All About Freebording
Here is a hubpage that I have been working on because I love Freebording. Freebords are a type of skateboard that mimics the feel of snowboarding. Freebords are an ideal board if you love sliding, going fast, and want to be able to manipulate the pavement in ways you never thought possible. Much like a longboard a Freebord has four massive wheels on the side, but unlike a longboard a Freebord comes equiped with two center wheels that are designed to rotate 360 degrees (this enables you to slide and stop easily, but we will get into that a little bit later). Another major difference between a Freebord and and a longboard is that a Freebord comes with bindings that help keep your feet on the board while you’re bombing a nasty hill or pulling out a 360 over a set of stairs. For me Freebording is the way I stay in shape for snowboarding season. Not only is it great exercise, but it also helps you keep your snowboarding mechanics almost 100% right on. The one big difference between snowboarding and Freebording is that a Freebord is a lot touchier. This is kind of a no brainer because when you are snowboarding you are going over a lot more smooth surfaces as opposed to feeling every single bump in the road. I guess that’s enough rambling about what a Freebord is, now it’s time to show you how to ride them and so on. As ATG-ATB Pointed Out In His Comment "a helmet is a must for beginners, heelside edge catches can land you with brain damage even going slowly!" SO ALWAYS RIDE WITH A HELMATE AND UNDER CONTROL!!! ~ Thanks for the comment ATG-ATB!
The first time I ever hopped on a Freebord was right after my first year of snowboarding. I went through the trials and tribulations of killing myself on a snowboard so I figured I would be good to go as soon as I got my new board in the mail. Well, as you can imagine I was very wrong; I like to refer to the summer of 2008 as the summer of blood because about every other time I went out to ride it I would leave a piece of myself on the pavement for the birds to eat later. I guess you could say a big reason I’m writing this article is because I don’t want kids to go through the same pain that I went through trying to learn how to ride this awesome board.
Push Off: The first thing you need to figure out before hopping onto a Freebord is what kind of stance you are. The way I try to help people out on determining which way they want to ride is by simply asking them if they bat (in baseball) right or left handed. If you are a right handed batter you are a regular rider and if you are a left handed batter you are a goofy rider. Now that we have figured out what stance you have you will want to mount your board. Mount your board by inserting your front foot (regular=left / goofy=right) into the binding and leave your back foot (regular=right / goofy=left) on the ground. Now that your front foot is in the binding place your weight on the heel of your front foot so that the center wheels and the wheels closest to you are touching the ground. Now take your back foot and push off with it parallel to your board a couple of times to start. Once you have gotten your momentum going take your back foot and place it on the board and slide it into the back binding. Practice this on a flat surface to get used to the feel of your board. Once you get the feel of things try balancing on your center wheels to coast farther than on your side wheels. I know that pushing off on this board is a little bit goofy, but trust me you will get it. The first time I tried I fell flat on my face, but now I ride 3 miles every day to work.
So now that we have the basic push off down you will want to learn how to stop. In my opinion Freebords are one of the safest boards to hit the street because it has the ability to stop. The first thing you will need to find is a small hill without a steep grade (Note: it is easier to stop on a Freebord when it is going faster, but for learning purposes start slow and build up). For the most part everyone has their own riding styles, but this stopping technique has been a life saver for me over the past couple of years. Start at the top of the hill, push off, and get both feet in the bindings (be sure your feet are in their nice and snug or you could possibly leave most of your skin on the pavement :D).
Front Side Stop: Once your feet are securely in the bindings and you have a little bit of momentum going put most of your weight on your front heel (regular=left / goofy=right) and then slightly push your back leg (regular=right / goofy=left) out in front of you. From this point you can adjust how quickly you want to stop by varying the pressure on your back leg (regular=right / goofy=left). The more pressure you apply the faster you will slow down. If you just want to check your speed use the stopping technique, but rather than coming to a complete stop drag your back leg (regular=right / goofy=left) back underneath you by pulling with your toes and closing your shoulders up.
Back Side Stop: Use the same technique as the front side stop listed above, but put all of the directions in opposite. So instead of initially putting your weight on your front heel, put it on your front toes and then pull the board sideways with your back toes. To come to a complete stop put as much pressure on your toes as needed. Once you get good at stopping both back side and front side you can alternate front and back side stopping as a break check. I do this all the time to slow myself down on huge hills. When using this method be sure the alternate front and back side every 1-2 seconds. This will help eliminate flat spots on your wheels and will offer a smoother ride.
Freebords are pretty easy to maintain for the most part and are not much different than skateboards in this respect.
Trucks: I haven’t had to do a lot with my trucks, but be sure to adjust them to the flex that you like. I tend to leave my trucks a little bit loose so that my turns are more responsive, but like I said before you’re going to be the one riding it so make it comfortable for you.
