Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS review

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Nukeproof’s Mega has been around since 2009 and is a bike that’s evolving rapidly, with a design team behind the scenes that is set on creating the quickest machine possible for one of the fastest riders in the world (that’d be Sam Hill, if you couldn’t guess). This fourth-generation bike has had a substantial overhaul, and looks and feels better than ever.

While the Mega’s basic layout appears quite similar to the previous model, this latest Mega 290 has revamped suspension kinematics, including a new longer upper link that wraps neatly around the seat tube. There’s 160mm of rear wheel travel, courtesy of a four-bar, Horst link platform.

The changes to the back end equate to a slightly higher average leverage ratio, the removal of the regressive early part of the curve on the previous bike and reduced overall progression.

This might sound complicated, but essentially it should mean improved sensitivity, more mid-stroke support and a smoother ramp-up as you reach the end of the shock’s stroke.

Nukeproof has really put the time in when it comes to sizing. There are now five frame sizes and, if you check its geometry chart below, you’ll see both specific saddle heights and saddle offsets (the horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to the quoted saddle height) listed, in a bid to make the decision easier.

The seat tube angle increases as the frame sizes grow too, which is handy if you’re a taller rider. At 64 degrees, the head angle is pretty relaxed, but not the slackest in the category.

The front end has stretched, too, with my medium size sporting a 455mm reach (an increase of 5mm). Chainstay length has reduced to 440mm (the old stays were 450mm).

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As an offshoot of these changes and thanks to some significant reshaping of the down tube, there’s now space for a 750ml water bottle in the front triangle.

All Megas are available with 650b or 29in (here) wheels, and geometry and travel vary slightly between the two versions.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS geometry

SMLXLXXL
Effective seat angle (degrees)77.577.5787878
Head angle (degrees)6464646464
Chainstay (cm)4444444444
Seat tube (cm)3841444750
Top tube (cm)56.7759.2761.0963.2865.47
Head tube (cm)1010121314
Fork offset (cm)4.24.24.24.24.2
Trail (cm)13.3213.3213.3213.3213.32
Bottom bracket drop (cm)33333
Bottom bracket height (cm)34.534.534.534.534.5
Wheelbase (mm)1,197.501,222.501,2511,275.401,299.70
Standover (cm)72.5272.4472.2973.0873.61
Stack (cm)62.1262.1263.9264.8265.73
Reach (cm)4345.547.549.551.5

This RS model is the fanciest and most expensive Mega build on offer (and the closest to the spec that the race team use).

RockShox takes care of the suspension, with its new ZEB Ultimate 170mm-travel fork paired with a Super Deluxe Ultimate shock.

Michelin Wild Enduro tyres wrap the Mavic Deemax Pro Sam Hill wheels, while SRAM’s Code RSC brakes and X01 Eagle drivetrain provide the stop and go.

Nukeproof spec its own bar, stem and saddle – all quality kit.

Male Cyclist Riding A Blue Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon Rs Full Suspension Mountain Bike

RockShox takes care of the suspension, with its new ZEB Ultimate fork paired with a Super Deluxe Ultimate shock.

Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon RS ride impressions

The Mega is straightforward to set up. Aside from the sag (I opted for 30 per cent at the rear) and twiddling the external fork and shock adjusters, there isn’t much else to do.

It certainly took more fettling to get a good suspension balance dialled in on the last version of the bike. The new Mega 290 climbs well and remains calmer under power than the previous model, too, with more zip when you really put the effort in. In fact, it’s easygoing enough when pointing uphill that I tended to leave the shock lever alone.

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On long climbs, though, I really struggled to get comfy on the saddle.

Pick up the speed and those changes to the rear suspension become abundantly clear. While the old Mega felt more akin to a monster truck, ready to smooth out anything in its path, this latest version offers more feedback to the rider and delivers a livelier, more dynamic ride. There’s plenty of support too, so attacking fast, flowing turns or jump-littered trails is masses of fun.

Male Cyclist Riding A Blue Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon Rs Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Pick up the speed and those changes to the rear suspension become abundantly clear.

Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media

While it’s quite different to its predecessor when it comes to that support and initial feel, the Mega is still capable of being pushed hard when the trail gets rough and rowdy, holding a line through rocky turns scattered with square-edged hits and remaining impressively composed.

The ZEB Ultimate fork is accurate when pinging through jagged rocky outcrops, and tracks the trail superbly, helping to dish out plenty of grip.

While the Michelin tyres feel decent in softer conditions and not too skittish over wet roots and rocks, on chattery hardpack trails they aren’t the fastest rollers, and don’t inspire super confidence when pushing hard through the turns.

In steeper sections, the Mega’s geometry and balanced suspension, coupled with the punchy Code brakes, give you the faith to tackle the trail head on.

I’m a big fan of this new, livelier version, and it’s reassuring to know that it’ll still take a hammering, too.

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