Over the winter, Shane has been super busy working away on Liquidlogic’s latest creation, the Freeride. A super fast playboat with enough length to make going down river still fun. This past weekend I was lucky enough to meet Shane up in West Virginia on the Gauley River for some testing of the final prototype. With flows around 7,300 cfs we heard of a fun wave down by the put-in for the lower G.
When it comes to testing, I can’t even pretend to talk about exactly what edge bevel I want or rocker that I think will make the boat awesome, so instead I wanted to focus on describing what the boat felt like and letting Shane interpret that into design. This was the second time I’ve been able to paddle the Freeride, the first being during the Green Race back in Nov.
To start with I weight 185lbs (83 kg), size 10.5 shoes (EUR size 44), and about 6 feet (182 cm) tall. The Freeride 57 of course has the Bad Ass Outfitting so setting it up to me took no time. The cockpit is larger than Liquidlogic boats in the past making more room to get in and situated, and safer in the case of a wet-exit. The first thing I was really excited about was being able to sit with the seat in the middle position and use the full foot block without alterations or making it smaller. There was tons of foot room, more than the Cross River series, yet the boat feels smaller and more playful. Next thing I noticed was the lower cockpit rim. With the lower cockpit rim I felt my hips were much more loose making eddy turns and rolling much easier.
The major thing I noticed about this boat when I paddled it back in November was the impressive speed downstream for such a small boat. I could absolutely use this boat for teaching. The volume seemed right and moving across the river whether ferrying or downstream moves made me forget I was paddling a playboat. The stern is slicy enough for squirting and felt stable for how short it was.
Next we got down to the wave; a surging, fairly flat with the occasional pile, green wave. I think this was a perfect feature for testing as it seemed like the common style of wave you’ll find when paddling downstream, not the perfect whitewater park feature of Colorado. The speed was more than noticeable as Shane and I both realized we needed to take less and less strokes to catch it the more we trusted the hull speed of the boat. For being slightly longer than the Biscuit the Freeride was loose and spun well, even threw out some pop when the wave jacked up and foam pile grew. It was really impressive and I struggled to tell Shane anything constructive for changes. It was awesome that the lines between playboat and downriver machine blurr and a boat like this really is capable of both. Boat design is still evolving.
The Freeride is definitely worth getting your hands on and trying for yourself. My video editing software is down so Shane will be posting some video shortly with more specifics on the volume and design. I have one with me for the rest of the week so I’m hoping to paddle it more and I’ll get back with more thoughts, photos, and video.
|Freeride 57||Freeride 67|
|Length||6’6″ / 198 cm||6’9″ / 205 cm|
|Width||25.5″ / 64,7 cm||26.25″ / 66,7 cm|
|Volume||57 gal / 215 liters||67 gal / 253 liters|