BIKE CHECK: KYLE STRAIT’S DUAL SLALOM BIKE SETUP
Dual slalom bike setup secrets from one of the best.
BIKE CHECK: KYLE STRAIT’S DUAL SLALOM BIKE SETUP
Kyle Strait was two weeks shy of his 14th birthday in March 2001 when the staff of Mountain Bike Action first noticed him at the Sea Otter Classic. Despite his youth, Kyle was competing in the pro dirt-jumping event at that year’s Otter.
Kyle ended up winning that dirt-jumping contest—even though he was only 13 years old—beating Cedric Gracia and all the rest of the pros who entered the event. After seeing Kyle’s riding abilities, Mountain Bike Action photographer John Ker walked over to Kyle and his father at the end of the contest and asked Kyle if he would like to be a test rider for MBA. Kyle said he’d be happy to do it, and Kyle’s dad gave us his okay, too.
We ended up shooting photos of Kyle as an MBA test rider a few days later and some additional times in the following months. After that, Kyle had to stop being a test rider due to his sponsorship agreements.
Six months after his dirt-jumping win at the Sea Otter, Kyle was invited to compete in the first Red Bull Rampage, held in October of 2001. He was only 14, but he finished ninth that year and scored a full-page photo in Mountain Bike Action as well.
From 2001 through 2023, Kyle was invited to compete in every Red Bull Rampage. He went to all of them. The only one where he didn’t make the finals was the one in 2022, where he got injured in practice and wasn’t able to compete after that. In the history of the Red Bull Rampage, Kyle was the first rider to win the event twice, taking the title in 2004, at 17, and then again in 2013, at 26.
Kyle also proved himself to be a formidable talent in both downhill and dual slalom racing, even winning the Pro Men’s dual-slalom event at the Sea Otter, a competition that came to be recognized as equivalent to a world championship in dual-slalom.
Since 2020, Kyle has been putting on the Strait Acres dual-slalom event on the courses he built in Alpine and Snow Summit, California.
Last year, Kyle was putting in a practice run on the 2022 Red Bull Rampage course when he crashed off a jump and broke his back in three places. Surgeons put his bones back together again and had Kyle back up on his feet the day after his crash to speed his recovery. Within a couple of months, Kyle was riding again, working to get back in shape so he could start competing again.
This past spring, Kyle competed in the Elite Men’s dual-slalom event at the 2023 Sea Otter Classic. He qualified in the top 32, won his first match-up, and moved into the top 16. He wasn’t able to advance again. Kyle told MBA he was only up to about 65 percent of his past strength in the event. Just the same, Kyle got the chance to race his new Vitus Escarpe dual-slalom bike and prove that he can still compete with the best riders in the world.
Kyle came back to compete in the Red Bull Rampage this fall. As one of the top riders in the event’s history and the only rider who was invited to compete in every one of the events, Kyle was eager to show how well he can do again.
Kyle Strait is one amazing rider, and he doesn’t give up easily.
KYLE STRAIT’S VITUS ESCARPE 27
Frame: Vitus Escarpe 27, with Flip Chip in the low setting; Vitus custom aluminum rear triangle, 420mm chainstay length.
“It’s such an amazing slalom bike. It’s the closest bike I’ve ever had to a good slalom bike. For a stock bike, it’s the most amazing slalom bike I’ve ever had.”
