As if a review of Striding Edge, the first eco-friendly British snowboard brand, isn’t exciting enough I got to ride with Olympic boardercross athlete Zoe Gillings-Brier and Britain’s fastest snowboarder Jamie Barrow. We spent a day shredding the Hemel Hempstead snowdome on Striding Edge, putting it through its paces to decide whether it is a small step for British snowboarding, or a giant stride for the snowboard industry?
Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong aside, I am a fairly normal snowboarder, typically I would classify myself as an expert but in the presence of pros I will stick to advanced. For this review of Striding Edge snowboard I have incorporated the opinions of the exceptionally talented Zoe and Jamie.
Striding Edge: Eco-friendly British snowboard brand
Striding Edge are entering what on the face of it is an already crowded snowboard market. However there are very few British snowboard brands, and very few snowboard brands that have environmental principles at their heart. When you combine the two you realise that Striding Edge is the first eco-friendly British snowboard brand.
There are plenty of companies producing greener boards as part of their range, however Striding Edge has plans in place to be carbon Neutral by 2016 – something they have already taken great strides to achieve. Their office is powered by renewable energy, packaging is 85% recycled and all carbon generated by their shipments from manufacturing in China to the UK is offset.
They use bamboo in their snowboards, as it is sustainable, absorbs more carbon dioxide than wood, uses no pesticides and because it is fast growing – up to 25cm a day – meaning just the mature bamboo can be harvested rather than the whole forest being chopped down. In case you don’t know there are many types of bamboo, the type used in Striding Edge snowboards is not eaten by Pandas.
Striding Edge are based in the Lake District and draw much of their inspiration from there, including being named after the ridge that leads to Helvellyn Peak in the Lake District, the third-highest point in England. England’s last remaining Golden Eagle resides in the area and features on the artwork alongside the ridge as a reminder of the natural environment Striding Edge strive to protect.
I asked Graham Koppenhol, founder of Striding Edge, what inspired him to set up a snowboard brand. He told me that four years ago he wanted to buy a new snowboard, he wanted to buy British and he wanted something eco-friendly. He was surprised that nothing fit the bill and decided to help save the world and sell some snowboards in the process. So if like Graham you want to buy an eco-friendly British snowboard, then Striding Edge may well be the answer.
Striding Edge snowboard: Under the bonnet
Of course an eco-friendly snowboard is all well and good, but Striding Edge understand that without a decent snowboard they will not be saving the world. With this in mind they spent a lot of time speaking with a range of manufacturers and testing their products before finding one whose passion and principles matched their own. They then went about creating their first snowboard.
The Striding Edge snowboard has a bamboo core and bamboo top sheet. In addition to its environmental properties, bamboo is beneficial to snowboarding as compared to other wooden cores it is lighter, waterproof, more durable and it has higher elasticity properties which add pop and dampen vibrations.
The Striding Edge is designed to be ridden all-mountain. It is a medium flex to make it responsive and stable and has a true twin shape great for riding switch. It has a rocker profile that is fairly pronounced outside the bindings but is more of a micro-rocker between them, this means it should be forgiving to ride and good in powder. It has an ABS sidewall construction which helps protect the core and transfer power to the edges. It also has an IS7500 sintered base which is about as good as they get so should be fast and durable.
They have put a lot of high quality ingredients together to make this board, and then slapped a very reasonable price of £250 on it. The question is does it ride its price or its specs?
Review of Striding Edge snowboard by pros (and me)
While setting up my bindings my first impression of the Striding Edge snowboard was it felt fairly light and seemed quite soft and flexible – more like a jib board than all-mountain. But when strapping in I was immediately surprised that it felt stiffer when ridden, with decent power in the turn and generating good pop.
Much as I hope you are interested in my opinions for this review of Striding Edge snowboard I am sure you want to hear what the pros thought. I asked Zoe Gillings-Brier – Britain’s No 1 Olympic Snowboard Cross athlete – and Jamie Barrow – Britain’s fastest snowboarder – a series of questions:
How did you find the board?
