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Newbie seeks your advice on boards.


John Bell
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Help me out here, O carve kings/queens, if you would.

After 10 years on a board, I'm looking to get into carving for the first time. I put an ad on the "Want to Buy" section and got some good advice there, but I thought I'd follow up, because I'm still confused.

I'm kind of vacillating between buying a huge hog of a race board--like a Donek 175 that is at this very moment on eBay--or some kind of all-mountain board, which would no doubt be better on powder and easier to learn on.

But here are the complicating factors:

1. I'm gonna stay on soft boots for a while. I know this makes me an evil person, but I hear they're easier to ride in powder, easier to walk with up those metal stairs to the cafeteria, and usually lighter. I have a fake ACL in my left knee, so I don't want the equivalent of a basset hound hanging off my left leg. And I'm a cheap bastard. I just blew 160 bucks on my softies, and I ain't throwin' that away. Plus hard bindings and boots are like another $600. And since NO ONE sells them in the store, and it's generally a bad idea to buy any kind of footwear without trying it on, I'm stickin' with what I got. Go ahead and flame me.

2. I live on the east coast of the USA. (Hey, I don't need your pity, BC!) Anyway, I want something that will be great on ice and ****ty snow, because let's face it: That's what I'm gonna be on most of the time. I might get one trip out west per year if I'm lucky, depending on my job.

Thus:

Given that I'm gonna be on small, icy hills for the most part, should I get something with a smaller turning radius? And if so, what about a race board? I saw one on eBay--a Nitro GT 154--for $89 used. I'm afraid it would be chattery as all hell, though. (I hate chatter. I get enough of it now with my 158 Rossi.)

Is there by chance a board that is long enough to eliminate chatter but with a tight turning radius, so that I have a snowball's chance in hell of carving it at the humble resorts of upstate NY and (when I'm really lucky), Killington?

If I see some crazy long race board on eBay for cheap, should I just go sink or swim and learn on that? Does the Nietzsche principle apply to learning to carve?

Here's what I've considered so far:

Donek Wide

Donek Pilot

Donek Vald 175 (the one on eBay)

Nitro 154 GT

Prior ATV (off hardbooter.com)

F2 Silberpfeil (which reportedly can make quick turns)

Donek Axxess 172 Custom (softer and with a 24-cm waist) offered by someone on this forum, slightly used

Thanks very much :biggthump for your advice!

--John

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MADD 170 for a carver. Sposed to be the ice crusher.

you mention staying in softboots...you do mean on a freeride board, right? Because soft boots on the boards you mention is a BAD idea.

no one board will do it all. some boards can do a lot like the 4WD or ATV, but again...even with the ATV, and even that Axis 172 with 24cm waist softboots are most likely a bad idea. IMO, of course.

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Thanks for the reply, D-Sub.

Yup, I did mean in softies. I won't rule out hard boots at some point if I can get some super deal--but baby steps, you know? I just remember last winter at Park City; my friend (a skier) and I stayed at this townhouse place at the bottom of the mountain, and he was hating life in his ski boots. We had a good quarter-mile trek to the bus through the snow.

The Madd boards are a little pricey for me unless I can get a used one for cheap--and if I can get one that is wide enough for softies.

That said, I do plan to use some pretty tight angles. Otherwise, I figure, what's the point? Plus it'll be great not to have my board clackering around that of the person next to me on the lift.

What happens if I ride some massive alphorn of a board in soft boots?

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you arent going to get high enough angles in soft boots sorry... infact I think it will back fire on you, because you wont be able to control a true alpine board with soft boots.

Hard boots arent that much heavier.

You might get away with an all mtn board, but then you wont have the true carving experience, and if you are so tight with the cash, then you might as well skip the whole thing.

As far as the board if you are riding a 155 freeride board a 175 would be a bit much for a begginer (yeah riding softies for a 10 years doesnt translate to carving unless you are a pro.)

Come to think of if, Id rather spend more money on boots/bindings than the board if I were forced to.

an alpine board shouldn't chatter like a wet noodle, oops I mean "freeride" board.

sell your softies on ebay.

Or youre going to end up with a bad experience.

(and buy the reactors im selling :D )

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Thanks for the reply, D-Sub.

Yup, I did mean in softies. I won't rule out hard boots at some point if I can get some super deal--but baby steps, you know? I just remember last winter at Park City; my friend (a skier) and I stayed at this townhouse place at the bottom of the mountain, and he was hating life in his ski boots. We had a good quarter-mile trek to the bus through the snow.

The Madd boards are a little pricey for me unless I can get a used one for cheap--and if I can get one that is wide enough for softies.

That said, I do plan to use some pretty tight angles. Otherwise, I figure, what's the point? Plus it'll be great not to have my board clackering around that of the person next to me on the lift.

