AirBock 2015 snowboard collection Bomber Rock: AirBock All-mountain Freeride Snowboard The Bomber Rock bridges the gap between a pure freestyle board and an alpine-carving snowboard. The Bomber Rock with freeride snowboard shape performs well anywhere on the mountain, from groomed runs to backcountry. The Bomber Rock has a directional snowboard shape but can be ridden fakie, despite the directional snowboard shape. The tail is a little bit narrower and flatter than the tip of the snowboard. The stance is slightly offset toward the tail of the snowboard, making it also a great snowboard shape for powder floating. The Bomber Rock is poppier than flex and provides very good stability when cruising or taking fast turns in hard snow. The Bomber Rock is a very versatile all-mountain board, making it the best choice for beginners who are still exploring the different types of terrain and parks. You can enjoy catching air, off-piste, carving, even park and pipes, and basically all riding aspects with the Bomber Rock. Park Bite: AirBock Snowboard Freestyle/Park The Park Bite is the best choice for beginners and riders who want to push their limits in terrain parks. The Park Bite is light, short, and flexible, making it easier to turn, and has the best snowboard shape for beginners. The Park Bite is also shaped and tailored for powder, deep fluffy snow, and backcountry bumps and depths. The Park Bite has a wide waist and an even wider nose. The nose and tail have large rockered tips to keep the edges from sinking or catching. The soft flex of the Park Bite makes it easier to maneuver, more forgiving to ride, and is the best snowboard shape for parks. The Park Bite has a true twin snowboard shape, a centered stance with a tip and tail symmetrical in shape, making it perfect for both forward and backward (fakie) riding. The shape and design of the Park Bite are very responsive to the rider, making it also the best snowboard shape for jumps, tricks in terrain parks, and half pipes (e.g., grinding rails, riding fakie, jibbing boxes, doing big airs and spins, etc.). Crazy Horse: AirBock Carving, Alpine, and Race Board Carving with a snowboard is an art in itself and requires a lot of skills and a high experience level. The AirBock Crazy Horse is designed for the more experienced riders who are very familiar with basic skidding turns. Extreme carving techniques require extreme snowboards! We have been shaping, reshaping, and fine-tuning this model for six year; the result is an extreme snowboard that makes laying down linked turns much easier. At the same time, the Crazy Horse is still very versatile. The Crazy Horse allows the rider to practice to gradually rock up the edge higher to learn traversing both on toe-side and heel-side edges. Once you master this technique, you will be able to link carved turns and traversing without skidding. The Crazy Horse has a snowboard shape for speed. The Crazy Horse is narrower than our freeride and freestyle boards. The long narrow snappy snowboard shape is the perfect configuration for high-speed riding and clean carving. When topping the board on its edge, the sidecut of the Crazy Horse can be completely exploited at full power. Shifting your weight slightly forward or backward will give you a very good turning power on the edges. The board is extremely stiff, designed for extreme snowboard carving so you can hold the snowboard on its edge as it rails across the slope without skidding. The Crazy Horse offers a higher level of performance for extreme snowboard carving and is reserved for more advanced riders. The Crazy Horse has a deep sidecut, allowing you to tilt your board higher, resulting in sharper turns. The Crazy Horse has a one-directional design and is the best snowboard shape for carving. It’s great for cross-over and cross-under turns. The superior edge-holding power of Crazy Horse on hard snow and ice results in a and good stability for speed.
The AirBock snowboard shape camber assures an extremely stable ride and provides very good response on hard-packed snow and groomed slopes. The camber shape is sometimes also called regular camber or positive camber. Thanks to the camber shape, when the weight of the rider presses down on the snowboard, the nose and the tail of the snowboard are pressing more into the snow than the rest of the board. This extra pressure at both ends of the board provides continuous edge contact with the snow, resulting in superior control when coming out of turns and changing direction. Riding a snowboard with camber shape requires more force and precision to initiate turns. However, when you are an experienced rider, you will want nothing else; the superb precision and the power on hard-packed snow or ice give you ultimate feeling of control and speed. This shape is also fast, stable, and poppy at the same time; but be aware: every move you make is transferred directly to the edges of you board, resulting in immediate reaction of the board. Because of the ultimate riding control, most of the professional racers and very experienced park riders prefer the snowboard camber shape. The snowboard shape camber is our best choice for making the ultimate carving turns. This shape is more professional than fun.
The AirBock snowboard shape rocker is a concave-shaped design opposite to the camber design. It has a nose and tail sections that are upturned, which is increasing the ease of turn initiation. The rocker shape is also often called reverse snowboard camber or negative snowboard camber. The rocker shape is extremely forgiving and great for novice riders who start to learn snowboarding. When riding, it you will have a “surf-y” feel and has a tendency to push the edges up and away from the snow. This makes the board very easy to turn and spin, making it the perfect board shape for freestyle. Because of the upturn nose and tail, there is less chance of “catching” an edge but on the other hand a reduced hold on harder snow, making the rocker snowboard shape less recommended for high-speed mountain riding or freeriding. The snowboard rocker shape is our best choice for freestyle boards.
The Hybrid Camber has a camber in the center and a rocker shape somewhere after the bindings, the board is poppier than the flat/rocker and the flat camber but is a little less poppy than then the camber or hybrid rocker.
