The Freeride is a single-antenna digital transceiver. This is definitely the
smallest avalanche transceiver (it is less than half the size of the
a single-antenna transceiver, the
Freeride cannot display a direction
indicator that points you to the victim. Instead, you must manually locate
victim by using the Freeride's
distance indicator to find the shortest distance. The lack of a direction
indicator is a significant disadvantage relative to
multiple-antenna transceivers. The
range of the Freeride is extremely short (only 25 meters in the two tests I've performed).
The distance displayed on the screen greatly exaggerates the distance to the
victim (displaying 41 meters when the transceiver was 25 meters from the victim).
The display contains an arrowhead that grows when the transceiver senses
a strong signal. This is similar to the arrowhead displayed by the
Ortovox M2. The arrow
can be a little misleading, as it indicates signal strength rather than
Multiple Burials: The Freeride displays three little dots on the screen
if there is more-than-one victim (the distance
to the closest victim is always displayed). You will need to use the
or micro search strip
techniques to locate the additional victims (which is a little challenging without
a direction indicator). The Pieps Freeride can be suppressed using the
Spikes: The Pieps Freeride has only
one-antenna and as such, it suffers
from spikes (i.e., the strongest signal may not be
directly over the buried victim).
Controls: You turn the Freeride on/off by twisting the battery door.
It looks like it might be possible to unintentionally turn on the Freeride
via a bump in your car or luggage.
You switch the Freeride from transmit to search mode by pressing a lone "Send-Search"
button three times. That is similar to the
Barryvox 3000 (an otherwise great
transceiver) and sounds like something a novice may forget.
By default, the Freeride does not automatically
return from search to transmit mode. To change this setting, turn on your Freeride
and wait until a "P" and a number is displayed. Then press-and-hold
the Send-Search button to cycle between P0 (never return to transmit), P3 (return
after 3 minutes), P5 (after 5 minutes), or P8 (8 minutes) is displayed. When
you see the value you want, release the Send-Search button. Each time you turn
on your Freeride, this P number will be displayed on the screen for a few seconds.
If you use the default mode (never return to transmit), press and hold the button
for 2 seconds to return to transmit. (Shall I add, "Less than intuitive?")
If you press the Send-Search button while in Search mode, it turns on the screen's
(somewhat weak) backlight. Press it a second time and the "transmission
check light" (the little LED that normally blinks to indicate that the
transceiver is transmitting) turns on so you can use it as a tiny emergency
Other: The Freeride (as with
version 5.0 of the Pieps DSP) supports
the iProbe. The Freeride has the shortest
warranty of any of the beacons (two years). The
user manual was improved significantly
in the Fall of 2009.
Conclusion: The Freeride might be a reasonable choice for people who
want a tiny transceiver and who already know how to search without a
directional indicator (and
who are willing to do very narrow search
strips), but I do not think it is appropriate for people who are
purchasing their first transceiver or who have been using a multiple antenna
transceiver. These folks won't understand the additional practice required to
search using a single-antenna transceiver. Please don't skimp on price and
give this as a gift to a novice.