Sam Hill's Nukeproof Mega - EWS Round 4, La Thuile, Italy

Jul 13, 2016
by Mike Levy  
Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Sam Hill might be a man of few words when it comes to those who aren't close to him, but that hasn't prevented the Aussie from becoming arguably the most popular downhiller, or even mountain biker, of all time. If anything, that quiet but straightforward, Kimi Raikkonen-like approach to interviews has only added to the fanbase of the racer who invented the sneaky inside line. The Champion of Platform Pedals is using the downtime between World Cup events to race this weekend's Enduro World Series stop in La Thuile, Italy.

As you'd probably expect, Hill's bike is the 27.5" wheeled, 160mm-travel Mega rather than the shorter-stroke 29er version, and at 178cm he's gone with a stock, medium-sized frame rather than up-size like so many people prefer to do these days.

''I'm a medium-sized guy so I'm running a medium,'' Hill said of what sounded like an obvious choice. But why not go for something even longer than the medium bike's 435mm reach and 1187mm wheelbase numbers? ''It seems like a bit of a trend, everyone trying to make things longer over the last couple of years, but I'm comfortable with the medium,'' Hill replied.
Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
There's a carbon fiber handlebar on the front of Sam's Mega.
Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Hill says that he tries to keep the cockpits of his enduro and downhill bikes as similar as possible.


It sounds like at least part of Hill's reasoning for going with the medium-sized Mega is to keep things feeling more consistent between it and his downhill bike, the 200mm-travel Pulse. ''It's a little bit different, I think, but not massively," he explained of the change in reach difference between the two bikes. The same rule applies to all his machines, it seems: ''We use all the same length cranks and handlebar widths to try and keep them feeling the same. We try to keep everything consistent, from what I train on to what I race on.''

When it comes to suspension, however, Hill's downhill and enduro bikes simply can't feel the same. At 72 kilograms, Sam is running a very firm 95 PSI in his Lyrik, along with three volume spacers that help the fork to ramp up quicker when some extra bottom-out resistance is required. That'd be an extremely stiff setup for a normal rider of the same weight, but Sam ain't that normal, is he? Out back, there's 215 PSI in the Monarch shock, and two volume bands in the shock's air can in order to keep Hill from hitting bottom too often.


Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Want to ride your enduro bike as fast as your downhill bike? That requires some firm suspension, with Hill running 95 PSI and three Bottomless Tokens in his 160mm-travel Lyrik.
Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
The Mega's shock is pumped up to 215 PSI, and there are three volume bands to make the bike's suspension more progressive.


That's a fairly firm setup, and it's a very different approach to what Hill takes for his Pulse. ''I think I like my downhill bike to be pretty soft and then ramp up a lot more. And then with my trail bike, I kinda like it stiff right off the bottom,'' which is a setup that makes sense when you consider that he's likely hitting things quicker on the 160mm-travel Mega than most people would when on their downhill sled. ''The shorter travel, there's not as much there, and it feels a bit more playful when I have it stiffer,'' he explained of his suspension preferences.

Hill is one of the few racers who are openly using two different tire brands, with Schwalbe being fitted to his downhill bike and Mavic's rubber put to use on his Mega.

Tires can be a very personal thing, and while most options are pretty good these days, it can be a mentally challenging task to have to switch between two types of tires, let alone two completely different brands. Not so for Hill, he says: ''When that deal first came around, I thought it would be a bit weird trying to get used to two different tires, and obviously the rubber is a bit different and that sort of thing, but I find it quite easy and really like the Mavic tires.''
Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Mavic rubber, complete with prototype stiffer casing, on Hill's Mavic wheelset.

The Mavic tires on Hill's bike are special, of course, with their tread being laid over a burlier casing compared to what you or I can get our hands on. ''We've got a couple of prototype ones with thicker casings than the regular tires,'' he said of his French rubber that allows the Aussie to run a bit lower pressure than he would with the stock casing.

