Kyle Ebbett is a professional freeride mountain biker who has planted roots here in VT while he travels to design and build some of the most rowdy gravity trails and courses around. When not stylin’ it up on his backyard jumps or devising plans for the next course to challenge the world’s best pros, he’s often found riding or digging with, and inspiring, the next generation of riders right here in VT. It’s been rumored that Kyle is in fact a full 8ft tall, but all we know is that the legendary freerider was kind enough to give us the inside scoop on his one-handed manuals so we could finally stop watching his old-school video segments to figure them out… Keep up with him at KyleEbbett.com
Photo: Dave Smutok
Kyle’s Quick facts
Type(s) of MTB riding you do: I’m an all MTB’er! I ride big mountain, street, dirt jump, trials, and XC! I love racing DS, DH, 4X, Enduro, and Dual trials.
Current hometown: Essex, VT
How long have you been playing on two wheels?: I started early like 4 or 6? Not sure… But I know I was hooked from the start. No training wheels, I was out riding with my older brother and his friends, and they were five years older than me.
Sponsors: Scott bikes, Rock Shox, SRAM, Avid, Truvativ, SDG, Mavic, Royal Gear, Schwalbe, Native, MRP, FSA, and Five Ten shoes.
MTBVT: They tell us you are a seasoned veteran in MTB scene. Describe your early days riding.
Kyle: I have been riding and racing mountain bikes for 16- 18 years. I started out at small races around New England and worked my way up to the world cup level in 4X and DH racing under a factory tent. When I switched to freeride, I made a quick rise to the top by winning events and making podiums around the world. I also competed in the famous CrankWorx Whistler many times with good results. I built a training facility with a foam pit in my yard. All this while shooting a bunch of videos with DH productions, and others. Cranked Six was a big one for me. I traveled to Switzerland for like a month and rode gnarly DH with crazy exposure that would kill you for sure if you fell. We also shot in Vermont! It was My first shoot in Vermont and Knight Ide let me build the biggest jumps I could fit in his yard. We also shot at my local secret spot. There is now footage of Cam Zink on NBC super seat flipping the big dub I built in Knight’s yard, so I get stoked when I see that.
MTBVT: How did you get involved?
Kyle: I was a tech school auto body grad, and thought I was on track for a life of fixing cars… Then my best friend Larry lost his drivers license, and he got a mountain bike to get around. My dad had a MTB that I borrowed and went on rides with Larry. Wow! We got hooked quick and that’s all we did. I quit my job at the body shop and got a job at a bike shop.
Who were your co-conspirators?
Brewster bike, and Larry. They were the ones that pushed me to be better every day.
MTBVT: When did you realize there may be a career in these sort of shenanigans?
Kyle: I never thought like that. I was just living life and riding… But one day my older brother and I were watching the “Kamikaze” on TV. It’s a two man race down Mammoth mountain. He looked over at me and said “you can beat these guys.” I wasn’t thinking that, but when the big bro speaks I listen! Game on! I started training and doing local races.
MTBVT: Favorite VT trail or trail system when you first arrived on the scene 12 years ago and now?
Kyle: I moved to Vermont 12 years ago and was really scared because I always thought the riding season was short and muddy… Well I was way wrong! I moved to Richmond first and was still traveling too much to find and ride all the good spots. I live in Essex now and I’m surrounded by amazing trails and jump parks! I travel less and have found myself in the NEK a lot. But my favorite out the door ride is Saxon Hill, they have it all over there! Thanks to the Fellowship of the Wheel and all their hard work!
MTBVT: What brought you to Vermont, and what convinced you to set your tires down here for a while?
Kyle: I met my amazing Vermont made wife Donna Fletcher on the DH racing circuit, she is amazing! She grew up racing on skis and was nuts on a DH bike! She won many times on the gnarliest courses, jumped the biggest gaps! So I moved to Vermont to be with her. Now we are married and I’m in complete love with her and this great state!
MTBVT: By the way, what was your first mountain bike, and what’s usually between your legs these days?
Kyle: My first MTB was not mine nor was my 2nd… It wasn’t till I destroyed my dad’s bike and my big bro’s, I finally found a way to buy my own! I went all out and ordered a GT Zaskar. The frame was big but I am 6’5″, I just didn’t know I was going to be a dirt jumping down hill shredder at the time. These days I mostly ride my DH bike and my dirt jumper. I like to XC ride but always want my DH bike when I get to the top of a mountain. I like to call my DH bike my powder skis!
MTBVT: Who inspires you to shred/pedal/monitor your heart rate?
Kyle: Myself… sounds weird but who else is going to push me more? Oh yeah my wife!
