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 Post subject: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:19 pm
Posts: 11
Loc: PNW to Tahoe, mostly middle OR
Boarding: 22yrs (+100 days each for the past 6)
6’ 190 w/ a surfy background :doobie:
Inbounds stuff: Custom X 164, Fish LTD 160, C60 binders (stiff), K2 T1 lace boots (stiff)
Split: just started last season
M.O.: I take big pride in the flow of my line and the strength of my carves

Started out on a NS Heritage 169 (factory split) and Voile plates but didn’t care for the overdamped, overweight, slow-base, nose-diving nature of it.

So I bit the bullet on a Freebird with Sparks Burners and kinda forgot I was on a splitboard by the 3rd turn of the 1st drop. Didn’t need to adapt/adjust to it at all – just ride and grin. Simple and sure seems a good formula when dropping BC lines, and S-rocker just makes physical sense to me on everything but hardpack. Ridden it on various surface-types and it’s been fine on everything I’d bother to skin up.

Been reading about how many of you here feel the need for longer boards but honestly have drawn some big lines on this board w/o any instability (same with the Fish LTD (best stick EVER MADE!)). The setback, taper, & 162 all combine so I don't just "slash" through tech-trees or narrow chutes like some of my longer board amigos have to, I can pay out honest S's. Board is a bit soft through the tail as compared w/ my other sticks as mostly noticed on hardpack groomers, but it hasn't let me down otherwise (easily stomped my biggest BC landing so far just last week). The fact it can elect to make tighter arcs seems to make sense in that I can get more smiles-per-hardearned-mile than a wide open only big mtn board.

Base doesn't seem to be as fast as my Custom X or Fish LTD, but will have my local stonegrinder do his magic - which seems to trump Burton's factory scintering - at the end of this season.

Don’t have enough experience with other splits to properly review the ski performance so I won’t. Seems to do fine, been keeping up with my skier amigos.

Sparks Burners: got em because they were reportedly the stiffest split binder. I strongly believe in “owning” my board via stiff boots/binders. My theory is that you can loosen up a stiff setup but can’t really stiffen up a sloppy one. The Burners are comfy and perform really well in both modes. My only complaint is that brushed aluminum surface FUCKING LOVES snow/ice.

Decided to take the time to make this review b/c I didn’t see more than one other Freebird review done here for some reason or another. :guinness:


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:02 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:56 pm
Posts: 40
Nice to see a review of the board! Thanks for taking the time!

The NS Heritage you didn't like--is that the same thing as the Summit, or different? I'd be interested to hear more about what you didn't like from that board if you have the time.

Thanks,
Matt


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:22 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:19 pm
Posts: 11
Not sure about the Summit model. To be fair to the NS, I rode it with the old Voile plates which aren't exactly the pinnacle of performance. Also this was the year model just before they made some claimed weight reductions. But I struggled to keep it from nosediving in deep snow - even after slamming the bindings all the way back. I drive my turns hard so a more back-footed person might not have as much a problem. Seems like the weight, extreme camber, and nose stiffness were designed around railing on hardpack, which it did ok. Also found the base to be notably slower than my other boards.


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:29 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Thanks for the review. As for why there's not many other reviews... well it seems like 90% of the folks here are Burton haters for one reason or another, so Burton doesn't tend to get much splitboard love. I personally like their boards.

Interesting... I'm totally with you on some things (Custom X, love stiff highbacks, currently running C60 highbacks on Spark baseplates), and totally opposite on others (tried to love the Fish, but just couldn't). Funny how that works. I just picked up a Spliff, which based on your comments on the Freebird, I bet you'd like.

Also interesting thoughts on the NS and diving in the snow. Years back, SanFrantastico had a horrible experience with his new NS on Tallac. It was deep pow, and he literally could not keep it from nose diving. In fact, he had to walk down the mountain! That trip was the genesis of the term "splitboot", and http://splitboot.com/. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:45 pm
Posts: 850
Location: hopefully not at work
I would love to try the Freebird, as I have typically found Burton products suitable for my taste. But no love for the big hooved rider :nononno: Maybe next year's will offer a wide option...

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Chris

165 Venture Divide, Spark Franken-Burner, LaSportiva Spantik
163W Jones Solution, Phantom Alphas, Dynafit TLT5
162 Furberg


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:52 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:13 am
Posts: 3
Thanks for the review.

