The Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro isn’t just the most affordable bike in the test, it’s also the fastest. The bike was developed on the racetrack, for the racetrack. But is it fun on normal trails too if you’re not racing? How versatile is a bike with such a need for speed?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro | 170/160 mm (f/r) | 15.46 kg in size L | € 3,999
Manufacturer’s website

It wasn’t easy to get our hands on a Nukeproof Mega 290 for this test. Unfortunately, the size medium Mega 290 RS that we received at the launch was too small to make a fair comparison, but the large was out of stock. Instead, we decided to include the aluminium Mega 290 in the test and it proves once again that you don’t need a high-end bike to have a lot of fun! The new Mega relies on a four-bar rear end and thanks to the new position of the shock, finally has space for a water bottle. Compared to the super sexy carbon model, the aluminium counterpart looks somewhat rudimentary and we would have liked to see a little more attention to detail with the cable routing. As far as the geometry and suspension are concerned, the carbon and aluminium models don’t differ and the weight of 15.46 kg is acceptable given the entry-level spec. The bottle cage bosses on the top tube offer a convenient on-bike storage solution for a spare tube and tools.

The components of the Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro – Race ready

The Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro can be yours for € 3,999, specced with inexpensive but functional components. Nukeproof invest money where it makes the most sense: in the RockShox Select+ suspension consisting of a 170 mm Lyrik fork and a Super Deluxe shock controlling 160 mm travel at the rear. Keeping your speed in check are a pair of SRAM Guide RE stoppers. They are a bit older and might not be as sexy, but thanks to the CODE callipers they offer a lot of stopping power and reliability. However, we would upgrade to a 200 mm rotor at the rear. The SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain is proven and the in-house Nukeproof components look good and fit the bike perfectly in terms of functionally. The only problem was the rear wheel: hitting berms hard would simply rip the tire off the rim despite running the correct pressure.

No other rear end in the test performs as unnoticeably yet capably as that of the Nukeproof Mega. The bike offers an incredible amount of traction and always stays composed.
The Mega 290 is a very quiet bike. Thanks, in part, to the well-damped chainstay protector.
The cable routing of the Mega 290 Alu is nowhere near as clean and elegant as its carbon counterpart. The clip on our test bike kept coming loose.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro

€ 3,999

Specifications

Fork RockShox Lyrik Select+ 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ 160 mm
Seatpost Brand X Ascend internal 170 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 30/10-52
Stem Nukeproof Neutron AM 45 mm
Handlebar Nukeproof Horizon V2 800 mm
Wheelset Nukeproof Neutron V2
Tires Michelin Wild Enduro GUM-X TS TLR 2.4"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL XXL
Weight 15.46 kg
Wheelsize 29"


The additional bosses are not as sleek as an integrated storage box in the frame but they still offer a convenient on-bike storage solution for small items. You can either use a strap or a small bag, as available from Wolf Tooth.
The small 180 mm rotor at the rear doesn’t do justice to the performance of the Mega on long descents. Upgrading to a 200 mm rotor is mandatory here.

The geometry of new Mega – Select optimisations

In recent years, the Nukeproof Mega has proven to be one of the most balanced bikes on the market by far. However, this also made the bike a bit sluggish through tight sections. For the new season, Nukeproof have tried to remedy this, optimizing details of the geometry. The reach is well-chosen at 475 mm and the chainstays have become slightly shorter at 440 mm, though they’re still longer than most of the other bikes in the test. The bottom bracket drop is 30 mm and the head angle is a slack 64°. For even better climbing capabilities, the seat tube angle now sits at 78° in size large. At 440 mm, the seat tube isn’t excessively long and offers enough room for a long dropper post.

Size S M L XL XXL
Seat tube 380 mm 410 mm 440 mm 470 mm 500 mm
Top tube 568 mm 593 mm 639 mm 648 mm 657 mm
Head tube 100 mm 100 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm
Head angle 64.0° 64.0° 64.0° 64.0° 64.0°
Seat angle 77.5° 77.5° 78.0° 78.0° 78.0°
Chainstays 440 mm 440 mm 440 mm 440 mm 440 mm
BB Drop 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm
Radstand 1,197 mm 1,222 mm 1,251 mm 1,275 mm 1,300 mm
Reach 430 mm 455 mm 475 mm 495 mm 515 mm
Stack 621 mm 621 mm 639 mm 648 mm 657 mm
Helemt GIRO Manifest Spherical | Glasses Smith Wildcat | Jersey Troy Lee Ruckus
Trousers DHaRCO Gravity Pants< | Shoes Specialized 2FO Roost

The Mega 290 Alloy makes relaxed and comfortable work of any climb.

