The first time we reviewed the Mega 290 we asked ourselves why Sam Hill doesn’t ride the 29er? Last season he finally made the switch and Hill was seen riding a prototype of the Nukeproof Mega 290C for the first time. We were mega excited to see how it would fare against the competition.

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020

Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | 170/160 mm | 14.84 kg | € 4,299

The Nukeproof Mega 290C was a bike that we simply had to have in this group test. When Nukeproof informed us that they “only” had the Pro model available at the time, we couldn’t turn them down. It might not have the best componentry, but the spec is sensible and well-considered nonetheless. The Mega 290C Pro comes with RockShox suspension consisting of a Lyrik Select+ fork and a Super Deluxe Select+ shock, with performance that is hardly discernible from the Ultimate models found on the flagship bike. For the brakes and drivetrain, Nukeproof have specced equally proven and reliable components: a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and Guide RE brakes. The frame of the brand new Mega 290C doesn’t only upgrade to carbon, the geometry and kinematics have also been revised from the ground up compared to the aluminium model we reviewed previously. The bike now offers 170 mm travel up front and 160 mm at the rear. The head angle has been slackened to 64.5° and the seat tube angle has been steepened to 76.75°. In size L, the 470 mm reach is neither too long nor too short. Currently, Nukepoof offer the 29er in only three sizes from M-XL. Smaller riders will have to resort to the 275 model.

Race-ready
There is nothing to complain about regarding the componentry of the lower-end Pro model. Thanks to the chain guide and bash guard, it’s race-ready out of the box.
Well silenced
Except for the sound of the tires on the ground and the breathing of the rider, the Mega 290C is as silent as anything can be when it crashes through the woods – brilliant!
How it should be
In-house components often look cheap and detract from the look of a bike. However, Nukeproof’s in-house brand components seem like more of an upgrade – thumbs up!

Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro

€ 4,299

Specifications

Fork RockShox Lyrik Select+ 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox SuperDeluxe Select+ 160 mm
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth 175 mm
Brakes SRAM Guide RE 200/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX Eagle 30 - 10/50
Stem Nukeproof Horizon 50 mm
Handlebar Nukeproof Horizon 800 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss E1700 Spline 29

Technical Data

Size M, L, XL
Weight 14.84 kg


Lots of room
Nukeproof spec the size L with a 170 mm RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, giving you plenty of room on the descents.
Endless traction
Both the rear end and the front of the bike offer tremendous amounts of traction. The RockShox Lyrik Select+ fork and the Michelin tires delivered a convincing performance.

Geometry and size of the Nukeproof

The Nukeproof Mega 290C is one of the bikes with the most cornering grip on test, which is predominantly due to its long chainstays. An even distribution of weight across the wheels was clearly prioritised with the geometry and with its low bottom bracket, moderate reach and long chainstays, the figures look nicely balanced.

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
Helmet Fox Dropframe | Glasses 100% Accuri | Jersey Fox Ranger Fox Head | Shorts Fox Ranger | Knee pads ION K-Pact Zip

The Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro on the trail

Climbing, the Nukeproof Mega 290C is unstoppable. Although climbing has never been more to us than a means to an end, it couldn’t be more relaxed on the Mega 290C. The pedalling position is very central and the suspension’s anti-squat performs efficiently. When you get on the pedals, the bike accelerates quickly and the 30 t chainring is perfect for long days in the saddle. The 450 mm chainstays are excellent on the climbs, always making sure the front end stays planted and in control. On the descents, the chainstays make for very balanced and easy handling.

The Nukeproof Mega 290C corners like it’s on rails and offers tremendous amounts of traction!

The rider is positioned centrally between the wheels meaning you don’t have to throw your weight around to stay in control, meaning the Mega 290C is easy to ride fast while staying relaxed. The suspension, as on the Mega 275, plays just as big a role in the Mega’s stability and composure on rough terrain, responding sensitively while offering enough mid-stroke support and the necessary progression at the end of the travel. The only weakness of the Mega 290C? It’s not the most agile bike. If you love manualling and popping off obstacles, you’ll want something a little more agile.

The new carbon model has little in common with the previous aluminium version – it’s been improved in every respect!

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

Despite coming from a lower price bracket, the Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro can keep up with the likes of the RAAW Madonna and the Specialized Enduro S-Works when it comes to performance in very rough terrain. It glides through rock gardens like it’s on rails and tames even the roughest trails. However, the other two bikes are slightly more agile and they can accommodate a water bottle in the front triangle – it might seem like a minor point to criticise but it’s important for all-day rides.

Tuning tip: none

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

The Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro is a capable descender that will get you to the trail-head without breaking a sweat. Its suspension performs brilliantly and the handling is extremely composed and good-natured, allowing riders of all skill levels to push their limits. If you’re looking for a KOM-killer for the roughest descents, this is the bike. However, its composure comes at the expense of agility – if playfulness is important to you, you’ll have to accept a compromise here.

Tops

  • easy to ride fast
  • very balanced
  • excellent suspension

Flops

  • cumbersome in certain situations
  • no bottle mount in the front triangle

You can find out more about the Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro at nukeproof.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike 2020

All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD | CUBE Stereo 170 SL 29 | Giant Reign Advanced 29 0 | Ibis Mojo HD5 | Norco Sight C1 29 | Nukeproof Mega 275C RS | Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro | Orbea Rallon M-LTD | Pole Stamina 180 LE | RAAW Madonna V2 FOX Factory Built | Rocky Mountain Slayer Carbon 90 29 | Santa Cruz Megatower CC X01 Reserve | SCOTT Ransom 900 Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 2020 | Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert | Trek Slash 9.9 X01 AXS | Yeti SB150 T2 | YT CAPRA 29 CF Pro Race

Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann

About the author

Christoph Bayer

Christoph loves to be kept on his toes – both on the bike and in his role for ENDURO. He’s known as the guy in charge of the bi-monthly magazine and masquerades as both its editor and photographer. You’ll usually find him tearing up the mountains on his bike, soaking up the flow or tackling technical, narrow trails.