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K2 Split Bean 2018-2019 Splitboard Review

The K2 Split Bean is a splitboard like no other. Inspired by the ever-popular K2 Cool Bean, the short ‘n’ stubby shape delivers a far nimbler descent than anything else on the market.

You’ve got to get up there first, though, and essentially this is the opposite of how most splitboards are designed. Where you normally want a longer, preferably thinner platform under each foot, this is anything but. Kickturning will be easier, of course, but it’s not one to buy for epic multi-day ascents over firm terrain.

“Like its solid sister, get the K2 Split Bean in the powder and it’s immediately right at home”

No, this is built solely for the fluffiest stuff. Like its solid sister, get the K2 Split Bean in the powder and it’s immediately right at home. That swallow tail and long spoon nose make this thing skim across the top of everything, and navigating even the tightest tree lines is a breeze.

Again, it’s pretty wide, so the K2 Split Bean isn’t the quickest from edge to edge, but that’s the trade-off when buying something so pow-specific. When it hasn’t snowed for a while, you’d probably be happier on something else.

The package deal comes with made-to-measure skins and all the hardware you need, so if you’re wanting convenience then you’ll find it here. Expecting a lot of pow days this year, and keen to leave the beaten track? Check this one out.

Tester’s Verdict

Sam McMahonwhitelines.com

“A little background here: I’ve been dying to get my hands on one of these since it was launched a couple of years ago. I had a Cool Bean last winter and even took it to Japan and loved every turn on it. And, from October to May, snow allowing, I try and spend a lot of time splitboarding, so if there was a rider this board was made for, it’s me.

First, breaking the board up and swapping between modes is a breeze. I was initially confused by the lack of tail clip, but once the back binding is on and you see how close you are to the notch of the swallow tail you’ll realise how unnecessary one would be. The best thing by far is K2’s Splitrack inserts; holes in the nose and tail of the skis that give a fixed point of contact for the custom-cut skins (included in the price) and make skinning up far less of an ordeal.

“This would be perfect for Hokkaido – but for the European Alps, or anywhere with steep or exposed terrain, I’d be very cautious where you take it”

Annoyingly, that’s also where the problems start. The skins start to taper as soon as your footprint ends, so you don’t get as much grip as you’d expect – you don’t even get to use the contact points. There’s also a lot of very slidey, sintered base left exposed in front and behind your feet that makes traversing on anything that’s not pristine powder extremely tricky. The big nose rocker, oh so fun on the way down, exacerbates this whilst ascending – there’s nothing pushing down in front to help stabilise you. Rather than skis, these act like big cumbersome snowshoes, without the crampons.

K2 has its headquarters in Oregon, with plenty of gently rolling, volcano-formed mountains, and I can see how the trade off in traversing ability and grip for an easy kickturn and novel toy on the way down would make sense there. Ditto for Japan; this would be perfect for Hokkaido – but for the European Alps, or anywhere with steep or exposed terrain, I’d be very cautious where you take it. For serious backcountry riding you need a tool, not a toy.

The good news: on the way down it’s still a tonne of fun. I had the same surfy turns on thawing corn I’d expect from the usual Bean, and because of the short length there’s a lot less of that feeling of having a board split in half than you’d expect from other models on bumpy ground. It feels solid.

If you already love the original and have plenty of gentle tree runs to play with close to where you live, get one. If not, I’d advise looking for something a bit more serious, no matter how much that makes me sound like the Fun Police.

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