Forums Splitboards Freebird 162 / Sparks Burner
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  • #578085
    Q_Surf
    11 Posts

    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:

    #664611
    Cadderly
    42 Posts

    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

    #664612
    Q_Surf
    11 Posts

    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.

    #664613
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    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/. 🙂

    #664614
    96avs01
    875 Posts

    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…

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

    #664610
    vstadelm
    3 Posts

    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.

    #664615
    Q_Surf
    11 Posts

    @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.

    #664616
    jimw
    1421 Posts

    @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.

    #664617
    rky mtn srfr
    152 Posts

    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?)

    #664618
    Taylor
    796 Posts

    @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.

    @sun_rocket

    #664619
    Q_Surf
    11 Posts

    @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.

    #664620
    hambone
    27 Posts

    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

    #664621
    jimb
    5 Posts

    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

    #664622
    supermodel159
    62 Posts

    @jimb wrote:

    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

    Message jimw, he has a board that may fit you better:
    viewtopic.php?p=113424#p113424

    158 could work, but, that may be pushing the limits on how small you want to go.

    #664623
    trokedawg
    23 Posts

    +1 for the review, the freebird is now on my short list where as it used to not even be on the radar.

    I’ve been a consistent buyer of Ion’s (5 pairs) over the years as well as cartels and CO2’s and I’ve found that burton stands behind their products. Aside from the 2008 – 2009 Ions (green/white) which were a disgrace and felt like sorrells after 20 days, the ions have been awesome. If you’re patient you can always scoop a pair up in the spring for +/-50% off. I paid $150 for the green/white ones so I wasn’t that sore about it, if I had paid full price they would have gotten an earful from me and I’d like to think they would have made up for it one way or the other.

    You do have to give them props on the AK line, fit, form, function and lifetime warranty, tech outerwear with steez. I have a pair of 2l staggers that I love, they’re a little heavy and baggy for splitting but so well thought out and designed that I just can’t bring myself to drop $400 for 3l’s, arcteryx or any other more split ‘specific’/backcountry pant. I also have a couple buddies that had issues with some 2l and 3l pants after heavy, heavy use and burton has replaced them no questions asked. When I was in LCC I noticed AK pants seemed to be the choice of ‘bird and alta patrollers.

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