Nukeproof's latest Scout is prepared for anything, but never gets tied in knots, even on the twistiest trails.
One look at the Nukeproof website and you’ll notice there’s a strong focus on trail, enduro and DH riding, with a range of bikes that look very fit for purpose. There are no featherweight cross country machines here, so if your riding is very much gravity-focused and you’re looking for the best hardtail mountain bike, then Nukeproof is a brand that should be on your radar.
In fact, the Scout is the only hardtail in Nukeproof’s range, but it’s offered with both 27.5in or 29in wheels. With three spec levels available, we’ve gone mid-pack with the 290 Comp at £1,799.99
Finished in a glossy ‘concrete grey’ and with a dose of stealthy black components, the Scout really has the look of a premium bike. A quick scan over the bike reveal components and details that give a strong hint at its intentions and mirror Nukeproof’s brand identity. The chunky rubber, 200mm front rotor, 800mm handlebar and chain guide mounts are typically found on an enduro rig.
The triple-butted aluminium frame has a longish 435mm chainstay, which helps provide ample mud clearance while giving the option to go bigger than the stock 2.4in rear tyre. The cable/hose routing is very tidy – all external (apart from the dropper) and takes a direct route to the rear.
A sure sign that the Scout frame is maybe not as up-to-date as the others is the cable guide for a front derailleur. This concept carries through to the dimensions of the frame more so than the angles; highlighted by the tall 510mm seat tube on the XL bike, a short 110mm head tube and a reach comparable to a large Whyte 629. With this in mind we feel that the sizing could do with a refresh – and certainly needs some attention when choosing which one suits you.
Nukeproof has designed the Scout 290 frame to work with a fork of up to 140mm travel, the pricier Pro model capitalises on this with a RockShox Lyrik. The Comp gets a 130mm Marzocchi Bomber Z2, and we hold the opinion that this is the optimum travel for a trail hardtail, giving enough comfort, grip and support but without huge swings in dynamic geometry as the fork moves through its travel.
The Bomber’s performance all round was first class with plenty of small bump compliance and realistic support from Marzocchi’s Rail damper. The recommended air pressures proved accurate too, giving the correct sag with no further tweaking needed.
It’s nearly a full house of Shimano components for the Scout Comp, with the exception being the Level T brakes from SRAM. The Deore 12-speed transmission (which includes a Shimano chain) is faultless, with a stunning finish to the two-piece chainset.
The Maxxis tyres are a standout in the specification, especially if you’re either heavier in build or in your riding style. The 2.5in Assegai up front uses 3C Maxx Terra compound, as does the rear 2.4in Dissector, which is reinforced with the EXO+ casing. The Scout comes set up tubeless and we had zero issues with either sealing or indeed wheel build quality.
With the hard-hitting build kit we were surprised to find that the Nukeproof is the second lightest on test at just under 14kg. Those heavier duty tyres do increase rolling resistance though, so the Scout isn’t the quickest to accelerate, either from standstill or attacking a climb.
And although the 475mm reach isn’t that progressive, the slack seat tube, 800mm handlebar and 50mm stem give plenty of room when seated. With a low 303mm bottom bracket height and longish chainstays, attacking a trail with the seat slammed is what this hardtail is all about though… show it a rock strewn descent and the Scout laps it up. With plenty of stability and shed loads of grip from the tyres the Nukeproof holds its line well. But it’s in slower, steeper chutes, where the mix of the tall seat tube and lower front end upsets the bike’s balance ever so slightly.
We quickly warmed to the Scout’s smooth, compliant yet solid-feeling ride. The build kit is stellar too, with a strong gravity-focus. With this in mind we feel that its sizing feels a touch dated, as riders looking to push the Scout frame to its limits would definitely benefit from a shorter seat tube and a shade more reach.
While we may question the Nukeproof’s sizing, one area we can’t fault is its ride quality. When we last reviewed the Scout it was the smaller wheeled 270 and we praised the compliance of its frame. It's no different with this 290 Comp either – smooth, comfortable and quiet, allowing your mind to stay focused on the trail ahead. Yes, the XL Scout would certainly benefit from a shorter seat tube and a longer headtube, or at the very least and adjustable stroke dropper to get the best from the frame and as it’s the one bike here that’s probably got its eye on the uplift.