The Arbor Steepwater is the next step up in gnarlyness from it’s freeride brother the A-Frame. This is from the mind of Steve Klausson, the Owner of Wave Rave Snowboards and it offers up a very different ride from the A-Frame. Wave Rave use to sell the Setpwater directly at their shop but it wasn’t the pretty high quality feel board it is now that Arbor got their hands on it. First off this is a beast and it’s stiffer than the A-Frame. It also has a very shallow side cut that likes to go straight. It’s a powder/groomer bomber and one of the fastest boards we have ridden in a little while. Not much has changed over the years and this model is like most cars. They only make minor tweaks for a few years.
Conditions: Practically perfect Sierra snow
Riders: James Peter and Jimbo
Boots: Burton Ion, Burton SLX, Nike Kaiju,
Bindings: Burton Diode
Set Up: Set back, about 23″ wide 18 front and 0 back
On Snow Feel: So even though the A-Frame and Steepwater look a lot a like these days from a short distance you can see some differences when you look up close. This looks like there is almost no side cut depth going on here and it has a go straight go very fast kind of personality. It’s not gentle either. It’s mean and fast and I wouldn’t even recommend it to advanced riders. This is an expert only freeride board.
Powder: We had no powder but this will do very well. It’s about 1.7 inches back which makes it a little less surfy off the tail than the A-Frame’s massive 2″ set back. 1.7″ is still a lot and it has massive float for a true camber board.
Turn Initiation and Carving: So the Arbor Steepwater is a solid bit of work edge to edge and it feels like what the Jones Flagship would be if it was full camber. It’s not quick edge to edge like the A-Frame and it prefers to go straight instead of make turns. It’s still really fun on a carve but it does so with a bigger radius when you lean into it as far as you can.
Speed: Peter summed it up by calling it a Ferrari Tank and I can’t think of a better way to describe it. This is a chunder buster. When we went down Coronus (Very steep groomer run at Mammoth) the damp stability of the Steepwater was almost scary because you don’t feel that scared straightlining the whole run. It reminds me of the older stiffer Nidecker Platinum from the mid 2000’s. You don’t feel like you are going as fast as you are.
Uneven Terrain: While you can bomb at high speed through thick uneven Mammoth Powder it’s one of the last boards I want to be on when riding on a choppy, tracked bumpy end of a Saturday groomer. You pay a price for that much perfection at high speed. I’d actually be surprised if it did well in slower bumpy areas. This is a perfect condition kind of board.
Edge Hold: Borderline excellent and it grips well in most conditions you will want to ride in.
Flex: Very stiff when you compare it to most boards out there in 2014. Maybe in 2004 I would of called this Med/Stiff but now days it’s very stiff.
Jibbing: no fucking way
Jumps: Fine for a method off a cliff but that’s about it.
All in all the Steepwater is a really unique board that is only for a select group of riders. If you are one of those riders you will have shit’s and giggles but for most I would say go A-Frame.