Many believe skiing was saved by snowboarding. Ski designers used snowboard technology to take skiing to another level – and make it cool again. In this review of Furberg Freeride snowboard with reverse sidecut tips, I look at how ski innovation has now being used to progress snowboarding.
In 1909, the Titanic ship was built using innovative technology and the best materials, the goal was to build the greatest ship ever. Of course the Titanic was famously – and ironically – described as being unsinkable, but sank after colliding with an iceberg.
One hundred years later David Furberg formed Furberg Snowboards, with the goal of creating the world’s best freeride snowboard, by combining innovation with top materials. As with any powder board – and the Titanic – the aim is to be unsinkable, but unlike the ship the Furberg should also handle ice.
My experience reviewing the Furberg Freeride, mirrored the on screen romance between Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio in the Titanic movie. We had a brief ‘we’re never going to get along’ period, followed by falling in love. But where the Titanic romance was drawn out, the Furberg preferred to ridden fast and hard from the moment we met.
Furberg snowboard with reverse sidecut tips
David Furberg looked at powder skis and realised snowboard manufacturers could learn from the ski industry. In the 2000s powder skis obviously become fatter, but what is less noticeable – at least to a snowboarder – is the sidecut at the tips was reversed.
So rather than becoming slightly wider at the tips, powder skis stay the same width and then round off. This gives a longer and more mellow edge to provide a smoother ride. It also gives a longer turning radius and better edge control for fat skis when charging powder.
Furberg are the only snowboard brand to create a snowboard with reverse sidecut tips. In theory this should make for more stability at speed, a calmer, more forgiving and catch free ride. Also the longer more mellow edge should hit chop and crud at a lower angle of incidence, meaning you feel the lumps and bumps less.
Furberg Freeride snowboard: Under the bonnet
But the Furberg Freeride is much more than just a snowboard with reverse sidecut at the tips. It has a hybrid camber and rocker profile. Meaning there is a small amount of camber between the bindings to add pop and power. Plus rocker at both tips to provide float.
The sidewalls are made of UHMW PE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) which is stronger than traditional ABS. It is supported with bamboo inner sidewalls, together they can handle bigger impacts without damaging the board and taking on water.
The Furberg edges are fully wrapped and use 2.1 x 2.0 mm Rockwell Hardness 48, making them considerably beefier than most boards. This is so that if they hit something submerged in a powder field they are less likely to crack or deform.
The core is a mix of the ever popular Poplar and strong but light Paulownia to create the perfect balance of weight, strength and durability. For the base Furberg have used a 1.4mm thick Isosport Sintered Electra 5920 Graphit – one of the fastest bases available. This is 20% thicker than usual bases to help your board last longer.
With an Isosport Polyamide topsheet the Furberg has one of the most durable topsheets on the market. Its scratch resistant texture, and light colour, both mean less snow sticks to it saving weight when riding. Beneath this triaxial fiberglass is used to increase the Furberg’s torsional stiffness.
Review of Furberg Freeride snowboard: Piste
Having got the technical stuff out of the way I can get back to the review of Furberg Freeride snowboard. Exiting the first chair the board felt as nimble as an ocean liner, and I couldn’t turn with just one foot in. I escaped an embarrassing fall by heading straight and stopping on a convenient bench.
Strapping in both feet I set off, with some trepidation, over an icy, early morning piste. I had been riding a narrow, ultra-responsive board for the previous three days and at first I struggled to engage the edges of the Furberg. If there had been a skier (or iceberg) dead ahead, this review of Furberg Freeride snowboard may have ended badly on it’s maiden voyage.
Fortunately there were no obstacles so I didn’t crash, but at first I didn’t turn either. I started to speed up and for the first time in many years I considered a voluntary bail before I went too fast. What went through my mind was that if I can’t turn the Furberg, this steep red is going to end with more wailing than a Celine Dion song.(Me looking like a beginner while I got the hang of the Furberg…)
But as I picked up pace it suddenly became easy to engage the edges of the Furberg, and turning became a doddle. By the end of the first run I was still riding like a cautious passenger yet to find their sea legs, but the edge held the icy piste well, I hadn’t fallen and turning the Furberg was no longer a problem.
It normally takes me just a few turns to get the feel of a new board, but the Furberg Freeride took a few runs. However, once I did it was full steam ahead – literally. This is not a board to ride timidly down the piste, you need to ride fast and aggressively, and when you do it is so much fun.
