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KORUA Shapes Pencil 2018-2019 Splitboard Review

  • Sizes: 164
  • Flex: 7
  • Profile: Setback Camber
  • Shape: Directional
  • Price: €699

The guys behind KORUA have a lot of fun with short, wide shapes, but this splitboard – like its solid equivalent – comes in at a hefty 164cm in length. This isn’t just for riding powder – it’s for gunning it in powder.

The KORUA Pencil splitboard has a directional shape that’ll make it float insanely well, even before you take its considerable overall surface area into account. The pointy nose karate chops through the deep stuff, while the crescent tail beds in nicely at the other end. That leaves you free to concentrate on picking, then hammering, your line.

“Like all KORUA boards, the Pencil splitboard is a triumph of simple but effective design”

If you’re immediately put off by the length, take a closer look before bailing out. It’s designed to feel shorter than it is, and doesn’t have quite the amount of effective edge you’d expect. Width-wise it isn’t far off a standard ‘wide’ version of a more traditional board.

With its all-poplar core, biax fibreglass and relative lack of additives, it’s not going to win any clever-tech prizes, but that’s never been what KORUA is about. Get the shape right, they reckon, and you’re laughing.

The width can make things a little trickier on the skin track, but it’s worth it for the extra float on the way down. With all that surface area, it’s easy to keep this thing above the snow and at high speed. Getting set up for rider mode is a piece of cake too thanks to the extremely user-friendly Plum clips, and the board is compatible with all the major splitboard binding brands.

“With all that surface area, it’s easy to keep this thing above the snow and at high speed”

Like all KORUA shapes, the KORUA Pencil splitboard is a triumph of simple but effective design (something that applies to the topsheet and base graphics too). A big stick from a relatively small brand, it might be a bit of a handful for the newbie splitboarder – but the experienced rider may find just what they’ve been looking for.

Tester’s Verdict

Sam McMahonwhitelines.com

“I’ve ridden a few KORUA boards over the past four years and, for the most part, I love ‘em. Not only is the design obviously minimalistic, but their whole approach means that the focus is on the shape rather than material or core technologies. Simple to look at, fun to ride.

So when there was a chance to jump aboard a split version of the Pencil 164, I was all for it, and with high hopes. Straight out the box it’s a beast to behold – one hundred and sixty-four centimetres of white topsheet just looks badass. Be aware though; unlike some other boards it doesn’t come with pucks. Just the nose/tail clips, and a pair of Plum hooks.

“It’s certainly big, but it’s so well balanced that cruising down powder faces feels like flying”

On the way up it’s as good as it gets. Plenty of camber means you’ve always got grip, and paired with crampons it’s pretty much unstoppable. It’s length means I wouldn’t recommend it for a first-time splitboarder, as kick-turns will inevitably be a bit of a mindfuck, but for anyone with a bit of experience there’s nothing lacking here.

My one problem is that due to the shape of the swallow tail it’s hard getting most skin tail clips to attach, as most are designed to fit on the flat inner edge of a ski. I remedied this by switching my Spark R&D clips round, but it’s a bodge job and after a few hikes I found the base started chipping a little.

On the way down it’s, well, a KORUA – that is to say, it’s a fucking beast. It’s certainly big, but it’s so well balanced that cruising down powder faces feels like flying. With an edge engaged it cuts in and yields plenty of control, but the short tail allows you to easily pop out of a turn and get loose for slashing or just blasting cloud bursts.

Over chop the nose can get a bit rattly and could almost do with an extra hook along its length, but when it’s in contact with the snow it behaves as it should. It doesn’t feel like a splitboard, it feels like a KORUA. Full disclosure: I bought one of these.”

Trade Secrets

Nicholas Wolken – Co-founder, KORUA Shapes

“This is a great and affordable choice if you’re looking to start exploring the side- and backcountry away from the crowds.

Based on the classic Pencil shape, it offers stability on the way up, plenty of float on the way down, and guaranteed good times all-around.

It’s your key for unlocking the gates to the backcountry… if you’re too broke to afford a snowmobile or helicopter.”

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