NS SL-R 158
Boots: 08/09 Burton Ion
Bindings: 07/08 Rome 390 (+18/-9 goofy)
Rider: between 160 and 170 lbs., 5'7", intermediate (2nd season), Capricorn, likes long walks in the snow
I took my new SL-R to Niseko (Hokkaido, Japan) last week. On my first few runs down the groomers, it was obvious that this board was a bit different. For one, it was HOLY SHIT FAST, and seemed to want to turn more sharply than my usual ride (2005 Burton Dominant 154). As advertised, it was really stable over bumps and crud - not a hint of chatter.
There was a huge dump on the first night, and I got first tracks in Strawberry Fields (one of the glade runs) the next morning. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the snow was waist- to chest-deep, and the SL-R handled it like a champ. It wasn't as much of a no-brainer as riding a Fish or a Gentemstick, but it was pretty damn close (and unlike those boards, you can take it in the park too!). It floated nicely and was easy to control - it was the best run I've ever had. The next day I did a longer run off the peak in similar conditions, and didn't experience any back leg burn. I was on the fence about whether to get the 155 or the 158, but I'm glad I went with the 158. I didn't have any problems tossing it around or making quick turns in the trees.
I didn't do any park stuff until my last day there when all the powder was gone. I hadn't seen a kicker since March, so I didn't do anything too crazy, but it was nice and damp and stable landing jumps up to about 15-20 feet. I actually found it a bit difficult to butter, but that's compared to my noodly Dominant (and probably due to rusty technique as well). It seemed to pop a bit better, but that could also be because I'm ollieing correctly now and not just popping off of both feet. I did a few 180s on flat ground and small bumps, and it seemed easy to spin and very forgiving if you didn't make the full rotation (my switch BS 180s are still kind of weak).
The only negative thing I'd say is probably actually a positive - this board wouldn't let me get away with some bad habits that would fly on the Dominant. The big one being that if I didn't lean downhill properly, the board would wash out whenever I changed edges on groomers and hard pack. I'm not sure, but I might've been riding with a slightly setback stance, which could've contributed to that as well. I also found it harder to carve on this setup vs. the Dominant with Cartels and crappy boots I used last year. On the Dominant, I didn't even have to try... on the SL-R, I had to put a lot of effort into it (and still wound up "scarving" half the time). This could've been because my boots and bindings didn't seem to be working well together (bad fit, need to adjust bindings for new boots too), or just bad technique. I'm not entirely sold on the 390s - I think I liked the more responsive feel of the Cartels better.
One final note - the base seems pretty tough. I mowed over plenty of twigs and branches, and there are only a few little scratches on it.
tl;dr: The SL-R does it all nicely, but won't put up with bad form. I recommend it