MTBVT: Machine built, bench cut, or classic rake ‘n ride?
Kyle: All of the above! I believe in making trails as amazing as possible. MTB’ers hate golfers… But golfers take them to school when it comes to etiquette and maintenance! It’s a joke. They fix their divots and rake the bunkers. If I ran a resort trail system it would be buffed out every day! And there would be grass and flowers everywhere. I would also educate people on trail etiquette and how to fix their (divots) berm blow outs and (rake the bunkers) clean sticks and rocks off the trail that you caused. Yes, there are some people that are clueless that they just blew out a turn or left a big ass case mark on a landing of a jump. But one day I hope we stop this.
Photo: Dave Smutok
MTBVT: Your brain tumor was a traumatic ordeal and well publicized. You look good, no noticeable holes in your noggin and all. How are you doing now? Was that the hardest recovery you have gone through?
Kyle: Traumatic… Yes! We all go though shit, but I was not expecting that one. So I was shocked, and I think all my friends were too. A lot of my friends work in the media so they printed the story. I’m doing well now! I still go and get MRI scans to check on what they couldn’t remove with the surgery to make sure it’s not growing back. I have also changed my diet to a plant based diet too! This crap food being made and sold by the big companies needs to be stopped. Look in the mirror America! Not just the fat ones. Cuz I’m a skinny person. And I’m not just talking fast food, I’m talking about all of it! It’s all so bad!
MTBVT: What’s the wildest thing that’s happened to you while riding?
Kyle: That’s a book. But one that stands out is when I was just making this climb and at the top I was completely spent and there was a dude in complete camo, bow hunting. I was clipped in and just fell over in shock. He never said a thing and just moved on. I was freaked.
MTBVT: Favorite food or drink for a pre-ride charge-up?
Kyle: Chocolate protein shake made with rice milk, and a banana.
MTBVT: Favorite post-ride destination?
Kyle: My house for a amazing home cooked meal, and a Long Trail beer!
MTBVT: You have turned a number of local youth onto the riding scene. Any promising young rippers loitering around your house lately?
Kyle: I don’t know about a number of… But there have been a few. Dave Smutok was just a youngster with broken bikes and a bunch of talent when I first met him in the early 2000’s. I noticed he was talented and determined to make something out of himself. So I used to hook him up with parts and frames and help him get to places and in videos. That all worked out cuz he’s the man now! Lately I have been working with Ryan McEvoy, he is a lot like Smutok. Talent though the roof, hard worker, and determined! Oddly they both do amazing super men, and when Smutok used to flip they were the same as McEvoy’s big and high as hell! And they are both short. Haha. Plus they both rip DH too!
MTBVT: Favorite grade of VT maple syrup?
Kyle: I’m lucky on this one, because my in laws are maple farmers. So grade A, and fancy are always in stock at my house! We also stock some dark amber for cooking. I also think we should not change the names of our maple grades too. It’s just a trick so these other states can market their crappy syrup as the same quality as Vermont’s. It’s not and never will be!
MTBVT: Do you have a signature move, you know, like scorpion in mortal combat or something?
Kyle: I have a few, but I might get the most from my one handed manuals, and back flip to manual.
MTBVT: Recently you’ve been more involved with course design and announcing at freeride and slopestyle events. Got any big plans in the near future to blow some minds?
Kyle: I do most of my building around the globe, but I am trying to get settled down here in Vermont. P.S. If there is a mountain in VT that wants a top quality MTB program, I’m in! Call me! KyleEbbett.com
MTBVT: What course design are you most proud of?
Kyle: Being part of the first groomed DH trail at Burke Mountain, “Knight Slayer”! That place is amazing and I hope to do more over there! I originally designed Knight Slayer for DH bikes, and the ability to still have fun on short travel bikes. Some how it got switched to a short travel trail that you can still have fun on a DH bike. I hope to get back at that trail to fix it, and make it safe and flowy again… And of course some new upgrades!
Photo: Ben Haulenbeek
Bonus Question: MTBVT’s Thibault tells us that you may have recently stained Dave Smutok’s white carpet. Any idea what you have been eating that would paint such a beautiful hue of pink on the floor? And Dave says you owe him 50 bucks!
Kyle: Yeah that’s totally Thibault’s fault! Haha. Dave got his $48.50 and it’s all good. The truth is… it was at S’Ender Bash at Highland Mountain Bike Park. I rode all day and didn’t eat much and went straight to the party. Well I had to much beer and couldn’t find the bathroom in Dave’s apartment and Thibault just watched apparently…?…as I got sick about two feet from the bathroom door and one foot from the kitchen floor on Dave’s carpet. It happens… But I will say I was dirt jumping that morning by 10am!