What happens if I ride some massive alphorn of a board in soft boots?

I just occours to me, that if you think walking in soft boots is comfortable, THEY ARENT STIFF ENOUGH! in which case, youll probably be crashing alot, especially on ice.

Um maybe we should get this guy to sign some kind of waiver, so we dont get sued?

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You're talking about driving a race car through a couple of pillows tied to the steering wheel. The car will go plenty fast, heck, it will probably even corner just as well, but your steering ability will be severely (and dangerously) compromised.

More explicitly, if you ride steep enough angles in your soft gear to keep your toes/heels from dragging, you'll have very little ability to turn the board. You need to be able to apply pressure to the edges to do that, and soft boots are too soft laterally to accomplish that.

If you insist on riding soft boots, you probably need to look at BX boards, not a full-on alpine deck.

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I just occours to me, that if you think walking in soft boots is comfortable, THEY ARENT STIFF ENOUGH! in which case, youll probably be crashing alot, especially on ice.

They have the Boa system, and I keep them really loose when I walk. I tighten the bejeezus out of 'em when I'm riding, and they do in fact get pretty stiff. Not hard-boot stiff, of course, but stiffer than most softies.

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These Burton three-straps can usually be had for $100 or less. (careful... they came in two sizes.)

Then if you really like that, get a stiff Flow binding for the rear to gain step-in convenience.

Mount em on a used E Deck, Coil, or Wire (all Burtons) or on a used Axxes or 4x4.

Finally, if you decide to stay with softies, buy some used Salomon Malamutes or Burton Driver-X's - stiff for carving.

If you decide to transition to hardboots - used AT's - like Scarpas can be had and are very walkable.

Also, used Burton Freecarves or Boilers (low-cuffed three-closures) are great for East Coast ice and chop when mounted on a wider carver. They show up on-line occasionally. I have some size 11 Freecarve shells I'll give you for shipping cost should you ever want to audition for hardboots.

Good luck

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They have the Boa system, and I keep them really loose when I walk. I tighten the bejeezus out of 'em when I'm riding, and they do in fact get pretty stiff. Not hard-boot stiff, of course, but stiffer than most softies.

I doubt it I have some of the stiffest boots, (malamutes) and I wouldnt ride a carving board with them

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I have some size 11 Freecarve shells I'll give you for shipping cost should you ever want to audition for hardboots.

'Preciate that, Boarderboy! Alas, I'm a 9.5-10.

Yeah, it's too bad there's not a shop 'tween here and VT that sells hardboots. So even if I wanted to buy some, I'd really be rolling the dice.

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I disagree that you can't carve on a alpine oriented board with a soft setup. It's not the material that restricts you, but it's the rider himself. An alpine board with hardboots will only help you with a better carve (more control).

Icy conditions, take a relative soft flexing but stiff torsional wise! board, it will hold better than a very stiff one, and it will give you more comfort. If you have a soft set up which gives enough support, you can ride it on an alpine oriented board, no problem. I ride a POGO Longboard 175 with softies and also can race this one with my soft setup (I also have Vans boots with that BOA thing, stiff enough!). My soft set up is a rather supportive one. Racing Skiers have a problem to overtake me with that alpine oriented POGO. That Donek Axxes with a soft setup and that wide waist looks fine to me. A nice allrounder for some one with a bad knee. With that 24 cm waist you will have a nice platform for the more powdery days. Don't know how stiff that Prior ATV is, but looks like a good one too, I think with a radius of about 10m, it's a turny one for sure. The only downsite with a wider board s that the edge change will be a little less faster but you will also have more comfort on it. May be you have to wait a little and look in the classifieds for a good secondhander. There will be interesting boards dropping in when the first snow is there for sure. Seems that an allround alpine oriented carveboard will suit you best. So no Silberpfeil for sure (not good in softy snow conditions).

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You're talking about driving a race car through a couple of pillows tied to the steering wheel. The car will go plenty fast, heck, it will probably even corner just as well, but your steering ability will be severely (and dangerously) compromised.

More explicitly, if you ride steep enough angles in your soft gear to keep your toes/heels from dragging, you'll have very little ability to turn the board. You need to be able to apply pressure to the edges to do that, and soft boots are too soft laterally to accomplish that.

If you insist on riding soft boots, you probably need to look at BX boards, not a full-on alpine deck.

I gotcha. That actually makes sense. Years ago I did have some old POS board set up with tight angles and softies, and I recall always like I could just barely control it; stopping suddenly was a real problem. What you said explains why.

So it sounds like that as long as I'm in softies, I'm relegated to not carving laid-out turns--right? And if so, what about the Europeans who I hear are carving in soft boots? Are they going with smaller angles? (RJ at Rad-Air told me this; but maybe he was talking about just the Tankers.)

