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Nukeproof Megawatt Elite e-MTB review – mullet and motor mayhem master

Does adding a Shimano motor to an enduro bike with a 13-year race history make the Nukeproof Megawatt a standout e-MTB?

Nukeproof Megawatt Elite E-MTB
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Not the biggest battery or smartest electrics but fantastic suspension and rowdy ready handling make the Nukeproof a top value, power-assisted play bike.

For

  • - Outstanding suspension performance
  • - Addictively agile mullet handling
  • - Excellent cost-effective component targeting
  • - Solid Shimano motor

Against

  • - Limited display data
  • - Clunky motor noise
  • - Slow, low efficiency rolling
  • - Potential cable wear on steerer tube

Back in 2009 Nukeproof’s Mega was one of the first ‘enduro’ mountain bikes and it's had an enviable race career right through its continual evolution. The Irish design team has fed all that speed and control chasing experience into the Megawatt. That means while the motor and display aren’t the smartest, and there are bigger batteries and prettier chassis, it’s definitely one of the best e-MTBs around if you’re after a sweet handling, perfectly damped park or play bike.

Megawatt downtube

The Mega frame and suspension layout is race proven at the highest level and leaves room for a bottle and strap-on mount (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design

Nukeproof hasn’t bothered messing with the proven Mega recipe to make the Megawatt, but then why would you? The centrally mounted shock, with short rocker link pivoting in the seat tube/top tube armpit doesn’t get in the way of the motor or pivot placement. It means there’s still room for a bottle and a bolted accessory mount within the frame too. The down tube is now a massive box for the battery though and the head tube is seriously oversized to give room for internal control lines. The curved seat tube leaves room for 170mm of rear wheel movement on a Specialized style 4-bar linkage path.

Control routing is external on the seat stays but rubber armor keeps chain slap quiet and you get a chain keeper fitted as standard. As brutish as it looks, the alloy is still triple-butted though and overall weight is relatively low.

While a lot of ‘value’ brands just concentrate on the biggest selling sizes, Nukeproof deserves kudos for offering S and XXL sizes with a regular 20mm per size reach growth from 435 to 515mm. The steep seat tube angles vary slightly too (77.5 to 78 degrees) but head angles are the same at 64 degrees. 345mm bottom bracket height and short 442mm chain stay length don’t change either which means the extremes of sizing might feel noticeably different but on the large I tested the numbers set up a real have-a-go-hero sweet spot. All sizes of bike use a ‘mullet' setup with a 29in front wheel and 27.5in rear which is a big part of the playful vibe.

Megawatt back end

Shimano EP8 is solid if a bit noisy and basic in terms of software. Short, 'Mullet' back end and SLX spec are a definite win though (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Specifications

The Elite model of the Megawatt is a real component sweet spot too, putting all the spend where it makes the most difference to the ride and saving money where it doesn’t.

First up you’ve got a Fox 38 fork in Performance Elite spec, which means all the multi speed damping control of the Factory just without the gold legged tarting. And while the Float X2 is only the Performance spec, that means less chance of idiots messing with one of the best custom damper tunes I’ve ever ridden. If you’re the sort of rider who’ll love this bike or you've read our guide to the best e-MTB tires then the 2.5in Maxxis Assegai front tire in MaxxGrip compound and DD casing will need no introduction and the MaxTerra High Roller II on the rear is reinforced DD spec too. They sit on the comically indestructible DT Swiss H1900 Spline Hybrid e-bike wheels too.

Shimano SLX is significantly lighter and slicker in operation than the Deore transmission on the £4999.99 Comp, but cheaper and functionally indistinguishable than XT on the £6999.99 Factory. The SLX brakes are more powerful and controlled with longer lasting sintered semi metallic pads compared to Deore and you get 8in (203mm rotors) front and rear too.

Going for the Elite not the Comp also gets you a 630Wh battery, not a 504Wh battery.  While the Shimano EP8 system can’t compete with the latest Bosch and Specialized in terms of on trail power, tech and communication, it’s still generally a solid unit. Bar and stem are Nukeproof’s own very well reviewed Horizon kit in size specific dimensions, with Sam Hill Signature grips on the ends. The iconic cheap but relentlessly cheerful Brand X Ascend dropper post comes in 125 (S), 150 (M) or 175mm (L, XL, XXL) strokes depending how much can be fitted into the curved seat tube.

