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Vital Test Sessions - Nukeproof Dissent 290

The Dissent 290 is a race-ready, low-maintenance downhill bike with multiple points of adjustability points and exceptional stability that breeds confidence in rough sections.

Vital Test Sessions - Nukeproof Dissent 290

Nukeproof Bikes have an illustrious heritage between the tape, from their carbon and titanium frames in the 90s, to developing components with the Chain Reaction Cycles-Intense Team in the 2000s, to producing bikes that have stood atop multiple World Cup and Enduro World Series podiums throughout the last decade. While many racers have contributed to Nukeproof’s successful timeline, arguably none have been as impactful as Sam Hill. A true living legend within mountain biking, Sam played a pivotal role in developing Nukeproof’s current downhill bike, the Dissent. 

Launched in 2019, the Dissent replaced Nukeproof’s long-standing Pulse model and introduced an updated frame design with adjustable geometry, suspension kinematics, and multiple wheel size variations. Tested as part of our 2022 Downhill Bike Test Sessions, the Dissent demanded our attention with its sleek curves that screamed speed, and we were curious if its race-inspired demeanor would translate to a race-bike feel on the trail. 

 

Dissent 290 RS Highlights

  • Hydroformed 6061 T6 Triple-Butted frame
  • 190mm (7.4-inches) rear travel // 200mm (7.8-inches) fork travel
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 63-degree head tube angle
  • Adjustable shock progression via main pivot flip chip
  • Adjustable chain stay length: 445/450/455mm
  • RockShox Boxxer Ultimate fork
  • RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate Coil shock
  • SRAM XO1 7-speed drivetrain with 165mm carbon cranks
  • SRAM Code R brakes with 220/200mm rotors
  • 29x2.4-inch Michelin DH22 tires
  • Nukeproof Horizon V2 DH wheels
  • 12 x 157mm rear hub spacing
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • Internal cable routing
  • ISCG05 chain guide mounts
  • 1.5-inch steerer tube
  • Sizes: medium, large, X-large (tested)
  • MSRP: $6,499 USD (RS Build)

Strengths

  • Exceptional composure and stability at speed and through rough sections promote a plowing mentality
  • Race-ready build kit
  • Robust frame 
  • Remains neutral and balanced through corners 

Weaknesses

  • Limited maneuverability in tight sections 
  • The size and weight of the bike can become cumbersome on flat sections or flow trails
  • Code R brakes

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Overview

The Dissent was initially developed by Nukeproof to test multiple suspension kinematics at once by adjusting shock progression via a flip-chip in the main pivot. However, after Sam Hill raced a prototype version to victory in the Garbanzo Downhill race at Crankworx Whistler, Nukeproof realized they had created a world-class winning design that allowed riders to tweak suspension characteristics to match terrain or riding style. Additionally, the new linkage actuated single pivot design with the shock mounted low in the front triangle was lighter, simpler, and stiffer than the previous Pulse model.

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The production version of the Dissent maintains the shock progression adjustment and features a hydro-formed aluminum frame with a one-piece swingarm. Four leverage rate positions are available, ranging from 17-30% progression, and the Dissent ships in position two with a 21% progressive leverage rate. Between each position, the leverage rate follows a similar path, beginning slightly regressive before turning progressive through most of the travel. Finally, leverage decreases at the end of the travel to help with bottom-out support. Changing between positions does not affect geometry or travel, and Nukeproof says that variations in sag are less than 1%, meaning riders generally won’t need to adjust spring rate. Since our testing period was limited to four days between three riders at a single bike park, we only rode the Dissent in the ‘stock’ position 2. The stock position is Nukeproof’s ‘goldilocks’ setting, and we would agree as it performed well on the various trails we had on hand. The Dissent also offers riders three chain stay length options via interchangeable dropout inserts: 445, 450, and 455mm. 

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We tested the Dissent 290 that (surprise, surprise) rolls on 29-inch wheels with 190mm of rear-wheel travel. Nukeproof also offers the Dissent with 27.5-inch and mixed wheels, which have 200mm of travel. All models feature internal cable routing, Enduro Bearings in all pivots, a 1.5-inch head tube, custom-tuned shocks, and 3D contoured frame protection on the downtube and chain stay. Unlike the 27.5-inch and mixed-wheel models that offer a full-size range, the Dissent 290 is only available in medium, large, and X-large sizes. Based on Nukeproof’s recommended sizing for our test rider ranging from 5-foot, 10-inches to 6-foot, 2-inches, we tested an X-large with a 480mm reach, 631mm stack height, and 63-degree head tube angle. As the only X-large bike in the group, the Dissent 290 did have the longest reach but paired it with the shortest stack. 

