Freeride

: "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 recognised 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 and windsurfing. The original concept of freeriding was that there was 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 more 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.

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

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 a 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 bicycles

- Frame: frame is made usually of aluminium alloys and/or steel, and it is characteristically of 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(150-180mm), 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. Freeride is after all, mainly a gravity-oriented pursuit. Freeride bikes usually tend to offer between 6-8 inches (150-200mm) of suspension "travel".

- Fork: as aforementioned, single crown forks are now more popular. This is due to the fact that companies such as Answer Products(Manitou), Marzocchi and RockShox, have successfully managed to introduce such forks which possess very similar strength qualities as their dual crown counterparts, while having the immense advantage of being single crown - thus enabling significantly wider steering diameter, and, more recently, airborne tricks such as 'barspin' or 'tailwhip'. However, some companies still rely on the more traditional, albeit heavier dual-crown format.

The North Shore

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". This refers to three mountains across the Burrard Inlet from downtown Vancouver, Mount Seymour, Mt. Fromme, and Mount Cypress. 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 councillor Ernie Crist, who recently has 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 Mount Cypress, 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 The Collective, "Kranked", and the New World Disorder series.

ee also

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

External links

* [http://www.radical-films.com/ Radical Films] "Kranked" Series
* [http://www.nsmb.com NSMB.com] E.magazine based on the North Shore Mountain Biking Scene
* [http://brmba.org BRMBA] Black Rock Mountain Biking Association (Oregon trail advocacy group and builders/stewards of the Black Rock freeride trails in Falls City, Oregon)
* [http://gfra.org GFRA] Gorge Free Ride Association (Oregon trail advocacy group and builders/stewards of the Post Canyon freeride trails in Hood River, Oregon)
* [http://www.freer1d3.com Freer1d3.com] Freeride and Downhill specific search engine
* [http://www.hickhucksters.com/ Hick Hucksters] Website promoting Freeriding in North Carolina
* [http://www.clemsonfreeride.com] A college group promoting mountain biking through freeride venues in the Southeast US
* [http://www.bonesovermetal.com/ Bones Over Metal] Video Magazine covering Freeriding, Downhill and Dirt Jumping
* [http://www.pinkbike.com/ Pinkbike.com] Website featuring news, pictures, forums, videos etc of all mountain biking disciplines, particularly the extreme ones
* [http://www.asilvertouch.com/ asilvertouch.com] E-zine featuring mountain bike events, product reviews and biking news.
* [http://www.shredbook.com/browse.php?cat=Bike&showBNav=true Shredbook.com] Biking Terminology and Slang.


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