First Look: Sam Hill's Nukeproof Mega 290 - EWS Madeira 2019

May 9, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
Photos: Kike Abelleira

Sam Hill has arrived in Madeira with a totally new ride... and this one has big wheels on it.

Sam is changing wheelsizes but also switching back to aluminium as Nukeproof don't yet make carbon 290s. This is a stock medium frame.

Sam won the last two EWS overalls on the Nukeproof Mega 275c but has apparently been doing some back to back testing on different wheelsizes since Tasmania and has turned up to the the Portugese island with the big wheels. This is apparently not a definitive switch yet but he feels that this is the right bike for him and the Madeira EWS tracks.

This bike was actually a surprise from Nukeproof and modelled on Guy Cooper's Suzuki RM250. Sam is apparently talking about restoring one so this bike should give him a good shot of motivation.

The yellow with white and purple pattern is modelled on Guy Cooper's 1992 Suzuki

The bike is also plastered in soon-to-be-released purple Nukeproof Horizon components that handily fit the theme quite well.

We've had these photos beamed through from Nukeproof themselves but will get our photographers on the ground to take a more in-depth look at how Sam is running his bike during the weekend.

Sam is not running an Sram AXS groupset yet but he will be on their wireless dropper.

New Michelin rubber for Madeira's wild trails.

A OneUp toolkit hidden away in the steerer tube.


  • 157 7
 Well, at least the pedals are still flat
  • 25 9
 Especially for a flat pedal rider the 29" wheels should be better. Less bouncing around.
  • 21 189
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 1:28) (Below Threshold)
 Disappointing. Maybe he thinks he's under the gun this year and needs a crutch. I don't think this will end well but here's hoping. Go Sam!
  • 68 0
 And the pilot is still named Sam Hill.
  • 36 1
 And the wheels still round.
  • 66 4
 @headshot: why on earth do you think it's disappointing? Think he should still be on a 26" ironhorse. I do miss those years myself, but life moves on.
  • 125 8
 @headshot: you find someone changing wheel size 'disappointing'?

I assume that Maes only has a partial crutch as he is only using one 29" wheel?

Sam is an athlete, his job is racing, not to be upheld as the bastion of a specific type of bike setup.
  • 6 2
 Of you squint, it looks like a yellow SGS!
  • 11 5
 @headshot: I'm not sure if you're talking about the same Sam Hill? Pretty sure he wouldn't get on a bigger wheeled bike unless he felt it would benefit him.
  • 18 77
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 2:40) (Below Threshold)
 @danlovesbikes: You guys are taking me a bit too seriously. But lets play. I wonder how much quicker Sam would be on SPDs rather than flats? Has he ever tested that properly I wonder? If pedals were a big ticket item like a bike, would he still be riding flats I wonder, or what the sponsor preferred to sell more of? If he could win 2x EWS series on 27.5 why change now? Sam is my favourite rider by far. I like him because he goes against the grain, a maverick of sorts. To me this dilutes that persona a bit. Thats all.
  • 33 1
 @headshot: He's been a pro racer for the last 18 years... of course hes tried clips. They arent faster ... for him. He doesn't go against the grain, hes not a maverick. He rides whats quickest for him, not to be cool or a bit leftfield

