Well, it’s not really a go yet because we don’t have the bikes, but, the time is right.
First though, we need to talk about what Freeride was, just in case you don’t know.
In the mid to late 90’s, a group of BC riders were getting themselves into Bike magazine regularly thanks to their ridiculous skills on the skree slopes of Kamloops. Eventually, a large chunk of an issue was devoted to these guys – Richey Schley, Wade Simmons, Brett Tippie, and others – and the scene was blown wide open. But, the scene needed better bikes.
The first bike that comes to mind when you think “freeride?” The Rocky Mountain Pipeline. However, Cannondale desperately wanted their bike to be one you thought of first. So much so that they trademarked the name “freeride.” Which was kinda dumb given that skiiers had used it for years, but we’re talking about trademark law in the U.S. – logic and reason do not apply.
This threw a wrench into Rocky’s plans to use it obviously. Until someone at Rocky came up with Froriders. History was made.
Their Froriders ad campaign was far more successful and fun than anything Cannondale, or any other company, had at the time. And it helped launch Brett Tippie, Richie Schley, and Wade Simmons as MTB superstars.
Cannondale ended up looking stupid (too bad Specialized didn’t pay more attention to this), Rocky looked great, and it probably got everyone excited about “freeride” bikes.
So what exactly was a “freeride” bike? The simple answer was a full suspension bike with at least 4 inches of travel at both wheels, and a setup leaning more towards DH, but geometry that should still allow you to pedal it up a hill. It’s pretty much exactly what today’s “Enduro” bike is. Just nowhere near as good.
Freeride was DH racing without the racing.
The cynical answer though, is that a freeride bike was any full suspension bike with a double crown fork. By ’98, every manufacturer had a 4 inch travel bike, and if they wanted a piece of the pie, they needed a fork. The Rock Shox Judy XL and Manitou X-Vert R were born.
Of course the Marzocchi Z.1 was already there, and far better, but it wasn’t a double crown fork.
What I find funny about this now, is all the reviews back then, crushing these bikes for their weight problems. They were 30 and 32 pound beasts! It was unthinkable that you’d try to ride something that heavy up a hill.
Of course today, a 30 pound trail bike is considered pretty good. I’d love to know how this happened. I still think we’re being snowed by bike companies, with the assistance of the bike magazines, and the Rand Corporation, but that’s a story for another day.
Finally coming back around to my point; it’s time to get one of these pigs back on the trails. The problem though, is finding one. There was a Pro-Flex, and a Super-V on ebay recently. But, for $1000 and $1500 respectively – this is way too much to pay for these silly bikes.
I suppose these bikes were not all that popular in the first place. I saw a Cannondale Super-V for sale locally last summer, but not the freeride model. Also, Pro-Flexs come up a couple times a year, but not the Animal or Beast model we’re looking for.
So this leaves the fun, but time consuming process of building a replica. Some of those old double-crown forks are out there, so it’s a matter of finding the old bike and the old fork to go with.
I know that DrStu is down with this, so all we need to do really, is pick just the right IPA to drink when we get back from pushing those 35 pound sleds all over the river valley.
TeamCow. Prioritizing since 1996.