Snowboard rental lineups are offering increasingly diverse and progressive products. Suppliers and resorts recognize the importance of the beginner rental market, but more and more experienced riders are renting, as well.
In this market, many suppliers aim to provide products to match specific needs, but also offer a good option for everyone.
“As rental and demo continue to take on more importance in the marketplace, we recognize the demand for and need to move to newer technology and higher performing products,” says Nick Castagnoli, brand and communications manager for Rossignol.
Durability remains key. Head Snowboards incorporate the brand’s newest sidewall technology, Liquid Framewall. “This uses a PU (polyurethane) that is actually poured into the recessed space of the wood core to protect the sidewall of the snowboard from impact,” says Mike Poole, national rental sales and category manager for Head. Flow’s Rhythm line uses urethane-infused topsheets for durability.
Head, Libra (Women’s)
Cosmetics matter, too. A board that screams “renter” can annoy or make some folks feel less comfortable, and does little to instill confidence in the novice, let alone a more advanced rider.
Arbor Snowboards, a brand recognized for its artistry, is extending that to the rental line. “The System Rental (snowboard) is characterized by a clean, black look that will prolong the value of your fleet without sacrificing that classic Arbor styling,” says Matt Patti, Arbor Snowboards brand manager.
Ease of Use
And how does it all perform? Camber profiles and shapes for beginner and younger riders have an impact on fun. Flow calls its board technology True-Twin EZ-Rocker. Elan employs its Reverse Press Early Rise technology in beginner rental products along with a parabolic sidecut. Elan rental specialist Bill Irwin says the early-rise rocker makes for a shorter effective edge length, which enables beginners to make turns more easily and progress more quickly.
Elan, Explore 150
Never Summer also believes a combination of cambers is the best strategy. “Hybrid profiles like ours not only make it easier to learn how to snowboard, but they also make it easier to ride,” says product developer Vince Sanders. “The rocker between the feet is a pivot point to allow a board to easily go edge to edge, and the extended transition areas at the ends keep a young rider from catching an edge.”
Never Summer, Infinity
Brands are also aiming for ease of use with bindings. Elan is launching a new rear-entry binding, called Fastec. Irwin says it will be easier to use, perform well, and reduce wear and tear on boots. Flow’s Evolve rental bindings come in one-piece PowerStrap and two-strap versions, and are symmetrical, making it easy to store, set up and switch between goofy/regular. “With our Evolve Fusion and Evolve two-strap bindings, we cater to both the end user who prefers speed-entry and comfort, and the more traditional two-strap end-user,” says product manager Lucien Vink.
Flow, Evolve Fusion
In women’s-specific rental product, Head will present a new boot for 2016 with a double BOA closure system, with independent closures above and below the ankle. “We will also launch a ladies-specific snowboard, Libra. Libra snowboards have specific flex and torsional characteristics designed for ladies and employ the Head Liquid Framewall technology,” Poole says. “We feel that ladies-specific products are the most important trend in rental products.”
Suppliers continue to bolster youth products. The kids market has been a particular focus for Burton. For 2016-17 the company debuts the Handle Bar, which mounts onto Burton Kids’ boards. Kids can hold on to the bar for balance, but step off if need be.
Never Summer will offer its youth boards, the Yutes, down to 80 cm. Head Snowboards will offer a full kids snowboard package that includes boards sized from 70 to 110 cm, an XXS snowboard binding and a new junior snowboard boot, the 400 BOA/lace. This will be sized from 18.5 to 25.5 and reinforced in both the toe and heel.
With beginner programs increasingly focused on terrain-based teaching parks, Elan focuses on designs for kids and adults that are more flexible at slow speeds.
Rossignol, which has partnered with Snow Operating LLC and its Terrain Based Learning program, offers the only rental line with Magne-Traction technology. “Beginners will definitely find more stability and edge grip than with a traditional edge,” says Castagnoli, of the EXP Mag board, Rossi’s more progressive rental option.
Price Battles and Rental Challenges
Many suppliers continue to offer a low-price point fleet board, but some argue that a more expensive board can be a better value. “The best constructions and newer technology will cost slightly more, but the snowboard will last longer and ride better,” Irwin says.
Find the full SIA Snow Show Daily article in Day 1, page 50.