Test: The Nukeproof Digger Comp is an unusual entry-level bike, but it proves once again that it can be worthwhile if manufacturers think outside the box. In the case of the British aluminum gravel bike, classic gravel elements are combined with MTB gravity features. Doesn't that go wrong?
Nukeproof Digger Comp: The Facts
Frame material: Aluminium
Wheel size(s): 650b (700c and 29″ compatible)
Maximum tire clearance: 2,3″ (650b) / 2,0″ (700c)
Axle dimensions (v/h): 15 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: Ja
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): Yes / Yes
bottle holder: down tube up, seat tube
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.790g / 1.992g / 3.782g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 10,01kg
Price: € 1.499
Anything but ordinary
What happens when a bike builder like Nukeproof, which comes from MTB sport and actually from gravity disciplines such as freeride and downhill, decides to build a gravel bike? Then you end up with a bike like the Nukeproof Digger, which – to start with – is different from all the other bikes we have tested. But before we get to the special features, let's stay with the "usual".
The Digger comes in all three versions with the same aluminum frame, which leaves a good impression in terms of its features in the bike's price range (between 1.500 and 2.000 euros). Thru-axles in front and behind, a well-solved internal cable routing and a simple, but still successful look. The carbon fork installed in all variants is also not a matter of course in this price range. The mounting options also look good; Mudguards can be attached, as can luggage racks at the front and rear.
On closer inspection, however, the Digger reveals a few minor weaknesses in detail, which are primarily of a visual nature. The removable bridge between the seatstays for attaching the mudguard is not very elegant and, like the fixing hole for the mudguards painted over on the fork, is probably due to the rather aggressive pricing of the British manufacturer.
Now we come to the first notable feature of the Digger - the tire clearance. All complete bikes for 2020 will be delivered with 47mm wide 650b tires from WTB, but the buyer will then have almost all options open. Those who prefer to ride classic 28″ (or 29″) rims can mount everything from classic Gravel tires with 40mm to XC tires with a width of 2″. For those who want to continue to rely on 650b, but are mainly at home off-road, real MTB tires with a width of up to 2,3″ are then even possible.
The next special feature awaits us at the seat post. This comes in a diameter of 31,6mm, which is unusually large for the Gravel segment - not necessarily good for comfort, but retractable seat posts can also be installed without any problems. The Digger is prepared for a corresponding internal cable routing and is also equipped with a dropper post by Nukeproof in the factory top version.
In view of this MTB DNA, which cannot be denied, the geometry of the Nukeproof Digger is almost surprisingly classic. A moderately slack steering angle, 425 chainstays and a not too long main frame - these dimensions would not be out of place even on a traditional gravel bike. What is striking, however, is the clearly sporty orientation of the Digger: Above all, the short head tube and the associated low stack ensure that you almost always ride with a significant saddle elevation.
Geometry Nukeproof Digger
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Stacks (in mm)
Strong equipment and huge handlebars
With a price of 1.499 euros, the Nukeproof Digger Comp is one of the cheaper bikes in our entry-level test field. The decent weight of almost exactly 10 kilograms despite the beefy tires and the consistently solid equipment are a really positive surprise in view of this.
For the drive, the Brits rely on the cheapest variant of the current Shimano Gravel group GRX with a chainring, the inexpensive STIs of the 600 series and the 400 disc brakes. At first glance, that sounds worse than it actually is, because even if the STIs cannot keep up ergonomically with the more expensive competitors, they are still easy to grip and work flawlessly. In our experience, even the cheap brakes are hardly as good as those of the more expensive series in terms of performance and are always better than any mechanical disc brake in this price range.
|Nukeproof Digger Carbon
|WTB Serra 27,5
|WTB Sendero 47mm
|Shimano GRX RX-600
|Shimano GRX 40t
|Shimano GRX RX-400
|Nukeproof Neutron Inline 31.6
|Nukeproof Horizon SL
However, the setup with one chain ring and the 11-42 cassette at the rear could be somewhat limiting for the area of application. The bandwidth is not huge at almost 380% and the chain ring with 40 teeth is a bit too big for off-road use in our opinion - or you just bring the corresponding bang in your legs.
