I’ve ridden a fair number of snowboards over the years. They usually differed in predictable ways. Stiff ones rode better at speed, soft were more fun buttering around switch and riding slow. Some felt lively and snappy, others dead and damp. My current ride was getting beat, so I started looking around. I’d heard a lot about Lib Tech and Gnu’s “Magnatraction”, and more recently “Banana Technology”, and figured it couldn’t be a hoax if so many people were riding it. I’m a geek about this kind of stuff, so I figured I’d write a better review than I could find online. Plus it's probably a more positive contribution than continuing to rag on Patina in another forum.
Over the holidays a friend lent me a Lib Travis Rice 157 with Magnatraction. MTX as they call it is basically a wavy serrated edge on the board, so there are multiple points of contact along the rail. When I first saw it a couple years ago, I thought “That’s gotta feel catchy and sketchy”. I mounted the board and headed out on a day when the mountain was pretty scraped off. The T Rice itself was solid for a shorter deck. But the MTX was pretty impressive. It carved normal on softer snow, but when I got onto real hardpack, it held a rail like nothing I’d ever ridden. Sometimes on steeps I’ll spin out my tail edge, but this board had bomber edge hold. Thing is, I could still break it loose at will when just cruising around. I was sold on the Magnatraction, and figured I had to try the Banana tech.
I demoed a Lib Tech TRS 159 BTX from Wave Rave. It’s a pretty basic all-mountain directional twin shape with a medium flex. The MTX is combined with Banana Tech (BTX) which is reverse camber. So instead of the board being arched from tip to tail, it’s got rocker between your feet. The nose and tail are flat from the boots out. The idea is that you flatten the board against the snow when you stand on it for better edge pressure. Lay it on the floor and you can spin it like a propeller. I looked at that and thought “I’m gonna spin this out everywhere I go.”
First off, the BTX is a genuinely different ride. You really feel the board beneath your feet and between your bindings. Where I’d normally feel the power and control of a board at the end of the tail or nose as it flexed and loaded, here the edge pressure and control was coming from directly under my feet. The feeling was more like a skateboard. The nose and tail almost felt like they were up off the snow. I could lay the board on a rail like a euro hardbooter, but it would run straight over crud and flex into the troughs between bumps. I even took it on terrain I normally hate – hacked bumps on steeps – and it fit into all the nooks and crannies well. As for feeling like it would catch an edge, it was the exact opposite, I could smear it all over and never feel like a scorpion was coming. It does take a bit of getting used to when jumping, but I think it’ll be extra forgiving on landing spins. I didn’t hit so much as a fun box with it. I’ve since bought the same board, and rode it in powder over my knees last weekend. In the soft stuff, it rides somewhere between a regular board and a powder/tapered style board. The reverse camber floats really well and keeps the board up on top of the snow well. Once things are tracked, it runs over the chunder really well. The ride may not be for everyone, but if you’re thinking about throwing down for a new board, be sure to check one out to experience something really different. There are other reverse camber boards out there now and I’m sure more are on the way, but I think the MTX/BTX combo is what really makes these boards work.