The 2012 Mega AM was a great shape, but its frame stiffness and shock tune issues held it back from reaching full potential. Enter the 2013 version with an all-new tubeset, linkage and shock tune.
Nukeproof have done a superb job taking the best bits of last year’s bike and translating them onto a stiffer frame and much smoother suspension to create an absolute bomber of a bike. A dropper post and a clutch rear mech should be on your shopping list, but in terms of black run and big mountain fun, this is now one of the best frames around.
Ride & handling: Surefooted and accurate-tracking; suspension produces a ﬂowing yet supportive ride
If you want a bike with real swagger, you’ve certainly come to the right place with the Mega. The seat angle is slackened and the wheelbase is stretched from last year. A longer-stroke shock boosts travel to 160mm.
A new linkage arrangement and fresh tune lets the piggyback shock settle into its travel much easier. The 760mm bar means steering leverage is vast, and you can slam the seat right down to the clamp. The net result is a front wheel way out front on the trail and a serious ‘sat in the bike’ confidence that just shouts ‘Bring it!”
The new tubeset is seriously stiff, from the head tube all the way through to the massive rear dropouts, so you can push the tyres to the limit with totally clear feedback. The gluey-compound front tyre and harder rear mean the Mega naturally hangs on at the front but slides at the rear if you push it into a slide.
The extended wheelbase means massive stability whether you’re letting it fly off the brakes or drifting it through loose or wet corners at silly speeds. It feels slightly tall at first, but we soon got used to just pushing it into corners harder and didn’t worry after the first few corners.
The supple rear shock and leant-back seat tube keep the front end easily liftable for drops and hops, despite the long rear end. Given how much if feels like a full-blown downhill bike in terms of unshakeably surefooted traction, it’s still agile enough to flick, flare and fly off any lip, hip or lump on the trail.
What really blew us away on the Mega is how it flows flawlessly through bouldery, stutter-bump jump-and-pump trails that killed speed on other bikes. It carries on flowing even at rim and tyre threateningly high speeds too, softening the sharpest hits but without giving up full travel unnecessarily, so it stays poised however hard you push it.
The side mounted shock compression lever means it pedals well enough to cope with climbs very well for a heavy bike with a sticky front tyre. The decent cockpit length means easy breathing too, so getting back up top for the next run isn’t as tiring as it could be.
The extra-long wheelbase and rearward weight bias when seated does make it a fight to get round tight climbing turns without straying, though. It takes fast reactions and some unorthodox lines to thread it through tight technical trails or stalling speed boulder sections, and it's definitely a bike designed for warp speed as opposed to walking pace.
With this in mind, the clattery non-clutch rear mech and twin ring chainset seem much less suited to purpose than a totally chain guarded, stiffened mech single-ring setup would be. There is, however, always the option to build it up from a £1,299 frameset, and it’s certainly a superb gravity bike for the local woods or big foreign mountain fun, whichever way you decide to buy it.
Frame & equipment: Design changes have paid off; cockpit, seating and wheels are all really good kit
The frameset is totally new, with angular hydroformed T6-6061 tubes and a 44mm head tube that’ll take up to a 180mm (7in) travel fork. The bottom bracket and main pivot section is forged in two halves and then welded together for stiffness.
All bearing and pivot seats are machined after the frame is built for perfect alignment, solving last year’s stiction problems. You get ISCG and direct front mech mounts, stealth dropper post routing, bottle cage mounts and a 142x12mm rear axle.
Matching the tough new frame are a stout and consistently controlled 170mm (6.7in) travel RockShox Lyrik RC fork, a maximum control cockpit, grip textured seating and Nukeproof’s well-proven Generator wheels with Maxxis High Roller tyres for grip in all weather or trail conditions.
The Avid Elixir 3 brakes use DOT 5.1 fluid and the latest HS1 rotors for mountain heat management. There’s a Prime chain roller but the non-clutch SRAM X7 rear mech means lots of chain slap and the lightweight twin-ring chainset won’t survive drops and jumps forever.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.