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The Dissent 290 is available in two build options or as a frame and shock only. We tested the most expensive RS model that retails for $6,499 USD. Compared to the other bikes in the test, the Dissent shared the most similarities with the Propain Rage CF, using the same RockShox suspension and SRAM Drivetrain. However, the Rage CF used Code RSC brakes which offer an additional pad contact adjustment over the Code R model. 

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Meet The Testers

Piloting our Dissent 290 test bike was Vital’s own Jason Schroeder and first-time testers Willem Cooper and Alf Garcia. With a few years between them and differences in riding style, setup preference, and body dimensions, the one similarity they all share is that it has been years since they lined up at a US National. 

Jason Schroeder

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Alfonso 'Alf' Garcia

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Willem Cooper

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  • 27 years old
  • 8 years racing downhill
  • 175-pounds (79.3kgs)
  • 6-foot (182cm)
  • Riding style: Relatively upright with weight more rearward than most. Enjoys a sneaky straight line or ripping jump trail.
  • Favorite downhill bike owned: 2013 Specialized Demo
  • Best or most memorable result: 30th place, Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup 2016
  • Favorite MTB movie: 3 Minute Gaps
  • @shredder_schroeder
  • 37 years old
  • 21 years racing downhill
  • 190-pounds (86.1kgs)
  • 6’ 2” (188cm)
  • Riding style: Upright yet aggressive, always linking natural trail features to generate flow and speed.
  • Favorite downhill bike owned: Turner DHR or Intense M1
  • Best or most memorable result: All the urban races in Taxco 
  • Favorite MTB movie: Clappin’ Yo Dome
  • @fonse03
  • 34 years old
  • 11 years racing downhill
  • 180-pounds (81.6kgs)
  • 5’ 10” (177cm)
  • Riding style: Over the front of the bike with chin over handlebars. Loves looking for tech flow lines and pumping trails. Smooth is fast.
  • Favorite downhill bike owned: 2015 Giant Glory 27.5-inch 
  • Best or most memorable result: 2013 Cat 1 19-29 US National Champ, or any US Open race from Diablo Freeride Park (now known as Mountain Creek)
  • Favorite MTB movie: Earthed 5
  • @willemcooper

On The Trail

For our 2022 Downhill Bike Test Sessions, we headed east and set up camp at Mountain Creek Bike Park in Vernon, New Jersey. Situated only an hour from New York City, Mountain Creek has hosted multiple national and regional events over the years, including the infamous US Open of Mountain Biking. 

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Best known for its impressive variety of trails and short gondola ride, the mountain offers a mix of rough, technical rock gardens, high-speed chunder, steep rock rolls, and flowy jump trails with ripping berms. With the ability to knock out multiple laps per hour, and accommodations conveniently located at the base, Mountain Creek served as the perfect testing ground to find out where each bike excelled or fell short. 

Setup

During our four-day testing period, conditions ranged from dry and loose over hard-packed to soaking wet and greasy on top. Luckily, the dirt at Mountain Creek can handle some serious moisture, and the few afternoon thunderstorms we endured provided a window of hero dirt before summer conditions took over again. To quickly adjust spring weight between our three testers, we used Sprindex Springs to fine-tune shock setup. Each tester began with Nukeproof’s recommended 30% sag and then made adjustments to match their rider style and preferences.   

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With a tight timeline to shakedown four downhill bikes, our goal was to find out where each excelled or under-performed, what nuances set each apart, and ultimately help riders understand which bike would be best for them. Below are on trail impressions from all three testers that offer a well-rounded and diverse impression of Nukeproof’s Dissent 290, along with standout and least favorite components from the RS build. 

Alf’s Impressions

Before arriving at Mountain Creek, the Dissent was the bike I thought I would enjoy the most due to its size, component spec, and race pedigree. Once testing, the Dissent fit me the best and was immediately comfortable and confidence-inspiring just standing on the pedals. The frame aesthetic was also my favorite, with clean lines and a race-ready look that had me excited to hit the trails. 

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Throughout testing, I had the easiest time pushing my limits on the Dissent. When flying downhill or attacking tricky, rough sections filled with endless compressions, I never had to fight the bike to stay on line. I rode with a more carefree mentality, knowing the Dissent would forgive me for poor line choice. With my body position placed dead center over the bike, I had no problem holding a line through corners. The Dissent rarely deflected or lost traction through turns, providing predictable stability in fast bike park berms and flat corners. On flatter trails, the bike did feel a bit sluggish and took more effort to keep moving forward. To compensate, I placed the chain stay in the short position, which improved maneuverability. I was impressed by how much fun the Dissent was to toss around on flow trails with lots of jumps and rollers. It wasn’t as poppy as the Canfield or Propain, but I still had plenty of fun.   

