For when Mega just isn't enough, here's the Nukeproof Giga 290 – a 180mm travel 'super-enduro' bike. But is it 1,000 times better? We find out.
Nukeproof pushes the boundaries of the enduro bike with its new 170mm travel Nukeproof Giga 290. Is it a sign of modern excess, or proof you can never have too much of a good thing?
Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon Factory review
The new Nukeproof Giga 29 isn’t 103 times more powerful than the Nukeproof Mega, but it does have 10mm more travel; 180/170mm vs 170/160mm. It also has a completely different suspension layout – Nukeprooof swapping the trusty four-bar design found on its trail/ enduro platforms for a single pivot with a linkage actuated shock. A backward step? Not at all. In fact, it’s the same design employed on Nukeproof’s Dissent downhill rig, where the shock sits super-low in the frame. And, with bearings at both ends of the shock hardware, the suspension on the Giga is so sensitive it even sags under its own weight, just like a DH bike.
Drill down into the geometry and again the Giga’s DH DNA is crystal clear. The slack 63.1° head angle and generous 1,272mm wheelbase give it the stability needed for hard changing, while the 446mm chain stays help keep the front end firmly planted, even o more mellow terrain. The reach numbers are more typical of a DH bike too, coming up shorter than a lot of modern enduro bikes – the size L Giga 29 measuring 470mm, over 20mm shorter than the S4 Specialized Enduro. Where the Giga departs from its DH lineage is the 77.5° effective seat tube angle, that places the saddle forward enough so you can comfortably grind up steep gradients.
Most brands claim that their latest suspension designs work equally well with coil or air sprung shocks. But due to the distinctly different spring curves it’s always going to be a compromise. Not with the Giga. By using asymmetric hardware in the main pivot, the Giga has two distinct suspension settings, where swapping from the low to high pivot position increases both progression and anti-squat. Not only does this make the high setting ideal for a coil shock, if you’re riding smoother trails and want more support and less travel from the stock Fox X2, the high position works well for that too. The real beauty for the design though is that you can swap between settings in seconds. Simply loosen the main pivot, flip the integrated pivot lever, then tighten the main pivot again and you’re done. Genius!
Sticking with the DH theme the Nukeproof Giga 290 comes with a 50mm stem which, combined with 42mm fork offset and longer chainstays, makes the steering feel incredibly light and neutral. Nukeproof has shunned the oversized 35mm handlebar for a standard 31.8mm alloy option, the stiffness in the carbon frame negating the need for a bigger, stiffer bar. With impressive standover clearance and a relatively short seat tube, there’s also ample seatpost sticking out of the frame even with the 160mm Bikeyoke Divine dropper post, so shorter riders can easily upsize to gain extra reach, without being penalised in dropper height. We had the usual wandering bite-point with the Shimano XT rear disc brake, but seeing as it was only on the rear we bled it and chalked it up to an assembly issue related to the internal cable routing.
Without gravity working in your favour, big bikes can often be hard work. Not the Nukeproof Giga 290. It’s remarkably quick to respond to pedal inputs, be that sprinting out of turn or grinding up a climb, so there’s no lag time here. Which is impressive, given that the super-supple rear suspension is working overtime. As such, there’s grip for days, but it’s not so soft that the bike feels wallowy or gets bogged down in the 170mm travel. If anything, the opposite is true, the Giga only ever uses as much travel as needed. What’s most impressive about the Giga though is that while it’s seriously long in travel, the light touch to the shock tune and sensible reach measurement mean you don’t need to strongarm it to get it to do what you want. The centred riding position makes it every bit as agile and playful as it is capable.
Don’t be fooled by the numbers on the Giga. Sure, it’s got boat loads of travel, and geometry that wouldn’t look out of place on a World Cup DH bike. But for a big rig it’s remarkably versatile. There’s a sharpness to the pedal response that defies the suspension numbers, yet it manages to retain that pitter patter response normally reserved for coil sprung bikes. It helps too that the full carbon frame looks drop dead gorgeous. Factor on the Fox Factory suspension, XT transmission and DT Swiss wheels and Nukepoof has put together a package that makes the Giga appear unbeatable.