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...I ride a POGO Longboard 175 with softies and also can race this one with my soft setup ...

Vielen dank fuer ihre Hilfnung. What angles are you running on your 175? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that tighter angles on in softer boots are less safe?

My knee isn't that bad; I had the ACL replaced 4 years ago, but I don't want to push my luck.

So I weigh 77-80 kg and, as I said, right on smaller hills usually. What range of lengths/sidecut angles do you think I should be considering?

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I gotcha. That actually makes sense. Years ago I did have some old POS board set up with tight angles and softies, and I recall always like I could just barely control it; stopping suddenly was a real problem. What you said explains why.

So it sounds like that as long as I'm in softies, I'm relegated to not carving laid-out turns--right? And if so, what about the Europeans who I hear are carving in soft boots? Are they going with smaller angles? (RJ at Rad-Air told me this; but maybe he was talking about just the Tankers.)

No!!!! You can carve the hell out of that mountain with softies too.

No problem. My allround carving soft set up: FLOW PRO freerides with Vans Fargo BOA and a POGO Longboard 175, 35 in front and about 25 tot 30 in the back, no cant, no lift. Carves like hell, nice platform in powder and slush. Also good for my old rotten knees when I am tired of riding my alpine boards.

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I disagree that you can't carve on a alpine oriented board with a soft setup. It's not the material that restricts you, but it's the rider himself. An alpine board with hardboots will only help you with a better carve (more control).

Icy conditions, take a relative soft flexing but stiff torsional wise! board, it will hold better than a very stiff one, and it will give you more comfort. If you have a soft set up which gives enough support, you can ride it on an alpine oriented board, no problem. I ride a POGO Longboard 175 with softies and also can race this one with my soft setup (I also have Vans boots with that BOA thing, stiff enough!). My soft set up is a rather supportive one. Racing Skiers have a problem to overtake me with that alpine oriented POGO. That Donek Axxes with a soft setup and that wide waist looks fine to me. A nice allrounder for some one with a bad knee. With that 24 cm waist you will have a nice platform for the more powdery days. Don't know how stiff that Prior ATV is, but looks like a good one too, I think with a radius of about 10m, it's a turny one for sure. The only downsite with a wider board s that the edge change will be a little less faster but you will also have more comfort on it. May be you have to wait a little and look in the classifieds for a good secondhander. There will be interesting boards dropping in when the first snow is there for sure. Seems that an allround alpine oriented carveboard will suit you best. So no Silberpfeil for sure (not good in softy snow conditions).

Hans, your Pogo Longboard probably has about a 25 cm waist. It is not a board that most of us would call "alpine", but I don't think anyone here would disagree that that is a great board to carve on in softies (though probably not in John's budget at the moment). I actually have a 180 Pogo Longboard and it is a great softy carver, although I usually only carve in hardboots.

IIRC, the Donek Axxess is a 21.5 cm waist, not 24. This puts it beyond the reach of softboot and binding angles, unless someone has really small feet. However the Prior ATV is about 23.5, which is possible with steep angles.

Basically John, softboots will carve great when matched to the proper board. You really need to look at boards that are 23.5 cm wide (Prior ATV) and wider. This will keep your binding angles in the range that the soft boots and bindings are designed to work (typically under 40 degrees).

The Madd BX, Steepwater, Donek Incline, Tankers, Neversummer boards are often mentioned on this site as great softboot carvers. There are certainly others out there.

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Hans, your Pogo Longboard probably has about a 25 cm waist. It is not a board that most of us would call "alpine", but I don't think anyone here would disagree that that is a great board to carve on in softies (though probably not in John's budget at the moment). I actually have a 180 Pogo Longboard and it is a great softy carver, although I usually only carve in hardboots.

IIRC, the Donek Axxess is a 21.5 cm waist, not 24. This puts it beyond the reach of softboot and binding angles, unless someone has really small feet. However the Prior ATV is about 23.5, which is possible with steep angles.

Basically John, softboots will carve great when matched to the proper board. You really need to look at boards that are 23.5 cm wide (Prior ATV) and wider. This will keep your binding angles in the range that the soft boots and bindings are designed to work (typically under 40 degrees).

The Madd BX, Steepwater, Donek Incline, Tankers, Neversummer boards are often mentioned on this site as great softboot carvers. There are certainly others out there.

Thanks for the thoughts, Buell.

You're right that the Axxess is normally 21.5, but the guy who offered to sell his to me has a custom version they made wider (24 cm) just for him, plus a tad bit softer. He also had the Olympic core put in (whatever that is). It may be more board than I need, however. I mean, it sounds great, but then I remember that I can get a brand new Donek Freeride or ATV for about 500.

