Longboard freeride involves riding down hills at controlled speeds while mixing fast carving, technical slides, and switch riding. There are many types of freeride styles, and the line between freeride and downhill (focus on speed) is sometimes blurry.
Choosing the right longboard for freeride depends on several factors including your size and weight, your skills, the type of hills you’ll be freeriding on, the speed you’ll be going, and the type of technical tricks you want to do.
Given the right skills it’s possible to freeride on any longboard, but freeride-focused boards typically have features that make them much more stable at speed and easier to slide with. In this post I’ll look at 5 longboards I consider among the best freeride boards for differents types of riders and styles:
|Best longboard||Freeride style||Deck Length|
|Loaded Basalt Tesseract||Technical freerider||39″|
|Loaded Cantellated Tesseract||Fast freerider||36″|
|Landyachtz Switchblade||Beginner freerider||40″|
|Loaded Omakase||Versatile freerider||33.5″|
|Landyachtz Dropcat||Progressive freerider||38″|
Technical freeride board: Loaded Basalt Tesseract
The Loaded Basalt Tesseract is an advanced freeride machine, 39″ long by 9.5″ wide with a 26″ max adjustable wheelbase. The symmetrical shape and nice dual kicks make this board very suitable for advanced technical freeriding, switch riding, and mixing in some freestyle tricks (the wheelbase can be adjusted down by 1.5″).
The Basalt has a noticeable rocker and W concave which provide a secure locked-in feel at downhill speed and for tech slides. The deck’s subtle wheel cutouts (not your typically cutout shape) and wheel flares provide extra wheel clearance.
The pushed-in wheel flares combine with the rocker and deep concave to create the deck’s snug foot pockets, making the Basalt a comfortable and confidence-inspiring freerider.
The Loaded Basalt’s construction is based on two bamboo cores surrounded in natural basalt fiber layers (instead of fiberglass). Unlike pure downhill decks, the bamboo core results in slight flex for a more forgiving ride suitable for a mix of freeride and pop tricks.
The cork layer on the bottom of the bamboo and basalt layers dampens the ride by reducing the vibrations from fast riding, and further reinforces the deck’s strength.
See the Basalt Tesseract complete here on Loaded’s website
The combinationn of bamboo, fiberglass, and cork results in an exceptionally lightweight and durable deck with just the right amount flex for technical freeride.
See my in-depth complete review of the Tesseract here.
Fast freeride board: Loaded Cantellated Tesseract
I’m including the Cantellated Tesseract in my top freeride longboard list in addition to the Basalt version because, although both share the same construction and contours, they are still quite different in shape and use.
The Cantellated is significantly shorter than the Basalt at 36″ (vs 39″) and is a directional, single kick shape designed for fast freeride. It has the same max 26″wheelbase as its bigger brother giving it good stability at speed.
The Cantellated Tesseract also boasts a rockered profile and deep W concave for solid foot lock-in in high-speed slides as well as strong lateral support for cornering. The short and wide kicktail is well-suited for responsive turns, snappy slides, and speed checks.
The shorter, compact form of the Cantellated makes it a good choice for faster downhill rides and even some downhill racing.
See the Cantellated Tesseract complete on the Loaded website.
See my in-depth complete review of the Tesseract here.
Learner freeride board: Landyachtz Switchblade
The Landyachtz Switchblade is one of the best beginner freeride boards out there. It comes in at three different sizes, 40″ x 10″, 38″ x 9.8″, and 36″ x 9.5″). The huge wheel cutouts (“wingtips” design) allow for big 70mm wheels without wheelbite.
The Switchblade is a pure symmetrical drop-through shape with huge wheel cutouts and a significant deck drop, making it one of the lowest-riding boards out there. It’s a super-stable board with a very long wheelbase (31″, 29″, or 27″ based on the size).
The Switchblade provides a very large and comfortable standing platform (due to the drop-through “wingtips” design) and a sturdy 9-ply maple wood construction. It has a tall W concave, raised edges, and deep foot pockets near the drops and truck mounts for a secure and comfy tuck-in feel.
This Landyachtz is an excellent board for learning to slide, practicing switch riding and 180º slides, and in general building your freeride skills. The absence of kicks, however, can be a bit limiting for more sophisticated freeride tricks.
The very low ride, maximum stability, and very secure feel this board offers comes at the price of a slightly less responsive ride compared to a more technical topmount freerider like the Tesseract.
See pricing and reviews for the Landyachtz Switchblade here on Amazon
See also my full review of the Switchblade here.
Versatile freeride board: Loaded Omakase
Though much smaller than your typical freerider, I find the Loaded Omakase to be a really awesome board for mellow freeride. While it’s relatively compact at 33.5″ with a 22″ max wheelbase, the Omakase is very wide for its length (10″), giving it a solid and stable feel for freeride.