The wheel system installed on our test bike is not excessively heavy at over 3,7kg, especially when you consider that the WTB Sendero tire is significantly more stable and beefy than most other pure Gravel tires. The wheels themselves also come from WTB and please with wide (23mm), tubeless-compatible rims. A little caution is required with the axle dimension on the fork: Nukeproof relies on a 15mm axle for the Digger, which is known from the MTB sector, instead of the 12mm established on road bikes. Advantage: Since mountain bikes are now almost exclusively fitted with oversized Boost hubs, wheels and hubs in the dimensions of the Digger are now available at bargain prices.
Okay, normally there isn't too much to say about the handlebars and cockpit, especially in the entry-level area, and in the end what you like is always heavily dependent on the individual preferences of the driver. The latter also applies to the Nukeproof Digger, but from the very first glance at the bike it becomes clear that we have to talk about this handlebar. It measures almost an unbelievable 500mm in width. It looks extremely unusual and – surprise! – drives accordingly. Nukeproof's MTB and Gravity roots come to the fore here once again, where handlebars with a width of 800mm are no longer a rarity. This is also an advantage for off-road handling because of the larger lever, but does this equation also work on a gravel bike?! We have doubts...
In the seating area, we again come across the 31,6 post made of aluminum, which due to the large diameter is probably quite stiff and a little uncomfortable, especially off-road - although, maybe we will be surprised.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel: The Nukeproof Digger Comp
Even if you can literally smell the MTB genes of the Nukeproof Digger Comp, we noticed as soon as we adjusted the bike that it was more closely based on the classic gravel bike than we thought. Actually, we would even go one step further and claim that the Digger is a very sporty gravel bike, especially for a beginner. And that's not only due to its short head tube and the possibility of saddle elevation, but also to its solid acceleration, which shouldn't be ignored, especially in view of the extremely wide handlebars and the noticeable total weight of a good 10 kilos.
But don't worry, thanks to the balanced geometry, the seating position can be relaxed accordingly, so that not only sporty drivers should like the Nukeproof Digger Comp. Because the Digger can score even more in terms of comfort. Here you can feel the mountain bike influence. The wide tires from WTB not only give you good grip, but also a lot of contact surface and volume for better comfort, which in this case was particularly noticeable with obstacles or potholes.
The good carbon fork and the extremely wide handlebars, which are atypical for classic gravel bikes, are used as an (almost) ideal addition at the front. This not only ensures pleasant and safe handling and complements the good driving comfort, but is also surprisingly agile to drive. It's a bit of a shame that the Digger lacks some comfort due to the seat post, which makes the seating area quite hard.
Even if the handlebars are very comfortable to ride and the Shimano GRX STI's are good to hold, the handlebars are a bit uncomfortable after a long time in the lower handlebars due to their ergonomics. We noticed the same with the saddle, because it didn't really fit us. Of course, as always, this is a matter of taste.
The other components, such as the mechanical Shimano GRX group or the stable WTB wheels, caused no problems during our entire test and worked perfectly and were comfortable to ride.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
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Test: The Cube Nuroad SL is an aluminum gravel bike that is extremely popular in this country and is already entering its third season in 2020. For an attractive price you get excellent equipment and a pleasantly smooth-running, versatile gravel bike. Cube Nuroad SL: The facts Frame material: Aluminum Wheel size(s): 700cc Maximum tire clearance: 40mm Axle dimension (f/r): 12×100 / 142×12 Mudguard mounts: Rear rack mounts only […]
Test: With the Storck Grix, the premium German manufacturer is now also getting involved in the gravel market - and how! With its sporty orientation, the option of 650b tyres, a light overall package and lots of mounting options, the Storck Gravelbike is a versatile fun machine. Storck Grix Pro CX Extreme: The facts Frame material: Carbon Wheel size(s): 650b (700c can also be used) Maximum [...]