[Tested] Nukeproof Giga 290 Carbon Factory


This Summer I had the pleasure of testing my very first Nukeproof. Back in the day, as a kid racing cross country on the East Coast, the Michigan brand’s mythical hubs were something I always lusted after but never managed to attain. Fast forward a couple decades and they are now a massive consumer direct model bike manufacturer hailing from the British Isles offering up high value propositions ranging from beginner to factory race levels. It was only just in the last year that the brand came home, so to speak, and began distributing their bikes across the US out of Salt Lake City, Utah. For the last few months I’ve been riding the long legged Giga 290 Carbon Factory, which lands in the “Super Enduro” category. Read on to see how it’s been working out…


  • Carbon fiber frame
  • 29″ front and rear
  • 180mm front travel / 170mm rear travel
  • 2.5″ rear tire clearance
  • 200mm direct post mount rear brake
  • UDH compatible
  • Fully vinyl wrap pre-installed
  • S-XXL sizing
  • 35 lbs. 6 oz. (no pedals / as tested, with vinyl wrap, rear fender, bottle cage and sealant)
  • $6,899 – currently on sale for $5,174 USD


Starting with suspension, this bike sees Factory level Fox front and rear. Up front the 38 speaks for itself. For a few years now it has been the best fork in its category in my opinion. Four way adjustable damping, an excellent chassis with brilliant fender integration and bleed valves all hover on 180mm of travel. Out back is the Float X2, a shock which has had a mixed reputation to put it lightly. When it’s operating properly, these units are truly excellent but they do have a tendency to aerate/cavitate and need servicing prematurely. The 205mm X 60mm stroke trunnion mount shown above has four way adjustable damping and a lockout for the climbs.

This model has a full Shimano XT drivetrain. A 30T chainring paired with a 10-51T rear cassette offers plenty of range for big days in the saddle racing or otherwise. To keep things concise, broadly speaking I think it’s fair to characterize Shimano drivetrains as better at shifting under power and tending to be a little more durable than SRAM, while drivetrains from SRAM have a more crisp, positive feel when actually shifting and generally weight slightly less given price points. In any case, I had no problems whatsoever with the XT line and found it to be a workhorse drivetrain that can take a beating.

Props to Nukeproof for speccing heavy duty “Double Down” casings on both the front and rear of this bike. Given the Giga’s travel and appetite for rowdy terrain, this is an appropriate call and is something worth bearing in mind when judging the complete bike’s weight. I found the 2.5″ Maxxis Assegai front / 2.4″ DHR2 rear combo to be a highly predictable and versatile combo. I’ve ridden this setup many times before and have no complaints with it. Lastly, props to Nukeproof for utilizing a softer Maxxgrip compound up front and a more durable Maxxterra out back.

Another setup that I have had plenty of time testing over the years is the DT Swiss EX1700 Wheelset. It’s been around for a few years now and there is a reason that dozens of bike companies spec these wheels on mid to long travel offerings as a go to high value option. They’re relatively light, plenty strong and easy to service. All in all they’re a great no frills product that you won’t have to stress about.

In addition to being entrusted to handling shifting, Shimano is also in charge of stopping with 200mm, four piston XT brakes. My experience with this brakeset has been nothing short of perfect. The power, lever feel, modulation and adjustment have all been excellent.

The front portion of the cockpit is completely comprised of Nukeproof’s in house parts – many of which are Sam Hill signature pieces. I quite liked the 45mm length stem and in fact have the same one on a personal bike. While I wasn’t much of a fan of the grips, I’m sure some people may get along with them. They’re low profile and grabby but a little hard for my tastes. Regarding the handlebar, it felt like a Renthal Fatbar – a good thing – but with more backsweep.

On the topic of in house parts, props to Nukeproof for including their full coverage chainguide. It’s tidy and works great.

Touching on a few frame details – there is a nice rear fender tucked into the rear end which offers good coverage and didn’t make any noise. We’ve had a rather dry Summer, so I can’t speak to its effectiveness that much, but it seems like it would be helpful in the slop. The downtube has a rugged rubber guard that offers a broad wrap. Lastly, the molded rubber protection on the seat and chainstay worked quite nicely as well, keeping things very quiet out back.

