After the SIA Trade Show all the participants have the opportunity to head to Winter Park for two days of testing out next season’s snowboard gear. Almost all of the vendors are represented so the selection of boards and bindings to ride is vast. After last year’s experience, where I had a bad case of the ‘fat kid on cake’ syndrome, I decided to relax a bit and spend more time trying to get a better sense of each piece of gear that I took out.
But first, let me say that the following descriptions on these products are not in any way, shape or form meant to be a review. Everyone has their own personal preferences, assumptions and determinations towards the gear they ride. These thoughts are just some of my general impressions on the 2014 gear that I rode over the course of two days.
For expert analysis and professional reviews check out the Geeks of Shred. They have gear reviews dialed in tight!
* The boards were ridden in the order listed below. The first three boards were ridden on day one. The second three boards were ridden on day two. The bindings were ridden on day two.
** The rider is 5’10”, 175 lbs. He rides regular; stance angles are 18, -9 and stance width is 22.5″.
Yes Asym: This is a stiff flex mountain board. I ran the 156. It carves.
This is my perfect early morning board when I am amped up on coffee and pop tahhts and the mountain is ice cold boiler plate. I am ready to blast down and cut ruts into everything. The edge hold on the Asym is relentless and although I could feel the heelside rail bite in hard, it wasn’t catchy at all, like say, the way the early versions of Magnetraction could be. The booth guy said they loosened up the torsional flex while keeping the directional flex stiff. Whatever it was, it worked for me.
You can see the huge heelside sidecut in the pics above. Also, the double-banger tips add some style to the Volvo-esque top sheet.
Niche Knew: This is a mid flex mountain/park board. I ran the 156. It pops and spins.
I’m usually not a fan of flat camber. There’s a dead feeling to it for me and unless I’m sliding a rail or box it tends to make little impression on me- which I guess is not always a bad thing. Having fallen completely in love with my Niche Crew (Aether) it was easy for me to recognize the inherent snappy, lively and lite qualities that every Niche board I ride seems to have. Niche uses eco-friendly materials that really give their boards a unique feel. The Knew, to me, has a good all-mountain board flex and obviously, it would be good for park features with the zero camber.
Gnu Impossible: This is a mid flex park/mountain board. I ran the 155. It presses and does weird fun stuff.
The Impossible, like the Yes Asym, has a deeper heelside sidecut to lock in heelside turns. They call it ASS. In addition, it has an elongated toe side edge to compensate for the shorter heelside edge. The board also employs a mind-numbing amount of technical workings and futuristic materials that are meant to affect it in all sorts of ways that I’m incapable of explaining adequately.
That said, with all of the different design features and tech going on in this board it feels like everything is happening at once. I didn’t know what was going on but I do know it worked. I could feel the heelside asym lock me in. It was loose but didn’t fall apart at speed. It felt damp but not dead (like NS boards). It buttered, popped and spun out of side hits in a funky mess. Weird-fun is the best I can describe my ride on this board.
Slash Happy Place: This is a mid-stiff flex mountain board. I ran the 156. It goes fast, holds an edge, and runs over stuff.
Slash is one of those companies that are brand new (second year) and that is owned by everyone’s favorite snowboarder…. one of them. I picked the Happy Place because even though it’s another flat-cambered board, it has a cool devil graphic and I like the sound of “happy place”.
The board has a mid-stiff flex. It goes really fast without chatter. It has decent edge hold. I went flying over a bunch of rocks and tree stumps poking through the snow in the forests and it felt great. The board was in good shape when I brought it back, so points for durability. But for me, it needs to be loosened up a bit. It might make a good jump board for someone.
Oh yeah, those apple-bite tips are called kick stands. For those of you who don’t enjoy the sound of crashing snowboards in the middle of night.
Arbor Coda: This is a mid flex mountain board. I ran the 156. It does all of the above. It makes my heart feel love.
This is the board that rivals my Niche Crew/Now IPO set up. I ran it with the new Flux SF’s, which match up well. I rode the Coda at last year’s demo and liked it so much I decided to carry Arbor in our shop. This year’s model is even better. Arbor moved the bamboo stringers in towards the middle of the board, which results in more torsional flex- I think. Anyway, it feels awesome.
This board presses well and it drives hard down big terrain without falling to pieces. How many boards can do that?? The edge hold is outstanding and the rocker makes spinning out of sidehits super easy and fun. Also, I like charging switch from time to time and even though this is a directional board it feels very happy doing that. It also has a spatula-shaped nose that is very pretty. The booth dude said it’s meant to cut down on backwash when hauling ass through powder.
Lib Tech Jamie Lynn C3: This is a mid-stiff mountain board. I ran the 154. It does none of the above.
I’ll preface this by saying that this was the last board I rode after a very long day of non-stop riding. My legs were begging for mercy. I had a choice between the 154 Jamie Lynn with C3 and a 161 wide Skunk Ape with C3. “154 please.”
C3 is a new version of Lib Tech’s rocker/camber profile. It has mellow rocker in between the bindings and more pronounced camber outside towards the tip and tail. It doesn’t work for me. I caught three edges spinning flat land 180’s and 360’s, which has never been a problem even with crusty old school full camber boards. I couldn’t get this board to press for any length of time. It felt sluggish and lifeless. It may have needed a waxing. It’s obviously a board for someone who is a much better snowboarder than I am- and most riders probably are.
* Sorry no pix for this one as I was too consumed with dreams of cold beer to remember to snap a few off. The board has the obligatory JL cartoon lady with awesome knockers on the topsheet. She’s either green or purple… maybe blue.
Now Driver: This is a mountain binding. The ankle straps are reversible. One way you have more support. The other way you have more freedom of movement. It responds quickly. (ridden with the Slash Happy Place with straps situated for more freedom of movement)
Flux SF: This is a mountain binding. The high backs are interchangeable. One way gives you more leverage on the outside. The other way gives you more leverage on the inside. It responds quickly. (ridden with the Arbor Coda with high back leverage towards the outside)
I really enjoyed both of these bindings. Compared to my Now IPO’s, I’d say they are both a more responsive and both are just as comfortable. The Flux has more adjustability options. The Now Driver has the comfort of the IPO plus more responsiveness due to the beefed up highback.
And that’s my SIA Demo Days recap. I will say, this is a great event. And even though it can get a bit crowded, it is well worth the time and effort to get out there and do a little board/binding testing. Woof.