Meet The Riders And Their Rides
Enduro champion Kyle Warner has to be one of the most unusual pro bike racers we’ve ever interviewed in MBA. How many pro bike racers have you heard of who were called “Fatso” as kids? And how many lived in their vans for a year? And how many top riders would admit that they flunked out of high school one year, then took up homeschooling and got straight As for the last two years? That’s only some of the stuff we learned about Kyle Warner. Read on to learn more about him.
Name: Kyle Warner
Birthdate: July 31, 1992
Birthplace: Chico, California
Weight: 175 pounds
Shoe size: 11
Helmet size: L
Marital status: Pending (laughs)
Current home: Boise, Idaho
Car(s): Ford Transit Van, Medium Roof!
Started racing or competing: First-ever downhill race was in 2009; first enduro, 2012.
Turned pro: 2011
Racing/riding specialty: I guess I would say either parking-lot tricks or enduro racing
Favorite course or riding area (North America): Has to be Ashland, Oregon. So much flow and really great people.
Favorite course or riding area (Europe): Maybe the test track we used for suspension testing in La Fenasosa Bike Park in Spain.
Favorite food: Burritos—trying really hard to eat less meat, and we have an awesome local spot that does bomb veggie chorizo!
Goals: Help inspire as many kids and adults as possible to find a healthy and positive outlet for stress. Cycling has been that outlet for me and has really shaped my life and identity in a positive way.
Heroes: Richard Branson, for his endless youthful enthusiasm to push the limits; Nikola Tesla, for changing the way the world functions with regards to electricity and focusing more on the global good than his own compensation; and, current day, Bill Gates for all of the funding he is providing for really cool humanitarian projects around the world.
Favorite recording artist: Man, I hardly listen to music these days with all the great podcasts available. I would have to say I relate most to JCole for some of his stories regarding his upbringing and his relationship with his mom. I also relate really strongly to Mac Miller on his mental and emotional battles, and I would say my favorite artist of all time would have to be Bob Marley or Hendrix.
Favorite movie: I think it’s gotta be The Departed or Wolf of Wall Street.
Favorite hobbies: I really like learning new technical skills and challenging myself. A few years ago I did a lot of research and experimenting on investing. Recently that focus has been on learning photo and video skills for the whole Youtube thing, and also trying to figure out how to do and record podcasts. One of the great things about working as an independent contractor/pro athlete is that I can take time to try new things and experiment, as long as I am still making fun content on the bike and going fast at the races!
Jobs held (other than racer): Bike mechanic (Chico Bike and Board/Greenline Cycles) 2008–2013; construction (with the Alpine Bike Park Crew) summer of 2019
Most embarrassing moment: Man, I literally can’t recall a bad, recent one that was public. I embarrass myself in front of my girlfriend a lot (laughs). Maybe just being the fat kid in elementary school and getting made fun of. That was pretty embarrassing, but back then I just didn’t know how to eat, and my mom bought junk food because it was the cheapest. Looking back, I think it was a good thing for my character, but it sucked at the time (laughs).
Always takes on a trip: Melatonin to help me sleep. I have a hard time shutting down my mind at night. Onnit makes a really good spray that I always take with me.
What you would be if you were not a racer: Probably a public employee of some sort. I would love to get more involved with local politics. I have been in so many different shoes in my life, and I think having some of that perspective could maybe help me relate in some unique ways and relate to people’s issues. Ultimately, I just want to provide value to the community and society around me while I’m here.
Inside Kyle Warner’s Niner Rip 9 RDO
Frame: Niner, Rip 9 RDO, 27.5″, 140mm of travel, size medium, carbon front and rear triangle.
“This bike is so much fun to ride. It is really easy to manual and bunnyhop over little trail features, and the lateral stiffness is really good, which makes it corner like you are on skis!”
Shock and settings: “I have a fully stock SR Suntour Tri-Air rear shock, three volume spacers, and it is set at 185 psi. I run 180 psi in the IFP [internal floating piston] and four rebound clicks from fully open.”
Fork: “I have an SR Suntour Durolux EQ fork set at 150mm of travel. I love this fork because it is one of the first Suntour models using a positive and negative air chamber, and it feels amazing.”
Tires: “I just signed a new contract with Schwalbe tires, and I am experimenting with them a bunch right now. As of typing this, I have a Super Gravity Magic Mary on the front and Super Gravity Hans Dampf on the rear, both in the soft compound: 24 psi front, 28 psi rear. Both tires are 27.5 × 2.35 inches.
Inner tubes or tubeless system: “I run Stan’s sealants, I am also running the new Cushcore XC or Lite inserts, front and rear, and I love them.”
Rims: “I have a complete stock Stan’s Flow EX3 wheelset on this bike and I love it! The alloy rims are super durable yet compliant enough to remove a lot of trail chatter and stiff enough for carving turns. By far the most durable wheels I have ridden, and they were actually on my bike all of last season as well.”
Spokes: Sapim Force.
Front hub: Shimano XTR.
Rear hub: Shimano XTR.
Brakes: “New Shimano XT four-piston brakes with sintered pads and brake rotors from Braking—203mm front, 180mm rear. Tons of power with a really light lever feel.”
Stem: “I am running a PNW Range stem, 45mm length with a 31.8mm clamp.”
Handlebars: “I am actually running my signature KW Range handlebar from PNW Components! We went with a 2014 aluminum to get the most compliance and to help prevent wrist fatigue/jarring. The handlebars are a 30mm rise with 780mm length, and I run the gray colorway!”
Grips: PNW Loam grips in Cement Gray.
Shifter: Shimano XT, 12-speed.
