March 06, 2012

Just like Ruari did, Colin has given it to me with the good and the bad, an honest appraisal which is exactly what I want. Here is the review of the 2nd Splitboard I have ever built, again this was ridden unfinished and construction completed just in time for the trip Colin did the testing on, in extreme NZ back country.   Splitn2 - 160 MK2 - Board Report   Rich,   Thank you again for your invite on the trip.  It was epic and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity.    Your board got put the test on the first rock riddled couloir and steep spine on the Pascoe Ridge; after riding these I was fully confident in the board.  Below I will run through general concepts of performance, aesthetic etc…   Aesthetic:   A hand built board is something special and I believe that your passion and articulate woodworking skills show through in the simple aesthetic of the board.  The craft is reviving and building things to last is certainly ‘coming back into fashion’.  I think this will be a good selling point for you, though you will have to harness it by making your boards not only ride but also look beautiful.    For boards you plan to sell, I think the top sheets should have that wood aesthetic with a clear finish on top.  I recommend checking out Grain Surfboards in York, Maine and Gentemstick in Niseko, Japan to analyse their finished product and their brand’s story.  They have both found success in the niche market and I think you could glean a lot from their look and feel.    You mentioned potentially laying in some cloth…I could imagine this looking rad – but I really feel the Grain style look would really solidify the appearance of a finely hand crafted board.  The boards look feels a bit unfinished and rough currently.  I like it and know it doesn’t affect the performance, but in order to sell into a broader market, I think it may need to have a finished look.    Performance   You originally mentioned you wanted to design a board that rode to NZ conditions – and as we can agree it is usually exactly how we got it on the trip – or worse, so I think in general a stiff cambered board is best for all NZ riding conditions.  Your board rode through the chop super well and when straight lining across the glaciers it kept the chatter to a minimum.  It carved well at higher speeds and could really hold an edge on the steep ice.     I did find the rigidity of the board to be overpowering in some situations though.  It was hard to ollie and flex like a more freestyle kind of ride.  I would suggest designing specs for something a bit softer under foot and around the nose and tail.  I also think in really deep powder and not so steep terrain – such as Japan, I would have struggled to ride this board (but not so steep terrain is lame anyway!).   In terms of the sidecut – when on flat glaciated terrain I felt that the board was a bit slow to respond, like I really had to throw my weight into engaging a turn.  It also felt a bit edgy – like I could possibly catch a tip or binding…  The width of the board could have contributed to this, making it more difficult to get on edge.  I would suggest deepening the sidecut, maybe looking into a slightly concave spoon nose/tail and making something a bit less wide.    Just an idea we discussed the third pin through the touring aspect of the binding for added torsional stiffness.    Durability   You wanted to make something tough and this surely felt grunty!  I reckon this board would last a lifetime and with minimal moving parts would be hard to break / lose something of significance.    As I mentioned on the hill, the sidewall needed some sort of sealant.  This raw wood was one of my favorite aspects of the board though.  Is there a way to use a lightweight/durable seal to preserve the top-sheet but let the natural wood shine through?  I would be most interested in the look of this.    Overall Richard, I was really impressed with your board.  Although it was stiff jibbin around and on the flats, when I was ripping down those lines, I appreciated the extra umph.  So, I can see the difficult situation you are in.  I would be most comfortable on something quite a bit softer though if I wanted to be on that board all the time.   Please let me know if you have any questions or want to bang some ideas around.   CHEERS! Colin Boyd

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