With the Mega 290 Expert, Nukeproof are on a roll. With Sam Hill dominating in the EWS and a host of award-winning bikes, the once bargain-basement brand has reached critical mass. The Nukeproof Mega is officially the fastest Enduro bike in the world but can the Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert take pole position at this tough price point?

For an overview of the test fleet head to thtrue oup test: What’s the best 2020 Enduro Bike under € 3,500 – 9 mountain bikes in review

Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert | 170/160 mm (f/r) | 15.4 kg in size L | € 2,999 | Manufacturer’s website

The Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert in detail

In the early days, Nukeproof were the champions of no-frills performance. The Mega was always ridden hard by enthusiasts, getting scratched and beaten up after a season of hard use. So, at this affordable end of the spectrum, Nukeproof really should know what they are doing. We were sent their 15.4 kg, € 2,999 Mega 290 Expert and on paper at least, it looks ready to rip. Fitted to the hydroformed 6061 aluminium frame is a 170 mm RockShox Lyrik Select RC fork paired with a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ RT rear shock controlling the 160 mm rear travel. A SRAM NX drivetrain does its job, as do the SRAM Guide RE brakes, which may not have the sexy CODE name, but have more powerful calipers than a standard Guide. The bike rolls on WTB Speed Terra 29″ ST Light i30 wheels with Michelin Wild Enduro 29 x 2.4” (Magi-X/Gum-X compound) tires. The Brand X Ascend 150 mm dropper post is basic but works well and the Nukeproof Horizon 25 mm Rise 800 mm bar and 45 mm Neutron AM stem complete the package. The build is resoundingly Nukeproof – tough, durable and no-frills.

Solid but lazy pickup
The WTB Speed Terra 29″ ST Light i30 wheels feel compliant and accurate on the trail, but the hub doesn’t have the fastest engagement.
Poor man’s RC2
The RC damper is not as sophisticated as the RC2, but with the low-speed compression damping run around a third of the way round the dial, it offers great performance.
The deal breaker
If you need to run a bottle, you need to move on. There is no spare real estate in the Nukeproof frame.

Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert

€ 2,999


Fork RockShox Lyrik Select Charger RC 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ 160 mm
Seatpost Brand-X Ascend internal 150 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM NX 1x12
Stem Nukeproof Neutron AM 45 mm
Handlebar Nukeproof Horizon 800 mm
Wheelset WTB Speed Terra 29"
Tires Michelin Wild Enduro 2.4"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size M L XL
Weight 15.4 kg

Specific Features

Size counts
The long 450 mm chainstays provide sublime balance and weight distribution. The Nukeproof doesn’t need an EWS racer to have fun and go fast.
Shit to a blanket
The Michelin Wild Enduro 29 x 2.4” tires grip like shit to a blanket on dry and loose trails, allowing for some fierce cornering.
Tested by the best
The Nukeproof Mega bears an iconic signature. Sam Hill has made it the fastest Enduro bike on the planet.

Geometry of the Nukeproof 290 Expert

The Nukeproof 290 Expert stands out with its non-radical approach. With a 64.5° head angle and steep 76.8° seat tube, it may not excite many forum dwellers, but the long 450 mm chainstays are an exception, being the longest in this group. The lengthy 470 mm reach in size Large, and long chainstays add up to a healthy 1,256 mm wheelbase, promising a stable ride. A 30 mm bottom bracket drop and tall 630.5 mm stack integrate the rider deep into the bike.

