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2011 SES equipment reviews

Steve Prokopiw

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So Frank from Virus was able to show up on short notice with some new boards and bindings.When I discovered this I decided to try out several of his boards and the Powerlock binding as well as trying Bomber Sidewinders on his killer UFC 183 bOARD.

The Virus 174 (GS?) was a snappy,lively ride that was easy to turn in tight space .Not as damp as the longer one of course,but did an admirable jog of eating up small bumps.If I wasn't so into the long boards I would love this board for the tight,steep groomers at home.

The 183 GS was surprisingly easy to ride.It had a predictable but very energetic feel that seems to run in most Virus boards I've tried.I would have an easy time riding this board all day even though it is a race board for the masses.I personally liked the bright green and black topsheet on the 174 and 183.

The Evolution III 186 was in a league of it's own for speed down the fall line but I only rode it one top to bottom run and then had to rest a little bit.I only weigh 160 and I although I had a blast being just a little scared while I rode it,I think a bigger rider would be more qualified to review it. My 210 is easier to ride:)

THE UFC 183;THE BEST BOARD I have ridden in the last two years.I did everything I know how to do on this board with three different binding systems.The Power Lock III Virus sells is remarkably stiff and and very simple.That is most of what I have to say about these bindings though;There was not a toe lift available to put on the demo so I was mostly missing toelift under my front foot and not as comfortable as I would have been with the lift.I next tried a pair of SIDEWINDERS which I had yet to try until this demo.

WOW!!! is my 'scientific' assessment of the combination of the VIRUS UFC 183 and BOMBER SIDEWINDERS.I felt that this was the highest performance setup that I have ever tried.The Sidewinders suit my style while being much more effective than I would have thought.Great longitudinal stiffness and tunable lateral flex.SIDEWINDERS on the UFC 183 had the MOST rewarding ride of anything since my 210 but could be flexed into even tighter turns.I zipped into pwder stashes and came back onto the groomed without hesitation and little need to adjust my position.The board will do anything an aggressive,high performance rider could ask.I couldn't help thinking the Virus UFC 183 would help me grow as rider and that I would not outgrow it.I rode some of the cleanest and tightest circle carves I've ever done on it ,more easily than any other board and binding combo.I first tried the UFC with my own Snopros because I like the their flex,but the SIDEWINDERS turned it up a notch(or two)for edge to edge performance.

I still think of My Diablo 210 as having the most confidence inspiring feel and performance for what we designed it to do, but The VIRUS UFC 183 is the best performing board for pretty much anything I can think of doing in my daily quest to expand the limits of free carving.Same goes for Bomber Sidewinders(which I used with blue(medium) base and yellow(soft) elastomers.

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I had tried the thicker(5mm)version of the Bomber Boiler Plate at Whitefish a couple of weeks ago with mixed results.Then came 'Matilda', the 4mm version that Fin had for demo at SES.I tried it on a Coiler VSR 177 (20 waist).The board and Matilda were soon 'waltzing' in perfect unison.(You know I had to use that word somewhere :))

The board already has a super smooth ride and turns on a dime anyway; but the Boiler plate made it even more smooth and added so much power to the turns it had me worried for the board.(Bruce had suggested trying the plate on this model because it was one of the most plate capable of his non-plate specific builds.He did have a plate specific board,but I didn't get around to trying it.)

I can now say that I have ridden a plate with great board feel;I'm sure the board had something to do with the overall feel,but I came away with a very positive view of the usefulness of the Boiler Plate.What a difference a millimeter makes!

I will tryout the Donek plate up at Schweitzer in a couple of weeks.I heard good things about it at SES and I'm looking forward to trying it.

