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need advice, possibly switching to a soft setup


Guest AllMountain
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Guest AllMountain

hi folks. i need some basic advice; would really appreciate your insights.

i've been riding for 8 yrs, about 10-15 days per year. i've owned carving gear for a few yrs now, and had some very good instruction, but have just not been able to put the time in to become proficient. i had a couple of seasons cut short by injuries, and now i'm wanting to maximize time riding with my daughters (who are skiers), while they still want to hang out with their dad :biggthump . when i go with the kids, they want to explore, take a fast run on a groomer, then a bumpy tree run, then the steepest deepest powder they can find, etc. i have a great time, but i can't manage it in my carving gear. i feel i have a decent understanding of technique, i know how to "feel the carve", and i can do it under ideal conditions, but i'm still at the beginner stage as a carver. i find my carving setup tortuous in the bumpy tree runs, and i'm not likely to get much opportunity to master it in the next year or 2. i can easily go anywhere in my soft setup, but it's very flexy and sloppy for carving.

so i'm shopping for some new gear. priority #1 is, given my ability, handling all conditions easily without switching between multiple boards. none of us are into terrain park stuff, so jumping & tricks can be left out of the equation. priority #2 is the ability to work on improving my carving whenever we're on groomers.

i'm 6' tall, 205 lbs, size 12 to 13 feet. i currently own 2 setups. the soft setup i started out with is a K2 spitfire wide, with K2 clicker highback bindings and K2 firebird HB boots, size us 13 / ??? 47 / 30 cm. these boots make good rigid connections at the heel and toe, but are pretty soft and have packed out a bit. the board is 161 length / 27.1 waist, and my angles are 30/15 with a bit of overhang. this setup weighs 20 lbs.

my carving setup is a prior 4wd, with bomber TD2 bindings and head stratos pro boots with intec step-ins, size mondo 29 / usa 11 / euro 10. you might think the boots are too small, but they fit well after a little easing by a boot fitter and custom footbeds (but are starting to pack out). the board is 174 length / 21.4 waist, and my angles are 55/55 with essentially no overhang and cant/lift adjusted for comfort. this setup weighs 25 lbs.

i'm willing to pay for higher-end gear if it makes a difference in performance, and i'm thinking about getting a stiffer, tighter soft-boot setup built around a rad-air tanker 167 (27.5 cm waist). is that board a good compromise for me?

is there a good, carving-oriented soft boot that's particularly compact, for big-footed guys, so i could ride a narrower board with small angles? or should i think about riding soft boots one size smaller than my shoe size, like i am with my hard boots?

if i work on my carving, while riding small stance angles, will that learning be applicable when i switch back to a narrower board and high stance angles?

so what do you think are the optimal board/bindings/boots for my situation? i still think my trajectory is toward using my hard boots most of the time, just not in the next couple of years.

thanks!

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hi folks. i need some basic advice; would really appreciate your insights.

i've been riding for 8 yrs, about 10-15 days per year. i've owned carving gear for a few yrs now, and had some very good instruction, but have just not been able to put the time in to become proficient. i had a couple of seasons cut short by injuries, and now i'm wanting to maximize time riding with my daughters (who are skiers), while they still want to hang out with their dad :biggthump . when i go with the kids, they want to explore, take a fast run on a groomer, then a bumpy tree run, then the steepest deepest powder they can find, etc. i have a great time, but i can't manage it in my carving gear. i feel i have a decent understanding of technique, i know how to "feel the carve", and i can do it under ideal conditions, but i'm still at the beginner stage as a carver. i find my carving setup tortuous in the bumpy tree runs, and i'm not likely to get much opportunity to master it in the next year or 2. i can easily go anywhere in my soft setup, but it's very flexy and sloppy for carving.

so i'm shopping for some new gear. priority #1 is, given my ability, handling all conditions easily without switching between multiple boards. none of us are into terrain park stuff, so jumping & tricks can be left out of the equation. priority #2 is the ability to work on improving my carving whenever we're on groomers.

i'm 6' tall, 205 lbs, size 12 to 13 feet. i currently own 2 setups. the soft setup i started out with is a K2 spitfire wide, with K2 clicker highback bindings and K2 firebird HB boots, size us 13 / ??? 47 / 30 cm. these boots make good rigid connections at the heel and toe, but are pretty soft and have packed out a bit. the board is 161 length / 27.1 waist, and my angles are 30/15 with a bit of overhang. this setup weighs 20 lbs.