This is what we call a snowboard that has rocker in the center and then a camber bend at the tip and tail. The end result is the tip and tail are still off the ground, and it still has the same properties of rocker. It has a very loose feel, but because of the camber in the tip and tail, you can make turns that have some of the characteristics of a camber board. It’s generally as poppy as a camber board.
The AirBock snowboard base flat is a design with no bend in the board from nose to tail. This snowboard bottom shape is also called flat camber or no camber. The snowboard shape Flat makes easy transitions, and the edges touch the snow along their full length but with less downward force than the camber shape, so you will have more edge control than the rocker shape but less than the camber shape. The snowboard shape flat gives a stable feeling when jamming rails and boxes. The flat base also requires les force to ollie the board compared to a camber shape. The snowboard shape flat is our best choice for riding rails and boxes.
The AirBock snowboard base hybrid flat to rocker has a flat area in the middle ending just where the bindings are. Where the bindings start, the shape of the board changes into a rocker at the nose and at the tail. The advantage of the hybrid flat to rocker is that the board has a stable riding feeling between your boots but is less is catchy than complete flat, thanks to the rocker areas in the nose and the tail.
The directional snowboard shape from AirBock is the shape we use on all our all-mountain type of snowboards. These shapes are designed to be ridden in one direction, “the direction,” but still you can ride them switch too if you want to. This shape has the advantage you can take speed with it but also ride anything and anywhere on the mountain. The directional snowboard shape is designed more for the mountain riding than for park jibbing. If you spend more time in the park than on the mountain, you better go for the snowboard shape true twin or twinlike. The position of the boarder is set slightly toward the back of the board so the stance is a little bit set back. Thanks to the slight set-back position of the rider, you can take easier speed and make stable carves. The AirBock directional shape is slightly wider at the nose compared to the tail; this favors the turning abilities of the boards, making it easier to carve. The difference in width between the nose and the tail is not much, though for more extreme differences, we refer to our tapered shape. The directional is our best snowboard shape for beginners.
The snowboard shape tapered from AirBock is a directional shape but has a nose that is much wider than the tail. The tapered shape is specially designed to ride deep snow. Thanks to the extra wide nose, the nose will lift out of the snow, whereas the tail will sink down slightly, giving you the right angle to plow through powder pow. Tapered snowboard shapes are not designed to ride switch, so if your mission is to break a leg or two, go switch with a tampered shape. Every rider has his own expectations and wishes when it comes to deep-snow explorations, so the extra width of the nose highly depends on how “deep undercover” you want to go and also depends on your own weight. Tapered is the best snowboard shape for powder, but because of the rider’s specific expectations of this shape, AirBock makes the tapered snowboard shapes only for the custom-made snowboard range.
The AirBock snowboard shape true twin is completely symmetrical in construction. The nose and tail of the snowboard are shaped identically, and the stance is centered directly in the middle of the boards. The snowboard shape twintip is the best choice for freestyle pipe and park riding. The nose tip and the tail tip are 100% identical regarding shape and flex so you can ride them directional or switch—it’s the same. The snowboard will perform exactly the same when riding regular or when riding goofy. The true twin shape is the best snowboard shape for freestyle.
The AirBock snowboard shape directional twin looks like a true twin shape, but is faster in the forward direction compared to riding it switch. The nose is slightly higher than the tail, which makes it easier to ride through the pow. The stance is slightly set back, so the nose section is a little bit longer then the tail section; however, without measuring it, you will not see it. The tails is also heavier reinforced compared to the nose, giving it more pop during a landing. The nose is slightly softer to make it more floppy for run-ins. The snowboard shape directional twin is also sometimes called twinish, twinlike, or “twin-ish.” The directional twin is the best all-round snowboard shape used for all-mountain, backcountry, parks, and moderate deep snow.
The snowboard length is one of the main contributors to the stability of the snowboard. The more experienced, faster, and aggressive riders may prefer a slightly longer snowboard that is more stable at higher speeds and deeper snow. Because of the larger surface area, the longer boards tend to float also better in powpow. For our snowboard catapult, we recommend to go more for the “short range.” Our rule of thumb: when you stand a board on its tail, the nose of the snowboard should reach somewhere between your nose and your chin. For beginners or park riders, choose your board length more toward the height of your chin or even slightly below. More experienced riders or racers, choose your board length more toward the height of your nose or even slightly above. The AirBock snowboards range in length from 135 cm to 170 cm.
Regular: normal wide boards Wide: Extra-wide versions
The sidecut from our snowboard shape describes the curve of the snowboard’s edge as seen from the top. To better understand the effect of the sidecut radius, we first need to explain what the effective edge of a snowboard is and what the touch points or transition zones are.
The effective edge of a snowboard is the edge section between the two touching points that bitts in the snow or ice when you are riding down the mountain. At AirBock we define the effective snowboard edge both in centimeters and also as a percentage of the total length of the snowboard. This length in centimeters is easy to compare other snowboards. The percentage gives you an indication of the radial cut of the board. A snowboard with a longer effective edge will give you more stability at higher speeds. This is more important for our carving boards than for the freestyle boards. When you are carving, the more edge contact you have, the less weight per cm is put on the snow; the faster the board will ride. This gives you better control at high-speed turns without the board starting to slide away. A longer effective edge will also have more grip on icy slopes because there is more “edge” touching the ice. A snowboard with a shorter effective edge is more playful, so you it will be easier to start a turn or a spin. Therefore, we have designed our freestyle boards with a relatively shorter effective edge compared to the race and freeride boards.