Sam Hill swears by clipless pedals these days... just joking. Hill and platform pedals go together like Hill and inside lines, which is a fact that probably won't ever change. He's not just being stubborn, though, as he has tested and even raced with clipless pedals in the past. ''I did a little bit [on clipless pedals] whenever the South Africa World Championships was, and I used them a bit in the off-season leading up to that, and then kinda got comfortable on them,'' he said of his time experimenting with having his feet locked in place. ''But I did the whole season on flats and tried them out again before the South Africa Worlds but, obviously, I had enough time on them. I got rid of them after that.'' Into the bin with the clipless pedals, it seems.


Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Did you expect to see any other type of pedal on Hill's bike?
Sam Hill s Nukeproof EWS 4 2016 La Thuile Italy. Photo by Matt Wragg.
A small piece of insurance from MRP.


But if nearly everyone is winning on clipless pedals these days, doesn't Sam feel slower not being clipped in? Nope. ''I had to ride cautiously for the turns with the clips on. It's not really the way I like riding,'' he replied in that 'so what?' way that only Hill can. ''It's always an argument between everyone on what's faster and what's not but I think flat pedals are great. The only place I feel that it is a bit of a disadvantage is when you're pedaling over rough stuff and your feet bounce a little bit. I'm sure there's a lot of pros that feel that way.''



MENTIONS: @Nukeproofinternational / @mavic / @mattwragg / @ChainReactionCycles



Must Read This Week

106 Comments

  • + 80
 Funny how people use to complain about his fitness or pedaling. The flats probably helped with that criticism. Now he pedals for a living, oh the irony. He even smiles for pictures now. Cheers Sam!
  • + 1
 His chainring suggests he's fitter than all of us
  • + 14
 I've always thought he was one of the fittest dudes out there - he puts in alot of work in the off season - I follow him and Troy Brosnan on social media and they both seem to put in big work rates when they're prepping for the season. He had a good result the last time he raced Enduro so that alone proves he's fit - I love that he sticks to using flats - I run flats on my mountain bike and constantly get people telling me 'you should be clipped in', 'you should try clipping in'... I kind of feel like if it's good enough for Sam Hill its good enough for me - yeah my feet do bump around over rough stuff but I guess its just something you get used to and reposition your foot - its not really something I think about anymore either.
  • + 25
 @Creg: Are you saying 30t is now considered big? Wow, my 36x42 combo climbs errrrthang.
  • + 24
 @Creg: It's only a 30T...
  • + 6
 I think he's talking about how the teeth look nice and worn in...like he's put a lot of miles on them.
  • + 4
 34 is the perfect tool for the job. Nothing to heavy, nothing to light. Its just right..
  • + 12
 Im pretty sure he runs flats when he does xc races. Another pb user commented on racing against him in a local Western Australian xc round. Hill finished 6th in elite on flats!
  • + 12
 Nobody smart has called Sam Hill unfit since 2006 when he was the first person to win a would cup on flat pedals despite the NZ course having quite a lot of pedaling.
  • + 6
 Size Medium, enough said.
  • + 1
 @enrico650: here i am on my 34 - 34 setup thinking I'm a pussy compared to xc racers who are running 36t in the front on a 29'er. Jeeeeesh you guys.
  • + 2
 There's a bigger reason to run flats over clips. Most people don't know about it. We've heard of James Wilson, the mountain bike strength guy...... Yeah, go read his, Flat Pedal Manifesto. Changed my mind about flats. He also has a new"ish" pedal out that pinkbike did make mention of. It's pedal innovations, check it out.
  • + 19
 @wcjrush: started reading this Flat Pedal Manifesto site and the guy lost me at "After falling over at a stop sign because I couldn’t get unclipped..."
  • + 9
 @slowrider73: Yep thats the facts. Sam gets to our races semi regularly, flats always, rides a grade and most times finishes top 10 and we have some very fit riders. He is very fit indeed and is a very modest dude considering his huge reputation in our sport. Hope he gets a win soon. Perth mountain bike club presso ????
  • + 1
 @Creg: I suspect he is
  • + 1
 @Creg: haha really????
  • + 1
 @Creg: Its a 30t...
  • + 1
 Yeah, Sam and Richie Rude clearly don't spend enough time reading PB comments. Clearly their performance is held back by the limited reach of their size M frames!
  • + 0
 @silverback71: Awesome!
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: haha whoops it looked like it said 36!
  • + 22
 "Enduro" Pinkbike, You can't fool us! I saw that Lyric, its a damm downhill bike with Sam on it.
  • + 1
 My Enduro with a Lyrik on it is, um, pretty Enduro.
  • + 22
 I think its awesome how a lot of the Enduro Bro's of today were the DH heros of yesterday
  • + 11
 True that! It's a testament to how fast UCI DH racers are when a mid-pack Sam Hill can show up and podium at an EWS event (Ireland).

