So this news is a little late for you frequent interwebbers, but snowboarding legend Tom Burt recently announced on his blog that he’s got a splitboard version of his pro model Tom Burt 172 slated for release in the near future. I believe this will be the first new model released post-Tom Burt buying a stake in Winterstick, and it looks like his guidance will start paying dividends to big mountain riders. (I also believe that Tom Burt may hold the official title of “oldest person to have a pro model” – which is actually a damn cool title to hold)
After his first round of testing in various conditions he claimed that it “seemed to perform as well as my regular board” – and as Tom strikes me as a no-nonsense guy not prone to spewing hyperbole I’m inclined to believe him, and that this board will kick your ass and take your wallet kill it.
Details on the design 24 years in the making are below:
I’ve been working on this design since 1985, testing in conditions from ice to powder, flats to steeps, and revising it with different sidecuts, nose shapes, flexes, stances and constructions. Right from the start there were innovations – stuff no one had tried before. I had to see if it would work. The TOM BURT 172 combines everything I’ve learned over the years. Here are the features and concepts behind it, which sets this board apart from others:
Taper: I have been a backer of taper since I started snowboarding. If you look at the Wintersticks of the past, the swallow and roundtails, you see they were all about taper. Taper gives you the ability to ride powder and still be able to weight your front foot. Taper also helps with tracking and finishing turns with the board still pointing down the hill. My board is designed with 4mm of taper. This amount of taper allows my board to track well on hard pack as well as powder, but at the same time it allows it to finish a turn with the board pointing down the hill. This means it takes less energy, effort and force to roll from one turn to the next, and you can ride with your upper body stable and still. Taper also lets the back of the board sink in powder and thus more weight can be applied to the front of the board. You have more control because you are not leaning back (a position you never want to be in when you ride). Taper also shifts the center of sidecut toward the back of the board. This allows the rider’s stance to be shifted to the back of the board but still be over the sidecut, giving great control due to a positive edge. The best way to feel what taper does is to ride a board with taper, then go back to a board without it. You should feel the difference. A board without taper will want to finish its turn across the fall line, not down the fall line. It won’t let the tail sink in powder unless your weight is shifted back, and it will catch edges easily when tracking straight.
Sidecut: I use an 11 meter radial sidecut. Why such a straight sidecut compared to most boards? Two reasons: The ability to do both large- and small-radius carving turns, and control at speed. For turning, sidecut dictates the carve. If a board has a short sidecut, say 8 meters, a carve with this radius is the biggest turn it can make. If you try to do a longer turn you will have to release your edge and slide it, thus losing edge control during the turn. Besides, one reason you go for a longer turn is to keep speed up, and if you have to slide the edge that kills your speed. Starting with a straighter sidecut allows a long turn while carving. Tighter turns while carving are possible by flexing the board. You control the radius of the carve by adjusting the way you flex the board. A board with an 11 meter sidecut can be bent to carve an 8 meter turn, but a board with an 8 meter sidecut can never carve an 11 meter turn, only eight or smaller. Finally, control at speed is a big factor of a larger sidecut. A short sidecut makes a board edgy and abrupt, so there’s a danger of catching edges when you try to cruise fast.
Flex: I put a stiff progressive flex on my board. This stiff flex is designed into the core with a longer softer flex in the front of the board and a shorter stiffer flex in the tail. The front of the board thus initiates turns easily but will not fold or overflex during a turn. The stiffer tail holds, and doesn’t overflex, coming out of the turn where you develop the most power to drive into the next turn. Because it’s a stiff board, the rider will have to put more energy into a turn at slow speeds, but as the speed increases the flex allows you to relax more because the speed creates the energy needed to flex the board. Thus the flex gives you control, and power.
Construction: I chose a full length, white aspen wood core and trapezoidal UHMW polyethylene sidewalls for my construction along with the Winterstick carbon matrix system, Durajet high carbon race base and oversized full wrapped edges and dampening foils. The wood core is the heart and soul of the board, providing its flex and life. The UHMW sidewalls stabilize the edges — they are incredibly damp and chatter-free, especially at speed. The carbon systems are added to increase torsional rigidity, strength and damping. Then the damping foils are added to reduce chatter and harmonic vibration. The base and edges, along with the sidewalls, are bomber to stand the punishment of hard riding. Putting it all together, the features give the board a damp, strong, chatter-free ride, which gives great control at speed and in all types of terrain.
Nose and tail shape: I designed the nose and tail for overall riding. The nose is 23cm long with a long flat rocker, which is great for lift in powder and crud. This allows for weight to be shifted forward while initiating a turn, giving edge control throughout the turn. The nose shape leaves the effective edge fairly straight for 10cm, thus forcing the nose to help initiate turns especially on steeper terrain. The tail is 17cm, with similar rocker to the nose. It is there to ride fakie, and to extend the tail length to give stability in landing airs.
Put all these features together and that is the Tom Burt 172. It’s designed for speed and control. Try it, and compare it to your current board. You’ll feel the difference.
It will be cool to see what other designs Winterstick puts out now that Burt is part owner.
BONUS: Old interview with Tom Burt, discussing his role at Winterstick
Click here to see other 2010 splitboards