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Freeriding on a hardtail freeride bike.

For other uses, see Free ride (disambiguation).

Freeride is a relatively new discipline of mountain biking, combining different aspects of the sport such as downhill and dirtjumping which has progressed rapidly in recent years, and is now recognized as one of the most popular disciplines within mountain biking.

The term is a derivative of freeriding, which originally came from snowboarding and is now also used in other sports including skiing, windsurfing, snowmobiling and Jet skiing. The original concept of freeriding was that there were no set course, goals or rules to abide by.

The original freeride bikes were modified downhill bikes which utilized gearing that enabled the rider to go up hills as well as down them. Modern freeride bikes are similar to downhill bikes, but feature slightly less suspension travel and are lighter - which enables them to be ridden not just downhill but through more technical sections, such as North Shore obstacles. Additionally, most freeride bikes feature slightly steeper headangles and shorter wheelbases than pure downhill bikes to facilitate maneuverability on slower, technical sections of trail. A few specialist riders have embraced the sport from their humble routes in dirt jumping, these riders include Darren Berrecloth, Cam Zink, Patrick Taylor and Jack "Tommo" Thompson

Ski areas have started to embrace the sport of MTB freeriding, adding bike racks to chairlifts to create "lift accessed mountain biking". This helps keep ski areas profitable year round, and gives the bikers the ability to ride more runs in less time.

Differences between downhilling and freeriding[]

File:Freeride Mountain Biking.jpg

Hitting a jump at a freeride trail in Kansas City.

Due to similarities with the bicycles used and often the riding locations, the divisions between downhill riding and freeriding are often overlooked. For example freeride bikes have steeper head tube angles and shorter wheelbases for low-speed stability on technical stunts, while downhill bikes have slacker headtube angles and longer wheelbases for absolute high-speed stability at the cost of low-speed maneuverability. Downhill riding is primarily concerned with descending a slope on a given course as quickly as possible. There are often many obstacles in downhill riding, including jumps, drops, and rocky sections.

Freeride is, by definition, a much broader realm of riding. For example, a freerider may often ride a very narrow wooden plank raised as many as twenty five feet above the ground, drop off of cliffs, raised platforms, or other man-made or natural objects onto a landing, or "transition" up to forty feet below. This may involve jumping over a structure below, such as a road or highway. Many aspects of freeriding are similar to downhill riding, with wide open speed and technical and very steep sections, or dirt jumping, with a series of man-made jumps and landings. Another key difference is the emphasis on performing tricks or stylish riding stances while airborne. A freeride course can be compared to a skatepark, where the purpose of the trail is to provide ample opportunities for the rider to become airborne, throw tricks, and create new and imaginative lines on and over the terrain.

Main features of freeride bikes[]

Frame is made usually of aluminium alloys and/or steel, and usually smaller build compared to a downhill bike. It is almost always equipped with rear suspension systems, and many manufacturers still rely on simpler systems (i.e. single-pivot) in order to preserve strength and un-interrupted suspension travel. Freeride frames can also be lighter (where weight is an important consideration) than downhill frames, with these bikes being designated freeride lite and may come equipped with the new, oversized "onepointfive"(inch) head tube standard, in order to cater for increasing demand for stronger, long-travel(150-180 mm), single crown forks. There also exists a burlier breed of freeride bicycles. These bikes are designed for weight-no-object strength and reliability rather than lighter weight.
Single crown forks are now more popular. Companies such as Fox, Answer Products(Manitou), Marzocchi and RockShox, introduced them with very similar strength to their dual crown counterparts, with the immense advantage of being single crown. This enables a significantly narrower steering diameter, and, more recently, airborne tricks such as 'barspin' or 'tailwhip', at the expense of torsional rigidity. This enables the bike to be used in a variety of ways.

The North Shore[]


Dirt Jumping at a professional Freeride contest in Seattle, Washington.

Template:Details The sport has spread across the planet, but the widely recognized starting point for the addition of man-made obstacles for downhill trails is Vancouver, British Columbia's "North Shore".[citation needed] This refers to three mountains across the Burrard Inlet from downtown Vancouver, Mount Seymour, Mt. Fromme, and Cypress Mountain. The mountains weren't the first places to have downhill trails with natural obstacles, but they were one of the first places to have man-made obstacles such as skinny bridges and teeter totters. The trail builders also embraced many natural features too, using fallen logs to ride on and rocks faces to jump or ride down. They didn't take out that much nature to make their trails, leaving some tree roots exposed to give the rider a bumpy but fun trail to ride.

Trails on the North Shore are mostly described as "technical". This means that the trails corners are tight and the tread strewn of natural obstacles such as rocks and roots. These sections require quick-thinking to navigate, because roots often get slippery in the wintertime.

The "shore" has seen some controversy. Most of the trails are built on private property or parkland. In a highly publicised "War of the Woods" BC Parks cracked down on the trails and started to fine mountain bikers and one trailbuilder was caught in the act and prosecuted. A major voice in the conflict in North Vancouver District was councillor Ernie Crist, who had been lobbying for the closing of all the trails on Mt. Fromme. Housing developments at the base of the mountains complain of bikers going across their lawns etc. The expansion of the residential areas called for the destruction of some trails on Cypress Mountain, and also there were cases of "sabotage" to the trails (such as the removal of bridge supports etc.).

North Shore Mountain Biking Association (NSMBA)[]

To help promote biking and keep the trails open there is an advocacy group, the North Shore Mountain Biking Association (NSMBA). They negotiate with landowners, organize volunteers to maintain the trails and hold races.

Some of the most famous riders have gotten together and filmed their stunts, tricks, and shenanigans. The most famous of the batch including North Shore Extreme, The Collective, Kranked, and the New World Disorder series.

See also[]

  • Mountain bike
  • Mountain biking
  • Lift accessed mountain biking
  • Freeride mountain-biking movies


Sources:"Mountain Bike Action" magazine,"Decline"magazine,"Dirt Rag" magazine,and "Bike "magazine.

External links[]

Template:Cb start Template:Mountain bike racing Template:Cb end

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