On a recent snowboarding trip I passed a personal milestone: Taking two snowboards away on holiday! In the past one all-mountain conqueror has always sufficed, but this year I have added a smaller, lighter, more flexible board to my arsenal to help with tricks and to progress my riding.
For my new weapon I choose a 154 Pathron Sensei Snowboard, partly because its name reminded me of the classic 80s film Karate Kid. Having known nothing about the brand before trying them out I hope you find this Pathron Sensei snowboard review useful!
I am an advanced rider, weigh about 79kg and normally ride a 158. I previously owned (and loved) a Burton Custom. However, last season after my board was stolen I replaced it with a Raven Core. I was very happy with the Raven Core snowboard and the low price meant I could justify (to my wife) getting a freestyle board this season.
What’s under the bonnet?
Pathron Snowboards are the premium snowboard range made by the same company that make Raven Snowboards. They are a Polish company using the same factory as Burton, but charging less than half the price. The low price means I can have one board for park and another for powder, and join the ‘seriously overweight luggage’ club.
The Pathron Sensei is billed as a versatile freestyle snowboard that is good in the park and on the piste. It is a true twin-tip board so 100% symmetrical for those that like to go both ways…. It has a 3-stage rocker profile which should improve manoeuvrability and help avoid edge catching, whilst not losing out on the pop provided by traditional camber.
Pathron have packed plenty of tech under the bonnet of the Sensei. It has a sintered IS7500 base, meaning it should be fast and compares well to top range boards from well known brands.
Also, there are carbon fibre and kevlar strips in a longitudinal cross pattern. These increase pop, dampen vibrations and improve stability at speed. The binding regions are reinforced with biax fibreglass power plates which improves power transfer to the edges.
Liking how a snowboard looks would never be a reason for me to buy a particular board. But on the other hand, if I hate how it looks I would not buy it. Fortunately, the Pathron Sensei looks great. In particular I love the clear finish – thanks to this you can see the premium wood core that makes the magic happen.
So how did it ride?
My wife asked ‘does 4cm really make a difference?’ Avoiding the obvious jokes, the Sensei is not only 4cm shorter, it is also narrower meaning it has a much smaller surface area and is a lot lighter than I am used to. It has a mid to soft flex, so has more give than my current board.
From the first ride I found the Sensei very nimble and incredibly easy to initiate turns. Being symmetrical, it feels well balanced and riding switch was much easier than on directional boards. The edge hold was very good even on steep icy black runs and it wasn’t long before I was trusting it to hold, no matter what the conditions.
Very soon I found myself ollieing higher, jumping further and spinning with less effort. At first I found it a little sketchy in the touchdown – I think because I am used to a bigger, stiffer board that stomps landings. However, I soon got used to it and the additional flex seemed forgiving when I got things wrong.
The common perception of smaller boards is that they are slower and are less stable at speed. At first this was true, as riding at speed was twitchier than the Karate Kid at a Halloween dance – and I was just as likely to hit the deck. However, after a couple of days the twitchiness was replaced by lighter, finer control that made riding at speed highly sensitive and a lot of fun.
My goal this season is to improve my ground tricks and start doing nose and tail presses. The extra flex meant that the Pathron Sensei was easy to press on the flat and I quickly progressed to trying it on steeper slopes. A few inevitable falls followed, and although I am a long way from proficient at them, I feel the Sensei helped shorten the learning curve.
The Pathron Sensei it is a great snowboard full of tech that boards twice the price would be proud of. It may not have the big brand name behind it, but don’t let you put it off; it is a quality piece of kit that is fun to ride and will help you progress.
It’s billing as a versatile freestyle board is spot on. I would now use the Sensei for all riding except powder days when I need the extra float of a bigger board. You can pick one up for E225 on ebay, which for a board with these specs is amazing value. Would I recommend it? Well as the Karate Kid would say ‘Yes Sensei’.
Additional information added 28/2/2013
After publishing this original Pathron Sensei snowboard review I got to ride the Sensei in deep powder. There was at least half a meter of fresh snow and in many places it was up to a meter deep. At first I rode my bigger Raven Core snowboard for the extra float but a disagreement with a rock put it out of action and I switched to the Sensei.
I was very glad I made the switch as I found the shorter, narrower Sensei far better in the powder then the bigger Raven Core. I think the three stage rocker profile combined with extra flex meant it was easier to keep the tip out of the snow and to get my weight on the back foot. I kept my stance central and had absolutely no problem riding switch in powder.
So to update my final point of the Pathron Sensei snowboard review, I would now use the Sensei for all my riding including powder days.