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Old 10-09-2011, 08:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Condused about board flex

After reading around everyone is saying the stiffer the board the more responsive it will be, and because of that it will be easier to get on edge. When they say that, does that mean turn initiation will be easier?

I am not understanding why a beginner would want a soft board if it would be easier to get on an edge with a stiffer board.

I am talking about just freeriding I understand why you would need a softer board in the park.

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Old 10-09-2011, 08:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Beginners don't have the finer movements down to subletly control the board....they make wild gestulations. Therefore the wild movements get amplified on a stiff board and because the stiff board is responsive and spastic movements result in punishment of the noob.

yes, turn initiation will be easier...but a noob doesn't have all things coordinated for smooth snappy turns and tends to get bucked or slammed.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ylnad123 View Post
After reading around everyone is saying the stiffer the board the more responsive it will be, and because of that it will be easier to get on edge. When they say that, does that mean turn initiation will be easier?

I am not understanding why a beginner would want a soft board if it would be easier to get on an edge with a stiffer board.

I am talking about just freeriding I understand why you would need a softer board in the park.
You make some good observations. The conventional wisdom is a bit self-contradictory. I think that the idea is to teach a new rider:
1. How it can feel to really go hold an edge before they try it on a stiffer board in faster conditions
2. To give them something it doesn't take as much strength/technique to control at lower speeds on less steep slopes

In practice (and I haven't logged nearly as many hours as some of these guys), it might take a little longer to learn how to control a stiffer board, but since most people learn on blue groomers there isn't much more of a learning curve for your first 2 or 3 days.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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A more stiffer board is more like a spirited horse. It is capable of more of the positive things to a higher degree than a softer board. That said, a stiffer board requires more aggressive and well-controlled rider input to be able to do these things.

The flip side of a stiff board is that, without the aggressive and well-controlled rider input, it is going to do what it wants. The board will ride you instead of the other way around.

A beginning rider generally doesn't have the control, aggression or feel to torque and flex a stiffer board. It also makes it harder to learn the "feel". Witness the number of riders who think they're carving, but, in reality, are just skidding their turns. A lot of them just have no idea what carving feels like so they call any controlled, higher speed turn a "carve".

Another analogy would be a stiff shafted golf club. Until you can consistently generate higher swing speeds, you might as well be swinging a 2x4.
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Old 10-09-2011, 02:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ylnad123 View Post
After reading around everyone is saying the stiffer the board the more responsive it will be, and because of that it will be easier to get on edge. When they say that, does that mean turn initiation will be easier?

I am not understanding why a beginner would want a soft board if it would be easier to get on an edge with a stiffer board.

I am talking about just freeriding I understand why you would need a softer board in the park.
Great question. A few other things to consider:

Boards are not easily classified as soft or stiff. Current boards have highly eveolved cores and laminates which can vary the flex (often multiple times) from tip to tail. The different flex zones have to match the sidecut, profile, etc to produce a great ride.

Flex depends greatly on rider weight. Add or subtract 20 lbs to the rider and the same deck has entirely different performance.
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Old 10-09-2011, 02:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks guys, that really helps.

But just to add to the discussion. Everyone seems to review the banana magic as an advanced-expert board, but they review the TRS C2 as an intermediate board. Both are about the same flex according to Lib, the magic is a little stiffer in some sizes. The only real difference I see is the side cut radius.

Is the side cut radius the only thing that makes the magic an advanced board? Or is there something else that makes the magic a harder board to control than the trs?
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ylnad123 View Post
Thanks guys, that really helps.

But just to add to the discussion. Everyone seems to review the banana magic as an advanced-expert board, but they review the TRS C2 as an intermediate board. Both are about the same flex according to Lib, the magic is a little stiffer in some sizes. The only real difference I see is the side cut radius.

Is the side cut radius the only thing that makes the magic an advanced board? Or is there something else that makes the magic a harder board to control than the trs?
dont forget cambers, different technologies used, and materials. for example the trs has an extruded base, and the magic banana has a sintered base.
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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To add to the discussion, when talking about board flex, there are two components that make up the board`s overall flex. You have longitudinal flex which describes the flex of the board from tip to tail or how easy it is to bend the board. The other flex is called torsional flex. This flex describes how easy or resistant the board is to twisting. For the new rider, learning to manipulate their board, torsional flex is most important.

