Chances are Nukeproof will consider 2014 a very good year thanks to Sam Hill getting the brand its first World Cup win, riding the Pulse to the top of the podium in Mont St Anne. The fact is that for 2015 things look better still, with a new platform joining the fun-oriented range of bikes, and better pricing at all levels.
We joined Nukeproof in the Atlantic Northwest of Spain for two days of riding the 2015 bikes on trails chosen by Basque MTB
, a guiding company with a great reputation run by Scot, Doug McDonald. Being so close to the coast, the trails were sandy and largely well-drained, but the weather was at best changeable - humid as hell on day one for a 40km coastal XC ride, then wet and stormy on day two for a day of shuttling slightly inland. Originally Nukeproof came out of Grand Rapids in Michigan, but it has since reincarnated itself in Scotland. Besides the heat, the conditions we rode in felt exactly like the conditions you find where the bikes are designed - wet and rocky, steep and muddy. A good testing ground.
Before we got down to the business of riding, we were introduced to the bikes. For 2015 Nukeproof is introducing a new hardcore hardtail, the Scout. Available in Race or Comp trim, the bikes boast 650b wheels, 150mm travel forks, 66deg head angles, and pricing that ranges from $549.99 (£349.99/€424.99) for a frame only to $2,099.99 (£1,299.99/€1,599.99) for the Shimano Deore 2x10/RockShox Sektor equipped Scout Race, and $2,599.99(£1,599.9/€1,949.99) for the Sram X7 1x10/RockShox Revelation equipped Scout Comp. Both bikes come with Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires with a TSC/PSC front/rear split for straight line speed and cornering grip.
The most versatile bike in the range is the Mega TR: with 650b wheels, 130mm rear travel, 150mm fork and a 67deg head angle, it's confident pretty much everywhere, and rides light enough that it would feel at home blasting trails from your front door. It comes in Race, Comp or Pro models and is also available as a frame. Prices range from $3,199.99 (£1,999.99/€2,399.99) for the Mega TR 275 Race, to $3,999.99 (£2,499.99/€ 2,999.99) for the Comp, or $4,799.99 (£2,999.99/€ 3,599.99) for the Pro model, which comes complete with a Revelation RCT3 fork, Monarch DebonAir shock and XO-1 drivetrain. Frames run at $1,899.99 (£1,249.99/€1,499.99) with a Monarch shock, or $2,349.99 (£1,449.99/€1,749.99) with a Cane Creek DB Inline.
The Mega AM has proven itself to be a successful privateer enduro bike, and both 2015 models look ready to race out the box, featuring 160mm travel, single chainrings (with top guides even on the XO-1 bike), dropper posts, quality Nukeproof finishing kit and great tires. The Mega AM Comp comes with a Sram X7 drivetrain, Pike RC fork, Monarch + R shock, and a Schwalbe Magic Mary SS TSC front tire, combined with a Hans Dampf SS PSC rear tire on Nukeproof's own wheels which run WTB tubeless ready rims. That bike costs an impressive $3,999.99 (£2,499.99/€2,999.99). The Pro model sees an upgrade to a Sram XO-1 drivetrain, RCT3 Pike and DebonAir shock and costs $5,199.99 (£3,199.99/€3,899.99). A frame is available for $1,999.99 (£1,299.99/€1,599.99) with a RockShox shock, or $2,499.99 (£1,599.99/€1,949.99) with a Cane Creek DB Air CS.
The last bike in the range is the Pulse which - unlike the bike Sam Hill rode to the top of the podium in Canada - sticks with 26in wheels for 2015. At $4,199.99 (£2,599.99/€3,199.99) for the Boxxer Race, RockShox Kage equipper Pulse Comp, $5,799.99 (£3,599.99/€4,399.99) for the Boxxer Team, Vivid R2C equipped Pulse Pro, $2,899.99 (£1,799.99/€2,199.99) for a Vivid frameset or $3,199.99 (£1,999.99/€2,399.99) for a Cane Creek Double Barrel equipped frameset, you'll still see a ton of these at the races.Pinkbike's Take:
|We spent our first riding day on the Mega TR. The coastal trails started pretty tame but got rougher and faster as we approached San Sebastian, our finishing point for the day, proving the perfect test for the well-specced Pro model we were riding. Short sharp climbs were attacked, longer climbs were dispatched without too much misery and as soon as the trail pointed downhill the Mega AM allowed us to have a complete blast. One of the best things about this bike is the speccing: the bars are 760mm wide, the stem is 50mm, the tyres are about as good as it gets, all of which adds up to feeling instantly at home, which is rarely the case. Not once in 40km of riding with 1500m of fast, rocky descending did the bike feel out of its depth, and yet on the more pedally sections, it was fast and efficient. At a claimed 30.25lbs, the Mega TR Pro isn't exactly light, but it rides lighter than that number suggests and it feels solid to boot.|
|Overnight the remnants of Hurricane Bertha rolled into the Basque Country dumping a huge amount of water on the mountains we'd be riding on. Needless to say, Doug's secret shuttle trails were in an "interesting" condition by the time we got to ride, full of wet, off-camber roots, slick, mossy rocks and steep ruts, channelling the water off the hill. These aren't the best conditions to test a bike, being more about survival than comparable back-to-back runs, but the overwhelming reaction to the Mega AM was just how confident it felt. The geometry feels dialled and the tires - a no expenses spared combo of Schwalbe Magic Mary SS TSC front tire, combined with a Hans Dampf SS PSC rear - provided incredible grip given the broad range of surfaces and the wet conditions. On the short climbs we encountered on the ride, the Mega AM felt decidedly less efficient than the TR, but a quick flick of the compression lever on the Monarch DebonAir shock solved that. Fully open downhill, the suspension feels playful even when the terrain is encouraging you to play it safe. That's no bad thing and we had a great time getting wet, muddy and stoked on the Mega AM. - Andy Waterman|
More details: nukeproof.com