Since the introduction of the Mega to Nukeproof’s line-up back in 2012, the range has evolved into the 160mm AM and 130mm travel TR. Don’t let the badges or numbers distract you though, as both bikes are 650b wheel-wielding weapons that will happily smash the trails with the best. We got our hands on the cheapest bike in the range, the TR Race, and took it out for a beating.
Frame and equipment: beating the numbers game
A large part of the bike’s 14.5kg (32lb) weight is held in the frame, but there’s a lot more to it than most 130mm travel whippets. ISCG mounts give full chainguide compatibility, while chunky double welds give that burly look and the strength to back it up. All the features you’d expect from an aggressive trail bike are there too, like the 44mm any-steerer head tube and 12x142mm rear axle.
Single pivot hardware is made for durability
It’s when you take a look at the numbers that you get an idea of what the designers were thinking when they put pen to paper for the Mega TR. A 67.5-degree head angle combined with short 440mm chainstays and comfy cockpit length suggests fun times in the woods, and the TR delivers.
Into the hills, the TR’s heft doesn’t get in the way on climbs, with the relatively lightweight wheelset helping the bike roll. The Monarch R shock lacks any compression adjustment but we didn’t feel the need for it, as the Mega remained controlled and there wasn’t enough pedal bob for it to become noticeable until plugging in the granny ring. Even then it wasn’t enough to be an annoyance.
The own-brand OKLO dropper is a bargain
The fitted Hans Dampf rubber isn’t super fast-rolling, but will trundle along at a respectable speed considering the amount of grip the treads have. They slide in a predictable and easy to control manner when traction does start to become a luxury.
We’ve used the Shimano M615 brakes on loads of bikes and can’t help but be incredibly impressed with their performance, and that’s before we consider how well priced they are. Predictable stopping with consistent lever feel and total reliability is all we ever experienced.
Ride and handling: lively yet composed, though fork has its limits
When you’re up to speed out on the trails the Mega is incredibly stable, yet still ready to spring into action with its lively feel begging to be thrown around and pushed hard. The stock Nukeproof handlebars are comfortable at 760mm wide, and the short 50mm stem length provides another insight into what the bike is going to be most comfortable doing.
RockShox' Sektor fork is good, but can be pushed too far on rough stuff
The short stem didn’t have a detrimental effect on the climbs, and definitely made the flat, flowing trails and downhill a lot more fun. It made the most out of the stability of the 67.5-degree head angle with fast, agile handling without a hint of twitchiness.
Although most riders will find the top tube a comfortable length for out of the saddle work and smashing downhill runs, long stints in the saddle may see you wanting more room than the 588mm (on our medium test bike) gives, especially considering the bike’s travel and namesake. If you’re debating size, definitely go larger.
The Erosion Linkage-driven single-pivot back end handles trail conditions with ease. The Monarch R’s initial feel isn’t as supple as that of the bigger canned DebonAir shocks, but isn’t harsh in any way and has a good amount of progression later on in the travel. Square edges are dealt with well, although bigger holes do seem to slow the bike down and choke the suspension slightly.
That said, tip the Mega TR into territory unknown for most 130mm travel bikes, and it really starts to shine. Turning down into a steep section of downhill track usually ridden by 8in travel monsters, the Mega remains composed with its lively ride rewarding you the harder you push it. The 130mm of back end bounce doesn’t give in, with controlled predictable progression through the stroke, and bottoming out was a rarity.
If you’re a DH rider who wants a fun bike for longer rides, you could hit the jackpot with this
The bike remains balanced and in control, with the only weakness being the Sektor fork when pushed really hard. The chassis stiffness of the Sektor is totally fine when used for normal cross-country and trail duties, but it does hold the Mega back as the geometry is so capable. The same goes for the Sektor’s basic RL damper. It’s a consistent performer and gives sensitive response along with a good amount of support, but push it really hard and you will see harshness. It’s not bad enough to warrant a new fork, and it’s only noticeable when pushing really hard at high speed, which is a rarity.
We had repeated issues with the Deore chainset dropping the chain all the way through the test period, even with adjustments made to the SLX rear derailleur’s clutch and being wary with pedalling anywhere rough. This would be an easy issue to fix. If we were keeping hold of the bike, we would go for a single ring setup straight away.
Nukeproof’s own OKLO dropper seatpost was impressive, especially on a bike of this price. Lacking the refinement of a Reverb, the OKLO’s lever gives a slightly vague feel, but it’s easy to get used to.
Let’s not beat around the bush – if you are after an out and out fast trail bike, the Mega probably isn’t for you. If you’re happy to winch the climbs to smash the descents and generally push a short travel bike harder than you thought it could be pushed, then the Mega TR might just tick your box.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.