The stars aligned and for some reason to top off a great powder day at Nozawa Onsen, the Japanese Never Summer rep was running a demo day with their whole 2013 arsenal to test. I couldn’t resist that opportunity so I proceeded to test their more powder specific boards to get a good comparison between them. Being from Australia, I haven’t actually seen some of the boards in person only read about them on here so it was a great experience to actually ride the boards on such a great day.
I figured I would write about my experiences especially comparing the Cobra to my SL which quite a few people have asked for in Snowolf’s and Leo’s Cobra review threads. Plus take the experiences from a punter who doesn’t usually live near any snow and buys his gear blind based on online research and forums discussions. So far it that hasn’t landed me too much astray, especially when I bought the SL a couple of years back. So take these opinions with a grain of salt.
Nozawa Onsen, Japan
Overcast with changing visibility and medium to light snow.
30cm of fresh snow, fresh powder (shin deep in places), tracked and choppy powder in trees, bumpy groomers, flat cat track sections
Roughly spent 90 mins with each board
My Details and setup:
180 lbs, 82kg
Salomon Dialogues, US 10.5
2010 Salomon Relay Series, with Burton Ultra Air Heal straps (same as on the 2012 Burton Prophecy)
Goofy, 23.6", 60cm, Front 15 Rear -12, centred on the binding wholes on each board
Over 200 days riding in 10 years, riding generally done on annual 2 week holidays, although I’m currently finishing up my second full season with around 50 days on snow including ~15-20 powder days in Japan. I’m an all-mountain rider who uses the mountain as a playground jumping off things and searching for powder. I like to go high speed and lay down big carves on groomers when no fresh snow is around. I am dabbling in BC riding and love tree riding in powder especially at speed.
Freestyle wise I’m more of a beginner can hit up to 30ft kickers with a straight air or grab. 180s of smaller jumps, 50/50 rails, board slide boxes, not much interest in progressing further.
My Current ride: 2010 Never Summer SL 161
After all the hype on this forum about this board I had to try the Cobra first. They only had the 158 so I downsized from my usual 161 SL. Wow was this board light. Riding on the bumpy groomer the board felt stiffer than my SL, especially in the tail. Dampness was similar to the SL. Switch riding was a bit weird, almost a twitchy feeling, which I believe is to due to the tapered shape.
Like the SL the ride can be forgiving so you can get a bit lazy when riding this board without dire consequences. Edge was very good when laying down carves, but it felt slightly different due to the taper (this was the first time I rode a tapered board). The board did feel a bit twitchier at speed when carving than my SL but I think that was due to the smaller size.
Pointing the Cobra into the fresh powder is where it excelled. A slight weighting on the back foot and the tip would just pop out above the snow, floatation at this size was no issue for me. Charging through chopped powder was a bit easier due to the board sitting higher up in the snow compared to my SL. Launching of some natural kickers this board sank nicely on the landing then popped up the tip straight away.
The major negative is that this board isn’t as versatile as the SL, especially when trying to ride switch. So potential buyers need to keep that in mind.
Rider in mind:
An all mountain rider with a one-board quiver that does see some regular powder. Don’t kid yourself if you don’t see regular powder on your trips just get the SL instead it will still handle the occasional powder day very well but it will be more versatile when playing around the mountain.
This is definitely my next board based on the riding I do. I would step up to the 161 just to get more stability when charging at speed on groomers, powder flotation wasn’t an issue on the 158. I could get away with a 158 but I’m just used to the current 161 and I feel really comfortable at that length.
Graphics wise I’m not a fan of the snake but that red shadow is pretty cool and the board looks very good in person.
Wow what a bad ass board! They only had this size, so it was quite a bit of board to handle for me especially on the terrain I was riding. Definitely could feel the extra weight due to the bigger size. This board will get you in trouble quick. It feels as if it has afterburners on. You need to pay attention the whole time you’re riding this board. Any wrong movements and the Raptor will spit you out. The board was definitely more stiffer than the Cobra and Heritage, but felt slightly softer than the Premier F1. The board was quite damp especially over any unexpected bumps yet still very responsive providing sufficient feedback to the rider. You almost felt comfortable on bumpy groomers especially at speed. Edge hold was just on another planet. Switch was doable but not recommended.
Pointing it into powder this board just floated straight through and accelerated even more. Riding it through trees it was pretty responsive but I could definitely feel the extra length. Ideally I would like to ride this board in the 160-162cm range. This board would just excel on a big mountain line
Rider in mind:
Big mountain rider or someone who just wants to haul ass the whole time.
I’d love to justify to have this board in my collection especially if I rode more big mountain lines. This a definite buy if I ever do an Alaskan Heli trip. I would get in a lot of trouble with this board but boy it would be fun.
I’ve wanted to ride try this board for the last couple of years, it rode quite familiar when compared to my SL except that the Heritage was stiffer and more responsive as expected. Definitely less forgiving than the SL, you had to pay more attention to edge transfers. Compared to the tapered boards this was a more traditional feeling ride. It felt good in switch. Powder floatation needed similar back foot leaning as the SL, which was manageable but definitely less floatation than the Cobra.
Rider in mind:
Some one who wants a stiffer traditional riding board that’s good all over the mountain.
I think after trying this board personally I would stick with the SL, that additional playful character of the SL makes it more fun without a significantly reduced response.
161 Premier F1
The last board tested in the powder conditions was the Premier F1 in my preferred size. This board felt the stiffest out of all the boards. I found it quite hard to flex up the nose. Being of non-carbonium construction the board felt quite heavier, similar to my SL when strapped in. The Premier instantly felt very damp/dead when plowing over a chopped groomer. I was very surprised how little feed back the board provided. This meant that you didn’t have to be as precise with the edge control with the Premier when compared to the Raptor. The edge was very good as expected. Due to the tapered shape powder floatation was very good with the nose easily poking up through a fresh powder line with a little extra weight on the back leg. Switch riding was surpassingly not too bad, definitely more natural feeling than on the Cobra.
Rider in mind:
Big mountain rider or someone who just wants to haul ass most of the time without much feedback provided from the board. Ie point and shoot without too much consequences.
This definitely wasn’t a board for me. I didn’t enjoy the lack of feedback especially in on the chopped groomer. The raptor definitely gets my pick out of these two for big mountain powder board.