The area where the sidecut changes into the nose or tail shape is the touch point or also called the transition zone. This area is also influencing the easiness to turn your board in the turns. We have discovered that a smaller radius results in a more aggressive transition zone whereas a lager radius is easier to initiate the turn.
The different sidecut designs are important for the riders who start to learn to snowboard and the advanced snowboarders. The choice of the sidecut comes with the choice of the snowboard:
The AirBock multiradial design is developed to have a better grip on icy slopes, but is still easy to set in the turn. The edge and carves of the progressive sidecut follow a more consistent arc and result in smaller turns. Also the tail will release more easily, which is a bonus in powpow. The AirBock progressive sidecut makes it easier for the snowboarders to actively adjust the shape and size of their turns while carving or turning. With the progressive sidecut, the more experienced snowboarders can change their turn radius by changing the edge angle and changing the pressure from the tip to the tail of the board. Blending into a more progressive zone at the rear contact point the AirBock progressive sidecut provides the snowboard riders the highest level of control during the three major stages of a turn:
The radial sidecut is defined by a number referring to the radius of the imaginary sidecut circle. Deep radial sidecut: sidecut radius ranging from 10 to 14 meters Shallow radial sidecut: sidecut radius ranging from 14 to 16 meters The radial sidecut allows the riders a quick-turn initiation and easy tail release, so this sidecut is the best choice for all-round conditions. With the single radial sidecut, the rider goes through the three major stages of the turn on the same radius.
A radial sidecut in the middle gradually blends into a tapered tail. Due to the tampered tail design, the tail of the board is narrower than the nose of the board, giving the nose a bit more natural uplift and float in deep snow whereas the tail sinks a little bit deeper in the powder. The tapered tail design gives the snowboard a “surf” feeling when riding deep snow and makes it also easier to initiate the turns in deep snow.
The snowboard flex of a snowboard is defined by AirBock by two scores: the longitudinal flex and the torsional flex.
We define the longitudinal flex with a score from 1 to 10 whereas 1 is the most flexible snowboard (longitudinal flex) and 10 is the less flexible snowboard (longitudinal snap). Longitudinal flex Longitudinal snap 1 10 The AirBock longitudinal flex is measured by measuring the force required to lift the tip or the tail of the snowboard 25° up while the board is being pressed down at the stance. The required force (in Newton) is then scaled to a score between 1 and 10 for all our snowboards. The flex determines the liveliness of the board; the less flex a snowboard has, the more snap it has, and the more it will be “alive” and reactive to your weight changes. The less snap a board has, the less “alive” or floppier it will feel. The longitudinal flex is the longitudinal bending ability over the total length of the board. The more flexible or softer a board is, the easier it is to initiate a turn. A stiffer or less flexible board (more snap) will require more skills to initiate the turn. The snappier board, however, will stay better in track and will also recover faster after the turn. A snowboard with more snap will recover also faster after an off-balance landing, so all professional big-air snowboarders use a board with more snap (aka less flex) because a snappy board holds their weight better over the tip or the tail. A snowboard with more snap will also improve the ability to ollie or to pop your tail or your nose. The glass-, carbon-, and basalt-fiber reinforcement layers in the snowboard determine whether a snowboard is snappy or flexi. Here you can find our different reinforcement and sandwich structures:
We define the torsional flex with a score from 1 to 10 whereas 1 is the most flexible snowboard (torsional flex) and 10 is the less flexible snowboard (torsional snap). Torsional flex Torsional snap 1 10 The AirBock torsional flex is measured by first clamping the nose of the board and then turning the tail 15° clockwise. The required force (in Newton) is then scaled to a score between 1 and 10 for all our snowboards. The torsional flex determines the ability of a snowboard to hold an edge through a carve. A snowboard with a high torsional snap will have good edge grip when making a carved turn. A snowboard with a low torsional flex will be more forgiving, more playful and easy to turn, but will be more unstable at high carving speeds. The low torsional flex is better for freestyle, the high torsional flex = torsional snap is better for freeride and high-speed carving.
The core of the snowboard is the main central structure that is determining a lot of the characteristics of the board, the heart and soul of the board, the base structure for everything else that comes on top of it. All our snowboard cores are engineered with the final purpose of the snowboard in mind, be it freestyle, freeride, or race.
Wood is by far the best choice for the snowboard core construction. There is no other material that is so well balanced regarding dampening and flex properties. The choice for wood gives us ultra-strong, uber-responsive, yet lightweight snowboard core structures. Therefore, each AirBock snowboard starts with a tip-to-tail, rail-to-rail wood core, allowing for uniform flex, extreme high performance, and high return of energy. The choices for the different wood types and wood combinations are a trade-off for a weight-to-performance-to-power ratio.
Aluminium honeycomb is light-weight and strong, however is costly and does not have good damping capabilities. Foam is not used as the key material, as boards lose their camber easily and are not high-performing. Aluminium honeycomb is light-weight and strong, however is costly and does not have good damping capabilities. Foam is not used as the key material, as boards lose their camber easily and are not high-performing. Aluminium honeycomb is light-weight and strong, however is costly and does not have good damping capabilities. Foam is not used as the key material, as boards lose their camber easily and are not high-performing.
