Illustration of freerider

What kind of mountain biker are you? #2 The Freerider

If you've ridden a mountain bike for any length of time you'll recognise the various sorts of riders you're likely to meet on the trails. In this mini series we take a look at six very different sorts of mountain biker, next up are freeriders…

Freeriding may have seen its heyday, but it’s still alive and kicking. Freeriders can still be found, worldwide, in any patch of woodland. They’re a seldom-seen species who dig booters (jumps) and nail together rickety wooden North Shore stunts. They may emerge from their ‘zone’ for an annual migration to Crankworx, but are usually only seen on the internet via their latest ‘edit’.

gap jump off north shore ladders


Freeriders commonly have a stocky and muscular build. Their strength is developed from hours of spadework and numerous jump overshoots. Sadly, many suffer from a chronic case of ‘hucker’s neck’. They’re usually found wearing plaid shirts and jeans, though vests are often worn in hotter climates. This reveals another distinguishing feature – tattoos. Tats and long hair are essential if a rider is to  be accepted into a ‘crew’, and the length of their locks is a good indication of their status.

Bike rider with vest and tattoos


Despite their evasive nature, the call of the freerider is raucous. Loud whooping calls are often heard during riding sessions and shouts of “Broooo”, “duuuude” and “siiiick” may follow a particularly impressive stunt. Displays of bromance include frequent high-fives, fist bumps and the chugging of beers.

olly wilkens and brendan fairclough at red bull rampage
two mountain bikers doing a fist bump


Freeriders are known to frequently disappear into the wilderness hunting for new ‘zones’. Once a ‘zone’ has been found, many hours will be spent carrying their bikes and hiking up scree slopes in an attempt to emulate ski descents on the “brown pow” (known to the rest of us as “soil”). They’ll emerge days or weeks later clutching cameras full of “nugs” and “footy for the boys”.

Chris Smith riding in Anglesey North Wales

Riding traits

The majority of a freerider’s time on the bike is spent in the air. Freeriders seem to have difficulty keeping their bikes in a straight line and often during a jump their feet or hands will come off or they’ll spin upside down. On the ground the same is true. When riding straight sections of trail, the back end of the bike will often be seen fishtailing in a series of ‘freeride flicks’.

Tool usage

A freerider’s primary mode of transportation is his truck. A pick-up with bikes hanging over the tailgate is a sure giveaway that a ‘crew’ is on the move. While in the woods, a freerider is never far from his chainsaw, which allows him to express himself
by sculpting his own line. An aspiring young freerider hoping to elevate his status will always be seen clutching a camera – dropping an ‘edit’ is the best way he knows of to attract sponsors and earn a place at the holy grail of freeride, Red Bull Rampage.

bikes in the back of an pick up truck ready for uplift
trail line building at red bull rampage
tools for sculpting mountain bike trails

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