my carving setup is a prior 4wd, with bomber TD2 bindings and head stratos pro boots with intec step-ins, size mondo 29 / usa 11 / euro 10. you might think the boots are too small, but they fit well after a little easing by a boot fitter and custom footbeds (but are starting to pack out). the board is 174 length / 21.4 waist, and my angles are 55/55 with essentially no overhang and cant/lift adjusted for comfort. this setup weighs 25 lbs.

i'm willing to pay for higher-end gear if it makes a difference in performance, and i'm thinking about getting a stiffer, tighter soft-boot setup built around a rad-air tanker 167 (27.5 cm waist). is that board a good compromise for me?

is there a good, carving-oriented soft boot that's particularly compact, for big-footed guys, so i could ride a narrower board with small angles? or should i think about riding soft boots one size smaller than my shoe size, like i am with my hard boots?

if i work on my carving, while riding small stance angles, will that learning be applicable when i switch back to a narrower board and high stance angles?

so what do you think are the optimal board/bindings/boots for my situation? i still think my trajectory is toward using my hard boots most of the time, just not in the next couple of years.

thanks!

okay, my 2cents

if you want a board in the high 160s with a 27ish waist there are a allot of great options, the doneks are alright but that's about it.

From everyone who's been on the madd freerides they are carvy beasts that love to be put on edge and they come in a 27 cm waist for the wide model

if you go tanker go big because they really don't feel like big boards, I like the 177 the best, the only thing I don't like about tankers are they could be grippier on ice.

Burton makes a couple great wide rides, never summer, Ride and rome all make some incredible boards in wide models.

Boots, I'm partial to burton driver x and burton ion

bindings: if you want light and on the softer side go burton, the c60 is the **** and don't let anyone tell you burton bindings are not top notch because they either have not been on the current generation of burton product, have a axe to grind or they ride something that is all the rage with the park rats and thus burton is un-cool no matter how much better it is. I mentioned the the c60 but right down to the cartel burton's offerings are damn good.

Ride makes great bindings too, if you consider solomon look at the ride stuff, it's more rugged and I feel they are of superior design to solomon.

Nidecker, the 900 carbon is a big stiff bastard that is good if you can't afford catek FRs, nidecker 800 pros are softer but just as good. Nidecker has discontinued the 900 and changed the name of the 800 but they do still offer some high quality options.

Catek freeride, my favorite for inbounds riding on giant boards like the tanker 187 or a dough boy. it's stiff, super adjustable and has a huge amount of lift already built in. if you want a bad ass binding that's stiff and reliable you just found it.

this binding really benifits from the addition of ankle straps from burton P1s over the nidecker 900 straps it comes with.

the only real issue the cateks have is that they are really heavy literally twice that of the burton c60 and they are too stiff for some people.

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Guest AllMountain
Have you considered keeping the Prior, but backing down to a less stiff interface? There are hard boot setups not nearly so stiff.

i believe that i have trouble in obstacle courses because the weight, stiffness, and especially the high angles prevent me from making quick, skidded turns and adjustments. if that's correct, then softer hard boots on the 4wd wouldn't help much, because i'd have to keep the same high angles, to prevent boot-out. but if i'm not understanding the situation correctly, please let me know.

i've seen a lot of posts here where people talk about some board like my 4wd being able to go everywhere and do everything, but i don't see how you do it. maybe i just need a better understanding of how to handle very bumpy tree runs in a carving setup. i'd appreciate any advice along those lines.

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Well it might just be the difference between your foot size and mine. I ride a Coiler AM, very similar board with the same waist size, but with my size 27.5s I can get away with 45 degree angles. This combined with my fairly soft boots (Raichle 224) and not so stiff bindings (Titanflex) makes for a pretty versatile setup. I've got no problems getting the board back and forth quickly in bumps or any other situation that requires it.

Before you spend any money, if you have access to some board you can mount your current bindings on at lesser angles, try it and see if that frees you up some.

I'm sure the stiff softie setups people recommend will also work just fine. I'm just pointing out another option.