The aluminum core material we tested is actually a honeycomb structure and is very light and strong. The problem we faced with the aluminum snowboard honeycomb was that the board was too stiff. Every shock wave was translated through the entire snowboard without damping. This give a very unpleasant riding feeling. Another disadvantage we found on our bend test machine was that once you bend the laminate with a honeycomb over its “point of no return,” it is completely destroyed. Perhaps there might be areas from the snowboard we could replace with aluminum honeycomb in the future—further investigation needs to be done in that matter—but for the moment, we are convinced that a complete aluminum snowboard core is not the right way.
We have quickly abandoned our experiments with foam cores; there are several disadvantages compared to snowboard wood core materials. The major one we have encountered was that all foams tend to lose their shape after a while; some keep it longer than others, but they all lose it eventually. So forget the idea of making a good rocker or camber board from a foam core; it will be dead flat after a couple of months. Another major issue we have found was that snowboard foam cores work like a resonator. When you “snap” them, they keep on moving up and down, so the vibration damping compared to wood is far worse.
The core of our snowboards is made by vertically laminating strips of wood together. This vertical lamination technique gives superior properties compared to the horizontal laminating technique mostly used to make skate boards. By vertically laminating the strips together, the surface of the strips stands up vertically, and wood grains run lengthwise along the snowboard wood core. We take pride to verify and check that every single strip is free of knots or irregularities. Every irregularity, which would be interrupting the grain of the wood structure, could have an effect on the pop or liveliness of the snowboard. We also take extreme care only to use full lengths of the strips, so we don’t have any finger joints in our wood strips. The horizontal laminating technique provides rigidity and strength in the longitudinal direction of the snowboard core construction but very little in the transversal direction. For the transversal strength and the torsional support, we are using several layers of glass fibers. A second technique we are using during the manufacturing of the snowboard core is symmetrical core lamination. Core is mirrored about the longitudinal axis (highlighted in red). In this technique, wood from the same batch is used at the same distance from the snowboard longitudinal center, resulting in a symmetrical core. The symmetrical core structure ensures a consistent flex and density around the vertical axes.
The AirBock snowboard cores are constructed with the highest-quality poplar and beech woods. Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) has a medium to fine grain texture and consists of long fibers, which are very straight. Poplar has medium density with good bending and shock resistance. The stiffness, compression, and hardness are moderate; so we don’t use poplar at the edges or at the location of the stance. Poplar has an average weight of 449 kg/m³, the modulus of elasticity is 10,89 Mpa, and the hardness is 2402 N. Beech wood (Fagus grandifolia) is also straight grained with a close-uniform grain texture. Beech wood is harder but also heavier than poplar. The stiffness, compression, shock resistance, and hardness are very good and better than poplar. Beech has an average weight of 721 kg/m³, the modulus of elasticity is 11,85 Mpa, and the hardness is 5782 N.
Beech gives us better hardness properties (5782 N compared to 2402 N), but the weight is also about 60% more than poplar. The AirBock snowboard wood core is made of a well-balanced mixture of approximately 20 vertical strips of poplar, being the softwood, and beech being the hardwood. The ration height/width (cross-section) of the strips is also extremely important and is chosen based on our experience and data gathered. This ratio—or, in other words, the width of the strips—determines the torsional strength of the strips and as a result also the torsional strength of the snowboard base. The smaller the strips are, the more torsional strength they have; but it also makes the snowboard base structure heavier because you are using more glue. So the secret optimum weight/torsional strength lies in the cross-section of the strips. Poplar is the best choice to use as a base core material because of its good weight/bending resistance ratio and very good vibration-absorbing characteristics. The long fibers of the poplar transmit high-frequency vibrations along the board’s length; these vibrations are improving the gliding properties of the snowboard because they reduce the suction between the base and the snow.
The choice for beech is primarily to have a denser, harder wood for the rails and underneath the binding. The beech would at the rails give the snowboard also better holding characteristics when carving and eliminate chatter at high speeds. The hardwood also creates more power to ollie and gives a better control to the snowboard when landing. The hardwood underneath the bindings allows a better energy transfer and less risk for the inserts to get loose. The combination of poplar and beech is a proven snowboard core technology and gives the best performances and liveliness to the snowboard.
Once the wood strips are glued together and are fully cured, we start the shaping process. For the shaping, we are using state-of-the-art CNC machines. The CNC technology is changing rapidly, and we push ourselves to stay on top of best knowledge to stay ahead of our competitors. The CNC technology today goes beyond fast processing. For the snowboard wood core construction, we are using three state-of-the-art technologies to improve the surface aspect of the finished snowboard core:
This technology allows us to cut smoother lines in the wood core. Nurbs interpolation is a technique to interpolate our cutting lines along successive curves instead of dividing curves into short straight lines. The result is smoother, more elegant cutting line, which is also requiring less sanding.
This technique allows us to have a better position control of the cutting head compared to linear and exponential acceleration curves. Snowboard wood core materials require delicate handling and cutting, so this technique gives us the best finishing result.
This is a widely used technique for CNC machining; nevertheless, there are many performance differences, hence many different finishing results. The number of look-ahead blocks depends on the snowboard wood core thickness and the shape. All these techniques we are using improve the surface finishing and result in the end in a better snowboard core. After the CNC molding, we have what we call a profiled snowboard core, ready for the next process.
