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How much has snowboard technology really changed in the last 25 years or so?

2694 Views 35 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  Revvi
I'm starting to get back into riding after about a ten year hiatus, and my current board is a Burton Floater from maybe about 1998. I was looking at putting on some new Burton Step On bindings (not easy to do since the mounting hole pattern has changed, but I think I have it figured out), but I really love the board and anyway… I kind of feel like a board is a board.

I'm a decent snowboarder but not really into jumps or terrain parks or anything like that, mostly just downhill carving, maybe some trees. Has snowboard technology really changed enough that I'm going to notice a big difference with a new board?
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Of course stuff has changed.
Shapes, materials, camber profiles etc.
Some more interesting materials than others (Antiphase, Koroyd, 3D shaping etc)

Pretty sure similar posts get posted every couple months.

 

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I'm starting to get back into riding after about a ten year hiatus, and my current board is a Burton Floater from maybe about 1998. I was looking at putting on some new Burton Step On bindings (not easy to do since the mounting hole pattern has changed, but I think I have it figured out), but I really love the board and anyway… I kind of feel like a board is a board.

I'm a decent snowboarder but not really into jumps or terrain parks or anything like that, mostly just downhill carving, maybe some trees. Has snowboard technology really changed enough that I'm going to notice a big difference with a new board?
Introduction of rocker shapes, then combined rocker-camber shapes
Magnetraction
More environmentally friendly material and manufacturing processes
 

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I'm starting to get back into riding after about a ten year hiatus, and my current board is a Burton Floater from maybe about 1998. I was looking at putting on some new Burton Step On bindings (not easy to do since the mounting hole pattern has changed, but I think I have it figured out), but I really love the board and anyway… I kind of feel like a board is a board.

I'm a decent snowboarder but not really into jumps or terrain parks or anything like that, mostly just downhill carving, maybe some trees. Has snowboard technology really changed enough that I'm going to notice a big difference with a new board?
Does it really make much sense at all putting $Au1000 ($US700) plus of super responsive Step-On bindings/boots on a 25 yr old softish, extruded base, freestyle, twin snowboard???
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sure, technology has changed, but how much difference is it actually going to make in the real world? Does anyone have any experience going from a "vintage" board to something more modern and seeing the difference between the two? If the difference is like going from a piece of wet cardboard to a magic carpet, then yeah, that's a big difference. But a lot of these technology changes seem like incremental improvements and I'm sort of skeptical that I'm going to be able to tell the difference between a new and older board most of the time.

Does it really make much sense at all putting $Au1000 ($US700) plus of super responsive Step-On bindings/boots on a 25 yr old softish, extruded base, freestyle, twin snowboard???
I don't know, that's what I'm trying to figure out. I've always liked the ride of my board, so I don't know if there's any reason to change. I actually took it out and rode it last week, and while I definitely need new boots and bindings, the board still rode great. But I have no way of knowing what I might be missing out on with newer technology, so I'm wondering if anyone might have some practical experience with going from an older board to a newer one and can say "Yeah, it's a completely different experience" or "Nah, it's like maybe 10% better".
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What's the plan here?
Burton used to make a mounting plate with the correct hole pattern for older boards (pre-2014). They're a bit hard to find these days, but it looks like they're still available on eBay. I took my board to the Burton shop and they said they didn't carry the plate anymore, but if I could get ahold of one it should work to mount newer bindings.
 

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If you want to know how much better current boards are than yours, try out a quality demo. Hell you don't even need to make much effort to setup a good demo; burton will demo a full setup boards, boots, bindings and ship it back and forth to you for a pretty reasonable price
 

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What are you trying to confirm here?

Anyone that’s played any sports/hobbies can give you the same answer.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with shit 20 years ago, whether it be Tennis racquets, golf clubs or basketball shoes. Newer stuff is just generally higher performance and more comfortable. This goes with all stuff including cars and microwaves…

The most logical option is for you to just go to a shop and Demo one of their higher end boards. ($50-60), if you like it, can put that demo fee towards buying a new board. If you don’t, then keep riding what you have.
 

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Sure, technology has changed, but how much difference is it actually going to make in the real world? Does anyone have any experience going from a "vintage" board to something more modern and seeing the difference between the two? If the difference is like going from a piece of wet cardboard to a magic carpet, then yeah, that's a big difference. But a lot of these technology changes seem like incremental improvements and I'm sort of skeptical that I'm going to be able to tell the difference between a new and older board most of the time.



I don't know, that's what I'm trying to figure out. I've always liked the ride of my board, so I don't know if there's any reason to change. I actually took it out and rode it last week, and while I definitely need new boots and bindings, the board still rode great. But I have no way of knowing what I might be missing out on with newer technology, so I'm wondering if anyone might have some practical experience with going from an older board to a newer one and can say "Yeah, it's a completely different experience" or "Nah, it's like maybe 10% better".
Tech has jumped up a long long way in 25 year ie bases, weight, cores, profiles, glass layup, 3D, edge tech etc etc. Most importantly your Vintage "Floater" is an extruded based, soft flex, freestyle twin board which is more suited for entry level riders into park and freestyle tricks. Can't really find the defined profile listed for this board due to its age, but it's listed on a few sites as "Rocker" "V Rocker", running with biax glass layup. You can help this by taking a picture and adding it here of the board whilst it lays on a table so you can see down the edge what's going on in the profile. Looking at listed WW and they are even narrow (sub 25cm) on the wides. Side cut radius looks pretty average so not going to be the most turny ride through the trees. You say you're a good rider that's into AM carving (which will probably mean speed) so the floater is really a poor model for how you like to ride. You would clearly be better suited on a stiffer (carbon), full cambered, full sintered base, board. Taper/Slight taper, directional will help with stepping into Freeride territory.
 

