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Contra Contra


st_lupo
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8 hours ago, Jack M said:

I've ridden older Volkls, they were definitely not contra.  Contra feels like nothing else, and frankly it's not my cup of tea.

 

Just wondering why the contra isn't your thing?  I think I've finagled approval for a new board for next season and the contra has been pretty popular in the reviews, but it would be useful to hear a "contra" argument to get a better perspective on just who the board is for.  Is your perspective coming from a racing point-of-view (stivots, doing what you gotta to get to the next get) or a free-carving point-of-view (max-pressure, perfect trajectories on steeps)?  How does the Contra contrast to the Kesslers that you've ridden (no plates)?

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On 2/9/2022 at 2:53 AM, st_lupo said:

Just wondering why the contra isn't your thing?  I think I've finagled approval for a new board for next season and the contra has been pretty popular in the reviews, but it would be useful to hear a "contra" argument to get a better perspective on just who the board is for.  Is your perspective coming from a racing point-of-view (stivots, doing what you gotta to get to the next get) or a free-carving point-of-view (max-pressure, perfect trajectories on steeps)?  How does the Contra contrast to the Kesslers that you've ridden (no plates)?

Freecarving with a race-style technique.  I've tried 3 Contras now, but my experience with them is still limited, so YMMV.  They do have very good edge grip and they resist chatter well.  But 2 felt very awkward and "sticky" when skidding/steering/maneuvering or for basically any non-carving use.  This was very off-putting to me.  All felt to me like they weren't fully using their entire edge length.  Like most of your edge pressure is being concentrated on two short segments just in front of your front foot and just behind your back foot.  That's the feedback I perceive.  They reward a more laid-back centered weight placement and center-back shift which is not my style.  They do not seem to like forward weighting which IMO is essential on icy/firm conditions.  They seem to me like they have a relatively narrow bandwidth of turn size.  Kesslers feel to me like they are fully engaged, have large sweet spots, and can vary turn size more/easier.  I can ride them in many different ways, including centered.  I feel like my custom 180 sidecut wraps around me like a hammock.  That may sound weird but it's what it makes me think of.  I tried @johnasmo's Contra AC at MCC and I liked it better than the other 2 as it was not nearly as awkward when not carving.  But the sidecut still favors center-back weighting and just feels very different to me, IMHO.  This departure from more traditional shapes is clearly a blessing for some and I can see how it suits certain riding styles.  I would have to spend time adjusting my technique to the board, and I don't think I should have to do that, nor am I inspired to.

E8C57A5F-BC91-4E28-A964-2827FA2438BE.jpeg

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I really didn't like it at first, but after a few weeks on the Thirst sidecut I believe it will be my daily driver forever.  At first it felt vague and like it was trying to kill me for the first few days.  I feel as though the sidecut is very set up dependent and does not love the nose being loaded.  Definitely keeping around some traditional sidecut boards because they are also very fun, but for what I like to do the Thirst sidecut is where it's at.  Hands down the best steeps boards I've ever ridden.  Super easy to control and shave speed by loading the nose or taking a back seat.  No racing here, freecarve only.  

Jack, about the ice.  We don't got it like you got it but when it does get icy out here my Thirst is by far the best ice board I own BECAUSE you don't have to yam on the front and get super low just to get it to grip.  I do notice it requires more edge angle on ice but that's it.

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@Carvin' Marvin I assure you it was trying to kill you. 👍  We talked about this at Lovey in December as I had the identical experience. That was the FIRST thing I sad to Mark after my maiden voyage on the 8RW.  Get too far in front of it and it comes around so fast it launches in the opposite direction off the nose or load the tail and it sends you at warp speed into the woods, as @big mario can attest.  I have to look back at the messages as I remember them being pretty funny, but I think Marks advice, in it's simplisctic form, was to ride the terrain, NOT the board.  Try to even forget the board is underfoot, just maintain steady even heel and toe pressure as you tilt it in the direction you want to go.  Haven't ridden the Contra, but from what I've watched, I expect it to be nearly identical to the Thirsty ride I love so much...

Oh, and ice, yep, it's very different out here and takes a far different strategy. As good as the Thirst is on ice, sometimes it's not enough.  And the condition of the ice can vary from run to run. Rode with @Mr Wonton this morning at Mountain Creek on my little SF and that was't enough effective edge to bridge the gap between the ever-changing conditions of faux-groom, ice, snowcone granular, etc. He was much better off on his XC. When it's like that, a 171-175 with a small sidecut and a plate is the way to go, just to bludgeon it all into submission...

