Sam Hill is as iconic in downhill mountain biking as Sebastian Loeb is in World Rally. He’s always a threat and has a long history of results to prove that he deserves as one of the best of all time.
Having a had some disappointing seasons over the last few years, the five-time world champion (including two junior titles) is looking pretty close to his old ways again. Hill first hit the international scene in 2001, and is still only 28, so he has plenty of years left ahead of him.
At the opening round of the world cup in Pietermaritzburg, Hill was seen riding a shorter-travel prototype Nukeproof frame with 650b wheels for the fast and open course. When we caught up with Hill in Cairns, the Australian had made the move back to his 26in wheeled downhill Nukeproof Pulse (featured) but has since been spotted riding a new 650b version of the Pulse. This latest version is greatly similar to the bike featured, but with a few geometry tweaks for the larger wheel.
Compared to the likes of Brook MacDonald’s Trek Session 650b and Greg Minnaar’s Santa Cruz V10, Hill’s bike bucks the trend of super light carbon bikes, instead sticking to a nearly completely aluminium 26in build.
The Nukeproof Pulse is built with triple-butted hydroformed aluminium. The rear shock is driven by what Nukeproof dubs as ‘three-stage Fallout Linkage’, effectively a single-pivot design that aims to keep the suspension progressive at the beginning and end stroke.
The Pulse features an adjustable chainstay length, something that Hill has setup in the shorter, more nimble 435mm setting. The raw metal and blue paint scheme is unique to the CRC/Nukeproof team.
Sam Hill is riding on the new 2015 RockShox Boxxer fork, which features the new Charger damper, borrowing the sealed damper technology from the much-loved Pike fork
Hill is a long-time RockShox BlackBox development rider, so it’s of little surprise that Hill’s bike is equipped with BlackBox suspension front and rear. The Boxxer World Cup on the front looks like the recently announced 2015 model, which uses the same Charger Damper technology from the successful Pike fork. This new Boxxer fork is also lighter than its predecessor.
The RockShox Vivid R2C rear shock is something we’re quite fond of ourselves, and Hill’s is further improved with a weight-reducing Nukeproof titanium spring.
Helping put down the power is the new X01 DH groupset, sharing much of the technology from SRAM’s much-loved 11-speed drivetrains, but optimised for gravity use with burlier construction and tighter gear ratios. Hill uses the seven-speed option, with a minimal 10-24T rear cassette range and a rear derailleur that does away with vertical movement for faultless chain retention.
An e*thirteen LG1+ Turbo chainguide is mounted with a SRAM X0 2×10 crankset
For a long time, Hill has chosen a chainguide with external bashguard, which adds an additional level of chain security at the cost of a small weight penalty. To accommodate to this bashguard, Hill uses a 2×10 SRAM X0 crank instead of the downhill-specific crank version which can only handle a single ring.
Helping to keep Hill’s often wild ride style in check is a pair of mismatched brakes – he has a lighter-weight SRAM X0 Trail lever mated to some high power Avid Code callipers.
Nukeproof Sam Hill signature direct mount stem and handlebar
Sam Hill has his own line of signature Nukeproof products, including the handlebar, stem, saddle and grips. None of the parts are particularly light, but they do take inspiration from Hill’s fondness of motocross components
Flat pedals are synonymous with Sam Hill – he’s a long-time advocate of not being clipped in. His choice for 2014 is a pair of Nukeproof Neutron pedals with titanium spindles, but the slightly heavier aluminium body. Long pins along with a pair of signature FiveTen shoes keep him gripped.
Complete bike specifications
- Frame: NukeProof Pulse DH, 205mm travel
- Fork: RockShox Boxxer WC, Blackbox, 203mm
- Rear Shock: RockShox Vivd R2C Blackbox, Nukeproof Ti 400lb spring
- Headset: Nukeproof
- Stem: Nukeproof Sam Hill direct mount Signature, 45mm
- Handlebar: Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature, 740mm wide
- Grips: Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature
- Front brake: Avid Code DH, 203mm rotor
- Rear brake: Avid Code DH, 203mm rotor
- Brake levers: SRAM X0 Trail
- Chain Guide: e*thirteen LG1+ Turbo
- Rear derailleur: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
- Shift levers: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed
- Cassette: SRAM X01 DH 7-speed mini Block, 10-24T
- Chain: SRAM XX1
- Crankset: SRAM X0 (double ring type), SRAM 36T chainring, 165mm length
- Bottom bracket: SRAM GXP
- Pedals: Nukeproof Neutron Alloy-Ti flats, long pins
- Wheelset: Mavic Deemax Ultimate 26in
- Front tyre: Schwalbe Dirty Dan 26 x 2.35in, prototype compound, setup tubeless
- Rear tyre: Schwalbe Dirty Dan 26 x 2.35in, prototype compound, setup tubeless
- Saddle: Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature SCRUB
- Seatpost: Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature
- Extras: MudGuardz CG325 Short (muddy races only)
- Rider’s height: 1.75m (5ft 7in)
- Rider’s weight: 75kg (165lb)
- Saddle height from BB, c-t: 600mm
- Tip of saddle to center of bar: 455mm
- Head tube length: 125mm
- Total bicycle weight: 17.48kg (38.45lb)