Not all snowboards are made equal. And there are some boards that are made specifically for freestyle riding. What the best freestyle snowboard is for you will depend on your particular style of freestyle riding and your physical characteristics.
Freestyle riding is a pretty broad definition and your ideal freestyle board will differ depending on how you like to ride.
For example, you may like a playful ride and like to hit the park all day hitting boxes, rails, small to medium jumps, full of grabs and butters and the like.
Or you might like your freestyle more extreme hitting big jumps and performing tricks off those.
Or you might like to ride the pipe.
This post is intended to help you find the right freestyle board, not matter your style or physicality.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any board is the flex of the board.
Freestylers in the Park
A lot of freestylers like to go with a medium-soft flex. This allows them to feel jibs well, enables good tweaking of grabs, the ability to manual and butter well and offers enough give on landings. But at the same time offers enough stiffness to be able to ride some more challenging trails when the urge is there – and a bit more edge-hold and stability for landing bigger jumps.
This medium-soft flex will also allow you to ride the pipe – not ideally but better than you could on a soft board.
A soft flexing board is great for those freestylers who only want to ride the park (or they have separate board for riding the rest of the mountain) and prefer jibs, tricks off small jumps, grabs, butters, manuals etc and not bigger jumps or pipe riding.
Freestylers in the Pipe
If the pipe is your thing then a stiffer flex is the way to go – this stiffer flex gives greater edge-hold and drive for climbing the walls of the pipe.
A medium flex is usually preferred in the pipe. This gives enough edge-hold and drive but still allows you to tweak grabs and also hit the park when you want too.
Having some edge-hold technology on your board, like Magne-traction, will also help to grip and drive you up the walls of the pipe.
This medium flex and edge-hold tech means that often boards that are otherwise known as all-mountain boards, or freestyle-all-mountain boards are often the best for the pipe.
Freestylers – Extreme Park
If you prefer your freestyle to be epic – like large and extra large jumps then you’ll also want to go with a slightly stiffer flex.
This is in order to have the necessary edge-hold in leading up to the jump, the extra edge-hold in stabilizing after the jump and more stability on landing.
You still want the flex to be soft enough for give on landings so, like the pipe board, a medium flex is probably a good bet here.
No matter your style of freestyle riding the chances are that you are going to be spending a fair bit of time riding switch so you are probably going to want a twin shape – so that riding/landing in either direction will feel the same or similar.
For this reason most freestylers prefer either True Twin, Assymetrical Twin or Direction Twin shapes.
A slightly shorter length is generally better for freestyle riding.
A shorter length allows the rider to be able to manoeuvre the board more easily for performing spins and other tricks.
As a rule, take off 3-5cms of length from your “standard length”.
It should also be noted that a board that is shorter than your standard length will flex more than it would in a longer length.
A lot of freestyle riders like to go with a wider board. This gives a wider more stable base for balance on jibs and stability on landing jumps.
Also, because responsiveness isn’t as important for freestylers as it is for all-moutaineers and freeriders, the width can be wider. Typically a narrower board will be faster from edge to edge but this isn’t important for freestyle riding.
You might sacrifice a little in response but you gain it back in a more stable landing platform.
That said you don’t want it to be too far wide for your feet size or it will probably feel too sluggish and unresponsive, even for freestyle riding – so just a little wider than normal will do (normally a board made for freestyle riding will accommodate this).
Most freestyle boards will have an extruded base.
Extruded bases are slower than sintered bases but that speed isn’t typically important for the freestyle rider. In fact extra speed can be a hindrance to a lot of freestyle riders.
The great thing about going with an extruded base is they are cheaper to manufacturer (meaning freestyle boards are typically a fair bit cheaper than all mountain and freeride boards) and they require less maintenance.
Freestyle riders will ride all manner of camber profile. There isn’t one camber profile that is best suited to freestyle riding – but there are some that are more popular than others and there are reasons for that.
The most popular profiles for freestyle boards are Hybrid Rocker, Hybrid Camber, Continuous Rocker and Flat to Rocker but some freestyle boards do come in Traditional Camber or flat profiles if that’s your preference.
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for reading and I hope this post has given you some insight into the type of freestyle board that would suit you the best.
This is my take on what is important for freestyle riding. Do you agree? Am I missing something? Have I included something that you think isn’t that important? Let your opinion be known in the comments section below – or if you have any questions feel free to ask those below too.