 

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Let's not make this Contra Contra thing into a thing about Thirsts. While the Contra "mid-tight" sidecut may have been inspired by the desire to have a Thirst-like sidecut in a metal board, they are very different boards. When I mounted Geckos on my new 166 Contra, it changed the way the board rode, in a good way, more uniform edge engagement. More like riding a rail. More like a Thirst. *

The difference I now believe is in the Thirst engineered quasi-isotropic core which distributes foot pressure more evenly out to the edges going fore & aft. Sort of the way an add-on plate does, except it's built in.

I have to say I like what Kneel said, about what Mark said. 

On 2/11/2022 at 1:30 PM, Kneel said:

 Marks advice, in it's simplistic form, was to ride the terrain, NOT the board.  Try to even forget the board is underfoot, just maintain steady even heel and toe pressure as you tilt it in the direction you want to go.  

It reminds me that these boards ride better if you relax a bit and don't try to drive them.

I have used focusing on the heel/toe pressure with both feet to increase my edge for years, particularly on ice, going back to when I got my first Kessler about 11 years ago. It was a very helpful tip from my daughter on how to ride her old board.

I really had to adjust my technic to learn how to ride that "modern" board, variable sidecut and all.

*this impression was on firm groom (½-1" deep trenches) and could be a different experience in soft snow. 

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You are right Dave, my apologies.  I've got ~100 days on Thirsts but only 3ish runs on Contras so my experience just based on the sidecut similarities is worth less than I thought initially.  

@KneelIt hasn't tried to kill me since those first few weeks when we were still working out our differences!  I used to ride crazy front heavy so it was a bit of an adjustment. 

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Wasn't my intention either, @bigwavedave.  I read it as a discussion on the sidecut, which my understanding is thats where the similarities of the two boards end(and my extremely limited non-experience with the Contra).  But I would still expect them to mostly behave in the same manner based on entering and exiting a turn. In my mind I was in agreement with @Jack M, but sometimes it doesn't communicate well with my fingers...

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On 2/11/2022 at 2:30 PM, Kneel said:

@Carvin' Marvin I assure you it was trying to kill you. 👍  We talked about this at Lovey in December as I had the identical experience. That was the FIRST thing I sad to Mark after my maiden voyage on the 8RW.  Get too far in front of it and it comes around so fast it launches in the opposite direction off the nose or load the tail and it sends you at warp speed into the woods, as @big mario can attest.  I have to look back at the messages as I remember them being pretty funny, but I think Marks advice, in it's simplisctic form, was to ride the terrain, NOT the board.  Try to even forget the board is underfoot, just maintain steady even heel and toe pressure as you tilt it in the direction you want to go.  Haven't ridden the Contra, but from what I've watched, I expect it to be nearly identical to the Thirsty ride I love so much...

Oh, and ice, yep, it's very different out here and takes a far different strategy. As good as the Thirst is on ice, sometimes it's not enough.  And the condition of the ice can vary from run to run. Rode with @Mr Wonton this morning at Mountain Creek on my little SF and that was't enough effective edge to bridge the gap between the ever-changing conditions of faux-groom, ice, snowcone granular, etc. He was much better off on his XC. When it's like that, a 171-175 with a small sidecut and a plate is the way to go, just to bludgeon it all into submission...

 

“Much better off” except for lack of ability. Even on that 162 you were doing some beautiful carves. Thanks for the binding help. Can’t wait to go again. 

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On 2/12/2022 at 10:53 AM, Kneel said:

But I would still expect them to mostly behave in the same manner based on entering and exiting a turn. 

The ride is very reminiscent of the feel of a single radius sidecut. Tip the board more to turn more.

I used to mount my bindings 1-2 cm forward of the reference stance on Kesslers and subsequent "race" boards, even the custom ones I had made with near radial sidecuts, e.g., 11-12m, & 13-14m. (unfortunately, I had stopped racing before the Kessler revolution). This enabled me to ride with a more balanced stance and not have to throw my weight forward into every turn, but simply feed the board into the turn. It made it easier for me to ride all day long. 

I'm liking the more balanced ride of this next generation of carving boards. Feels like they're designed for recreational carvers who might prefer to complete their turns rather than exit early to head for the next gate. 

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On 2/11/2022 at 9:17 PM, bigwavedave said:

Let's not make this Contra Contra thing into a thing about Thirsts. While the Contra "mid-tight" sidecut may have been inspired by the desire to have a Thirst-like sidecut in a metal board, they are very different boards.

