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Hi all,

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 :laugh:) 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! :bowdown:
Looking forward to any advice you can give me.
 

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Outbof those options I'd say the PYL. It's is an aggressive board and if you don't ride it, it'll ride you. That said, you learned on a Canberra 172w. You have the strength the handle it. From the NS's i think you'll get more recs for the Cobra.

I would also look into the Ride Berzerker. For someone not looking to ride park and wants to do everything else on the mountain it's one of the best boards I've been on.

If you aren't super concerned with switch and get to ride mostly good conditions look into the Jones Flagship too. Super stable and will flaot very well.

It'll be a little more surfy in pow but the best powder focused all mountain/freeride deck I rode this year was the K2 UltraDream. You can definitely turn it super hard and the progressive sidecut grips, but it wont have as much snap out of a hard carve as something with camber. Inherently more stable than something with center reverse though.

My 3 picks would either be the PYL, Ultra, or Berzerker depending on where I wanted the most performance.
 

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Look into some Lib Tech boards as well. NS is tough to find in Europe and really overpriced I found. Lib had better prices and much better selection. I found a TRS, T. Rice, Attack Banana and a few others at a Quicksilver store here in Prague and good spring prices.
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Any specific reason you don't have the NS Raptor on your list? Husband rides a 164one (had a Custom X before). He likes aggressive carving, to straight line wherever sight allows and we've been in a lot of pow this season too: he really likes his Raptor. I've also ridden his Raptor for a day and found it to be an awesome carver. The acceleration in the carve impressed me a lot. You get faster with every new C. Very specific for this deck (as I was told by the NS tent guy). An other nice thing is the dampening: it's still smooth to ride in the afternoon groomers (when my Flagship becomes a rough ride). You CAN take it easy on this deck, but if you want to carve hard and bomb lines, it'll serve. If you're into RC decks anyway, I'd have a look into the Raptor too.

And the Ride Highlife... it doesn't seem to be popular in this forum :dunno: but husband and me have ridden it at a demo day and we both liked it a lot. Chatter free hard changing speed carving board.

If you really want to demo some boards, look out for the Saas-Fee Box (in Valais, Switzerland). Its "only" some hrs drive from Val and I was told that it's one of the biggest demo stations in Europe, Sept-Nov. Lot of major brands will have their 2014 decks in different sizes there. Was told that NS will be there too. Would be a nice season opening on glacier weekend trip. I'll be there, still want to demo a Raven in 157 and the Arbor A-Frame ;)

The homepages are not yet up to date, but look at the links in autumn.
Test de ski et de snowboard - Saas Fee - Saastal and Anmeldung - Snowboardbox.ch // Box & Future Try Veranstaltungen in Sölden, Saas-Fee, Davos & Les Croisettes

Look into some Lib Tech boards as well. NS is tough to find in Europe and really overpriced I found. Lib had better prices and much better selection. I found a TRS, T. Rice, Attack Banana and a few others at a Quicksilver store here in Prague and good spring prices.
Two weeks ago, I've been at a demo weekend here (Switzerland) with a NS tent and I know two shops who sell them. Not a problem to get them here...
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Neni, really? You're lucky, because in my experience Never Summer is like a unicorn around here.
they're really quite common here :) my unicorn is the Venture Zephyr. Don't even know where to buy them let alone to test one.
 

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I'm happy with my Lib TRS purchase but was looking at NS initially. I tracked down some NS boards here but they were an arm and a leg. Burton is very popular here, nothing new there. Seen some GNU boards, Nitro, Nidecker, Volkl, Atomic but Never Summer only online and selection is really scarce.
 

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I agree with Neni about the NS Raptor. You seem to be at the skill level to handle a stiff board like that. Also, check out the Nidecker Megalight and Ultralight. These boards are sick and they excel in the riding you described. Fair warning, the Nideckers are expensive and difficult to find. I have the Ultralight and I love it. Good luck
 

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at your weight i would go a bit shorter than a 171...if you are on a wide anyway i think you can get plenty of float out of a 163-165W and you will find you can whip it around in the pow better, and still not lose hold on the groomed

look at the K2 Slayblade too, as an option..havent ridden it myself, but ive flexed enough boards to tell that thing is badass
 

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The Slayblade IS badass. Maybe a little TOO badass for what he wants. I've been riding one for the last 2 1/2 seasons, and it's a beast! (in a good way)

I've actually been looking for something a lot like what the OP is describing, for those days when I don't quite have it in me to tame the 'blade. Though I haven't ridden either board, my research has me leaning towards 2 of Nivek's suggestions: the Ultra Dream or the Berzerker
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hi all, apologies for my delayed reply, I've had trouble with my net connection here in Val and getting things like that fixed here seems to move very slowly!