The stock progression position of the rear suspension had great mid-stroke support and managed Mountain Creek’s relatively low-angle and rocky trails well. However, I was a bit underwhelmed by the feel of the RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock that felt underdamped through rock gardens. It didn’t feel like it was underperforming, but at times the shock did not provide much pushback and caused the Dissent to ride with a lack of personality or responsiveness.  

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No question, the Dissent let out the fewest cries when smashing through rocks, and the linkage maintained that solid, new bike feel for the duration of testing. We never had to mess with tightening bolts, and the frame showed no signs of slop or lateral play. For this reason alone, I think the Dissent is an excellent option for riders looking to go racing and want a bike that will be easy to work on through a race weekend.  

Standout Components

SRAM XO1 7-Speed Drivetrain - SRAM’s XO1 drivetrain is simply the benchmark for downhill drivetrains. The shifting was crisp and exact throughout testing, the rear derailleur was silent, and the whole groupset looked mean and clean. 

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RockShox Boxxer Ultimate Fork - Over the years, I’ve spent a ton of time on various iterations of the Boxxer, and the latest Ultimate model continues to make me a fan of the platform. The fork simply worked and was buttery smooth during testing, providing control and front tire grip matched with comfortable support through big hits. 

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Least Favorite Components

SRAM Code R Brakes - With our Dissent 290 build flaunting SRAM and RockShox’s top-tier components, I couldn’t figure out why Nukeproof would deviate with the brakes and spec SRAM’s mid-range Code R brakes. The brakes worked enough to maintain control, but the lever feel compared to the Propain Rage CF with Code RSC brakes was subpar. 

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Nukeproof Horizon V2 Wheels - I really don’t have anything bad to say about the Nukeproof Horizon V2 wheels, other than I happened to be the one riding the bike when the rear wheel cracked on the second day. Mountain Creek is exceptionally rough and rocky, and I believe this could have happened with any of the wheels in the test, so I can’t harp on them too hard. The rim failure is what led us to install inserts in all the rear wheels to avoid additional wheel failures. So, Nukeproof, I’m not bashing your wheels (metaphorically), but since it did happen, I think it would be disingenuous to leave it out. 

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Jason's Impressions

As the only X-large bike in the group with the longest reach and wheelbase, I wasn’t surprised to find the Dissent 290 offered a spacious cockpit but took more effort to finagle through tight or technical sections. However, the Dissent shined when riding on the limit, and part way through my first run, I felt more at home and up-to-speed than the other bikes simply because my body geometry gelled with the bike. 

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With my racing background, I lean towards bikes that perform best at high speeds, and I felt the most comfortable riding outside my comfort zone on the Dissent, knowing the bike would remain planted and stable the faster I went. Out of the bikes tested, the Dissent would be my first choice if I was going to pick up a bike to go racing next year. The standout characteristic that facilitated this feeling was how predictable the bike was through exceptionally rough sections. I rode with a ‘pick and plow’ mentality when charging into rock-infested sections, knowing I could hold a straight line with little rider input. The downside was the inability to quickly adjust my lines in the middle of sections. For riders who like an agile bike that can pop around, the Dissent might not be the best option. For me, I enjoyed being able to smash through any line I chose with certainty, knowing the bike would not get unsettled or skittish. 

At the end of testing, when my pace was highest, I did notice the suspension began to get overwhelmed and feel unresponsive when attempting to make quick line changes mid-rock garden. If I were to pick up a Dissent of my own and go racing, I’d mess with the more progressive linkage positions to keep the suspension from cycling through travel as quickly when riding with more intensity. For everyday riding on various trails, the stock leverage setting will be perfect for most riders. 

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Once on flowy, bike-park-style trails, the Dissent took the most energy to get up to speed and maintain speed. The bike didn’t have the most lively personality, and the aggressive Michelin DH 22 tires, plus its size and weight, were all factors that seemed to slow the bike down. I still felt the most comfortable hitting jumps on the Dissent due to its predictable nature, and it stood above the rest when it came to cornering confidence. However, the Dissent was far from a ‘park bike’ and reacted like a long, stable race bike most of the time. When we changed to the shortest chainstay length, I did find that it helped improve how responsive the bike was to rider input. 

