REVIEW: 2014 Never Summer ProtoHD with 2013 NOW IPO
Let me just preface this by saying that I haven't ridden the ProtoCT for comparison, but I currently own or have owned Never Summer decks that are somewhat similar, specifically the Cobra/SL/Heritage/Raptor so I found myself making alot of comparisons to those 4 boards as I was testing. I must admit I wasn't feeling it on run #1, which might sound a bit harsh, but it was because I wasn't used to the new Extended Transition Rocker Camber (ETRC). This feeling came about because the usual subtle, unconscious movements with my feet locked into the NOW IPO bindings didn't provide the instant response I was expecting. I'm so used to the way Never Summer's Original RC pivots, so after getting over the initial adjustment period and my movements became unconscious again, I found myself liking the board more and more. I've had more days on the pre-production prototype but have also plenty on the production version, in everything from hardpack groomers to legit 20"+ pow days, on local WA hills and at resorts down in UT & OR.
I'm pleasantly surprised that this board is a touch stiffer than I had been expecting. Call me crazy, but despite the specs on paper, it actually feels a little stiffer and a touch more damp than my Cobra. I seem to feel less chatter and it knifes through the crusty stuff so beautifully, probably due to the low profile shape of the tip/tail. This is not to say it's not lively, because the all mountain freestyle ProtoHD is a very playful board, unlike my big mountain freestyle Heritage that soaked up everything and the freeride-oriented Raptor that just wants to slice straight through everything. That same powerful flex has also allowed me to throw down some of the best tail/nosepresses I've done on a non-noodle.
Be prepared to boost! One of the very few downsides I found with my SL was its less than stellar pop, but that is not an issue with the ProtoHD--quite the opposite actually. I'm thinking this is probably attributable to the different carbon array and the tip/tail flex. Oh and damn this thing loves to spin! 180's and 3's are much easier than on the Cobra and happen on a whim. If I had to choose one favorite feature of this board, it would be how stable it is on landings. I've popped it off everything from park tabletops to natural features and got away with all kinds of crazy, bumpy, off-balance landings. It's not like you can be lazy as you would with Bataleon's TBT, but it's very confidence-inspiring.
The specs on this board, tip/tail/waist widths and sidecut radius, happen to all be in-line with what I like, so that may vary depending on your criteria (if you're that picky). That combined with the control of the new ETRC really allowed me to hold an edge whether making long fast carves or slower wider turns. The new ETRC really gives you some extra power underfoot to lock in carves and increased stability when straight-line bombing. The only downside here is that it wasn't quite as nimble edge-to-edge as I was hoping for, which took a little more effort than I had in mind. Switching to the firm bushings on the NOW IPO's definitely felt better than the softest ones. Also, riding switch on this true twin is a cinch.
It should be no surprise that the Durasurf XT S 5501 base used on this board is lightning fast. I've owned all kinds of boards from Bataleon/Lib/Gnu/Arbor/Nitro/Ride/etc... and every NS board I've owned (even ones with the sintered 4501 base) have smoked my friends, especially on flats. I did a wax/tune on the pre-production version before riding it, while I took the production version straight out of the box on factory wax and razor sharp edges, which is the first time I've done that in years. After seeing how well it performed, I may let myself get lazy and do the same with any other new NS boards I get down the road.
I can't help raving about the ProtoHD because it has exceeded all my expectations. This is a deck that I know I'll be pulling out of the quiver on a regular basis, as well as constantly loaning out to eager friends. The lucky few I've lent it to thus far all loved it and didn't want to return it. They want to buy it off me too, but that's not happening anytime soon. I should also mention that with my NOW IPO bindings, I experimented with all 3 durometer bushings, and preferred the medium and stiff ones over the softest one.
So basically I found that the ProtoHD fills in the gap between the SL and Cobra and imho is probably the best all mountain stick in Never Summer's line-up, and likely the board I'll be riding the most this season as well.
Feel free to post up any/all questions you might have and I'll try and help.
16 NS West . 15 NS Snowtrooper BIA . 13 Salomon Pow Snake
15 Now Drive . 14 Burton Genesis
14 Flow Hylite
Last edited by Triple8Sol; 10-02-2013 at 12:38 AM.