Nukeproof Mega 290 | First Ride
August 29th, 2016
Nukeproof Mega 290 – custom build
Although I’ve loved my time on the Mondraker #frankenbike, based on previous experience I chose to swap bikes for my New Zealand adventure – to the Nukeproof Mega 290.
It was a bit of an effort to pull the build together in my last week in the UK, but it it’s worked out a treat – check it out…
With 29ers making a strong comeback – rightly so in my opinion – the progressive Nukeproof Mega 290 seemed like the perfect option to me.
Not only is the design very effective, but it’s great value too – you can get a frameset delivered to your door for £1349. Pretty reasonable when you consider plenty of aluminium frames can fetch well over £2000.
For me though, it’s in the angles that the Nukeproof Mega 290 shines.
The real dilemma with 29ers is that the biking industry has made us believe we all need super short chain stays and that niners can’t have slack head angles. Nukeproof prove that theory wrong with the 290 – the chain stays are 450mm long and the head angle is 66 degrees with a 150mm fork.
Due to the Mega having a half decent reach figure (460 on our large test frame), they can afford to keep the seat angle on the steeper side (75.5deg) which achieves an effective top tube that is closer in length to the reach.
What this means in practice is that the Nukeproof Mega 290 climbs superbly, with those longer chain stays further aiding its upwards prowess on technical sections, due to less of a desire to pivot around the bottom bracket. I’m only 5ft 7″ and I’m on a large (I prefer to size up) and the nice low standover and average length seat tube means the 150mm drop Fox Transfer post still fits perfectly.
Now admittedly, I’m running a 160mm fork and I’ve also fitted a 1 degree Cane Creek angleset which means the head angle now sits just above 64 degrees. What does that mean on the trails?
Well, it feels sluggish in the car park and the front wheel flip flops slightly at snails pace however, pedal out the car park and the 290 becomes an absolute beast. Remember, a slack head angle has no negative effects on a bikes ability to climb. Seat angle; front centre length and chain stays have far more of an impact which in the Nukeproof’s case, are almost bob on for going up. What it also means is it rips down. The faster you go, the more the 290 starts to boil – stability by the absolute bucket load and pin-point line holding accuracy of a bullet.
The rear suspension action is super active, meaning traction is on tap up or down without any fuss whatsoever. If anything, mid-to-end stroke support is slightly lacking. That said, a decent sized volume reducer fitted to our Fox Float X shock and a slightly higher pressure than normal and all can be forgiven. The only other slightly disappointing factor is that certain shocks (like our Fox Float X) can’t fit in the way we’d like it to due to the angle of the front shock bridge not allowing the eyelets to align. It’s no biggie in terms of functionality, just more of an aesthetic observation.
So, does the 1260mm wheelbase, slack head angle and longer-than-average length chain stays mean it struggles in the tight stuff? Sure, its not as flickable as lets say a Specialized Enduro, or an Evil The Following but – and this is a big but – in my opinion it does everything else far better. A slight change of riding style and more weight proportioned to the front wheel and all of the minor drawbacks can be all but forgotten.
Nukeproof have created something very very special with the 290 – a competent climbing, huck loving, hyper speed craving weapon of a bike, and all packaged in a top value offering. Now – can I have it in extra long please?
Keep an eye out for more reviews on the 290 as Adam smashes out some more miles and gets stuck into some big backcountry missions and racing in New Zealand – summer is coming and we have plenty of killer content coming from down under!