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Thanks John,

I missed the part about the 24 cm wide Axxess. That would be an interesting board. The Donek olympic core has received excellent reviews. It would likely be the stiffest board (even softened a bit) that you would find that is wide enough to use softies, which isn't necessarily a good thing, but it might work if your soft boots are really stiff.

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You're right that the Axxess is normally 21.5, but the guy who offered to sell his to me has a custom version they made wider (24 cm) just for him, plus a tad bit softer. He also had the Olympic core put in (whatever that is). It may be more board than I need, however. I mean, it sounds great, but then I remember that I can get a brand new Donek Freeride or ATV for about 500.

GET IT. Depending on how big your feet are (I didnt notice if you posted that info or not) get that Axis, man. A 24cm Axis would be a SWEET board. It won't transition edge to edge as well as a full on alpine ride, but you WILL be able to carve it, and with a softer flex and olympic construction it should handle ice quite well. AND that waist width is wide enough where you should be able to get reasonable angles.

did you say what sort of bindings you have/plan to use?

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'Preciate that, Boarderboy! Alas, I'm a 9.5-10.

Yeah, it's too bad there's not a shop 'tween here and VT that sells hardboots. So even if I wanted to buy some, I'd really be rolling the dice.

starting gate near stratton, VT carries deeluxe and Head hardboots, bomber and catek bindings and now even Coiler snowboards

these first comments are based on you riding softboots

here are some things to avoid

Despite what people here say three strap bindings blow unless you add a third strap to catek freerides with a hook on the heel hoop but this is a bad idea unless you don't mind bending hoops all the time and they still suck if you want to do anything other than pretend that you're on plates and loose some of the things that make softboots nice to have sometimes.

Boards that are too narrow for your size ten foot, with that boot size aim for 25.5 to 26 cm waisted boards you could go 26.5 even but much after that I think would be pushing it. anything narrower and to really tip the board you'll either need ridiculous angles or a lift under your bindings.

There are allot of people that ride angles of like 45 degrees in softies, they are yahoos do not listen to them, if you need angles like that to avoid drag either get a lift or another board that is wider. anything over 30 or 35 degrees in softboots you really start to lose leverage and you start to get all contorted and it's hard no the knees

My suggestions would be a Madd freeride 162, rad air tanker 172 rad air reto, Madd twin 158 among a bunch of other GREAT options. I am probably getting a Madd FR myself for a good east coast softboot ripper in a small package.

Talk with RJ at Exoticboards.com for tankers and all other things Rad Air and for Madds Dave at hardbooter.com (he has a bunch of Madds that are not listed on the site)

Onto hardboots, if you do go up to the starting gate and get boots here are some alpine ride to think about for the best rides on hard nasty ice think coilers with "superboard", doneks with Olympic cores or any of the Madds. with doneks and coilers the cores matter less with smaller boards, Bruce(the guy that builds Coilers) claims that superboard is not needed on smaller boards at all, meaning under 170 or so

Madds are the most exciting to ride, intensely fun, Coilers are the dampest and the easiest to ride. Doneks are alright and Priors are as well.

for a jack of all trades carver the coiler AM is by a long shot the best thing I have been other than the new metal boards. the Coiler AMs have a flex pattern that is far superior to the Axis, the AMs are soft between the feet and stiffer in front and back of the the bindings making the boards unstufable where as the Axis is real easy to stuff and that is bad in soft snow.

for the absolute edge grip on ice you'll want a titanal(metal) board but if you're cheap it will be hard to come by for under $600, even used, if you do go metal there is Kessler at the top of the pack then everything else. I have two metal boards and they are the two grippiest boards I have been on so far. The others are SG, Coiler and Prior with metal offerings.

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John,

I wouldn't buy any new equipment just yet if I were you. If you want to start carving there is nothing wrong with your current equipment and I don't even know what you have. Go up to Mountain Creek and post on the Ride Board under NJ PA NY the days and times you are going. My point here is you don't need a carving deck to start carving. Once you learn how to turn your freestyle or freeride deck then think about getting a carving deck. You can even start screwing around with your soft binding angles on your freeride deck now and get use to steeper angles. There is alot you can do on the stuff you have now and maybe with a year of carving soft you can then move up to some real carving decks and hard bindings.

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Jtslalom nailed it, I think.

Since you want to stay with soft boots, you should be able to carve your existing board first. Changing to stiffer board will not improve things for learning. Contrary, it would make it worse as you would need more speed and aggression to make the board decamber and hook up. Once you mastered carving on what you've got, look for upgrades.

As you feel that your boots are stiff enough, I would start by getting the stiffest softboot bindings available, like Catek, high end Nidecker, Flow or Burton, or some of the 3 straps if you can get them...

Next step would be one of the super stiff boards you mentioned, to take you to the mah speeds. One of those would work well with plates too, in the case you decided to give it a try in future.

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