Thanks very much for all your help and suggestions.

I would also look into the Ride Berzerker. For someone not looking to ride park and wants to do everything else on the mountain it's one of the best boards I've been on.
Thanks Nivek. I have ready that the Berzerker is similar to the Highlife (suggested by neni), though the Highlife is lighter and their "higher end" version. Is this the case? I only ask as I will only buy one board for a while, and am happy to spend a bit extra to get the right one. I have seen some good reviews for this, but have also read its a board that needs to be pushed hard to be fun?

It'll be a little more surfy in pow but the best powder focused all mountain/freeride deck I rode this year was the K2 UltraDream.
This definitely looks like one to add to the shortlist. Thanks

Look into some Lib Tech boards as well.
I was looking in to the T. Rice, but once again worried that this is a little too aggressive?

Any specific reason you don't have the NS Raptor on your list?
I had looked into the Raptor as well (and Jones Flagship for that matter), but from what I have read, it is not a playful board, and hard work to ride slowly. I will be riding with piste-only friends from time to time at lower levels than me, and like to muck around with jumps on and off the piste as well which tend not to be at high speeds, so am a bit worried about boards that have to be ridden hard and fast the whole time to be enjoyable. I would include Highlife/Berzerker and T.Rice in that category as well based only on peoples reviews on sites like this. I also love to ride through the trees so the board does need to be able to turn well (I know an aggressive board doesn't preclude this, but as I understand it as the stiffness does up, it generally gets harder to make the tight turns).

Also, check out the Nidecker Megalight
Thanks Mpjames, I hadn't heard of that board, but have looked it up, it does seem to get quite a good rap! Will add it to the list. Thanks!

at your weight i would go a bit shorter than a 171...if you are on a wide anyway i think you can get plenty of float out of a 163-165W and you will find you can whip it around in the pow better, and still not lose hold on the groomed
Thanks for the advice! I know the 172W is definitely too big for me, if only I knew it at the time, learning to board might have been less painful :) As you said I am looking for something in the 161-165W range depending on the board.

look at the K2 Slayblade too, as an option..havent ridden it myself, but ive flexed enough boards to tell that thing is badass
I think that may be a little too extreme for what I'm after :) Thanks though

I was worried about boards being a little too aggressive, but given most of the suggestions here (correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Raptor, Highlife/Berzerker, Jones Flagship are at a similar level of aggression), I'm beginning to think I'm just being too conservative?
@neni: you said it was possible to take it easy on the Raptor, but is it fun, or at least not too much like hard work? It appears the 2014 Raptor is a couple of notches up the stiffness and dampness scale from 2013 as well just to confuse the matter further.
Any comments on the other boards of similar aggression still being fun at slower speeds? Also the ability to get tight in the trees is important.

If you really want to demo some boards, look out for the Saas-Fee Box (in Valais, Switzerland). Its "only" some hrs drive from Val and I was told that it's one of the biggest demo stations in Europe, Sept-Nov. Lot of major brands will have their 2014 decks in different sizes there. Was told that NS will be there too. Would be a nice season opening on glacier weekend trip. I'll be there, still want to demo a Raven in 157 and the Arbor A-Frame
Wow, a big thanks for that info neni! A long weekend in Switzerland in Oct/Nov really seems like it could be the answer :) It seems a lot of the brands mentioned in this thread so far will be in attendance except unfortunately YES and Jones, (NS is not listed either, though hopefully will be added once the site is updated next year?). I guess there is really no better way to inform myself than ride these bad boys, and it seems there is actually a place to do that in Europe! I'll make sure to add the Ultradream and Megalight to my list to test... now if only I had the patience to wait 6 months :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Dammit, just found a Raptor 165X 30% off, Jones Flagship 164 18% Off, and a Nidecker Megalight 163XL for 38% off (still the most expensive though!) at a UK site. The temptation is killing me!