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My SES demo list (everything metal unless otherwise noted):

Coiler VSR Mid+ Reg Asym 180

This was the solid black one. My favorite of the demo boards I rode. Rode it a few times, on different days. At its best on steeper terrain and firmer snow. Grippy as all get out, easy to make aggressive turns on, huge range of versatility in terms of turn shapes. IIRC the sidecut goes 12/15/14. I initially found the nose flapped when running it fast but not turning aggressively; this was with bindings centered on the center pack of inserts. Moving the front binding forward 1cm cured that. Fun to play "stupid back seat tricks" with. I never wound up getting a 177 Mid+ like the one that I demo @ last year's SES; I am getting one of these instead (with a few minor tweaks). It will likely be my go-to board.

Coiler VSR Mid+ Plate Flex 180

Rode this with Apex, Boiler, and Donek plates. The board itself was a solid performer, grippy, fun. Similar range of turn shapes as the asym 180. Never felt any nose flappage, could be due to difference in flex or the fact that I never happened upon a stance that was prone to it. Getting in back seat w/ plate was more punishing and less entertaining. Personally, I think I'd like a two-sidecut design such as an NSR 182 for a plate specific board better. See my entry on the Bindings and Subplates forum for more.

Coiler AM VSR XTight Reg. Asym 165

Easiest riding alpine board I have been on. Turny as hell. Didn't get a chance to test grip, nothing firm enough when I rode it. Extremely forgiving flex pattern. Well behaved, obedient, compliant. Rode back to back with my SL Asym 161; both boards have very similar effective edge, and sidecut; the SL is according to Bruce slightly stiffer under the back foot and has a different layup. The SL is far more energetic, snappy, entertaining. Given how good the SL was during our recent bout of ice-coast weather @ Bachelor, I can only imagine how grippy this AM must be on that stuff. Great in crud, capable in powder although I wish I had tried it with F2s instead of SWs in the pow.

Coiler Chubby 177

This is a Schtubby-like board with a 13/14 variable sidecut. Only rode it for one run @ Buttermilk. Really enjoyed aggressive, cross-under turns on it. Felt stiffer than the various VSRs. I prefer the VSRs, but this board was no slouch and a nice cross between radial and 3-sidecut VSR.

Donek WC GS 184

This is the 2010/2011 model, the brown one. 14/24 sidecut. Stupid easy to ride. Crazy damp. Insanely stable. Didn't ride it with a plate, but it kinda felt like it had a plate on it. Blew through mid-day chop really well. This has come a ways since last year's model, the flex pattern is more balanced, less squishy in the middle, better ability to change directions quickly. Didn't get a chance to take it down anything steep; wish I had. Not particularly eager to be leaned waaaaaayyy over but does it of you put the effort into it. If you want a big, fast Cadillac ride then this is a great choice.

Donek GS 178

13.4/18.3 sidecut, IIRC. This one was probably too soft for my 175 pounds... it felt a bit sluggish on initiation and then bend too sharply in the middle when I pounded on it. (Have no fear - read the Donek website, Sean can tune the flex to your weight. Rode both with and without a Donek plate - I preferred it without. Easier to get it leaned waaaaayyy over than its bigger cousin.

Donek FC 175 Carbon/Kevlar

Having a hard time telling whether this felt more like a dampish glass board or a glassish metal board. I never quite got along with this one but I think I had it out in the wrong conditions; late afternoon on the last day @ Buttermilk. Felt like it wanted firmer snow, steeper pitch. Very turny. Would love the chance to take it out on different conditions with less-tired legs so I can see what it really is capable of. Seemed remarkably well-behaved for carbon.

Note: overall I noticed that the Coilers and Doneks had different overall flex patterns. The Coilers tend to flex really easily at first, then progressively resist more as you bend them more. The Doneks, tend to flex more linearly.

No secret here that I have a quiverful o' Coilers. The progressive flex - or perhaps more so, the light touch required to initiate - works well for me personally so I go with it. So, I am prone to like the demos better that are more like what I am used to. Another rider who is more used to the way the Doneks flex, might have ridden the same set of boards I did and had different impressions. Just sayin'.

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