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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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.

Flex
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.

Pop
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.

Carving
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.

Speed
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Here's a pic I took before taking it out on the hill. Unfortunately once I get to the hill I'm always too busy riding/hiking/whatever so I hardly take any pics of gear or scenery while I'm out there.

 

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Great review, nicely detailed thanks. It is exactly the info I was after. Interesting what you say about the flex being stiffer than advertised. I have the Proto HDX no 1 on my short list to buy this year (coming from old camber K2 board). Unfortunately I have the rather schizophrenic riding which involves bombing flat out 60mph type runs and then messing around on side hits, back and front 1s and 3s off everything, ollieing off bumps, on the way to the park. So I really need a true all mountain freestyle board.
I was throwing up the Legacy as it seemed like it should be better in the bombing department, but I don't read a lot of great things about it to be honest. Your comments about Proto HD being close to a Cobra flex give me a lot of confidence that I have chosen the correct board. I really need true twin, stiffer for ripping, and really want a lot of pop which all the Proto reviews including yours seem to say is a major feature....GREAT!
I guess my only reservation still was it holding up under full speed. Note I do this on slight edge, not flat based..so if you can imagine straight lining but on say a 5 degree angle to the fall line on a light toe (mostly) or heel edge so I think this helps get around the loose squirily problem some people mention on anything with Rocker and softer freestyle oriented boards? Do you find it stable at speed? any difference good or bad compared to your SL or Cobra even that you can think of to add to your review above?
Really getting into cab spins now and hoping to take them off some bigger kickers this year. How do you find the pop off heel edge on the Proto? I read something about the Ride tech (pop walls)which has the carbon built into the edges which supposedly helps with spinning as the edge doesn't flex. Sounds like the Proto has the carbon X tip and tail. How do you find the feel of that nice and responsive pop off the edges, not just flat based ollie power?
Your review has answered a lot of my questions and I'm feeling a lot more sure about the Proto HDX now, would really be keen to hear your thoughts on the above, particularly how it holds up at speed vs you other NS boards. Do you have a camber reference (perhaps some of your friends that you mentioned? if you've been riding RC for a long time?)

thanks,
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
S
Curious to what size you rode and what your weight, foot size ect... are?
Yeah, +1 for me too. Nice review.
Sorry I didn't get back to you guys sooner. Busy weekend with a Dave Chappelle show and an out-of-town wedding.

I'm 5'9" 170lb size 9.0 boots with size Medium NOW IPO bindings. These days I generally go with something in the 157-159 range for an all mountain board, so my Proto HD is 157cm.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Great review, nicely detailed thanks. It is exactly the info I was after. Interesting what you say about the flex being stiffer than advertised. I have the Proto HDX no 1 on my short list to buy this year (coming from old camber K2 board). Unfortunately I have the rather schizophrenic riding which involves bombing flat out 60mph type runs and then messing around on side hits, back and front 1s and 3s off everything, ollieing off bumps, on the way to the park. So I really need a true all mountain freestyle board.
I was throwing up the Legacy as it seemed like it should be better in the bombing department, but I don't read a lot of great things about it to be honest. Your comments about Proto HD being close to a Cobra flex give me a lot of confidence that I have chosen the correct board. I really need true twin, stiffer for ripping, and really want a lot of pop which all the Proto reviews including yours seem to say is a major feature....GREAT!
I guess my only reservation still was it holding up under full speed. Note I do this on slight edge, not flat based..so if you can imagine straight lining but on say a 5 degree angle to the fall line on a light toe (mostly) or heel edge so I think this helps get around the loose squirily problem some people mention on anything with Rocker and softer freestyle oriented boards? Do you find it stable at speed? any difference good or bad compared to your SL or Cobra even that you can think of to add to your review above?
Really getting into cab spins now and hoping to take them off some bigger kickers this year. How do you find the pop off heel edge on the Proto? I read something about the Ride tech (pop walls)which has the carbon built into the edges which supposedly helps with spinning as the edge doesn't flex. Sounds like the Proto has the carbon X tip and tail. How do you find the feel of that nice and responsive pop off the edges, not just flat based ollie power?
Your review has answered a lot of my questions and I'm feeling a lot more sure about the Proto HDX now, would really be keen to hear your thoughts on the above, particularly how it holds up at speed vs you other NS boards. Do you have a camber reference (perhaps some of your friends that you mentioned? if you've been riding RC for a long time?)

