Nukeproof Mega V4 290 Carbon Elite Review



Words by Robert Johnston  |  Photos by Sam Howard

The Nukeproof Mega was one of the first true enduro bikes, designed to tackle the infamous Megavalanche race by providing a highly capable yet pedal-friendly full suspension machine. 15 years have passed since the Mega first graced the race circuit, and in that time Enduro bikes have come on some ways, but Nukeproof hasn’t been sleeping and has continued to update and refine their multiple race-winning bike, with the V4 we tested here being released a few years ago. We were excited to see how this 160mm travel carbon fiber bike would perform on the trails of Scotland, and it didn’t disappoint.


• 160mm Horst Link Suspension
• HTA 64
• STA 78 (effective)
• REACH 475 (Large)

Frame: Ultra-strong monocoque UD Carbon Fibre | 160mm
Fork: Fox 38 29 Performance Elite 170mm Grip 2
Shock: Fox Float X2 Performance Series 2-pos 230×62.5mm

Brakes: SRAM DB8 | 200F+R Centreline rotors
Handlebar: Nukeproof Horizon V2 31.8mm | 800mm | 25mm Rise
Stem: Nukeproof Horizon 31.8mm | 45mm Length
Headset: Nukeproof Sealed Bearing | 44-56 IITS
Seatpost: Brand X Ascend | M: 150mm; L: 170mm; XL/XXL: 200mm
Saddle: Nukeproof

Wheelset: Nukeproof Horizon V2 Alloy
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 3C MaxxGrip | DD | 29″ x 2.5 WT
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 3C MaxxTerra | DD | 29” x 2.4 WT

Bottom Bracket: SRAM Dub Threaded
Cassette: SRAM GX CS-1275 T-Type | 12-Spd | 10-52T
Cranks: SRAM GX Eagle | DUB | 170mm | 30T
Shifter: SRAM AXS POD Ultimate | 12spd
Derailleur: SRAM GX AXS T-Type | 12s


  • Highly Versatile

  • Solid Build Kit

  • Runs Quiet


  • Too Well Rounded?

  • Linkage Hardware Loosened


FRAME AND FEATURES | Nukeproof offers the Mega in a choice of aluminum alloy or carbon fiber frames and with the choice from dual 27.5” (Mega 275); mixed 29” front and 27.5” rear (Mega 297), or dual 29” wheels (Mega 290). All options are covered by a wide S-XXL size range, letting riders of all heights select their material and wheel size preference. The 275 and 297 frames feature 165mm rear travel; whereas the 290 features a slightly reduced 160mm; and all sport a 170mm fork up front. With the newest generation Mega, Nukeproof worked to maximize seat post insertion depths whilst ensuring a large water bottle would fit inside the front triangle; and added a SRAM UDH for easier replacements and the ability to run the latest T-Type drivetrains, as featured on the Elite build tested. 

Shared between all frames are the threaded 73mm bottom bracket; ISCG 05 tabs for a chainguide and bash, and 3D contoured rubber protectors for the chain stays, seat stays and downtube. Both frame materials feature internal cable routing, but the Mega Alloy uses clamped ports whereas the Carbon receives full guides through the frame for easier cable replacement. The carbon frame also receives a clear protective tape, which is applied from the factory to the top tube; downtube, chainstays and seat stays.

Nukeproof Mega V4 290 Carbon Elite Review

SUSPENSION | The Nukeproof Mega V4 continues to use a fairly typical Horst Link suspension arrangement to deliver its 160mm or 165mm rear travel. Contrary to some more extreme arrangements and kinematics we’ve seen recently, Nukeproof kept it mellow with the Mega V4. The pedaling efficiency is not ultra-high, with Anti Squat figures of around 90% in the climbing gears at 30% sag, which falls to around 75% in the hardest gears. This provides an active rear end under climbing, aiding in traction and comfort but leading to a lot of pedal bob, so a climbing platform switch will be essential for riders looking to minimize wasted energy on the climbs. Thankfully the shock position on the Mega allows for easy access to the climb switch on the Fox Float X2 shock, reducing the impact of this kinematic. Anti Rise is a fairly typical 75% at sag and falls off to nearly zero at bottom out, leading to a rear end that’s very active under braking. Progression is a reasonable 19%, which should allow for successful pairing with an air or coil shock, though coil users may be best served by a shock with hydraulic bottom out or by using a progressive spring.  

