Nukeproof's remodelled Mega AM was one of our favourite enduro bikes of last year. For 2014 it gets the season's must-have mid-sized 650b wheels, with slightly altered geometry to suit.
The result is an even faster, smoother and more controlled version of the super surefooted, swaggeringly confident Mega we already loved.
Frame and equipment: nothing to hold you back
If you're looking for smooth and subtle sculpting, the Mega isn't for you. The squared-off tubes are joined with flanged keystone sections for maximum weld area at the dropouts, chainstay bridge and linkage mount, and the bottom bracket and lower pivot block is seam welded for maximum strength.
A continuous-outer-cable gear line and hoses for the stealth-routed dropper post and rear brake are clamped to the top side of the down tube for protection, and the lower bolts can also take a water bottle. The result of all this is a serious chunk of metal with weight to match, but it's strong and carves corners like a plough.
RockShox' Pike fork and Reverb seatpost are the ultimate enduro double act and there's nothing in the rest of the kitlist to make you back off. The chain is kept on the downhill-strength Truvativ Descendant cranks with an MRP/SRAM X0 guide and a clutch-equipped rear mech. There's plenty of power in the Avid brakes, and Nukeproof's 650b Generator wheels seem as tough as their proven smaller siblings so far.
Ride and handling: what you see is what you get
The Mega AM's intentions couldn't be more obvious from the start. It pedals well considering the weight – especially if you flick on some compression damping via the lever on the RockShox shock – but the stubby stem, wide bar and slack-angled fork are all about descending with maximum confidence.
While the axle path might be a simple arc, the long-stroke piggyback shock operates at a lower ratio than most competitors. This gives it more oil movement to absorb each hit with and less explosive pressures for the twin-speed rebound to control.
The bigger wheels reduce the effective angle of tyre contact enough that the bike hangs up noticeably less on flat-faced hits than before, and the longer contact patch boosts grip.
The switch to 650b has lowered the bike's centre of gravity too – more of its weight now sits below hub height, and this lets you take serious liberties with the chunky side knobs of the Maxxis rubber.
It's properly rule-bending when it comes to how much speed and how low a lean angle you can take into a corner and still expect to come out rubber side down.