Inside the Pro’s Bikes – Jill Kintner


The Queen of Crankworx, Jill Kintner, and her Norco Optic

Inside_1_0109Jill Kintner has been America’s top female gravity racer for so long that it’s hard to remember a time when she didn’t have that distinction. Jill is our top downhill racer, our top dual-slalom racer, our top pump-track racer and sometimes (as in 2015) our top enduro racer. We met up with her at Whistler this summer, where Jill won the Queen of Crankworx title for the third time in a row. We primed her with tons of questions and got her to tell us all about herself, her bike and her life. Read on.


The MBA Q&A:

“The Queen” speaks

MBA: Where did you grow up?

Jill: Seattle.

MBA: What kind of work do (did) your parents do?

Jill: Mom worked for United; Dad was a tile and marble contractor.

MBA: When did you first learn to ride a bike?

Jill: Supposedly 2 years old.

MBA: Who taught you?

Inside_6_optional_2780Jill: My mom.

MBA: What kind of biking did you do before mountain biking?

Jill: I grew up racing BMX at our local track, North Sea Tac BMX. I did well enough to take it to an Olympic medal.

MBA: When did you get your first mountain bike?

Jill: In 1999 I had a beater Rocky Mountain XC hardtail. My first real mountain bike was an Intense Tazer 4x bike.

MBA: When did you start competing on mountain bikes?

Jill: In 1999, I raced that XC bike at Sea Otter. In 2002, I raced Pro 4x and slalom.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 7.02.15 AM

MBA: How did you finish in your first race?

Jill: I won.

MBA: Did you win any titles as an amateur?

Jill: In BMX I did. MTB, I won Sea Otter slalom but couldn’t shift or keep my chain on.

MBA: What have been your best results as a pro?

Jill: World titles, an Olympic medal and 17 national championships across five disciplines.

MBA: Did you attend college?

Jill: I did. I went to school for graphic design in Rochester, New York, and San Francisco.

MBA: What awards did you win in school, if any?

Jill: High school honor roll, MVP on varsity soccer and #1 singles in varsity tennis.

MBA: What other sports have you done?

Jill: Soccer for most of my youth, tennis, racquetball, snowboarding, [motocross], minimal climbing and lots of hiking.

MBA: If possible, please tell us something interesting or unusual about yourself or your family.

Jill: My brother was a professional BMX dirt jumper in the X Games long ago. My dad did downhill skiing for the University of Washington. My mom likes African drumming. My husband, Bryn Atkinson, is a professional downhill mountain biker from Australia.

MBA: Is there some other interesting fact or trivia that people might like to know about you?

Jill: I’m left-handed. I’ve been on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” I drive a sprinter van.


Jill Kitner’s Norco Optic 7.5

Photo by Bryn Atkinson

Bike weight: “I dunno—really light.”

Estimated value: “Priceless!

1. Frame: Norco Optic 27.5 Carbon, size small, 120mm.

“This is meant to be a ‘modern trail bike,’ but it works perfectly for slalom.”

2. Fork: Fox 34 Float, 130mm, sag set at 10–20-percent travel, rebound set fairly quick.

“It’s set up like a trailbike but firmer to keep it snappy and take the edge off.

3. Tires: Maxxis: 27.5×2.3″ High Roller 2 (front); Maxxis Ardent 27.5×2.25” (rear); pressure set at 26 psi in front; 30 psi in rear (for rolling speed).

“HR2 is my favorite tire for everything. I will go firmer sometimes if needed.”

4. Tubes or tubeless: Stan’s tubeless system.
5. Rims: Stan’s Flow.
6. Spokes: Sapim Force.
7. Front hub: Stan’s.
8. Rear hub: Stan’s Boost hub.

9. Brakes: Shimano XT, 180mm, Centerlock rotors.

“XT brakes are really good and powerful, and an alloy lever is sweet for racing. Love the textured bumps on Shimano brakes.”

10. Handlebar: “Renthal Fatbar Lite, carbon, 30mm rise.

“Renthals are the best bars. The Fatbar Lite comes stock at 740 millimeters, which is what I run.

11. Bottom bracket: Shimano XT.

12. Grips: Renthal lock-on, traction ultra-tacky.

“These are stickier than most grips. They are good in wet weather, and I like how they feel with gloves—extra control.”

13. Cranks: Shimano XT, 170mm.

“They work perfectly and are stealthy.”

14. Chainring: Shimano XT, 34-tooth.

15. Pedals: Shimano DX-M647.

“The platform pedal feels the best to me—more contact with the shoe and good for getting in and out.”

Inside_5_302916. Chain: Shimano 10-speed.

Replacement cycle: “As needed.”

17. Rear derailleur: Shimano Saint.

“I wanted a short cage on my slalom bike.”

18. Shifters: Shimano Saint.

“Same as my DH bike.”

19. Brake levers: Shimano XT.

20. Rear cassette: Shimano Ultegra 10-speed.

“[I] think 11-23.”

21. Saddle: Fabric Line saddle with chromo rails.

“This saddle is short, narrow and well constructed. I run it on every bike I have—love it.”

22. Seatpost: Thomson, cut short.

23. Cables and housings: Shimano.

24. Headset: Cane Creek 110 series.

25. Shock: Fox Float EVOL.

26. Stem: Renthal Duo, 50mm.

“I like this older model because it’s smoother on top.”

27. Special touches: “There are Ti bolts mounting my brakes.”

28. Extras: E*thirteen TRS chainguide.


Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.

Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

Subscribe Here

Contact us via email at [email protected]

You might also like