Kyle Warner isn't on the radar of the top ten riders on the Enduro World Series - but there is a strong chance that he soon will be. Warner has a rare mix of business acumen and raw physiology, and after spending a day on trail, we can vouch that the Northern Californian has the talent and the work ethic to punch into the top ranks of the EWS. His style is both powerful and fluid, and his ability to read terrain is uncanny. Kyle's weapon of choice is a 150-millimeter-travel carbon fiber Marin Attack Trail chassis, kicked out a degree or two with a Cane Creek AngleSet headset, outfitted with Enve AM carbon wheels, and suspended by a Cane Creek DB-Air shock and a 160-millimeter-stroke SR Suntour Auron fork. The drivetrain and brakes are all Shimano, and Kyle's go-to tire is the Maxxis High Roller II. Warner's mix and match component ensemble is a product of his self-run racing program that began with a dream and a handwritten list of bike companies when he still a teenager - and grew into a pro ride on the international SR Suntour Enduro team by the time he turned 20.
Kyle Warner is 21 years old and stands five-foot, eleven inches tall, at 170 pounds. He grew up in Chico, California, races on the Marin/SR Suntour team and loves shredding bikes - and he has the talent to become this country's top enduro racer.
Attack Trail specs and geometry
Kyle's bike is built around the 27.5-inch-wheel Marin Attack Trail Quad Carbon chassis. The 150-millimeter dual-rocker-link rear suspension is controlled by a Cane Creek Double Barrel Air damper. Cable routing is internal and the frame is designed for an internally-routed dropper post as well. Up close, the Marin trailbike looks as beautiful as it appears in the photos.
Kyle is Sponsored by SR Suntour. His air-sprung Auron RC2
fork (top) has 160 millimeters of travel and sturdy, 34-millimeter
stanchion tubes. Wheels are Enve Carbon AM, with 2.3-inch
Maxxis High Roller II and Ikon tires (F & R). The dropper post
(center) is a KS LEV Integra, clamping an SDG saddle. The
handlebar is a Deity aluminum, 38-millimeter-rise CZ38 and
both shifting and braking controls are Shimano SLX. Kyle uses
a 50-millimeter Deity Cavity stem and A'ME 1.3 TRI grips.
You can pretty much ride anything. Where did you learn your skills?
When I was 16, I would literally just spend every day after school riding the local jumps and the skate park with my friends. I wasn't very good, but absolutely loved it. When I was 17, I enrolled myself in home-school and got a taste of real mountain biking. That was really when I started trying to progress. Riding mountain, skate parks and dirt jumps was my daily routine and I think it helped shape me into an all-around rider. What attracted you to Enduro?
Honestly, it was just an opportunity to race the bike I was most comfortable on. The trails in my home town are best on a 5 to 6-inch-travel bike, so when I heard about Enduro, it just seemed perfect. Did you race XC or DH with the intent of going pro before that?
I started out racing DH. I had some good results as a junior in 2010 and started to make some things happen as a Pro in 2011 and 2012. I loved it, DH was awesome and I am so happy I started out doing that. In the end, I found that I enjoy racing and riding my trailbike just a little bit more and that is why strayed away from the DH scene. I could totally see racing again, though. Who were your most important influences?
I had some really awesome guys helping me out in 2009 and as I started racing. The team was called the "Thunderbringers" and without that group of people, I wouldn't even know about mountain biking. What motivated you to make racing your job and how did you go about arranging for sponsors?
I started seeking sponsors basically as a necessity. I have pretty much always been a broke kid and the only way I could afford to keep racing was to find sponsors. One day I sat down in my local bike shop and called every single company my shop had access to. I just asked who to talk to for sponsorship. I got shut down a lot, but some of the companies gave me the time of day and helped me out. I never really wanted to make racing my Job, I just wanted to race 'cause I love it and that was the only way I could afford it.
"Super chill" is an apt description of Warner's riding style. He reads and reacts seamlessly to unfamiliar terrain as if he had been sessioning his lines for a week. Kyle prefers scientific, measured training methods to maintain his fitness, most of which take place indoors - which frees up his riding time to hone skills.
