Nukeproof has a long history of creating products, and latterly bikes, that are built to withstand the harshness of the most hardcore trail, enduro and downhill riders. While the rock solid nature of its Scout hardtail might lack the comfort and control of a full-suspension design, it’s clearly done what it can to make the Scout a trail worthy bike ready for sniffing out new lines down familiar trails.
Nukeproof Scout Comp 290 specifications
- Frame: Hydroformed 6061 alloy
- Fork: RockShox Yari RC 130mm
- Wheelsize: 29in
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 1x11
- Brakes: Shimano SLX 180/180mm
- Handlebar: Nukeproof Warhead 760 Riser, 760mm
- Saddle: Nukeproof Vector, Black/ Grey
- Seatpost: Brand X Ascend, 125mm, Trigger, Black
- Head Angle: 66 degrees
- Seat Angle: 73 degrees
- Reach: 440mm
- Weight: 13.2kg size large
What's on the bike?
The alloy frame is neatly finished with ISCG chainguide mounts and internal cable routing, while there’s mechanic friendly external cable routing and a proper threaded bottom bracket.
The low-slung top tube merges almost seamlessly into the seat stays, with a reinforced extended seat tube holding the new Brand X Ascent dropper post.
The tubes up front grow in diameter, meeting at the meaty headtube for a stiff, accurate front end. At 440mm, the reach (size large) isn’t groundbreaking, but its 66-degree head angle ensures that the 29in front wheel is slung out in front of the bike.
This is paired with a stubby stem, wide bar combo for snappy yet controlled steering. Relatively long 450mm chainstays help bulk out the 1178mm wheelbase, adding high-speed stability that the shorter reach somewhat fails to catch. The bottom bracket sits a full 66mm below the bike’s axles, lowering the point at which your weight pushes on the bike in corners.
Shimano’s SLX drivetrain, on our test bike at least, gave trouble-free shifting across its 11-42t cassette, while the 170mm cranks make sense with that low BB. The SLX family also provides the brakes, and again, we’ve no complaints here.
With an extensive in-house product line-up, it’s no surprise that the burly Nukeproof Warhead cockpit is joined by its Vector saddle and Element grips.
Let’s forget facts and figures for a minute, though. The important stuff is how the bike handles on the trail – does it leave you begging for more, or hanging your head, beaten by what’s beneath your tyres?
First off, if you’re buying a hardtail such as the Scout you’re probably aware that it’s going to beat you up on all but the smoothest of trails.
The seat and chainstays might not be as hugely ovalised as we’ve seen on some alloy hardtails, but they pack a punch.
On rocky, rough, rooty terrain you feel everything under your wheels, punching up through the frame. It takes getting used to if you’ve been on full-sus bikes for a while, and requires a new plan of attack when threading your way through a tight trail.
No longer can you just point and shoot – you need to selectively hop and pop through trail debris, making use of the stout RockShox Yari up front to guide you through as the back end pings and slaps from side to side. Ride the back light and the front heavy, though, and things start to flow. Point it down a steep loam or mud-heavy track and this thing starts to make sense.
The WTB Vigilante up front hooks up relatively confidently (more on that later), while, with enough spacers in, the Yari stays propped up, which lets you lighten that rear wheel to let it slide into corners or cruise over roots.
Take it into flatter, more flowing trails and the Scout can flatter your skills. The super low BB and 29er wheels mean this bike carves like little else, especially when you learn to trust the shoulder of the Vigilante tyre.
It might not be as snappy side to side as a 650b hardtail, but it holds its speed easily through the turns, and over smaller trail bumps and lumps. Get it on the right trail and it’s even keen to build its own speed, pumping and rolling effortlessly from trail feature to feature.
Could it be better, from a riding perspective? Yes – while chunky 2.3in tyres are fitted, they’re only mounted onto WTB’s Frequency i23 rims, which pinch the tyre and don’t give masses of stability.
WTB’s rim roster has plenty of wider hoops in there, so we’d like to see something like the i29, which would bulk up the tyres, allowing more support and lower pressures for more front end confidence and rear wheel taming. Once that’s done, though, there’s little that needs doing.
Yes, the Yari is basic, but it simply works. The drivetrain, brakes and finishing kit all perform well, and if you’re happy to re-think your approach to riding trails, the Scout will happily get you out there.
It’ll kick you in the ass, but if you like that the Scout’ll get down nearly everything.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.