All of AirBock’s snowboard wood cores are made with wood that comes from sustainable forests. A sustainable forest is a forest where the trees that are felled are replaced with seedlings that will eventually grow to mature trees. A well-managed sustainable forest contains trees of all ages; as the trees mature, they are felled and used as raw material for snowboard manufacturing. Trees that are gone are replaced with seedlings; in this way, the forest is constantly renewed, and the sustainable forest continues to exist, providing natural materials for all of us.
For a better understanding of the different snowboard base materials, AirBock is using a few words on the raw materials that are used to manufacture the different snowboard base types:
UHDPE, or ultra-high-density polyethylene (also called ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) (UHMWPE), is synthesized from ethylene, which is a monomer. Several thousands of these monomers are bonded together based on a catalyst such as Ziegler-Natta catalyst, resulting in UHDPE molecules of 100,000 to 250,000 monomer units per molecule. Ultra-high-density polyethylene is made up of extremely long chains of polyethylene with a molecular mass between 2 and 6 million. The chains are all aligned in the same direction. It derives its strength largely from the length of each individual molecule or chain. The binding forces between the atoms of UHDPE, also called Van der Waals bonds, are relatively weak; but because the molecules are very long, there are a lot of bonds between the molecules. So the whole of the intermolecular strength is very high. The high intermolecular forces add up to the ability to take larger sheer forces from molecule to molecule. For example, if we would compare UHDPE to Kevlar that derives its strength from very strong bonds between short molecules. UHDPE is a thermoplastic and a member of polyolefin group. The UHDPE’s main chain has a lot of little side chains or branches, imparting greater intermolecular forces resulting in higher mechanical properties than low-density polyethylene or LDPE. UHDPE has a very high strength-to-density ratio, which makes it extremely suitable to make snowboard base layers. UHDPE is also a very tough material with a very high impact strength, which is good news for the riders that may go into collision with the occasional rock they might find on their path.  The most important property for snowboard base manufacturing is the coefficient of friction. UHDPE has a very low coefficient of friction; it is much lower than that of polyamide and polypropylene and nearly as low as polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE (Teflon). Since 2009 we have been searching for the fastest snowboard base material. The truth is that there is no straightforward solution. The choice of the best snowboard base material is a trade-off between speed and comfort of use, and as always, there is a price tag for the best.
To help you make up your mind which one to choose, you should be able to answer the following question: Snowboard base extruded vs. sintered? Snowboard base layers generally com in two types: extruded and sintered. The extruded snowboard base material is in general cheaper than the sintered snowboard base material, but will also hold less wax and will also be less abrasion resistant. So in general all extruded bases will be somewhat slower than the sintered versions. The advantage they have, however, is that they need less waxing. P-tex, Isospeed, and Durasurf are the three most important brands for snowboard bases; but they come in many varieties.
Our extruded P-tex is a low-maintenance, user-friendly snowboard base that performs well without constant waxing. The extruded base is the easiest to maintain due to the structure of the low molecular weight polyethylene. The extruded P-tex is the best choice for riders who don’t want to lose time on hot waxing but have assumed fun instead. Another advantage of extruded P-tex is that snowboard base repair is easy. The extruded P-tex has also a better clarity and see-through properties, giving a better result for our snowboard base designs. Extruded P-tex is a low molecular weight polyethylene, which is extruded at 176 degrees. The extruded P-tex we are using has also a very good clarity, better than the sintered P-tex. With the die-cut technology combined with silk screen designs we can realize some stunning 3D snowboard base graphics.
The extrusion process is very similar to plastic pipe extrusion process to make UHDE pipes, though it differs in that flat sheets are extruded instead of pipes. A sheet extrusion line basically consists of three to four main parts: a feeding unit, the extruder, the filter pack, the dye, and the cooling installation. The snowboard base material or polyethylene is mixed with several additives such as colorants, UV inhibitors, etc., and fed into a feed throat that feeds the extruder screw. The extruder is a rotating screw called a screw of Archimedes. That forces the polyethylene forward into the barrel. The extruder has several heating zones starting with lower temperatures and is gradually increasing to the melting temperature of the polyethylene. The polyethylene is heated gradually to avoid overheating, which would degrade the polymer and result in a lower quality. The risk of manufacturing snowboard base types with lower-quality UHDPE is that the snowboard base will wear faster or in extreme cases might even cause snowboard base delamination. We therefore take extreme care to control regularly the quality of our extruded snowboard bases. When the melted polyethylene comes out of the extruder, it is forced to a series of filters, or screens. This is called the filter pack. The quality and choice of type of the filter pack is extremely important for the quality of the extruded sheet. The filter pack has two main functions: 1) It removed all the contaminants in the polyethylene melt. Contaminations could occur when the UHDPE is heated above its melting temperature and is degraded. 2) The second and even more important function of the filter packs to make high-quality snowboard base finishing is that it changes the memory of the polyethylene melt from rotational to longitudinal. The more screens that are used in the filter pack and the finer the screens are, the better the molecules are oriented in the same direction, creating a smoother, more slippery surface. For our AirBock high-pressure extruded P-tex, we are using extremely fine filter packs (see below). After being pushed through the filter pack, the melt is pushed through a sheet die. The “gap” of the die controls the thickness of the final snowboard base. After passing through the die, the snowboard base has its final shape and only needs to be cooled down. The cooling is done with a set of cooling drums. These drums are filled with ice water, cooling the snowboard base layer down to about 25° Celsius.
