One of the questions that frequently comes up with newer snowboarders is whether a stiffer snowboard is harder to ride.
If you’re a proficient rider, a stiff board is going to give you more board performance. On the other hand, if you’re a newer rider, it’s going to be a lot more challenging to control.
With a stiffer board, provided you can control it, you can ride more aggressively, load up more weight throughout your turns and get more response coming out of your turns. Also, a stiffer board will make it easier to hold a line in powder, making it a better choice for those who like to ride big lines.
See also: What is an aggressive snowboard?
Should a new snowboarder get a stiff board?
A newer snowboarder should generally start with a softer board, something in the middle of the flex range. If your board is too soft, your tail and nose are going to bend too much, and the board is going to be too mushy (“noodle”) and hard to control.
On the other hand, if the board is too stiff, a learner will have a lot of difficulty controlling the board and will struggle in soft snow.
Beginner riders are often not comfortable with speed. As a result, a stiffer board will need a lot more input than a more flexible board to get the same turn. As you become more comfortable riding faster, you’ll find a stiffer board is more stable at speed.
Regardless, things will vary from one learner to another. Some new snowboarders enjoy a slightly stiffer board from the start, especially heavier riders since the board is going to flex more under them. A stiffer board can also help taller riders as it gives them more leverage when turning.
So while a medium flex is generally a good option for the average beginner, everyone is different and learns in different ways. If you’re a beginner and you’re struggling with a mid-flex board, try a softer board first and then work your way up to a stiffer board if you like it.
See also: can a beginner ride an advanced snowboard?
Snowboard stiffness and camber
As discussed, for snowboarding initiation and for learning the first turns, a softer board will be generally easier to handle and more playful. In addition to a mild flex, a reverse camber shape can also make your life easier as a new snowboarder. More on this:
A camber board has a curved shape like a banana with its tips pointed downward. Camber is measured in degrees and gives the board more response when turning.
Due to the camber, the board will flatten out when you stand or put added pressure on it. Conversely, if you jump off the board or release pressure, the board will tend to spring back into its original reverse banana shape, releasing spring-like energy.
Experienced riders are able to use this behavior to their advantage to achieve harder carves and higher jumps. They load up the board and release pressure at the right time to leverage the springy response.
Beginners, on the other hand, are generally not ready to take advantage of the properties of a camber shape. Beginners will often lean too hard on one side, resulting in the board popping them out of control.
Reverse camber board
Reverse camber boards (banana curvature with the tips pointing UPWARD) is generally a better choice for a beginner. the slightly uplifted nose and tail make these boards a lot more forgiving. The rider can get away with incorrect weight placement and other learner mistakes.
A reverse camber also makes the board more buttery due to the uplifted nose and tail, so that the rider is less likely to catch an edge.
Snowboard instructors often recommend taking your first lessons on a medium-flex reverse camber board. Once you have the basics down and you’re able to link turns and cruiser around the mountain, you can start playing around with a stiffer, camber board.
Once you do, you may be able to leverage the pop and get the feel you want. You may also hate it, go back to reverse camber, and never look back. You will need to try boards and find what you personall like.
Stiffer vs softer snowboard for skidded turns
Riding a stiffer snowboard can be a challenge as the rider’s force is exerted over a larger section of the board’s edge. In contrast, on a softer board, control is concentrated primarily on the region between the feet.
As a result, on a stiffer board even slight adjustments will cause significant differences in the level of board grip in the snow, and the angle available to the rider in a skidded turn is narrower on a stiffer board. This requires the rider to have better precision on a stiffer board vs a softer one.
Stiffer vs softer snowboard for carved turns
Carving means following the snowboard’s sidecut radius and edge angle. As mentioned, a stiff board distributes your weight across a longer section of the board’s edge, making more of the board work and resulting in a more effective edge grip.
This makes it easier to carve a turn, especially when going fast and when in rough snow.
See also: Are park snowboards good for powder?
A beginner should generally start with a softer board with reverse camber, unless they are very heavy. A stiffer board will need more input to get the same turn. Carving is easier on a stiffer board, but the rider must have better precision.
Thursday 9th of March 2023
A red lip makes me feel sexy :) http://tiny.cc/gz35vz