Rear derailleur: Shimano XT 12-speed.
Pedals: Crankbrothers Mallet DH.
Cranks: Shimano XT, 165mm length.
Chainring: Shimano XT 30t chainring.
Chain: Shimano XT 12-speed.
Rear cassette: Shimano XT 12-speed, 10-51.
Saddle: Ergon SM3 Comp saddle, 145mm width.
Seatpost: PNW Components Bachelor dropper post, 170mm travel, Loam lever.
Cables and housings: Full Shimano cable and housing.
Headset: FSA headset.
Water bottle cage: Shimano “Pro” composite.
Bottom bracket: Shimano XT.
Carbon or titanium bolts: “No special bolts. I am too fat for light stuff [laughs].”
Extras: “Yeah, just a Shimano chainguide and All Mountain Style frame protection.”
Head angle: 65 degrees.
Bottom bracket height: “I measured mine and it is 335mm. I have it in the high position, though.”
Weight of complete bike: “31 pounds, with heavy wheels and tires! Built to shred!”
Estimated value of bike: “Around $6000?”
MBA: Where did you grow up?
Kyle: Born and raised in Chico, California. Such an awesome town to grow up in back then.
MBA: What kind of work do your father and mother do?
Kyle: My mom and dad split up before I was born, and my mom had a few different jobs while I was growing up, but she has been on disability for depression since I was in junior high school. She has had a pretty rough time of it over the years, and that is one of the reasons I am so empathetic towards people with mental health concerns. It’s hard to watch loved ones battle with chemical imbalances, and it’s something I really struggle with, too, if I can’t get out and ride for more than a few days.
MBA: When did you first start riding a bicycle?
Kyle: I always rode around town as a kid, causing trouble, but I didn’t actually ride a mountain bike until 2008/2009 when I was 16 years old. I fell in love with it immediately, though!
MBA: Did you race BMX or road bikes before competing on mountain bikes?
Kyle: I am one of the few kids who never rode BMX. I lived really close to the track, though, and would go down and watch all the time. We just weren’t in a position to afford a membership and practice fees, though. My little friends and I would jump the fence sometimes on the weekends and try to get a few laps in before getting kicked out (laughs).
MBA: What were your best competition results on non-mountain bikes?
Kyle: Honestly, I have never really competed outside of mountain bikes. I was never very athletic growing up, and so when I caught the mountain bike race bug, it was all-consuming.
MBA: When did you start competing on mountain bikes?
Kyle: My first race was the Ashland Spring Thaw Downhill in 2009! I made it to the first jump, cased it, and my derailleur blew off into the spokes. I was so bummed, but then a couple of weeks later we did a race in Shasta, California, and I was able to grab my first-ever win! Redemption was what got me hooked!
MBA: What have been your best national and international results?
Kyle: My biggest achievements so far have been winning the North American Enduro Tour in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and getting 10th place at the Winter Park Enduro World Series in 2013.
MBA: Where did you go to school?
Kyle: I originally went to Chico High School for my freshman and sophomore years. Between all of the stuff I had going on at home, with my mom being really sick and knowing fully that I wasn’t gonna be able to afford college, I really kind of gave up in school. I tested in the top-1 percentile of the state for English, math and science, but I became really bored and stopped caring.
I had a 0.5 GPA my sophomore year and ditched over 200 periods of class that year. Eventually, the school decided to kick me out and tried to enroll me into the Academy for Change, a continuation school, without ever even having a counseling meeting to see what was going on at home.
I did some research, enrolled in homeschool and finished off my junior and senior years with a 4.0 GPA. I was almost lost to the system, but found a little daylight and made a break for it. When I was doing the homeschool thing is when I started to ride bikes and fall in love with them, too. It allowed me the freedom to pursue my passion and build a life that I love.
MBA: Did you attend college?
Kyle: I haven’t attended traditional college yet. I may one day, and if I do, I would probably want to study a bit of everything. I think that may be a problem. I am a little too interested in everything to actually get a degree in a reasonable amount of time. I would love to study personal finance, business, engineering, kinesiology, marketing, biology, political science, physiology, photography, film and pretty much every other class they offer.
We will see what ends up happening. The really cool thing about what I get to do now is that I get to touch a little bit on all of those fields in real life. By managing my training, working on product development and fulfilling my sponsorship obligations, I get to learn and experience so many different things. It would be really hard for me to focus in one area.
MBA: Do you have any other career training?
Kyle: The only somewhat formal training I have is from this past summer, driving tractors while helping to build the Boise Bike Park.
MBA: Did you earn any awards in school?
MBA: What other sports do you like besides mountain biking?
Kyle: Motocross, rock climbing, swimming and football.
MBA: Have you competed in them?
Kyle: Yeah, just a few times, for fun. I have done some moto hare scrambles.
MBA: How well have you done?
Kyle: Nothing spectacular, just some podiums in the beginner class.
MBA: Can you tell us something interesting or unusual about yourself or your family that is not widely known.
Kyle: This one is hard. I am usually pretty open, so I don’t know what isn’t widely known. Maybe that I lived out of a van for all of 2017? I got really sick and tired of paying rent and just bailed. I had a storage unit in Chico and loaded up my van and just lived out of it all year as my apartment. I would shower at local gyms or jump hotel pool fences and sleep in random industrial parking lots where I could find other white vans that looked like mine. It was a really good learning experience, and I was able to spend a lot of time sorting through some personal issues and fears I hadn’t been able to address. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, but I am glad that phase is done. I have an awesome girlfriend up here in Boise, Idaho, and we just bought a house together, which has been really cool!
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