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I have a custom 4Wd that someone had made...it's a 182, with a 23 (.5?)cm waist and about 11m scr. I've never tried to evaluate the flex, but I will say that I ride at about 40-45* back/front and I can get those quick changes you're talking about

I had Head Stratos before...now I have the pro...I fear I may have gone too stiff but I'll find out this season.

I think the 4wd would work if you didnt have to go such high angles, so MAYBE, if youd rather stick with hard boots the ATV?

but, honestly, for ease of use and all-around riding, I think a good softboot setup is best, and my opinion is that it really doesnt need to be that stiff. Hell...I used to ride a morrow revert with morrow baseless bindings and burton freestyle boots that were barely held together by duct tape and I rode everywhere and could carve that sucker pretty darn good.

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i've seen a lot of posts here where people talk about some board like my 4wd being able to go everywhere and do everything, but i don't see how you do it. maybe i just need a better understanding of how to handle very bumpy tree runs in a carving setup. i'd appreciate any advice along those lines.

like a skateboard with big rubber wheels -- there's nothing physical preventing you from taking it down a rock & dirt mountain run ;) When I bought a malolo for powder riding last season I was amazed by how much easier riding trees in the deeps became.

good luck with your setup.

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Madd board carves very well and is wide. <TABLE cellSpacing=10 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>All Mountain / Snowboardcross</TD></TR><TR><TD>BX 163</TD><TD>163</TD><TD>133</TD><TD>8.7*</TD><TD>29</TD><TD>23</TD><TD>4</TD></TR><TR><TD>BX 168</TD><TD>168</TD><TD>138</TD><TD>9.2*</TD><TD>29.2</TD><TD>24.2</TD><TD>4</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

You can spead your feet out A bit relax the angles and still make it carve on the gromers. Waist 24.2 on the 168 . http://www.madd1.com/specs.htm

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Guest AllMountain

well, you've got me thinking in a new direction. i think i will still go for a new soft setup, but also add a 24- or 25-wide board to use with my hard boots, at smaller angles than i can currently ride on my 4wd. hopefully, this latter board would become my normal go-everywhere board, the soft setup would be mostly for powder days, and i'd ride the 4wd on groomers when the kids aren't with me. so here's my new short list:

board choices for hard boots:

madd bx 168 (24.2 wide)

prior mfr 165 (25.1 wide)

board choices for soft boots:

tanker 177 (27.2 wide)

madd freeride 167 (27 wide)

prior mfr 168XW (27 wide)

i think i'm liking the combination of madd bx 168 and tanker 177. what do you think?

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I'm surprised that you couldn't get the 4WD to work for you. My thoughts would be that the interface is way too stiff, and that's why you're having the issues off piste.

I went two days on TD1's and Track 325 boots on a Donek Axxess last season (not realising how stiff the Tracks actually are in comparison to my old Raichles) and got my butt kicked. The moment I took the TD's off and put my old plastic bindings on, it was a completely different setup and a joy to ride. I know I'm only a 150lb girl and all :-), but I'm relatively strong, and in the words of one coach " can flex the snot out of a board" ...

Why don't you demo a set of good soft boots and bindings on the 4WD, and see how it feels? That would be a no-cash-outlay experiment to start with, and you might find it works a whole heap better. As you want to keep your carving gear for later, it doesn't make sense to splash out tons of money for a completely separate setup (unless you're rich, in which case - go right ahead!!)

As for considering the Madd BX as an all mountain board - take it from someone who's ridden one - they're a beast. You'd make your life very. very difficult. They'd be a stonking BX board, but I wouldn't recommend one as a daily runner.

Good luck keeping up with the kids!!

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I'm with Allee on this one, look to make changes to your existing set-up before you shell out the major cash for Tankers and what-not. Talk to a boot-fitter about softening up the boots (or Bomber about some spring/BTS options). Also grab a set of F2's or the TD2 super-thick yellow disk and see if a softer binding helps.

On a side-note, get rid of the step-ins for soft-boot riding. I am partial to the TechNine Pro series...padded, comfortable and can rail my 200lbs around without giving up.

Good luck.

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board choices for hard boots:

madd bx 168 (24.2 wide)

prior mfr 165 (25.1 wide)

board choices for soft boots:

tanker 177 (27.2 wide)

madd freeride 167 (27 wide)

prior mfr 168XW (27 wide)

i think i'm liking the combination of madd bx 168 and tanker 177. what do you think?

