Pro Bike Check: Sam Hill’s Nukeproof Pulse

Recently we sat down with Sam’s mechanic, Jacy Shumilak, for a chat about Sam’s 2016 Nukeproof DH race machine.

[R]volution Mag: Sam’s frame features some custom geometry, yeah? How different is his bike to the stock frame?

Jacy: Sam currently has a frame that is a little different than a production medium. Since last May ’15 he’s been dealing with injury and recovery. At the same time the guys at Nukeproof updated and revamped the Pulse into a space age version of the previous model. The bike is lighter, handles better and is more active which is awesome but as any rider knows, it takes time to get comfortable on anything new, whether that’s a new pair of gloves or a brand new bike. So Sam’s current bike has allowed us to be more versatile with changes at a race. That might mean a longer rear end, offset headset or adjustable angle headset. Every week he gets more comfortable which is what we’re striving for.

[R]: Most DH World Cup teams are running carbon fibre frames these days, however you guys and Nukeproof have stuck with an alloy chassis. What benefits do the lads find running metal rather than plastic?

Jacy: There are definitely pluses and minuses when it comes to both aluminium and carbon. I think for the moment, working in alloy allows the engineers and designers at Nukeproof to make changes for us with a relatively short lead time and at less cost. Aluminium is a tried and true material that allows changes not only to the geometry and dimensions of the bike but also with tubing shape and wall thickness.

[R]: What is Sam like to wrench for?

Jacy: He’s awesome to work with. I think the most important thing for me is that he trusts me and that we’re best buddies. The guy knows what he wants and what he likes but he’s always willing to try something i might have in my head or maybe that one of the other riders on the team has tried. Overall he’s pretty chill when it comes to his bike but if there’s anything, it would be brake set up. We run the SRAM Ultimate lever/code caliper setup and the way he likes the lever position and pad engagement can make getting the pads to not touch the rotors real difficult.

[R]: Does he like to change up his settings from race to race or does he pretty much just stick with a base setting all season long?

Jacy: Once we find a solid base setup he sticks to that for the most part. We may play with small things like stanchion height, fork pressure and rebound/compression settings. That’s part of what we are working on now, finding that base setting. It’s tough when the World Cup event schedule is so compressed to find time to make changes to the bike but that’s all part of it.

“His suspension setup definitely reflects his riding style and flat pedals. It’s usually a bit firm and the rebound is on the slow side. I guess at times you could almost say it has a ‘heavy’ feel to it.”

[R]: Is he particularly hard on his bikes and components?

Jacy: He’s pretty good when it comes to his bike. I’d say the rear brake gets the worst of it. He loves to burn a back rotor and glaze some pads. Oh and wheels at times, if he has a race run and doesn’t smash a set of wheels, then he probably didn’t go hard enough!

[R]: Being a die-hard flat pedal rider, do you have to tune his bike differently as to if he were clipped in?

Jacy: His suspension setup definitely reflects his riding style and flat pedals. It’s usually a bit firm and the rebound is on the slow side. I guess at times you could almost say it has a ‘heavy’ feel to it.

[R]: The team has been running Schwalbe rubber for a long time now. Is there much trickery going on behind the scenes with your tyre set-up or is it pretty much stock rubber?

Jacy: Schwalbe tyres have been great for us. We are currently running standard downhill tyres so that’s either the Dirty Dan or the Magic Mary.

[R]: Does Sam ever use Schwalbe’s Procore system on his race bikes?

Jacy: We’ve played with the Procore setup and have gone back and forth with it over the last couple of seasons. We are currently working with what will possibly be a new Mavic DH wheel, and they seem to suit the Procore setup really well, so you might see us using it (Procore) more in the near future.

[R]: What brake set-up does Sam favour throughout the season?

Jacy: SRAM Ultimate levers with Code calipers. He’s been rocking a similar setup since the original Codes became available.

[R]: Nukeproof has just announced full blown distribution here in Australia so we’re expecting to see a whole lot of them getting around the trails this summer. How popular are the bikes up there in the UK and in your neck of the woods over in the US?

Jacy: The bikes are really good so it’s awesome that Nukeproof’s are starting to be available in other countries (outside of the UK). I think that all the riders out there will love the Pulse for DH, and let me tell you, the new Mega simply is as awesome as it gets! As a relatively small brand it’s the first step to growing, especially when you have someone like Sam to represent the product. When I’m over in the UK I notice that there’s a lot of Nukeproof’s out on the trails and at races. The brand will really suit the Australian market and Australian riders.

Sam’s build:

Fork: RockShox BoXXer World Cup

Fork set-up: 90psi of pressure, 8 clicks from full open on compression and 3 Bottomless tokens

Rear shock: RockShox Vivid RC2 coil

Shock set-up: 400lb Nukeproof Ti spring, custom bottom-out bumper

Bars: Nukeproof Warhead Sam Hill bars, cut to 750mm

Stem: Nukeproof Warhead Sam Hill stem, 45mm long, 30-deg rise

Grips: Sam Hill Nukeproof Grips, custom softer prototype rubber

Brakes: SRAM GUIDE Ultimate levers with Code calipers

Rotors: 200mm SRAM ‘G2’ front and rear

Pedals: Sam Hill Signature Nukeproof Horizon Pedal

Drivetrain: SRAM X01 DH, 7-speed with custom, modified shifter paddle

Cranks: SRAM X0 DH carbon cranks, 165mm

Chainring: SRAM 36t X-Sync direct mount chainring

Chain devise: MRP G4 Chainguide

Tyres: Schwalbe Magic Mary’s set-up tubeless.

Tyre pressures: 25PSI front, 28PSI rear.

Wheels: Mavic Deemax Rims

Sam’s frame spec:

Head Angle: 62.8-degrees

Chainstay length: 448mm

BB to front axle: 785mm

Bar height from ground: 1060mm

BB Height: 355mm

Top middle of bars to seat post: 625mm