Nukeproof are one of the first brands to spill the beans on the eMTB they've been developing with SRAM's new Powertrain motor. It's called the Megawatt Carbon, and as the name suggests, it boasts a full-carbon fiber frame alongside the new drive unit. Nukeproof will continue to make the alloy Megawatt with a Shimano motor to cater to the lower end of the market, as the new version is an unashamedly premium affair.
For the full story on the SRAM powertrain motor, check out our earlier article here
. But for now, suffice it to say it offers loads of power (90 Nm torque, 680 W peak power), a quiet ride and - in combination with SRAM's Transmission gearing - the option to shift gears automatically and/or while coasting. The Megawatt uses a 720 Wh battery, which is also an improvement on the Shimano-powered bike.
Megawatt Carbon Details
• SRAM Powertrain motor, 720 Wh battery, auto shifting
• 170 mm travel front & rear
• Fully carbon frame
• Mullet wheels
• Sizes: S-XXL
• Claimed weight: 24 Kg / 53 lb
• Price: £8,799/€10,499/$9,899 - £9,999/ €11,999/$10,899
• Water bottle + internal storage
Nukeproof have also tweaked the suspension, increased the travel and adjusted the geometry while they're at it. The original Megawatt
had a particularly well-balanced ride quality. We got the chance to ride the carbon version and see if it's even better.
Frame & Motor
Nukeproof designed the frame so the battery slides out the bottom of the downtube and is held in place with a single bolt for easy battery swaps or off-bike charging. This design saves a bit of weight compared to a battery that slots into the underbelly of the downtube. They angled the motor so the battery slides out easily, and this left some room underneath the motor and behind the battery. Nukeproof made use of this by attaching bosses to the inside of the plastic cover, which can be used to carry a conventional tool mount with an inner tube, CO2, multitool etc. The plastic cover is held in place with a threaded cap that you can remove by hand like a fork's air valve cap. At the launch, one of these came loose and fell off, and another was too tight to remove without pliers, so hopefully, Nukeproof can improve on this for production.
There's room for a 500 ml water bottle in all sizes and there's another accessory mount under the top tube.
The mainframe has carbon channels above the battery for easy cable installation, and the chainstay and seatstay are carbon, too. The frame is protected with extensive contoured rubber armour plus a clear protection kit to preserve the paint. The suspension pivots on full complement Enduro max bearings.
An integrated chain guide is apparently essential to ensure the reliability of the automatic shifting, which can shift gears while you're hammering through rock gardens.
The derailleur is powered from the main battery via a power cable. This cable only provides energy; all the communication between the motor and gears is wireless. SRAM say you'll still get about two hours of shifting after the drive battery runs out. You can also use a regular AXS battery, but because Autoshift changes gear more often than a manual derailleur, it won't last as long.
The SRAM motor is a little bigger than Shimano's, so Nukeproof had to extend the chainstay length compared to the alloy Megawatt - from 442 mm to 447 mm. That number is the same for all frame sizes, but the seat tube gets slightly steeper in the larger sizes to stop tall riders from ending up too far over the rear axle. The head angle is half a degree slacker than the original Megawatt too, apparently to compensate for the longer back end.
Starting with the same Horst-link design used on the Mega and Megawatt alloy, Nukeproof increased the travel slightly from 165 mm to 170 mm. They also made the linkage very slightly more progressive - there's now 24% less leverage over the shock at the end of the travel than at the start, compared to 22% previously. They also gave the bike more anti-squat by making the axle path a little more rearward. That means it should stay higher in its travel when pedalling up steep climbs.
Bearings at the rear shock eyelet help to minimise friction where it matters most. Both carbon models use a RockShox Vivid air shock with hydraulic bottom-out adjustment.
Models, specs & pricingMegawatt Carbon Pro - £8,799/€10,499/$9,899Megawatt Carbon RS - £9,999/ €11,999/$10,899
I had a full day's ride on the Megawatt in Andalo, Italy. I won't repeat everything Mike Kazimer
already said about the motor, but from my perspective I liked the ability to just ride and not think about shifting when riding casually, but when negotiating a technical climb or sudden change of gradient, you'll still want to manually override the system or even use the manual mode. It's like how an automatic car is fine for collecting shopping, but an enthusiastic driver on a tricky road will want to do it the old-fashioned way.
As for the bike, it reminded me a lot of the original Megawatt
, which is a good thing as it's still among the best-handling full-fat e-bikes I've ridden. With the fork and shock damping run pretty open, it's relatively responsive for its weight. Despite the longer chainstays, it's not too hard to maneuver around, hop and manual, but there's always plenty of traction on the front tire. I rode the (recommended) XL size, which fitted me nicely at 191 cm / 6'3", providing loads of stability without feeling dead in tighter sections.
Pointed down rough pinball sections, it has even more of a downhill bike quality than the original Megawatt, thanks to the extra travel, slacker head angle and Vivid air shock with its hydraulic bottom-out control. The Continental Kryptotal DH tires also help it to feel stuck to the ground. I would prefer more than 170 mm of dropper post travel, though.
When climbing, the Megawatt's sticky tires, steep-ish seat tube and powerful yet smooth motor make it particularly forgiving.