As in previous years, shortly before the ISPO we visited the excellent Shops 1st Try test event at Venet/Tyrol, to come up to you with the latest splitboard news and first on snow impressions of next seasons novelties. There are new splitboards by Völkl, Salomon, Arbor, Lib Tech, Gnu and Jones. Goodboards keeps the proven shape and the solid wood design of the Legends, a bit darker now and in a matte natural look.
The test conditions were hard to icy, so perfect to put the boards through their paces, as with the best powder conditions, most of them function properly. For the ascent, we have chosen a slope of about 38 degree with strong wind packed snow to check the important edge grip. On a shallower piece we kept an eye on the forward pull (does it keep the track or is it rotating like a compass needle).
This year, we take the liberty to award the best boards of this First Impression Session. Congratulations to the brands: Völkl, Gnu, Rossignol and Arbor!
Völkl Untrac (First Impression Selection)
Völkl comes up with the Untrac. A directional powder board with easy camber for stronger edge hold and better control. Sizes are 155, 162 and 167 cm.
First Impression Völkl Splitboard Untrac 167 und 162:
As before, the Völkl is processed excellent with aluminium protectors at tip and tail, an easy rocker at the tip and a camber under the feet . The Flex is a bit harder than that of the former cashews. The new Vacuum Base skins of Kohla, combined with the Skin Pin system round off the set. The handling of the skins is super easy and comfortable.
On the ascent, the Untrack is stable and has a good grip thanks to the camber . It has a clean forward pull and the individual board halves have a proper camber tension.
Downhill, the untracked convinced by smooth running, grip and maneuverability. Even at higher speeds, it's precise and the shape promises good float in powder. The board is tuned very convenient and can be both, shredded hard or cruised easily. Perceived Flex: 6 out of 10 ( 1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
Fun top !
We tested the untracked with the new Völkl Split Tec binding and the Spark XV .
Jones will add two new models to their portfolio. The Explorer, a good value model with the same shape as the Solution. And the new Discover, a junior split or a split for small and lightweight women.
First Impression Jones Explorer 159:
The Jones Explorer is somewhat softer than the solution and accordingly has slightly less pop. But compared to other splitboards it is very much alive and calls for active driving and a bit of skill.
On the ascent, it is comparable to the Solution. With the Karakoram binding and the Deeluxe XV boat, the pressure is transferred well to the edges. Also, the Explorer has a good forward pull.
At descent, the Explorer Split is more gentle than the Solution, but still has tremendous grip on the edge. It is agile and simultaneously running smooth. Perceived Flex: 6 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
The Ultracraft we have tested on a different ocassion, in powder, powder and powder. On the uphill we had to deal with a challenging ascent track in the woods (steep and hard).
With 156cm, the Jones Ultracraft seems very short for someone who usually rides boards over 165cm. However, the performance has totally convinced me. Massive floatation, incredibly agile and good grip on the edge while riding or ascending. The weight is verly low compared to other boards, but the Ultracraft keeps stable even at high speeds. Perceived Flex: 8 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
Regarding the riding characteristics under different conditions, it behaves similar to the Hovercraft splitboard. Here you can read our First Impression of the Hovercraft.
Salomon Premiere (four parts split)
Salomon shows a four-part splitboard. The Premiere 159 has complex buildups, as known of three-parts splitboards. It is noteworthy that the short climbing aid must be up in the ride mode to push the binding on the board.
The crampons can be mounted easily "on the fly" with a twist mechanism.
While ascending, it is great! The narrow board halves give real pressure on the edges and it keeps on track perfectly even in steep terrain. As you store the middle parts of the Board (extremely light weight) in your Backpack, the weight at your feet will be reduced as well. So less endeavor while ascending
On the descent, especially at tougher conditions, it could need a little more torsional stiffness. It is a hybrid board with a decent rocker nose, so it will float up in powder. Perceived Flex: 6 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
The board was tested with the Deeluxe Spark XV boots.
Rossignol XV Mag Tec (First Impression Selection)
Xavier De Le Rue's splitboard has got a new design. We had it in our test before, report follows soon. Here is the First Impression.
The Mag Tec is strong on the ascent, thanks to the curved edge and the camber bias till the tail. It is progressing well.
Thanks to the prolonged nose and the hollow at the tail, the board has a tremendous boost. Due to the relatively hard tuning, as Xavier loves it, it's very stable, smooth and agile on-piste and on ice, as well as in tracked powder. You can rely on this board in all conditions. We were surprised by the low weight, you feel it right away as you lift it up. Perceived Flex: 8 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
We tested the Mag Tec split with a Spark binding and the Deeluxe XV boot.
Lib Tech Skunk Apes
The Lib Tech Skunk Apes is a directional Powder Twin Splitboard with C2 BTX Camber, Noserocker and Magne-Traction.
At the ascent, the Skunk Ape 169W is very handy thanks to the Magne-Traction edges and C2 Camber and you make good progress.
