Free Riders... Gravity freaks or just too slow for downhill?


Staff member
Their bikes are getting heavier, travel getting longer, wheels are getting smaller. It is clear that free riding is now a very popular sport. However I do have a question: Are free riders simply guys/gals that couldnt cut it in the downhill scene?.... or have they just decided that screaming down a hill in the fastest possible time is not what they call fun anymore?


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I can see this topic is gonna cause some arguments, but thats a good thing right. Anyway, I reckon there is a lot of freeriders who are freeriders and have never eveb had a go at downhill cause it's not exactly theier cup o tea, but i still think , that undoutedly, there are more freeriders out there who had dreams of being a top pro downhill, but quite simply never made it, so they decided to switch to something that would give them them recognition they're after. Look at Red Bull ride results, stacked full of downhillers, and for 1 reason, they ARE better riders, they always will be.


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I agree, i think the DH'ers have more ability than the a lot of the freeriders, as you said, a top DH rider can enter a Freeride comp, and be very competitive, but you don't see too many Freeriders placing highly in World Cup rounds.


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I think Nathan rennie said it best in the redbull ride,
Interviewer "What do you think of freeriding"
Rennie "I don't think of it as freeriding, it is just riding"

We all ride, go out and jump our bike, try NS, ride a bit of xc occasionly. Freeriding to me is just another word for riding.
One thing I do like about "freeriding" though is that events like redbull ride occur. I love those events cause it isn't like dh where it is the first one to the bottom. It tests the riders skills in jumping, balance, control, speed and style. All these skills must be shown to the judges convincingly. In dh racing, all these features are there, but the emphasis is on speed. Great event in my opinion, but I hate seeing cash being pulled out of the dh racing scene to sponsor "freeriders"


Staff member
Turley said:
...but I hate seeing cash being pulled out of the dh racing scene to sponsor "freeriders"
I've seen this too. I'm worried that freeriding is pulling too much money out of DH.


Eats Squid
Dh vs Freeriding

Yeah im with Turley..

and i agree with the above comments
I think Dher's will always be " Better Riders " Skill wise.

Kurt Vories is now doing this All Ride Campain .. hes hooked up this massive deal with Fox clothing and a trailor .. and Kurt is doing DH 4X Freeride Jump Shows - ALL RIDE get it ?

i found it interesting though that at the aussie redbull ride that all the dher's kicked the free riders asses ???? do the dher's have better balance better control .. better line judgement ???

The the infamous Bender comes up .. alot of people give that dude crap .. but if you actually looked into his past .. hes not a bad dher .. he can jump very very well .. i think hes just been unlucky with a few hucks .. given him a bad name.

But i beleive there are alot of people who just couldnt care about personal safety and are doing free ride because it's easier then being good at DH..

Im all for another area of this sport free riding is cool .. and everything but when People like Sean Mccarroll and a truck load of others pro's miss out on contracts due to Teams running out of money etc etc .. it pisses me off cause Redbull dump heaps of cash into Free riding and those kinda shows. But this brings up another debate .. about specatator freindlyness .. its easier to film a free ride contest then a DH event .. and people wana see Carnage .. people eating shit .. not the awesome skills of our Pro Dhers ..

It's one of those things .. i personally prefer to watch a DH event .. watching Jared , Mick CK .. and even the compeitive pro's hammer through that rock garden and manage to line up for the next corner .. that was awesome .. i could watch it all day .. Mick hannah was farkin insane through there in his qualy run.

Interesting thread though makes for good arguments.

- dom :twisted:


Interesting topic, while it is sad to see money disappearing from DH, I figure any publicity generated for our sport be it thru DH, freeride comps, XC, whatever has got to be good for the development of the sport and the sweet sweet technology we all love.
You'd have to assume that "freeriders" have decided that what they do is more fun than riding DH competitively, I mean, people don't do things unless they're fun, except for roadies.
I think the whole "freeride" moniker is just a colossal wank though, most if not all of the guys I know who ride do DH, jump, ride skateparks and street and no-one calls it freeriding, I agree with that quote from Rennie, it's just riding.
Who's the most skillful? Hard to say, obivously riding skinnies and hucking 40 foot cliffs takes skill (and testicles the size of grapefruit) but so does bombing a rock garden or railing a crazy off-camber corner, seeing the pros hitting the rock garden at Fellcrag blew my mind too, Hannah was out of control, I didn't even have time to get my camera focused before he blew past me. I'd have to say the pro DH'ers win it though, the past 2 Redbull events (The ride and the Rampage) have shown that pro downhillers have no problems mixing it up with the best pro freeriders and, in the case of the Redbull Ride, putting them to shame.
Consider my 2 cents given.


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i reckon freeriders and dh riders are just as skilled as each other, but freeriding is about being able to do what you want when you want. i think fr comps are free of the pressure of the whole race/speed thing - if the stuff somethin up they can go back and try it again. okay, there are usually time constraints, but even so its usually something like 5 or 10 minutes to complete the course and riders are usually well inside that.

i don't think dh is any easier than fr, mainly because the skills are usually applied differently - when was the last time you saw a 26-foot drop in a dh race? fr seems to be dh gone mad, but so what?

pana, whats the deal with "Free Riders... Gravity freaks or just too slow for downhill?" isn't that something akin to saying "Downhillers... Gravity freaks or just too unfit for cross country"? i don't mean to offend anyone, but i reckon there'd be a few people out there who think this

really, who cares which discipline you do so long as people are enjoying it?


