Snowboard, Wakeboard & Longboard Package Specialists

Monthly Archives: October 2010

  • Snowboard Flex, Feel, and Ride Ratings - Oh, No!

    Posted on October 30, 2010 by wiredsport

    Trying to get an accurate idea of how a specific board will flex in comparison to others? Watch out! There is more marketing misinformation and straight out nonsense published about flexibility than about most other elements of snowboard fit. Finding the correct flex (stiffness and feel) is crucial, but it won't be found in a single number printed on a fit chart.

    Let's clear one thing up straight off. There is no industry standard for flex. That is to say, what one company considers a "4" has no direct relation to another company's "4" or "Medium Soft", or "Less Harsh". That's correct, boards that carry the same number may (and usually do) have an entirely different feel.

    OK, so that makes it tricky to compare one brand to another, but what about within a brand? Even here, big problems exist. Most brands are still putting a single flex rating on an entire model. That is to say, this year's Travis White pro model gets a flex rating of "2", but what? It's rated a 2 in both 149 cm and in 163 cm?  Hey now, the chart says that those two sizes are rated for riders separated by 70 lbs, how can the flex rating be the same? Wait, you say, they are rating the overall flex of the model so it could be compared to other models of the same brand of a similar size. The problem there is that board designer’s change the flex of each model at different size breaks to achieve the feel that they are after for that specific model. In other words, the difference in flex between a 149 and a 154 in one model may be far greater than the flex difference between those same sizes in another model. Additionally, many times a rider will be deciding between two sizes of the same model. Does the 157 really have the same flex as the 159? If so, why are the weight ratings for those sizes so different?

    The biggest confusing factor, however, comes from the improvements in flex control technologies that have evolved over the past decade. A board that is designed to have a buttery soft tip and tail with a firm mid section flexes far differently than a constant flex board designed for a similar rider size. It is not that it is necessarily more or less flexible, but that the flex characteristics are entirely different. To get around this issue, certain companies have switched from a flex rating to a feel rating. This is a step from bad to worse. There is simply no way to compare these complex relationships in a single number or term. It would be equal to comparing a tangerine to a pineapple using a fruitiness scale, rated 1 to 10.

    What is the answer? The only way to figure out the flex component is to dig deeper. Getting the info on the core weight range that a model and size were developed for and understanding the flex characteristic of that model is the only way to get the correct flex for your needs.

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