, is that for all its DH prowess, you can still jump on the Mega and watch the miles go by. As much as the Mega wants to mix it up on the gnarlier side of the hill, it still has the ability to get you there too - if you’ve got the legs to take you there.
One of the best things about this genre of bike is that they do instill a sort of mini DH bike feel to them – the head angle, the travel and the fact you can throw them around, but the connection you have with a bike like the Mega, even after a few hours in the saddle is pretty special and upon meeting something technical or challenging, you feel ready to hit it, it’s that simple. Writing this review, it’s hard not to be distracted by what the Mega represents as much as how good it rides, but are these one and the same?
As well as being solid, the Mega is also pretty heavy – this build was just over 33lbs (same as 2013 Meta SX) and with top end complete builds from Nukeproof specced with air sprung Lyriks and a full Sram X0 livery coming in just over the 30lb mark, you can build one up at a reasonable weight.
It also has to be said that the matte black finish and 3M adhesive graphics give the Mega an air of menace that I really like.
Seeing how I’ve used the word ‘fun’ quite a lot in this review, it goes without saying that this is mostly what I’ve been having on this bike. It might make you think you are on the wrong bike on steep climbs or on painfully tight trails and you are, but if you like to go fast, hit jumps and generally behave like a lunatic in an XC helmet, then the Mega should be on your list. It exudes confidence and it possesses the ability to let you have one bike that can do it all. It is because of this that bikes like the Mega are also like coffin nails for DH bikes away from summer visits to those high Alpine retreats frustrated Brits go for their yearly gravity fix. With a retail price of around £800, the Monarch RT3 equipped Nukeproof Mega is a real ticket to ride.
Nukeproof is distributed worldwide by Hotlines – for everything Nukeproof and beyond, hit the link below and get your leg over one before you buy another boring bike…