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Riders looking to log some serious airtime in the bike park, shred the gnar on a secret trail or send it big time on a homemade booter will feel right at home aboard a freeride specific frame. With between 6 and 8 inches of travel, short chainstays, forgiving head angles, and low top tubes, these frames allow riders to push their limits on every ride. Freeride frames are also quite versatile and will happily do downhill runs as well as the occasional trail ride.
Freeride frames can be categorized according to the type of suspension linkage they use and the amount of travel they have. Starting with linkage type, frames use either single pivot, four bar linkage or virtual pivot designs, depending on manufacturer preference. The amount of travel a freeride frame has will greatly affect the way it performs on the trail. Long travel models are better suited to large jumps, downhill runs and bike parks, whereas shorter travel versions excel on steeper "trick" jumps, facilitate throwing tricks and can be better used on trail rides.
The most common way to size a freeride bike is the horizontal distance between the center of the head tube and the center of the seat tube. This measure is called 'effective top tube length' and sometimes 'horizontal top tube length'. The taller you are, the longer the top tube you'll want. In general, riders more than 5'11" tall ride large freeride frames.
Most manufacturers provide suggested sizing charts, and because models vary so much between categories, we recommend searching for the chart specific to the bike you're interested in. It's important to note that everyone has different riding preferences, so it's best to test out a variety of sizes before making a final decision.General Freeride MTB Size Chart
|Bike Size||Small||Medium||Large||Extra Large|
|Rider Height||< 5'8"||5'7"-6'||5'11"-6'4"||> 6'3"|
The overall feel of a bike is largely dependent on what material(s) the frame is made of, so this is an important consideration.
Aluminum - Aluminum is light, stiff, and affordable, making it the most commonly used frame material. Because it is so stiff, aluminum bikes are characterized by a slightly rougher ride than those made from chromoly or titanium.
Carbon Fiber - Carbon fiber is basically very thin strands of carbon that can be twisted and woven together, like cloth. To make carbon fiber take on a permanent shape, it can be layered over a mold, then coated with a stiff resin or plastic. It is among the lightest materials and is commonly used for high-end cross-country and all-mountain bikes. More recently it has found its way into some downhill and freeride frames. Because carbon technology is advancing very quickly, costs are being lowered and durability is increasing.
Chromoly Steel - Chromoly (a steel alloy) is lighter than high-tensile steel, strong, responsive, and offers a relatively supple ride. However, it is heaver than aluminum, carbon, and titanium.
Material Combinations - If a frame is made of more than one material, it is usually carbon fiber and a metal - either steel, aluminum, or titanium. Material blends are not common, but constructing various parts of a frame from different materials is (ie - a carbon fiber front triangle with an aluminum swingarm). A frame made out of more than one material can help provide better stiffness, compliance, or damping in specific areas.
When choosing a freeride frame, it is important to note the headtube, bottom bracket and rear hub size required to fit with your parts. Oversized headtubes are a common trait on freeride frames, as many are designed to accommodate long travel single-crown forks. Freeride frames often use 83mm bottom brackets, which is the standard for downhill designs as well. In order to withstand the abusive nature of freeriding, most frames are equipped with oversized rear hub dimensions.
Freeride frames range in price from $600 to $3500.
In the $600-$1500 range, models are available in both long and short travel versions and use four bar or single pivot suspension designs. These frames offer great value for riders looking to upgrade to a freeride specific bike.
Moving up to the $1500-$2500 range, frames begin to incorporate more sophisticated multi-link suspension designs, superior rear shock technology and reduced frame weight. This range offers a balance of value and performance for more dedicated riders.
Finally, the $2500-$3500 price range offers top of the line models, in all types and with every suspension design, but in an extremely lightweight and carefully constructed package.
Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.
We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.
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