​With 150-mm of travel and aggressive angles, the original, 2011 Nukeproof Mega was in many ways at the forefront of the modern trail/enduro bike evolution. It was conceived to do well at the infamous Megavalanche, and as a result, it also happened to set up well for any ride that involves going up to shred the downs, aka mountain biking. When we were asked to come check out the 2016 edition of the Mega, it wasn't hard to convince us. Add in the fact that the launch event was going to take place in Dolceacqua on the Italian Riviera, and our bags were practically packing themselves.

The Mega 27.5 Pro may be from Northern Ireland, but it felt right at home in the Italian Alps.

2016 Nukeproof Mega 27.5/29 Pro Highlights

  • Frame Material: 6061 Aluminium
  • 27.5" Front/Rear Travel: 160/160mm
  • 29" Front/Rear Travel: 150/150mm
  • Fork: RockShox Pike RCT3, (27.5" 160mm / 29" 150mm), SA, Black
  • Shock: RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair, (27.5" 216X63mm LL tune / 29" 200X56mm, LL tune)
  • Derailleur - F: N/A
  • Derailleur - R: SRAM X-1, Black, 11 speed
  • Shifter - F: N/A
  • Shifter - R: SRAM X-1, Black, 11 Speed
  • Crankset: SRAM X1 1200, 170mm, 32T
  • Cassette: SRAM XG-1175, 10-42T
  • Chainguide: N/A
  • Chain: SRAM PC-X1
  • Wheels: SRAM Roam 40, 27.5"/29", Black/Silver,
  • Tyres - F: Schwalbe Magic Mary, Snake Skin, Trail Star, 27.5"/29"
  • Tyres - R: Schwalbe Nobby Nic, Snake Skin, Pace Star, 27.5"/29"
  • Seatpost: Rockshox Reverb Stealth, 150mm
  • Handlebars: Nukeproof Warhead 20mm Rise, 760mm, Black/Grey
  • Stem: Nukeproof Zero, 50mm, Black/Grey
  • Saddle: Nukeproof Trail Saddle, Black/Black
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
  • Rotors: SRAM Centreline 180mm
  • Headset: Top ZS44-28.6-T2
  • Headset: Bottom ZS56-40-B8
  • Sizes: SM/MD/LG/XL
  • Weight: 28.6lb (27.5),28.9lb (29), size Medium
  • Availability: limited quantities in December 2015, February 2016 GA

The Mega 29 joins the 27.5-inch version for 2016, offering harmonious lines and surprisingly neutral behavior.

Initial Impressions

We pulled into scenic Dolceacqua, nestled in a valley close to Ventimilia on the Italian Riviera, not knowing what to expect. Carbon or alu, angles, wheel size and more were questions in need of answers. The previous generation Mega included the 160-mm Mega AM as well as the 130-mm Mega TR, but what would the story be for 2016? A spectacular sunrise provided a suitable backdrop for discovering what Nukeproof had cooked up for us - and a certain Mr. Hill was on hand as well, making getting up in the morning even more worthwhile...

No more AM or TR, the 2016 Mega proposes three 29-inch and four 27.5-inch models to choose from.

The previous generation 160-mm Mega AM was a lot more popular than the TR version, so for this new generation Nukeproof did away with the shorter travel option on the smaller wheels altogether. To cater to riders looking for a slightly different experience, the 29er wheel was introduced to the Mega for the first time. However, the 29er isn't meant to replace the old TR version - with only 10-mm less travel and aggressive angles it is every bit as capable as the 27.5" version.

Easily one of the best-looking wagon-wheelers to date, the Mega 29 proved equally inspiring on the trail.

The second big piece of news for the 2016 Mega is the move to a Horst Link rear suspension layout. Nukeproof's bikes have traditionally always been single-pivot, linkage-driven designs, but when the designers went looking for performance improvements notably in regards to suspension performance under braking, they eventually settled on the Horst Link.

