First Ride: 2021 Nukeproof Mega

by | October 14, 2020

We’ve seen Nukeproof’s enduro riders Sam Hill, Eliot Heap, and Nigel Page aboard a new bike this year, and that machine, version 4.0 of the Mega, is now available to the public. It’s more of a revision rather than a complete reinvention of the wheel, since the previous Mega was already an impressive package. Nukeproof just looked to take all the good points of that bike and attend to the areas that needed attention.

Earlier this year we did a full review of the Mega 290 Factory and found it to be a comfy, fast and all around capable bike bike for the money with the cherry on the cake being its proven racing pedigree.

That going through with a fine tooth comb also applied to the design of the bike, with them looking through the previous 10 years of Megas to find the best design elements to keep the new bike looking like a Mega.

Mega V4 Details
• Wheel Size: 29″ or 27.5″
• Carbon fiber or aluminum frame options
• 29″ version: 160mm rear travel, 170mm fork
• 27.5″ version: 165mm rear travel, 170mm fork
• Sizes S to XXL
• 2.8kg frame weight (carbon frame w/o shock)
• Carbon frameset £2,500 / $2,500 USD / €3,000
• Aluminum frameset £1,800 / $1,800 USD / €2,100
• Complete bikes from £2,700 / €3,150 / $2,700 USD
nukeproof.com

It’s like an old friend that went to the gym and visited the hairdresser for a shave and a new ‘do. So let’s look at the nips and tucks that Nukeproof have done to the V4 Mega.
Frame Details

The Mega is still split by wheel size and frame material. Carbon fiber and aluminum versions are available, with the carbon version now seeing a composite chain stay and seat stay to match the tweaked main frame. That composite rear end not only allowed Nukeproof to drop the overall frame weight but to also drop the unsprung mass in the suspension system.

The seat tube shape was altered to allow more seat post insertion and the mainframe of the carbon version has tube in tube cable routing to make the internal routing a little easier.

The V4 Mega now has carbon fiber composite chainstays and seat stays as opposed to the previous V3 version’s aluminum rear end.

There’s a gear strap mount under the top tube too and a Nukeproof specific brake mount to fit the composite seat stay. The bike comes with a 180mm rotor and adapter as standard.

The biggest main frame shape change was done to allow a 750ml water bottle to live inside the main frame and away from the firing line of crud, welcome news for all the riders who prefer a little less mud on their bottles. There’s also the inclusion of a gear mount on the underside of the top tube to carry the necessary bits and pieces for your ride.

There’s still a threaded bottom bracket and now all frames are equipped with SRAM’s Universal Derailleur Hanger, or UDH. Enduro Max bearings are at all pivots, although some of the pivots are naturally better shielded from the muck than others, and the main pivot now uses a collet style construction to allow you to tighten to the correct torque and then lock the head of the axle to resist undoing.

Frame protection is plentiful with the underside kink of the down tube being well covered and the industry standard ribbed chain stay protector also in place and working well.

Cable routing is all internal, with the aluminum frames being external at the rear. The main frame to seat stay routing now follows a bit of a different path, but one that flows nicely internally with the new downtube shape.

The carbon fiber main frame sees improved stiffness with 45% more head tube stiffness and 14% more bottom bracket stiffness, when tested to the Zedler test standards, compared to the V3 Mega.

All carbon models come with clear frame protection covering a large percentage of the bike to keep it looking fresh, and all bikes have moulded rubber frame protection covering the underside of the down tube, seat stay and chain stay with the latter being of the ribbed variety.

The aluminum version carries over all the same qualities as the carbon fiber version, but with triple butted and hydroformed tubes and forged parts where needed. Cable routing is internal in the main frame and external at the rear of the bike.


Geometry & Sizing

The V4 Mega now sees more frame sizes with M to XXL covering the same reach spans just with an additional size to break up the jumps. The addition of an S is also a good point for smaller riders, especially with the 29″ Mega.

The nip and tuck refinement theme carries on with the V4 having a slightly slacker head tube angle at 64°, slightly shorter seat tube lengths to combine with long drop posts and now with a focus on the seat tube angle to bring it steeper but also adjust it for the different frame sizes.

Nukeproof now uses and quotes the designed seat heights for the individual sizes and also talks about the saddle offset, the horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to the seat height, with the larger frames having a larger offset combined with a 0.5° steeper seat tube angle on sizes L, XL and XXL.

The 27.5″ version is slightly longer reach than 29″, with a 5mm shorter chainstays and slightly higher bottom bracket, but is still in keeping with the overall shape of the previous version Mega and is available in the same S to XXL sizes.

Suspension

The V4 carries the same four bar layout, with a Horst pivot and top mounted rocker link, as the previous version. Nukeproof gives a recommended sag range of 30-35% shock stroke.

The Mega 29″ version has 160mm rear travel and the 27.5″ has 165mm, both with a 170mm travel fork. The RS version also now keeps the 170mm fork, like the rest of the range, rather than the 180mm travel version on the previous RS model.

