Vital Test Sessions - Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon 3

Nukeproof achieves its goal of creating the ultimate downhiller's trail bike.

Nukeproof has developed the Mega over the last decade to be the "downhillers trail bike" and has found a lot of success in the form of three consecutive Enduro World Series titles under Sam Hill. Not only have they succeeded on the racetrack, but in their pursuit of creating a true downhiller's trail bike. What is now categorized as an "enduro bike" originally fell under the long travel trail bike umbrella, and many aspects of the Mega can be described as such. 


  • 29-inch wheels
  • 160mm (6.3-inches) rear travel // 170mm (6.7-inches) fork travel
  • Carbon fiber frame
  • 64 degree head tube angle 
  • 78 degree seat tube angle
  • 495mm reach (size XL)
  • 440mm chainstay length across all sizes
  • Horst-link suspension
  • Internal cable routing
  • Waterbottle and accessory mounts
  • 3D molded rubber downtube and chainstay protection
  • Clear full-length frame protection 
  • 12x148mm Boost rear hub spacing
  • SRAM UDH and T-Type compatibility 
  • 73mm BSA threaded bottom bracket with ISCG05 tabs
  • Price: $5,899 USD as tested (Carbon Elite)



  • Conservative geometry makes for easy handling.
  • Playful feeling on trail with supple off-the-top suspension
  • Performance level rear shock offers a limited range of adjustment.
  • Lack of geometry and sizing adjustments may leave riders between sizes.




Nukeproof clearly isn't trying to push boundaries with the Mega. The geometry isn't over the top, the rear suspension has a very consistent feeling, and the frame is straightforward, with attention to detail where it counts. Our three-person test crew all picked this bike as one we would take home for both its on-trail performance and great value. 


The Elite level build kit is configured with a well-thought-out component spec. Suspension is handled by a Fox 38 Float Performance Elite Series fork up front and a Fox Float X2 Performance shock out back. Stopping power comes from the new 4-piston SRAM DB8 mineral oil brakes with 200mm rotors front and rear. A SRAM GX AXS T-Type drivetrain makes for crisp shifting, paired with Nukeproof's own wheels, saddle, and Sam Hill signature cockpit to top things off. Other nice details include torque specs written on all the pivot bolts and a clear frame protection kit that covers the entire length of the frame. 



The Mega was the smallest bike in our Enduro Bike Test Sessions with a comfortable 495mm Reach paired to a 64-degree HA and a 440mm chain stay length across all sizes for a well-balanced feeling out of its 1275mm wheelbase and a 78-degree seat tube angle for a nice upright pedaling position. Sizes Small-XXL are available with 20mm reach increments between sizes and around 14mm front-center increments between sizes. We swapped handlebars to get slightly more back sweep, but this build kit comes with a 38mm rise bar out of the box, which makes a lot of sense for size XL bikes. 


On the Trail

The decade of refinement to the Mega platform shines through on trail. Everything from the component spec to the suspension kinematics and geometry works well together. Our testers did struggle with shock setup on our particular build kit, but it was more down to lack of adjustment out of the specific shock we tested. Aside from the lack of rebound damping, rear suspension performance felt consistent across the terrain we tested on. The kinematic characteristics include a very light feeling off the top with a consistent ramp throughout, which helped maintain traction over varied terrain and keep higher velocity impacts under control. The geometry of the Mega was a lot more neutral than other bikes in the test. The shorter chainstays and reach numbers, along with a predictable headtube angle, gave the bike a light feeling on trail and allowed for precise handling even in aggressive terrain. 


What's The Bottom Line?

All three testers chose this bike as one of their top picks out of the test for how balanced the suspension, geometry, and body position on the bike felt. The straightforward approach of the bike made it very easy to ride, and it adapted well to any terrain we pointed it at. It's a shame that consumers will no longer be able to buy this bike in the US with the recent turmoil within Nukeproof's parent company. But if you can find one of these at a local dealer and have been on the fence, it is well worth the money. 

We stayed right at the base of the mountain, courtesy of Visit Big Bear, and couldn't have asked for a more convenient way to spend the week testing bikes. With our condo less than a minute from the Snow Summit village, we could easily head back to our unit between laps to swap bikes and had plenty of space to work on our bikes. Off the bike, we were thankful to have enough room for our whole test crew, as well as a pool and hot tub within walking distance to relax after each day's testing. Big Bear has a wide variety of food options and a great downtown we explored when looking to mix up our dinner plans or just grab some ice cream afterward. If you'd like to explore Snow Summit or Big Bear, California for yourself, visit or for more information.​

Big thanks to those who sponsored this test and made our trip possible!

Head here to check out the entire 2023 Enduro Test Session Feature

Learn more about the Nukeproof Mega at

View key specs, compare bikes, and rate the Nukeproof Mega in the Vital MTB Product Guide.


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