Working for this magazine you get to meet countless people in the bike industry, but some always stick in your mind more than others, the ones who you wished you could go for a ride or a drink with any day of the week. For me Nico Menard is definitely one of those. I think the reason why is a combination of the fact that he constantly seems to be laughing (or at the very least smiling), and because of his incredibly apparent love for bikes. Thinking about it, most of the time it seems to be bikes that are making him laugh or smile, he’s one of those riders who is clearly just doing what he’s doing because he loves it. He has raced a few times, mainly just so that he can say he knows what it’s like to race, but all he’s really interested in is just having fun on his bike. It came as little surprise to me then when I finally found out exactly what he does at Commencal bikes. Along with his mate Charly he is responsible for designing Commencal frames, from the first sketch idea right through to the last prototype. The reason I say I wasn’t surprised is simply because every time I get on a Commencal bike I get the feeling that it’s been designed by someone who just loves to have fun on a bike. That person is Nico, or as his mum used to call him, ‘the man of the woods’, and here’s his endtroducing…
Who is Nico?
Nico is a 26 year old who tries to enjoy life as much as possible.
Where do you live?
In Arinsal, Andorra…not a bad place to ride.
What’s your job title?
Frame Product Manager.
What’s your favourite bike that you’ve worked on?
The Supreme Racing. I love riding this bike, it’s by far my favourite bike to ride Andorran trails on, it’s an efficient bike and so much fun at the same time…I could talk about this bike for hours!
How long have you worked for Commencal?
Just over three years now.
How did you land the job?
Well that’s a bit complicated. I met Serge Lopez the product manager during a placement at Sunn and he was interested in the bike I designed at university with one of my best friends. I then applied for another placement at Commencal, which led to Max (Commencal) asking me to work for the company.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Nothing really bad, although working in a big jewellery factory where 80% of the staff were women drove me a bit crazy.
Where’s your favourite place?
In a forest in some mountains. Basically wherever you find good trails.
Where’s your favourite place to ride?
Without any doubt Whistler. I’d like to visit Canada more this summer, but I’ll have to chat nicely to my girlfriend about that one! I also like Châtel and our secret trails in Vallnord.
When are you happiest?
When I test a new bike that we’ve designed, or when I test a new track that we’ve built. I suppose the ultimate is testing a new bike on a new track.
What makes you angry?
Rain instead of snow, and people who don’t respect the trails that you’ve spent ages digging.
What makes you happy?
Snow, sun, nice trails, good food, my Supreme, my Absolut, Nidia, and when everybody around me is happy.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My grandmother always told me to cover my back so I don’t get sick.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given?
To get respect from others, you first have to respect them.
What are your extravagances?
Eating cereals with hot chocolate, wearing a handmade sliver plated Shimano HG chain as a bracelet, R/C cars, and buying (soon) a Clio RS.
Who do you admire?
My grandparents, my parents, Cedric Gracia for coming back after his bad injury, the Athertons for being such pure racers, Chase Hawk for being such a stylish BMX rider, anyone who lives their life according to their principles. And finally, anyone who achieves their goal.
What’s the most important thing in your life?
What would you never throw away?
My “Bike Project”, the first bike I ever made.
What’s your greatest fear?
Death, whether it be my family or me.
What was your luckiest escape?
I can’t choose, so here’s my top three. Two are on a bike, the first being a massive crash at 60km/h into a chairlift (don’t ask me why there were chairlifts next to the track). And the second was at a DH race at Brassac when I managed to do an unplanned superman over a road gap after my feet slipped off the pedals just before taking off. The final one was the other day on skis. I had a really big crash, lost my skis, and then slid headfirst between trees and rocks for 50m before finally falling down a drop. God knows how I wasn’t injured.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Struggle to wake up.
What’s the last thing you do at night?
Struggle to get to sleep.
What would be your dream meal?
A big Tartiflette with a few shots of good Genepi.
What things do you always carry with you?
Do you have any regrets?
I would have loved to ride BMX when I was younger, and it does my head in that I can’t do tabletops. I’ll succeed one day though.
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learnt?
Not to plan everything in my life.
If you could have dinner with three famous people (dead or alive) who would they be?
Your mother, your sister and your wife! I’m joking, they’re not famous. Seriously it’d have to be Elvis, Ayrton Senna, and Coluche (one for Wikipedia).
Who is your favourite rider?
Seb Picaudé aka ‘Chocho’, CG’s former mechanic. He’s really versatile and does super old school tabletops. When it comes to more famous riders I like CG, the Athertons, Greg Minnaar, and Bearclaw, they all have tons of style.
What’s your favourite bike product of all time?
A Troy Lee D2, it’s simply perfect.
What’s your least favourite bike product of all time?
SPD’s. Flat pedals rule, even for XC (yes, I am a flat pedal extremist).
What’s your favourite motto or saying?
Time will tell.
What saying do you use too much?
Sa Chatte! (I can’t translate this and it means nothing anyway).
What bike are you riding at the moment?
An Absolut Ti and a Meta 5. It’s winter!
What was the last magazine you read?
Soul BMX magazine.
What are you listening to at the moment?
CSS, The Ramones, Metallica, Judas Priest.
What one thing would you change about yourself?
Not to be so scared before clearing jumps that I don’t know. Chocho, Clem, Jorge, and Charly always have to push me.
What are your weaknesses?
I am too shy, too nervous, my mood can change a lot, and I’m stubborn…nice package!
What does the future hold for you?
Keep on working for Commencal making bikes that are as fun as humanly possible, enjoy life with my girlfriend and my friends/family, and take more time to ride and design great trails.
What does the future hold for mountain biking?
That’s a hard question. Bike wise I think there will be more integrated systems, and then as far as facilities go I hope that we get better shaped tracks with a greater amount of manmade stuff to make them even more fun. I also hope we see an increase in the number of bike parks around big cities like we have in Toulouse and Barcelona.
How would you like to be remembered?
As somebody who was always kind to the peoplehe appreciated.