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how much further can freeriding go?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I just spent 10 days on the road, visiting Interbike in Las Vegas, riding the DH, DS and DJ courses at Boulder City NV, and hanging in Virgin UT with J Bender, riding sick DH & watching the Red Bull Rampage freeride championship.

20 yrs old Tyler Klassen from near Vancouver BC clinched the Rampage with some sick runs that included some very scary drops on the most scenic of terrains. In just one calendar year since the first Rampage, freeride mtb has leapt forward by light years.

Klassen wasn't alone in his amazing drop skills. His lines were near vert and full of technical challenge. Grand Junction CO's prized DH racer Lance Canfield took some very alpine skiing-type runs at the terrain, with big carves on ultrasteeps. I kept thinking of Nobis, Ulmer, etc while watching him. Same with Australia's DH racer Andrew Mills.

In short, freeride mtb has caught up with extreme alpine skiing, in a big way. There is almost no way to have another year of similarly rampant skills and courage growth... the end result would be deaths during competition.

Next season's mtb films covering this 2002 riding season will be chock full of the sick lines and moves at this year's Red Bull Rampage. My advance cautionary notice: I saw some vid footage before leaving Virgin UT, and can tell you that the film rendering leaves out a lot of the technical detail, and certainly makes the terrain seem smaller and smoother. A 30-foot canal gap appears on the vids to be no more than 5-7 feet wide. Insane.

Just when I thought I was advancing far in freeriding, along come these obnoxious top riders to set me back about 1,000 paces. :
post #2 of 10
I used to be around people like that in skiing, motorcycles, and cars and the things they can do seem beyond human capability. If I tried some of it I would either piss my pants or get seriously wounded.
post #3 of 10
Gonz - Never say "no way". I can see the sport progressing much in the same fashion as extreme skiing. I could see guys throwing stunts such as 360s or back flips as they drop big cliffs.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Guess what, Gill... in the new mtb video Union, Phil Edlefsen throws a FORWARD flip while heading down steep terrain.

I know that air tricks are next -- freeriders will be trying to catch up with the big X-Games motocross jumping folks like Travis Pastrana and Tommy Clowers.

What I'm talking about being fatal and not likely to increase is the size of the drops. Suddenly, the ability to do a 7 or 8 foot drop seems like nothing more than dropping a curb. To me, that is terrifying. But to Super T Klassen, it's probably inspiring! :
post #5 of 10
Yeah, let's just hope suspension technology keeps up with the pace at which the sport is progressing.

Question: Did Edlefsen MEAN to throw the front flip or was it "impromptu"?

I can see where the size of the drops will reach a point of, shall we say, diminishing returns. I guess there's a point at which terminal velocity overcomes ANY suspension setup. I see freeriding following moto-x, in that the moto-x jumps haven't gotten bigger. The riders have just become more stylish off of them.

Anything bigger than a five footer to flat is beyond my comprehension anyway...
post #6 of 10
The standard for DH suspension looks like it's changing to 12 in the front and 10 in the rear. Amazing.
post #7 of 10
Actually DH racers typically are looking for more like 7-8" front and 7-10" rear suspension. Anything more is typically not useful for racing - you don't need that much more and it adds too much extra weight. A competitive DH race bike shouldn't weigh more than 39-41 lbs. 12" forks are generally used for freeriding/hucking purposes. I just raced in the Moab Rim Downhill yesterday and the only 12" forks I saw were used in the Freeride Comp.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
top DH racers vary in their travel preferences. However, I seriously doubt that ANY top DH racer is using double-digit travel.

typical top DH racer travel is 6" or 7", front or rear. Some use more in front, others use more in rear.

my 2002.5 Santa Cruz Bullit has 7" front and rear, and I would happily race it in top World Cup DH if I were fast enough. It's got plenty of travel. Cedric Gracia and Anne-Caroline Chausson are top professional DH riders and they each run a 6" rear travel Cannondale Gemini.

double-digit travel is necessary only for huge drops, and even then arguably is overkill.

but it is true that one can now buy bikes with double-digit front and rear travel -- most are designed for big drop stuff emulating the Red Bull Rampage riders.

5" front & rear is enough for 95% of riders. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #9 of 10
I thought we were talking about free-riding. Of course, I agree that racers typically will eschew comfort for speed.

I'll bet dollars to donuts that DH race courses will slowly increase in the size and number of drops and hang time.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Gill:
Question: Did Edlefsen MEAN to throw the front flip or was it "impromptu"?
no, he meant to do it. there are scenes of his practice routines. first he tried it into a foam pit (the kind that they have at Woodward BMX), then into a deep pool at a quarry, and then on the trail. it looks totally messed up. but then again, so did my first time seeing a BMX bike riding a halfpipe!

I think everyone who loves mtb riding should buy a copy of Thor Wixom's latest video, Jib. The stuff that the riders do in there will make you rethink just how graceful, precise and fluid a rider can be on a 26" wheeled bike. : :
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