|Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
|I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.
First I should define what a "freeride" bike is. It must handle moderately high drop offs. How high you ask? I'd say 6 feet, no more. If you're dropping more than that, you'll need a downhill bike. A "freeride" bike should have at least two front chainrings and a front derailer for climbing up hills. Riser handlebars are also a must.
"Freeride" bikes are designed for aggressive riders that constantly break their traditional mountain bikes. This new style bike will never climb as well as a XC bike and it will never descend like a DH bike. Why then are they so popular?
Advertisers will have you think that this type of bike should have 5 or more inches of travel, and a triple clamp front fork. It should climb almost as well as a XC bike and descend like a DH. You may think a "freeride" will weigh in well over 30 lbs. It should have a bad ass name, Huge tires, wide rims, and disc brakes.
What shouldn't a "freeride" bike have? I'm not sure. I guess it all depends on who you are. Is a properly equipped XC bike capable of performing as well as a "freeride" bike? I think so. As a matter of fact, I think some XC bikes are better suited for some people for freeriding. I hate to say this, but I think a lot of people own new generation "extreme" bikes just to look cool.
I noticed an advertisement for a freeride fork in a recent magazine: a female model wearing a leather bikini is displaying a "freeride" suspension fork between her legs. The add reads "7" of pure pleasure." Unbelievable! How about DH racer, Cedric Gracia, completely naked doing a hand stand or the helmet ad that says "I want to die" that shows a rider dropping off a huge cliff. Tons of money is spent these days on promoting this so-called "freeride" scene.
Is everyone this insecure? Will other riders laugh at me when I roll up with my 4" travel bike? Since this "new school" scene has been around, I purchased an Independent Fabrications cyclo cross bike with all intentions to spank everyone on the trails with long travel suspension bikes. I was somewhat successful. I definitely risked my life trying to hammer warp speeds on a dropped bar hardtail. I deeply enjoy this activity, but I now truly appreciate full suspension. Everyone should ride without suspension at least once so not to take shocks for granted.
Is the "freeride" bike a fad? Absolutely not! They're a great bike for all around riding. They will save your ass when you ride over your head. They are more durable than XC bikes and are a lot more fun to ride aggressively. Will the weight become a drag? Suck it up. You may climb a bit slower, but you will ride everything else better! And most importantly, look cool doing it!
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