New tech doesn’t always mean it’s the next best thing to hit the market, sometimes it’s just great marketing poised to make you believe it’s great. For 2013 some companies braved the conventional norms of snowboard building to create something new and innovative. Being skeptical of anything revolutionary I sat around poking and prodding these boards before strapping them to my feet and sliding sideways for the final practical exam.
2013 presented itself with four amazing new technologies from four varying brands: Flow, Echelon, SIMS, and Contract. Each tech is unique to the brand or the respective designer(s) and provides a function to improve riding. Choosing the order to which these stick out as being the most innovative was a daunting task but much like The Highlander there could only be 1, at least as the best.
SIMS has a huge legacy in snowboarding and although they’ve somewhat fallen by the wayside over the course of the last decade that doesn’t mean they aren’t working on new technology that is beneficial to all kinds of riders. Enter their X-Wedge featuring E-Board™ Technology which integrates a 2.5 degree ergonomic canting into the board but doesn’t sacrifice feel or board flex. Having knee problems and knowing how canting in my binding as well as the footbed of my boot benefits me as a rider this only seemed natural to step on. I’m a huge advocate of canting and believe in the future everyone will be riding with some form or another of it whether it’s in the board, boot, or binding. Because of this and how the X-Wedge tech made this board feel I had to give it top honors. Here’s a review of the tech in action on the E Board.
If you’re not from Poland or even Europe you have probably never heard of Contract Snowboards. This company first caught my attention about two years ago and it wasn’t because they were from Poland but it was their 3D Snake Transition Technology. The idea that a board could essentially be pressed with three camber zones between the feet to act as a spring was intriguing. It made total sense that it would allow you to load up and spring in and out of carves, but I was more worried about how it would lock into a boardslide in the park. After riding their park board The Circus that worry was washed away. The level of snap on edge is unparalleled by anything I’ve ridden. This adds to the control factor allowing you to slingshot back and forth through hard carves.
The third stand out isn’t an unfamiliar face to snowboarding. If anyone remembers Omatic snowboards BS Technology then Echelon’s True3D and Lite3D base profile should look surprisingly familiar. Same technology different name although they Echelon did add its own ideas into it. The Lite3D was theirs as well as having it put on camber. I still occasionally bust out my Omatic Extr-Eco from time to time and thought that BS Technology was lost until Echelon was able to snag up board designer Jason Kanes and get a license on this. I’m a firm believer in this tech as you can have razor sharp edges but not have to worry about them hanging up on jibs. It also helps in edge control.
The final best new piece of tech comes from Flow in the form of tit implants in the board or A.B.T (Augmented Base Technology). Well not exactly tit implants but more of a silicone dampening built into the core. While I only got to ride this on the Rush and I didn’t think it stood out as something that worked super well I witnessed first hand up at Mt. Hood this spring one of their regional riders do a double wildcat that came up short causing the board to snap. Had this board been built with just a traditional wood core and nothing else I’m pretty sure I would have been carting his ass to the hospital, instead the A.B.T. allowed him to ride it out and absorb most of the impact causing less fatigue and stress to his body. Granted the board broke but the rider didn’t and honestly that’s better than destroying yourself and the equipment. From my personal experience riding it and seeing it in action I think another season of tweaking and the guys at Flow will have it dialed in to where it needs to be.
In a nutshell these are the four biggest things that stood out to me as being progressive for the technical side of snowboarding and changing the way boards ride and are built. Everything in this article serves a purpose, mainly to make snowboarding better for you guys and you can’t fault any company for doing that. Keep an eye out for our Best Good Platinum Test Award Picks for the boards we rode this season coming soon.