In terms of numbers, the original Mega was very much one of the trend-setters when it comes to the slack-head-angle-steep-seat-tube game, and the new Mega evolves to stay bang up to date. 65 degrees HA for the 27,5" version, and 66 for the 29er are among the slackest trail/enduro bikes out there, and the 75.5-degree effective seat tube angle is equally steep. The reach has been stretched by about 20-mm for each size (there are still 4 sizes available), while the BB has dropped a further 7-mm below the axles to sit at -10. Chainstays have shrunk by 10-mm to a short 435-mm for the 27.5" version, while extending to 450-mm to accommodate the bigger wheels of the 29er. The longer reach and slacker head angle both conspire to create a significantly longer wheelbase than on the previous generation Mega, even with the 10-mm shorter stays of the 27.5" version.

From then to now - the original Mega prototype from 2009-2010 helped shape modern trail bike geo.

The overall design of the new frame is much slimmer in appearance and has lost much of the "industrial" aspect of the previous generation, which translates to actual weight loss on the scales as well. Similar to the new Pulse DH bike, the Mega gets a particularly skinny top tube, which Nukeproof says has been specifically tuned to provide the frame with a degree of "vertical compliance". Having been able to reach their weight and stiffness goals for the new Mega with aluminum, the company has no plans to introduce a carbon version currently.

The skinny top tube adds vertical compliance to the frame says Nukeproof.

In terms of frame features, Nukeproof opted to keep it simple with external cable routing and no adjustability options. Since they were able to achieve all their design goals with "good old" 142-mm rear spacing and a 73-mm threaded BB shell, they have also stayed away from Boost and Pressfit. The Mega offers front derailleur compatibility for those whose climbs are long and steep, although only the one entry level model is sold as such (the rest are all 1x).

When it comes to suspension performance, the move to a Horst Link design has altered some of the characteristics of the previous Megas. A progressive leverage curve helps the suspension ramp up to deal with big hits, allowing Nukeproof to spec a Low compression tune on the Monarch shock. Anti-squat and anti-rise numbers have both been toned down significantly compared to older generations of the Mega, which frees up the suspension to work more independently of pedaling and braking forces. This is especially noticeable on rough, technical climbs. The shock's platform switch is helpful when trying to combat the slight amount of pedal bob, though we didn't feel a pressing need to use it often.

Brown: old Mega TR 130, Green: old Mega AM 160, Blue: new Mega 27.5, Purple: new Mega 29 (click image to zoom).

On The Trail/Riding Impressions

Day one of riding saw us head out on an "epic" alpine day. We opted to hop aboard the 27.5" Mega first, to give us a first impression of the new bike with the wheelsize we do most of our riding on. We were hosted by www.super-natural.it who know the area like the back of their hand (having built many of the trails we rode). The first ride they laid out for us involved a shuttle followed by an almost hour-long climb, which earned us the right to thoroughly enjoy 1000s of feet of descending across everything from high alpine rock fests to loamy forest trails.

Uplifting your bike and your spirits - we still had lots of climbing ahead of us though.

The Mega 27.5 was easy to get along with on the climb. The upright seat tube put us in a great spot for pedaling, and bobbing was well controlled. The new Mega is an efficient climber that also reacts well when you lay down the power. The long travel and relatively modest anti-squat numbers mean it is not the most crisp sprinter out there, but it is far from sluggish and picks up the pace nicely across flatter terrain with ease.

With views like this, we gladly carried our camera gear, and the Mega 27.5 was a great packmule. - photo Duncan Philpott/Nukeproof

As soon as the trail points downwards, the Mega is in its element. We found it very easy to get used to, and it inspired lots of confidence right from the first runs. Small-bump compliance and grip are both excellent, and the slack head-angle and long wheelbase make for a very forgiving ride when things get rough. The Mega 27.5 happily put up with some of our usual less-than-stellar line choice, and held its composure even when we did not. It strikes a good balance between long wheelbase and short chainstays which creates a very functional compromise for all but the tightest of trails.

