All the parts you'd expect on an electric mountain bike costing twice the price
Nukeproof doesn’t offer a comprehensive range of e-mtbs. Instead, the Megawatt is its one-stop-shop. With 170mm travel the Megawatt 297 Factory comes with flagship Fox Factory suspension, DT Swiss MX wheels and a Shimano XT drivetrain. Basically kit you’d find on bikes costing double the money. And it isn’t even the top-end model. So how does it perform and is it one of the best electric bikes on offer?
Need to know:
- Shimano Steps EP8 motor and 630Wh Shimano battery
- Alloy frame comes in five sizes: Small to XXL
- MX wheel size: 29in up front with 27.5in out back for a shorter chainstay length
- Long, low and fast, the 170mm travel Megawatt is designed to shred
The alloy frame definitely makes the pricing more competitive, but the 630Wh Shimano battery that powers the EP8 motor also reduces cost, weight and ultimately, ride time. And while that’s not optimal for a big Sunday epic with your mates, we need to remember what the Megawatt is modelled on… Nukeproof’s analog enduro race bike. So you could argue that having a smaller battery and making multiple battery swaps is a better approach for stage racing than designing the bike around one massive battery.
This also explains Nukeproof’s choice of reinforced Maxxis Double Down casing tyres front and rear. By simply swapping to the lighter EXO+ casings that most brands fit, Nukeproof you could instantly drop half a kilo in rotational weight. The trade off being that you’re more likely to puncture.
And what Nukeproof lacks in depth of models, it makes up for with breadth in sizes, five in total, ranging from S to XL. Each size sports a size-specific seat tube angle to help keep rider weight forward as the saddle height increases, but given the amount of travel and short 442mm chainstays, the Megawatt isn’t the most adept on the climbs.
The climb switch on the Fox Float X2 is really useful then, as it helps prop up the rear end, providing a better riding position and pedal clearance for techy climbing. With the most travel and the lowest BB height in test, getting the sag set correctly on the X2 shock is critical, as pedal dragging is the norm here.
The plus side is obvious. Point the Megawatt down anything steep you feel supremely confident. Parf of that confidence comes from the extra support in the four-way adjustable Grip 2 damper inside the 170mm Fox 38 fork.
And it is not just the support, the 38 Factory fork gets out of the way of big hits faster and rebonds with much more control than the basic Fox Performance and Rhythm forks on some of the other bikes.
Absolutely nothing needs upgrading on the Factory level Megawatt. The DT Swiss H1700 wheels are solid performers. The full Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain is great too, even if the chain noise sounds horrendous when it gets gritty and wet.
Even the Bike Yoke Divine 185mm dropper feels like a custom upgrade. In fact, our only niggle with the build kit is that the Nukeproof Horizon V2 handlebar has too much back sweep. so you have to roll it forward a lot to get some up sweep. Even that seems to work really well though, as it helps pull your weight forward so it’s easier to load the front end on flatter trails.
Remarkably, the Nukeproof doesn’t feel like a big travel bike, because the Factory level damping keeps the amplitude of the 170mm suspension in check at all times. Drop into anything rowdy though, and you have all of that suspension on tap, so the Megawatt finds flows better when it’s rough than any other bike in this test.
The only buzzkill, the non-stop rattle of the freewheel in the Shimano EP8 motor when costing. And while you do learn to zone it out, it would be better if Shimano could engineer it out.
Because Nukeproof specs the colour EM800 display, you can swap between two motor profiles without using the E-tube app. Profile 1 is more power focus, and feels great, but it rips through the battery pretty fast. Profile 2 extends the range, but you have less support and power.
And ultimately that’s the rub with the Nukeproof. Shimano’s 630Wh battery feels more like 580Wh in range, and with most bikes now delivering 750Wh, the Nukeproof is left languishing in the lower power mode just to go the distance.
Check out our guide to the best budget electric mountain bike if you want to power up without breaking the bank. Or take a look at the best electric mountain bikes if you want to scope out the best of the best after our extensive tests.
With the best kit, suspension components and geometry, there’s only one thing that needs upgrading on the Megawatt 297 Factory, and it’s the one thing you can not change…The 630Wh Shimano battery. Sure you could run a two battery approach, but the days of being tethered to the carpark or always riding in eco mode are long gone. And while the smaller, lighter, battery may still have a place in e-enduro racing, having an expandable battery capacity is what the Megawatt really needs if it’s going to have the staying power to compete with the bigger bands.