This week I got to ride the new Gnu Smart Pickle that will be coming out in full production for the 2015 season (there are currently a few floating around some shops here and there). I picked up a 153 at the Providence winter sports show last week and was pretty psyched to give it a go. The Park Pickle is the predecessor of the Smart Pickle and I always loved that board because it was so easy for me ride on any type of terrain. I thought it was the perfect “set it and forget it” snowboard. It felt natural and spontaneous spinning off of jumps, popping in and out of side hits, and bombing through the trees. The Smart Pickle retains the same “pickle tech” and BTX profile but with a lot more changes in the core and edges.
First off, let’s start with “Pickle“, which is one of the main features on Gnu’s overall “Asym” profile that includes a specific core and edge design. Then we will get into the new features that Gnu put into this board for 2015. Lastly, I’ll say a few words on my impressions with riding the Smart Pickle.
- Pickle: The pickle shape has a tighter and deeper sidecut radius on the heelside of the snowboard and a shallower, longer sidecut on the toeside. This allows you to have the same turning efficiency on both your toe and heel side edges. Toe side turns naturally conform to the mechanics of your toes, ankles, knees and hips, which work together to facilitate efficient and precise turning. Heelside turns are a bit trickier because of your body’s physiology. To compensate for this discrepancy, Gnu deepened the heelside sidecut so that less pressure is needed to engage the contact points. This gives you better leverage, control, and balance on you heelside edge making turning easier and more precise.
- Smart PBTX: The pickle shape also uses Smart PBTX. “Smart” combines the new wood core and asymmetrical magnetraction with Gnu’s PBTX rocker design that has rocker between your feet and flat to mild camber out to the tip and tail. PBTX is a looser, freestyle oriented profile that does well in the park and floats great in powder. The rocker makes it easier to get the board on edge for turning, and it is easier to nose and tail press on park features and buttering tricks. But keep in mind, the flex on the Gnu Smart Pickle is rated at a 5.5 for sizes 147 and 150; a 6 flex rating for sizes 153 and 156 (including the wide versions); and a 6.5 flex rating for the 159 and 159 wide. So leave no doubt, the Smart Pickle can handle the whole mountain at speed and not get all chattery like a softer board would do.
- Asym AP-1 (Pickle Barrel) Core: The core of the Smart Pickle consists of three types of wood- Aspen, Columbia Gold and Polonia. The wood is arranged to make the heel side of the snowboard softer than the toe side. Gnu calls this design their Pickle Barrel core and it enhances the effects of the deeper heel side sidecut by allowing the board to get on edge easier and with more control and efficiency.
- Assymetrical “Smart Formula” Magnetraction: Magnetraction is the serrated/wavy edge that Gnu has used on all of their snowboards for many years. It puts seven points of contact on each side of the snowboard, giving it very good edge hold in hard-pack and icy conditions. The magnetraction on the Smart Pickle is a little different from the other Gnu snowboards. The Smart Pickle has what Gnu calls Power Serration on the heel side, which is more aggressive, and Finesse Serration on the toe side that is less aggressive. This allows the heel side to have more edge hold and grip in firmer conditions while the toe side turns will feel smoother and looser.
I rode the Smart Pickle on a freezing cold, boilerplate day followed by a day with a few inches of light and dry snow. The 153 is a bit shorter than what I usually ride (155-157) but the heavy magnetraction on the heel edge worked really well on the hard pack especially when ripping switch heel side turns. I could definitely feel the looseness of the mellow magnetraction on the toeside. It still held an edge nicely but the “locked-in” feel you get from regular magnetraction sometimes was totally gone.
The 153 still has a flex rating of 6 and it felt stable and responsive when mobbing the hill even over chunder and huge bumps. In the park, it jibbed like I expected- locked on well to the few rails I hit with no surprises. On jumps it really shines. For a board with little to no camber out on the tip and tail it really has some good pop. Even half-hearted cab 180’s off smaller kickers got me some additional airtime that was a really pleasant surprise. And the tail held me in perfectly tight when I landed in the backseat.
The softer flex on the heel side is pretty amazing when laying into a turn. You can blast around the mountain railing that heelside as hard as you want without worrying about slipping out. For me, without a doubt, the Gnu Smart Pickle feels and rides great.