That said, it's fun to have another mountain bike sport to get excited about considering the limited amount of races UCI DH has every year. XC has gotten better but they should continue to make the tracks gnarlier. Bar-to-bar racing has so much potential for entertainment vs. time trials.
  • + 28
 It's only been two years since his last WC victory. Just seems like he's had a rough year thus far, though 2nd at an EWS stop being primarily a DH racer is noteworthy. I wouldn't count Hill out of DH just yet.
  • + 5
 Enduro is DH with AllMTN bikes... When they timing climbing AND downhilling some XC racers will be the future Enduro heroes.
  • - 5
flag norcal77 (Jul 13, 2016 at 17:52) (Below Threshold)
 @sagebrown: yeah maybe, that's the nature of the sport. As much as I hate clips (because I suck too much to care if I'm faster) they give you an amazing advantage. More power to the pedal and the ability to manipulate the bike in the air. It's a no brainer if you can handle the pressure. For me I know when Im going to wreck or have a high percentage of missing a corner, for that reason alone I ride flats. The ability to leave the bike early or put my foot down has kept me out of the hospital more than once I'm sure. Sam's win a few years back on flats is a testament to his skill!
  • + 21
 @norcal77: dude you don't have to be clipped in to manipulate the bike in the air.
  • + 9
 I'd love to see an omnium event at world champs. Must race DH, xc, bmx, short track, enduro etc. You know, the sorta thing Graves would win.
  • + 2
 @Fenrisvarg: ever been a part of an endure race? Of course it's a lot of downhill but it's not DH.
  • + 2
 @shredderIII maybe a lot of Enduro Bro's of today will be DH heros of tommorow (see Maaes, Rude,...)
Who knows! The skills are there...
  • + 6
 @norcal77: Best go tell all the fmb guys that clipping in makes 'manipulating the bike in the air easier'. On second thoughts i dont want them all to end up in hospital, keep it to yourself
  • + 1
 Makes me think the pedalling part is of little significance.
  • + 0
 @cassiusclaim: It may not be DH but I see LOTS of places where stages are run on black and even double black trails. Last years WV Enduro, as just one example, ran M, O (which is just a boulder field), and Lower Hare Ball(!!!), which is as brutal as it gets ON A DH BIKE!
  • - 1
 @norcal77: The "more power" part is another proven myth! Tip on over too...

www.bikejames.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Flat-Pedal-Revolution-Manifesto-v3.pdf

...for proof.
  • - 3
 @nimmo: yes your right, you can make some movements in the air with the bike on flats. Now tell me that you can do the same thing with a bike on flats that you can do clipped. You cant. If you think their equal then go ahead and make that arguement.
  • - 1
 @BDKR: nothing is proven. That is a hypothesis. On a long ride where momentum is already achieved are they close in power, maybe. Equal no way. Go win the tour de France on flats.......ur a clown lol. Send me some more conspiracy theories, I would love to hear what else you believe.
  • + 0
 @norcal77: And you don't need to ride flats to put your foot down in a loose corner
  • + 2
 @VtVolk: you said it. You don't "need", but it sure does help. You also don't need a car to get to work either or a bed to sleep. Clown
  • + 1
 @norcal77: I know something that you can do in flats that you can't do in clips: win a WC DH in Cairns when the track is really muddy. Just ask Gee.
  • + 1
 @norcal77: Apparently we have a zealot here! Rife with religious fever prepared to spit the venom of condemnation the moment someone speaks a position he or she doesn't agree with.

