Matti Lehikoinen: From Watches to the Enduro World Series

May 18, 2017
by Nukeproof  
Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series

Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, is quite unlike the mountains of the South of France or usual destination where top level mountain bike athletes come from. However, with two downhill World Cup wins, a second place overall finish in the World Cup standings and now a successful enduro career, Matti Lehikoinen makes it work in his own unique style.

2016/17 has been a long off-season for Matti, short days and long nights make preparation for the season ahead challenging. Living in a town just outside of Helsinki has many benefits, mountains are just not one of them. His home town's highest peak comes in at an oxygen gasping 50 meters vertical (is that a mound or a hill technically?) and is in a region that is snow covered for a large portion of the off-season. Combine this with outside temperatures that are dropping to a mind warping -30-degrees—it's not the ideal climate for a gravity mountain bike racer.

But this is home, so Matti makes best use of the environment and is dedicated to making this work; Nordic skiing and a lot of cold rides before and after work mixed with some indoor gym sessions has kept the Fin on top for over 15 years. He's had a hugely successful career in downhill and transitioned well into enduro. Two World Cup wins in Brazil and Champery—finishing second overall in the 2007 World Cup Series, top 20 EWS results, with a top 15 in Canada. Going into the 2017 Enduro World Series season, he is confident of progressing further up the EWS standings.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series

Life for Matti is more than just being a "Pro mountain biker." Like many of us riders, he juggles training with a full time job(s). Working a normal work week with his second major passion; watches (a small hint is on his Red Bull painted Troy Lee helmet of a clock face). If you're in the market to buy or sell a classic Rolex or other premium watches drop him a line. There is also a sponsorship deal with Finnish watch specialist Sarpaneva Watches. If being a Pro rider and selling watches was not enough, Matti juggles this with another dream job; as a rally car instructor. Just before coming over to visit he had returned from six weeks work at Multiple Finish World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen's Rally Schools on the ice lakes of Lapland in the Arctic Circle.

Nukeproof
Plenty of experience on snow—pinned on on Pic Blanc last year.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Photo shoots out at the Megavalanche in 2016 Photo: Laurence Crossman-Ems.

With over 15 years racing at the top of the sport and Nukeproof's longest serving athlete. Matti has used his experience to give his input into many of Nukeproof's designs such as the original Mega, Scalp, Pulse and the new Horizon clipless pedals, and is also a product development athlete for Mavic.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
He's the reason Nukeproof made the Horizon pedals so you can clip in backwards.

He has been an integral part of the Chain Reaction Cycles race team prior to his life-threatening injury in 2011 which resulted in 56 screws and 13 plates in his face. With the help of long-term sponsors Red Bull and their training centre in Austria, and after a few years hiatus to recover; 2015 saw a welcome return to him racing.

Rather than go back to Downhill he chose to follow the enduro route to return. With a few years learning the art of racing enduro, regaining his race fitness and restoring his confidence, last year saw him posted some top results, breaking the top 20 twice with a 15th in Canada and an 18th in Finale Ligure. He also scooped an 11th place finish at the infamous Megavalanche and a 6th at the Trans Provance on his Mega 275.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Enduro World Series Ireland 2016 Photo: Duncan Philpott.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Posting impressive results in 2016, here on his way to 15th in Whistler Enduro World Series Photo: Fraser Britton.

In the lead up to the Enduro World Series Madeira Nukeproof invited Matti over to escape the cold and test his new Mega in preparation for the season ahead, where better to test than a sunny Blighty? Luckily for Matti, the UK weather played ball and treated us to an amazing week. With the conditions prime, we chose to shred some of Shropshire finest spots, Bringewood and Eastridge before heading for a day on the uplifts riding at Antur Stiniog.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Scandinavian flick into one of Eastridges many corners.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Shredding in the shire. Photo: Isac Paddock.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Dropping into Antur.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Enjoying Antur Stiniog with the Nukeproof team.

