Nukeproof Scout 290 Comp review (first ride)

Hard as nails hardtail that's ready to take a caning

Nukeproof’s new 29er hardtail uses the same basic DNA as its 650b little brother. But the brand's designers have learned a few lessons from last year’s smaller-wheeled debut and incorporated them into this wagon-wheeled incarnation.

Purposeful looks and no-nonsense basic build

The almost straight line from seat stay to head tube gives the Scout 290 an immediately purposeful look. The extended seat tube is buttressed, with internal dropper post routing and room for a clamp-on front derailleur.

RockShox' yari fork is a tad cruder than its more famous siblings but tracks very well:
RockShox' yari fork is a tad cruder than its more famous siblings but tracks very well:

RockShox' Yari fork is a tad cruder than its more famous siblings but tracks very well

There are ISCG tabs on the trusty threaded BB shell, a 142x12mm rear axle and a forged chainstay yoke. There’s no small size but the XL takes reach up to a generous 455mm and the 73-degree seat angle is steeper than the Scout 275’s.

SRAM’s ROAM 30 wheels are a bit skinny but they’re light enough to boost acceleration of the otherwise heavyweight spec. This includes ‘Tough’ carcass WTB tyres and a chunky RockShox Yari fork.

The tough vigilante rubber is a smart choice:
The tough vigilante rubber is a smart choice:

The tough Vigilante rubber is a smart choice

SRAM’s GX 1x11 gears are excellent but the solid-armed S1000 cranks and DB5 brakes are basics rather than bonus gear. The Nukeproof cockpit and slow-reacting OKLO dropper post are also heavy but at least mean you’re ready to rage straight away.

A very modern 29er

The Scout 290 is a great example of why 29ers are coming back into favour. It certainly isn’t forgiving over baked braking bumps or rock and root stutter bumps, but it’s a lot more controlled and comfortable than the foot bruising, kick-around ride of last year’s 275. There’s plenty of room for bigger rubber too – potentially even 2.8in ‘plus’ tyres.

It's not the smoothest or most flickable, but the scout carries speed superbly:
It's not the smoothest or most flickable, but the scout carries speed superbly:

It's not the smoothest or most flickable, but the Scout carries speed superbly

The frame also sits lower between the axles of the big wheels, as well as lower to the ground, which increases high-speed stability. The bigger wheels don’t just carry speed better through corners and rough sections, they also breed it better between sections, leaving 650b riders sprinting to keep up even when we were freewheeling.

While its damping can occasionally feel crude, the thick-walled 35mm legs of the Yari give rock-solid tracking accuracy.

The rubber choice wisely trades smoothness and easy acceleration for lower pressure survival and stability. Add the long 440mm chainstays and 1,175mm wheelbase (on the large size), 66-degree head angle, 760mm bar and block 50mm stem, and the Nukeproof is a seriously determined hard carving, speed sustaining bike.

A slack 66-degree head angle helps keep things stable at speed:
A slack 66-degree head angle helps keep things stable at speed:

A slack 66-degree head angle helps keep things stable at speed

You’ll still need some finesse to smooth off the edges of the basic brakes and the blunt feel of the fork and frame, but you’ve hopefully already accepted the latter if you’re considering a hardtail over a full-susser.

The 290’s hefty weight, length and stability make the 275 a better choice for riders who like to flick and kick their way along the trail. But if you’re after a no-nonsense, off the peg hardtail with particularly good speed sustain and stability then the Scout 290 will literally take some beating.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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