There are so many nuances to changing wheel size - It may have the potential to be faster but.......its not just your sponsor banging out a new frame, you need to have the right wheels and associated stiffness, the right tires, perhaps the balance of chainring clearance, heel clearance and short back end isnt quite right, You might have to adjust your style slightly if your not the tallest like Sam. Until all those stars align the total package might not be in a place where its faster for you. Clearly he thinks it is now.
  • 20 2
 @headshot: Are you suggesting that Sam says to himself "Everybody has disc brakes so I will ride V-brakes just to make a laugh and proove that it is the rider not the equipment"? I think that happened only in you head buddy.
  • 17 5
 @headshot: I don't understand this concept of associating wheelsize with a certain identity. Riding 27.5 does not make you a rebel or badass or cooler than somebody on a 29er. Imagine some riders stuck with 26inch wheels because they didn't want to sell out to the man? They would be such bad ass rock and roll guys down there in last place.
  • 13 1
 @MrJimLahey: well. to be fair Ratboy won a couple of races on 26 when nearly the entire field had moved to 27.5..... so not exactly rolling down to last place..
  • 13 4
 @atrokz: Fair enough. But then people still talk about it because it was the last time anybody won on a 26er.
  • 11 0
 Michelin need so either bring theses tyres out or let the public know that they will never be released as I am so over waiting!
  • 2 0
 @heavyp: Sam ruined my plan to ask hi to give away one of these racers only slightly used tires here in Madeira... I guess I have to consider a 29er then
  • 5 0
 Eggs benedict
  • 4 29
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 4:30) (Below Threshold)
 @MrJimLahey: Last place, ha ha Your'e full of hot air or is that Koolaid Mr Jim. Okay, but does riding flat pedals make him cool and a maverick? You're here because you support or like Sam Hill? What makes you support or like him? Or is its all about vindication of your chosen wheel size?
  • 21 0
 @headshot: Mate I think most of us couldn't give a toss what wheel size or pedal type he's running, as long as he's riding well and staying healthy.
  • 6 4
 @justanotherusername: meh it’s never good sign when a rider drastically changes their setup mid season though. He’s clearly second guessing himself. Still hope he wins though regardless of what wheels he’s running.
  • 12 1
 @ColquhounerHooner: "Pick your favorite wheelsize, and then be a dick about it." -IFHT Films
  • 3 12
flag ceecee (May 9, 2019 at 7:16) (Below Threshold)
 Hill: 29ers are gay.

Fate: ride this Guy clone
  • 4 14
flag nvranka (May 9, 2019 at 7:16) (Below Threshold)
 @MrJimLahey: Are you retarded? No one is winning on 26 because hardly any mfg make them anymore.

“They would be such bad ass rock and roll guys down there in last place.”

I’m not defending 26, although I did prefer it in my mind, I’m perfectly happy on 275....but you are utterly clueless.
  • 15 5
 @nvranka: "No one is winning on 26 because hardly any mfg make them anymore."

Nobody is winning Wimbledon with a wooden tennis racket anymore either, must be for the same reason.
  • 3 9
flag nvranka (May 9, 2019 at 8:04) (Below Threshold)
 @MrJimLahey: why do I even bother
  • 1 0
 @heavyp: I talked to the rep at Sea Otter last month where they were showing the DH22 and DH34. They are another year away from our fingers. Bogus.
  • 1 0
 @ajayflex: WILDCAT!!!!
  • 2 0
 @MrJimLahey: do you think it would be impossible to win Wimbledon with a wooden racket?
  • 1 5
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 9:57) (Below Threshold)
 @MrJimLahey: "pick a wheel size and be a dick about it" works both ways. Too funny.
  • 2 0
 Bang on comment !!!!
  • 2 1
 @ColquhounerHooner: he's probably disappointed because now he has to go out and by a 29er...
  • 83 2
 Needs more colors, tacky decals and logos.
  • 51 0
 Wait 'till you see the bike with Sam wearing Chain Reaction Mavic Nukeproof PayPal Monster kit. You'd be stoked.
  • 9 1
 @vinay: easy there, there are kids on this website!
  • 16 1
 @vinay: Guess he’s gearing up for his NASCAR debut
  • 14 4
 It's a Suzuki RM retro theme you tossers
  • 11 6
 @freestyIAM: what difference does it make? It's objectively displeasing to look at.

It's their bike, they can do whatever...hah
  • 2 0
 @freestyIAM: exactly. 1992 Suzuki RM Scheme
  • 6 1
 @freestyIAM: crazy random but..
Guy is from my town and a hero of mine.
My father and uncle are friends with him and I grew up riding one of his Suzuki rm race bikes that had been gifted to my uncle and then handed down to me.
Damn now I want one of these.
  • 3 0
 @reverend27: hell yes.. stanton, bradshaw, larocco and the chicken days!
  • 1 0

Having a tribute for one of Sam’s heroes is interesting. It’s not all about just colouring in a bike - that’s boring - let’s have some depth!!!

