Building freeride structures


Santos in Ocala, FL

Building freeride structures for mountain bikes used to be a trial and error process, and for some mountain bike trail builders it still is. Fortunately the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has started sharing best practices for building freeride structures (also known as North Shore junk) and the website is a great place to start for aspiring freeride trail builders.

In an article titled “Construction Guidelines for Wooden Technical Trail Features,” the IMBA gurus recommend choosing materials that are resistant to rot and decay for freeride structures and this is definitely a good place to start. There’s really nothing sadder to me than seeing a rotten, broken ladder bridge or jump on the trail – when a freeride structure dies it’s as if a part of me dies too. Seriously, picking the right wood for the conditions is important and IMBA recommends you avoid direct wood contact with the dirt – try to use rocks or concrete footings to elevate your structure off the ground. It’s also a good idea to make your structure extra strong and IMBA has some good tips for that as well. Remember that a clydesdale rider landing a jump onto your structure can exert a force greater than 3-times his weight – better add a few extra supports just in case.


Legend Park in Clayton, NC

IMBA has another great article titled “10 Tips to Build a Ladder Bridge” you’ll want to check out as well. I know, I know, you may be a bit skeptical about IMBA’s “tips” thinking these are all about being safe and sustainable but it turns out IMBA likes to party as well. This article encourages freeride builders to add challenges by varying bridge heights and widths, adding turns and camber, incorporating drop-offs, and changing bridge inclines and declines. With just a little imagination you can take IMBA’s tips and come up with some seriously wacky stuff that would challenge even the Collective film riders. I’m thinking someone should invent a computer game, Sim Freeride Builder, to see what’s possible. Anyone up to the challenge?


Our backyard teeter totter in Durham, NC

You may recall that we built our own freeride furniture a couple years back in the form of a teeter-totter. This was a fun project for me because I’m a big fan of woodworking and building stuff and it’s totally doable even if you have a tiny yard. I think imagining and building freeride structures is almost as fun as riding them – almost.

If this article has got you stoked to go out and build your own freeride structures at the local trail system, slow down just a second. Read about the history of the Hick Hucksters if you haven’t already and recognize that you need permission before you build ANYTHING on land that isn’t your own. If, on the other hand, you already own the acreage, go nuts! And send us the pics and specs, we’d love to share them with everyone else!

P.S. – We just added a Freeride forum here on singletracks and Mongoose is already posting pics of his rig. Drop by and say what up.