Descending, the C2 Camber and Mange-Traction play nicely together. Huge edge grip for demanding riding. The shape will provide nice flotation in powder, thanks to the prolonged rockered nose. The lower sidecut makes more volume in powder, but it has thus a slightly larger turning radius. The board is rather stiff. It is lies very flat on ground and thus achieves a large effective edge length. Small-offs must be made in pop and liveliness, when compared with a pure Camber board. The weight is relatively low. More suitable for experienced spliboarders. Perceived Flex: 7 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
We tested the Skunk Ape with Head Boots and Karakoram binding.
Lib Tech Wingman
The Wingman is a real powder machine with a long and heavy rockered nose. In combination with its directional shape it promises an enormous float searching its same.
Uphill, the Wingman Split is stable thanks to the FD BTX camber and Magne-Traction and holds up well on the edge.
On the way down I would have liked a little more grip on the edge in the tough test conditions and at high speed. For cruising in the hardpack, the board is alright. I dare to say at this point, that this board makes great fun in powder and is not irrepressible (but unfortunately i did't had the chance to test it in powder). It is extremely lively and a little softer tuned as eg the Skunk Ape. Perceived Flex: 6 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
Gnu The Beast (First Impression Selection)
The Beast of Gnu really surprised me, well actually it was to be expected that Temple Cummins brings another good device after the Billy Goat. It is much lighter than the Billy Goat and has a directional freestyle/freeride shape. The DC3 BTX Camber, Rocker mixture contributes to great edge hold in both ascent and descent.
Ascent: The Beast keeps on the edge as it must be. Crampons are required relatively late, because the Magbe-Traction and the mentioned DC3 BTX Camber bring enough tension to transmits the correct pressure to the edges. It pulls cleanly forward.
On the descent, it's great fun. The board is tuned pleasant. Most likely, the directional shape makes it float well in powder. In tough conditions you can rely on the edge. It is very agile and can also be ridden precisely. Perceived Flex: 8 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
The Gnu Beast Split will be available in the lengths 158 and 161 cm.
The Pendent for Women is the beauty split board, unfortunately we could not test it, but design, shape and finish are promising.
The Beast was tested with the Bentmetal Karakoram binding and the Spark XV boat
Gnu The Beauty (Women) Split:
Salomon Derby 156
This two-piece split was tested in the length of 156cm. It is a cambered, tapered directional board, paired with a Pow Rocker. Flex of the splitboard is kept rather soft. The board can be handled very easy and thus suits very well for lightweights and snowboard beginners.
Soft Flex means fun on the slopes. A nice Oli in between, not much strength is needed. Despite the rather short split tested, one has a very good edge grip and a Fun-curve radius. Sufficient float in powder snow is guaranteed thanks to the front Rocker. Perceived Flex: 5 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
On the ascents, it is relatively stable, kickturns are supereasy and work nearly by itself.
Arbor Abacus (First Impression Selection)
The Arbor Abacus splitboard has been completely revised and the shape has changed. Nose and tail have become quite edgy, thus the catch is reduced and the board forgives the one and other rider mistake or harder landings.
On the climb up the edge cuts in the hard snow, thanks to the Grip Tech (additional pressure points) and you can keep good track. The forward pull is good.
On the descent, I felt the new Abacus more like a Camber board, rather as a rocker board. The Parabolic Rocker in combination with the tuning of the flex and the Grip Tech, makes the Abacus a real fun board with good riding performance. It is alive and wants to go fast. If the edge starts to grip, you feel a slight jerk and then it's there. You can carve clean in very harsh conditions. The parabolic Rocker promises good float in powder. The new Abacus 14/15 is very agile and beautiful matched. Perceived Flex: 7 out of 10 (1 supersoft / 10 ultra hard)
The Abacus will be available in 161 and 164 cm.
It was tested with the Splitsticks binding and adapter plates for the Voile hole stitch.
Weight of the tester 70 and 74kg.
Splitboard Designs 14-15
For the other seen splitboards there has been innovations in design only, besides that they are already covered in our last seasons article. Of course, here we have the new 14/15 designs for your inspection.
Readers Comments and firsthand practical experiences with the current 2013/14 boards can be found within our splitboard overview. Here, our readers have shared their opinions on the boards, and as said before, with some boards there has been only changes in design.
Goodboards Legends Design:
Jones Solution Split:
Never Summer Prospector Split:
Never Summer Raven Split:
Never Summer SL Split:
No news from K2, the design has remained the same.
What else was interesting?
There are innovations in terms of boots, here are some snowboard boots that are great for splitboarding due to their hardness and sole. The Deeluxe Spark is still the only one with backwelt for the use of semi-automatic crampons. Large sizes will be pleased, the Spark now has a visibly smaller outside dimension.
Amplifi Backpack with Rescue Ball:
And even more info!
Goodboards cleaned up the Best Board Design Award for the second time now. Congratulations!
DaKine Old vs. New
High Five offers free skateboarding, BMX and snowboard courses for underprivileged kids from children's homes, youth centers and refugee camps. At six weekends, 111 participants can let off steam and explore snowboarding at Spitzing in the Bavarian Alps. The supply with gloves should be guaranteed due to the action of DaKine. High Five for DaKine!
Thanks to the crew of the First Try, it was again a great event with lots of fun and rock n 'roll.
If you want to leave a comment feel free to do it!