The long edge with its reverse sidecut at the tips makes for a smooth ride even when the piste is all cut up, carving felt easier as the entire length is working for you, and the edge hold – even on a steep icy blacks – is phenomenal. The Furberg feels powerful without being overly stiff, plus nimble and responsive as long as you are going fast.
On the downside if you are riding slowly or timidly it can feel hard to engage an edge. But overtime I learnt that I can trust the Furberg never to catch an edge, and always to hold one – even if going slowly – so I could throw myself into a turn if I needed to. All in all it leads to an aggressive, exhilarating ride that is quite different to any of my other boards.
To conclude this review of Furberg Freeride snowboard on the piste, I would say that although it is not made for groomers, like posh Kate Winslet with her bit of Leonardo rough, even if it doesn’t 100% fit in it gets along fine. In particular if you like to ride fast and dynamically, with aggressive carves it can be a lot of fun on the piste.
Review of Furberg Freeride snowboard: Powder
But the Furberg Freeride is made for off-piste riding so it’s natural habitat powder. Taking it for a spin in fresh snow for the first time was, I am slightly ashamed to say, like the ‘I’m Flying’ moment in Titanic when Kate is stood with her arms spread at the bow of the ship.
Effortless float, long smooth turns, easy transitions and incredible maneuverability make the Furberg Freeride the most fun board I have ever ridden in powder. As with the piste it encourages fast riding, but it no longer feels like you are being aggressive, more like the most natural thing in the world.
I spent a week on a backcountry snowboard camp in the Portes Du Soleil, during which we had fresh snow almost every day. The Furberg made difficult couloirs easier, provided epic float in deep snow and was the perfect companion for cliff drops. During our adventures I hit quite a few rocks, but there was never more than superficial damage.
When the slope was shallow, the snow slow or crusty, the Furberg kept floating and maintained my momentum better than those I was riding with. Through the trees it was surprisingly nimble, even when following packed powder tracks it flowed with the natural contours helping me to maintain pace.
But there is of course a downside of the Furberg Freeride. When you are starting or stopping, or going slowly in an icy technical section, you feel vulnerable as it’s harder to engage the edge than with boards that have a traditional sidecut radius at the tips. In powder and at pace this is not a problem – so my advice is ride fast and never stop.
It is also worth noting that riding the Furberg is more tiring than other boards. It is longer and thicker making it heavier, but also riding aggressively can take it out of you. This is not so much a problem if you are off-piste all the time, but using the pistes to get to and from the powder can be quite knackering as the Furberg doesn’t really do a slow, lazy, end of the day pootle down the piste.
Of course the knackering effect of the Furberg is counteracted by falling less in powder. Using its 6cm set back stance I never once nose dived the board, and I would say it is all but unsinkable in powder. Unlike some other powder boards the rear also has a rocker which I found meant the whole board floated higher in powder, making shallower powder more fun.
To conclude this review of Furberg Freeride snowboard in powder, I will say it is the most fun freeride board I have been lucky enough to review. I found myself going straighter in steep sections, riding faster through trees and snowboarding dynamically perfectly in tune with my board and the terrain to get air, pop tricks and have a blast.
Review of Furberg Freeride snowboard: Conclusion
Back in 1997 Titanic was the highest grossing film of all time, like many I saw it at the cinema, and probably like most blokes thought it was ridiculously long and boring. Coming in lengths ranging from 160 to 172cm the Furberg Freeride is also long but it’s anything but boring.
For a freeride specific board the Furberg handles the piste well. In fact as long as you ride fast and aggressively it is a lot of fun and is great to carve. It is not a board beginners would get along with, but if you are confident riding fast and dynamically the Furberg will help you improve your off-piste riding. It’s certainly the best freeride snowboard I have ridden.
Whereas the soundtrack to Titanic was a warbling Celine Dion, the Furberg dances to breakneck thrash metal. So if Furberg had directed the film it would be over in 30 minutes, rather than three and a half hours. Of course with Furberg at the helm, handling ice(bergs) with ease and being unsinkable in powder, the Titanic would have made it across the Atlantic.
If this review of Furberg Freeride snowboard has you wanting to watch Titanic again, then shame on you. However if you want to get your paws on this innovative snowboard with reverse sidecut tips check out: www.furbergsnowboards.com
Thanks to Furberg Snowboards for providing some of the pictures in this article – basically all the really good ones! Hover over the image to see the rider and photographer.