Is snowboard flexibility important?

December 22, 2014

In snowboarding, flexibility refers to a board’s ability to flex, or give, when pressure is placed upon it. This feature isn’t precisely quantifiable, but manufacturers usually rate each model on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most flexible). Why such a range? Here’s a little lesson.

Two types of flex

Snowboard flexibility, usually just called flex, is divided into two categories that have distinct influences on the performance of your board.

  • Longitudinal flex has to do with the flexibility of the board from tip to tip. It accommodates pressure that’s exerted on different parts of the board. The flex may be consistent over the entire length, or progressive, meaning that the board is more flexible on one end than the other.
  • Torsional flex is built into the board width-wise. High torsional flexibility allows for better negotiation of tight corners and better control in terrain parks.

So what do I need?

What impact does flex have on the performance of your equipment? It depends on the type of rider you are and your personal preferences.

  • Newbies. If you’re just beginning to get a feel for snowboarding, opt for a more flexible board that offers a greater margin of error. Any wrong moves on your part won’t dump you as quickly as a rigid board, which is more difficult to control.
  • Speed demons. Is speed your first criterion for a snowboard? Choose a rigid board that distributes your weight more evenly over the snow so you can reach maximum speeds. Be careful on uneven terrain that's not been groomed. Rigid boards are designed for the smooth slopes of ski resorts.
  • Freestyle fans. If the perfect day for you takes place in the terrain park rather than on the runs, you can handle a flexible board. It will be your ally in tight corners and help soften your landings.
  • Backcountry nuts. If you like to get off the beaten track, choose a flexible board that helps you stay on course in rough terrain.

A matter of taste

You can get all the tips you like on snowboard flexibility, but the reality is that no two snowboarders are alike. Besides your riding style and your level of experience, your build and your personal preferences are other factors to consider when making your choice. Really, there’s only one sure-fire way to find out what’ll work best for you: test them all out on the slopes.

Is snowboard flexibility important?
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