Nukeproof’s one-off custom designs for athletes are always more about allowing you to get to know the athlete a little bit more.

  • 2 4
 @ElHeffe: Fair enough, it's a tribute and it has a story and so on, that's cool.
And just for the record, I like the design of the bike itself and Sam kicks ass.

However, a tribute done well is one thing, a couple of purple stickers on the other hand...

This could have been a pretty sick version of the old school Suzuki, we've seen some incredible paint jobs lately (YT's bikes from the last World Champs come to mind)...but it is not!

And you say subjectively, but would you put purple, two shades of blue, yellow, red, white, pink and a splash of chrome on a bike sober!?
Also, if beauty/design/style was so subjective there wouldn't be trends and many products wouldn't be successful because everyone would have had their own idea of what's pretty and cool, in reality there are some rules and guides on what looks good. (that's a different topic altogether)

In my mind, this is zebra/leopard print. And if you like it, I'm sorry, but you simply have no taste.

Get rid of the purple cow hide (or do it properly), paint the fork yellow with purple Lyric (for example), ditch the Michelin blue and the chrome and it'll be a much pleasing color combination.
  • 4 1
 @Milko3D: I think you’re over analysing the bike’s aesthetics instead of taking it for what it is in its massive gesture.this bike is about making Sam feel special and appreciated.

Nukeproof do amazing bikes for Sam regularly with a lot of variety. I like that they don’t play it safe and they really focus on the athlete and not focusing on pleasing the mass market with their one-off custom bikes for athletes.

It’s such a shame to see criticism as we should be appreciating this kind of thing.
  • 3 0
 @ElHeffe: well, we dug into it so yeah, in for the penny - in for the pound Smile

I can appreciate the tribute, but I can also put that aside and look at the artistic side of it.

Anyway, let's put it to rest. Have a nice weekend!
  • 64 21
 I hate to say it but that bike is f****ng hideous!
  • 104 26
 Something it shares in common with your mother
  • 20 4
 @murfio: Too good.
  • 53 8
 @murfio: I'd still ride it.
  • 12 6
 Yellow frame, purple stuff, red forks, cow pattern on the seat and chain stays and ugly tires. Yeah, it's ugly.
  • 3 0
 Not too much into the colors but the stance looks spot on with the medium frame. I’m diggin’ it..!!
  • 6 7
 FFS. It's a Suzuki RM retro theme Whoosh all of you
  • 4 1
 @freestyIAM: Exactly. '92 RM line all over again. Thought they were hideous when they came out, now they are one of the most gloriously '90's color combos ever.
  • 8 2
 @freestyIAM: Which was absolutely ugly in the 90s already. At least back then they could say it was still better than some of the 80s stuff, and later claim that they didn’t know any better at the time - what could be an excuse for that today?
  • 12 0
 @FuzzyL: you must be one of those beige santa Cruz guys.
  • 2 0
 @EliasFritzen you'd would of have to of lived through the late 80's and early 90's of moto to appreciate this. Guy Cooper was the man, his bike was SWEET and his whips over the jumps were even sweeter, here is what inspired Sams bike:
  • 40 2
 My predictions:
Maes wins EWS Madeira.
Hill switches to 27.5 on the back.
Nukeproof releases Mega 290c in September.
  • 3 0
 Also 28" wheels coming for 2021
  • 39 5
 How dare you sam, what gives you the right to run slightly bigger wheels?