Which BTW makes discussion impossible. ;-)

If you want to come over like a roadie or some e-thug keyboard soldier, go to a different sport. One littered with blowhards whose first profession is bluster.
  • + 18
 " it can be a mentally challenging task"- They prefer retarded, thank you very much.
  • + 34
 My bad, just trying to not ''trigger'' any SJWs.
  • + 28
 @mikelevy: so now you laugh at the word trigger Mike? You awful agent of patriarchy, supporting rape culture. I, Asian, transgender muslim feminist condemn you!
  • + 23
 @WAKIdesigns: I thought you were a fur-kin?
  • + 8
 @mikelevy: Thanks, now I have to go see my therapist. TRIGGERING INTENSIFIES
  • + 3
 @mikelevy: fur-kin-eh!
  • + 18
 Pink bike needs a "safe link" that I can click on to take me to a place I know that I will not be offended, feel uncomfortable, or be required to use critical thinking. I will sit here until this and all my other demands are met (other demands include bikes be free for everyone and also that everyone be as fast on a bike as Sam Hill).
  • + 7
 @westeast: Here you go little buddy. pbskids.org/rogers
  • + 1
 I have great respect for Mr. Levy
  • + 4
 @westeast: randomcolour.com

This is the closest thing I found
  • + 6
 I would like to raise awareness of horrendous Enduro-shaming on this site by agents from travel-priviledged circles.
  • + 3
 @GetREkTm8: that's intentional...they don't want to surprise you with a new color...seizures and stuff...
  • + 2
 I got 5 different greys and dark blues, then suddenly it sprung a bright yellow on me! It gave me a terrible shock. It hurt my eyes with the brightness a little bit too. I'm going to send an official email of complaint to their webmaster, but until then I suggest we all boycott the randomcolour.com site.
  • + 8
 Hope you can find your form in time for World Champs Sammy! Would love to see you take the rainbow jersey again!
  • + 4
 Sam Hill came second in EWS Ireland on an aluminium bike also. The man is a beast. Hope he does well and finds his form in the DH again. Would love to see him back up there. "So Sam how do you think you managed the win today ? "Just ridin me bike" Smile
  • + 8
 "it feels a bit more playful when I have it stiffer" - Sam Hill, 2016
  • + 4
 Pretty sure that bike would have been a large a few years ago, no need to up-size that bike.
  • + 4
 With his second place in Ireland, i'll be interested to see how he gets on...
  • + 1
 He must be hard to interview. It seems that a long answer needs to be coaxed out of him. I do hope he finds some form with what's left of the DH World Cup. I must admit it's brilliant hearing their suspension set up pressures. I bet he'd lean on my Mattoc and think I weighed 20kg lighter than him.
  • + 1
 The theory of evolution says that as balls are getting smaller and smaller it's time for the key question, how to make a living? where to go? lycra or pyjama?
The guys in lycra pedal like animals, I never would beat them, would just be a wasted nobody, and what's most important, pinkbikers would never forgive me if I showed my tiny trichampion bulge.
Pijama is more affordable for sure, all those average riders, not quite good enough to pedal and not enough balls to downhill. I ride down much better than them and pedal almost like them. spot on.
  • + 2
 The fact that Sam manage to put up solid results on flats on the EWS and also considering Fearon's results lately should argue that flats works just fineSmile
  • + 4
 Flats. Sam Hill. Ignoring others. Happy thoughts.
  • + 2
 Interesting that he's not running a Debonair can on the Monarch Plus. Maybe too plush? Hard to get that stiffer more playful feel he's after on the small bike?
  • - 6
flag Ryanrobinson1984 (Jul 13, 2016 at 17:17) (Below Threshold)
 It would probably be much too firm. The debonair has 80% less volume
  • - 1
 If you read the article it said he was running two bands in the rear shock and you can only do that with a debonair. So....
  • + 2
 @erbsforlife: in the high Volume too
  • + 3
 The first megas released for reviews were all too linear so nukeproof released the production bikes without the debonair instead opting for the high volume. The bike must just be linear already
  • + 1
 @browner: i thought its progressiv an lighter or linear in the beginning. With the more Supple debon air it goes easily through the Travel until it gets progressiv. Caused by the big air can.
  • + 1
 @erbsforlife: The DebonAir has larger negative air spring, making the bike more sensitive at the begining of the travel and more planted. He says that he likes a more lively bike for enduro, so that is why he ain't using the DebonAir can.
  • + 4
 SAM FUCKIN HILL. Everyone else is just pretending.
  • + 3
 Kimi raikkonen like approach! Ha, spot on!
  • + 2
 For someone unfamiliar with F1, what is implied?
  • + 5
 @yxbix: he doesn't give two shits.
  • + 1
 95PSI and 3 tokens in the Lyrik, surely with the firm shim stack... Jesus Christ... He is surely 10kg lighter than me and I run 2 tokens with 80 PSI...
  • + 94
 Makes sense, he's a professional DH rider and you are a professional internet commenter. He probably rides a bit harder!
  • + 18
 @warmerdamj: "professional internet commenter" - that's quite the compliment for waki! Wink
  • + 3
 @warmerdamj: I think I just sharted
  • + 2
 I run 90-95 psi, 9/13 low and 3 spacers.
80kg

