Retrospective - 10 Best Park Snowboards 2012

2012 hasn’t been a great year for the snowboard industry at large. A record low for snowfalls in the US and a very late start to the season in Europe has been compounded by the global financial crisis rearing its ugly head once again. It has been the perfect recipe for a terrible season in the industry. They say every cloud has a silver lining, and as a consumer the good news is that this year’s sales are ridiculous. Prices on boards have been cut so deep you wonder if the shops are making a loss, and there are still tons of boards on the racks to choose from. With that in mind SB-RV’s Tom Ewbank has put a list together of our favourite snowboards of 2012 to help you snag a bargain.

Endeavor BOD
The BOD was the biggest surprise of the 2012 boardtest. Previously it had always been a board that was aimed at hard-charging backcountry freestylers but not in 2012! It seems the Directors at Endeavor (Max, Scott, Rob and Jason) had a change of heart and decided to create a board that defines the word ‘fun’. Great graphics from Rory Doyle and more technology than the US defence force combine to make the Endeavor BOD our favourite park board of 2012. Whether you’re hitting rails and monster kickers in the park, lapping the pipe, jibbing around on a slushy spring afternoon or dropping cliffs in the backcountry this board is guaranteed to make you smile from ear to ear. If you’re looking for a top-of-the-range park board that you won’t outgrow ability-wise and will undoubtedly improve your riding then look no further. Review Here

Rossignol Jibsaw
The Jibsaw was a new release for 2012 and was Rossignols attempt to fill the gap between the award winning Angus and budget-friendly Trickstick. By creating the Jibsaw Rossignol wanted to manufacture a board that was as capable scaling the icy walls of a Superpipe as it was lipsliding down a double-kinked handrail. So were their efforts successful? Well there aren’t many boards that are this easy to press with the same amount of pop, stability and edge-hold as the Jibsaw. For the price you won’t find another board with more technology crammed into it; freestyle Amptek, Magnetraction, triaxle glass, a high-grade sintered base and a ridiculously lightweight construction mean this board really is great value. Nevertheless the Jibsaw is definitely a park-orientated board and although it’ll ride any obstacle in the park, no matter how big or technical, if you’re looking to take the same board down some difficult variable snow conditions in the backcountry then you’d be better looking at the Rossignol One Magtek. Review Here

Nitro Team Gullwing
Without a shadow of a doubt the Nitro Team Gullwing was Rich’s favourite freestyle snowboard of 2012. It’s lightweight, lively construction and Gullwing profile (Nitro’s hybrid camber/rocker profile) will give you all of the pop you’ll ever need for hitting kickers in the park. This poppy profile combined with slightly stiffer torsional rigidity and aggresive sidecut makes this a fun board to carve up bigger kickers, ride the pipe and carve-up those freshly groomed corduroy slopes. If all of that wasn’t enough: the Team Gullwing has a very fast base that relishes even the slushiest of spring conditions so lightweight riders who struggle for speed should definitely take note. It’s important to remember that those of you who are focused purely on park riding can afford to size down a few centimeters; Rich normally rides between 157cm and 160cm but rode a 155cm Team Gullwing. Review Here

Amplid Dopamine
If you’re from anywhere but Europe then the likelihood is that you probably haven’t heard of Amplid Snowboards. Started by former World Champion and snowboarding legend Peter Bauer Amplid have quietly been doing their thing in both the Ski and Snowboard world. For years Peter and the boys at the Elan factory have been putting most of their time and Amplid’s profits into R&D and as a result have developed some of the finest snowboards on the planet. Nevertheless, Snowboarding has changed a fair bit since Peter won his last World Championship so he asked his very capable team riders and the general public what they wanted from a freestyle snowboard then set about turning these dreams to reality and created the Dopamine. 

The Dopamine uses a new core called WDT Polywood which is more impact resistant, has great dampening properties but remains very poppy and lively. This means that the Dopamine allows riders to land deeper, flatter and ride through spring slush and chopped-up powder with greater ease. Added to this core is Amplid’s jib rocker profile which is flat between the feet and rockers upwards from outside the bindings. Thanks to the WDT core the rocker doesn’t compromise the boards strength on landings and although tail and nose presses are very easy you’ll be surprised at how this board holds onto landings if you don’t land ‘bolts’. Jibbers looking for a jib-focused board with balls and great build quality that will allow them to ride everything from obstacles on the streets to big kickers in the park may have to look a little further afield than their local snowboard shop to get their mitts on one of these puppies. At least you’ll be the only kid in the park rocking an Amplid board! Review Here

Rome Mod Rocker
It’s taken a few years for Rome to cotton-on but they’ve finally answered the prayers of their loyal fans and team riders and decided to make a rockered version of the Mod. Rather than rockering the board from the middle, directly in between the bindings, they’ve used a profile that rockers from outside of the bindings. Although a lot of manufacturers use the ‘late rise’ rocker profile Rome have added ‘hot rods’, short high-strength reinforcements just outside the binding, that make this board one of the liveliest freestyle boards on the market. In fact the combination of a late-rockered profile and ‘hot rods’ have given the Mod more pop than Michael Jackson’s back catalogue.  At low speeds the Mod Rocker is the ultimate jib machine; allowing you to pop onto any obstacle in the park with minimal effort. At high speeds the Mod Rocker is very capable hitting the bigger kickers in the park but if you’re more of a kicker and pipe rider don’t be tempted to size-down. Review Here

