What is Freeride Mountain Biking?

You might have heard this term from a friend or on television, and now you’re wondering what is freeride mountain biking?

From the name, you can infer that it’s an activity related to mountain biking. The “freeride” in its name means that the exercise involves doing unique stunts, trick moves, and more.

You might have heard snowboarding enthusiasts using the term “freeride.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise since the term initially stemmed from them. Freeride mountain biking is an activity that provides bikers with an avenue to showcase their ingenuity and originality. Just make sure you take a look at our buying guide to find the right helmet lights for you.

It’s very adventurous and wild (to a certain extent) since you get to ride through some new, unexplored trails.

A Short History

What does freeride mean? When asking the question: what is freeride mountain biking? You also need to know about the bikes used for the activity.

When a downhill bike is tweaked in such a way that its functions can serve both downhill riding and uphill climbing, it can serve as a freeride bicycle.

There isn’t much difference between a downhill bike and a bike that’s made for freeriding. The main differences are in the weight, suspension travel, and technical trail application. Freeride bikes don’t weigh as much as downhill freeride bikes and that makes them excellent for all the engagements associated with freeriding.

So that freeride bikers with bike helmets can have an easy time deploying their bikes for stunts and more, the freeride bikes must have certain features. The two main features that are usually integrated into freeride bikes are wheelbases that aren’t so long and steeper head-angles.

What’s the Difference Between Freeride and Downhill?

Freeride vs. downhill? If you don’t pay close attention to both downhill biking and freeriding, with attention to their respective bikes, you might not notice the differences between them. This is a common error that several people make.

One major difference is in the inclination of the head-tubes and length of the wheelbase and handlebar grips. Freeride specific bikes have more head-tube inclination when compared to downhill bikes and shorter wheelbase length. The specifications are vice-versa for downhill bikes. Downhill bikes are designed so that you can safely maintain high speeds while racing down the daunting, rough mountainsides.

Bikers who are into freeriding are usually braving both artificial and natural courses. These courses usually demand a high level of tactical approach while giving bikers the chance to display their creative abilities and ingenuity.

The freeriding trails have several features in common with downhill racecourses. The freeriding trails are usually interesting because of the way man-made courses and obstacles are integrated into natural trails. These courses may include drops, make-shift wooden boards, daunting road jumps, and the likes and you won’t be able to find them on your Garmin computer.

Freeride biking usually features a lot more stunts and individual skillful displays when compared to downhill biking. This is because freeriding is primarily targeted at creating an avenue for bikers to engage in “off the ground” stunts and cycling tricks.

Features of Freeride Bikes

When looking out for freeride bikes, you should take note of the following features:


Freeride bikes are usually not as large as downhill bikes. The bike’s metallic structure is made strong with steel and aluminum fortifications. And you should make sure you know what to wear biking depending on the weather temperatures. Mountain bike freeride bikes feature some basic implementations like a single-pivot and backside suspension mechanism.

These construction features make the freeride bikes stronger; they also make them have seamless transmission. This sport is usually executed on trails that don’t favor heavy-weight or bulky bikes – freeride bikes must be light-weight.

The fork-type that can be found in freeride bikes are usually of the following specs: increased strength, single crown, and length of up to 200mm. Just like several other machines that are being made with carbon fiber, so as to meet light-weight specifications, freeride MTB bikes are also being constructed with carbon fiber and aluminum.

This has ensured that bikes constructed for freeriding are light-weight and worthy of the undulating, mountainous terrain.


If you are familiar with freeride bikes, you will notice that most of the bikes dedicated to the sport are equipped with single crown forks.

These fork-types have been integrated into bike brands like Marzocchi, RockShox, and Fox. Regardless of the single crown fork they use, they are just as efficient as the bikes that have dual crown forks.

The adoption of the single crown fork has paved the way for better bike control and even new skills. Bikes with single crown forks are really great.


You cannot equip a freeride mountain bike with the same sets of gear used in other forms of biking. There are different gearing specifications integrated into freeride bikes so you need to know how to adjust your bike gear shifter properly.

If you analyze a freeride mountain bike, you will find one of these: short range, single speed, or long range gearing.

Single Speed Mountain Bikes: The chain-ring is single-type and it’s positioned frontally – with the chain-ring sitting on the cranks. There’s also a single-type cog that’s positioned at the backside of the bike and sitting on a freehub.

Short Range Freeride Bikes: These types are equipped with frontal single-type chain-ring, cassette hub, and 10-teeth to 24-teeth cogs.

Long Range Freeride Bikes: Frontal single-type chain-ring, set of cogs at the backside.

Gearing is very important and goes a long way to boost the efficiency of the bikes.


Now you should have a smooth experience as a beginner in the sport.

There are several opportunities for bikers to be creative, wear padded mountain bike shorts and display their individual ingenuity. The trails that are naturally associated with freeride biking are somewhat similar to downhill courses.

However, the bikes for freeriding are quite different from those for downhill biking. You need to get familiar with the features and functions of freeride bikes so that you can have an easy time riding them later on.

If you still have any questions on what freeride mountain biking is, feel free to drop us a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not out doing about every kind of biking and experiencing the occasional tumble. Ready to share the ride with you.

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