On the second day at the Stratton Snowboard Demos I spent a little more time on each board and binding set up to get a good feel for how they rode on different parts of the mountain. The weather had warmed up substantially with some overnight rain mixed with sleet and snow. Luckily, the temps stayed in the thirties and nothing froze up until the very end of the day and mostly at the top of the mountain.
Cathy really seemed to enjoy the Gnu Hyper Kyarve the day before, so that was first up on my list. And while I was at the Mervin booth I thought that I might as well check out Gnu Head Space which uses the same C3 camber profile as my Mullair but in a true twin shape and a lot softer flex. And lastly, on recommendation from Travis from Splinters board shop at Sugarbush Mountain I took the Rome Blur out for a few laps.
Gnu Hyper Kyarve 157 with Bent Metal Transfer bindings
The Gnu Hyper Kyarve (pronounced kee-arve, because it’s more fun to say than carve- Gnu claims) started as a graphics collaboration project with EVO, but will probably change by the time Gnu rolls it out for 2018. Carrying on with my fascination with surfy snowboard shapes, the Hyper Kyarve, like the Arbor Terrapin and K2 Cool Beans boards that I rode the day before fits nicely into this category. It has a long, blunted nose that tapers down to shallow, half-moon tail cut-out.
The Hyper Kyarve has Mervin’s C2X profile, that is, a moderate amount rocker in the middle of the board with camber sections out to the tip and tail. This gives the board a more playful feel like regular C2 but with more pop, stability and liveliness
All in all it was very fun ride with plenty of responsiveness in and out of turns. Carving was also a lot of fun as the short tail worked nicely with the directional sidecut allowing the board to hold its line really well.
The Bent Metal Transfer bindings are ridden by Forrest Bailey and feature a mid-flex highback with a removable footbed, called Flex Control Drive Plates that can be swapped out for a stiffer or softer one. The EVA ankle strap and wide toe strap with a big window were very comfortable and supportive. There were no pressure points or feeling restricted in any way. The response was in line with a medium flex binding in that I could press hard and draw out my tweaks without any hindrance but also get my board on edge quickly. These are definitely good bindings to have for park and all-mountain riding.
Gnu Head Space 155 with Bent Metal Transfer bindings
The Gnu Head Space is Forrest Bailey’s pro model designed for park and all-mountain riding. The Head Space has Gnu’s C3 profile- a very small section of rocker in the middle with positive camber under foot and to the tip and tail. The small amount of rocker in the middle and the medium flex makes the edge to edge action feel just a tad looser than a regular full camber board.
The Head Space rides like a twin in that it feels the same riding switch as regular and shifts where you pop from on the board a little closer to the middle section. It’s definitely a freestyle board but one that feels stable blasting down the mountain and has a lot liveliness to it when carving and popping in and out of side hits.
I really enjoyed riding this board a lot. I know because I didn’t bother to swap it out till the very end of the day!
Rome Blur 156 with Rome Vice bindings
The last board I rode for day two was the Rome Blur on high recommendation from Travis Kerr, from Splinters Board Shop at Sugarbush Mountain. The Blur has a hybrid camber profile with positive camber through the length of the board and rocker starting just before the outside contact points. It’s another surf shape snowboard with a pointy-ish nose and a shallow half-moon cut-out (sort of like the Hyper Kyarve) on the tail.
The Blur definitely felt on the stiffer side of the spectrum with a little looseness at the contacts points due the rocker there. It has a very directional shape with 2cm of setback so the board was really good at ripping carves at high speed. Even with the 156, I felt ridiculously stable on this board going over all manner of late-day chop and chunder snow conditions.
I bet a 159 would be insane for someone my weight for the ultimate all-mountain, freeride machine. This would be a good one for the freeride guys and larger riders who like bombing down the mountain at insane speeds.
The Rome Vice bindings are new for 2018. The reps originally had me set up with the Katana’s, Rome’s high end bindings, but they were the wrong size. The reps told me that the Vice’s are the price-point version of the Katanas.
The Vice’s felt like a medium flex binding through the chassis but with a slightly softer high back. I felt like they were just a tad soft for the stiffness of the Blur. I could transition from edge to edge just fine but I felt just a little delay in getting the board to react.
That said, these were very comfortable bindings from the footbed, to the straps and highback, everything felt very plush. The ratchets were smooth and didn’t slip at all. The low pressure toe was really supportive and there were no pressure points.
So that’s day two of the 2017 Stratton Snowboard Demos. We tried out a good mix of different types of boards and bindings in varying conditions but mostly soft, wet snow turning more firm as the sun went down. Stay tuned for day three- a genuine pow-day!