GEOMETRY | Nukeproof opted not to go overly extreme with the geometry of the Mega V4 when it was first released. While a three year old bike would stand the risk of looking outdated a couple of years ago, geometry figures have stabilized in recent years, for the most part. That’s to say, the Mega does not have a hyper-aggressive geometry set; but it doesn’t exactly feel old school. Shared across the S-XXL size range of the Mega 290 is a 64° Head Tube Angle; 440mm chainstay length and 30mm bottom bracket drop giving a 345mm BB height. Reach lengths go from 430mm to 515mm, with Stack heights from 621mm to 657mm. Nukeproof uses their “saddle offset theory” to maintain a consistent weight distribution for the average height of rider on each size, varying the seat tube angles to produce a 77.5-78° effective seat tube angle. The size Large tested has a 475mm Reach and 639mm Stack; 440mm Seat Tube length; and total 1251mm Wheelbase.

BUILD SPECS | The Mega is available in a choice of two alloy specs which retail for £2,999 or £3,799; and Carbon models from the £4,899 Elite build tested to the £6,399 RS spec. Nukeproof also offers frame and shock options, with the Alloy at £1,799 and the Carbon at £2,499. As with much of the industry right now, you can find some serious reductions on these RRP’s in both brick and mortar and online retailers. 

The Elite build we tested was updated for 2024, and now features the Sram GX AXS T-Type drivetrain. The suspension is Fox’s Performance Elite level 38 and Float X2 combo, offering great adjustability without “bling factor” pricing. Braking duties are handled by SRAM’s mineral oil 4-pot DB8’s, with a pair of 200mm rotors. The majority of the finishing kit is provided by Nukeproof’s in house Horizon range, with their alloy bar, stem and wheelset. There’s a Nukeproof saddle on top of a Brand X Ascend dropper post, with 170mm drop on the size Large, and 200mm on larger sizes. The final piece of the puzzle is the proper tire combo, with a Maxxis Assegai DD MaxxGrip up front and a DHR2 DD MaxxTerra in the rear, which came setup tubeless and were fantastic to see. This burly build tips the scales at 35.9lbs or 16.3kg, which certainly isn’t light for a Carbon frame enduro bike, but represents a realistic weight value without the need to add stronger tires or any vulnerable components that are likely to cause concern for aggressive riders. 

Nukeproof Mega V4 290 Carbon Elite Review


SETUP | It took me a little while longer to get this Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon Elite set up to a point where I was comfortable and able to push hard. Partly this was due to my unfamiliarity with components such as the SRAM DB8 brakes and Nukeproof’s somewhat strange looking and therefore Horizon alloy handlebar, but the suspension also took a little longer to dial in, too. This was a result of the light compression tune that Nukeproof opted to use in the Float X2 shock, and so I ended up near the end of the range to deliver the desired support. Given that I’m on the heavier end of typical riders on a size large, it feels quite appropriate for this to be the case, but it’s not usually this way.

With 30% sag at the rear; the low speed compression dialed up and the rebound tweaked to deliver a balanced overall platform, the Mega started to come alive. That was until a little shakedown climb led to just about every piece of linkage hardware coming loose. Following a nip up with a multitool to get me down off the hill, I went through and torqued everything to spec, following which it all stayed put through a few months of abuse. Moral of the story, you should not assume that the fully built Nukeproof Mega arrives actually ready to ride. Take that extra time to check and re-check it’s all good to go before you ride it. Of course, your local bike shop will likely do this if you purchase it from them, but if you buy online then be careful.

Nukeproof Mega V4 290 Carbon Elite Review

CLIMBING | Once I had the setup dialed in, I was still surprised by how open the rear end felt while climbing. The Nukeproof Mega is certainly a bike that benefits from the use of a climb switch on a shock for smoother pedaling stints, as the Anti Squat is on the low side and the plush rear end is therefore keen to enter its travel through every pedal stroke. It makes for a comfortable and traction-rich climber in rough and flatter climbs, but can allow the BB to sink to the danger zone and for its 35.9 lbs weight to really be felt. Thankfully that climb switch is positioned in a spot that makes for relatively easy operation while pedaling, letting you improve climbing performance to an acceptable level for the longer, smoother and steeper climbs. The seated climbing position was comfortable for me but the effective angle ended up slacker than reported due to my longer legs than your typical size Large rider and the slacker Actual Seat Tube Angle. It was manageable even so, since the rear end is not too short, and if you’re more evenly proportioned then you’ll benefit from a more central, upright position. 