(Top) In order to save his energy for timed stages, Kyle rides a
Shimano SLX two-by crankset so he can poke up the transfer
climbs. The front changer is Shimano XT and his pedals are
Expedo Baldwin clip-in flats. Rumor has it that SR Suntour is
working on an enduro-specific shock, but until then, Warner
will be racing on a Cane Creek DB-Air (center). Kyle replaced
the shock's platform lever with a master-link segment so he
could access it more easily. Stock Marin Attack Trail frames
feature a 66.5-degree head angle. Kyle uses a Cane Creek
AngleSet to slacken the steering one more degree. (bottom)
You use social media and video content as an important part of your business model. How does that work?
Essentially, being a racer is being an advertisement. It's our job to help spread the messages of our sponsors and to share cool new things. Social media is an awesome and effective way for people to see what you are up to. How much time do you put into training and fitness, compared to the time it takes to manage the business aspects of your career?
Honestly, I spend approximately 20 hours a week on the bike and close to double that emailing and managing content. Its definitely a full-time thing, but I am really grateful for all it has given me. Can you relate a story about landing a key sponsor, like Marin?
Yeah, it truly has been amazing to land some great sponsors, both currently and in the past. The Marin thing has been awesome so far and was pretty funny actually. I was at the Interbike Outdoor Demo this past year. I was walking around in the sun all day talking and finally found a few minutes to relax. I sat down with some friends for some beers and didn't even really think about the fact that I was dehydrated. Well, right after that I met the CEO of Marin and we got to talking. I think I had a bit of liquid courage and was just very honest about my goals, both short and long term, and it seemed like we had a similar vision. I guess you can say that the rest is history, but if it weren't for the cervezas I don't know where I would be. How did you get on with Enve wheels?
I had contacted Enve in early 2013 about working with them and got respectfully turned down, due to them having a full roster already. A few months later, I was just walking around the pits at Sea Otter and stopped in to daydream about wheels. Joe Stanish walked up to me and said, "Hey, are you Kyle?" I just said hi and we started talking. It turns out he had heard some people say that I was a good kid and he asked me if I would like to run Enve wheels. I picked my jaw off of the floor and said, "Hell yeah!"
How many miles do you put on your car in a year racing North American events?
I'm not sure about miles, but I spent over 300 hours in a car last year driving to and from events. I'm pretty good at zoning out when I need to now - haha. What venues will you be racing this season?
I will be racing the full North American Enduro Tour as well as EWS rounds in Chile; Winter Park, Colorado; Whistler, BC; and possibly, Finale Ligure, Italy. Many European racers believe that US enduro events are not the real deal and that US enduro racers are too soft to contend in European venues. What's your take on that?
I think a lot of Euros see the pictures of Americans racing 29er hardtails in full spandex with goggles and knee pads and that is what they think every race is like. The image we portray is completely our fault, however, there have been a few good results in the past few years from Americans overseas and I think that we will continue to show that we are legit.
What kind of results will you be expecting this season and where do you hope to be in three years?
Growing up home-schooled in Chico, California, meant that Warner was studying hard every day - at the jumps and the skatepark - and when there was time between classes, he enrolled in extra credit courses available on the local trail network. Kyle has no plans to relocate.
Just like any racer, I want to be winning races. I feel like I have all of the ingredients to be a threat in the EWS, but I know that it takes some time to develop. This year, I want to be a consistent podium threat in the North American Enduro Tour and I want to be fully focused on competing in the EWS by 2016. I know, being 21, my body is still developing and I want to make sure that I am 100-percent ready, both mentally and physically, before I start chasing EWS overalls. How does it feel earning a living as a pro enduro racer?
All I can say is that I am really happy with life right now and that's all I can ask for. Any shoutouts to your sponsors?
I’d like to thank Marin, SR Suntour, Smith, Xpedo, Incrediwear, A Main.com, DG Stealth Hubs, SDG, Rockwell Time, Muscle Pharm, TNT Athletic Performance, Renew Float Spa, Synergy, Greenline Cycles and Mtbparks.com Prints, Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Cane Creek, Boombotix, Stages Power, MRP, Deity, Enve, Maxxis, G-Form and A'ME.
Kyle's First Megavalanche - POV of His Quali' Run and a Wild Second-Row Start