Matti Lehikoinen Watches to world series
Always time for the fans (or Buds, Antur's centre manager in this case) Photo: Dan Struthers.

Nukeproof and Mavic are stoked to continue supporting Matti. He's a unique character and personality, and combined with his experience and approach, are vital to Nukeproof and he is a true brand ambassador for us. With a 2017 target of some top results in the Enduro World Series, racing the Finish Enduro Series and joining the Nukeproof team at one-off events like the Megavalanche.

Follow Matti on Instagram and Facebook @MattiLehikoinen


MENTIONS: @nukeproof



34 Comments

  • + 30
 Super nice guy.
  • + 14
 Always amazes me how a guy from a country with no real hills, let's alone proper mountains became such a sucessful DH racer. Guy works his ass off, so I guess commitment is most important. And as mentioned, super nice guy too.
  • + 4
 It's pretty much the same case with Martin Maes, the successful enduro & DH rider who comes from Belgium, a pretty flat land for the most part.
  • + 2
 @etga6657: yes, big part as flat as a pancake. Otherwise we can easy ride 30km and have 1500m difference.
  • + 2
 @chmod: I'm from the Netherlands. We travel to Belgium to ride your hills Wink .

We do have the odd successful rider but that's largely because they have their roots in BMX.
  • + 2
 @vinay: inderdaad! Altijd welkom gasten!
  • + 15
 @Nukeproof, you cant tease us with the bit about the rally cars and not put up one picture of a rally car.
  • + 15
 Sorry! Will get Matti to fire some over and post on our instagram or Facebook
  • + 10
 Go Matti!! Always a shredder!!
  • + 7
 Was one of my fav racers on the World Cup circuit. Great to se him all healed up and and back on the bike
  • + 3
 Matti was one of my favorite riders growing up. Being from another place that is fairly flat and cold much of the year (Calgary AB), I always looked up to him. All I can say is, Nukeproof, keep sponsoring this guy, he is a true legend of the sport.
  • + 6
 That dude has had some horrific injuries, great to see him in Enduro and healthy.
  • + 5
 I want this guy to do well but more than anything I want him to stay healthy.
  • + 4
 Met him at the Megavalanche last year, he was more than happy to chat to us mere mortals, really nice guy. Good luck with your season Matti!
  • + 2
 It's always cool reading about pros who work "normal" jobs instead of living in a van. That being said, I'm sure the average work week for a Finnish watch dealer is a bit different than my office job in the states.
  • + 1
 thanks for spelling Finnish correctly, unlike in the article
  • + 4
 Always been one of my fave riders. Keep the stoke up!
  • + 4
 Ski jumping, javelin and rally. The national sports of Finland.
  • + 3
 I've heard that javelin throwers are almost considered as "half-gods" in Finland, like some football players in some countries of south america...
  • + 2
 What a great country
  • + 3
 Awesome dude. Neat to see he's working with Sarpaneva, those watches are on another level beyond the ol' rollex.
  • + 2
 Really nice guy. Looking forward to catching him at the Emerald Enduro next week
  • + 3
 Huge amount of respect for this lad.
  • + 2
 Looks like a nice guy. Would like to see him riding a mega 290....At the Megavalanche 2017
  • + 3
 Finns are all shit hot drivers
  • + 2
 They look to be some super wide bars in that 2nd pic. Compared to how wide his body is... damn!
  • + 1
 just an optical illusion between the angle of the lens and the depth of field
  • + 2
 Hope to be seeing a lot more of Matti again, awesome skills, and top character!
  • + 1
 Great talent, unfortunate string of well documented and undocumented injuries. See Tipping Point. Best wishes Matti!
  • + 6
 Here you go! Filmed at Calpis bike park, where the season has just started for us.
youtu.be/WpOFZ3cHZqQ
  • + 3
 Always root for Matti!
  • + 1
 One of the most amazing riders to watch
  • + 2
 Yeah Matti!!!!!
  • + 1
 Love this guy!

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