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
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.
Nukeproof Mega 290C Pro
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
Size M, L, XL
Weight 14.84 kg
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.
|Seat tube||420 mm||458 mm||508 mm|
|Top tube||601 mm||619 mm||666 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||110 mm||120 mm|
|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 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
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.
- easy to ride fast
- very balanced
- excellent suspension
- 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
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
Words: Christoph Bayer Photos: Christoph Bayer / Finlay Anderson / Markus Frühmann