Say hello to the third incarnation of the Nukeproof Scout 290. With more progressive geometry, it's ideal for the hardcore hardtail fan, and versatile enough for all-round riding
Nukeproof has just launched the third version of the popular Scout hardtail, and it boasts more progressive geometry, two wheel size options, revised sizing and plenty more besides. But the proof is in the pudding or, in this case, the riding – does this versatile hardcore hardtail have what it takes to make it one of the best hardtail mountain bikes out there?
Need to know
- The latest evolution of Nukeproof’s aluminium hardtail that’s built for hard-hitting trail riding but keeping all-round versatility in mind too
- Available with 29in or 27.5in wheels with four frame sizes for each option (27.5in S-XL / 29in M – XXL)
- All frames are designed around 140mm travel forks
- Packed full of neat design details as well as revised geometry and sizing, including size specific chainstay lengths
Having spent 12 months on a V2 Scout 290 Pro longtermer I was the ideal candidate to head out to a wet and wild Nukeproof launch in mid Wales. I went suitably equipped with a wish list of geometry tweaks, sizing updates and additional spec details that I felt would nudge the Scout one step closer to the perfect hardcore hardtail blueprint.
Everything’s changed but the ethos
And while it would be easy to assume that the Scout sits in the shadows of the enduro-focused Giga and Megawatt e-bike, the Scout is one of Nukeproof’s best selling models and is given the same love and attention when it comes to design and testing. So, although it shared a similar silhouette to the outgoing model, the new V3 Scout has had a thorough overhaul, without straying from the original bike’s ethos of ‘minimum fuss, bare bones mountain biking’.
And the design team’s brief was simple: evolve and refine but retain the V2’s proven triple butted aluminium tubing, generous tyre clearance and well-executed cable routing. A case of adding and tweaking rather than removing – with the exception of the front mech mount, as this latest Scout is naturally a dedicated 1x design.
The Scout is one of Nukeproof’s best selling models and is given the same love and attention when it comes to design and testing
In a similar way to other UK brands such as Whyte and Orange, Nukeproof is always keen to offer options. So as with the previous generation, this all-new Scout is available with either 27.5in or 29in wheels, with dedicated frames for each.
There are five frame sizes in total that spread across the entire range and sensibly, the 29er starts at medium and goes up to XXL, with the 27.5in option offered from size small but topping out at XL.
And before you ask, there’s currently no mullet version to go up against the Orange Crush MX – it’s something Nukeproof considered but while the design team felt it brought genuine benefits to its full suspension bikes they weren’t convinced on the concept for a hardtail.
One feature they were keen to implement though – and something we rarely see on a hardtail – are frame-size-specific chainstay lengths. A move to help maintain the same weight distribution across all frame sizes. Chainstay lengths go from 432.5mm on to 440mm on the 29ers and 422.5mm to 430mm on the 27.5in bikes. And yes, they grow in 2.5mm increments.
When it comes to suspension travel, the V3 frame is designed around a 140mm travel fork – on both the 27.5in and 29in options. Last year, Nukeproof offered bikes with 130mm up front but ‘over-forked’ the Pro model to 140mm. For 2022, all Scouts get the Pro treatment.
Nukeproof Scout geometry updates
Is it also a case of longer, lower and slacker on the new frame? Well yes, every tube dimension and angle has been tweaked but we’re talking subtle changes here.
A highlight for me are the shorter seat tubes, allowing longer stroke droppers to be run
A highlight for me are the shorter seat tubes, allowing longer stroke droppers to be run. So at 6ft 2in tall, I was able to ride a size XL with a 200mm stroke post, while retaining the option to upsize to the XXL for a longer reach/wheelbase if needed. With the shorter seat tubes comes much lower standover heights and the bottom bracket drops a hair too.
The head tube on the V3 Scout now sits at 64.5º and the effective seat tube steepens to 77º. All contemporary numbers and while the reach measurements have increased on most sizes the effective top tube lengths have reduced a touch due to the steeper seat tube angle and this is noticeable when riding seated.
Short head tube lengths were a criticism of the older Scouts and Nukeproof has addressed this too, with the headtube on the XL gaining an extra 10mm in stack.
Take a closer look and you’ll see the fixtures and fittings have been brought right up to date too. The threaded bottom bracket and chain guide mounts carry over but a top tube accessory mount, SRAM’s UDH derailleur hanger and comprehensive down tube and chainstay protection are all welcome additions.
Nukeproof Scout performance and ride impressions
With no production bikes available for the launch date – just frames – my Scout was built up with components to suit the job in hand. A mix of Nukeproof’s own hardware along with a spread of Manitou, Hayes, Microshift and Michelin resulted in a Scout that was dressed very much as a hardcore hardtail, right down to the chain guide and bash plate.
Hitting the mountains my expectations and hopes were for evolution not revolution, as on paper I could only see subtle improvements over the previous generation. It didn’t take long to realise that Nukeproof had nudged the Scout up a level and this hit home on the first boulder-strewn descent.
It was enlightening to slam a 200mm dropper on a size XL hardtail and really hunker down on the bike, taking advantage of the super-low top tube. The Scout now felt small enough to hustle, with stability being kept in check by the longer wheelbase and slacker head angle. The 140mm fork seems to hit the mark too, feeling a natural partner for the new frame and when teamed up with 2.4in Michelin rubber gives an indomitable feel that doesn’t hold you back.
The good points of the previous Scout remain, but it’s now a much more animated ride
But rest assured, Nukeproof has not forgotten the older model’s responsive handling or sullied its all-round nature. If anything, the steeper 77º effective seat angle on the V3 Scout has increased its climbing ability – especially on steeper pitches.
So the good points of the previous Scout remain – the low weight, silence, comfort and stability – but it’s now a much more animated ride. The geometry tweaks add up in a very favourable way, boosting confidence and encouraging you to push on harder, gambling on some risky or questionable lines and getting you through unfazed.
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Without question, every box on my wish list of improvements has been ticked off. In fact Nukeproof has raised the bar in nearly all areas. The old Scout may well have had an eye on the uplift truck but this new V3 evolution has gone all-in and bought a season ticket.