Size M L XL
Seat tube 420 mm 458 mm 508 mm
Top tube 601 mm 619 mm 666 mm
Head tube 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm
Head angle 64.5° 64.5° 64.5°
Seat angle 76.8° 76.8° 76.8°
Chainstays 450 mm 450 mm 450 mm
BB Drop 30 mm 30 mm 30 mm
Wheelbase 1,237 mm 1,256 mm 1,305 mm
Reach 455 mm 470 mm 515 mm
Stack 621 mm 631 mm 639 mm

The Nukeproof is the thinking rider’s enduro bike. Capable, confident and effortless to ride at the limit, it’s an animal in every way

Helmet MET Roam | Glasses Oakley Race Jacket | Jersey Nukeproof Angry Banana
Pants ION Shelter Pants | Shoes ION Rascal

The Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert on the trail

Familiar, easy-going and confidence inspiring – perfect adjectives to describe the Nukeproof’s riding position. The excellent Nukeproof Horizon bar and balanced geometry means it takes just seconds to get used to the feel of the bike. For a 15.4 kg bike, the Nukeproof spins uphill well. With the saddle moved forwards the head up position is very comfortable and efficient, allowing us to chat while our buddies gasped for air. The anti-squat isn’t high so we did sometimes use the climb switch on the RockShox Super Deluxe shock to minimise the small amount of bobbing. With a suspension system that is degressive to sag, where it transitions to being very progressive, the Mega has very smooth small bump sensitivity for huge amounts of grip on the climbs, but ramps up firmly when you need support. Unfortunately, the design of the frame leaves no space for a bottle.

Hitting the descents it doesn’t take long at all to realise the Nukeproof is going to rock. The moderate reach and super long chainstays weight the wheels equally and there is a strong feeling of balance. No monkey-like weight shifts are needed to find grip from the front wheel and going fast is effortless. The bike feels totally confident and stable, but is happy to get loose should you want to unleash hell on a berm. The Nukeproof’s special skill is being able to blend huge stability with a light footedness that allows you to quickly flick between lines, playing with corners in a way that the Capra and Privateer struggle with. Pedal kickback is low, keeping the rear end feeling smooth when charging through rock gardens. The Guide RE brakes scrub off speed with control, though we would size up the rear rotor to 200 mm. The Michelin Wild Enduro tires are a welcome surprise in this group test too, offering up huge grip with a rugged sidewall on the rear which is well suited to the bike. The rest of the build kit works really well, with no hidden gremlins. We were most impressed with the accessibility of the Nukeproof Mega 290’s performance. It’s not a demanding bike but can be pushed hard, meaning that riders of all abilities will be able to enjoy the bike’s easy-going but fast riding nature.

How does it compare to the other bikes in this test?

The Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert feels easier to ride fast than any other bike in this group test. It’s a beast downhill and happy to trade punches with the downhill specialists like the Privateer and YT Capra, connecting gaps and braaping turns with the best of them. However, it is also fun enough to chuck about the local jump spot or deliver smiles on a fast natural trail blast. It’s a big bike, no doubt, but never feels clumsy or unwieldy. While it cannot match the Propain or Ibis Ripmo AF through very tight turns, it will crush them as soon as the track gets gnarly. The most impressive feat of the Nukeproof is that it does it all so easily, complementing your riding whatever your level.

Tuning tips: invest in a hydration pack or fanny pack with bottle compatibility|fit a 170 mm dropper|size up to a 200 mm rear rotor

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The Nukeproof Mega is a masterclass in balance and easy-going performance. The long chainstays and central position ensure that riders of all levels will enjoy the fantastic handling and blistering performance. It’s a race stage crusher that would be just as happy shredding alpine singletrack as it would be hitting the jump line. We cannot think of any rider who would not love the Nukeproof Mega, it’s awesome and our BEST IN TEST!


  • Balanced performance that everyone will enjoy
  • Total confidence on the hardest tracks
  • Great no-nonsense build kit


  • No room for a bottle cage

For more info head to: nukeproof.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to thtrue oup test: What’s the best 2020 Enduro Bike under € 3,500 – 9 mountain bikes in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Torque AL 6.0 (Click for review)| GIANT Reign SX 29 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo AF Coil (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 700 (Click for review) | Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert | Privateer 161 (Click for review) | Propain Tyee CF (Click for review) | Trek Slash 8 29 (Click for review) | YT Capra Comp 29 (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Trev Worsey, Finlay Anderson