I'm also outraged that the plot in season 8 game of thrones isn't to my liking, that the way the dragons have behaved has been completely unbelievable and that Jon snow refused to stroke Ghost when he said goodbye to him. Just outrageous
  • 2 1
 Most appropriate response...
  • 4 0
 Spoiler alarm, noooo
  • 7 0
 We are entitled to, to.. something. You hear me, ENTITLED!!
  • 8 0
 #SPOILERALERT: Your Camry doesn't need one.
  • 1 0
 Absolute outrage, Ghost is the best boy and he doesn't even get 1 pat, THIS WHOLE SEASON.
  • 31 3
 Paint the goddamn fork, FFS. Spoiling what is otherwise a pretty cool setup.
  • 12 1
 Better yet, don't paint them at all, polish them!
  • 6 0
 It comes in black anyway, not sure why everyone seems to run the tree version.
  • 8 0
 Rockshox probably wouldn't want them to. They want that recognizable red Lyrik.
  • 2 0
 @Davec85: Team riders get the colors. That’s pretty standard for most brand- top riders get the “team colors” and for the Lyrik that happens to be Boxxer Red.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 @yupstate: this is the reason why....
  • 13 0
 I avidly watched motocross/supercross with my dad during the Guy Cooper/Jeff Stanton/Jean-Michel Bayle/Damon Bradshaw/Jeremy McGrath era, and the purple and white splotches are instantly recognizable. Do they look rather... 90's now? Absolutely, and at the time, they were super cool. At this point, I'd say they're iconic, and the nostalgia is real.

Guy Cooper wasn't my favorite rider of the era (up there, but not my favorite), but he sure was fun to watch, so I can totally get how Sam Hill would want to emulate him and his style (as well as restore one of his bikes). No one else railed the berms quite like he did.

Good luck on the race Sam Smile .
  • 2 0
 @Ocnlogan JMB for life Wink
That was a great era for motocross.
  • 3 0
 Cooper Man, could whip and rip like a good one. That was a hell of an era and it came after Rick Johnson and Guy Cooper were team mates.
  • 1 0
 @vhdh666: he also on the "million dollar car" episode of American pickers.

It shows his museum huge warehouse of bike stuff and the original Cooper's bicycle shop that is a block from my house Smile
  • 2 0
 @ocnlogan I loved that era as a kid growing up. I wasn't a huge Coop' fan either but those whips, at the time, frickin epic....
  • 15 2
 Never knew Sam was colorblind.
  • 10 1
 Did someone just mix Yellow, purple and.... red. CRC, producing the worst looking kit and now bike colors to match. Needs different color lowers on the fork. Would still love a shot of this bike though.
  • 10 1
 Might be better looking with a purple fork
  • 8 2
 The bike looks amazing, but I’d have a really crap bike and ride like Sam. Not Sam’s bike and ride like etc.....
  • 6 0
 Interesting choice of AXS reverb, but a cable operated Mech. The 27.5/29er Mullet of cockpit controls?!
  • 5 0
 I wonder what all these BLACKBOX SRAM Shifters do that we have been seeing on Pro's bike for years. How can they be different from what we mortals buy? Anyone knows?
  • 1 0
 Sam used to custom cut his SRAM X7 lever back when he was on Iron Horse Mad Catz. (X9 was aluminium so apparently harder to cut, there was no X0 yet.) So he was basically ahead of SRAM. "Forget about blackbox, I'll do my own customization". So maybe with Blackbox they have custom shaped levers with a SRAM tech sticking the grip tape on for them?
  • 2 0
 At least some things stays the same. Nukeproof has their own trademark mash of colors and wierd looks. This year they amost fixed the clothes but then they compensate on the bike it seems. Those camo stickers on the chainstays ... and the red fork to "match" things up.. Just amazing =).