I own a Barracuda 165 (S-rocker) and love it. Would love to have the
freebird in a similar size. 162 is still too small for bigger dudes.


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:19 pm
Posts: 11
jimw wrote:
Thanks for the review. As for why there's not many other reviews... well it seems like 90% of the folks here are Burton haters for one reason or another, so Burton doesn't tend to get much splitboard love. I personally like their boards.
lo
Interesting... I'm totally with you on some things (Custom X, love stiff highbacks, currently running C60 highbacks on Spark baseplates), and totally opposite on others (tried to love the Fish, but just couldn't). Funny how that works. I just picked up a Spliff, which based on your comments on the Freebird, I bet you'd like.

Also interesting thoughts on the NS and diving in the snow. Years back, SanFrantastico had a horrible experience with his new NS on Tallac. It was deep pow, and he literally could not keep it from nose diving. In fact, he had to walk down the mountain! That trip was the genesis of the term "splitboot", and http://splitboot.com/. :)


yeah, buck furton seems trendy especially in the bc arena. guess that's why burton feels the need to lowball their splitty pricing to try and win some hearts and minds. i don't personally see them as being any more/less evil than any other profit driven corpo and they do make some good sticks with deep enough pockets to fund proper r&d.

seems like the spliff (nug) would ride lots different than the uglybird (wtf is up with those graphics???), without the taper or camber and dropping 14cm, but i'd like to demo one someday. fish fits in with my forward surfy-stance wonderfully, but is def not for everyone.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:28 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:41 pm
Posts: 1620
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Q_Surf wrote:
seems like the spliff (nug) would ride lots different than the uglybird (wtf is up with those graphics???), without the taper or camber and dropping 14cm, but i'd like to demo one someday. fish fits in with my forward surfy-stance wonderfully, but is def not for everyone.

Yeah, regarding the Spliff you really gotta try one in the field, it doesn't ride anything like what the specs would suggest. At least that's what I found, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Also, it's not exactly the same as the nug. It's closest to a directional nug, but it also has camber (and lots of it, way more than my Jones Solution - only the nose is early rise), and does have a tiny bit of taper, I think about 5mm. The reference stance is only about 1/2" setback, and so far that's been working fine for me even in pretty deep pow.


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:16 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:34 pm
Posts: 165
Location: Boulder, CO
I upgraded to a 2011/12 162cm Freebird this season too. Before giving it praise I'll first give some background on my riding. Going on season #14 for snowboarding (was previously a 2 planker), and average 50-65 days of riding a year. Now 5'9" and 165lb's. I'm a powder snob and like to go fast in the open and also ride tight trees.

Previous experience with Burton was a 163cm Omen (same year model that Craig Kelly died), and loved it for a powder board. It held up well over 3.5 seasons of inbounds and backcountry use. Had a Malalo 162 for a short time that I logged my best biggest day ever on heli-skiing in AK with. The Malalo was a very surfy turning kind of board, but wasn't worth a crap (weird turning and lot's of chatter) in anything less than boot deep powder. The Malalo was a last minute replacement to my Never Summer 165cm Premier T5 that got crunched by American Airlines enroute to AK- the airline paid to have Never Summer repair it and it's still a great, albeit a bit heavy, big (for me) gun board for charging at warp speed. Once I got my T5 back, I took the Malolo back to REI and got my money back- just didn't love it like the NS T5.

Next was a 162cm S-Series split with the Voile interface, my first split board. I really liked it since it freed me from snowshoes, but it was a bit noodley and didn't float so well in deep pow if I had a heavy pack. It didn't stand a chance in comparison to my Never Summer 160cm Titan in hardpack conditions, or have near the float and fun of my Never Summer 161cm Premiere F1 (which I frigging LOVE) in powder conditions.

Finally, I came across a new Freeride 162cm this summer and picked it up for $400 (with just clips and hooks) from the local shop, but didn't build it up until christmas since we had such a lame start to the season here in CO. Build is standard Voile hardware with Spark Blaze bindings, G3 skins, and ridden with Burton Driver X boots (my second pair in 4 seasons- they work well for me), and I think it looks pretty sick. I wanted to get a Venture, but the price was right (less than half that for the Venture Storm). While I wanted to support the local team, buying a handmade board from Austria (the capital of the ski industry) was a bearable semi-responsible alternative. I've now put about 10 days on it, and am very happy with it. The board has more than enough float (as in way more than the cambered S-Series) in deep pow, but not the stuck in surf mode feel of the Malolo. Turns are nice at speed and in tight trees which I guess is attributable to the spoon/rockered nose, tapered profile, and shorter effective edge/more aggressive sidecut than the S-Series. It's a bit on the soft side, but seems to ride well enough on hardpack trail when exiting the backcountry (I'm not the type to ride a split inbounds especially when I have a quiver of lighter better performing solid boards- use the right tool for the right job). Besides the nice riding characteristics, it's a good bit lighter than my older setup which makes for easier and faster approaches with less fatigue.

