Snowboard edge hold is more important for some riders than others. and how well your snowboard holds an edge will depend on a few different design factors in the snowboard.
First let’s take a look at some different riding styles and conditions and see which require more edge-hold.
Then we’ll see what the different factors are in your snowboard’s design that determine the quality of the board’s edge hold.
Who Needs Edge-Hold the Most And Who Not As Much?
Of course every type of rider in every condition needs some amount of grip on the edges so they don’t wash out in even the softest snow – but different styles and different conditions require different amounts of grip.
Freestyle riders aren’t generally in need of a lot of edge-hold. In fact, a lot of freestylers will often detune their edges so that they don’t get them stuck in features like boxes and rails. So for those freestylers/park riders who like to hit jibs, having too much edge-grip can be a bad thing.
Plus their game isn’t steep fast runs down the mountain (or they have a different board for those days).
All-Mountain Freestyle riders need to find a balance between being too grippy and grippy enough, if they’re both hitting jibs and bombing/carving up the mountain.
All Mountain Riders
All mountain riders need more edge hold than freestylers. This is because they are going to be exploring more varied terrain and are more likely to come into contact with icy or hard snow conditions.
In addition to this all mountain riders will be tackling steep fast terrain more often and will need that extra edge hold for better grip on that terrain.
Freerider’s need the best edge hold of all. Because their bread and butter is riding hard and fast in the most varied and most challenging terrain.
Superior edge hold is necessary to be able to negotiate this. Though, depending on conditions, there’s still some balance need, if you don’t want something that’s too grippy/grabby in softer conditions.
As has been alluded to above, the conditions you are riding in play a big part in what your edge-hold requirements are going to be.
If you ride in conditions that are often hard and icy then you will require greater edge hold – otherwise you are going to be spending a lot of time washing out.
If you mostly ride in powder and soft snow conditions, then you are one lucky son of a ……. wait… sorry got off track there 🙂 If you ride in soft snow a lot then you aren’t going to require as much grip – and in fact too much grip can be an issue – leading to something too grabby in some cases.
What Design Factors on A Snowboard Help Edge Hold?
There are a number of things on a snowboard that contribute to better edge hold. Below I will look at the following:
- Edge sharpness
- Edge technology
- Camber profile
This one is pretty simple. The stiffer the flex the greater the edge-hold.
This is one of the reasons that freeride snowboards tend to have a medium-stiff or stiff flex.
Freestyle/Park snowboards, that don’t need as much edge hold, tend to have a softer flex to enable them to press, butter, hit jibs and get more forgiveness on landings.
All mountain snowboards, tend to have a medium flex. They require some decent edge-hold but also need to be able to do some freestyle riding if the rider wants it. A softer flex also makes for a more playful, casual ride. The stiffer your board’s flex the more aggressive it will be.
Related: Flex ratings explained
As I mentioned earlier, freestylers tend to de-tune their edges (i.e. make them blunter) – this will decrease edge hold but will also make the edges less “catchy” on jib features.
All-Mountain riders will want to leave the majority of their edges sharp but will still probably want to de-tune the contact points to avoid catching an edge.
Most riders don’t really need super sharp edges (unless you are racing, or almost always in hard/icy conditions) but you will want to maintain your edges in terms of keeping them free of “burrs”. Un-burred blunt edges are better than sharp burred edges.
The most common edge hold technology is in the form of traction bumps – often referred to as magne-traction (depending on the brand of course).
This is basically edges that have extra contact points along the effective edge of the side cut. This increases grip, particularly in icy and hard conditions. One of the most common/most known edge traction tech that I know of is called Magne-Traction.
The camber profile of your snowboard affects your edge hold as it affects where your edge makes contact with the snow and how much of your edge makes contact with the snow.
Typically a snowboard that has any camber or flat sections are going to have better edge hold than snowboards with a full rocker camber profile.
The longer the camber and flat sections the better the edge hold, generally speaking.
Of course there are reasons why you may not just want a full camber or full flat snowboard. Having some rocker in your camber profile helps with float in powder, easier turn initiation, better jibbing, better buttering and for some riders they just prefer a slightly looser feel underfoot.
One more thing to note – I find I have more control in hard/icy conditions when I widen my stance a little. So, if you do ride those kinds of conditions a lot, then that’s something to give a try as well.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this post has helped you learn more about snowboard edge hold and what kind of edge hold is best for you.
Any questions or comments or if there are any other factors that you can think of that affect edge hold please feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.
Photo by Lukas Mathis [CC BY 2.0], via Flikr
Here’s an interesting comparison question…
I’ve got a yes hybrid which has a reasonable EE of 119cm and find it has pretty good edge hold on Aussie snow
Getting on a split for next season and picked up a 161 united shapes covert…. I’m a little concerned about how the edge hold will compare on Aussie ice?
The effective edge on the longer covert is actually 4-5 cm shorter from my measurement and specs I can find online…. BUT the board is notably stiffer from what I can feel and I think the camber may be slightly more aggressive with a little less rocket at the front wide point?
Absolutely no idea what to expect on snow 😅
Any idea what I might expect to experience?
Hoping they’re actually pretty similar with the covert taking the ‘edge’ in the backcountry and the hybrid being a better performer for resort use. 🤔
Can really appreciate the art in board building with so many seperate specs effecting multiple ride characteristics simultaneously!
Thanks for your message.
Unfortunately I haven’t tested any United Shapes boards, so I can’t say for sure how they’ll go in terms of edge hold. Certainly camber, all else being equal, does better in icy conditions than rocker, in my experience, but there are a lot of other factors. One thing that I think really helps with the Hybrid is the “tapered underbite”. I’m not sure if the covert has anything like that. It doesn’t appear, from just looking at it, to have any kind of serrated edge tech or anything, but that’s certainly not the only factor that affects edge hold. But yeah, having not ridden it, it’s hard to say.
And yeah, board building is quite an art/science, like you say with everything you change affecting other things about the board – having to get all those things working in harmony!
Guess I’ll find out…. sadly next season though 😅
Do you recommend detuning a freeride board or keeping it factory. For example the Jones flagship or the yes pyl
Vs the yes greats.
I didn’t detune my Greats and I love it how it is. But if you wanted to with the Greats you could potentially detune around the contact points to make it more jib friendly.
I wouldn’t personally detune a freeride board like the Flagship or PYL. I would keep them factory, personally.
You’re very welcome Rasheed.