Category Archives: Gear

Niche Aether limited review and 2013 product preview

The Niche Aether limited release in its distinctive black and teal colorway

Salt Lake based Niche Snowboards will enter their second season of board production in the fall of 2012. Their Aether is an all-mountain  model I was fortunate enough to spend an extended amount of time on last spring and it is a board I really enjoyed.  In October of 2011 Niche announced that they would be licensing Magne-Traction from Mervin and would incorporate the technology into the  2013 Aether. However for those unable to wait they issued a limited release Aether available this season. I was able to spend a few days on this  limited release model, and luckily  I not only got in some good days at Brighton but also took it to Snowbird during one of our rare powder days.  Other than the addition of Magne-Traction the Aether for 2013 is much like the 2012 model, a mid-stiff, all mountain twin which makes it the go to Niche board if you are looking for a more progressive park/trick oriented style of all mountain riding. The other notable change is the switch from the 2012 pure reverse shape to a hybrid with reverse in the mid-section and a mellow regular camber on the tips. Niche boards have come to be  known for two stand out features, insane pop and unreal dampness and the Aether for 2013 upholds this tradition.  Even on a 20 inch pow day at Snowbird the Aether was a stable ride in the late afternoon chop. The addition of the Magne-Traction is the icing on the cake for the already fun Aether and its very slight reverse camber underfoot feels closer to flat. Couple the Magne-traction with the slight cambered rise in the tips and you get that little bit of extra edge control/hold  needed for non traditional camber boards to help prevent the tips from feeling “floppy” and loose.  The Mid-stiff rating is as advertised and this all mountain board was great popping off the natural hits on Brightons Millicent Mountain as well as the numerous drops and cat track gaps at Snowbird. That being said for a mid-stiff rated flex I found the Aether just nimble enough to butter over rollers and press in the flats with a bit of effort put into it. It is stiff torsionally which is good as it’s not a jib board and you dont want that jibby torsional flex when you are pointed down the steeps and pushing through the chop. However if you are a very aggressive park rider doing large jumps and really big gaps to rails you may find the Aether a surprising fit. Niche team member Everest Arnold has been seen killing the Aether in Brighton’s Park but I’ll caution and reiterate I’m talking about high level, aggressive, park slayers on the sponsorship level not your average joe. Overall for me as someone who prefers softer playful boards the Aether is a board I’d ride all the time at Snowbird but be a bit selective with it at flatter resorts such as Brighton or Park City where I do more lateral “playing” on the mountain hitting natural jibs and rollers versus high speed bombing.  If all mountain if your cup of tea this board will not disappoint you on any front as it carves, bombs, and jumps with ease, holds up well at high speed, and can even be a bit playful when you want it to.

In addition to the Aether I was able to check out the rest of the Niche 12/13 line this past winter at SIA and heres a look….

The Niche Aether in its “normal” colorway for 2013 on the left and the Knew, Niche’s park board on the right…

The Mid-flex Theme on the left. A park board for more aggressive riders. On the right the Minx which is Niche’s board for the ladies.

On the left the Story Niches more traditional all mountain board and to the right the limited graphic Aether

The Knew in an alternate black matte colorway. Black Matte is a huge trend for the upcoming season and was seen through out SIA on goggles, boards, and bindings from many companies. Big ups to Niche designer Ana Van Pelt on the foresight and ability to spot this trend and have a Niche product that features it.

Product reviews Niche Aether and Flux tt30’s

Last year when we had our amazing 800 inch snow year I was lucky enough to spend a good bit of the spring at Snowbird on the Niche Aether and had a blast on it  This review is a great example of why I do not like to review a board after just a couple of runs. When I first got on the Aether I knew it was going to be a bit stiffer than I was used to and if I just had a day or two on it it probably wouldnt have been my cup of tea. However over the spring as I got to ride it and get used to the all mountain stiffness I ended up having tons of fun. Where The Knew didnt quite fit my jib style the Aether  was great for my style of all mountain riding ,especially at the steeper slopes of Snowbird. I found it poppy when I needed it to be but still forgiving enough for fun high speed butters. The Aether is Niche’s reverse camber board but the reverse is so slight that it really feels closer to a flat camber. I would say this is the most stable pure reverse board I’ve ever ridden that didn’t have some sort of edge technology. Of the three Niche boards I’ve been on this one is by far my favorite. Although it is the “all mtn board” it should be noted that Niche rider Everest Arnold kills this thing in the park at Brighton Resort. All in all it is a great board that did everything I wanted it to when I needed it to with zero short comings.  If you like a good stable all mtn ride in a reverse camber or if you need a stiffer park board for a more aggressive park style I would definitely recommend you give the Aether a go (added bonus theres is now an Aether with Magne-Traction for an even steadier ride).