Staff member
zac said:
pana, whats the deal with "Free Riders... Gravity freaks or just too slow for downhill?" isn't that something akin to saying "Downhillers... Gravity freaks or just too unfit for cross country"? i don't mean to offend anyone, but i reckon there'd be a few people out there who think this
Good point, I dont necessarily share the view that i projected in my post.. I just found it to be a good point for discussion as I know it is an issue discussed regularly by alot of people. I myself, am slightly biased towards DH naturally cause thats what I do (like the whole holden vs ford war). When it comes down to it, we're all pretty much in the same sport and we all do it for pretty much the same reason.

It's damn fun :p


Super Moderator
First of all i hate the term freeriding and i hate freeriders. The people who call themselves freeriders are crap riders, all they can do is huck off stuff. I have respect for wade simmons and a few others because he can actually ride and shows he has skills. Robbie Bourden has nothing and bender can't ride. Sorry Dom but as far as i know bender dosn't have a history in mtb's. All he does is huck and crash and i've never seen him jump properly. There is no way he is a good dh rider, he looks shit on a bike! If you can give me evidence i'll think about it.

Some people use freeriding as a term for just going out and riding and having fun which is cool. Dh'ers have way more skills and if freeriders did they'd be winning world cups. You need lots of bike handling skills for dh thats why they win the freeride comps and i'm not saying the red bull rampage. It was a huck fest, didn't show any skills, just how stupid you were. The aussie one required skill to ride thats why dh'ers won.

My two cents.


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Riding is riding, who cares about definitions.

Aslong as I'm on the bike im pretty dam happy. And i also think there should be way more money pushed into mtb' general.

go huck yourself, go do some farkin dh runs, or go ride up some hills, its all fun on a bike :D

super 8



Just to let you guys know I call myself a freerider as I come from a Skateboarding background to me its not about how fast I can go down a track its about picking bumps, drops, hucks jumps what ever I see in my way is a trick waiting to happen. I have been Freeriding now for about 3 years.

However I went in my first Downhill comp on the weekend at Fellgrag
must admit it wont be my last. I'm not there to compete because I'm 30+
and know that these young guys have more energy and are less likely to break than I, but I will be competiting from now on just to ride the new tracks.

I would still like to see some big drops and jumps in the races cause that
to me is freeriding popin tricks no footers, onehanders etc.

Anyway just my opinion

Thanks Later



Division One
Iam one of thoes people that says freeriders have know skill but thay do to some pont i mean it must take some to huck your self 50ft and not die when you crash. And after meeting all the guys at the red bull ride it became aparent that the only ones i liked or had the time of day to talk to you (in the bar or should i say talk shit with you its all the same when your drunk). were the guys that race DH or come from bmx dirt jump back ground. (iam not trying to name people if you havent guessed yet).

The said part about the freeride story is it may be the way of the future in regards to world wide coverage for the sport of mountain bikeing with lots of people doing freeride comps on the side of raceing. Also it seems the only money comeing in to the sport is from companys that sponsor people to freeride.

These days in Dh your on a good deal in
DH if you dont have to pay for any thing and come back home and work your ass of to get back for the next year.

Yes its kick ass that espn and espn2 are on like a 3 year deal with DH for the norba's but i dont think its going to have a huge impact world wide but hay i could be worng and i probably am lets hope so.


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Re: Dh vs Freeriding

DOM said:
The the infamous Bender comes up .. alot of people give that dude crap .. but if you actually looked into his past .. hes not a bad dher .. he can jump very very well .. i think hes just been unlucky with a few hucks .. given him a bad name.
Would you say that Bender is a good example of the freeriders tho? From what i've seen from New World Disorder, and New World Disorder II, he seems to be one of the riders who does these jumps for publicity and recognition, rather than self accomplishment and personal enjoyment. Or maybe he's just into some serious self punishment.


Maybe he is an idiot, maybe he just has gigantic hairy nuts, but imho no-one has the right to say he's shit / unskilled / whatever until you've had a go yourself at hucking 50ft drops.


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no-one should be denying his guts, holy shit...but i wonder if he has crashed to many times on big hucks and affected his state of thinking! lol

Sarah Wixom

Cannon Fodder
I am a freelance photographer, with a limited amount of serious trail time and no racing under my belt. Therefore my view on things is more of an outsiders view.

It is hard for any photographer to "get the angle" at any type of organized event, and difficult again for any freelance photographer to get published even if they do get the angle. Therefore, I mostly stay away from organized events, and I don't have much experience with people who only race. However, I have spent time with people who are at varying degrees of "freerider", so that is where my point of view has been developed.

Vic Marlow is a perfect example of a DH'er that went freeride and is faster than most freeriders he hangs with. If you watch 'Statement', you will see a speed difference especially in Vic's helmet cam footage. He is so fast and smooth that as you watch his section, it is unbelievable that the footage is not sped-up. He keeps tight to his bike, and his bike just floats over rocky trail and through technical turns.

Other riders that have focused on only freeriding their entire biking experience seem to take things a little slower going down the course, but they also seem to focus on putting more personality (x-up or tabletops) into their air time...they seem to try to pull more air time out of even small lips... thus making their "course" time even slower.

In Bender's case, during the time that Thor was shooting with him, Bender would put only 4 or 5 pedal strokes in before each huck. Not many people give Bender credit for style in the air, but his willingness to "Put some duct tape on it and keep goin' big" should count for a lot. It is doubtful that the current crop of freeriding "huckers" would be going as big if Bender hadn't paved the way.

I am simply a big fan of bike riders. Whether you are racing for time, hucking off insane cliffs or just flying down your favorite trail, etc... as long as you are pushing yourself and having fun, that is what counts.

-Sarah Wixom