IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR THE BOYS FROM BELFAST TO GET TO THE VERY TOP OF DOWNHILL. MATTI LEHIKOINEN USHERED IN A BRAND WHO WERE JUST STARTING OUT MAKING DH BIKES WITH A TOP TEN RESULT IN THEIR FIRST WORLD CUP SEASON. THAT WAS 2011.
A few years later on the hallowed slopes of Mont Sainte Anne, the Australian gunslinger Sam Hill took the Nukeproof to the very highest place, a result that few brands would dare to dream of.
Hill took that win on an early version of this bike, yet it was Mike Jones who raced what in essence is the bike we have here to a podium placing at the World Cup opener in Lourdes a year ago. It’s a mighty fine bike developed and raced by a highly affable bunch of people. But how did we get in with the Nukeproof Pulse?
The big news from Nukeproof on the Pulse is the decision to go for four frame size options from small to extra large. As a large, the Pulse is pretty average in terms of reach sizing – slightly smaller than a YT Tues or Giant Glory yet larger than a Specialized Demo or Trek Session. However it’s the introduction of that XL size that takes the Pulse to a different place, in fact in that largest size its now one of the biggest downhill bikes in production which makes it a no brainer for taller riders.
It’s well known that the team agonised massively over the shape of the top tube on this bike and the style they decided on gives the bike a far better visual than some of the previous square style bikes. The shape also suggests there should be a nice amount of flex from the chassis. It also means the standover is low on all four sizes, even though its one of the longest bikes out there in that aforementioned XL sizing. At 62 degree head angle its also the slackest.
Top of the range RockShox BoXXer World Cup and Vivid RC2 take care of the damping via what Nukeproof call the “Three Stage Fallout linkage suspension.”
You cannot help but compare the Pulse to that other bike that has frequently been tagged a a privateer bike but which also in reality gains top world cup placings – the Giant Glory. It has one over the Glory by featuring the top end BoXXer World Cup fork and not the mid range Team version. However the Glory features Guide Ultimate brakes compared to the Guide RSC fitted to the Pulse – still an incredible brake. Sram X01 DH is the powerhouse driving the bike through the gears and cannot be faulted as are the Mavic Deemax Ultimate wheels.
There’s a definite cohesion about the bike. Bar, stem, headset, grips, saddle, seatpost is all Nukeproof own brand and gives the bike a solid identity which is very much aided by the graphics too.
On the hoof the Pulse in extra large has incredible stability especially on the steeper grounds aided by its long wheelbase and slack 62 degree head angle. It loves nothing better than straight line charging. On shallower gradients however a few riders frequently found themselves over the rear of the bike with not quite enough weight on the front tyre and considered that maybe getting another degree on the head angle to 63 might not be a bad thing. We’d also like to try a size large to compare.
Up front the World Cup BoXXers are certainly a shade better than the Team fork but again we found the Vivid damper topping out which it has done on many other downhill bikes. The ride is balanced in damping terms but although the bike has a better feel to it as a system compared to many downhill bikes its still slightly on the hard side in terms of flex/stiffness. It might not feel that way for a world cup racer but many will prefer slightly more ‘give’ in the chassis overall.
As a production bike the good points of the Pulse by far outweigh such finer detail of flex and stiffness, but having said that the bike is still a shade on the high side in terms of weight, pushing on for 38lbs and we’d like to try a lower bottom bracket. We wonder whether lowering the bottom bracket would have been a better way of improving the stability of the bike rather than lengthening/slackening the front.
At a penny short of five thousand pounds no doubt some riders will be comparing the Pulse to the carbon Glory with the not-so-good fork and only £200 more. Or possibly the carbon YT Tues now with the full Fox dampers. Having said that neither offer the range of sizing that the Pulse offers plus the aluminium route is still a great one to go in terms of durability.
Nukeproof has taken little time in conquering downhill. Yes we found it a shade slack but as it turns out we understand Sam Hill has actually steepened his Pulse back a degree to 63. In terms of componentry there are no faults, in build quality it is very good and the sizing on this bike is exceptional, certainly brands like Intense should take a look at the kind of numbers involved here. In the Pulse they’ve made a bike that can win World Cups and one that has already won the hearts of riders worldwide.
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