It’s not surprising to hear a snowboarding newbie saying, “My snowboard is too stiff!” That’s a real problem because the stiffness of the snowboard has an impact on the overall riding experience as it’s what determines the maneuvers one can pull off. If you’re having the same problem, too, what can you do about it?
If your snowboard is too stiff, increase your riding frequency. This will help to break in the snowboard a bit more. You should also perform multiple hops from the nose to the tailboard before each ride. When both options fail, consider getting a new board with the right flex rating for you.
The rest of this article will cover all you need to do when dealing with a stiff snowboard in more detail. You’ll also learn about flexibility ratings, why they’re important, and how you can choose the right rating for you.
Why You Need a Snowboard That Isn’t Too Stiff
Stiff snowboards sound like a no-brainer as they absorb heavy landings a lot more easily compared to softer options. However, the stiffness should be within an acceptable limit for your riding style (more on that later).
If you choose a snowboard that’s too stiff for a specific riding style, you’ll struggle with initiating or completing maneuvers. Trying to force the situation will lead to falls and possible injuries.
What Do You Do if Your Snowboard Is Too Stiff?
If your snowboard is too stiff, you can bend the snowboard before each ride, increase your riding frequency, or choose a board with a different flex rating.
We’ll discuss each option further, so you’ll know what to do the next time you notice that your snowboard is too stiff.
Bend the Snowboard Before Each Ride
Your snowboard’s longitudinal flex may be the core of the stiffness. Bending it can ease the board up a bit and make it a little less stiff. To do this, follow the steps below:
- Attach your legs to the bindings.
- Then hop back and forth from the nose to the tail of the board.
- Complete a few hops, and you can loosen the board a bit.
However, you should only do this when you’re out on the snow to avoid scuffing up the board or unintentionally leaving wax on surfaces.
Increase Your Riding Frequency
Stretching your board’s longitudinal flex before each ride and riding on the board a bit more frequently is a combination that can make the board a bit less stiff. Increased riding frequency makes the board more flexible.
It has a longer and firmer board; it’s possible to achieve the same level of flexibility on a shorter board by just using yours a lot more frequently. You can start to see results after a week of using the board daily.
Choose a Board With a Different Flex Rating
A few factors come together to determine a snowboard’s flexibility. This includes your riding style, your weight, and skill level. If your board is too stiff and can’t be remedied by any of the hacks we’ve covered earlier, you’ve probably chosen a board with the wrong flex rating for you.
Consider getting a new board that matches you better by going for the right flex rating for your style. That’s the easiest way to ensure a pleasurable riding experience.
We’ll cover how to make this choice in the next part of this article.
Choosing a Snowboard With the Right Flex Rating
As I’ve mentioned above, your snowboard is too stiff because you’ve probably chosen a board with the wrong flex rating for your style. The flex rating describes the flexibility of your snowboard. There’s a wide variation across different boards because they’re all designed with various snowboarding demographics in mind.
To make the right choice, you must first understand flex ratings and how manufacturers arrive at their categorization for a board.
Understanding Flex Ratings
There are two main types of flex ratings in a snowboard, these are:
This refers to the snowboard’s flexibility across its length, nose to tail. It’s the main metric in focus when the discussion is about the flex of aboard. When you see a flex rating given by manufacturers, they’re talking about the longitudinal flex.
Longitudinal flex can also be continuous or progressive. If the board has progressive flex, it means that the flex you’ll get around the nose, center, and tail of the board will vary from one part to the other. Continuous flex means you have a consistent flex from the bindings down to the board’s tail.
The approach used will come down to who the manufacturer designed the board for. You’ll find more on this below.
This is the flex across the width, from one edge to the other. Most snowboarders don’t consider this flex when choosing aboard. Even if they wanted to, it would be a discretionary check because manufacturers don’t mention official torsional flex ratings for a board.
Some people have argued that this flex is important because sharper turns and spins will be easier to accomplish with soft torsional flex. If the torsional flex is stiffer, you’ll likely get an increased edge-hold. So, you can’t completely disregard this metric.
Common Flex Ratings and What They Mean
When looking at flex ratings, you should keep in mind that there’s no standardized scale for manufacturers to use. So, one manufacturer’s “very stiff flex” may be “stiff flex” for another brand.
This is the reality because it’s difficult to develop a generalized system due to the various minute details that go into making a snowboard. However, you’ll find flex ratings denoted by numbers on a 1-10 scale.
If you find a flex rating displayed from 1-10, this is what the numbers mean:
- 1-2: soft
- 3-4: medium-soft
- 5-6: medium
- 7-8: medium stiff
- 9-10: stiff
Some manufacturers may not use numbers and just rate their boards from soft to stiff. Others use numbers but in a slightly different arrangement compared to what we have above. So, you can find ratings where the numbers mean the following:
- 1-2: soft
- 3-5: medium
- 6-8: stiff
- 9-10: very stiff
The ratings mostly mean the same thing. So, your focus should be on understanding whether you need a soft, medium, stiff, or very stiff board and then look at manufacturer ratings with that in mind.
So, what’s the best way to decide on the right flex rating to go with?
How To Choose the Flex Rating for You
Knowing the right flex rating to work with is the surest way to reduce the risk of ending up with a snowboard that’s too stiff. All snowboards from flex rating 1-10 have their uses.
While you may be looking for ways to correct your snowboard’s stiffness, another snowboard enthusiast may love the stiffer flex because it suits their style better. So, you should choose your flex rating based on your predominant snowboarding style.
