|Riding Style||All Mountain|
|Riding Level||Advanced - Expert|
|Fits Boot size (US)||8-10, 10-12|
|Manufactured in||USA by Mervin|
|Camber Profile||Mostly Camber|
|Stance||Setback over 20mm|
|Approx. Weight||Feels Normal|
|On Snow Feel|
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Gnu 4 2020 Review by The Good Ride
The Gnu 4 is a directional twin with a pretty aggressive camber profile that feels very much like an old school full camber board from the old days. So it won’t be an everyman’s board for all conditions like many of Forest Bailey’s past models was, but a more technical/aggressive rider might really enjoy this as their daily driver.
Ethics Statement: We don’t get paid by the manufacturer to write these reviews. We do make money from the “Where To Buy” links, but this is our best attempt at an honest and objective review from an average riders’ perspective.
How This Review Happened: We borrowed this for an extended demo.
Conditions: Pretty good spring conditions to pretty hard uneven and nasty spring conditions.
Riders: James (Size 9, 5’10” 185-195lbs)
Boots: Adidas Tactical ADV
Insoles: Sandsole Custom Insoles
Bindings: Union Atlas, Union Strata
Set-Up: 22” Wide. 18 front -9 back. Close to Reference. 22” Wide. 15 front -15 back. Close to centered.
Approximate Weight: Feels normal to a bit on the heavy side of normal.
Sizing: Felt like it was a size too big for my specs. The 156 would have felt a lot better and probably rode a little easier/less aggressive for my size 9’s and feels like a better all-around fit. The Gnu 4 seems like it can handle a heavier rider without losing too much of the board’s pop and powder. The 159 felt like it would have been better for me if I had size10’s instead of 9’s. The 159w seems like it could handle a size 11-12 pretty well and could handle a little extra weight too.
Flex/Buttering: Not a super easy board to butter and it took some work to get the tip/tail to bend. The flex of the board we had feels medium bordering on med/stiff and there is a pretty healthy bow of camber that snaps back pretty well after it’s flexed. If you are a strong rider you can utilize this pop well but I found myself working hard to get the camber to come to life. Felt like I was lightly tickling a toddler gorilla. He would move a bit but if I tried too hard it might smack me down. Sometimes the demo models I get can be stiffer but I think this might be close to the production mode’s flex.
On Snow Feel/Ability Level/Skidded Turns: This almost full camber from tip-tail with a passive bend in the middle felt like I was on a Gnu board from the early 2000’s before rocker and hybrid rocker hit the scene. There is a lot of consequence with this ride if you get off your game and it doesn’t lend to skidding a turn super easy. It one foots off the chair well and flat bases super easy but it also feels like it can catch an edge easy if you get off your game. Even though Gnu calls this a directional twin it feels more like it’s on the Freeride side of all-mountain with it’s longer set back on sidecut and board, stiffer flex and a tiny 1mm of taper.
Edge Hold: Very good grip and the mellow mag works well in hard to soft snow. There are better Mervin made boards for icy snow but it’s still pretty competent there.
Turn Initiation: The 159 felt kind of mediumish but if I was on the 156 it would feel med/fast edge to edge.
Turning Experience/Carving: This Gnu 4 felt pretty powerful in a carve and once the edge was set and I gave a good lean into the turn the 4 did its thing well. It had a powerful driving carve to it. Again that might just be that I was on a 159 that felt a little stiffer than what it might feel but it could also be the board’s personality in production. It has 1mm of taper but you don’t feel it at all and it has a very double ender feel that is almost like a directional twin. It really likes a centered stance with even weight but you can also lean back on the tail and get a more laid back turn going as well.
Powder: So the almost full camber from tip to tail doesn’t lend to easy directional float. When set all the way back at a 21.75″ stance width the Gnu 4 gives you a difference between nose and tail of 5.5 inches making it 2.25 inches back from the center of the board. So you get much more set back on board than the 1″ on sidecut. Even with the 1mm of taper and the decent set back on board the Gnu 4 just isn’t the kind of board I would want out in the powder. If you can rip powder with a camber board then you will not agree with our rating but if you like easy directional float then you will.
Speed: The Gnu 4 can bomb pretty well and it felt pretty damp. The base felt like it had good but not great glide but it didn’t come to me waxed and I only put on a little rub on wax to survive the spring conditions I was riding in.
Uneven Terrain: The stiffer somewhat damper flex of the Gnu 4 made it a snowboard I felt comfortable powering over the weird uneven spring conditions I rode it in. Also if I was on a 156 I think it would weave through bumps pretty well. I think it could easily hang all day on a messy, crowed Saturday ride.
Switch: Very easy switch and although it didn’t feel like his old asymmetrical Space Case it was more than competent.
Jumps: The Gnu 4 feels like it could go really big. Not like I could but it felt like it prefers a stronger rider than myself to get it to pop well and I was having a much easier time on boards like the Antigravity or Dynamo. Still, it approached and landed with ease and stability.
Jibbing: too much board for me to even want to try.
Pipe: If I had the 156 and a body transplant this would be a great choice for going big in the pipe. It drove hard from wall to wall and if you want to get out above the coping it will do so with ease.
So as you can see from the review above, The Gnu 4 isn’t for everyone but some will really like this technical somewhat directional ride.
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