The AirBock high-pressure extruded P-tex is a special extruded snowboard base layer that is denser and by consequence more slippery than standard extrusion HDPE. The snowboard base material is harder and can better hold up to the abrasion of frozen snow crystals, making it faster than the standard-extruded HDPE. The high-pressure extruded P-tex has the highest snowboard base density and a higher molecular weight than the standard-extruded HDPE, making it denser and more impact resistant due to the higher pressure and manufacturing temperatures, the snowboard base surface hardness levels nearly the hardness of most sintered bases. The production process of high-pressure polyethylene extrusion is similar to the standard HDPE process. The main difference is the very fine filter packs that increase the pressure during the extrusion process. Thanks to the fine filter packs, the polymer chains attain a greater parallel orientation up to a level of 96%; also, the crystallinity is increased from 34% up to 74%. High-pressure extruded base material will provide excellent performance.
The AirBock sintered snowboard base is produced from UHDPE with built-in pores to easily absorb wax. To avoid a dried-out snowboard base, regular waxing is a must. The minuscule spaces that are created between the polyethylene powder absorb the wax and allow for extended periods of high-speed racing as the wax gradually comes to the snowboard base surface while you shred. Our sintered base is one of the fastest available on the market; the abundant pores filled with dense wax make the P-tex more hydrophobic or waterproof, thus reducing the surface tension of water. Less surface tension means less “pull” of the water; in other words, the wax is avoiding the water (or melted snow) to hold the board, so the snowboard base moves faster over melted snow. Sintering, or atomic diffusion, is a production method to create solid forms from polyethylene powder. Sintered UHDPE P-tex is made by loading ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene powder into a mold that is heated at a temperature below the melting point and compressed to form a solid block of UHDPE. These blocks usually are 2m x 2m x 1m high and can weigh several tons. The sintering process can be compared with ice cubes that are slightly melting and sticking together in a matrix formation. The same is happening with the UHDPE powders; they don’t melt completely. They adhere or stick to each other under the high pressure and temperature without melting down completely. During the sintering process, the sintering temperature the UHDPE is not reaching the melting point. The atoms in the UHDPE powder diffuse across their boundaries, fusing together and creating a solid block. During a second production step, the UHDPE block is shaved to thin layers of about 1.5 to 2mm thick. These layers are the sintered snowboard base. Sintered P-tex can absorb more than three times more wax than extruded P-tex, giving it better gliding properties. Regularly waxed sintered snowboard bases are extremely fast and durable and are the first choice for professional snowboarders worldwide. Sintered P-tex is used in all our high-end snowboards.
The AirBock carbon-sintered UHDPE is probably the fastest snowboard base material out there. To understand the need for carbon to improve gliding properties, we first need to explain what happens below your board at breakneck speeds. There are basically two physical reactions that occur when speed riding a snowboard: 1) The snowboard base material is warming up due to the friction with the ice and the snow. The frictional heat that develops creates a small water film, creating a suction or drag below your board, hence reducing your speed. So the trick is to reduce the heat buildup. It helps reduce the water film that can otherwise build up and create suction and drag. 2) The snowboard base layer is electrically charged when rubbed at high speed with snow; this static electricity buildup attracts and holds dirt and/or impurities on the snowboard base, creating resistance and also drag. As you can see, both the “warming up” and the “electrostatically charging” reduce your speed; so to counter them, we add carbon. How does this work? AirBock carbon-sintered HDPE is a sintered P-tex with 18% graphite powder added to the polyethylene powder. Polyethylene is a very good electrical isolator; graphite, on the other hand, is a very good electrical and thermal conductor. The conductivity of graphite is far higher than the conductivity of polyethylene. The friction heat that is developed is dissipated along the snowboard base, thanks to the thermal and electrical conductivity of the graphite. The AirBock carbon-sintered HDPE has a reduced friction of about 15% compared to the standard sintered HDPE and even more than 20% reduced friction in warmer snow. The carbon-extruded UHDPE snowboard base from AirBock is extremely fast and also very robust but slightly less rigid than the standard-extruded UHDPE; hence, it requires more snowboard base maintenance. The carbon-extruded UHDPE is the best choice for high-speed carving!
There are two types of hydrocarbons that are crystallized from petroleum. The first ones are paraffin hydrocarbons also known as paraffin wax, and the second one are naphthenic hydrocarbons. When they are in a solid state, they are forming crystals. The crystals from paraffin hydrocarbons are called macro-crystalline wax, and the crystals from naphthenic hydrocarbons are called microcrystalline wax. The major ingredient for all snowboard base wax is microcrystalline wax. To improve the lubrication properties of the wax, solid lubricants are added. There are four common solid lubricants used as additive in snowboard waxes: graphite, molybdenum disulfide, boron nitride, and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
Graphite is a solid lubricant that is reducing the friction between the snowboard base layer and the snow or ice without the need of a liquid. Natural graphite is mainly mined in Canada, North Korea, Brazil, India, and China. After mining, the raw graphite is purified in specialized factories. The high-grade carbon qualities have a purity of 97% to 98%; the rest is mainly ash or sulfur (S).
