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K2 Cool Bean 2020-2021 Snowboard Review

  • Price: $490
  • Category: Freeride/Powder
  • Ability Level: Intermediate, Advanced
  • Size: 138, 144, 150
  • Flex: 7/10
  • Shape: Directional
  • Profile: Flat
  • Base: Sintered

When you see the K2 Cool Bean’s credentials on paper you’d be forgiven for having a moment of confusion. A cruisy pow ripper coming in at 138cm might not be the most common thing on the market, but after strapping in, you’ll soon realise that the Cool Bean is anything but ordinary. A stalwart of K2’s Enjoyers Collection, the Cool Bean is a pint size party wagon set to shift the paradigm of what’s possible on a snowboard.

While the Cool Bean can feel at home all over the hill, it makes a name for itself in the powder. If you made a checklist for every feature your dream pow board would have, the Cool Bean would tick every box. Twice. K2 have done everything possible to make sure riding deep snow is effortless with the Cool Bean, from the 2cm taper to the setback inserts they’ve made sure that the board is practically unsinkable.

“The Cool Bean is a pint size party wagon set to shift the paradigm of what’s possible on a snowboard”

While most snowboards can float in powder, many of them rely on you leaning back and burning out your back leg desperately trying to keep the nose up. The sheer volume in the Cool Bean’s big, wide nose keeps it plaining over the top of the snowpack with little to no effort. The cut out swallow tail reduces surface area towards the back of the board, driving the tail down into the snow, further accentuating the nose lift.

The construction of the Cool Bean is such that you want to ride it at least 5cm shorter than your regular board. K2 have employed their Volume Shift to allow you to dramatically size down your stick. Surface area is surface area, regardless of where it’s found on the board, so K2 have drastically increased the width rather than the length. They’ve created a board with the float capabilities of one far longer but one that’s insanely manoeuvrable. Tree runs, tight turns and fat slashes are yours for the taking with this pocket rocket.

“Tree runs, tight turns and fat slashes are yours for the taking with this pocket rocket”

Not just for the deep days, the Cool Bean’s tight sidecut, mid-stiff flex and wide waist lend themselves to digging trenches on the hardpack. Thanks to the short, fat shape you can ride much flatter angles without worrying about toe drag, allowing you to get right up onto your edges for laid out carves.

While this probably isn’t the board you’d want to pick up for honing your switch riding, it is the mack daddy of deep snow and deeper carves. To shake things up for 2021 K2 have removed the rocker section from the tail of the board, lengthening the effective edge slightly to increase its appeal on the groomers. Pretty cool, huh?

Tester’s Verdict 2019/20

Paul WoolProfessor

“What a great snowboard the weird and wonderful K2 Cool Bean is, an absolute pleasure year after year. Being a big fan of the short and fat boards (do these have proper name yet?) the Cool Bean is one of my all time favourites.
I love the big rockered nose and tiny tail in powder, as long as you keep your speed you can go where the longer boards can’t. Facilitating extremely tight surf-style turns, big slashes and unchartered tree runs. This light and nimble board is always choice favourite on a powder days.

“This light and nimble board is always choice favourite on a powder day”

It isn’t limited to powder by any stretch of the imagination. This board is a hell of a lot of fun just about anywhere. That tiny stiff tail acts like a rudder navigating you through slush and choppy terrain like no other board can. Its wide base and rocker profile gives more stability than you would imagine. Although it won’t give you the pop of a bigger more flexible board, its small size and light weight means you can jump moguls and side hits with a refreshingly different dexterity.

It carves very well for a board of its profile and size. Naturally better at slower, tight, responsive, turns, it opens up new possibilities when carving. But this comes at a price as is it easily gets out of control. I’ve definitely had my fair share of edges slipping out on very low carves and it gets out of control easily at speed.

I’m a huge fan of the K2 Cool Bean. Its a great example of a short and fat rocker, that’s a breath of fresh air on powder. Its versatility on the rest of the mountain, although nice and different, may be overshadowed by the new Nidecker Mosquito which shares many of the great characteristics of the K2 on powder BUT has far better power and control when carving and charging.

For me the Mosquito pips the Cool Bean at the post, but do not be put off by this board – it’s a modern classic which, if you’re up for the challenge, offers an unlimited supply of good times. For me it is a great second board, a true snowboard curiosity, and a perfect way to inject some vigour into a snowboard trip.”

Tester’s Verdict 2018/19

John Wellswhitelines.com

“Accept no imitations: this is the ultimate short ‘n’ fat, setback rocker. Small, lively, and mischievous, if this board were a dog it would be a Jack Russell crossed with the best day of your life.

It all started when a K2 rep came up to me with what i thought was a travel sized ironing board. Historically i’m not one for new experiences, “NO CHANCE! Get that thing away from me. Its got no tail for Christ’s sake, and why does it have the shape of a cartoon bomb?” I yelled. “Just try it, just one run, please!” the K2 rep replied. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how my life changed forever… my snowboard life, that is.

“If this board were a dog it would be a Jack Russell crossed with the best day of your life”

I had some incredible powder experiences on this bad boy which produced some serious smile-induced face cramps. That giant bulbous shovelhead mixed with the heel & toe drag eliminating width make this board float like nothing else. That tiny stiff swallow tail opens up your back foot to give unparalleled turning and slashing capabilities.

In my (correct) opinion, the ‘surf’ term gets bandied about too liberally in snowboarding but, holy shit, it felt like i was killing it in the WSL on this little rocket ship. Its short size makes it terrifyingly responsive. It takes a corner like Mario Kart, holding turns nice and tight to give a refreshing whippy feel.

But here is the thing; this board isn’t some one trick powder pony. It is a hoot and a half on the groomers too. The small rocker shape will still hold an edge pretty damn well and that extra width means you aren’t getting any drag. However, don’t forgot this is still a super small rocker so you will get out of your comfort zone pretty quickly once you get some speed up.

Overall i was really shocked by the Cool Bean’s on-slope capabilities. In particular, it excels in freshly pisted snow and slushy spring snow. It is definitely a stiff board, so that tiny tail gives you just the right amount of pop. Its small size and light weight make it somewhat twitchy in the air, but a total blast on side hits and mogul gaps.

The sheer uniqueness of the Cool Bean makes it a challenge but no less a pleasure. It is the ultimate second board, a true snowboard curiosity, and a perfect way to inject some vigor into a snowboard trip. So good I have to get one.”

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