The Scalp has been Nukeproof’s flagship downhill sled for the last couple of years, and riders such as Matt Simmonds and Matti Lehikoinen have piloted them to top 20 World Cup finishes.
This year, it’s been knocked off its top-of-the-range spot by Nukeproof’s new Pulse. The Scalp frame is now being marketed in the entry-level price bracket, with a spec to match.
Ride & handling: Comfortable, race-ready geometry
Thanks to the sensible springs supplied rates we could get straight out on the hill on the Scalp. The 560mm top tube on our medium sized test bike felt a little short, but not so short that we couldn’t move around, and distributing weight correctly was still relatively easy.
The Domain R fork struggles because of the lack of compression damping. We experimented with a heavier spring to try to compensate, which helped the fork to sit up in its travel, but didn’t help small bump sensitivity or front-end grip when riding steep stuff. It’s a trade-off, but we found the harder spring to be better in most conditions.
The Kage RC shock performs well for a budget model, and didn’t need any adjustment when it came to riding different styles of track. We found it best to run it with the compression dial at a minimum, leaving the medium compression tune in the shock to do the work. The 450lb spring worked well for our 12st test rider, sitting into the travel nicely, not bobbing too much when pedalling and giving predictable performance in big, hard compressions too.
We measured the head angle on our test bike at 64 degrees – one degree steeper than quoted – and it felt responsive and stable. The 760mm width Nukeproof bar is comfortable and its 20mm rise puts the front end at a good height, perfecting weight distribution on the bike in an attacking position with a good amount of weight and pressure on the front wheel, and helping to keep it stuck to the floor when it needs to be.
The 445mm chainstay length feels shorter than it is – it’s easy to get the front wheel up. With both wheels off the ground, the Nukeproof is easy to handle and totally predictable, although when it comes to really throwing it around and laying it over, you can feel its 40lb weight come into play – something that isn’t very noticeable the rest of the time. The Kage shock gives the bike a lively characteristic and helps it to ride light.
When we rode into steep, sharp turns, the 47in wheelbase didn’t feel unmanageably long, and when squaring into catch berms the rear end is virtually flex free, which allows that slide to catch, so you bounce out with a smile on your face.
The 350mm bottom bracket height feels just right. It allows enough ground clearance to let you get the essential crank out of any awkward corners, while still letting you hit flat turns with confidence. Thanks to the stiffness of the rear end and the Maxxis High Roller 2 tyres, when you do start to slide it’s extremely predictable.
Frame & equipment: A mix of good and bad
Even though the World Cup proven frame has been sidelined to the ‘budget’ range, Nukeproof have still pushed to develop the Scale frameset. For 2013, the frame has a revised shock support brace and a new gusset at the top tube/head tube junction.
The 6061 T6 aluminium frame is available in three sizes, although coming up slightly short in terms of top tube length. A 1.5in head tube houses a zero-stack headset inside, while the 83mm width bottom bracket shell and the 12x150mm rear end are what we’ve come to expect on downhill steeds.
The 209mm (8.2in) of rear wheel travel is achieved through a single-pivot, linkage-actuated system, with the main pivot rotating on huge 40mm diameter bearings.
A RockShox Kage RC shock takes care of rear suspension, and comes supplied with a sensible spring for the size of the bike. The budget RockShox Domain R fork has adjustable rebound, but lacks any compression adjustment or damping.
SRAM’s X7 10-speed short cage mech and X5 shifter takes care of gear changes across the 11-26T block, and there’s a 36T chainring to push the gear. Avid Elixir 3 brakes provide plenty of power through their 200mm rotors.
Nukeproof’s top notch own-brand kit makes up the rest of the bike – grips, stem, bars, seatpost, saddle, headset, and even wheelset. The Generator rims are shod with Super Tacky compound Maxxis High Roller 2 tyres – our top all-conditions choice.