Going over some other aspects of the Giga’s frame features, we’ll see an accessory mount under the downtube – which is the next best thing to internal storage. On the downtube, Nukeproof got real creative with the tubeset in order to accommodate a full size water bottle, but it is worth noting that only their (included) cage works on this model. Lastly, on the right you can get a good look at some of the included full vinyl wrap. This is something that normally can cost a few hundred dollars, especially if you’re paying for the installation, and it protects your investment very nicely, so it’s great to see it included for free. Lastly, as far as cable routing goes the bike features a fully sleeved internal routing but I must point out that my bike had the rear derailleur cable routed where the rear brake would be routed on a bike specced for a left/rear and right/front brake setup. This is the first time that I’ve understood the pain that some Europeans feel when buying American bikes!

The Giga features a progression adjustment at the main linkage which can easily be adjusted trailside via a single 8mm allen key. As my bike came with an air shock I left it in the more linear setting that is around 24% progression. Having the option to switch to an increased 29% progression is perfect for anyone considering a coil shock.

I had no issues whatsoever with the BikeYoke dropper. In fact I really liked it. 185mm of travel was a treat for my long legs and I love that it can be reset/bled with a 4mm allen key and a quick cycle of the travel. That said, the dropper lever from the ironically named Brand-X was pretty terrible and uncomfortable to use. If this was my personal bike it’d be the first thing that I’d change.


An overview of the geometry shows a bike that is very well thought out.  My size Large Giga features a steep seat tube angle, a moderately slack head tube angle and a nice balance between the reach and chainstay lengths. If there was one minor bone to pick it could be that this bike doesn’t feature size scaled chainstay lengths as many bikes do now. With that in mind, I think the 445mm number is perfect for the Medium – XL frames, but could be a little long on the S and a little short on the XXL models. This is not a big deal, but worth noting and – all told – the numbers on this bike are really good.


On the trail

Starting with climbing, a 77.75º  seat angle meant that despite how heavy duty this bike is, if you have the patience and the legs you could get it back up some pretty good sized climbs without destroying yourself. As a bike gets more “long in the tooth” it becomes increasingly more important to be able to shift your body forward into the right position when climbing it back uphill and Nukeproof nailed this aspect. As for kinematics this bike is quite calm as well. Realizing full well that a 180mm/170mm bike can only climb so efficiently, this wasn’t a bike where input seemed to be wasted on sloppy suspension. Rather, it got along quite nicely and didn’t exhibit much wallowing. It’s safe to say that weight is probably the biggest setback in terms of climbing. However, that should be contextualized mindfully as the bike features Double Down tire casings, a full coverage chainguide, and a vinyl wrap. These are all very popular items that many brands don’t include and end up costing consumers a few hundred dollars post purchase while also adding some weight.

In terms of descending, after my first few rides I was trying to put a finger on which other bike the Giga reminded me of, then it finally struck me. In many ways it was reminiscent of the current Specialized Enduro – mainly in regards to suspension and geometry. It has a very similar rate of progression and the geometry is also quite close, while they share the same average leverage rate (2.83:1). The Nukeproof has a steeper seat angle and UDH compatibility while the Specialized has internal storage and perhaps a slightly livelier layup. Anyhow, I found this bike to be extremely calm, and stable. I would even venture to say it seemed a bit desensitized to speed and was always begging for more no matter how hard I pushed it. The flip side of that coin is that when the going got slow it needed a bit more rider input due to its stature and weight. With that in mind, this is still a very nimble rig in the grand scheme of things and I really enjoyed my time on it in tight, twisty terrain. Additionally, one could consider bumping down to a 170mm front air spring to liven things up a bit if that makes sense given your local terrain. However, if you are frequently riding rugged and ragged trails the Giga isn’t too far from DH bike level capabilities and is extremely surefooted and confident in stock form.