Molybdenum disulfide or MoS2, also called molybdenum, is also a solid lubricant that can be used as a powder to mix with the wax. Molybdenum is chemically produced during the pre-sulfating of refining and petrochemical catalysts and falls under the REACH registration. Molybdenum can also be found in natural quarries, but the grade used for snowboard base wax is the chemically produced. 8.7.3 Boron Nitride Boron Nitride (BN) exists in several crystalline forms; the one that is used as a solid lubricant is the one with a hexagonal form, which is the closest mimic of carbon. BN is synthetically produced from boric acid. Boron nitride is also used in cosmetics to make your skin softer. Mixed with natural wax, it turns into a superior snowboard wax. 8.7.4 Polytetrafluoroethylene Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE is well-known as the non-stick layer in your cooking pans. PTFE is chemically inert, which makes it very difficult to bond it with other plastics or metals, so creating snowboard bases from PTFE is a long shot. It is also a lot softer than UHDPE, so a snowboard base from PTFE would be very sensitive for damages. PTFE belongs to the family of the fluorocarbons and has the lowest friction coefficient from all the solid additives that are used in snowboard waxes. Although PTFE is the slipperiest solid lubricant that can be added to snowboard base wax, it is no longer considered to be environmentally safe to use. It was originally believed that PTFE was inert and did not pose any environmental threats. Unfortunately new research from the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) indicates that PTFE is not as inert as we assumed and has, in fact, a toxic effect on humans, animals, and the ecosystem in general. To be on the safe side, AirBock is no longer using snowboard waxes that contain PTFE.
For snowboard base repair, it is essential to know which material your snowboard base is made of. As we have explained above, there are two major product groups: sintered and extruded. Important to know is that all repair materials you can buy are made of extrude HDPE or P-tex. The reason for that is very simple: when you heat the repair material to its melting point, it becomes a melt, similar to the melt of the extruded snowboard base. You can also use P-tex repair candles or ribbons to repair a sintered base. You will have then a small spot of the snowboard base texture, which is made of extruded HDPE, compared to the rest of your board being made of sintered UHDPE. Trust me, you won’t feel the difference. To get your snowboard base flat again, you can use a snowboard base grinder.
We are using a traditional half-cap construction to manufacture our snowboards. The half-cap construction is the proven standard for high-quality boards with good pressure transmission in the middle of the snowboard and good snap toward the tip and the tail. The half-cap construction basically consists of two parts: the midsection of the snowboard, where we have a sidewall construction, and the tip-and-tail section where we have a capped construction. The multi-axel fiberglass layers from the top and the bottom of the snowboard are touching each other at the edges and are encapsulating the wood core, thus sealing the edge. This construction at the tip and tail of our snowboards gives these areas more snap and more flexibility.
Our sidewalls are angled at 48°. The sidewalls in the midsection of the snowboard give the board an excellent power transfer and twist resistance. We have various angles ranging from 45° to vertical.
The material we are using for our sidewalls is ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). From all the materials we have tested for snowboard sidewall construction, ABS has by far the best properties. Where ABS stands out compared to other plastics is on the impact resistance and the toughness. Another advantage of ABS, which is often forgotten, is the impact resistance in not falling off at lower temperatures. So even at minus 30°, you still can go for bumpy rides on boxes and rails without the risk of ripping your sidewalls apart or snowboard edge delamination. The ABS sidewall is also acting as a protective wall (barrier) to protect the wood core from water infiltration and the risk of delamination. The ABS sidewalls also reduce the drag along the snow.
There is a lot to be said about our steel edges simply because they make up a big deal of the control and steering ability of a snowboard. So we have spent a lot of time and effort to come up with the best of the best for our snowboard edges. Before we go into detail about our steel edge construction, let’s start off with explaining some terminologies:
Logically, the heel edge is the edge of your snowboard your heels are pointing at. The heel edge is in general more abused than the toe edge because you use this side more for stopping and sliding down the slope.
The toe edge is the edge of your snowboard your toes are pointing at.
Steel tempering is done by heating steel edges in such a way that the excess harness is flattened out. This process makes the edges “tougher” and less “brittle.” The know-how is hidden in the exact controlling of time and temperature during the tempering process.
Stainless steel or Inox is a metal alloy containing a minimum of 10% chromium. The major advantage of stainless steel is that it is not rusting or corroding like normal carbon steel does. When the chromium is oxidizing, it is forming a layer of chromium oxide, which is preventing further oxygen to bond with the metal molecules, preventing the corrosion of the metal. The disadvantage of stainless steel, however, is that it is softer than carbon steel, so in order to use it for snowboard edges, you need to harden it.
All our snowboard steel edges are heat tempered at our manufacturer in Germany to increase the toughness of the edges. When the edges are hardened during the manufacturing process, they are too brittle and don’t have the structural integrity to be used for snowboard edges. Therefore, we have our snowboard edges tempered at low temperatures. Low tempering temperatures relieve the internal stress in the edges, reducing the brittles, but keep also a part of the hardness so the edges will bend elastically before breaking. Our steel edges are high-pressure sandblasted and primed before to ensure the best binding with the epoxy resins during the lamination. All AirBock stainless steel snowboard edges are case hardened at our manufacturer in Germany. The hardening process is based on heat treating the edges, followed by a rapid cool-down, causing the carbon structures to crystallize. This hardening process has the advantage that it is hardening the stainless steel without decreasing the corrosion and wear resistance of the stainless steel. Our stainless steel edges have a polygonal profile and are high-pressure sandblasted and primed before to ensure the best binding with the epoxy resins during the lamination.