No, we’re not going to be using any superlatives here. Due to its weight, the Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy isn’t a rocket uphill, but it’s a capable climber, nonetheless, stoically getting up every climb and providing a comfortable ride. The riding position is very central on the bike and the front wheel sticks to the ground no matter how steep the incline. This allows you to save energy as you don’t have to use your upper body to keep the front wheel planted. The chassis is efficient too, doesn’t wallow and we felt happy leaving the compression damping open. At the same time, the Mega 290 Alloy Pro offers an impressive amount of traction and comfort.

The moment you head downhill with the Nukeproof Mega 290, your brain goes into overdrive. This bike is so damn fast that trees and rocks will fly past with so much more speed than you’re used to. Corners come at you quicker and you’ll have to hit the brakes sooner. Left, right, left, right. Your brain whirrs and your body reacts intuitively.

Always in control – That’s the motto of the Mega 290

It’s unbelievable how easy it is to set new personal bests with this bike and pull away from your buddies. This is due, in large part, to the incredible suspension of the Mega. The rear end sensitively absorbs bumps while soaking up the biggest hits with ease. No matter what you throw at it, the Mega always gives you the impression that it can take even more. The bike is incredibly calm and composed, allowing the rider to put all their focus on what lies ahead. In turn, the bike responds to rider input directly and it remains balanced doing so. You don’t have to throw your weight around on the bike and your centre of gravity always remains where it should be. At the same time, the new Nukeproof Mega is more agile than its predecessor in tight sections and does a better job of carrying speed. So what didn’t we like? The Mega is a lot of bike when you’re riding flat trails and feels a bit clumsier than the Rocky Mountain or the Specialized Stumpjumper Evo.

How does the Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy compare to the competition?

Despite its low price, the Mega 290 Alloy is one of the best bikes in the test. It can take on any bike on demanding descents where it offers tons of control. It stays even calmer through the roughest terrain than the Rocky Mountain Altitude, though it offers a little less feedback from the ground when you pump it and is a bit more boring on easy trails. That lack of all-round capabilities ultimately cost it the Best in Test badge. In comparison, the Stumpjumper Evo feels much more light-footed, especially on long rides with a lot of pedalling.

Tuning tips: 200 mm brake rotor at the rear | CushCore inserts and an extra layer of tubeless tape for a better fit of the rear tire

Riding Characteristics

12

Uphill

1
  1. sluggish
  2. efficient

Agility

2
  1. cumbersome
  2. playful

Stability

3
  1. nervous
  2. confident

Handling

4
  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Suspension

5
  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

6
  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

7
  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use

XC

8

Trail

9

Enduro

10

Downhill

11

Conclusion

Our jaws still drop when we think about how fast we flew down the trails aboard the Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro! This bike pushes your limits without you even trying. The suspension of the Mega 290 is unrivalled, offering incredible reserves and, together with the balanced geometry, provides full control. Anyone looking for the ultimate race bike will find it here. However, this bike is not made for easy, flat trails.

Tops

  • the suspension is indescribably good
  • balanced, quick and easy to control
  • very quiet

Flops

  • small weaknesses in the components
  • too much bike for easy, flat trails
  • details of the aluminium frame look rudimentary

You can find out more about at nukeproof.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2021 – 13 models in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR (Click for review) | COMMENCAL Meta AM 29 Öhlins (Click for review) | GIANT Reign Advanced Pro 0 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo V2 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290 Alloy Pro | Propain Spindrift CF Mix Custom (Click for review) | Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon 90 Rally Edition (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Coil RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad CC X01 RSV (Click for review) | Specialized Enduro Expert (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO (Click for review) | Transition Sentinel XT (Click for review) | Trek Slash 9.8 XT (Click for review)

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer, Valentin Rühl, Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

When work doesn't feel like work, then you've probably done everything right. Luckily, that’s exactly what Christoph did. He loves biking and the tech talk surrounding it (to the detriment of his girlfriend Toni), photography and travelling the world. He has been with ENDURO almost from the start and as editor-in-chief, he's responsible for making ENDURO the most progressive and exciting magazine in the industry. Of course, he still writes a lot of content himself, reviews almost 100 bikes a year and rides his bike almost every day. The alpine trails around his hometown serve as the perfect testing grounds. He doesn't have a classic 9 to 5 routine – sometimes he's in the office, sometimes he'll take his laptop to sit in the garden and sometimes you'll even find him working remotely from his van parked at one the best riding spots in the world. For Christoph, work-life boundaries are fluid and he likes it that way.