Smooth, reactive, playful bike that still punches hard
The Nukeproof Scout 275 Comp has seen a lot of development. Its low-slung profile remains, but the bike has been stretched to a more generous cockpit.
Nukeproof isn’t just about super-servicing the sport’s elite however. It’s a grassroots brand, and that is best reflected in the starting price of the new Scout hardtails. At £849.99, the Scout 275 Sport shares the same frame and chunky 2.6in Maxxis Minion tyres as the top-end Scout Comp that we’re testing here. And, just like the Mega, the Scout is available in 27.5in and 29in versions, each with bespoke frame designs.
It’s the rear end that’s seen the biggest improvements though. With slender stays and Boost dropouts, compliance has been improved without compromising lateral stiffness. In fact, the rear end bears more than a passing resemblance to the Orange Crush, albeit with a bridgeless design to achieve the clearance needed for that meaty 2.6in Maxxis tyre. The frame can also accommodate full-blown 2.8in Plus tyres, so it’s a very versatile design.
With a 140mm RockShox Revelation RC suspension fork, Nukeproof occupies the middle ground in terms of fork travel. Sag gradients on the upper legs and guide pressures on the lowers make it easy to get a ballpark setting, but we struggled to get the full measure of travel. Also the Nukeproof felt a little nose heavy, even thought the handlebar height was comparable to the other bikes in test.
To remedy this we cracked open the air-spring side of the fork and removed the two grey tokens to reduce the amount of ramp up in the fork. We also wound the rebound adjuster out to 2-clicks from fully open to let the fork ride a little higher in the stroke, helping shift rider weight more onto the rear of the bike.
The full Shimano SLX drivetrain and brakes on the Scout worked flawlessly, and we really liked the extra stopping power of the bigger 180mm rear rotor. Yes, we’ve had chain re-tension issues with some of Shimano’s chain rings, but the hollow-forged SLX chainset is the best in test, and the MRP upper guide guarantees 100% chain security.
What difference a year can make. The Nukeproof Scout 275 Comp has gone from bring the bike that automatically got eliminated in the first round of testing for being too harsh, to narrowly missing out on the test win.
And it’s not just the frame that’s come on leaps and bounds either, Nukeproof has stepped up the quality of its components too. The profile of the 800mm Neutron bar is spot on, while the updated graphics and 50mm stem give the Scout a high-end look and feel.
With the new 2.6in tyres it’s hard to tell if all of Nukeproof’s efforts to eliminate the harsh, unforgiving ride of the previous Scout frame has been successful, but it doesn’t really matter as the tyres alone make such a big difference to the ride quality.
On flowing singletrack the Scout is lighting fast and with the rapid engagement of the Horizon rear hub it’s lost none of its snap, actively encouraging you to crank out of every turn. And thanks to the steep seat tube angle, it’s also got the best riding position in test for climbing.
The Scout is a little nose heavy though, and even when we rolled the handlebar back and firmed up the fork it would still lose ground to the Whyte 905 on steep, or particularly rough trails. This test was very close call though, and with a 10mm shorter stem and a softer compound front tyre, roles could quite easily have been reversed.
After taking it on the chin for two years straight, the 2018 Nukeproof Scout has come out swinging. The completely revised frame design and fatter 2.6in Maxxis tyres totally transforming the bike. Gone is the eyeball-rattling ride of old, replaced instead by a smooth, reactive, playfully bike that still punches hard out of every turn. And with a full Shimano SLX groupset in its corner, the Scout easily stood toe to toe with the Whyte 905. And much as we were rooting for the underdog, Whyte’s polished performance left nothing to chance.