What he said.  Coiler Contra's are not Thirsts.  The initial shape was Thirst inspired, but it's not the same.  The tightest parts of the current shape are still outside the bindings, but not all the way at the ends like a Kessler or other race boards would typically put them.  The cores and their flex are different.  Bruce's core is full metal, making it quieter but also more resistant to over-flexing (resistance to flex increases more rapidly).  The ends are still a little freer flexing than across the middle on Bruce's cores.  The Contra core still lets you shift your weight to flex out tighter turns if you want to, but you don't have to do that as much as a traditional VSR.  The tight bits are closer to your feet so you don't have to shift as much to find them.

To each their own.  It's nice to have choices.  I like having the grip across the center of the board.  When buying a Contra, you can go longer and tighter than you otherwise might.  Longer because you don't feel the length as much; you ride the center and ignore the length.  Tighter because it will still be straighter across the middle than the radius you specify, so it will turn longer until you are high enough on edge and pushing the center to flex.

P.S. I too have experienced the spooky skidding behavior in cold, chalky surface conditions when I first get the boards from Bruce.  He ships with no edge bevel and the Contra sidecut really wants to hook up near the front foot until you do some edge de-tuning.  I hit the whole edge with a 0.5 degree bevel first thing and gummy stone everything outside the bindings.  I don't notice it on mine once tuned away.

Edited by johnasmo
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16 hours ago, Jack M said:

@johnasmo1.5° base edge bevel?

No.  I start with only 0.5°, using (Orange) Beast base beveler.
https://www.beasttuning.com/beast-base
Also have 0.75° Beast and a 1.0° Swix guides if needed, but I start small.
Don't usually hit base edge again unless to debur scratches.
Sharpen using 1° on side edge maybe once a season.
Harden with diamond stones.

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On 2/14/2022 at 1:11 AM, johnasmo said:

 The ends are still a little freer flexing than across the middle on Bruce's cores.  The Contra core still lets you shift your weight to flex out tighter turns if you want to, but you don't have to do that as much as a traditional VSR.  The tight bits are closer to your feet so you don't have to shift as much to find them.

I have been thinking a lot about my Contra that I got last season from BV and my experiences after having ridden it for a full year through 2 seasons (especially after MCC in various conditions). It is a great board but there are some cons that come with it. To @johnasmo point you really can change the turn shape by shifting your weight. Out of all the boards I have ridden this board was one of the most challenging ones to get use to and learn how to ride. It took me 2-3 days to get use to it. Usually it takes me 2-3 runs to adjust to a new board. I was laughing following @Jack M at MCC has he struggled in the beginning (when we switched boards for a few runs), since I had the exact same experience. My hope was that my 174cm 21cm Contra would behave similar but better to the my beloved Schtubby I had from 2008. That board you could ride in any conditions and it would perform well. That is not the case for the Contra in my experience. I have learned that if I am traveling and need a board I can ride in a wider range of conditions it certainly isn't the Contra, for that I'll fall back on my trusty K168. 

Example, day 1 of MCC, we got what about 3-5" of new snow over groom and I was miserable on the Contra. I really struggled to turn (not carving), it was a huge struggle to side slip it. I experienced the same thing at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky last year conditions with some fresh snow. If you are not carving on the Contra it fights you hard if you try to side slip or "slarve" on it. It performs great once you get the thing on edge but fights you if you are not carving linked turns all the time. One thing that Bruce and I chatted about was what he called the hook in the tail that helps finish the turn. I needed to adjust my riding on blue slopes and not so steep blacks. I found my self slowing down and crossing over the trail to much vs down. I learned to shift my weight to the middle at the apex of the turn and point her more down slope. The tail "hook" turn worked great at the steep runs at Turner as it would help me maintain my speed, but at Whitefish I had to change me turn style a little. 

My dream Coiler would be a mix or blend of the Schtubby characteristics with some of the new Contra characteristics.

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@geoffv Happy to work out a custom sidecut for you.  We can start with K168 shape and modify from there.  Or start with any of your previous Coiler builds and reshape from there.  Core flex pattern plays the biggest role, so we should also look at the core profile and lamination of your Contra to unravel that behavior. 

The sidecut design currently being used parameterizes nine control points that lay out 8 transitions curves based on curvature change acceleration and deceleration.  It can model just about any shape that is practical for a snowboard in a matter of minutes.  Deciding how to adjust core profile and lamination layup to match is the time consuming experimental part.  That's why there are only a handful of off-the-shelf shapes in play, one of which is a Contra KK, which is a 60/40 blend of the 2020 Contra shape and a K168 shape.  The Winterstick Montucky shape is like this, but a 40/60 blend.

