Nukeproof MegaWatt 297 Factory electric mountain bike review
Nukeproof didn’t rush the design process for its first electric mountain bike in a hasty attempt to perfect it from the get-go – and that approach has certainly paid off.
The MegaWatt shares many design cues with the brand’s latest Mega enduro bike, and in fact, it was designed alongside the alloy version of the Mega.
However, while the Mega comes with 29-inch or 650b wheels, the MegaWatt comes with a mixed-size “mule” setup and, of course, a motor and battery.
Nukeproof opted for Shimano’s latest EP8 drive unit, which delivers 85Nm of torque. The battery is neatly housed inside the boxed down tube, and on this factory build it has a capacity of 630 Wh.
In terms of suspension layout, the MegaWatt and Mega share nearly identical lines, with the same Horst four-bar linkage platform providing 170mm of travel on the rear wheels.
The MegaWatt doesn’t have as much anti-squat in the lower gears, the idea being that help from the motor should offset the loss of pedaling efficiency. The gain is increased suspension sensitivity and better uphill traction.
Using a smaller 650b rear wheel means better butt clearance for smaller riders, and also allowed the design team to keep the chainstay length a bit more compact, at 442mm.
Reach on the mid-size is a generous 455mm (the same as on the Mega). The head angle is loose enough at 63.8 degrees, while the seat tube angle is decently steep at 77.5 degrees and increases as you progress through the five frame sizes. At 342mm from the ground, the bottom bracket is also low.
The cables run through the top shell of the Acros headset – an unusual touch – and are routed inside for the most part.
There’s enough room in the front triangle for a 500ml bottle, plenty of rubberized protection to calm chain slamming, and enough room in the rear triangle to fit a 2.6 inch tire.
Nukeproof uses the now popular SRAM universal derailleur hanger, so finding replacement parts should be easy.
Nukeproof MegaWatt 297 Factory Kit
Nukeproof’s direct sales model means you get great value for your money.
Highlights include the rugged Fox 38 Factory fork, which offers 170mm of travel and uses the brand’s highly adjustable GRIP2 shock and the matching Float X2 shock.
Shimano supplies its XT M8100 12-speed drivetrain and four-piston XT brakes, which adhere to the 203mm rotors. The DT Swiss H 1700 wheels are wrapped in Maxxis rubber – the formidable combination of an Assegai 3C MaxxGrip up front and a High Roller II 3C MaxxTerra at the rear, both featuring the brand’s robust DoubleDown casing. .
BikeYoke provides a DIVINE dropper post, which on medium and large frames offers 160mm of drop, while the cockpit is a own brand Nukeproof kit.
Nukeproof MegaWatt 297 Factory Tower
Looking at the MegaWatt’s 24.3kg weight, you might think that this is another bulky e-mountain bike that will be difficult to launch, but release it on the trail and that’s a whole different story.
Nukeproof’s proven Mega geometry, combined with the superbly tuned suspension, makes for a truly thrilling ride.
While the extra weight compared to a regular bike is still noticeable, there’s no escaping the spring in the MegaWatt stage.
There’s a ton of pull on tap thanks to the super soft suspension, but still enough pop and support due to its crisp feel. This means that even on smooth sections the MegaWatt can be hopped with less effort than many of its rivals.
Steeper, winding tracks highlight some of the MegaWatt’s most impressive features. The responsive, active suspension does a great job of following the track and keeping the tires grippy when cornering or braking as you navigate particularly difficult sections.
This bike is also a lot smoother and more fun than the scales suggest – the well-proportioned frame (as well as the smaller rear wheel) allows for precise and agile handling when you’re coming through quick turns.
In really tough stuff, the Fox suspension helps it absorb the blows in a very composed way. You might hear the characteristic sound of the EP8 engine here, but it’s something we can easily ignore.
As far as climbs go, while there is a bit of a suspension induced bob under power, that doesn’t detract from the MegaWatt’s upward ability.
Power from the EP8 engine is delivered smoothly and, thanks to all that traction along with the steep seat tube angle and sloping front end, I was able to climb ridiculously steep technical slopes with balance and control. .
Overall, the MegaWatt is hard to fault, thanks to its balanced geometry, impressive suspension, and surprisingly agile handling. I am a big fan.
Stay tuned for a full review of the MegaWatt in early 2022.