Will still be great to see Sam fly though the stages on this ... thing.
  • 2 2
 Mate the athletes’ one-off custom bikes aren’t supposed to be just about matching pretty colours and colouring in, they are supposed to be a bit deeper. You get to know something about the athlete and their own inspirations.
How boring would it be if these custom bikes were just about pretty colours.
  • 5 1
 I wish it had some yellow Mavic Deemax wheels to make it look more YELLOW!!
  • 6 2
 He will win. Not because of 29" wheels but because of the 450mm chainstays that the Mega 290 has.
  • 4 0
 Who cares about wheel size here... Riders like Hill will rip anything from 20 to 29 inch wheels! Braaap!!
  • 5 0
 San Him - I'm moving to a 29er Connor Fearon - Hold my beer
  • 2 1
 Looks like a really nice bike. I'd have a bike in every wheel size if I could. Unfortunately I like to swap parts around bike to bike so I just go with all 29ers. Plus I'm getting old, slow, fat, grumpy, poor eyesight, and did I mention slow? Best of luck to ya SAM. Unfortunately you were too expensive for my fantasy teamFrown
  • 1 0
 I can't help but wonder of Sam's struggles have all been a marketing ploy. And now that he is on a nukeproof 29er he will suddenly dominate again and sell a ton of their bikes. It's not a crazy idea considering how little money racers make from the actual races compared to from their main sponsors.
  • 6 2
 27.5 is dead, long live 27.5.
  • 4 21
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 1:29) (Below Threshold)
 Well now that Sam has sold out, yes :-)
  • 4 3
 @headshot: 'sold out' to whom? the 'scene', all of the gorms?
  • 4 1
 @headshot: not sure if I would calling it selling out or just going with the times. He’s paid to go fast and if he is faster a 29er then I feel sorry for the rest of the racers.
  • 2 8
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 2:30) (Below Threshold)
 @justanotherusername: " The Industry" :-)
  • 2 7
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 2:32) (Below Threshold)
 @Herb1234: Ya ya I gettit. Time will tell no doubt but he's been off the pace this year. When he comes back an wins this one will it be because of the wheels or the fact that he is over the flu?
  • 8 2
 @headshot: If he comes back and wins it will be because he was the fastest rider on the day who felt like he chose the correct bike for the job in hand, like changing your handlebar width because the track is tight, your tyres because its muddy or your suspension settings because its fast and rough, wheel size is no different to a pro with resources.
  • 3 7
flag headshot (May 9, 2019 at 2:53) (Below Threshold)
 @justanotherusername: Not really the same as the other things I'm afraid. We all know how the wheel size gets touted as the be all and end all. Wait for the interviews and hype to develop around this story. How many riders change wheel size like they change fork travel, rebound and tyres. I can't think of any, except maybe Martin Maes.
  • 1 1
 @ herb 1234 Apparently only dead on the front. I predict after Maes' domination, most guys will not go full 29er. It's follow the leader in mountain biking.
  • 1 2
 @headshot: You're late, all this 26 vs 27.5 vs 29 is over. The current trend is MTB vs e-MTB, choose you're side or f*** off!
  • 4 3
 @headshot: Sam Hill sold out? Yes. 27.5 dead? No. Enough of us know they ride better to keep up demand.

Sam Hill riding bitch wheels is a sad day in the story of MTB.
  • 1 2
 @P-Munari: I'm solidly in the 27 5 eBike camp. Bring it on!
  • 5 1
 I haven't seen colors like that since the 80's
  • 2 1
 Love the colors, but why do all 29ers look so shrunken down and wrong? Just make the reach 550+ and give it nice, long tubes, no hump on the top tube, like a regurgitating dog with diarrhouea and we're golden!
  • 2 0
 Reach of 550+? Why so? Foxy 29 might be the bike you're looking for..
  • 9 5
 I guess I am the only one who likes the color way, hm?
  • 3 1
 You're not. It is dope as hell!
  • 1 1
 @tomonda I love it, rad AF
  • 4 0
 Presta valve? Schrader valve? Confused by that...
  • 2 0
 O.k. It's official then.
27.5 is for plus bikes only know, the ones that old, uncool dudes ride slowly while wearing elbow pads Smile

  • 1 0
 Only if it has a motor
  • 1 0
 Ugly colours, handgaurds, cable operated gears et al. And yet people troll about the wheelsize?

Urgh, I'm off to the 4x4 forums to read some good old Ford bashing, at least those are consistent.
  • 2 0
 When are the new Michelin tyres coming out already?