Overall, I'm really happy with this board and overall setup, and if it's anything like my previous Burtons I'll hopefully get 3-4 years of good backcountry use out of it. Only negatives are the tolerances are not as tight as a Never Summer of Venture, the top and bottom clips come undone on chatter which is easily and cheaply fixed as seen in photo below (this seems like an endemic issue with most splitboards), and the top sheet shows scratches easily if you care (not an issue for myself, and should be expected on anything that's black with a gloss finish).

Pics:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rky_mtn_srfr/8490025160/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rky_mtn_srfr/8490025152/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rky_mtn_srfr/8490024998/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rky_mtn_srfr/8488927447/
(minor rant, why must it be so difficult to post photos in this forum?)


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 9:16 am
Posts: 504
Location: Salida, Flagstaff
Q_Surf wrote:
jimw wrote:
yeah, buck furton seems trendy especially in the bc arena. guess that's why burton feels the need to lowball their splitty pricing to try and win some hearts and minds. i don't personally see them as being any more/less evil than any other profit driven corpo and they do make some good sticks with deep enough pockets to fund proper r&d.


I think the lack of enthusiasm for Burton you see on this forum more often reflects facts than knee-jerk anti-Burton, anti-corporate bias. Burton ceded the BC market to smaller companies after CK passed; absent Craig, Burton left BC riders in the lurch. The equipment requirements of BC riding are markedly different than resort riding; Burton has chosen not to serve that market and those riders.

Despite Burton's unrivaled R&D capacity, all the quality BC innovation in the past decade owe to the small guys--from bindings and board interfaces to boots and board design. The smaller BC companies have also set a new standard for hand-made BC board construction and durability--a standard that Burton can't touch with Chinese or even Austrian mass-production. Since Burton hasn't given BC riders anything in the past decade, it should come as no surprise that enthusiasm and loyalty among many BC riders rests first with those brands that have--and with what has often a lot of hard work and great financial risk.

Burton's new collab with Spark and Voile on the new interface seems like the right approach to re-engaging--they're bringing useful new systems to market while working with the companies responsible for that innovation. Hopefully their new-found interest in the market serves to further rather than stifle the innovation that their absence has fostered.

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Craig Kelly is my co-pilot
195 Glissade Big Gun
187 Donek Custom Split
181 Venture Storm Solid and Split
173 Rossi Race DIY Swallowtail Split


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 5:19 pm
Posts: 11
jimw wrote:
...Yeah, regarding the Spliff you really gotta try one in the field, it doesn't ride anything like what the specs would suggest. At least that's what I found, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Also, it's not exactly the same as the nug. It's closest to a directional nug, but it also has camber (and lots of it, way more than my Jones Solution - only the nose is early rise), and does have a tiny bit of taper, I think about 5mm. The reference stance is only about 1/2" setback, and so far that's been working fine for me even in pretty deep pow.


like to ride 1 sometime.

taylor: "after CK passed; absent Craig, Burton left BC riders in the lurch...Hopefully their new-found interest in the market serves to further rather than stifle the innovation that their absence has fostered."

thanks for spelling out what's been their bc demise to date. but none of that evokes anything "anti" in me, especially when i can get a good-riding splitboard cheaper than the competition and from a company that's consistently treated me right re: warranty support.


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:01 pm
Posts: 26
what do you guys think about the freebird in a 162 for a 210 pound guy before gear?
i'm pretty sure it would descend no problem but wondering about the float and performance while touring....
thanks for input


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 Post subject: Re: Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:37 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:51 am
Posts: 6
i'm 6'2'' 185#, i've found a freebird 158cm used, is it to small for me ? i usually ride a burton bullet 154cm and a malolo 158cm

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Float down an untracked face. Snap off a heelside slash. Enter the white room. Blinded by snow. Stoked! Feel the flow. Breathe deep.Those who don’t know will never understand.


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