Published in Whitelines Magazine Buyer's Guide Issue, Winter 2010-2011
Every year around tradeshow time, there are a handful of boards that get tongues wagging, eyes popping and camera shutters clicking. Industry types will bale their way across crowded exhibition centres to get a good look at them, riders and shop-monkeys will fight each other for a chance to try them out at the Board Test, and online chat rooms will crash under the weight of people sharing photos and swapping rumours. It’s not that these boards are necessarily better built or easier to ride than others, they just attract more attention. For whatever reason, whether it’s their new tech, crazy graphics, or their backing by a particular pro, these are the boards that are creating a buzz this winter.
ARBOR CADENCE £440
This is a high-end freestyle stick of choice aimed at ladies who know what they’re looking for. It’s got a relatively stiff fl ex, but by combining this with their ‘Parabolic Park Rocker’ system Arbor have ensured that the board stays playful. It’s also got ‘Grip tech’, which adds extra contact points along the edge meaning it grips better on hard pack. Like most Arbor sticks, a large proportion of the materials making up the board have been selected specifically for their low impact on the environment. For the graphic, Arbor have engaged the services of LA-based artist Sylvia Ji for the second year in a row, and she’s produced yet another beautifully disturbing top sheet image. If you’re a girl who likes cruising pistes while wearing pink, then this board probably isn’t for you. If you’re a bit more hardcore than that, then this is worth a look. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our women's snowboard guide.
BURTON CUSTOM FLYING V £450
The biggest selling board of all time has been brought right up to date again this year, and will no doubt remain as popular as ever with riders of all styles and ability levels. Part of its enviable popularity has to do with the big B’s reach and reputation, but a lot of it is down to the sheer quality of this board year after year. This latest version features Burton’s ‘Flying-V’ combo profile, with rocker between the bindings and camber under the feet for added edge response. This is helped by Burton’s ‘Lightning Bolts’, which are “energy transfer strands" inserted into the structural layers that help transfer energy from the movements of your feet to the edge quicker. Given its ubiquitousness, buying a Custom might seem a bit too obvious an option for some, but you’d still be hard pushed to find a better all-round board. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
BURTON WHAMMY MARLEY £330
This is a special edition of Burton’s Whammy Bar. It has exactly the same spec as its more common cousin, it’s just got a graphic that is – how to put this – a whole lot more irie. Apparently all the pictures of Bob were taken at the legendary 1978 One Love Peace Concert, where Marley used music to bring together Jamaica’s warring factions to try and stop the killing that had almost claimed his own life two years earlier. But the best thing about this board is that the chilled rasta-man vibrations don’t just come from the graphic. It has Burton’s V-Rocker profile and a feature they call ‘Mid-spoon’ which raises the edges between the bindings, making them harder to catch. This, combined with the super-so fl ex, gives it a beautiful buttery feel that’s perfect for jibbing. It’s a bit twitchy for riding at really high speeds, but railriders will love the easy-going vibe. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our jib snowboard guide.
CAPITA HORRORSCOPE £330
Capita’s Horrorscope predicts – no, pretty much guarantees – that a whole load of jib-based fun will be coming your way. This board’s soft flex and Flat-Kink rocker profile means it butters and presses like a beast, making mincemeat out of park features or urban obstacles. It’s got a ‘WDT’ pressure bonded core, which is Capita’s cheapest, but the company claims that the construction process means it’s more durable and softer flexing than a full wood core – so it’s actually better for what this board is designed to do. On top of all this its got a graphic that looks like it’s stepped straight off the set of a fifties horror film, and it’s ridden by Absinthe’s new answer to Mikey LeBlanc, Cale Zima. If you see jibbing as your future, then have a look at this –it might just help you get there! Read what our testers thought of this and other in our jib snowboard guide.
CONTRABAND LUNA £250
Contraband is a brand new company that’s emerged from the rain-soaked hills around Manchester in the past year with a collection of sick homegrown sticks. The fact that the company’s owners and designers are British is enough to generate a certain buzz about the brand in itself. But we wouldn’t include them in this section (or in this guide) if their boards weren’t any good. Thankfully, the Luna is a great board, especially for the price. Contraband describe this as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and it certainly packs a punch above its price point. The board has a poplar core, a tough ‘sintruded’ base and a relatively soft freestyle flex. This, combined with its twin shape and camber profile, make it great for intermediates or jibbers. It’s basically hard as fook, but then it was developed on the dry slope at Rossendale, so what do you expect? Read what our testers thought of this and other in our progressive snowboard guide.
FORUM CONTRACT £315
Forum’s Contract is another new addition to their range this year, but there’s going to be a lot of grungy jib kids out there who wish they’d come up with this before. Instead of being rockered like a lot of jib boards, the Contract features Forum’s ‘Pop Camber’ profile – basically it’s a low camber with ‘pop zones’ just inside the contact points at the nose and tail making it easier to pop an ollie or hold a nose press down a rail than on a conventional camber stick. OK, so rocker riders might not feel as instantly at home when buffering or pressing, but then this has all the advantages of camber to it as well – namely better pop and edge control. It’s got a durable ‘Bad Ass’ core, and a tough-as-nails extruded base. Plus it’s got one of the sweetest most recognizable graphics anywhere – c’mon, who doesn’t like sex, drugs and rock n’ roll? Read what our testers thought of this and other in our jib snowboard guide.