 

Check them out at NicheSnowboards.com

 

 

 

 

I bought the Flux TT30’s about a month ago to replace the Raiden Zeros I bought last season. (note the Zeros were trashed but they did have about 125 days on them which is a more than acceptable life). Here’s what attracted me to the Flux bindings a) low flat high backs b) no footbed c) urethane highback that are flexible enough for park but sturdy enough for free riding and d) tool less adjust on the heelcups/highbacks.  The footbed thing may catch you off guard but I’ve never been a fan of footbeds at least not the big flat insert type and until last years Raidens I have actually taken them out of the bindings I used. Just a personal thing I guess.  The TT30’s are the mid flex binding in the Flux line with two softer bindings below it and a couple stiffer ones above it although they are still billed as a rail/park binding. I liked these things right out of the box, great flex, super comfy (but not super puffy) straps. They have a rather unique ratcheting system where the ratchet and the locking mechanism are two separate pieces which is pretty interesting and seems to keep a bit of torque off of the locking mechanism which basically translates into these dont slip loose when you are riding, no stopping to retighten your bindings half way down the hill. Another interesting thing about the locking mechanism is that it has two teeth on each end that lock into the ladder as opposed to the traditional single flat piece. I like this because it also helps prevent slippage and that situation where you end up with one side of your ladder “stripped out”.  Finally I thought it was a nice touch for Flux to include within the box and extra ankle and toe ladder .. sweet. There are two things I dont like about the TT30 but they would not prevent me from buying them again. First off is the rather extravagant plastic guides along both the ankle and toe strap that keep the ladders snug against the straps. At first I thought these were just a bit gadgety but once I had my ladder not go in the guides and found it super hard to unstrap it. I guess they help keeping the ladders at the proper angle to strap in/out.  Second thing, and this does drive me nuts, is the tool free adjust on the binding straps. They may be tool free but they are hardly on hill friendly. First they are the kind where you pop up the plastic piece and use it to unscrew the hardware holding the strap in place. Then you have to move it and line up the hole  you want to use for the hardware as well as two tabs on each end to help lock it in place all the while trying to keep it all aligned and trying to not drop the screw in the snow. In this day and age where almost every binding company has a quick adjust where you just pop a tab and slide the strap this Flux tool-less adjust is kind of a fail, but one I’ve learned to deal with. After all once you get it dialed in you shouldn’t have to mess with it too often anyways.  If you like a more old school type binding with lower, flat highbacks you should give the Flux a look. The TT30 is a mid flex park style binding in the middle range of their flex scale. While it has a few short comings all in all it is a great performer on the hill and I guess that really matters the most.  PS If your kind of into these you may want to grab some this year as next seasons TT30, as well as other Flux bindings, have been upgraded to include a footbed.

 

Check them out at Fluxbindings.com

Dinosaurs Will Die 2013

If you remember my post from last season Dinosaurs Will Die  and specifically Sean Genovese really helped my mental state at last years SIA. He and I have kept in touch through the standard press releases but also a few other emails and Fakebook posts as well. I ran into this years SIA anxious to see their line of product however when I went to their booth from last year…..

….nobody was there. Then I found out that this year DWD actually had a booth INSIDE SIA. I’m super stoked to see the company grow especially since Geno and crew are keeping their shit super legit. It’s cool to be on the outside but it’s easier to take on the machine and destroy it from the inside so I’m glad DWD made the move. Speaking of making moves DWD has been doing just that.. before SIA they had two big announcements one being that they were filming a team vid this season (with the help of Think Thank) and the other was that Chris Brewster was added to their am team. If you some how missed the Brewster  news peep the vid below….

So I went in to check out the new product and heres whats up….

The 2013 Maet (black) and Brat (blue)

This  is the Maet and the Brat. The Brat is still pretty straight forward from last year, soft and reverse camber. The only difference is that a 143 has been added to the line up making it available in two sizes the 43 and 147. The Maet has a few changes from last season. Its still a cambered board but it has a bit wider waist width and it has been softened up just a bit too. It comes in 152 155 and 158.

This is the Rat on the left and the Sean Genovese Pro Model on the right. The Rat is reverse camber but its been mellowed out just a bit to cut down on the slip factor. The Rat comes in a 151, 153, and 155. The Geno Pro Model is flat camber and comes in 151, 154(new size), and 157. The Geno is a bit stiffer than both the Rat and the Maet.

Geno detail

Rat detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we have the Kwon. The Kwon was skinnied up just a bit and the camber was lowered to make it a bit more playful. Its the stiffer brother to the Maet and comes in 153, 156(new size) and 159. Heres a pic….

The Kwon on the right

Thats it for the line up but the party didnt stop there for DWD.  Friday at the booth they premiered their own movie teaser (vid coming soon) as well as the new Think Thank Movie “Mind the Video Man” teaser. On top of  all of that they also announced the addition of Ben Bogart to their pro team. Heres a few pics of that event as well as the Think Thank teaser. It was pretty sick when they whipped out the Ben Bogart pro model.. he had no idea it was coming haha. Congrats to Bogart on the Pro status and the Pro Model… long time coming for a really under rated rider…. now stack that footy homie.

Mad crowds showed up for the teaser premieres...

Bens WTF! face

Bogart had no idea this was coming