I like the Madd , but I have no time on the Tanker.
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Guest AllMountain

thanks to everyone for all the good ideas.

w.r.t. tweaking what i already have: i will definitely look into softening up my boots/bindings. however, i'm convinced i want to try smaller angles (= wider board). also, i've decided i definitely want a good soft setup, even if it doesn't become my daily driver.

after the warnings about the madd bx, i'm now thinking:

boards - prior ATV (167, 23.5 waist)
and
tanker (177, 27.2 waist)

bindings - catek FR2 (cant/lift allows wider experimentation with angles)

boots - try driver X, ion, malamute, F24

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my personal feeling is that you'd be fine on a madd BX since you have enough behind you to power it

one thing about all the madds is that they need a forward, aggressive rider from what I myself have found and what others who've ridden the other models.

Alle is hot girl that I'm sure is about 75 100 lbs lighter than you so a madd BX for her would be painful in particular the width would make the thing feel like a door with girl feet (probably 3 shoe sizes or more smaller than you!)

Gleb has one and rode the ever living hell out of it so he can tell you anything you need to know.

if you do get a Prior, the first thing you need to do is drop it off at the best tune shop possible(I reccomend PTC) and get it tuned because Prior come out with some of the worst factory tunes around. I've felt this way for awhile but I just talked with Mike @ PTC and he said it's not uncommon for priors to have the base edges at 3-4 degrees out of the factory. I guess my feelings on Prior were just not in my own head. As well as my WCR metal was all over the place.

A final note, since you're on the TD2 if you want a little lift AND to soften up the interface get the suspension kit, at first you might not like it but give it some time and you'll fall in love.

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Bob might be right on the Madd BX - I know a lot of the guys LOVED it. Steph rode it as well (I think she'd be heavier than me, and is a much stronger rider as well) and her impression was the same. For me, any board that leaves you with burned quads by 11am is not a day-to-day proposition, even if it holds an edge like a damn piranha.

Gleb, I think, would agree that his was pretty much thrashed when he got it and might not be indicative of the breed.

In addition, the boards you're looking at are all pretty rare beasts, it might pay to make some availability inquiries before you set your heart on something...

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It sounds as though you are in the same situation that I was. I had a Prior 4WD that I used with hard boots but lacked the time and skills to get the set up to work anywhere other than on the groomed stuff. I want to be able to ride anywhere on the mountain without bein unduly limited by my gear. I ended up trying soft boots on the 4WD but it was too narrow and the binding heel would lift the edge out of the snow on agressive heel-edge turns. I have size 9 feet, but it was the binding, rather than the boot that was causing problems.

I got a Volkl Cross with Catek freerides on it and was much happier on that set up. It does not carve as well as the 4WD with plates (at least not with me driving) but it is a far more forgiving setup in the rougher, steeper and narrower sections of the mountain. The Volkl Cross is getting a bit tired now and I have sold the 4WD and acquired a Tanker 172 with Nidecker bindings. I really like this combination, and have not been out on the Cross since I got it. It floats much better in deeper snow (The Cross tends to dive) but is still quite quick edge to edge and in the bumps. I'd like to try a Tanker 200 sometime, but it is obviously not going to be very good in the bumps.

I have not tried either of these boards with the hardboot set up although they are both supposedly very good. I have the original TD1s with Raichle boots and I think this rather unforgiving interface may have been part of my problem on the 4WD. I should really get rid of the TD1s and pick up something a little more forgiving.

I'm not sure if any of this is helpful, but there are plenty of softboot set ups that carve pretty well and can be used with either soft or hard boots.

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Guest AllMountain
AllMountain,

I think you are fine with the K2 board you already have. I think you should set your binding angles a little steeper to prevent to drag and get rid of any step-in soft bindings and get a solid soft one, but besides for that, keep riding the stuff you already have.

i'm certain that the boots and bindings will make a big difference, but this board feels awfully soft to me. when i'm riding slowly in the flats, i feel the ups and down in the terrain as if i were on a piece of cardboard. i don't know if it may have changed over time, but i've certainly changed a lot since the first day i rode a snowboard.

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