Thanks to Sam Hill, Nukeproof is coming into 2018 with an Enduro World Series (EWS) title under its belt and on an all-time high. Clearly the changes it's made to the Mega are working for the experienced Australian. But just how well will they fare for us mere mortals?
- The Nukeproof Mega Pro 275 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
While much of the attention fell on the switch to the use of carbon on the pricier Mega builds, the alloy bikes also get a serious working over. All Megas (using 650b wheels, at least) are now designed around a 170mm / 6.7in travel fork and sport a super slack head angle of 63.9 degrees.
They also get tweaked to accommodate the new metric shock sizing and have had their shock tune altered slightly for improved support, which Nukeproof claims will work with both air or coil shocks should you wish to switch things up a bit.
Chainstays remain 435mm across all sizes and bottom bracket drop is unchanged at 10mm.
Axle spacing at the back grows to 148mm and all frames are now single ring only, allowing the main pivot to be broadened slightly to improve stiffness.
Frame sizing doesn't alter for the size small and medium bikes, but the large and extra-large bikes grow significantly, with the large now sporting a reach of 470mm which is 10mm more than the 2017 bike. That means the medium carries over the 435mm reach, which by today's standards is at the shorter end of the spectrum.
While the 458mm seat tube on the large means folk looking for a little extra room to play with could upsize from a medium to large — even though the 35mm jump in reach is significant — seat post travel may limit this, as the large only comes with a 170mm travel post.
The alloy Mega gets an external bottom bracket and external cable routing (with the exception of the dropper post cable/hose).
Nukeproof Mega Pro 275 kit
We moaned and Nukeproof listened. All Megas (that includes the cheapest in the line-up) are now shod with Maxxis tyres complete with their tough Double Down casing to help stave off flat tyres.
With tyres being such a critical aspect of any bike build, I'm so pleased to see some of my favourites in place here, with a casing and compound that'll handle just about any trail going.
Damping is taking care of by RockShox, where the Lyrik RC fork and Super Deluxe RC3 shock create a seriously formidable pairing. SRAM also provides the wide range GX Eagle 1x12 transmission and the incredibly potent Guide RE brakes.
Finishing kit comes from Nukeproof for the most part, and I'm a big fan of the natural feeling 800mm Horizon bar, though I did trim it down to 760mm to suit.
Nukeproof Mega Pro 275 ride impressions
I'll start with the sizing. While the medium frame was comfortable to ride for me at 5ft 8in, it does feel like it could grow a little in terms of reach when compared to its counterparts just to up its high-speed stability further.
The effective top tube length of 585mm and steep 75.5-degree seat angle also mean you feel quite upright on the bike when climbing sat down too, so you'd not want to go shorter than the 50mm stem that comes as standard. You'll also want to reach for that compression lever on the shock to firm things up when ascending because there's some bob from the suspension when grinding up climbs.
The playfulness and fun the Mega can generate when pointed downhill does help to put these issues to one side though.
The light Mavic wheels spin up to speed quickly and power delivery through the frame feels direct and responsive. As soon as you dive into the first section of rough trail the feel through the suspension simply encourages you to ride as hard as you can. There's a great balance front to rear which adds an air of calmness, even when things look set to get really wild.
At the rear, with a single volume spacer added, I felt I had enough progression to ward off any nasty bottom outs on the bigger hits and plenty of support when loading the bike through turns, where the Mega exits eagerly and at pace. Thread the Pro into a tight, twisty technical section of trail and it'll navigate it with ease.
Up front, the Lyrik is a monster of a fork. Again, I ended up adding a single Bottomless Token to prevent any harsh bottom outs. When the trail got rocky and rooty, I was constantly impressed by the composure, comfort and support that the fork delivered, keeping the front wheel on the line and saving my hands from a total battering.
My only real issue with the spec comes courtesy of the Mavic wheels which although light,were twangy and less precise in high load situations. They're quite narrow too (25mm internal), making the 2.3in High Roller IIs feel quite skinny when compared to the broader rimmed, wider tyre competition.
Luckily though, as the tyres feature Double Down casings, you can run pressures a touch lower than usual and not worry about flatting every time you steam roller through sections of boulder or case landings.
Thanks to the incredibly punchy Guide RE brakes, slowing down was never an issue, even after flat out, brake dragging chutes when caked in rain and mud. There's more than enough power on tap for just about any situation and it's easy to control too.
Overall, I always came away from riding the Mega impressed with just how solid the frame felt and how capable and comfortable the suspension was, even after long days on gruelling rough trails. Okay, the sizing in the medium won't suit everyone and the wheels don't feel like the do the bike justice, but there's no getting away from the balance and confidence this bike can generate.
- BikeRadar would like to thank Life Cycle Adventures, Sanremo Bike Resort, MET Helmets, Bluegrass Eagle Protection, Mercedes Benz and Brittany Ferries for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.
If you're in the market for a new enduro bike, long travel trail bike or all-mountain bike, check out our reviews of those we've thoroughly tried and tested.