Review -- 2014 Proto HD - Post-season
OK, let's get the disclaimers out of the way first. I am not in any way an "official" reviewer, am not associated with NS in any way, and paid retail for the damned board (you may laugh). I'm also not an expert -- generally intermediate recreational rider. My other boards are a 2010 Heritage and an older Ride Havoc (which is used only as a beater board).
I bought the Proto late summer 2013 based on the positive reviews from other members. And I've been kind of jonesing for a more freestyle, twinnish board anyway so this scratched the itch.
The board is a 157, which is on the short side for my weight according to the Evo chart. I couldn't find a chart on the NS website, so who knows... I've used the board with Flow NX2-ATs (2014) and with Rome Targas (2013). More on that later.
The board is softer than a Heritage (not saying much) and certainly easier for buttering. It's a little more finicky at low speeds though. I dumped myself a couple of times doing things that the Heritage would have forgiven. It is also less stable at high speeds and on chop. Of course the Heritage is a master in that area, so it's a pretty high bar.
Where the Proto shines is maneuverability. It's a significantly lighter board, and the blunted tips reduce the moment arm. So my cross-under turns were significantly tighter. It also keeps a good edge. In the absence of chop, I couldn't feel any difference between this and the Heritage. Of course in choppy conditions the Heritage just cuts through while the Proto tries to go over. Also, the Proto keeps an even arc on the turn, rather than the weird tightening-radius arc that the Heritage follows.
What surprised me was that I found I liked the board better with the Targas on it (and I hate the Targas otherwise). I think with a board this maneuverable you start to notice the difference between bucklers and Flows. On the Heritage, I never really found an advantage either way.
The board also has the typical NS very tough base. I've been doing a fair bit of rails this season and you really couldn't tell from looking at the base. My Ride got way more hacked up based on less.
Anyway, I now have a two-board quiver. The Proto will be my primary board, with the Heritage taking over when I get into deep, downhill, or choppy conditions.
Overall rating: Glad I bought it. (and isn't that really all that matters?)
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