What is it?
How does it affect the performance of your board?
How does it affect your choice of snowboard?
These are all questions that will hopefully be answered in this post.
What is a side-cut on a snowboard?
The side cut on a snowboard is essentially the curve along the side of the board. Every snowboard has an arc along the side (or else it would be rectangular) and this is known as the side-cut.
But not all side-cuts are the same. There are different depths/curvatures of side-cut and the way the side-cut is created on a board will affect how the board turns and performs.
Side-cut radius is a term used to explain the measurement of a side cut.
Essentially what a side-cut radius is, is the radius (half the diameter) of a circle that would fit into the side cut of the snowboard.
With me so far?
It’s not important to understand this fully but essentially what the side-cut radius does is give you information about the way that the board is going to turn (other things like flex, camber profile etc also affect the way the board turns and behaves).
So how do we read this information?
- A larger side-cut radius = a shallower side-cut
- A smaller side-cut radius = a deeper side-cut
Side cut radius on snowboards usually range somewhere between 6 and 10 (this is measured in meters as that would be the size of the radius if you were to place the circle against the snowboard).
So, for example, a snowboard with a side-cut radius of 6.5m will have a much deeper side-cut than a snowboard with a side-cut radius of 9.5m.
What does all this mean for turns?
Typically speaking a board with a deeper (smaller side-cut radius) side-cut will turn sharper.
A snowboard with a shallower side-cut (a higher side-cut radius) will help the board to make longer smooth arcing turns.
Who Benefits from Deep Side-Cuts and Who Benefits from Shallow Side-Cuts
Generally speaking, and this is very generally speaking, freestyle or park riders like to have a deeper (smaller radius) side-cut in order to initiate sharper more abrupt turns and for spins.
A smaller radius (deeper) side-cut can also be good for those riding through trees that need those sharper turns.
Shallow (larger radius) side-cuts are more suited to freeriders/big mountain riders who want to be able to “open out” and really carve down big open runs and through powder – and larger radius side-cuts can help with stability at speed (really deep side-cuts can feel twitchy at speed).
Endless Options for Side-cuts
Of course, the above is a very simplified outline of side-cuts and there are, these days anyway, a huge variety of different sidecuts – and with all the different combinations of sidecuts coupled with different shapes and different flex patterns and camber profiles – the combinations are limitless.
Which is why it’s better to choose a board based on its style and what reviews say about its performance and whether that will suit you. It can get very complicated looking into all the specs and trying to choose that way.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of knowledge on the subject so you can get a better idea of roughly the side-cut that best suits you.
The Different Types of Side-cut
As well as side-cuts being available with different radii. There are also different types of side-cut which can affect the way a board turns and behaves.
A radial side-cut is the most simple side-cut. This is basically the same arc right along the side of the snowboard – from contact point to contact point.
A progressive side-cut is where there is series of different side-cut radii along the edge of the board. This allows a board to behave differently when initiating a turn and when exiting a turn and in the middle of a turn.
A common example of a progressive side-cut is:
- A deeper (shorter radius) side-cut towards the tip and tail for sharper turn initiation and exit from a turn and a more mellow (larger radius) side-cut through the middle of the board for a smoother, longer arc in the middle of the turn.
Serrated edge technology started with Magne-traction and there are now other forms of it. Basically what this means is that the side-cut is wavy and this creates more contact points with the snow.
The idea of this is to make the board be able to more effectively grip in hard snow and icy snow conditions.
Asymmetrical side-cuts are becoming more and more popular these days. The idea of this is counteract the asymmetry of our bodies.
An asymmetrical side-cut simply means that the side-cut on the heel edge of the board and the toe edge of the board are different.
And what this essentially means, is that the heel-edge side cut is deeper (smaller radius) than the toe edge side-cut. What this does is make it easier to initiate a sharp turn on the heel side (which is naturally more difficult to do because of our anatomy) – and therefore evens out how turns feel on each side.
A good explanation of this can be found at the link below.
>> Asymmetric Sidecuts Explained (Whitelines)
Some boards increase that asymmetry by varying the flex feel on the toe-edge and heel-edge.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this has helped you to better understand snowboard side-cuts.
This is only a simplified overview of this topic. If you’re interested in the mechanics of snowboards I encourage you to research more into side-cuts to learn more.
If you find this subject confusing or un-interesting, don’t worry it’s not mandatory knowledge for choosing a snowboard. Snowboards are designed with a type of riding in mind and the side-cut (along with other factors such as shape, camber profile, flex etc) is designed to compliment the purpose the snowboard is designed for.