Hurry up and release them Michelin, I want a pair!
  • 3 1
 I'll tell you what this yellow, red and purple bike needs... A blue CRC kit and green monster decals
  • 2 0
 get a good look at it now, because as soon as he gets on it you've got no chance.
  • 4 1
 Back wheel is 1.5” too big
  • 4 1
 I think that may be the ugliest bike since the 90s
  • 3 0
 The 90s are cool at the moment bro!!!
  • 4 2
 27,5" is apparently dead, but only on the front wheel.
  • 1 1
 The real reason for Sam's sub par results in the first two rounds is clearly added weight and wind resistance from those Schrader valves.
  • 2 1
 Right Sam, just switch to coil now so I feel better about spunking £600 on a custom tuned Cane Creek DB!
  • 1 2
 Should have stuck with yellow and black..... I'm sure Sam has chosen this bike as he feels it's the best one for this round. Don't forget the only reason Maes is on a mullet is because GT don't make a long travel 29'er.
  • 2 2
 Surprise we made you a 29er bike to look like your Moto rebuild project...if you don't race this and help us sell 29er bikes, you will hurt our feelings.
  • 1 0
 I love the color way! love those old school Motocross looks! Purple is one of the best colors on a MTB in my opinion haha!
  • 1 0
 What's going on with those valves? Is it a schrader adaptor in top of Presta, or is a procore type insert?
  • 2 0
 At Sam's height it should be a Mulletbike, Same goes for Aaron Gwin.
  • 1 2
 Love that Nukeproof don’t play it safe; keep these custom creations coming!! So much more interesting than other bikes coz you actually focus on the athlete and telling a story. A bit of depth from a brand!!
  • 2 0
 Has a certain "My Little Pony" look going...
  • 1 1
 purple and gold! I hope his season goes better than the dumpster fire that is the Lakers.
  • 1 1
 Remember that things can always get worse. Tyronn Lue is on his way.... oh boy we are heading destination fucked
  • 1 1
 Loving the Lakers yellow/purple. Means I can get my basketball top out when I go to watch EWS haha!
  • 1 0
 It´s a winners bike check already?
  • 2 1
 that is very horrible to look at
  • 1 4
 Pinkbike can you sometimes do a positive reporting/journalism and write a short article like: Sam Hill, Isabeu Courdier and many other NOT injured.

“We are happy to announce that many top rider are not injured, they are happy, their bikes are mint”

Tons of good vibe and a fantastic Click bait in one go.

@jamessmurthwaite @brianpark
  • 3 0
 They could. But where's the clicks in that?
  • 1 2
 @silentbutdeadly: there are clicks in yhat because people are so used to negative News that they will go straight to the comment section, to write
“Heal up Sam!”
  • 1 0
 Prototype geo? or the standard one?
  • 1 0
 new corset for RS Deluxe shocks ...?
  • 1 0
 That brakes are on backwards?!! ???? ????
  • 3 3
 It's 2019, why anyone would build a bike that doesn't fit a water bottle is beyond me
  • 3 1
 Water bottles are for kooks, that's why.
  • 1 0
 What's that shifter lever, "Blackbox"? Bike looks fast! Go Sam!
  • 2 0
 Big Bird mode
  • 2 0
 No internal cables FTW!
  • 1 0
 tighten that ziptie!!!!!!
  • 2 0
 Mega is better than MAGA
  • 1 0
 Fugly colours! Who mixes red with purple and yellow Eek
  • 1 0
 This is the EWS equivalent of a NASCAR stock car or 1980's motocross bike.
  • 1 2
 Why a One Up tool kit in the top of the sterner tube AND under the streerer?
  • 1 0
 Love it!
  • 1 1
 Noooo!! He's getting nervous....get back on 27.5
  • 1 1
 Looks like a beautiful steed
  • 1 1
 warm, reekin, rich
  • 9 10
 I hate colours, and purple is at the top of the shitlist.
  • 10 1
  • 2 0
 I really like purple. But purple/red/yellow?!
  • 1 1
 fugly buckling
  • 1 2
 Megneg already in
  • 1 4
 Seems like a short travel bike, maybe 130-140mm in the rear, but hard to tell from the pictures
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 @savagelake: Thanks, couldn't tell from the pictures but makes sense for tackling big terrain
  • 2 0
 Two seconds of research on the nukeproof website would have helped.
  • 1 1
 @GravityFan: Yeah don't care that much
  • 1 3
 Never thought I would see Sam Hill on a clown bike Frown
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