I've been reading some excellent reviews and advice on this forum, so thought I'd join to ask a question about which board to buy. Unfortunately, unlike it seems you get in North America, there doesn't really seem to be too many demo days here in Europe, especially not from the brands I've been most interested recently in my research (YES and Never Summer). They had a Nitro day here in Val, but they only had boards I was interested in riding in small sizes. So unfortunately I'm going to have to buy based purely on web research and this (great) forum.
I'm 6"6 (198cm) so a tall rider, and weight about 95kg (210 pounds) with a size US12 boot (though I think I need to downsize to an 11.5), currently a Nitro Team TLS. I think this means I'll need a wide board.
I've been riding on average 2-3 weeks a year for 4 seasons, and this year I've spent the season from early Jan in Val d'Isere (French Alps) with 12 hours of lessons a week and will be here through April. I consider myself an advanced intermediate, and the type of riding I like to do is as follows
Powder: The season here in Val has been ridiculously good for powder. Most lessons have been spent learning to bomb down gnarlier off-piste runs. I love to surf in powder and navigate down couloirs.
Piste: When the powder's no good, I like to hit the piste fairly hard. I wouldn't consider myself a no-holds-barred charger, but I like to carve my way down at reasonable speed (normally top out at about 80kmh / 50mph).
Freestyle: I'm not big into the park, I'll hit small/medium jumps, but not often, and I don't do too much with them, maybe a 180. Not into jibbing / rails, maybe a 50/50 or a boardslide on occasion. I do enjoy ollieing and jumps off the side of the piste or off drop-offs, but again only really pulling 180s or 360s, nothing crazy. Would like to learn how to do presses better but it aint a priority.
I started off with a 2009 Burton Custom 172W ICS (they only did a cambered model then) with Burton Triad EST bindings. I'm now aware this was miss-sold to me, but I was told at the time i needed it for my height and weight. Needless to say I'm sure this big board made it harder for me to learn. After a couple of seasons on that I decided I wanted something more manoeuvrable, but still didn't really know what I was doing. Because I had EST bindings I went with Burton again and bought a Joystick 164W. This was certainly more fun, and I continued to ride on both depending on weather conditions. I've actually been using the Custom 172 for most of our powder days, and it floats nicely (harder in the narrow couloirs though!), but I'm sure thats just because of its ridiculous size rather than being a particularly powder friendly design.
In a nutshell I want to replace these two boards with one. I would like something that is great in the pow, but realising pow is not always around, something that is responsive, good for carving and pretty good for speed when going down the piste. I'd also like something with a bit of pop and reasonable for 180/360 spins onto the piste, and the odd jump in the park, but the freestyle is less important to me. I would also like something that isn't too unforgiving. I do like to go hard and fast at times, but sometimes I'm a bit lazy (or hungover
) or am boarding slowly on the piste with friends at a lower level than me. Basically something that has to be ridden on edge the whole time is not what Im looking for.
A final consideration. I decided to get new bindings that were not EST so that I could unchain myself from Burton. I've just bought a pair of 2013 Flux SF45 bindings that I got a good deal on. I bought them because I wanted something more responsive than the Triads, without being super super stiff, and a few bits an pieces I read online lead me to believe the SF45s would fit the bill as a responsive yet do-anthing binding. Now having read more, I am worried they will be too stiff? I haven't ridden them yet as I'm still waiting for flux to send me out the ICS compatible baseplates, but I guess the stiffness of this binding will have some bearing on the board I select.
Now, on to the boards I've been looking at.
Yes Pick Your Line: I saw this on the good ride and it really seemed to fit the bill for what I wanted. They rave about it, but then I've seen reviews that say it is a bit unforgiving and needs to be ridden on the edge to get the most of it. Any thoughts?
Never Summer Heritage: This looked like another solid choice. I think it was the good ride that said that you should be an advanced rider on this board, I don't know how advanced "advanced" is, but again, although I like to ride hard at times, sometimes I like to muck about or be a bit lazy, is this going to be too on edge?
Never Summer Premier: Reading some reviews this looked another good choice, but given the stiffness and weight probably no good for playing around. I struggled to know whether Premier or Heritage would be better given my love of pow, though the Premier doesn't come in a Wide.
Never Summer Cobra: I have just read through all 39 pages of Snowolfs excellent review thread (I've not seen reviews this good on forums on any topic, very impressive!). This really seems to hit the mark! Although given my want for a stiffer / responsive setup, I'm wondering whether its flex rating of 5 will be stiff enough? To be honest, having only ever ridden the Joystick and the massive Custom, which are quite far apart, I don't know if I really want more stiffness or just something that turns easier like the Joystick with the stability and edge hold of the big Custom, and something in my head has just decided that means stiffness. One thing that worried me is that Snowolf said he thought stiffer bindings would be too twitchy on the Cobra as it has a tendency to overturn, have I bought the wrong bindings for the Cobra? I read they are increasing the stiffness of the Cobra a little for 2014, is this true and if so, has anyone ridden it?
I'm open to any brand really now that I've been unchained from Burton, but am particularly interested in YES PYL vs NS Cobra vs NS Heritage vs NS Premier for the sort of riding I want to do.
I've just realised I've written a small essay here, so if you've stuck with me to this point, I appreciate it!
Looking forward to any advice you can give me.