The Mega 27.5 had our back - even with the big photo pack! - photo Duncan Philpott/Nukeproof

Whether or not the "vertical compliance" Nukeproof says they have designed into the frame had something to do with it, the Mega provided a very cushioned feel when things got rougher. The progressive rear suspension ramps up to take on bigger hits, and the bike also tolerates being ridden with quite a wide range of sag values. 30-35% worked well for us and still left the last bit of travel in reserve, although we didn't come across much in terms of bigger jumps/drops to really test this out. Schwalbe's Magic Mary/Nobby Nic combo in Trailstar trim worked well across all the different surfaces we frequented, although there were quite a few punctures in the group on some of the faster, rockier trails. If this sounds like your regular ride, you'll need to consider heavier duty rubber.

Day two and more shuttles on the agenda. We hopped on the 29er to see what the addition of bigger wheels would do to the Mega. When it comes to climbing, the immediate benefit of the bigger hoops is the ability to float over uneven surfaces, making those long rough fireroad burns much more manageable. You still need to put in the same amount of work to lift your body and bike up the hill, but you waste a lot less energy hanging up on rocks and roots.

All the fun with extra security, the Mega 29 surprised us. - photo Duncan Philpott/Nukeproof

Pointing the Mega 29 down the trail proved quite a revelation. It gains an extra level of sure-footedness and inspires even more confidence than the 27.5" version, with almost no penalty in terms of agility. To be clear, some of the tightest trails proved slightly more challenging to move around, but for the rest, we found ourselves getting on the gas more often and feeling more relaxed about it. The 29er equals the 27.5" version in terms of playfulness and willingness to get airborne, but it adds speed and a safety blanket that you can get used to in a hurry. 150-mm of travel and a 66-degree head angle are numbers that would not look out of place on many an aggressive 27.5" trail bike - on the 29er they are monster truck territory. With that said, the biggest compliment we can give Nukeproof here is that going from one bike to the other felt very natural, proof that wheel size alone does not a bike make.

Speaking of monster trucks, Sam Hill joined us for the launch event. Unable to try the 29er "for religious reasons", he made everything look far too easy on the new Mega 27.5. Hitting lines blind at speed, he was as unphased by the terrain as they come. We were stoked to see him healthy and enjoying his new bike, even if they were only brief glimpses as he pulled away down the trail...

Blink and you'll miss him.

2016 Nukeproof Mega Pro Build Kit

We rode the 2nd-highest tier, Pro version of the Mega in both 27.5" and 29" guise. At this level you get a full compliment of SRAM and RockShox parts, from the ubiquitous Pike RCT3 right down to the wheelsets, with Nukeproof's own component line used to round out the build.

The RockShox Pike/Monarch Plus combo is tried and tested and performed at a high level during our two riding days. SRAM's excellent Guide RS stoppers were more than up to the task of slowing us down during long runs on steep terrain, although we think Nukeproof could spec 200-mm rotors up front, at least on the larger frame sizes. SRAM's Roam wheels proved solid, although they seemed to exhibit a certain amount of flex and sounded distinctly "twangy" on the 29er, leaving us wondering how they will fare in the long run on the big-wheeler.

We ran the new Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill edition pedals for both days - pretty much as much grip as we have ever experienced.

The choice of 150-mm drop on the Reverb is to be applauded, especially on a bike that likes to get this rowdy. X1 shifting was accurate and we had no dropped chains during the two days. Nukeproof's handlebar has comfortable angles, but we would rather see the bike ship with a 780-mm version instead of 760 - you can always cut but the opposite is not true. Nukeproof's own "Trail" saddle may also end up in your parts bin fairly quickly, as it is not the most comfortable bum-perch we have come across.

2016 Nukeproof Mega Geometry

2016 Nukeproof Mega Pricing

Mega 275 Build Kits

(click image to zoom)

Mega 29 Build Kits

(click image to zoom)

For more information, head on over to www.nukeproof.com.

Words and photos by Johan Hjord // Action photos by Duncan Philpott

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