This year's Megavelanche in Alpe D'Huez, France represented a unique opportunity for a brand with strong ties to this iconic one-of-a-kind race. That brand is, of course, Nukeproof who in honour of this brutal race, named their longest standing bike, the Mega, after back in 2010.
And after six years, Nukeproof are returning to these hallowed slopes with a special bike to show the world. And what's more, they have one of their longest serving athletes at the helm to send it down the mountain. Matti Lehikoinen is a rider and a racer who's achieved more than most with a long and successful career that's seen him win competitions all over the world, from enduro to World Cup downhill. But lining up for this year's Mega on board his Mega, Matti and Nukeproof thought it was the ideal time to celebrate this crazy spectacle while paying homage to a personal hero of Matti's, and to a fallen brother...Matti Lehikoinen/ Jarno Saarinen Bike: "Every child grows up with a hero. Someone to look up to and inspire you. Nukeproof has an incredible roster of riders that we hope are helping inspire the next generation of mountain bike riders.
As a downhill World Cup winner racing for the legendary Honda program and now, residing as Nukeproof's longest serving pro athlete, Matti has been heavily involved with much of the development behind Nukeproof's products. Matti's skills, drive, determination, and personality are a great reflection of the Nukeproof brand attitude. Now in his 5th year with Nukeproof, Matti is focusing on racing his Mega 275 in the Enduro World Series and other adventure races.
As a rider hailing from an area covered in snow for over 6-months of the year and in a relatively flat area of Finland, who was it that inspired Matti to ride? As with many racers, Matti is a huge moto fan. Be it Supercross, MX, rally or cruising around on his Harley... Matti loves speed! Growing up around speed his hero is naturally Finnish bike racing legend, Jarno Saarinen (1945-1973).
Jarno "the flying Fin" Saarinen is Finland's only moto road racing World Champion winning the 250cc title in 1972. Racing against the sporting legends likes of Agostini and Barry Sheene he looked set to repeat his success in 1973 in the 250cc and 500cc class, but tragically lost his life in an accident at the Monza race. He was a factory Yamaha rider and rode to glory aboard his custom red, white and blue Yamaha. We took this colour scheme as inspiration for Matti's Mega 275.
Earlier this year Matti's teammate from 2009, Stevie Smith, tragically passed away. He will ride this one-off frame as a gesture to his hero Jarno Saarinen and also to his friend and former teammate, Stevie. Further to this, at the end of the season, we will auction this unique frame, with all proceeds going to the Stevie Smith Foundation." #longlivechainsaw