Most Contra feedback, and my experience, is that they are easy to ride in lots of conditions.  Every build is custom, though.  I'll see if I can learn how your core is different than others.

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13 hours ago, johnasmo said:

No.  I start with only 0.5°, using (Orange) Beast base beveler.
https://www.beasttuning.com/beast-base
Also have 0.75° Beast and a 1.0° Swix guides if needed, but I start small.
Don't usually hit base edge again unless to debur scratches.
Sharpen using 1° on side edge maybe once a season.
Harden with diamond stones.

Ok thanks.  Maybe I misread or there was a typo, thought I saw 1.5.

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On 2/11/2022 at 11:17 PM, bigwavedave said:

When I mounted Geckos on my new 166 Contra...

hey Dave, what are the specs on your Contra 166?  I'm in process of ordering one (waiting on reply from Bruce) and trying to get more reference points. 

 

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1 hour ago, slabber said:

hey Dave, what are the specs on your Contra 166?  I'm in process of ordering one (waiting on reply from Bruce) and trying to get more reference points. 

 

20cm waist, 10.5 scr and extra rubber for an extra damp ride for hard or icy groom. Might have a softer flex for better ice performance. Bruce's code on the sidewall is 6.7+9.

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Just now, bigwavedave said:

185lbs

Mountain Slope shell size C (m28)

Get what the width that allows you to ride with the angles you prefer without overhang. Bruce will customize the flex for your weight. 

Yup, thanks.  

I'm trying to decide how long to go.  I have 4 carving boards now, an Alp 56, Ultra Prime 62, UP 68 and Prior WCR 175.  I'm 5'6" and feel the 175cm can be a bit on the unwieldy side sometimes (eg when sitting and have to flip the board over etc).  I'm thinking Contra 166 or 168 currently.  Waist likely 18cm.  I have the smallest UPZ shell (24MP liners).  155-160lbs (covid weight), should be 150-155 max normally.  Ideally 145lbs race weight (for cycling) but unrealistic given my predilection for beer and fried foods 😉  

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My friend sold his almost unused Contra T174 due he decided stop snowboarding. Ok, so i took it due it was made also for my weight 😇

Today first test session, with F2 Titanium Intecs. Odd combo for me due i've been on plates last 10+ years almost totally. Anyway I must admit that this board felt awesome, very easy to ride, turns on dime when you give hint for that, and it turns tightly also on very slow speed, you must just keep it properly on edge.

Next time will test it with Gecko type small plates, but must admit that rather ride it with long softer plate.

Now i just must decide if i keep it or make it go due too many boards on my rack. If that would have Allflex inserts additionally as option, then certainly it would be keeper.

 

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3 minutes ago, ShortcutToMoncton said:

About to pick up a 174 11.5 Contra from Bruce in a couple days. My first since a beauty VSR I sold to someone on Bomber in 2010, while moving away from a hill for work and then having kids. Pretty excited.

When you see Bruce, can you ask him to get back to me please?   I've encountered radio silence...  tell him Andrew from Ottawa is waiting to hear from him 🤔  

Thanks in advance 😀

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/15/2022 at 10:52 AM, johnasmo said:

Most Contra feedback, and my experience, is that they are easy to ride in lots of conditions.  Every build is custom, though.  I'll see if I can learn how your core is different than others.

I got a look at the build sheet on @GeoffV Contra 174x21.  The sheet says "stiff tail", but when I run the numbers it looks very much like the latest Contra AC core shape.  Its stiffness measurement of 6.7 on the Bruce scale is right in the ballpark for a 174 length and 185 lbs rider.  My two favorite boards are both 6.7+9 stiffness but in a 173 and a 172, making them only a tad bit softer for 180lbs.  Same deflection under a shorter board is softer.  @dredmanhas a 174 WoGoCoCo that is 6.6 for 180, so 6.7 for 185 seems normal.

Laminate choices will affect the behavior of the flex in action.  My 173 and 172 differ quite a bit in action due to differences in fabric weights and ratios.  But the fabric weights in your 174 look very much like those in the Contra AC 173.

Your 174 is a 12.5m Contra, and with that stiffness should then behave like a 13m board.  A K168 behaves like a 10.8m board or less given its softness.  That difference will be felt when switching between them.  There is tail hook, but not as much as on a K168.

So far I don't know what would make yours take more getting used to.  I can go back and forth between my K168 and any of my Contras and don't have to change much in my approach to riding them.  I just find them more comfortable and confident when it gets bumpy or soft.  The first snow covered day at MCC, I was on a 185 Contra LS most of the day.

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