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Quick recap…

In the last 20 years there have been A LOT of shitty boards, but we’re back to mostly camber with some better materials and construction (sintered base for one). There’s a lot of new woods and other materials in the core as well. They really engineer these things now. Edge tech isn’t always useful.

Bindings have significantly improved, providing better support, comfort and response... yet the step-ins are still questionable.

Boots can have multi zone boa adjustment… better comfort, better support and way better response.
 

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You will absolutely notice the difference between a board from the past 5 years and a 1998 Burton Floater. Hell, you'd notice the difference between that and a circa 2010 board. Changes are incremental, but incremental change over a decade compounds into something notable, much less two.

Now whether that difference actually matters depends how picky you are, and how much you actually ride. If you're hitting the mountain <5 times a year, yea probably doesn't make sense to drop hundreds of dollars on latest and greatest. YMMV depending where you live, but I can pretty easily source fantastic great snowboards that are <5 years old for $150 USD or cheaper.

Now if your bindings are of similar age, I would absolutely replace those. Bindings from that era were outright crap compared to what's available now, and soft plastic components (ladders, strap tongues, etc.) deteriorate. At this point I'd call it a legitimate safety issue and wouldn't even consider it unless you can at least source replacement straps. Which might prove challenging for 20+ year old components.
 

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As an older rider, I can tell you age is not just a number. You are 10 years older than the last time you rode your 25 year old board. Your body’s components need all the help they can get. The new technology is what keeps me riding at a decent level. I think you’d feel the same. It’s fun to break out the old boards and neon every once in a while, but if your serious about getting back into the sport, upgrade everything. Your local board shop can help you decide what’s best for your age, fitness level and riding style. As others have mentioned Demo or rent to get an idea of how this sport has evolved in the past 10, 20, 30 years.
 

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Honestly the only thing that hasn't really changed much is edges and maybe inserts? Literally everything else has. Topsheets, glass quality, resins, core quality and profiling understanding, composite quality and understanding, base material, sidewalls, tip fill has even improved, manufacturing tolerance, accuracy, and repeatability... Shit even some brands are using stainless edges on high end shit and others are using thicker edges for more durability.

Even time traveling and getting a new board from 1998 and coming back to the future and comparing it to a mid level board from now, your mid level board now will outperform any top level board from '98.

Get something new. You'll be stoked.
 

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The difference between a board from the late 90s to the early 10s is huge. Changes in construction, realizing the board doesn't have to be extremely stiff to hold an edge, etc. The last 10 years or so technology has slowed down. It's devolved from moving away from things like extruded bases, cap construction, etc into coming up with whacky shapes for the board. Around 2010 is when manufacturers realized they can start adding stuff like carbon fiber to boards to improve performance.

The last few years has been just tweaking things, changing the board profile, adding bumps to the side cut, etc. For boards, the last 10 years have been mostly just changing shape, nothing totally revolutionary and ground breaking like the changes we saw going from the 90s into the early 10s/early 00s. I actually think things might have gotten worse in the last few years as companies go green and go with inferior bean based epoxy and stuff, boards seem much less reliable and durable.

Even a board from 2010 is going to make your 1998 board feel completely outdated and terrible.

I had an old Burton Clash, cap construction, etc and I bought a 2009 Flow Quantum and it was the biggest change in my snowboarding life as far as boards go. Totally different, made me a better rider instantly. Every board I've bought since then has been a lot of things just tweaking or making things easier to ride, like not catching an edge, dealing with bad conditions, etc.

My advice is not to get into step ons because you're locked into Burton boots and you'll probably regret that at some point. If you're on a small hill get Flows or Supermatics (if you can find them). Even some used kit for $400 with bindings would be a huge improvement over what you have, provided you're not getting ripped off.
 

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Piling on but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised

boots are much easier to dial, I personally love 3 zones with a inner cuff boa to lock my ankle

bindings are easier to adjust on the fly and have a wider range of support, step ins have finally progressed to the point of being pretty awesome, super matics and the light flows are sweet (just road flow TMs yesterday, so cozy and light AF) you also have some cool designs like skate tech on now and jones bindings that can really drive power to your edges in ways binding 20 years ago didn’t

Board shapes have progressed to allowing you to have the tip of camber without death catch. Hell tons of hybrid camber decks are awesome in pow and for carving, check some of the new 3d shaping on jones/Rome decks for example.

but as many said your old board will most likely still rip, I would swap out those bindings and boots though
 

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Behind the cool pro-snowboarders helping to market snowboards, there's a team of geeks and nerds designing the snowboards. Wood isn't exactly a homogeneous material, so assigning material properties to wood isn't an exact science, but over the years it has become better and better. So, now, the geeks and nerds can better model the snowboard material layout, to achieve the characteristics the pros want, as well as create the production molds ahead of time on a computer, before any metal is cut.

In modeling, the accuracy of the model is dependent on the least accurate assumption.
 
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