2013 Nukeproof Mega AM review


I didn’t start this blog with the intention of writing any kit reviews, but it’s been pointed out that riding 5 or so days a week in the alps for half the year gives you a pretty good chance of finding any issues with gear, and that testing gear’s a good way to blag free stuff, so with this in mind here’s some text and pictures on the 2013 Nukeproof Mega AM…

2013 Nukeproof Mega, and some scenery

The first thing to note is that this review was done in the Chamonix and with riding in the alps, particularly Chamonix, in mind. The bike that works well here isn’t the same bike I’d want for riding back in Scotland. Fortunately the Nukeproof marketing bumf claims the bike is “designed for All-Mountain adventure, Alpine playtime and Megavalanche-style Gravity Enduro events“ so it should be pretty much perfect for about here then aye?

Certainly the kit on the £2600 (3135euro) comp version is up for the job. The cockpit of Nukeproof branded short warhead stem, 760mm warhead bars and skinny element grips is pretty much as good as anyone needs for functionality, even if it doesn’t have much of a bling score. Similarly the Nukeproof Generator wheels seem to be standing up to Chamonix trails well without being too heavy. The Avid Elixir 3 brakes are work fine, though the front could do with an upgrade from the spec’d 180mm rotor to a 203mm to deal better with alpine descents and the Sram X7 kit shifts crisply without needing much attention to keep functioning well. The only change I made to the bike was to put Superstar Nano (or whichever generic import and branding company you prefer) pedals on. Obvious upgrades for the future would be a dropper post, conveniently the frame is equipped for stealth installation, and maybe going to a 1×10 set up instead of the 2×10.

No big brand names, but an excellent cockpit for alpine riding

Enough of the stuff you can work out from reading the website, how does it do on the hill? How does it ride? Will you die if you go single ply?

Chamonix Bike Rentals has a fleet of the Mega AM comps, so as well as getting feedback on how the bikes hold up with lots of (ab)use it’s a perfect way to test out a few different sizes of the same bike, swapping them between riders as we went. I’m 6 foot but have always preferred my bikes on the wee side (probably as back in the day a “DH” bike was a normal bike in the smallest size with the saddle down) so gravitated towards the medium. After swapping between it and the large I’d still plump with the medium for Chamonix riding, but if I was somewhere less steep or technical and where all your downs had to be earned then I’d move up to the large for a bit more top tube length. Saying that, a slightly shorter stem on the large would maybe be the perfect compromise by sharpening up the steering and making it easier to lift the front, who knows.

Just another Chamonix trail, the new Mega fits in fine.

Despite being a bit short for me when sat down, it still climbed pretty well, feeling lighter than it’s claimed 14.5kg (31.9lb)weight. On rougher terrain you can feel the suspension losing a little sensitivity when pushing hard on the pedals but it still seems to track over the terrain nicely enough and it was never the bike that stopped me getting up technical climbs. On long slow sit-down-and-spin road climbs which feature a lot in the alps once the lifts close the Mega is well composed and I never felt the need to lock out the shock to reduce bob as long as I stayed sat down and spinning circles rather than mashing the pedals.

On contouring terrain the middling weight wheels and single ply tyres accelerated nicely out of corners and over small rises, encouraging a sharp pedal/brake style of riding which isn’t hugely efficient, but is a lot of fun. Perhaps because I was having so much fun I found myself pumping the terrain and working the corners a lot more than I would on many trail bikes. For me, the 38 tooth ring was too big for the bike, reducing the clearance through technical terrain and necessitating a drop to the granny for some short climbs that would have been easily conquered at the top of the block with a 32 or 34 ring. Since I’m now doing negatives, the bike is, like its predecessor, a different beast when you sit down, feeling quite staid and a bit short. Stand up and play until your legs give out is the simple solution to this.

Monarch shock works well with the erosion linkage

That’s the up and the across dealt with, and the Mega’s fine at both, if not the best on the market, but what about the direction it’s really meant for, down?

Very good, in summary, though if you want more detail…..for my six foot frame the medium felt just perfect once stood up and on technical terrain using lots of body English to throw the bike around, helped no end by the excellent cockpit setup. I had the bike set up with pretty much 1/3 sag at the back and a little over ¼ sag on the forks. The Monarch Plus and Lyrik Solo suspension units complimented each other well, with the bike having a very balanced action fore and aft. On the most technical terrain, getting more into trials riding than trail riding territory, the bike felt better with the Monarch set to “blue lever in mid” (or an extra 50lb of compression damping according to the online info I ready after playing with it…) which, unsurprisingly, allowed a lot more Chris Akrigg esque hoping about of the bike (well, in my mind I ride it Akrigg-esque) The rest of the time I just left the compression damping in the minimum position, never felt the bike excessively “bobby”, and got to enjoy the full benefits of the shock without the inevitable forgetting to flick the leaver and wondering why the bike didn’t feel quite right.

Perhaps the best attribute of the bike was how well it held a line. This could be down to the easily bullied size and cockpit, the well balanced travel front and rear, the torsional stiffness of the chassis or, most likely, a combination of the above. Whatever it was, the bike stayed perfectly true to the chosen line across all manner of trail hazard.

The predictability of the Mega is a big plus when you've got a big drop to one side...

Overall it’s just a bike that does everything (see early caveat for “everything” to mean mostly riding down hills in Chamonix) so well you don’t really notice it, with your own style of riding being complimented by the bike rather than it trying to exert it’s personality on you. After a very short time on the bike the only times I really found myself noticing it was through technical terrain where I was worried about catching the large chainring and bashguard, which is bad, and when through very uneven off camber sections where the incredible torsional rigidity of the chassis amazed me everytime, which is good.

142x12 bolt through axle and lots of material all contributing to the very stiff chassis

I guess this is an increasingly common problem these days, as the 6 inch or so travel all-mountain bike has got so good that you can’t really buy a bad one, it’s just finding one that suits your personality as a rider, your pocket, and that you think looks good!

If you want some moving pictures, here’s Spencer and me taking the Megas for a play up Brevent:

Many thanks again to Spencer for letting me take out his toys and play with them! For anyone in or heading out to Chamonix, you can see if you agree or disagree by popping into Chamonix Bike Rental where you can hire one of their fleet of 2013 Mega AM’s. There’s worse ways to spend a day or 7 in Chamonix for sure….