- Price: £425 / €500
- Sizes: 146, 149, 153, 156, 159, 162
- Flex: 8
- Profile: Hybrid Camber
- Shape: Directional Twin
The folk at Head tackle snowboard design with an unashamedly scientific method. Bro-talk is thin on the ground, and in its place are specifics about weight savings made, materials used and outcomes achieved. It’s perhaps not for everyone, but we certainly welcome their approach.
Case in point: the Head Instinct i.KERS. Flashy it ain’t, but it’s packing more tech than a stealth bomber - and certainly a lot more than that price tag would suggest.
Chief amongst these is the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), something familiar to Formula 1 fans. In the simplest possible terms, the kinetic energy from loading up your snowboard at the start of a turn is converted to electrical energy and stored in two chips, one at either end of the board.
As you exit the turn, the rebound of the board is enhanced by the release of this energy, and acceleration is increased.
The Head Instinct i.KERS also features graphene, the one-carbon-atom-thick ‘miracle material’ that has an insane strength-to-weight ratio.
It’s concentrated around the KERS chips, complementing the fibreglass for a stiff, responsive ride that doesn’t feel like a plank.
"As you exit the turn, the rebound of the board is enhanced by the release of stored kinetic energy"
A material called ‘Hexagonalcore’ has been placed right at the extremities to reduce the swing weight of the board and make it easier than ever to initiate turns and get those spins round. The Framewall sidewalls play their part too, designed to require less power to get the same level of control, with fewer of the vibrations that cause foot fatigue.
"Anyone wanting to use this in the park would be better off on the bigger features, or in the halfpipe"
That about does it for the tech - but what about the actual board that it’s all wrapped up in? Well, the Head Instinct i.KERS is very much an all-mountain snowboard. The twin shape caters for the freestyle fans, although the directional elements of the build mean that you’ll still want to spend most of your time in your regular stance. Given the stiffness and the emphasis on powerful riding, anyone wanting to use this in the park would be better off on the bigger features, or in the halfpipe.
With their decades of experience in the ski game, and now with well-earned respect in the snowboard world, Head aren’t to be ignored - and the Head Instinct i.KERS is the jewel in their formidable line.
“Over the several years since Head introduced the Instinct i.KERS they've clearly adhered to the maxim 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' Much about it remains unchanged since I tested the first iteration - it's still got a tonne of power, pop and responsiveness that you'll need to ride aggressively to get the most out of, hence it's better suited to more advanced riders.
"It's got a tonne of power, pop and responsiveness... better suited to more advanced riders"
That being said, by blending reactive camber with flat camber they've ensured it's not some ultra-beasty weapon - it's still fun to ride regular or switch across the whole mountain.
The only major tweaks Head have done is introducing Graphene and Hexagonalcore to the construction, making the board even lighter and even stronger. For me, it's quite possibly the best-performing snowboard in its price bracket."
Thomas Kigle - Team Rider, Head
"The Instinct was my first snowboard when I joined the Head Snowboards team. I instantly connected to its shape and specs. Jumps, rails, park or pow - when I go up to the mountain the Instinct i.KERS behaves perfectly in any conditions. It's my favourite all-mountain board.
Even though it's a little stiffer, the double camber torsion (with its great pop beneath the bindings) makes it super fun and extremely reliable in every situation. I enjoy the very direct and precise edge control that lets you feel like a World Cup racer on groomers, as well as the surfy behaviour in deeper snow.
The Instinct always puts a very big smile on my face - no matter where I ride it."