Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snowboard: the chatter and the creamy

I rented a Burton LTR (Learn to Ride) 160W over the New Year because nothing else was available: good, nice length, easy turn. This has the LTR binding which lets you adjust the binding angles without tools, so I finally determined I like an 18/6 stance. Good stuff, but you can't buy it, it's only available as a rental board.

Next I demo'd a Custom X 158: stiff, responsive, significantly faster, but harder to nail toe-side carves, and it has a bit of wiggle on edge. A disappointment like the Custom. It seems everyone knows the Custom/Custom X are the best all-around boards except me.

Then a Burton Clash 158: excellent. Smooth creamy ride, wants to turn, gets on edge nicely, a real confidence-builder. Like the Bullet I liked, but narrower so faster edge-to-edge. Its only downside is it feels almost dainty and is a bit too soft between the feet.

I wanted to buy a Clash but no shop had one available. And telling store staff I preferred a Clash over a Custom X led to a "Well, sure if you're a beginner you won't like the Custom" vibe.

Burton's catalog and Web site don't help customers make sense of their demo experiences. The Custom X has a feel of 8 and a positive core profie, the Clash has a feel of 5, an even core profile, and a tapered shape. Nowhere does the 2006 catalog explain feel and profile!

I finally called Burton and the lady I spoke to suggested trying the Malolo: feel 7, negative core profile, tapered shape. I wanted to try this last season, but all the shops said it's a pure powder board and useless for anything else. I demo'd a Malolo 158 from Tahoe Dave's in Tahoe City and it was excellent: nice ride, still willing to carve, a perfect length, and reasonable on hardpack. Not quite as confidence-inspiring as the Clash, so maybe a Clash 162 would be a better fit. Aggh!

Asking for advice from Tahoe Dave's in Squaw Valley was comical. Buzz-cut manager: I mostly ski. Dreadlocked guy with trendy glasses: no, I ski. Tattoo'd soul patch guy: I ski the backcountry. Snowboarding is officially uncool, Olympic highlights notwithstanding!

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  • I've been looking to buy my first board (as I've always used friend's extras while learning), and heard that the Clash is the best freeride value as far as beginning/improving setups go. Have you tried any other brands etc. that you can give some insight on? I feel comfortable on a board, but don't want to drop hundreds on something that won't help me get better because it's for more advanced riders.

    By Mike in NJ, at February 28, 2007 5:34 AM  

  • mike in nj,
    Most of my rental experience that I can rememember is in this blog in the three posts tagged 'snowboard'. As I wrote, the Burton range "is so vast and generally high-quality that I didn't even bother going elsewhere for board and bindings."
    I liked the Clash a lot, so if you try it and like it, then buy it. If you want more, then it's tricky. One thing I can say is never spend more $$$ unless you demo it and like it more. Sometimes you grow into advanced equipment that you didn't like at first, but often it doesn't feel right because it isn't right. If I had listened to catalogs and salespeople I would have bought a Custom X years ago, and the Malolo is a much, much better fit for me.

    Good luck!

    By skierpage, at March 03, 2007 1:54 AM  

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