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Donek Pheonix 160 Custom

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Here is a review of my recently received custom Donek Phoenix-based board.

First let me say it was a great experience working with Sean. He was very patient with my many questions and after several phone sessions we had the specs for my board worked out. I had a special board in mind and decided to use the Phoenix as the starting point. I wanted something wide that I could ride with soft boots at low angles (+15/-15), that would rail carves regular or switch, be damp and able to handle some speed. Kind of a free style carving board that I wouldn't have to worry about booting out on. Sean made me exactly what I asked for, the quality of workmanship was excellent, and the board arrived exactly when promised.


6'2", 230lbs, size 11 Burton Driver X


160 cm in length

28 cm width at center

9 m side cut

very minor taper and a minor setback in the stance

matching low profile tip and tail

rubber layup similar to the Saber (BX) model

I set it up with this years Burton Cartels.


Ride report:

I have gotten a chance to ride it in a couple different conditions so far. It rides great in most conditions and really comes alive when dialing up the pace.

On groomed snow: Whether firm or soft it rides awesome, especially at speed, I can make short or longer turns and have not yet felt like I have hit the limit of what it can hold speed wise. Slower speeds on the groomed work too, although I find myself just wanting to go faster cause the board responds so well to it. The board is super damp and feels rock solid on the edge.

Fluffy powder and wind-packed powder (lighter inland Northwest variety): The board rode pretty nice in the powder, the width probably helps here and I didn't have any problems with open faces or through the tight trees. I have a couple other powder specific boards, so when it gets deep, I probably would ride one of those, but I was surprised how well it did.

Soft chopped up crud:

Worked well in the chop and plowed through no problem, I learned to trust it for some medium to large radius turns and was pleasantly surprised. I think the rubber inside may help here too.

Steep chopped up crud with bumps and other stuff underneath where I wanted to go a little slower:

It worked okay here, but at slow speeds you have to put a little effort into the leading end to start it bending but after that it works fine, but for my weight this isn't a problem. I have been riding some significantly softer boards of late and I had to learn that jumping on the nose a little would reward rather than punish on this board so after a riding style modification it was fine but did require some extra effort. When I got lazy I got bucked around a little, probably due to the stiffness and relative shortness.

Race Course: (local recreational team racing parallel glolam where skiers and riders share same course with those of similar speeds)

Course conditions where pretty whooped out with big ruts (and berms) with moderate firmness. I am not very good at racing, but like to do it no the less. The board rode pretty awesome and ate up the results of my meandering path through the course (some ruts, some berms and a couple of excursions). Again, once I decided to trust that I would get tossed over the short nose, it started working better.

Park: Just kidding, I am not big into riding on things made of metal ;) Although it would probably work in the pipe at normal widths and flex. I did take a couple off piste powder hits and it felt fine. Even with the short nose, I didn't do any unintentional front flips.

Overall Impression: This board likes to travel at higher speeds and carves better than any 'freestyle' and most all-mountain boards. For medium to short radius carving at speed it feels great. I think it will be super fun and I will dial it in even more as time goes by.

For a daily driver, do anything, it might be a tad too stiff. I think I will start saving up for another one just like it only a little softer, for that.

Me mugging for the camera trying to get the sponsor shot ;)


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  • 2 months later...

I could not agree with you more about the quality of service and product you get from Sean and Donek \m/. I have an Incline 160 set up with Flow NXT-FSE binding and the Bomber Power Plates. I wanted a soft boot, all-mountain, carving board. This set up is a little on the heavy side. But I really like the weight and stiffness at the end of the day to rail through the "Sierra Cement" crud.

You just cannot go wrong with Donek products. The Axis 162 I bought in 2005 is still going strong and ridden regularly when I want the hard boot all-mountain experience.

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