Urban Cyclist - - Bike Test - Words: Alex Evans Pho­tog­ra­phy: Jesse Wild

The Dig­ger is Nuke­proof’s first at­tempt at a gravel bike and is new for 2017. Born through ne­ces­sity when Nuke­proof’s top-level moun­tain-bike ath­letes needed some­thing to train on, it’s an off-road in­spired gravel bike that’s tough-look­ing, well-specced and sur­pris­ingly nippy to ride.

Made from 6061 T6 alu with rear quick re­lease, matched to a car­bon fork and steerer with a 15mm bolt thru’ front axle, it weighs 9.49kg for a medium without ped­als. Sport­ing mud­guard bosses both front and back, you’re treated to pan­nier mounts on the rear – it may be called a gravel bike but it’s cry­ing out to be rid­den with brazen dis­re­gard for its own well­be­ing on road.

The alu­minium tub­ing isn’t the pret­ti­est, with slightly ovalised down and top tubes that look a lit­tle un­gainly in cer­tain lights. It’s more func­tion over form but this isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing. Nuke­proof have set­tled for slack and long ge­om­e­try, and this trans­lates well out on the road. The 71.5° head an­gle and long 1,030mm wheel­base of­fers great sta­bil­ity over bumpy ter­rain, and the bike is con­fi­dence in­spir­ing when you pick up speed. The ride is im­pres­sively smooth yet stiff when you put the power down. Nuke­proof are re­ally on to some­thing with how they’ve set up the frame.

The sin­gle 40-tooth front ring paired with SRAM’s 11- to 42-tooth cas­sette gives plenty of climb­ing po­ten­tial but can spin out when clos­ing in on 30mph. SRAM’s Apex of­fers smooth op­er­a­tion from its Dou­bleTap shifters but, if you’re not used to how it works, it can take time to ac­cli­ma­tise to. The WTB tyres don’t cre­ate too much drag on the flat but aren’t very sta­ble, es­pe­cially if you’ve got a pen­chant for lean­ing over in the bends when it’s wet. We nearly came a crop­per a cou­ple of times on turns that we’d nor­mally hit with ease. The brakes of­fer great power and mod­u­la­tion so you re­ally can stop on a dime without much fuss – but you’d ex­pect this from SRAM’s hy­draulic Apex of­fer­ing.

The Dig­ger’s spec and frame are more than wor­thy of its price tag, es­pe­cially when you con­sider how well the bike rides. If you’re look­ing for a com­mut­ing hack that’ll take more abuse than you can throw at it, this is cer­tainly a top con­tender.

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