Wheels: Because Freebords use the side wheels as edges you will probably want to get a nice hard wheel. I tend to use a 72-80mm(somewhere in that size range) 80-99a (somewhere in this durability) wheel. I have some Gravity Super Sliders right now. They worked good for a while, but the more I ride my Freebord the more I am battling with flat spots. Read some forums to figure out which wheel is best for you. If you need to replace your center wheels your best bet is to either just get them from the Freebord website. The only annoying thing about getting your center wheels from Freebord’s website is that they automatically come with bearings in them. This is cool if you don’t have aftermarket bearings on your board. I almost forgot, be sure to change the position of your side wheels weekly to bi-monthly. I usually change them diagonally the first week and then straight across the second week. Never keep your wheels on the same side of the board for longer than about a week. Finally about the wheels, use your head. If you have a huge flat spot on a wheel and the one right next to it is the biggest one trade them out and put the wheel with the flat spot on the lowest impact truck. Also, don’t tighten the wheels too much when you put them back on. I tend to leave just a little bit of a jiggle in my wheel so that I can have coast times of 60 seconds and up.
Bearings: Your Freeboard will come with stock bearings, but it is nice to upgrade them if you plan on riding it all over the place. I use Bones Reds bearings. These are a skateboarding bearing that can take the abuse of launching off a set of stairs and will cruise like nobody’s business. Any Bone’s bearing will do, but the Reds are a good economical bearing that will not sacrifice performance. Be sure to clean your bearings at least once a month and don’t forget to put bearing grease on them after you’re done.
Bindings: Be sure to check that your bindings are nice and secure each and every time you go riding. I had a binding come off my board because I didn’t take the time to check it and before I knew it I was sliding behind my board down the hill after it. Not much fun.
Decks: If you plan on doing a lot of board slides (pretty much the only type of grinding you can do with this board) you might want to think about modifying your board and reinforcing the deck. Last summer I was out trying to nail some board slides and snapped my deck right in half. I haven’t tried reinforcing my board, but in my opinion Freebords just feel a little to bouncy to be grinding with.
Be sure to take caution when riding a Freebord. As mentioned above I would bet money I replaced most all of my skin during the summer of 2008 due to the fact that Freebording is kind of tricky to pick up at first. Wear a helmet and other necessary riding equipment. A tailbone pad that football players wear might be a good idea for beginners as well because sometimes when you fall it is because you catch an edge and go flying backwards down a hill, I have multiple scars roughly the size of golf balls from catching an edge.
Be Brave -
Freebording is hard and takes guts. You are going to fall and it is going to hurt, but this is all part of the learning curve. Just be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety equipment so that when you fall it just hurts and you’re not getting injured.
Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More -
The only way you will get better at Freebording is if you go out and do. So what are you waiting for? Grab your board, push yourself beyond your comfort zone, and start tearing up the street pronto! Just remember determination and persistence goes a long ways, if you want to learn how to ride a Freebord you will, you just have to believe you can.
Thanks for taking a look at my Freebording guide. Check back for updates and feel free to leave questions or comments about my page or just Freebording in general. Below are a few notable hills that I have hit up in the past:
Bascom Hill, Madison, WI – This is a great area to go Freebording, the hill itself is a little bumpy, but it’s hard to find a hill in the area that will produce as much speed as this one. Skill Level = Advanced
The Shoot, Madison WI – Ok, so this one doesn’t have a street name, but is one of my all-time favorites. Go to the front of Agricultural Hall on the UW campus. Walk up the stairs and go to your left. After you reach the side of the building you should know what I’m talking about. It’s just a pathway that leads from the top of the hill down to the Microbial Science building. This is a super fast, super narrow run with a hard right turn at the end. This will surely curl your toes the first time you ride down it. Just be sure to watch for bystanders as it’s pretty easy to take them out if they’re not paying attention. Skill Level: Advanced
Observatory Dr., Madison, WI – This another great hill in the Madison area. If you go over by Elizabeth Waters Dormitory there is a nice straight hill will pretty good speed and is pretty smooth. If you ride Observatory Dr. towards Park St. the ride is smooth, but it is really windy. This is one of my all-time favorite hills, especially when you go towards Park Street. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the bus’ that come up the hill, they literally leave you about 2 feet of space to get by them when they are turning. Skill Level = Intermediate/Advanced
Capital Square, Madison, WI – This is another good area in Madison. I would give you street names to go down on, but the capital itself is on a hill and there are tons of good Freebording spots to ride down. Be careful NOT to go down State St. because the cops will yell at you and tell you to get off your board, bastards. Skill Level: Intermediate
N Breese Terrace, Madison, WI – This hill is cool because it is right next to Camp Randal and the road is smooth and wide. The hill starts just past the stadium and you will need to take it towards University Ave. to get any speed. Skill Level: Intermediate
Check back for more places to ride :)
LONG LIVE FREEBORDING