Snowboard Styles and the Best Flex Ratings
Below are some examples of snowboard styles and different flex ratings to go with for each one:
Freestyle or Park Riding
If you spend the bulk of your snowboarding time out in the park or on the streets, you should go with a soft or medium-soft flex rating board. This way, you can be sure of easier presses, jibs, and other ground maneuvers. You should go with boards rated 1-2 on a 1-10 scale if this is your style.
However, such boards won’t do well once you leave the park for more demanding terrains. If you want to make bigger jumps and enjoy a bit more flexibility with where you can use your board, you should aim for flex ratings around 3-6.
Lean towards the lower end of that scale if you intend to do more small jumps, jibbing, and buttering. If you’re more experienced, you can go with boards closer to a 6. It’ll allow you to maneuver the jump line better, ride the pipe, etc.
Keep in mind that the best boards for freestyle and park riding should have the same flex ratings across the length of the board. This allows you to take off, ride, and land on any part of the board easily.
If you qualify as a free-rider who loves riding the backcountry aggressively, carving, and riding at steep speeds, you should choose a stiffer flex instead of a soft variant. With a stiffer flex, you can enjoy greater stability and edge-hold, especially when you’re at full speed.
So, you should aim for flex ratings of between 7 and 10 here. The exact rating will come down to personal preferences and other things like weight. However, you need to ensure the flex in the nose is softer compared to the tail.
This is important because you need the softer nose to keep the board afloat in some situations and the stiffer tail comes in handy on carves and edge-holds. You may go a little below 7, but most riders in this category will choose a board with a flex rating between 7 and 10.
Riders in this category do a little bit of everything. If this describes you, you should choose a flex rating somewhere in the middle of the 1-10 scale. Typically, the best snowboards to use here have a flex rating of 4-7—except for beginner riders who may benefit more from using a softer flex.
Boards made for this category can be aggressive or a bit less powerful, depending on the manufacturer’s choices. Factors like sidecut and camber profile of the board often come into play here.
However, if you choose a board on the higher end of the recommended scale, you can generally expect more aggressiveness.
This post by Snowboarding Profiles goes into more detail on these snowboarding styles, covering all the differences between them.
Snowboarding Abilities and Body Weight
Your riding style isn’t the only determinant when choosing the flex rating for your board. You need to consider your snowboarding abilities and your body weight.
A snowboard with a softer flex is a lot easier to control and maneuver, especially at slow speeds. Mistakes don’t quite hurt as much with such boards, either. Softer flex boards make turn initiations a lot easier as well. This means that a softer flex is generally the better option to go with for beginners.
While complete beginners can start with the softest flex, beginner riders at an intermediate level or those that are a bit more daring can go with medium-soft flex of around 3-4 out of 10.
You can’t discount your body weight when choosing a flex rating. If you have lighter body weight, you’ll find it a bit more difficult to control stiffer boards. You’ll find yourself just following the board instead of controlling it. Similarly, a heavier body weight might end up cracking boards if the flex is too soft.
Most manufacturers attach a bodyweight recommendation to their boards alongside the flex rating. If you’re not sure a board is the right fit for your weight, check the details or ask the manufacturer. Where the weight recommendation isn’t readily accessible, you can use the rough guide below:
- Go for the higher end of the flex range for riding style if you’re on the heavier end of the scale or athletic.
- If you don’t qualify as athletic, you should stick with the lower end of the scale for your style.
If you use this rough guide, you’ll be right most of the time. Still, it’s best to stick with manufacturers that make the weight classification easy for everyone to see at a glance.
Snowboard Size in Relation to Height and Weight
Your snowboard might feel softer or stiffer than normal for your style and weight class if the size is under the recommended range for your height and weight. Generally, your snowboard should be 160+ cm (62.99+ in) in length if you weigh more than 170 lb. (77.11 kg) and 128-136 cm (50.39-53.54 in) if you weigh 110-120 lb. (49.90-54.43 kg).
Tips for Buying the Perfect Snowboard
To pick the right snowboard and avoid ending up with a board that’s too stiff. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Stick to Popular Brands
It’s easy to get dragged into the bargain hunt and end up with boards from an obscure brand. When that happens, you’ll end up with a board where the flex rating scale is very different from more common scales.
In some cases, you won’t find a flex rating at all. To avoid this, stick to popular brands. Some of the top names include:
- Rome SDS
- Lib Tech
You can read more about these brands in this post by The House.
Pay Attention to the Size Chart
Most manufacturers or retailers have a size chart, so make sure you’ve confirmed that you’re going with a snowboard that’s within your height and weight class. You’ve already seen a rough guide above, but the brands will have a more comprehensive chart that’ll hold your weight and height category.
Ask for a Warranty
You may check off all the right boxes and still end up with a snowboard that’s too stiff. In this situation, it’s best to make sure you have enough time to return the board and pick another one at little or no extra cost.
These boards cost up to $400 each. That’s not money you can afford to lose because of choosing the wrong flex rating.
If your snowboard is too stiff, you should confirm that you’ve chosen the right board for your style and weight class. Provided that you’ve made the right choice, focus on “breaking in” the board. A few rides with it should bring it to the flexibility levels you desire.
However, if you notice that you’ve chosen a board that’s a mismatch for your style and weight, there’s nothing else to do other than trying to get the board exchanged for a fitting piece. Remember, if you ride boards that are too stiff, you won’t be in control of your movement.