Nukeproof Mega 290 Factory first ride review

A bigger, better Mega, but still not perfect

GBP £3,800.00 RRP | USD $3,885.00
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Nukeproof’s popular Mega had an overhaul for 2018. It’s the 650b-wheeled version, piloted to Enduro World Series glory last year by Sam Hill, that’s likely to grab most people’s attention. But it was this 290 Factory model that caught our eye at the launch. With its 29in wheels and Fox suspension, does it also provide a winning ride?

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Nukeproof Mega 290 specifications

  • Frame: Aluminium, 155mm (6.1in) travel
  • Fork: Fox 36 Float FIT4 Factory, 160mm (6.3in) travel
  • Shock: Fox Float X2 Climb Switch
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore XT M8000 (1×11)
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss E 1700 SPLINE Boost wheels
  • Tyres: Maxxis High Roller II 3C Maxx Terra TR DD 29×2.3in
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore XT M8000, 203mm/180mm rotors
  • Bar: Nukeproof Horizon, 800mm
  • Stem: Nukeproof Neutron, 50mm
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth 170mm dropper
  • Saddle: Nukeproof Vector AM
  • Weight: 14.7kg (32.4lb), XL size without pedals

Nukeproof Mega 290 Factory frame

The Mega’s back end has been updated to accept Boost-width (148x12mm) rear hubs. It’s also now single-ring specific, which has allowed the main pivot to be widened (and, in theory, stiffened).

The L and XL frames have been lengthened too, to better fit tall riders. There’s just one bottle cage mount and it’s below the down tube, which isn’t ideal.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Factory kit

I didn’t like the ride position provided by the short head tube and longish, low-stack stem
Steve Behr / Immediate Media

Fox’s 36 Factory fork, in our preferred ‘FIT4’ guise, offers great suppleness and support. The highly-tunable X2 shock takes patience to set up properly but offers ample adjustability and a consistent, supple action for those who know how.

These top-tier suspension units are only usually seen on bikes costing several grand more. Tall riders will benefit from the 170mm-drop RockShox Reverb supplied with the L and XL frames, while smaller frames get shorter posts.

Solid wheels, quality tyres, a wide bar and reliable Shimano 1×11 drivetrain are also solid choices. For me, the only real letdown was the irritatingly inconsistent bite point of the Shimano XT brakes.

Nukeproof Mega 290 ride impressions

With a reach of 515mm, the XL bike we tested should, on paper, suit taller riders, as well as those who prefer a longer cockpit. But the short 115mm head tube limits bar height and the 50mm stem is unnecessarily long (with this much frame reach).

This meant, at 6ft 3in, I found the stock ride position too low and stretched out, making it hard to get my weight back on steep descents. Swapping to a 35mm stem with more stack height solved this issue, helping me to attack gnarly terrain with confidence.

The 65.5-degree head angle, low 338mm bottom bracket and long 450mm chainstays mean the handling is very stable and rider weight is well distributed on this XL size. It carves flat turns well, rewarding an aggressive approach, and handles rough and steep terrain with aplomb.

The 29er Mega has a revised back end for 2018 and the larger sizes are now longer
Steve Behr / Immediate Media

The suspension is prone to bob under power, though, and wallows through the middle third of its travel when pumping or climbing. To some extent this can be compensated for by adding more air or compression damping to the shock, but this severely compromises initial sensitivity and traction.

In the end, I just put up with it ploughing through its mid stroke. The plus side of this was a superbly supple ride, matched by the superb Fox 36 fork up front.

On the climbs, the wallowy suspension slouches into its travel, slackening the seat angle and making steep pitches a bit of a struggle. I found the low ride height also contributed to regular pedal strikes, even with short 170mm crank arms.

It’s hard to say if frame flex plays a role here too, but the 29er Mega feels far from taut or accurate under power or when pushing into turns.

The Mega will suit those who like to plough through rough sections, but aren’t looking for a particularly crisp, efficient or accurate feel.

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Nukeproof Mega 290 early verdict

A great-value, supple bike for those who like to hang on and plough, but soggy under power.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Mega 290 Factory
Brand Nukeproof

Available Sizes S M L XL
Seat Angle 75.5
Wheelbase (in) 50.51
Top Tube (in) 26.71
Seat Tube (in) 20
Chainstays (in) 17.72
Wheelset DT Swiss E 1700 SPLINE Boost wheels
Weight (kg) 14.7
Stem Nukeproof Neutron, 50mm
Shifters Shimano Deore XT M8000
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 170mm dropper
Saddle Nukeproof Vector AM
Brakes Shimano Deore XT M8000, 203mm/180mm rotors
Rear Tyre Maxxis High Roller II 3C Maxx Terra TR DD 29x2.3in
Rear Shock Fox Float X2 Climb Switch
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore XT M8000
Head Angle 66
Handlebar Nukeproof Horizon, 800mm
Front Tyre Maxxis High Roller II 3C Maxx Terra TR DD 29x2.3in
Frame Material Aluminium, 155mm (6.1in) travel
Fork Fox 36 Float FIT4 Factory, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Cranks Shimano Deore XT M8000
Frame size tested XL