Whatever your opinions on bigger wheel sizes are it seems that they are very much here to stay. Whilst some areas of mountainbiking have welcomed them with open arms, it has been pretty obvious that in the world of downhill 26” still remains king… but is that all set to change? With the World Cup race season about to start out in South Africa and companies like RockShox launching 27.5” specific forks I think it is safe to say that we will be seeing some wheel changes and discussions this year.
DIRT ISSUE 146 – APRIL 2014
Words by Mike Rose. Photos by Steve Jones
We caught up with ex–World Cup racer, and now team manager of the CRC/Nukeproof team, Nige Page to talk to him about a new prototype 27.5” Mega AM ‘DH’ bike that his team of Sam Hill, Joe Smith and Mike Jones have been testing. Will they be using it out at the notoriously flat Pietermaritzburg race? We’ll have to wait and see.Dirt: So Nige, what exactly have we got here?
Nige: This is basically a modified Nukeproof Mega AM 27.5” frame, size large. After the World Champs last year I thought the modified Mega would be a great bike for that track – I discussed it with Sam Hill and he agreed. Then I spoke to Ali (Beckett, Nukeproof Brand Manager) about it and as usual he was more than willing to get us what we wanted. The only change is the that the headangle has been slackened–out to 63º instead of the standard 66º, with a small gusset added to the top tube and down tube for the extra stresses of a triple clamp fork. The top tube is slightly shorter than standard, as we have slightly shortened the top tube to give the 63º HA without increasing the wheelbase too much. Then the seat tube has been lowered with a small gusset added.So you’ve strengthened the frame up a bit?
Yes, just as an added precaution for the extra forces the frame will get from high speed DH with a triple–crown fork. Although we have had no issues with the Nukeproof Mega frames, I just wanted to be extra safe.So am I right in saying that this bike has been made specifically for the first World Cup of the year in Pietermaritzburg (PMB)?
Yeah exactly. Unfortunately we felt that for the riders on our team this bike may be a bit faster than our current DH Pulse as the track is very different from most tracks on the circuit. It isn’t particularly rough or steep, and although it has some of the fastest sections of any of the DH tracks it has such a long flat section in the middle with jumps. We are confident that the bike will work well enough on the more downhill sections and carry a lot more speed on the flatter sections and use up less energy from the riders.
It’s a shame that in the World Cup downhill series we need to use bikes like this, but it’s nothing people haven’t done before at tracks like Sea Otter, Canberra, Willingen and PMB last year.So why the Mega AM and not the Pulse for the DH/27.5” treatment?
For PMB we felt the Mega (which is already 27.5) would have enough travel with 160mm and would build into a lighter and more efficient bike than the Pulse. It’s a long track and is very physically demanding. The riders we have on our team this season are all super skilled but not out and out power–houses. We have worked hard to make the Pulse a fantastic DH bike and we are testing 27.5 wheels on our Pulses too, but PMB is not that rough or DH on the whole.We’ve been having some terrible weather (the complete opposite to South Africa) so how has testing been going? It must be tricky.
Haa, yes we haven’t done too much testing yet, obviously all the riders have ridden a lot on their stock Mega trail bikes and love them, but we will be cramming in a lot more DH runs as soon as we get some slightly better weather. We will also test the bike out on some varied different tracks. Sam doesn’t have one yet as he will only be starting to do DH runs at the end of February after his knee surgery. I think he will be OK finding some dry and dusty trails easier than us for testing.>>
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