Maxxis Assegai

Grip doesn't come more guaranteed than with a big sticky Maxxis Assegai (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

As much as it’s cracking value in componentry terms, it’s the way the Megawatt rides that makes it one of the best buys in the aggro e-MTB space. And we definitely mean the aggro/gravity arena too as even with motor assist and low overall weight it’s clear that the sticky Assegai up front and smaller wheel at the rear dig deeply into range and leg strength. It’s not a bike that you’ll enjoy trying to smash along the flat faster than the motor is legally allowed to help with or find an easy cruise on at lower power levels either. If you have to go hard on a vert climb though the chunky rear tire and super steep seat angle actually put you in a great position to stop you having to get off and push. 

It’s once you’re up, checking your knee pads and settling your goggles in place that the Nukeproof puts Mega into the equation though. At 475mm reach it’s not the longest large E-MTB by a fair stretch but the slack head angle and steep seat angle put you perfectly at the Apex of control. The mullet setup is optimised with the ultra grippy, insanely secure feeling front tire and the tighter cut in and smaller turning circle of the rear wheel. That means, even without any clever lowering of the battery or rolling of the motor to get weight as low as possible, the Megawatt loves to throw down in every corner in exactly the way Sam Hill would want his grips to be used. The smaller rear wheel and short rear end also makes it easy to pop the front wheel up for popping drops, pulling for gaps or just for the steeze of it.

Fox X2 shock

There's 13 years of Nukeproof shock-tuning experience packed into that fat Fox can and it really shows on the rowdiest trails (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

The other outstanding part of the Megawatt package is the rear suspension. 170mm is a lot of wheel travel and that obviously shows in the way the bike handles ugly drops, cases and flat out, heels down, head up charges into seismic sized rock gardens. The real skill of the Nukeproof team has been mixing that capability to swallow chaos with an ultra supple traction guaranteeing start stroke but a super stable and supportive mid stroke. Everywhere from bike park berms, unexpected sends and semi saves to flat out natural enduro stages in savagely rocky terrain the Megawatt just feels totally gripped but also poised and ready to subtly shift/drift lines or punch the power down to hit the next section flat out. Thankfully the 38 fork, with fully high and low speed compression and rebound adjustable Grip 2 damper, is well up to matching the back end (another reason to find the extra £1000 over the Comp). The DD casings and super tough rims mean you don’t have to run the tires rock hard and ruin the ultra control vibe. The SLX brakes with 8in rotors are plenty pokey too, completing a bike that, cliché warning, really does get better and better the harder and wilder you ride it.

In fact the only thing you need to keep an eye on is the steerer tube on the fork as we have seen some Megawatt bikes where notches have been worn in the alloy by the gear cable or brake hose. That’s not isolated to Nukeproof though and it’s definitely not a deal breaker as long as you’re aware of it and take steps to stop it.

Verdict

It’s slightly agricultural in aesthetic, a slow roller on climbs and flats and Shimano’s EP8 motor isn’t quite a power or data match for Bosch and Specialized. But when it comes to gravity biased, super-dynamic ride quality, the Megawatt has very few competitors. It’s relatively light, naturally agile and perfectly poised to make the most of the insanely planted and controlled handling and suspension in every extreme situation. It’s a bargain in terms of having all the kit you need without wasting money where you don’t and it comes in an applaudably wide range of sizes.

Tech specs: Nukeproof Megawatt Elite e-MTB

  • Discipline: Trail/enduro
  • Price: $6599 / £5999 / €7199
  • Head angle: 64-degrees
  • Frame material: Alloy
  • Sizes: S, M, L (tested) XL, XL
  • Weight: 24.4kg (large without pedals)
  • Wheel size: 29x2.in
  • Suspension (front/rear): Fox 38 Float Performance Elite Grip 2 170mm travel, 44mm offset/Fox Float X2 EVOL, Performance 170mm travel
  • Components: Shimano SLX 10-51T 12 speed mech, chain, cassette and brakes with 203mm rotors. Maxxis Assegai MaxxGrip DD WT 29 x 2.5in front and Maxxis High Roller II 27.5”x2.5 WT 3C MaxxTerra/DD rear tires on DT Swiss H1900 SPLINE wheels. Nukeproof Horizon 780mm bar and 50mm stem, Brand-X Ascend 170mm dropper post, Nukeproof saddle

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg

With contributions from