Little tweaks are also present in the kinematics, with the new bike having slightly less overall progression, at 17%, with a higher average leverage ratio, at 2.6, when compared to the old bike’s 22% and 2.5 values.

Nukeproof say this was done to improve the sensitivity of the suspension, with the bike also still using the bearing eyelet at the rocker end of the shock, while giving the bike a touch more support for better responsiveness when pumping or cornering.

The leverage ratio curve shape has been tweaked to remove the initial regressiveness and allow the shock to begin moving from zero travel with more ease.

The overall suspension forces, when combined with the shock, have slightly less force needed at the initial portion of travel, slightly more needed in the middle portion and with less final force needed to reach the end of travel. The curve shape is now closer to a constantly changing line as Nukeproof wanted this to avoid any sudden changes in the suspension feel and have a predictable feel all the way through travel.

Anti-squat is massaged to have an increased amount in all gears while not pushing it too far and keeping the trend of dropping amounts as the bike goes through its travel. The V4 now has 102% at sag in the 32/50T gear compared to the previous bikes 96% in the same gear.

Anti-rise is reduced a smidge to keep the same bike stability when braking hard but to introduce a touch more activeness to the suspension when hard on the anchors.

Options & Price

The Mega V4 range is split from the RS version, through the Factory, Elite and Pro and is rounded out with the Comp, with all spec levels available with 29″ or 27.5″ wheels.

Mega RS: Rockshox Zeb Ultimate fork and Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, SRAM X01 and Descendant Carbon drivetrain mix, SRAM Code RSC brakes, Rock Shox Reverb dropper, Mavic Deemax Pro wheels with Michelin Wild Enduro tyres, Nukeproof finishing kit and components – £5,500 / €6,400 / $5,500 USD

Mega Factory: Fox 38 Factory fork and Float X2 Factory shock, Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes, Bikeyoke Divine dropper, DT Swiss E1700 Spline wheels with Michelin Wild Enduro tyres, Nukeproof finishing kit and components – £5,000 / €5,700 / $5,000 USD

Mega Elite: Fox 36 Performance Elite fork and Float X2 Performance shock, Shimano SLX drivetrain and brakes, Brand X Ascend dropper, DT Swiss E1900 Spline wheels with Michelin Wild Enduro tyres, Nukeproof finishing kit and components – £4,000 / €4,700 / $5,000 USD

Mega Pro: Rockshox Lyrik Select+ fork and Super Deluxe Select+ shock, SRAM GX and Descendant drivetrain mix, SRAM Guide RE brakes, Brand X Ascend dropper, Nukeproof Neutron V2 wheels with Michelin Wild Enduro tyres, Nukeproof finishing kit and components – £3,400 / €4,000 / $3,400 USD

Mega Comp: Rockshox Yari and Super Deluxe Select, Shimano Deore drivetrain and brakes, Brand X Ascend dropper, Sun Ringle Duroc wheels with Michelin Wild Enduro tyres, Nukeproof finishing kit and components – £2,700 / €3,150 / $2,700 USD


Ride Impressions

Our test bike is the Mega 290 Factory, which is handy as we previously tested the V3 Mega 290 Factory, so there’s already a lot of familiarity there in the components and bike character.

Some of those components are now updated however, with the move to the Fox 38 up front and Float X2 out back, but still with Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes with DT Swiss aluminum E1700 Spline wheels.

One nice spec highlight though is the BikeYoke Divine dropper. Our size L test bike comes with a 175mm drop post, but we’re also testing the 213mm drop Revive, so that’s on the bike too for anyone with eagle eyes.

The Mega looks like, well, a Mega. Which is a nice thing to see a brand stick with a good design and refine it bit by bit over the years rather than feel the need to radically change their direction to have something “all-new” to help sales. The V4 Mega looks and feels like an old friend that just got a bit toned in the gym and had a bit of a makeover. It feels familiar jumping on it and that dependability of the old bike still feels to be there.

The suspension was easy to set up, with it feeling already in a good ballpark after the initial setup. Water bottles seem to drive a lot of bike design, but the fact that you can now take a water bottle inside the front triangle on a ride, and also some spares to boot, is a good thing and just makes the bike even more dependable for those wanting to leave the backpack at home.

This V4 Mega’s slight loss in weight, improved climbing position, upped anti-squat and the new Fox shock make the bike into a rapid climber. It feels very direct and positive when climbing, and even when it gets bumpy while going up it’s able to absorb to the impacts without having the feeling of a loss of speed or momentum. That gives the new bike the ability to cover ground incredibly well and get you to the start of the trail down with the sense of being quicker and a bit less tired.

On the way down, that old friend feeling is still there, just better. It is slightly more supple, but still with good predictability when you open up the taps. There’s also some additional sprite in the bike’s character compared to the previous version’s more abundant liveliness at higher speeds and technicality of terrain.

As you look through the nips, tucks and additions all the way through the frame they all make sense and add to the already impressive package that the Mega offered. So far I’ve really enjoyed having the Mega back in the workshop and getting acquainted with its refined self. More time on the bike is of course needed for a long term review, but it’s already a bike I want to put more miles in on and fire up the old friend conversation that finished with the previous Mega version.



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