If I were to get a Raptor, would you recommend the 161X or the 165X given my stats (6"6/198cm, 210 pounds/95kg, Size US12 (29.5cm) boot)
 

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if it were me, the 161, since its a W anyway you'll still float good enough, snappier for the chutes and such...close call though, personally id want the maneuverability over float
 

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Thanks Nivek. I have ready that the Berzerker is similar to the Highlife (suggested by neni), though the Highlife is lighter and their "higher end" version. Is this the case? I only ask as I will only buy one board for a while, and am happy to spend a bit extra to get the right one. I have seen some good reviews for this, but have also read its a board that needs to be pushed hard to be fun?
Berzerker and Highlife have very similar shaper, but ride quite differently because of the difference in flex. Highlife is much stiffer and much less fun and playful. Berzerker does not need to be ridden nearly as aggressively and will do better in tree and when messing around.
Extra technology in the Highlife makes no discernible difference. Berzerker is just the better board all around - it does pretty much everything the Highlife does and a bunch of things the Highlife does not (or not well). It is more than enough board for 99.0% of people - it is not Jake Blauvelt's pro-model for nothing.
 

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The Highlife seems to me to be a real turd. My buddy has one....I don't even think HE likes it.... 2 stage rocker and he has to move his bindings back all crazy just to float in pow...

My tiny Proto floats my fattass in deep ass poo center stance. Get something that works!
 

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I got myself a Salomon Sabotage, and my son a Nitro Demand.

Seem like pretty decent all-around boards for freeriding and park, and some pow?
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Dammit, just found a Raptor 165X 30% off, Jones Flagship 164 18% Off, and a Nidecker Megalight 163XL for 38% off (still the most expensive though!) at a UK site. The temptation is killing me!

If I were to get a Raptor, would you recommend the 161X or the 165X given my stats (6"6/198cm, 210 pounds/95kg, Size US12 (29.5cm) boot)
Dont take the Flagship. This is no playful board, its more fun the faster you go. But the Raptor 2013 offers some playfulness and the dampening allows to take it easy. I see hubby riding it switch through moguls (those moments when I'm torn between admiration and hate :laugh:) hitting natural jumps and slashing tight turns in trees. Hes 85kg and floats fine with the 164 through the deep (been to 40cm).
 

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Berzerker and Highlife have very similar shaper, but ride quite differently because of the difference in flex. Highlife is much stiffer and much less fun and playful. Berzerker does not need to be ridden nearly as aggressively and will do better in tree and when messing around.
Extra technology in the Highlife makes no discernible difference. Berzerker is just the better board all around - it does pretty much everything the Highlife does and a bunch of things the Highlife does not (or not well). It is more than enough board for 99.0% of people - it is not Jake Blauvelt's pro-model for nothing.
Thanks for the info hktrdr, looks like the Berzerker would be more the board I'd be after over the highlife after all.

Dont take the Flagship. This is no playful board, its more fun the faster you go. But the Raptor 2013 offers some playfulness and the dampening allows to take it easy. I see hubby riding it switch through moguls (those moments when I'm torn between admiration and hate ) hitting natural jumps and slashing tight turns in trees. Hes 85kg and floats fine with the 164 through the deep (been to 40cm).
neni, you are seriously making me consider grabbing this 2013 Raptor! :) I worry that with the changes to 2014 it will be too aggressive, but from your comments the 2013 sounds the business!
 

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That Raptor on sale sounds perfect for you, it really is a great board. Everyone that owns one loves it. After the Mega, the Raptor would be my choice. You are already a experienced rider, you will be able to grow into the Raptors full abilities . Good luck.
 

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The Swiss Miss
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I was worried about boards being a little too aggressive, but given most of the suggestions here (correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Raptor, Highlife/Berzerker, Jones Flagship are at a similar level of aggression), I'm beginning to think I'm just being too conservative?
Sorry, I missed this question... Yes, the Raptor is an aggressive board, but not in the same class as the Highlife and Flagship. Husband and me were both riding these three boards (can't comment on the other models mentioned). We are agreed that the later two are significantly stiffer and big fun to carve on perfect groomers but absolutely no fun in moguls. You can blame me for being too light or not experienced enough to ride such boards in such terrain, but he's an expert and had the right weight for these lengths.
Since he has ridden my Flagship he was torn to get one too, for it being more aggressive than the Raptor. But after riding his Raptor this weekend in spring mogul runs lasting 1000 vertical meters, he was again very stoked with his Raptor for being so easy to turn tightly in such condituons.
When I was on the Raptor, I really could take it easy = ride straight over all the afternoon chopped up groomer with almost straight legs. The dampening of the board swallowed most of the unevenness. Never possible with the Flagship. It would buck you off. You can take it easy on the Flagship if you straight line or in pow ;)
If I'd be into RC profiles (I'm not!), I would have got a small Raptor for me.
 
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