JONES THE SOLUTION £700
The fact that big mountain legend Jeremy Jones decided to start his own board brand was all too much for a certain type of rider. Grizzled powder hounds, who’d usually dismiss new kit as a capitalist conspiracy to part fools and their money, lined-up like so many spotty teenage Halo fans to get a look Jones’ new range. And I swear I saw at least one of them weeping into his beard at the sight of the Solution! Basically this board takes all of Jeremy’s20-odd years of big-mountain experience and pours it into a split board –the ultimate free-riding tool. It’s got a rockered tip and tail for extra float in powder, and what Jones calls a ‘Mellow Magne-Traction’ for extra grip on icy patches. OK so you’d never want to try jibbing on this, but it’s the principal pow stick Jeremy’s been riding for his Deeper project, and it’s hard to think of a higher recommendation than that. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our big mountain snowboard guide.
FORUM HOLY MOLY £440
Forum reckon the Holy Moly is the best park board in the world, bar none. Now that may sound like a bold claim, but there’s a reason for it. This features Forum’s brand new profile shape which they reckon will “end the rocker vs. camber discussion forever". The ‘Combo Platter’ is basically a camber profile with four raised sections – two on each edge underneath the bindings. These raised sections make it harder to catch an edge, like a rocker board. But because the rest of the profile is cambered, the Holy Moly is still snappy and responsive – certainly its fl ex makes it too poppy to be a beginner’s board. Andreas Wiig reckons that as well as being forgiving, the Holy Moly has “all the pop you’d want" and seeing as he’s currently dating Norway’s answer to Cheryl Cole, he probably knows what he’s talking about. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
YES GREAT DUDES OF HISTORY £390
With a name that sounds like it was inspired by Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (and graphics that look like the result of a trip in Rufus’ time machine) these boards were alwaysgoing to appeal to a certain type of shredder. But look under the topsheet of the Great Dudes of History and you’ll find a surprising amount of tech – enough to fill most stoners’ miniscule memory banks at least twice over. Behind the faces of Haile Selassie, John Lennon, JFK, Abe Lincoln, Einstein and Martin Luther King lies a Nidecker-designed Cam Rock combo core, with camber between the bindings and rocker at the tip and tail. This, combined with the relatively stiff fl ex, makes the board poppy in the park and floaty in powder. It’s probably a bit stiff for beginners, but then you really have to earn the right to step on the faces of dudes this great anyway. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
K2 VA VA VOOM £280
This year’s Vavavoom was launched with a graphic that saw K2 collaborating with the much-loved Icelandic women’s clothing brand Nikita. The star motif and the bright colours on the different lengths recall some of Nikita’s jacket designs, and make the stick really stand out in a field where graphics are often pretty cliché. But it’s not just the picture that makes this board special. Its rocker profile and soft flex make it easy to ride, so it’s ideal for novice riders, regular dome-riders or freestylers who prefer the park’s jib line to the truly monstrous booters. Our testers praised the easy-going feel, and while they pointed out that it’s not the most stable at speed, the playfulness of the fl ex and springiness of the core more than make up for that. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our women's snowboard guide.
LIB TECH BANANA MAGIC £600
Some of Lib Tech supremo Mike Olson’s madcap ideas are simply too insane to make it into his production boards. But even those that do still sound suitably crazy. Take the Banana Magic for example – it’s got a bio-plastic topsheet made out of soya beans covering structural layers made of volcanic basalt (instead of fibre glass) and a core made out of a special genetically engineered wood the Lib boys call ‘Columbian Gold’ after their favourite strain of hybrid skunk. How’s that for crazy? This has also got Lib’s ‘C2 Power Banana’ profile, a rocker-camber combo that they reckon gives you the best of both worlds, and a mid flex that’s suitable for most types of riding. With all that crazy tech going on, it’s no wonder this is Mike Olson’s favourite board. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
NDK THE PAM £390
This board probably attracted more attention at tradeshows than almost any other this year – though that probably says more about the make-up of tradeshow crowds than it does about the board! But although the picture had a lot to do with it (as did the fact that Pammy herself put in a couple of promotional appearances) it’s not just the silicon-enhanced, nearly-naked blonde on the top sheet that helps this board turn heads. The profile is the innovative Cam Rock combo that features on most of the Yes boards, with camber between the bindings for pop, and rocker at the tip and tail for extra float in powder. It also boasts Nidecker’s fastest sintered base and a full wood core. So, unlike the lovely lady pictured in the graphic, no-one could ever accuse this board of basing its entire appeal on its appearance. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
NEVER SUMMER EVO £465
For a high-end park and pipe board, the Evo might seem relatively soft at first. But as anyone who’s ever stumbled down Manchester’s Canal Street can testify, first impressions can be misleading. Never Summer’s ‘Press-Flex’ core, which puts softer woods between the riders’ feet, means that this board fl exes easily along its length, making presses and butters easy, while still maintaining a healthy amount of torsional stiffness so it holds an edge nicely too. They’ve also stuck V-shaped carbon rods at either end, which helps transfer a rider’s energy to the tips of the effective edge without sacrificing the easy-jibbing feel. OK so it might not be stiff enough for the most hardcore beardy powder hounds, but then the graf-inspired park graphic tells you that anyway. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