Fork: RockShox Pike Ultimate, set at 140mm, 125 psi, 3 clicks HSC, 7 clicks LSC
Rear shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate, 200 psi, 8 clicks LSC, medium tune, 205 x 50mm trunnion for 121mm travel
Headset: Angle headset, +1 degree
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 AXS DH 7-speed
Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate 4-piston, 180mm rotors
Front hub: Onyx Vesper hub
Rear hub: Onyx Vesper hub
Front rim: Stan’s NoTubes Arch 27.5 front rim
Rear rim: Stan’s NoTubes Flow CB7 27.5 rear rim
Front tire: Kenda Pinner ATC, 2.4×27.5”
Rear tire: Kenda Karma 2, 2.4×27.5”
Crankset: SRAM X01 DH cranks 165mm, SRAM 32-tooth chainring
Pedals: Sensus Crue pedals
Bars: Deity Black Label bar, cut at 780mm
Stem: Deity Copperhead stem
Saddle: SDG Bel-Air III, Strait Acres Edition
Grips: Sensus Meaty Paw grips
Name: Kyle Strait
Birthdate: April 4, 1987
Birthplace: Redlands, California
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 208 pounds
Shoe size: 12 or 12 1/2
Helmet size: Medium
Marital status: Married to Rachel Strait [who raced in the pro ranks as Rachel Throop]
Kids: [One daughter] Stevie, she’s 2. We named her after Stevie Smith.
Current home: Alpine, California
Cars and trucks: Chevy 2500 2020, ’74 Chevy Blazer, ’68 C20 Chevy, ’61 C10 Chevy
Started racing: Mountain bikes at 8, but I started doing the Redlands Bicycle Classic kids’ races when I was 2
Turned pro: Racing pro at 16, professional dirt jumping when I was 13
Racing specialty: Gravity
Favorite course (North America): Red Bull Rampage
Favorite course (Europe): Livigno, Italy
Favorite food: Asian fusion
Goals: Keep pushing the sport of mountain biking
Heroes: Kirt Voreis, Cam Zink, Shaun Palmer, Mitch Ropelato
Favorite movie: Moana (Disney movie)
Favorite hobbies: Riding motorcycles and fishing
Jobs held (other than racer): Race promoter, track builder
Most embarrassing moment: I showed up at the airport on the wrong day in Europe. I was a week early
Always takes on a trip: Hot sauce, usually Tapatio
What would you be if you weren’t a racer: I’ve been doing the Strait Acres event for four years. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d like to work for UPS or something like that. I like being outside.
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Kyle Strait: I grew up in Redlands [California].
MBA: What kind of work do (did) your parents do?
KS: My dad’s a general contractor. My mom had too many jobs to list.
MBA: When did you first learn to ride a bike?
KS: I think I was 3 when I took the training wheels off.
MBA: Who taught you?
KS: My dad.
MBA: Did you compete on other kinds of bikes before mountain bikes?
KS: I raced a little bit of BMX. I think I was 9, or maybe 11. I got a couple of wins. I raced both BMX and mountain bikes at the same time for a little while. I didn’t race BMX very long. It was at most two years. I liked the atmosphere of mountain bike racing more.
MBA: When did you get your first mountain bike?
KS: I think I was 8—7 or 8.
MBA: When did you start competing on mountain bikes?
MBA: How did you finish in your first competition?
KS: I think I was fifth. I really don’t remember, to be honest.
MBA: Did you win any titles as an amateur?
KS: I didn’t win any national titles as an amateur. I think I won the Amateur Cup Series overall in 2001 or somewhere around there.
MBA: Where did you go to school?
KS: Redlands High School.
MBA: If you were going to attend college, what would your major be?
KS: I have no idea, maybe engineering or trade school.
MBA: What other sports have you done?
KS: Skiing and snowboarding.
MBA: Can you tell us something interesting or unusual about yourself or your family?
KS: My mom and dad raced off-road cars. They raced Baja. She started in 1990 or 1991. She went back to racing the same year she had my sister in 1991. It was a single-seat car. She did all the driving by herself. She did a bunch of off-road races. I was only 4 at the time. I think she stopped racing in 1995. My dad was the SCOR off-road champion in 1989 for Class 11, which was a stock VW bug. I started racing mountain bikes in 1997— so right after they stopped racing, I started.
MBA: Are there any other interesting facts or trivia that people might like to know about you?
KS: Rachel says I probably changed more diapers than she did. And, I’ve still never won a national title. ❏