Snowboards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This post aims to outline what the different snowboard shapes are and what style each shape is designed for.
The images below are just some examples of the different shape types. There are a large number of variations of each shape type available but all of those shapes should fit somewhere in the following broad categories:
- True Twin (and asymmetrical twin)
- Directional Twin
- Tapered Directional
True Twin Shape
A true twin shape is completely symmetrical. If you cut a true twin in half exactly down the middle you would end up with two identical pieces of board.
This means that the:
- Nose and the tail are the same length
- Nose and the tail are the same width; and
- Bindings are typically centered on the board, meaning:
- The distance from the center of the front binding to the contact point at the nose of the board is the same as the distance from the center of the back binding to the contact point on the tail of the board (this is often referred to as centered on the effective edge)
- In the case of true twins it’s also true that the waist (center) of the board is equal distance to the very tip of the nose and the very tip of the tail – since the nose and tail are both the same length
Of course, you could create a setback stance if you were so inclined but this would be unusual on a true twin (but sometimes on powder days it’s a good idea, if you don’t have a more suitable powder board) and might be a strange feel depending on the camber profile (i.e. one foot could end up being over camber and the other over rocker which would probably feel odd).
In addition to this a true twin has exactly the same flex in the nose and tail.
Who Rides True Twin?
Because it is completely symmetrical in shape, it will feel exactly the same riding switch as it does to ride in your normal direction. If you are riding freestyle you will likely be riding switch a lot particularly setting up for or landing 180s & 540s, performing tricks on or off rails/boxes, in the pipe and just in general.
A common variation on the true twin is the asymmetrical twin (asym). Asym twins are designed to give you a more similar feel turning no both your heel edge and toe edge. There are 3 ways that a board can be asymmetrical:
- Asymmetrical sidecut
- Asymmetrical contact points
- Asymmetrical flex (between the heel side and toe side, rather than between nose and tail)
For more details on asymmetrical twins check out:
Directional Twin Shape
The directional twin at first glance can appears to be a true twin but is subtly directional.
A directional twin is usually labelled as such when:
- It has a setback stance – but usually no more than 20mm (3/4″)
- Has a nose that is slightly longer than the tail
So, inside the contact points a directional twin is a twin (hence the “twin” in the name) – but outside the contact points the nose is a little longer than the tail – but the width at the contact points will be the same. And then there’s usually setback stance (setback along the effective edge). Even if you were centered on the effective edge, you would be setback in terms of the overall length of the board – but setback refers to along the effective edge (between contact points). But a directional twin usually is setback along the effective edge too.
For example, a directional twin that has a nose that’s 1cm longer than the tail, and a setback stance of 12.5mm (aka 1.25cm, aka 1/2″), will be setback in terms of the overall length of the board, by 2.25cm.
Some directional twin’s have a centered stance (and this is sometimes known as a “Mountain Twin” – a term used a lot by Arbor – who have quite a few “Mountain Twin’s” in their lineup.
Who Rides Directional Twin?
A Directional shape does at it sounds – it is designed to be optimal going in one direction.
A directional board will usually have a number of things that make it directional, which could be some or all of the following – but needs to be more directional oriented than a directional twin (or else it would be a directional twin right!):
- Longer nose than tail (always)
- Different shaped nose and tail (sometimes)
- A setback stance (a majority of the time)
- A directional sidecut
- A directional camber profile (often)
- Directional flex pattern (different flex in and towards the tail vs in and towards the nose)
One thing that is the same on a directional shape (as opposed to a tapered directional shape) is that the width of the contact points is the same.
Who Rides Directional?
Whilst you can still learn to ride switch on a directional board it would take a bit to get used to and will feel very different riding in one direction than the other.
Directional boards are mostly used for all-mountain riders and freeriders. Most, if not all, of the time you will be riding in one direction. And the board is optimized to make riding in one-direction better – particularly for carving, speed and powder.
Tapered Directional Shape
A tapered directional shape is like a directional shape but with one major difference – the width of the widest point of the nose (contact point) will be wider than the width of the widest point (contact point) on the tail.
Often on a board with a tapered directional shape everything about the nose and the tail is different, including:
- A wider nose than tail (tapered shape)
- A longer nose – often significantly longer
- Flex – the tail is often stiffer than the nose, to promote the tail to sink and the nose to float
In addition, the stance will almost always be setback (though there certainly are exceptions to this.
There are many different levels of taper on boards these days – some with very subtle taper and others with more extreme taper.
Who rides tapered directional?
This one is definitely all about the freeriders and those who want a powder specialist board. A tapered directional shape is usually designed to provide the best float in powder – promoting the tail to sink and the nose to rise. And can also be good for maneuverability in the trees – with a short flicky tail you can kick around.
You could try riding switch but it is going to feel really strange and be really difficult.
Thanks for reading
Hopefully this post has increased your understanding of the various snowboard shapes and what each shape does well (and which shapes suit which styles of riding) and not so well.
There are of course a lot of different varieties of these shapes but all should fit roughly in one of the above categories.
Any comments, questions or feedback very welcome below, as always.