Nukeproof took their time to come out with their first electric mountain bike. Their debut eMTB has been in development for a long time, and it's called the Megawatt.
The Mega platform is one of the brand's most iconic models and has been around since 2009; the Megawatt shares a lot with the V4 Mega released last year. Unlike the longer-travel Giga, it uses a Horst-link layout with a top-tube mounted rocker link to deliver 165mm of rear wheel travel, along with a 170mm fork. Unlike the Mega, which is available with a pair of 27.5" or a pair of 29" wheels, the Megawatt is mullet only, with a 27.5" rear wheel helping to keep the chainstays reasonably short.
Nukeproof Megawatt Details
• Wheel size: 29" front / 27.5" rear
• Travel: 165mm (r) / 170mm (f)
• Frame material: aluminum
• 64-degree head angle
• 78-degree seat angle
• 442mm chainstays
• Weight: 24.6Kg / 54.2lbs (Actual, XXL)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL (tested)
• Price: $5,499.99 to $7,499.99 USD (as tested)
There are three different models, with prices ranging from $5,499.99 to $7,499.99 USD. All three have aluminum frames and use Shimano's latest EP8 motor. While the base model makes do with a 504Wh battery, the other two have 630Wh to play with.Frame Details
Nukeproof just managed to make room for a small water bottle between the portly downtube and shock, which is a great thing in my book. There's another pair of bosses under the top tube for extra storage.
The cables are routed through the headset - something we're seeing more often lately. I'm not sure I like the idea of having to slightly take apart the headset to install cables (as if internal cable and brake routing wasn't enough of a faff). It doesn't rattle though.
The battery can be quickly installed and removed through the bottom of the down tube.Suspension
The Megawatt's suspension closely resembles the meat-powered Mega
, and that's no bad thing. While the leverage curve on older versions of the Mega had a high leverage ratio in the middle of the travel, creating a lot of mid-travel wallow, the new Mega and Megawatt share a more progressive layout, so the suspension stiffness (relative to the shock) increases throughout the travel. The Megawatt is slightly more progressive than the non-motorized Mega, with 21% change in leverage ratio from start to finish, compared to 17% for the traditional bike.
With the Float X2 shock, this gives the Megawatt a very supple beginning to the stroke with support building smoothly after sag.
Anti-squat is slightly on the lower side, though this is typical for an ebike. It has just under 100% anti-squat at sag in the 50-tooth gear but lower values in the smaller sprockets, dropping to around 50% in the 10t cog. That means if you stamp on the pedals it will bob a little, but it stays level when the motor is doing most of the work. That's because the motor has a fairly constant power output, whereas pedaling power comes and goes with each quarter-turn of the cranks, resulting in the suspension compressing with each power-stroke.
The vertically-aligned upper link makes for relatively high anti-rise values near the start of the travel, which means the bike will sit a little deeper into its travel under braking compared to some Horst-link designs with a horizontal rocker ink. Geometry and Sizing
The Megawatt's five size range goes from 435mm reach in small to 515mm in XXL, with nice and consistent 20mm gaps in-between. The stack height on the XXL (which I tested) is taller than most bikes, which makes for an even roomier cockpit than the 515mm reach would suggest because it increases the spread
The chainstays are fairly short for an eMTB, at 442mm in all sizes.The effective seat angle is claimed to be 77.5-degrees in the small and medium, rising to 78-degrees in the larger sizes. My XXL test bike measures in at 77.9-degrees at my pedaling height. The head angle is claimed to be 64-degrees, though I measure my test bike at 63.7-degrees. A little deviation from the geometry chart is completely normal when measuring bikes, and all the other measurements are true to what the chart says.
Speaking of measurements, some of Nukeproof's press material says the rear travel is 170mm, but the kinematic charts they provide go up to 165mm. By compressing the suspension fully with a ratchet strap, I measured the vertical travel from full top-out to bottom-out at 165mm, though the usable travel is more like 160mm from where the unloaded shock naturally reaches equilibrium without forcing it to top-out. I've measured the travel on a lot of bikes in this way and it's usual for the real-world travel to under-deliver like this.Models, Specs and PricesMegawatt Comp - £4,999.99 / €5,999.99 / $5,499.99Megawatt Elite - £5,999.99 / €7,199.99 / $6,599.99Megawatt Factory - £6,999.99 / €8,199.99 / $7,499.99
The Factory model I have on test uses a Fox 38 fork with the E-bike damper tune. That's actually slightly lighter compression damping range than the standard fork. The shock uses Fox's light compression tune too, with a medium rebound range. It's cool to see Maxxis' DoubleDown tires from the off, and I was pleasantly surprised by the XT four-pot brakes on this particular test bike, which are pretty much free of the wandering bite point issue Shimano brakes can display. Ride Impressions
I'm not going to beat around the bush: Nukeproof have knocked this one out of the park. At 24.6Kg, it's certainly not the lightest, but it doesn't feel like a lump when you're riding. The relatively short chainstays make it appreciably easier to pick up the front to hop or manual over obstacles than many lighter e-bikes with longer stays. But unlike some regular bikes with short chainstays, there's plenty of weight on the front tire to keep it gripping on flat turns without having to lean on the bar. Add to that the very active suspension, which I've setup pretty light on compression and rebound damping, and the bike feels particularly lively and energetic as e-bikes go.
What impresses most is the traction. The bike settles into its early travel very easily, sagging under its own weight, and gets moving at the slightest touch. That makes it feel stuck to the ground and really surefooted on those small bump, low-grip situations. Yet even with 30% sag, there's plenty to push against later in the travel.
The other thing I like is the fit. At 190cm (6'3"), i'm in-between the XL and XXL on Nukeproof's chart, but the XXL suits me very well. There's plenty of room to move around to put weight where it's needed but, as I said, it doesn't require a conscious effort to keep the front tire loaded even on flat or off-camber turns. I could do with the handlebar a touch higher, but that could be fixed with a handlebar swap.
Despite that, I felt really comfortable getting up to speed on rough and steep trails from the first ride. Those first impressions have only grown as I've ridden it more and more. Everywhere from fast bike park terrain to awkward tech, I've felt comfortable and confident on it. It's stable and ground-hugging, but still relatively easy to jump, hop and maneuver around the tighter bits of trail. I've had to run the tires 1-2psi firmer than other e-bikes in my shed with the same tire spec because I've been pushing this one a bit harder.
On steep climbs, the suspension does squat noticeably into its travel, but the steep effective seat angle makes it easy to keep the front wheel from lifting regardless. And while a 29" wheel would be even better when riding up rocky steps, the suspension remains very supple under power which makes it easy to maintain traction on technical climbs.
While all e-bikes climb pretty well, many of them still have awkward handling and suspension characteristics which mean the descents can feel compromised. This is the first eMTB I've ridden which descends practically as well as a regular bike. It's different, of course: there's no hiding the extra weight on a tight rut track or janky rock section, but on the other hand the weight boosts stability and traction on high-speed terrain. Nukeproof have the Megawatt's suspension and geometry worked out so nicely that it capitalizes on that stability without feeling dead or awkward on slower speed terrain. Not bad for a first attempt.