Freebord vs Skateboard
Freebord was started in 1996 by Steen Strand in Palo Alto, California while studying for his master’s in product design at Stanford University. Steen didn’t just stumble on to the idea by slapping caster wheels on a skateboard. He set out from the beginning to find a way to replicate snowboarding and began developing prototypes of various concepts and configurations. After finally dialing it in, he patented his design and began assembling and selling the first “Alpha” Freebords in 1997 out of his garage in San Francisco, CA.
Trucks & Wheels
Unlike a skateboard, Freebords have six wheels: Four outside edge wheels and two castor (center) wheels located in the middle of the trucks.
The center wheels act as the base of a snowboard. They are slightly lower than the outer edge wheels and can rotate 360°, creating what’s known as “rocker”. This rocker is what gives riders the ability to slide laterally (like a snowboard) much easier than a longboard.* The outside edge wheels allow you to carve turns and control slides the same way as the edges of a snowboard.
Leaning into turns and slides, Freebord riders are able to modulate how much of their weight is on their base (center wheels) and edges (outer wheels), and enjoy the full spectrum of carving, sliding, drifting, spinning and slashing motions possible on a snowboard.
**So how is sliding on a Freebord different than sliding on a longboard?
Sliding a skateboard or longboard requires forcing the wheels out of a normal turn—similar to skidding a car. Freebords allow the rider to distribute their weight to one edge at a time, just like snowboarding. This allows for a greater variety of slides as they are integrated into the turns and can be done at any speed in any direction.
Located on the top of the board are two polycarbonate bindings with metal bases that allow the rider to adjust their individual stances. Freebord bindings serve the same purpose as snowboard bindings by giving the rider more control and leverage over the board. The biggest difference is that riders are not strapped into these bindings, so you can step on and off the board as needed.
Fun Fact: Freebords didn’t always have bindings. They were added when a rider who had lost his leg to cancer wanted to ride, so he slapped some skyhooks on and the rest is history. That rider was Tim Seward.
Freebord decks are also quite different from your average skateboard deck.
- The overall shape is the biggest difference. Freebord decks have a narrower waist, allowing for more torsional flex which is essential when edging.
- On top of the waist, the deck is also a true twin tip (same on both ends), unlike most skateboards.
- Freebords do not have kick tails, although we have tried it out in the past.
Imagine every run is now a snowboard run, having complete control opens up a new world of possibilities. This unique freedom lets you choose lines you’ve only ever dreamed about.
- Freebords were designed for downhill riding, so they aren’t ideal for flatland riding, but where there’s a will there’s a way.
- Due to the similarity to snowboarding, Freebords have a much higher learning curve than a normal skateboard.
- It’s obviously not snow, so falls aren’t as forgiving, but unlike snowboarding, you, at least, have the ability to jump off the board if you need to.
- No other board comes close to giving you the amount of control you have on a Freebord.
- Stop on a dime.
- Freebords don’t get “Speed Wobbles” since the board requires you to deliberately switch from heel edge to toe edge, it’s immune to the wheel-set “Hunting Oscillation”. (You can read more about that here)
- Snowboard all year long once you buy your lift ticket for life.