NITRO ROOK £380
A relatively new addition to Nitro’s line this year, the Rook looks set to become a classic quickly. This is partly to do with the graphic, which will appeal to fans of Nitro’s trademark skulls and metal aesthetic – I can’t look at this board without hearing Lemmy rasping his way through The Ace of Spades in my head. But even if you’re not a Motorhead fan, the tech in this stick should appeal. It’s got Nitro’s ‘Zero’ flat base technology, meaning it’ll pretty much hold an edge on an ice-rink, and their ‘Pop Band’ inserts. But most importantly, it’s got their ‘Ballistic Impact Panel’ reinforcements under the bindings. These apparently reduce the impact of heavy landings, and they’re made out of Kevlar, the same material used in US marines’ bulletproof vests. If all of this sounds a bit hardcore for beginners, it’s probably because it is. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
RIDE MANIC £280
Elbowing its way into Ride’s range for the first time this year, the Manic sits somewhere between the popular Agenda and the Crush – it’s aimed at riders who might have out-grown the entry level Agenda, but are quite ready to part with £400 for their new stick. Ride’s frisky-feeling ‘Low-Rize’ rocker profile means it’s pretty tricky to catch an edge when you’re riding this, but the relatively stiff fl ex means this doesn’t suffer from the chatter that can affect really soft rocker boards at high speeds. It’s got a slightly setback stance, meaning it’s more comfortable going forward than switch, but only marginally – it may not be a true twin, but this will still be happy hitting the park with you on board. Ride’s slime walls offer extra dampening so you can power through crud, and a comic-book panel graphic adds extra style points. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our progressive snowboard guide.
K2 FASTPLANT £420
K2’s new park slayer should be on any self-respecting freestyler’s new stick shortlist. The medium fl ex and ‘Jib Rocker’ profile are all well and good, but it’s the Fastplant’s core that really makes it stand out. It’s called ‘BambooYah’ and it’s made of – you guessed it – bamboo. The company is particularly proud of this not only because bamboo grows quickly (meaning cutting it down to use in boards is less damaging to the environment) but also cos they believe it’s the strongest core they’ve ever made built. In fact, they’re so sure of this they’re putting their money where their mouth is and offering a pretty much unparalleled 5-year warranty! Not bad eh? They’ve also packed in carbon V’s at the tip and tail to add pop, so while the graphic might not be the most distinctive, the overall feel of this board really sets it apart. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our all mountain snowboard guide.
SALOMON SALOMONDER £280
Despite having a damn silly name, this attracted a lot of attention – and earned a lot of praise – in the pre-season testing period because of its performance. Unusually for a jib stick, it’s got a fl at base rather than a rocker profile. This means that while it might not press quite as well as some, it’s got a lot more pop than some of the other boards in its class. Ollieing onto rails and spinning off them is made easier, and the fact that it has one of the softest flexes in the game means it butters like a bitch anyway. Combine this with rubber impact absorbers on the edges, and a tough extruded base and you have a board that’s perfect for ledges, rails and bomb drops of all shades– just ask Canadian jib prodigy Jed Anderson. Oh and the graphic’s badass too. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our jib snowboard guide.
ROXY EMINENCE £470
Torah Bright won the Olympic halfpipe gold medal on this stick in such style that it was bound to be the centre of attention in the pre-season period. And with good reason. Like Lib Tech and Gnu’s boards, this is a product of the Mervin Manufacturing factory near Seattle (see p. 42), and it features a lot of the technical innovations that have made those brands stand out in recent years. The profile is Mervin’s ‘C2 Power Banana’ combo – the same one featured on Travis Rice’s boards – and it also features the wavy-edge ‘Magne -Traction’ tech, which acts like a bread knife to increase the surface area of the metal edges, and no doubt helped Torah grip those icy pipe walls in Vancouver. OK, so the graphic is not the world’s most original or inspiring, but with tech like that and a Mervin pedigree, advanced female riders would be silly not to consider this stick. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our women's snowboard guide.
VOLKL SOUL SURFER £385
Volkl boards have long been popular in the Austrian Alps, but were nigh-on impossible to get hold of in the UK – until now. This year, the company has a brand new UK distributor, which is pretty exciting. It means that, quite apart from the park boards they produce, we’ll get to drool over the Soul Surfer. It’s got Volkl’s high spec ‘Supreme wood core’ at the centre, a tri-axial fiberglass weave and their ‘Pop 2.0’ carbon inserts, making it stiff and responsive. With a nose that’s wider than Frank Bruno’s after a punch to the face and a choice of pin-or swallow tail, this is shaped for powder, not the park. Add a simple old-school graphic lifted straight off a seventies surfboard, and you have an awesome powder package. Read what our testers thought of this and other in our big mountain snowboard guide.