As mentioned earlier, the progression adjustment is a great touch and I felt that the suspension had the right mix that most riders are looking for: light off the top, forgiving yet supportive in the middle and well resistant to harsh bottom outs at the end. On the topic of end stroke, I never once felt full bottom, although my sag ring indicated that I reached full travel a few times. Using it all, but not feeling the very end is quite ideal. The rear shock came spec’d with a single volume reducer so you could play with the curve by removing it or adding another to tailor to your liking. I also appreciated the cartridge bearing lower shock eyelet, but I did have some bad news on the rear shock front. This Float X2 model did fall prey to the dreaded and aforementioned aeration problem. From my understanding, Fox is addressing this issue by either fixing the rear shocks or replacing them with updated 2024 models, so while it is an inconvenience it is not the end of the world and it’s not worth writing the shock itself off as the performance is excellent and very well tuned to the Giga when it is working properly.

In terms of some of the other handling aspects I found the Giga to have a very neutral ride. It didn’t seem to exhibit much pedal feedback and I couldn’t detect any suspension interference under heavy braking. The frame itself was plenty stiff and sturdy, so it tracked very nicely in the corners with the bonus of added stability at speed due to its low center of mass. Throughout all of my testing I didn’t have a single piece of hardware back out or come loose and all of the bearings are running smooth as can be. Admittedly I got a bit nostalgic looking at the shock’s linkage because its layout is the same – conceptually speaking – as one of my first downhill bikes, a 2000 Turner DHR. In any case this bell crank style linkage has proven the test of time and was worry free.

As far as the components are concerned, most of that is covered fairly well under the Details section above. Broadly speaking however I found many of the in house products to be quite good and the mix of Shimano XT and flagship Fox was mostly excellent, with the exception of the rear shock. I’ll cover the overall value aspect more in the summary, but all in all this bike has a great spec.

Touching on some of the bike’s features, I did have an annoying little bit of cable noise which took me some time to hone in on. However, when I zip tied the two cables together where they exited the downtube, it went away, so that was an easy fix. All of the bike’s protective elements worked a treat and Nukeproof deserves high praise for including the full vinyl wrap. Lastly, while I appreciated the relatively high rise handlebar and +/-5mm stem, I prefer a fairly tall front end and it still felt slightly low to me with just four 5mm spacers. Including six spacers would be a nice touch and gives the end user more adjustability. In the grand scheme of things however, this is a minor detail that could be remedied with a taller handlebar.


At the end of the day I got along very well with this bike – so much so that I’ve pondered building one up for bike park season next year. It’s a great all around gravity rig for someone who would want a bike park ripper that’s also up for frequent enduro racing. It’s capable enough that it might have you questioning the utility in owning a downhill bike, outside of racing perhaps. All of that aside, it was the frame itself that won me over, which is a good thing as it’s the core investment in a bike. This model features flagship suspension, and excellent brakes. The tried and true drivetrain and wheelset go a long ways. It’s nice that Nukeproof covers all the details and doesn’t leave you hanging – duty appropriate tire casings, protective wrap and things like the accessory mount and adjustable progression go a long ways. The suspension layout and geometry are both winners all around in my mind as well. All in all, I’m a big fan of this bike and I think that at $6,899 it offers great value. That it’s on sale in limited quantities and sizes for just $5,174 (at the time of writing this article) is even better.



  1. Mi trovo strabene, bici da discesa !!! Devo dire che si pedala molto bene da quando ho messo il molla col blocco vero ! ho altre bici che vanno bene in discesa ma quando só di fare discesa vera prendo questa ! E la porto su sempre con le gambe..
  2. Ho tradotto col traduttore quindi mmm.. vabbè so come và ce l’ho da più di un anno.. però un test in italiano o tradotto bene mi sarebbe piaciuto
  3. Niko9:

    Ho tradotto col traduttore quindi mmm.. vabbè so come và ce l’ho da più di un anno.. però un test in italiano o tradotto bene mi sarebbe piaciuto
    attendere prego
Previous Story

[Tested] Deviate Claymore

Next Story

[Tested] Endura MT500 MIPS Helmet

Latest from Latest News