Downhill Skateboarding - Freebord X-80

Freebord Manufacturing’s singular goal is to simulate the feel of snowboarding on pavement. The company’s three skateboard models, which have unique six-wheel setups and secure bindings, let riders carve and slide on asphalt while cruising downhill.

The primary feature that differentiates a Freebord from a regular skateboard is its wheel setup. Traditionally, skateboards have four wheels, two on each axle or truck. Freebord adds a third wheel to the middle of each truck that can be positioned at various heights for different types of riding.

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When a rider leans in to carve a turn, the Freebord rides on its middle wheel, which lets the board slide subtly sideways. While sliding, the uphill wheels function like snowboard edges, providing a solid carve. The middle wheel spins 360 degrees and automatically realigns itself before the next turn.

To provide further control, the company’s special bindings can be added to a Freebord. The metal wings ensconce your feet to the board, keeping you secure while leaning into curves or jumping potholes.

Testing it out, I found the Freebord X-80 model to be dramatically different from a regular skateboard. I grew up skateboarding and thus had no trouble with balance, but learning to link turns even on gentle hills took several hours and a lot of patience.

On flat ground, the Freebord seems to have a mind of its own, as it is very averse to tracking straight. Sidewalk cruising is difficult.

But on the downhills — the environment this product was built for — the Freebord provides an amazing amount of control. Once mastered, the slide-and-carve technique lets you turn, check speed and stop just like on a snowboard.

Price: Freebord X-80 model, $179; bindings, $22.
Contact: Freebord Manufacturing Inc., 1-415-285-2673, http://www.freebord.com.

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