Lib Tech Attack Banana
If you’ve ever ridden the Lib Tech Skate Banana you’ll know what an amazingly fun board it is. When I rode the Skate Banana I had a great time jibbing around the park but thought to myself;  “I wish it was a little more like the Travis Rice Pro Model”. Unbeknown to me that’s exactly what the boys and girls at Lib Tech were creating in their secret Washington laboratory on the not so secretly named Banana Way. This isn’t your average; soft, slightly bruised, mushy banana……’s more of a green banana! Firmer, harder to butter onto your toast and better for high speed approaches, deeper landings, icy superpipes and bigger kickers; Rich summed it up well when he described it as a cross between the Skate Banana and the TRS.

To give the Attack Banana this added strength Lib Tech have given it an EC2 profile (elliptical camber) and basalt and fibreglass reinforcements which give the board increased pop, stability and strength torsionally and longitudinally. If you’ve ridden the Skate Banana and like it but you want a board that can be ridden all over the mountain with more aggression and at higher speeds this is the board for you. As always Mike Parillo’s graphics hark back to snowboarding in the early 90’s and we love them! Review Here

Never Summer Evo
Mikey knows better than anybody what characteristics he likes and dislikes in a Snowboard and he’s not afraid to tell us if something doesn’t quite meet his expectations. Fortunately the Never Summer Evo, which has gathered a fair few admirers over the past couple of years, is one of Mikee’s favourite things in the world…..along with expensive and unwashed denim, Facebook and artificial snow.

The Evo is one of those boards that will allow you to ride every obstacle on the hill with confidence. It certainly isn’t a noodle but is surprisingly comfortable sliding through kinks and being jibbed around the hill; there aren’t many boards that can maneuver and pop like the Evo at low speeds. Added to these qualities the Evo is a very accomplished kicker board; incredibly stable at high speeds with ‘easy to access’ pop and enough torsional and longitudinal strength to keep your edges gripping all the way up the superpipe walls. As with all Never Summer boards you can expect the Evo to be manufactured to a very high standard but remember that having your board built in a small factory in Colorado might cost you a little more than some of the other boards we’ve listed. Review Here

K2 Happy Hour
If you have a gang of skiers at your local hill that you’re not particularly fond of then your worries are over because K2 have developed the ultimate snowboard/weapon. The 2012 K2 Happy Hour more closely resembles a prison shank than a snowboard due to its pointy nose and tail but by all accounts rides more like a snowboard.  So with the exception of jailbreaks and snowboarders with a chip on their shoulder who is the Happy Hour aimed at?

With a medium/soft flex and firmer centre the Happy Hour feels nice and stable under foot but is very poppy and is fairly easy to press and butter, although the narrow tip and tail will feel a little strange to start with. Nevertheless the Happy Hour is a very fun board to ride and will allow you to have fun all over the mountain, especially in the deep stuff! Review Here

Ride Crush
The Ride Crush is evidence that you don’t have to spend loads of cash on a snowboard to get one of the best. If you’re looking for a board that dominates jibs in the park and you’re not prepared to remortgage your house or sell your partners jewellery then the Crush is definitely worth a look.

Aly, our tester, was amazed at how lightweight the Crush was; if you’re a jibber then having a lightweight board is essential for manoeuvring and popping the board at low speeds when you are unable to generate as much pop and flex due to the existence of smaller forces being levied on the board. Added to this lightweight construction is a ‘lowrize’ rocker which is flat between the feet and rockers upwards outside of the bindings, this makes the Crush poppy and very easy to press on the nose and tail. If that wasn’t enough the Crush comes with Ride’s legendary slimewall sidewalls which make for a damper ride and make hitting the bigger obstacles in the park less hair raising. All in all the Crush is a jibbers white dream that can still hit the pro kicker line but if you’re looking for fun all over the mountain and don’t want to limit yourself to just riding park then there may be more suitable boards out there. Review Here

Arbor Draft
Arbor have been making quality boards for a long time now but it’s only over the past few years that the Snowboard World has taken notice of Arbor’s great freestyle boards. The Draft is a result of Arbors years of board building experience fused with their new freestyle direction and highly regarded team, which includes the likes of Nick Visconti.

With more technology crammed into it than your local Apple Mac shop the Draft doesn’t disappoint. Parabolic rocker, grip tech, bronze edges, deep shadow flex core and eco-friendly construction all make this one of the best jib boards on the market. Mikee, our tester, found the Draft to be stable and solid underfoot with great edge hold, on both ice and slush, but easy to press and butter. Similarly to all of the boards listed above the Draft is a lot of fun to ride and although it’s one of the most expensive jib-specific boards on the market you’re definitely paying for a quality product. Review Here

Posted by Tom Ewbank in Features.

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