Standout Components

Michelin DH 22 Tires - Even though the DH22 tires rolled slowly on smooth jump trails, I enjoyed their aggressive tread design that allowed me to drop anchor whenever and wherever to stop. I would rather have predictable, solid traction and lose some rolling speed on a bike I would use for racing or riding gnarly trails. If I were knocking out mainly bike park laps, the Dissent wouldn’t be my first choice, nor would the DH22 tires. I raced with Schwable Magic Mary tires for years, and the DH22 shared a lot of visual similarities with its spaced-apart tall, square lugs. They also felt similar to Magic Mary’s on the trail, offering endless traction in corners, steep sections, and over rocks or roots. Ironically, the DH22 uses Michelin’s Magi-X tire compound. 

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Least Favorite Components

SRAM Code R Brakes - Although I prefer the modulation and controlled bite of SRAM brakes, I have never gotten along with the Code R model. The lever feels cheap and flimsy, making it hard to control stopping power, and there is no contact adjustment to dial-in modulation. Upgrading to Code RSC brakes would be the first and only upgrade I’d make to the otherwise killer RS build.

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Willem’s Impressions 

I was excited to ride the Dissent 290 because the sweeping lines of the frame made it look like it was going fast standing still, and I’ve had previous success racing Nukeproof bikes in the 26-wheeled days. Being the shortest rider in the test, the X-large Dissent 290 felt a tad long compared to the other bikes. To help manage its size, I swapped it to the shorter chainstay, which improved maneuverability and increased the fun factor on flow trails. Even though the Nukeproof Horizon V2 handlebars used the same 9-degree back sweep as my go-to DEITY handlebars, the way the bars bent backward just after the rise was visually odd and made it hard to set up the cockpit. However, like everyone else, the handlebar was less noticeable on the trail. 

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As someone who usually rides over the front, the Dissent surprisingly positioned me more rearward despite the longer reach. The front end felt a tad low, and it took a few laps to adapt to the foreign position. But after four days of testing, I didn’t find the frame size limiting my ability to push the bike. 

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Once pointed downhill, the Dissent begged to be ridden fast and gave me the confidence to ride aggressively, knowing the bike would remain stable and composed. Due to its size and weight, the Dissent remained planted through chunky sections, making it easy to carry speed and hold lines through rock gardens. On jump trails that required a lot of pumping, the Dissent took more effort to maintain speed. It did not feel like a light bike and excelled on steeper or faster trails. The rolling resistance of the Michelin DH 22 tires did not help its case either. 

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The rear suspension was highly predictable and never did anything through rough compressions that surprised me. The suspension excelled under cornering forces, providing a balanced, supported feel. I had the most fun and confidence cornering the Dissent, and it was the only bike in the group I believe I could have hit a corner hard enough to rip the tire off. Overall, the Dissent struck me as the perfect downhill bike for racers who want a bombproof (nuke-proof?) aluminum race bike that is long and stable at speed. 

Standout Component

Dissent 290 Frame - It might not be a component, but I loved how tight and stiff the Dissent 290 frame felt compared to the other bikes, and it was the only bike we never had to fuss with loose bolts. Throughout testing, the linkage never developed any slop or play, and the increased lateral stiffness made it easy to pop out of bike park berms. The Dissent was also the quietest bike in the test, which is always nice when smashing through rock gardens. 

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Least Favorite Component

RockShox Boxxer Ultimate Fork - After riding FOX suspension for years, I was excited to ride the latest Boxxer but was not overly impressed with its performance. Setup was easy and intuitive, but the fork got overwhelmed when getting hard on the brakes through braking bumps. I noticed more fork dive and flex in these situations and did not find the same chassis stiffness I’ve become accustomed to with FOXs’ 40 fork. 

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What’s The Bottom Line?

Nukeproof’s Dissent 290 RS build is ideal for racers looking to pick up a solid, low-maintenance race bike that is extremely stable and confidence-inspiring. Thanks to its planted, calm demeanor through demanding terrain, the Dissent promotes a carefree riding style, best suited for rough trails with lots of gravity-fed speed. Not our first choice for our next park bike, the Dissent is long and requires more energy to maintain or generate speed on flow trails and flatter terrain. With an adjustable suspension design that offers great support, predictability, and lateral stiffness, and a premium build kit that only leaves the brakes as a potential weak link, the Dissent 290 is a perfect ‘out of the box’ race bike. 

For more information on Nukeproof's Dissent 290, head to nukeproof.com


For more downhill bike content, check out our three-episode Test Sessions series: Episode 1Episode 2, Episode 3. And make sure to add Mountain Creek to your list of must-visit bike parks. You won’t be disappointed!

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