The Loaded Omakase is a single-kick directional shape built with a bamboo core (similar to the Tesseract) sandwiched between fiberglass and epoxy layers. This hybrid tech construction results in a stiff and strong yet lighwteight deck, well-suited for freeriding.
In contrast to the usual freeride decks, the Omakase has a relatively mellow elliptic concave, but the rockered profile and Loaded-style wheel flares create humps and small pockets that help keep your feet in place during slides.
The Omakase provides good wheel clearance and topmount responsiveness for tight downhill carves. The meaty kicktail offers nice leverage and control for pushing the back out into a slide, including with large grippy wheels.
In short (no pun intended), if you’re looking for a nice city commuter board you can also freeride on, the Omakase is truly a top choice. A fantastic board (it’s a Loaded) at an affordable price – around $265 for the All-Around.
Check out the Omakase All-Around recommended setup with freeride wheels here on Loaded’s website
See also my complete revoew of the Omakase here.
Innovative freeride board: Landyachtz Drop Cat
The #5 best longboard I recommend for freeride is the Landy Dropcat. The reason I like this board is that it fits somewhere in-between a topmount and a drop down. It’s a 38″ x 9.9″ midsized drop-through with a near-symmetrical (though directional) shape suitable for switch riding.
The large wheel cutouts makes this board wheelbite-free for intense freeride carves including with big 72mm wheels. The long 29″ wheelbase is similar to the Switchblade 38″‘s, granting the Drop Cat great stability at speed.
In contrast to the Switchblade, the Drop Cat is not dropped in the classic sense. Instead, it features has a pronounced and futuristic rockered profile between the trucks which greatly lowers the deck in the middle.
This special design gives you a very stable ride at speed due to the low height, while the absence of a drop improves the leverage over the trucks and hence the responsiveness compared to a classic double-drop (like SB).
This also makes breaking into slides easier, closer to a topmount feel – where your feet nearly sit on top of the trucks. While the Drop Cat does not have a strong concave, the deep rocker helps keep your feet securely tucked in place when riding downhill and sliding.
Check out the Drop Cat on Amazon here
Choosing the best longboard for freeride
Best mount style for a freeride deck
The first thing to look at when choosing a freeride deck is truck mount style. Should you choose a drop-through deck, a drop deck (or double-drop), or a topmount? All of them can work, which you choose depends on your level and freeride goals.
|Freeriding pros||Freeriding cons||For freeriders|
|Drop deck||Very low riding and stable at speed, easy slide initiation||Low responsiveness, slow turns, low control in the slide||Beginner|
|Drop-through||Still low riding & stable, more lightweight than drop deck||Not as responsive as topmount||Beginner to intermediate|
|Topmount||Very responsive, great control during the slide||Higher ride, less secure feel, harder to get sliding||Experienced|
A drop-through deck sits lower to the ground than a topmount, and the resulting lower center of gravity makes the board more stable and easier to initiate slides on.
A dropped deck (or “double-drop” if it also has drop-through mount) rides even lower to the ground and hence is even more stable and easy to break traction on. Drop-throughs and drop decks are typically longer than topmounts which adds to the stability at speed.
A topmount, on the other hand, while it typically requires more effort to push into a slide, is a lot more responsive than a drop-through/drop deck with a lot more control over the trucks once inside the slide.
In general, drop decks (or even double-drops) are ideal for beginner freerides as they provide stability and confidence for learning to slide downhill. Topmounts are often preferred by experienced freeriders for the leverage and responsiveness. Drop-throughs are somewhere in-between.
Deck size & shape for freeride
For freeriding, you may choose a symmetrical or directional deck. Symmetrical decks are well-suited for freeriding at lower speed and for maneuvers that involve switch riding. They’re generally bigger decks with larger wheel cutouts and thus more clearance for bigger wheels.
Directional decks are typically shorter and more responsive, suitable for more advanced freeriding and higher speeds. They’re typically topmount – directional drop-throughs (e.g the Sector 9 Lookout) are less common.
Regarding size, a larger deck (e.g. 38″ – 42″) with a longer wheelbase will feel more secure riding downhill than a shorter deck (< 38″). A longer wheelbase will be less wobbly at speed and easier to learn to slide on. On the other hand, a shorter deck will be more responsive for fast turns.
Flex and kicks for freeride
A good freeride deck should generally be on the stiff side as a stiffer construction provides more stability at speed. Freeride longboards may have an 8 or 9-ply hard maple construction, or a more advanced bamboo + fiberglass hybrid construction.
A common question is whether a good freeride longboard should have kicks. Again, this depends on your riding style. Kicks are useful for technical slides and quick turns but typically lead to a shorter wheelbase and hence reduced stability at high speed. Thus, kicks are best for slower, more technical styles, or mixed freeride/freestyle riding. If you’re closer to downhill (more speed, less carves and tricks), go for smaller or no kicks.