Most of the Time its to stiff and uncomfy but in the park or on fast hometrails its Great. Makes me feel like a pro hittin stuff hard with stiff suspension and it works. Haha
  • - 1
 I admit to every single masturbation with Kim Kardashian in mind, I brake in corners and run my suspension too soft, because my hands hurt. Oh the great field of hardcore hitters, please present your balls so I can lick them so I can get some props
  • + 3
 oh waki, you turn me on so much when you say such dirty words
  • + 1
 come on Waki, be fair. This time they got you. Give that to them.
  • + 3
 Sam Hill, You have some manly eyebrows. The end
  • + 1
 My friend with eyebrows like that is as athletic as a banshee, maybe it's a backtraceable common trait.
  • + 3
 What model thongs is he wearing??? (or flip flops/jandals)
  • + 4
 Triple pluggers for extra security they bring!
  • + 7
 new fivetens mate, will only be available in Straya.
  • + 2
 I'm assuming thongs means something different down under?
  • + 2
 ill call it now hill with the win
  • + 2
 Bikes look best in M.
  • + 1
 I think he is missing something on his pedal. Can anyone guess what?
  • + 0
 Am I the only one who thinks that Sam's I-don't-wanna-try-anything-new attitude might be holding him back??
  • + 0
 Con la MEGA no se juega...
  • + 1
 no debonair!!
  • + 1
 The debonair was too wallowy, they all come with a standard air can now.
  • + 1
 Bike looks psick! end.
  • - 3
 I think Sam's starting the transition to enduro racing within the next t year or two. He isnt really doing as well in dh racing anymore. Now if only we can richie rude to do some dh world cup racing.
  • + 1
 I don't think that's what's happening for Sam quite yet, but Ritchie might have problems racing (pro at least) in the World Cup: EWS isn't UCI sanctioned, so he's not getting any UCI points, which are required to enter Pro.
  • + 0
 I forsee Sam Hill switching to the EWS fulltime in the next season or two.
  • + 0
 Smile?
  • - 1
 So now PB DHers feel safe riding carbon bars...
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