Zoe: Good, I liked it. It carves reasonably well, and absorbs bumps really nicely – you can go over little bumps or foot high bumps and it bends nicely to absorb any impact.
Jamie: Fun board! Surprisingly good as I have not been snowboarding in a while, I just came here today and strapped on this board and bindings, it was all new and straight away from the first run I got used to it. It was really easy to ride, held speed well, picked up speed really quick, held an edge as much as you can at an indoor slope and went over the bumps very well.
How did you find riding a rocker profile?
Zoe: I couldn’t tell the difference [Rocker profile compared to traditional camber of boardercross board]! I could tell it felt not as stiff but that’s because it’s not as stiff as my race board. Other than that not as much difference as I thought there would be.
Jamie: Really easy to get used to, overall a great board. I was pleasantly surprised as when I first got my hands on it, it seemed quite a soft board, but it was stiffer than I thought it was going to be – which is a good thing – and really responsive.
How was the pop?
Zoe: It’s got a nice pop in the tail so you can do little ollies and get a bit of air almost from nowhere including getting pops from the end of the tail. I enjoyed playing about with it in the snow.
Jamie: Pop was really good. I was worried at first because I thought it was a bit soft [meaning you get less feedback and so it is harder to generate quick pop] but it has great pop. I was jumping over the bumps and things, it is really responsive and a good fun board to ride.
How do you feel about Striding Edge being eco-friendly?
Zoe: It is really good. Obviously spending my time out on the snow with climate change saying its all going to melt that’s a very bad thing. So anything that can be done to slow it or prevent it is brilliant! I really admire the company for putting as much effort as they have done.
Jamie: It’s even better that its environmentally friendly, if you can do that with an eco-friendly board and its just as good a other boards why wouldn’t you do it with all boards?
And it is British
Zoe: Brilliant! Great Britain has got small snow industry so we have to support them.
Jamie: Even better, the points just keep adding up for this board! This is the first launch of Striding Edge so imagine where it can go in a couple of years time. They should just keep getting better and better so I look forward to seeing where they can take the brand.
The price is £250. Is that good value?
Zoe: Good, reasonable price especially as they’ve got the bamboo core. Striding Edge have gone to a lot of expensive to be environmentally friendly so they’ve done well to keep the cost low.
Jamie: Environmentally friendly, as good as other boards and cheap. What more do you want?
My thoughts pretty much echo those of Zoe and Jamie. The Striding Edge snowboard is quick to get used to and fairly easy to ride. It felt forgiving and responsive which was surprising for a rocker profile, however it only has a micro-rocker between the bindings which in combination with the bamboo core and top sheet helps to generate the pop and keep it responsive.
Of course this review of Striding Edge snowboard was conducted in Hemel Hemstead snowdome, so its not all encompassing. I would love to try riding it in powder, as from past experience I have found rocker profile makes a huge difference. I would also like to hit a kicker to check if it nails the landing on big air as well as it does on small jumps. As Zoe said it carves reasonably well, and I felt it held an edge nicely, so I think it would handle icy conditions – but normally when reviewing a board I take it down the steepest iciest run I can.
Review of Striding Edge snowboard: Conclusion
As Jamie pointed out this is Striding Edge’s first snowboard and they have done a very good job. It is a high-quality, British, eco-friendly, all-mountain snowboard that is fun to ride and reasonably priced. It is probably more suited to intermediate and advanced riders as it is quite aggressive and responsive, however beginners should not be put off as it is also forgiving and it’s certainly a board that will help you advance quickly.
Striding Edge Snowboards have not only created an eco-friendly British snowboard brand but have made a very good snowboard that rides its specs more than it’s price tag. Striding Edge have certainly taken a step in the right direction for the British snowboard industry and I hope in years to come that they make giant strides into the industry globally. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong once more: Britain’s Golden Eagle has landed.
You can find out more about Striding Edge Snowboards or buy one for yourself by visiting: www.stridingedgesnowboards.com