As you learn to snowboard, you will be using your feet to twist the board to engage the sidecut to initiate turns. A soft board makes responds to this twist much more and is actually much more responsive at slow speeds. A stiffer deck requires more confident, aggressive torsional movements and is less responsive at slow speeds. As speed increases, the stiffer deck becomes more responsive but remains stable. The softer board does not really become less responsive at high speed, but becomes unstable. This is why your first choice for high speed carving is not going to be a noodly jib board.

This is where the all mountain intermediate board shines. It is soft enough for a beginner to learn easily on, yet is stiff enough to handle faster speeds and more advance riding techniques. In my experience a board with a mid to upper mid flex rating is ideal as a first purchase since it fills this demand nicely. Another great thing about the technological advances in modern boards is that with all of the space age materials companies are putting in their boards, it is possible now to have a longitudinally still board that is torsionally soft.

You asked about sidecut and its effect on beginner versus intermediate or advanced riding. The deeper the sidecut, the quicker the board will enter, negotiate and exit a turn. Mellow sidecuts tend to ease into and out of turns and are ideal for both beginners to learn on as well as high speed carving where the rider does not want to be thrown into and out of turns. On the flipside, a deeper sidecut is ideal for the rider who wants a very responsive, quick turning board for riding steeps and trees for example. Sidecuts come in many flavors too; you have your basic radial sidecut that is even throughout the length of the board. Then you have more specialized sidecuts like progressive sidecuts that the actual radius of the sidecut changes along the edge of the board. These different designs allow the board to enter and exit turns differently. A great example of a progressive sidecut that a beginner would appreciate is one where the beginning of the sidecut is very mellow to make turn initiation gentle, then it deepens to make the board turn very aggressively once on edge and into the turn.

When it comes to riding, it is true that it is "the Indian not the arrow" when it comes to equipment versus skill, but today`s equipment can make a huge difference especially for the new rider...
Wow! You really explained everything, it all makes much more sense now.

So how does one find out how much longitude flex and torsional flex a board has if most companies don't seem to separate them. Are reviews the only real way to figure out what a board rides like?
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:30 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Pray that you find an experienced and/or competent sales-person at your local snowboard shop. You can sometimes tell a difference in flex by comparing how much boards bend in a shop, but even that isn't always very accurate.

There is no objective scale for modulus of deformation or spring constants on snowboards (I am venturing outside my realm of expertise here since I never took dynamics in college). If someone could come up with something easy enough for the general public to understand, descriptive enough to encompass the different characteristics and concise enough to plaster on an advertisement or a board then you'd be doing everyone a big favor :-)
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Tarzanman is right. Not only that, but boards flex patterns will change over time and not all boards will press out their fiberglass weave and wood grain (which is what provides the flex pattern, along with goodies like added carbon composite bits) at the same rate. I think Burton is on to something good with their Infinity Ride tech; it's a good idea but I'm not sure how effective having never tested it, let alone over long term. In short, it's just an approach to give the boards a more consistent flex pattern over the life of the board. Based on the fact they use a machine to break in the boards for this tech, they are probably the closest to having some sort of idea of actual quantitative values for board flex.

Anyway, the best thing you could probably do is read reviews and demo boards. One specific detail you can take note of is the fiberglass pattern. Just about all snowboards are constructed from a wood core, wood composite or wood + some other material which forms a laminate being layered between fiberglass weaves.

Biaxial weaves typically run across and with the board's longitudinal axis. Triaxial weaves typically run with the board's long axis and across it at intersecting 45 degree angles, basically like the asterisk. While a biax might not necessarily be softer than triax, because of the way the fibers carry loads, it will twist more "independently" around different points where a triax board feels like it really carries any torsional deflection along the entire length of the board. At least, that's what I personally feel under my feet. Hope that doesn't confuse you more.
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