The tuning of the edges on a snowboard makes a huge difference when cutting or carving into snow and ice. Well-tuned edges have less resistance and give you more edge control. All of AirBock’s edges have a standard Ice Rex tuning from the factory. – tremendous edge holding on ice and hard pack – smooth cutting into snow and ice – edge hold and float easier in the fresh pow The effective edge is tuned with the Ice Rex edge tuning for even greater edge hold and at the nose and tail are detuned up to the contact points. To give extra “bite” when carving and turning with our racing boards we can customize the edge tuning up to your wishes. Standard race boards come with the Ice Rex tuning. If you are an experienced carver we supply 88°.
Vibration damping strip (VDS) underneath the steel edges for shock absorption Although they are very thin and seem to be insignificant, the VDS strips used in our snowboards are extremely important to make high-quality snowboards with the utmost minimum risk of delamination. Initially vibration damping strips were developed by the aeronautical and aircraft industry to reduce the risk of delamination in advanced composites. Long extended surfaces areas like wings need to be able to bend under changing G-forces. This bending is causing sheer forces between the different materials of laminated layers (for example between aircraft aluminum and epoxy resin). To absorb these sheer forces, VDS strips have been developed. We are using exactly the same VDS strips developed by these industries in our snowboards. We are using a special VDS rubber sheet made of thin rubber foil with thickness of 0.15mm specially treated for bonding. Our VDS rubber strips are made of modified SBR, which is a nonpolar rubber. The rubber sheet is specially designed for our snowboards to increase the bonding between the steel edges and the epoxy resin and also to absorb the vibrations inside the snowboard, which might cause delamination. Index 1 SHAPES (AS SEEN FROM THE SIDE OF THE SNOWBOARD) 1.1 Snowboard Shape Camber 1.2 Snowboard Shape Rocker 1.3 Snowboard Shape Hybrid Camber 1.4 Snowboard Shape Hybrid Rocker 1.5 Snowboard Shape Flat 1.6 Snowboard Shape Hybrid Flat to Rocker 2 AIRBOCK SNOWBOARD SHAPES (AS SEEN FROM THE TOP) 2.1 The Snowboard Shape Directional 2.2 The Snowboard Shape Tapered 2.3 The snowboard Shape True Twin 2.4 The Snowboard Shape Directional Twin 3 SIZE OF THE SNOWBOARD (AS BEING THE LENGTH) 4 SIZE OF THE SNOWBOARD ( AS BEING THE WIDTH) 5 THE SIDECUT RADIUS OF OUR SNOWBOARDS 5.1 Snowboard Effective Edge 5.2 Touch-point Design or Transition Zones 5.3 The Choice of the Different Sidecuts 5.3.1 The AirBock Progressive Sidecut 5.3.2 Radial Sidecut or Single-radius Sidecut 5.3.3 Tapered Tail Design or Radial Taper 6 SNOWBOARD FLEX 6.1 The Longitudinal Flex 6.2 The Torsional Flex 7 AIRBOCK SNOWBOARD CORE MATERIALS, INTRODUCTION 7.1 Why AirBock Is Using Wood as a Snowboard Core Material 7.2 These Are the Alternatives for Wood We Have Tried and Tested but Were Declined to Use for Our Snowboard Core Construction 7.2.1 Aluminum Core Snowboard 7.2.2 Foam Core Snowboard 7.3 Wood Core Lamination 7.4 Wood Choices and Blend 7.5 Blend of Beech and Poplar 7.6 Saving Weight to Improve Floating 7.7 CNC Molding of the Snowboard Core 7.7.1 Nurbs Interpolation 7.7.2 Bell-shaped Acceleration Curves 7.7.3 Look-ahead 7.8 Sustainability 8 THE SNOWBOARD BASE MATERIAL 8.1 UHDPE or Ultra-high-density Polyethylene 8.2 Four Types of AirBock Snowboard Base Layers 8.2.1 Extruded P-tex 8.2.2 High-pressure extruded P-tex 8.2.3 Sintered P-tex 8.2.4 Carbon-infused sintered P-tex 8.3 Extruded HDPE 8.3.1 The Extrusion Process to Make Snowboard Base Layers 8.4 AIRBOCK HIGH-PRESSURE EXTRUSION 8.5 The AirBock-sintered UHDPE Snowboard Base 8.6 THE AIRBOCK CARBON-SINTERED UHDPE 8.7 Environmentally Safe Snowboard Base Wax 8.7.1 Graphite 8.7.2 Molybdenum 8.7.3 Boron Nitride 8.7.4 Polytetrafluoroethylene 8.8 Snowboard Base Repair 9 THE SIDEWALL CONSTRUCTION 9.1 Sidewall Angle 9.2 Sidewall Materials 10 AIRBOCK STEEL EDGES 10.1 Snowboard Heel Edge 10.2 Snowboard Toe Edge 10.3 Steel Tempering 10.4 Stainless steel 10.5 The AirBock Snowboard Metal Edges 10.6 Ice Rex Edge-tuning AirBock 10.7 The Vibration Damping Strip (VDS)