MEET KYLE STRAIT
Not only has Kyle Strait won the Redbull Rampage twice (2004 and 2013), but he’s also the only rider to have contested it every year since its inception in 2001. The 30-year-old pro from Alpine, California competes in speed and style, slopestyle, dual slalom, dirt jumping and downhill events, and he’s also raced BMX. Just last month, Strait made the podium at U.S. Mountain Bike Nationals with a fourth place finish in the dual slalom in Snowshoe, West Virginia.Stan’s NoTubes: How and when did you get into riding and racing?
Kyle Strait: I’ve been doing it my whole life. I started riding when I was about six years old because I got a mountain bike instead of a motorcycle. I really wanted a motorcycle, but we couldn’t afford that, so I got a mountain bike instead. I think my first “real race” was in 1998 - a downhill and a dual slalom. From then on, I was super pumped on mountain biking. I would do every type of racing that I could, and I eventually did my first Rampage in 2001 at age 14. I’ve also done some World Cup downhills.NT: What Stan’s NoTubes wheels do you currently have on your bike(s)?
KS: Most of my bikes have Stan’s Flow MK3s on them - including my 26” slalom bike, my 27.5” downhill bike and my Rampage bike, but I have Stan’s Arch MK3s on my 27.5” trail bike.
NT: How did you decide which wheels to ride?
KS: Most of the riding I do is pretty strenuous, gnarly riding, and I need a lot of side to side strength - lateral stability - as well as stiffness. I’m new to Stan’s this year, and my Stan’s NoTubes wheels have been awesome. I haven’t gone through one wheelset yet this year. When I’m leaning way over in the corners on my slalom bike at Sea Otter, there is so much pressure, so many g-forces, on my wheels. My wheels have to be stiff and not hit my frame, especially since I’m a big dude - it creates a lot of force. More recently, here on the East Coast, I’ve been riding a lot of rocky stuff, and my wheels have been strong all around: no dents or other issues.NT: We understand that you are new to tubeless systems. How’s that working out for you?
KS: It’s awesome, and it’s been easy to transition. I “punctured” two days ago while coaching kids, and I thought, “I think I’m supposed to keep riding, so I did, and it just sealed right up!” It’s been kind of like teaching an old dog new tricks.
NT: You’ve ridden a lot of places during your career. What are your favorite few places to ride?
KS: It depends because there are so many different types of riding. When I’m riding downhill and playing around, I love Highland Mountain Bike Park. If I’m riding a small bike, I love riding at home - just being there - especially during the winter.
NT: What’s next for you?
KS: Whistler Crankworx is a huge one for me. I do five events there: speed and style, pump track, slalom, best whip and photo contest. Right after that, I might go into Kamloops and do some fun riding. Then I’m off to OEM Ride Camp for SRAM. Of course, I’ll be focusing on training for the Rampage coming up outside St. George in Virgin, Utah, in October. To do so, I’ll ride all sorts of downhill bikes and do big jumps to practice.NT: When you are not riding a bike, what do you like to do?
KS: Bass fishing - I enjoy it big time. Of course, I also enjoy digging and building jumps and cool features.
NT: Would you ever own an e-mountain bike?
KS: Yes, I would love to get one for fishing. I live close to a lake, and there is a trail that’s downhill all the way to the lake. I’d like to ride my bike down - it’s rad. Then it’d be sick to ride an e-bike back up the hill afterward.