Arbor Collective started making snowboards back in 1995 in Venice Beach, CA. They are comprised of athletes, artists, designers and engineers. From the beginning, they have focus on using environmentally sustainable materials and manufacturing methods that would be least harmful to the ecology. They were the first in the industry to approach snowboard and skateboard manufacturing in this way. They rethought everything they had learned about what materials and processes to use and they melded sustainability with the design. The result is a line of products that are unique to the industry and incredible to ride.
Their first snowboard, the Element, set the standard for all-mountain, bombproof boards that would follow. The big, open grain poplar, bamboo and beech top sheet veneers with rich, earthy contrasting colors would become the company’s signature look- you still can’t miss them on the hill. In addition to snowboards, Arbor also began producing long board skateboards back in 1999 and then added eco-friendly, bamboo weave apparel to their list of offerings.
Arbor snowboards were often known for being mid-stiff to stiff, cambered all-mountain to big mountain decks that would feel most at home on steep, technical terrain. That view changed almost over night beginning a few years ago when they began turning out their “System” series snowboards. The “System” incorporates a full rocker profile (what Arbor calls parabolic rocker), “grip tech” edge design and different shapes that accommodate a wide variety of riding styles. Lets take a closer look at these features. As one who has ridden a good number of these “System” boards, I can tell you they are well worth checking out.
- Rocker: Arbor’s rocker runs continuously through the length of the entire the board. Whereas most other rocker boards use a mix of flat and/or cambered sections. Arbor’s boards are very predictable and comfortable to ride. The rider does not have “think” about how to ride the board. It comes very naturally and this is in part attributable the parabolic rocker, which allows the contact points to release and reengage from the snow very easily making turning the snowboard a lot of fun.
- Grip-Tech: Grip-Tech is Arbor’s proprietary sidecut design. It consists of four areas on the snowboard that are bumped-out slightly. These “bumps” are situated where your bindings are mounted. So, in addition to the four regular contact points (located on each side of the nose and tail) you also have a contact point at your toes and heel on each foot. The rocker profile of the board lifts the outside contacts points off the snow. The Grip-Tech contacts compensate for that giving the rider increased edge-control, and in turn, confidence while riding in firmer conditions or when railing hard through a turn. A lot of companies put several contact points all along the side-cut, which may affect how the board rides. Arbor has placed them only where needed with the most leverage being at the pressure points in front of your toes and behind your heels- the points you lean into directly. This allows the rest of the side-cut to perform cleanly and smoothly without feeling slow or twitchy. Their strategically placed Grip Tech also means that regular waist width boards can accommodate a larger boot size. Arbor boards with Grip Tech can fit a size 12 without having to get a wide board.
- Power Ply: Traditional camber boards are know for being very snappy because they take a lot energy to bend and so store that energy until released. Rocker boards are already pre-bent so they do not store as much energy and consequently tend to offer little pop when ollying or whipping in and out of turns. Arbor makes up for this by using bamboo or poplar top sheets, which add structural stiffness to the board so that it can rebound nicely but still feel loose and forgiving through the rest of your ride.
- Twin Shapes: The new Arbor snowboards tend to have twin shapes, that is, the nose and tail are of equal lengths and width. Arbor wants you to be centered on your board because this not only makes the Grip-Tech work best but also promotes the most stability by keeping your weight equally balanced through the side-cut.
So there are the basic features of Arbor’s “System” tech. Now, there are five specific designs within the System: Park, Mountain, Jib, Pow and Mini. Lets take a quick look at each one.
- Park: The Park System boards are medium-soft flex, true twin shape, and have blunted tip- meaning the tips are slightly squared off to improve performance in the park (makes buttering easier) and the pow (increase surface area exposed to snow making float in powder conditions better). These boards are designed for park riders who like to ride the whole mountain. The Arbor boards in this System include the Westmark, Blacklist and Cadence.
- Jib: The Jib System has a soft flex, true twin shape and blunted tips. Like the Park System boards, their tips are flat which creates a stable surface for pressing. The soft flex makes them more of a park-specific (rails, boxes, etc.) board than the Park System boards. The Arbor boards in this System include the Draft.
- Mountain: The Mountain System has a medium flex, directional twin shape and mountain tips. The stiffer flex helps reduce chatter when riding fast down steep, technical terrain. The direction shape has a set back side cut which improves performance when riding aggressively down steeper terrain and the mountain tips are elongated to improve float in powder conditions. Then Mountain System boards include the Coda, Wasteland, Swoon Paparazzi, Formula, Element RX and Roundhouse RX.
- Pow: The Pow System has a medium flex, full directional shape and mountain tips. This system is found on Arbor’s Abacus splitboard and has a set back rocker profile, which improves stability, edge hold and float in backcountry terrain. It also provides improved grip when in touring mode.
- Mini: The Mini System has a soft flex, true twin shape and floater tips. The flex and twin shape help make turning the board very easy and is a very forgiving for young beginners. The elongated tips add stability and float in deeper snow conditions. The Mini System boards include the Draft Mini and Element RX Mini.
So there’s a look at Arbor Collective Snowboards. I have ridden the Coda and Westmark boards and was so totally amped on how they felt. For my style of riding, the Coda works incredibly well. I do a little bit of everything almost every run from bombing steeps, tree riding, buttering around, hitting jumps and hitting rails. It is more of a mountain board but has great pop and enough flex to comfortably press. Arbor makes great, super fun boards that work well for all riders. If you are looking for a board definitely try and check them out.