Day two of the Stratton demos for the 2016 gear was cold, sunny and windy but with plenty of snow left over from the previous storm. I wanted to start out with Arbor Snowboards 2016 stuff again since they added a bunch of new boards, profiles and tech to their line. They have a new camber system with beveled contact points and the amazingly good-looking Zygote- a retro-twin park board. I also wanted to check out the new ankle straps Flux bindings has out that are designed to be super light and supportive and have no little to no pressure points. And then there were new Lib and Gnu oddball boards that needed to be ridden along with trying out a couple of Marhar boards- a relatively new brand with a very cool line.
The Draft is a soft-flex, rockered, twin park board with an ash top sheet and an extruded base that has been a staple of Arbor’s Rocker System line for a while. For 2016, the Draft has been given the Flathead Tips like the Westmark, providing a more stable platform for pressing and ollying. And like all Arbor snowboards it has a 3-year warranty- pretty darn good deal for a park board.
The new Flathead Tips made this board feel shorter that what its 155 cm length. It also felt super light, and I could spin in and out of sidehits on autopilot. 360 tail and nose presses were a lot of fun, and the board had a good amount pop. It ollies a little bit more towards the middle of the board than last year’s Draft, which I could load up way back on the tail. Popping over “SLOW” signs and lift line ropes took extra effort (but I had been on the DL since November from shoulder surgery and this was just my second day out) and the board felt like it may be slightly softer than previous years.
The Flux DS is a softer flexing park binding with an Ultima Wing highback that offers more support for pressing. It has tool-less adjustability, a full length EVA footbed that is adjustable at the toe and heel ends. The new Honeycomb strap is a rubbery one piece, cored out strap that offers better hold and better comfort than other straps. The new Micro Ratchets are 30% smaller and have improved hold on the ladder.
I rode the Flux DS bindings with the Arbor Draft and they matched up perfectly. The ankle straps were so comfortable that I thought they slipped open but when I stopped to tighten them they were as tight as possible. You hardly even know they’re there. These are really stellar high-end, soft to mid flex bindings for the avid park guy.
The Arbor Zygote is a soft flexing, true twin board with a skate style Bonehead tip and squared off tail. Arbor calls the shape of the Zygote “non-symmetrical” and it looks like an old Sims board that I rode back in ‘80’s. The Zygot has the Camber System profile and the topside graphics are freaking awesome! … IMO.
I rode the 149, which supposedly rides like a 145- something far outside the realm of what is familiar for me. That said, it was an insanely fun board to butter around on, in and out of the park. It rides switch great and the edge hold was pretty good for a board that was severely undersized for me. I would ride this board in 155 and I probably will next year- it’s a killer freestyle – park board.
The Gnu Zoid comes in two models- goofy and regular. It’s a directional board with an asymmetrical shape, a deeper heelside sidecut with softer heelside flex (A.S.S. Tech) and EC2 rocker profile. The EC2 BTX is a little less aggressive than regular C2 BTX.
The Gnu Zoid is a really fun board for carving. The asymmetrical shape makes for a long side cut that feels very even and fluid. It’s a great board for laying trenches on hard pack, but with a surfy feel. The buttery flexing EC2 really blends well with the asymmetrical shape of this board. Popping off the tail took some getting used to. It felt a little off-center and unbalanced, but once I figured it out, it only took minor adjusting to get it right.
Lib Tech DUH
The Lib Tech DUH (Deeper Understanding Hypothesis…. wut?) has a totally unique design unlike anything else on the market- it has 4 rails. Called Speed Lever Technology, the middle of the board lengthwise is raised and has two additional metal edges that help the board track and offers extra edge hold on turns. The DUH has an XC2 profile, which is a little more aggressive than regular C2 and the obligatory Mervin Magne-traction sidecut.
This board is really fast. That suicidal college kid on his $1500 skis blasting a buck-20 down the mountain? You can pass him on this board and feel in complete control. I was amazed at how stable it was at speed through chop and chunder. Turning was a little awkward at first as I could feel the center rails underneath grip the snow, but it was fine once I got used to it. This is the board for the lawyer/Wall Street dad who wants the BEST damn stick on the entire mountain. He’s going to be ripping down the middle of black runs with a huge smile on his face and 10 patrol dudes coming after him. No park, no butters, not even sure about pipe- just all out, all-mountain warfare.
The Salomon is a mid-soft flex, true twin snowboard. It has Salomon’s Rock Out camber profile which is flat between the bindings, camber underneath, and rocker on the tip and tail. The flat section offers stability, camber sections offer pop and response, and rocker sections offer float and pressability.
Like the Yes Basic, it’s a board I get on and immediately feel like it was made for me. No surprises, light and lively, springy, fast, and holds together nicely in all conditions. This is a great board for park/all-mountain lift service riding.
The Marhar Throwback is a true twin, rocker board with extra contact points at the toe and heel sections. It has a bamboo core with carbon stringers giving it a little more snap in and out of turns. The tip and tail sections flatten out keeping the outer contact points lower to the ground and offering better edge hold.
The Throwback’s profile is similar to Arbor’s Rocker System. It turns really smoothly and feels fast but stable at speed. It has a fair amount of pop but also a good amount of dampness that soaks up the crud and bumps better than most full rocker boards.
The Marhar Archaic is a true twin board with rocker in the middle and camber underneath the bindings. It also has additional contact points at the toe and heel sections. The bamboo core with carbon stringers placed in specific areas of the board give it lively feel with lots of pop off the tail.
This board was very stable at speed and fast helped on by the stiffer core profile and freshly waxed sintered base. It is noticeably stiffer than the Throwback but still easy butter around on and felt really fun for aggressive all-moutain riding.
So there’s a look at day 2- a very busy day as you can see. Day 3 was spent reaping the goods from another overnight storm. I didn’t demo as many boards but the one’s I did were really dialed in and have some new features for the 2016 season so stay tuned!