We are often asked what is the difference between downhill mountain biking and freeride mountain biking and with the start of the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour this coming weekend, April 10th in Vienna, Austria we thought some explanation would be appreciated.
Due to similarities with the bicycles used and often the riding locations, the divisions between downhill riding and freeriding are often overlooked. But first let us quickly examine the differences between the disciplines. First the bikes – freeride has 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 sections, technical and very steep elements to the course and 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 provides ample opportunities for the rider to become airborne, throw tricks, and create new and imaginative lines on and over the terrain.
Above is a typical freeride bike – the Rocky Mountain RMX R2 freeride bike
As you can see in the video below from ToEjaMxD the guys involved in freeriding get up to some seriously extreme challenges – this is a seriously extreme sport and not for the faint hearted.
In the past six months the pro athletes, organizers and leaders from the sport have been making their contribution to the formation of the Freeride Mountain Bike (FMB) World Tour – which will start this weekend in Vienna.
The aim of the tour is to reach a professional standard and raise the event to a more consistent and safer level. Throughout the years Freeride Mountain Bike has become a dynamic sport with many skilled contestants competing in different categories. By making this next step it will be considered as an elite sport.
The Vienna Air King launches the brand new Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour as its kick off event and welcomes almost 60 riders from 14 nations, including not only European countries, but also the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
The competitors of the Vienna Air King have to show some hard rocking tricks and combinations on the course to secure themselves a part of the cash and goods prizes – a total of 10,000 euros is up for grabs so it is not so surprising that the event has attracted so many well known names including Martin Soderstrom of Sweden, last years winner, Alyokhin Pavel, Sam Pilgrim, Jan Toth, Amir Kabbani and Jamie Goldman.
There are two pre-qualification runs on Friday, April 9th. The ten best riders of the pre-qualifications make their way to the next round on Saturday, April 10th. These ten riders compete together with 20 invited pros from all over the world and have two runs each, to show their best tricks. The 15 riders with the highest scores will make their way in to the finals.
The course features a starting tower with a drop to secure the speed for three massive dirt jumps and a quarterpipe at the very end. The riders show spectacular tricks like backflips, tailwhips, flipwhips and many more. They will be judged on the difficulty of the tricks, execution of those tricks and their overall impression.
As you can see in the video from redbull it is not only the freeriding which attracts the attention. Last year there were more than 100,000 visitors and it is likely to be the same again this year. The event also features many stalls for mountain biking kit and on the Saturday afternoon there will be a best tricks competition. If you are in Vienna at the weekend this is a must attend event.
We are delighted by the formation of the Freeride Mountain Bike Tour and will enjoy bringing you our readers news of this extreme sport.