Which concave for a freeride longboard
A freeride deck should have a decent amount of concave for a secure foot lock-in feel when riding fast downhill and when breaking into slides. Concave also works hand in hand with a deck’s drop (if any), rockered profile, or wheel flares to create deeper foot pockets that cuddle your feet.
If learning to slide, you may opt for a larger deck with deep foot pockets for strong foothold giving you confidence. As you improve, though, you might switch to more subtle concaves for more freedom of movement when doing technical slide tricks and switch riding.
Freeride truck style & height
Reverse kingpin trucks (RKP aka longboard trucks) are generally prefered for freeride longboards as they are more responsive and flowy at slow speeds and more stable at higher speeds – less turn for a given lean compared to traditional kingpin TKP (street) trucks.
Advanced freeriders focusing on technical slides, however, often choose smaller freestyle-type decks with TKP trucks which are narrower, very turny and divey – facilitates throwing quick slides. They’re also very durable in the face of the enormous un-natural mechanical pressure slides put on trucks.
Another important factor for freeride is truck height. I mentioned drop-throughs and drop platform decks lower the ride height, making the board more stable at speed. Likewise, a shorter truck will add stability to the board. RKP trucks are generally taller than TKP, but some RKP trucks (e.g. Paris v3) are shorter than others.
Freeride truck baseplate angle
Truck angle is the angle between the baseplate and the hanger (the part that hold the wheels). Higher angles make the trucks more responsive and turny at lower speed but less stable at higher speed, while lower angle trucks are less responsive but more stable.
Angle degress typically range from mid 40s to mid 50s. In general, 50º RKP trucks work fine for most freeride styles as they provide a good turn-vs-stability mix. Speed-focused riders tend to go lower (e.g. 45º). High angles increase the ride height so they’re not commonly used.
Freeride truck bushing seat & bushings
The bushing seat, the placeholder in the hanger where the rubber bushing sits, is an important aspect of a good freeride longboard. A tight seat restricts the truck’s turn and makes it less responsive but more stable at speed. An open bushing seat is the opposite, better-suited for slower and more technical freeride styles.
While most leading trucks have moderately restrictive bushing seats, freeriders often adjust the riding feel of their setup by trying different bushing shapes (cone, barrel) and durometers (hardness). You can combine medium and soft bushings based on your weight to get the right amount of turn vs stability.
Freeride wheel size
Wheels are a crucial piece of your freeride longboard setup. The first variable to look at is wheel size. Larger wheels (e.g. 70+mm) roll faster, but the diameter should be adapted to your deck’s wheel clearance, which in turns depends on its size and shape, to avoid wheelbite when carving at speed.
Freeride wheel durometer
Softer wheels (e.g. 78A) give you more control at speed and shave more speed in slides as they has more grip than harder ones (e.g. 84A). They also feel smoother when sliding. On the flip side, softer wheels are not as fast as harder ones.
Harder wheels are easier to break traction with at speed but are harder to control speed on because they have less traction. At low speeds, harder wheels also allow you to throw longer slides.
Freeride wheels shape
Besides hardness (durometer), wheel shape is another important factor for your freeride setup. Round-lipped wheels have less traction than sharp-lipped ones so they are easier to break into slides. Wheel width and contact patch also plays a role in the grip-vs-slide profile.
Deck characteristics also influence the choice of wheels. Larger and low-riding decks, for example, are harder to push into slides, so a set of harder (81A-84A) round-lipped wheels is typically a good choice for a freeride setup.
On the other hand, a smaller topmount deck will be very responsive and less stable at speed, so throwing some softer and/or square-lip wheels can help reduce the twitchiness when freeriding down hills.
Freeride wheels – other variables
Other more subtle wheel features can also influence how well they work for a freeride setup. Urethane formula, for example, can impact a wheel’ sliding behavior.
Wheel core placement (centerset is typically the best option) can also make a difference for more advanced freeriders as it affects the way the wheels get into, and out of, slides.
Freeride setups generally come with normal decent quality bearings, though most often with built-in spacers. If not, adding spacers yourself is a smart move as they will help protect your bearings from the strong sideway pressure they undergo when sliding and prevent them from wearing out too fast.
Protective gear for freeride
You should always wear protection gear when freeriding downhill! The following are a few quality helmets I recommend (Amazon links):
- S1 Lifer: very well-fitting, sweat absorbing liner
- Pro-Tec classic: protects you well – based on personal experience
- TSG Meta: super lightweight
- Bell Segment: flexible outer shell (some like it), solid, cheaper.
Here are some good slide gloves, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards:
- Freeride Slide gloves (don’t skimp on those): Loaded freeride gloves
- Knee / elbow pads: Pro-Tec street pack, or standalone knee pads
- Wrist guards: 187 Killer Pads
(1) Featured image: courtesy Loaded Boards. Rider: Kalil Hammouri. Photo: Riley Irvine