thanks,
Don't get me wrong, the SL/Legacy are really great boards. The Evo & SL were the first NS boards I ever bought, and what got me hooked on their tech. I just think with the advances they've made with the carbonium topsheet, carbon array, and harmonic dampers on the Proto HDX, it's basically like a higher end version of the Legacy, albeit with a marginally higher price tag as well. Your riding style sounds pretty similar to what I do when I'm riding in-bounds, so it should suit you very nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here's a pic of the board in action, taken during my crew's Utah trip last year, on a bluebird day at Solitude.

 

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What specifically do you notice between this and the Cobra? I got the Cobra last year and it's a good board ... but there was just something missing.
 

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How did you find the board at speed in the chop?

I owned a 2011/2012 Proto CT 154 and I found myself constantly wishing it had more. Any time I'd charge something steep and choppy I'd have to either slow down or point it and pray. Trying to push through crud just wasn't something this board ever wanted to do.

I ended up replacing it with something more freeride focused simply because of my riding style. However, I do miss the pop of the proto CT.

Also that base was more durable than any other board I've owned.
 

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How did you find the board at speed in the chop?

I owned a 2011/2012 Proto CT 154 and I found myself constantly wishing it had more. Any time I'd charge something steep and choppy I'd have to either slow down or point it and pray. Trying to push through crud just wasn't something this board ever wanted to do.

I ended up replacing it with something more freeride focused simply because of my riding style. However, I do miss the pop of the proto CT.

Also that base was more durable than any other board I've owned.
Different strokes I guess. The bottom of my proto shredded like a cheese grater but maybe becuz it wanted to be on snow? (yes I fucked it up good)

Your description of how it handles the crud is what I don't like about my Evo, but the Proto shines for me there. Perhaps it is the difference between heavier maritime snow... Riding style, speed...sizes...
 

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Different strokes I guess. The bottom of my proto shredded like a cheese grater but maybe becuz it wanted to be on snow? (yes I fucked it up good)

Your description of how it handles the crud is what I don't like about my Evo, but the Proto shines for me there. Perhaps it is the difference between heavier maritime snow... Riding style, speed...sizes...
I'm 5'9" at 150lbs and athletic build. I'm wondering if was I would have found sizing up a little better.

My "every-day" board is now a Jones Mountain Twin 157 which is a very different board compared to the proto. Despite their seemingly similar quiver-killer marketing strategies.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
What specifically do you notice between this and the Cobra? I got the Cobra last year and it's a good board ... but there was just something missing.
On paper I the Cobra is rated 5.5 flex & dampness while the Proto HD/HDX is a tad softer at 5 flex and 4 dampness. In reality I found the Proto actually felt a tad stiffer than the Cobra, prob due to the tip/tail flex. Personally I love my Cobra, which I used as my pow board last year. If it were only a tick or two stiffer it would be even better!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
How did you find the board at speed in the chop?

I owned a 2011/2012 Proto CT 154 and I found myself constantly wishing it had more. Any time I'd charge something steep and choppy I'd have to either slow down or point it and pray. Trying to push through crud just wasn't something this board ever wanted to do.

I ended up replacing it with something more freeride focused simply because of my riding style. However, I do miss the pop of the proto CT.
It did just fine but if you want a really damp all mountain board that excels at cutting through everything, you want the Heritage, which is rated 6 flex and 7 dampness. I've owned a couple of Heritages and it was by far my favorite go-to board over 3-4 seasons.

I'm 5'9" at 150lbs and athletic build. I'm wondering if was I would have found sizing up a little better.

My "every-day" board is now a Jones Mountain Twin 157 which is a very different board compared to the proto. Despite their seemingly similar quiver-killer marketing strategies.
I think you definitely could've benefited from going to the 157, especially considering you're comfortable with that size on your Jones. Also worth noting is that by all accounts the HD def improves upon its predecessor (the CT).
 

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Wow the rise on the tips and that camera angle make the board look almost flat
 

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haha I bet you regret having your leg vents open at that precise moment:laugh:

How do you rank the pop on the Proto HD vs other boards youv'e ridden, in terms of their new tech, would you say this is NS poppiest (is that a word?) board?
 
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