Nukeproof Mega TR
WORDS Matt Wragg
PHOTOS Alex Boyce
Since Nukeproof re-emerged on the market a few years ago their Mega trailbike has gained a strong, and growing, following. Originally it was a 150-millimeter-travel mountain smasher - affordable and built tough for durability in the big mountains. More than a few trail guiding companies in Europe opted for the Mega as their bike of choice. It's the kind of punishment that few bikes can stand, yet many of those Megas are still going strong several guiding seasons later. Reliability, however, is meaningless if the bikes are no good, and the fact they have kept rolling is largely because their owners wanted to keep riding them. In 2012, Nukeproof split the Mega range into two, with the AM carrying on the heavy-duty lineage and a new model, the TR, offering slightly lower weight, shorter travel and a more agile handling package. Next year, Nukeproof are shifting their full range of complete bikes to 27.5-inch wheels, but they will still be offering 26-inch framesets, so we decided to put one to the test.Details:
• Purpose: Trail/All-mountain/Enduro
• Frame: Aluminum, single-pivot rear suspension, 130mm travel
• Wheel size: 26"
• Shock: RockShox Monarch RT3
• Fork: RockShox Revelation 140mm travel
• 67° head angle
• 430mm chainstays
• Sizes: Small, medium, large (tested), X-large
• Weight: 6.49lbs (2.95kg - without shock)
• MSRP: Frame and shock - $2159.99 The Frame
Nukeproof’s Mega TR frame is slimmed down from the AM version, but it is still a pretty substantial bike. The tapered head tube is big enough to accommodate the larger, lower race of the headset without flaring out at the base and the entire upper raced is also recessed. On the front, sits a beefy, metal Nukeproof headbadge, something you don't see often these days. The rectangular-profile down tube and top tube are big, and curved just enough to keep the bike on the right side of industrial-looking. Behind the head tube, the top and down tubes are joined for a full three inches. You're going to need to do something pretty heroic to rip the head tube off this frame.
Working back along the frame, there is no doubt that the bike is made by Nukeproof - it has the Nukeproof logo on it no less than seven times, not counting the Nukeproof-branded headset and seat collar spec’d on our test bike. It's great to see the option to run an internally-routed dropper post, with the entry point on the front of the seat tube at the base. Around the bottom bracket are ISCG05 mounts for a chainguide. Heading to the back of the bike there are more big, square tubes for the chainstays and seatstays. It all finishes with a 142 x 12-millimeter rear axle to keep the back nice and stiff.Suspension
Nukeproof’s Erosion Link suspension system is essentially a single-pivot layout, with the upper part of the linkage controlling the movement of the shock. At first glance, it may look like a true four-bar linkage, but the detail that separates it from such bikes is that the back pivot is above the rear axle, so the rear wheel moves in a simple arc from the swingarm pivot above the bottom bracket. Driving the shock is a small, machined rocker link that pivots from the top tube. The Spec
While we are only reviewing the frame here, but it is worth mentioning the spec because Nukeproof sent it us with one of their standard builds, which tells a lot about what they have in mind for this bike. To put it simply, they want you to ride this bike hard. It came with a wide Nukeproof Warhead 760-millimeter handlebar and a Nukeproof Warhead 60-millimeter stem to match, a 1 x 10 drivetrain with a proper chainguide. Tyres were some of our favorites: a soft, Supertacky compound Maxxis High Roller on the front and a harder, MaxxPro version on the rear. We can't think of many companies who are willing to push the boat on a spec like this for a bike with only 130 millimeters of travel, but we approve whole-heartedly.
Most of the components on our Mega TR were provided by SRAM and Nukeproof. SRAM X7 takes on most of the drivetrain duties, except for the rear derailleur, which is the X9 with the Type 2 clutch, while the crank is a Truvativ Descendant with a single-ring setup. Stopping is handled by Avid’s cheap and cheerful Elixir 5 brakes. Suspension is handled by a 32-millimeter-stanchion RockShox Revelation fork, paired with a Monarch RT3 shock. Nukeproof Generator TR wheels and a Nukeproof Mega saddle finish off the build.
The Mega TR isn't the lightest bike out there, which obviously counts against it a little bit when you are going climbing. That said, the full lockout option on the Monarch shock was a real bonus and left it almost feeling like a hardtail. Our test bike was a large frame for a 5-foot, 9-inch rider and the position this gave us for climbing was fantastic, it really opened up the chest to help us breathe.
On fire road climbs we could happily sit and knock out the miles. We went riding with some of the scary-fast XC riders around Sospel, where we put the bike to the test, climbing on the hiking paths around the town. Here it genuinely surprised us, how easily it let us keep pace with them. We simply did not expect a bike this burly to go so well uphill. The 67-degree head angle was spot on for picking a line up a steep section. The TR didn't wander at all. Sometimes on this kind of terrain, we could notice the compact, 430-millimeter chainstays and we almost found ourselves wishing they were a touch longer. In fact, Nukeproof appear to have discovered the same thing, as the 27.5-inch-wheel version of the frame has longer, 440-millimeter stays. Descending:
To get the Mega TR up to speed, you need to get involved, it's a very lively bike and once you start pumping the terrain it quickly accelerates. On the more flowy trails, where the bike was tested, the TR reminded us why bikes with 120 to 130-millimeters of travel can feel so good. The Mega TR hits a sweet spot for riders who like to play with the trail. Setting the shock wide open, there is just enough forgiveness in the bike to take risks, but there is also an immediacy to the handling - something that you inevitably lose with a longer travel bike. The Mega TR changes direction very well and feels much lighter on the downs than the scale suggests it should.
On fast, technical terrain, the Mega TR’s love for speed encouraged us to pick up pace, but the problem was what to do with it? The bike’s 67-degree head angle, combined with the 32-millimeter-stanchion RockShox Revelation fork and its single-ply tyres left us with few options to get us out of trouble. When our lines were precise and we were able commit to the trail, the TR was trustworthy, but the line between success and disaster was a very fine one. Braking and Suspension:
The Mega TR’s suspension design isn't the best under braking. We found out quickly that we either had to be completely off the brakes or be braking hard. Trying to moderate speed continuously left the bike feeling uncomfortable. In the downhill environment, if you are a very confident and precise rider, the Nukeproof has the potential to be a very quick bike, but less confident riders may find it hard to live with.
In steep, low speed technical sections, the problems with the suspension layout under braking really came to the fore. Near the bottom of one of our local loops is a set of ugly rock steps, they are jagged, uneven and constantly moving under the wheels. The Mega TR wasn't enough bike to try and plough through them, but to pick our way down on the brakes meant that we had to fight to keep the bike from constantly trying to build up speed. The suspension was very unforgiving under braking, leaving us feeling like we were jarring from one rock to the next. This is a problem with many single-pivot-swingarm suspension designs, so take the Nukeproof’s suspension layout into consideration along with your local trails. Pinkbike's Take:
| As bikes become lighter, faster and more efficient, one thing that is sometimes forgotten in the march of progress is fun. The Mega TR doesn't fit into any of the common categories people use to pigeon-hole bikes. Most other bikes with similar suspension travel are lighter with bigger wheels, bikes with similar specs tend to be longer-travel machines. Sitting outside all this, it is simply a fun, fast-handling bike, affordably priced and designed to be ridden hard. We would be very interested to try this bike with a burlier fork, like the Revelation's big brother, the Pike, as the speed you could pick up so easily left you feeling under-gunned with 32mm stanchions out front. We suspect it isn't the bike for everyone, but in the hands of the right rider, the Mega TR has the potential to be a hell of a lot of fun. - Matt Wragg|