Rating: 4/5
Surprise ride

I bought two 160cm Freerides, both the solid and the split, for the '17/'18 season. It was an uncommonly big season for me, 50+ days riding, which is a lot by my standards. I would say that I have spent a good half of these days on a Furberg. I am a fairly tall guy (190cm), so 160cm might be a fair bit on the short side, but I am also skinny (about 70kg), hence I was sure the 165 would be too much.

Initially, I thought the Freerides would be boards for rather specific conditions and terrain, given their unusual layout. I was thinking "wide open/good snow/fast riding", doubting usability in icy and/or tracked out terrain as well as tighter surroundings like tree runs. Performance on icy surfaces in particular were a concern for me, and as you will read, I have no definitive answer yet. 

However, I rode the solid at Baldface Lodge, which means a lot of dense tree runs in deep snowpack, and it handled the tight turns and abrupt stops like a charm, not sinking, not catching, easy to turn on the spot. I tried a Yes 20/20 in between, which allegedly is at home in this type of terrain, and right away I wanted to get back on the Freeride. Supergood. Frankly, I was surprised. 

I have also ridden the boards on more serious terrain, like around Verbier's Mont Fort as well as some classic runs in Chamonix and Diablerets, and I was even lucky enough to get some heli-runs in Riksgränsen. In that type of terrain (obviously) the boards excelled. Nice float, stable at high speeds, relaxed ride all around. Also, I felt the boards handle tracked out, choppy traverses well, stable and catch-free. 

One thing I was worried about is iced up traverses. I cannot legitimately comment on this as (luckily) conditions were just too good for the most part. I would still think that in terms of grip the superwide sidecut is a bit of a drawback there, and on the few days with rather icy conditions I had last season, I basically always chose to ride other boards. However, I have splitboarded up the Gran Paradiso and the Pyramide Vincent, both well above 4000m, on the Freeride Split. The first section of the run down Pyramide Vincent was icy for sure, so was Gran Paradiso, but icy to a level that - in my view - hardly any board could correct. So, as said, for lack of experience I cannot say for sure, but maybe adding something like a serrated edge would ease my doubts...? 

On a side note, I felt that I could land drops and jumps well on the board, and even if at times the tail felt like giving way (mind you 160 is a rather short board for me), it never did. 

The only surface I would still at any time prefer other boards to the Freerides is groomed pistes. While I have learned to ride on-piste with them in reasonable style (took me a while), I find they are not exactly carving machines. It is a bit of a shame, because the flex is OK for some fun butters etc., but it just does not have that turning radius you want on-piste (and how could it given its USP?).

To sum it up, I really like the boards and will continue to ride them. I would however appreciate an in-between length of maybe 162 or 163 for the really big stuff (or wait until Furberg eventually puts out the Big Mountain board there have been so many rumors about).