Nukeproof Mega V4 290 Carbon Elite Review

DESCENDING | A light compression tune combined with a bearing mount at the shock eyelet and low Anti Squat makes for a buttery smooth rear end on the Mega, though I found myself keen to add plenty of low speed compression to the shock to prevent it from being too eager to use its travel. Experimenting with air pressure and compression settings, I found the Mega to work best when setup bang on 30% sag, where it felt nicely balanced with the 170mm front end.  

The resulting setup that felt to work best for the Mega produced a very neutral feeling machine. It was never an extremely sharp feeling, poppy and playful bike; sitting closer to the plush and muted side of things but not quite ironing out the trail like the best of them. Instead, it sits right in the middle of the spectrum in a place that’ll likely make a lot of riders content with the bike regardless of the terrain encountered or their riding style. That said, in this way the Mega almost threatens feeling a little boring, without any particularly strong traits. But what is undoubtable is that it makes for a bike that is likely to excel on the race stage, where consistency trumps all, and a “jack of all trades” machine is no bad thing.  

The Mega was a safe bet to grab when I was unsure of the trail menu of the day, as well as offering a great tool for some more exploratory missions at some lesser-known spots.  It corners predictably; offers plenty of stability and comfort to keep you feeling safe and comfortable; and can take a hit sufficiently well. That said, you’d be best served by a Hydraulic Bottom Out-equipped coil shock if you ditched the air.

FINISH AND VALUE | The overall finish of the Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon was excellent, with well covered details and a stunning sparkly black paint finish. The frame protection – both the rubber protectors and the clear protection tape – were well executed and held up great; and the Mega ran quietly and smoothly overall…once the frame hardware was torqued correctly.  

In terms of value, the Mega 290 Carbon Elite doesn’t scream incredible value for its £4,899 price tag, but the build spec is very well selected and leaves little to be desired in terms of component upgrades. With the high quality Carbon frame too, it doesn’t feel to be outrageously expensive. And at the time of writing there are some significant discounts which take it from okay value to a steal.  

COMPONENT REPORT | Aside from some damper tune quirks and the strange appearance of the Nukeproof Horizon bars, there was little to complain about on the Mega 290 Elite build. I’d have loved to have seen the chainring bash guard that’s called out in the spec sheet fitted to my bike for peace of mind, but managed to avoid any damage. Particular kudos goes to the Product Manager for the tire choice – proper casings and tacky MaxxGrip rubber up front were great to see.  

SRAM DB8 – The SRAM DB8 brakes certainly have a unique feel in terms of their ergonomics and bite, but after a small adjustment period they proved to offer satisfactory performance. Compared with a CODE, they feel to require a little more lever force to obtain the same maximum stopping power, but squeeze them hard enough and they’ll slow you down amicably. I didn’t manage to fry them at any point, and their feel remained consistent throughout testing. 

SRAM GX AXS T-TYPE – I haven’t quite logged the miles on this drivetrain to fully test its long-term durability, but if this first couple of hundred miles are anything to go by then it’s every bit as good as the more expensive T-Type drivetrains, with the only penalty being the extra weight. I’ve grown to really enjoy the tactile feel of the AXS POD shifter, and the shifting has barely skipped a beat. 

Nukeproof Mega V4 290 Carbon Elite Review


As a bike that came in at a similar weight; has some overlapping geometry numbers; and generally similar intentions, the RAAW Madonna comes to mind as a direct competitor. Between the two machines, the RAAW would take the cake for the machine I felt most at home on, but the Mega would certainly not struggle to hang. Pedaling the Madonna was more pleasant when unlocked; while the Mega took the edge as the more playful bike. I’d likely opt to go for the RAAW if I was on the hunt for a race bike, but both would make for killer all round enduro machines.  

The Wolf’s Last Word

So neutral and well rounded, it’s almost boring…but not quite. The Nukeproof Mega 290 Carbon Elite is a solid all round enduro bike that’s highly capable of hitting the top step of a race podium, with a build kit that’s well selected and performed great across the spectrum of conditions.

Price: £4,899
Weight: 35.9lbs / 16.3kg


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