It is no surprise when we hear our alignment mechanic mentioning the camber of the tires. The camber on your tire refers to the amount that the tire leans in or out from vertical. The camber effects handling and responsiveness of you’re your car when turning. This is also true for snowboards.
What is camber when it comes to snowboarding and what does it do? The first part of this question is easy to answer. Camber is the amount of space under the center of the snowboard when it is resting on a flat surface. What camber does is a little trickier to answer.
Camber is closely related to flex and these two aspects work together. There are two types of flex to consider torsional flex and longitudinal flex. As you undoubtedly guessed each factor effects the performance of your snowboard and indicates the best usage for it.
Torsional flex is a measurement of how flexible the snowboard is across its width. The greater the torsional flex the easier it is twist the snowboard. This flex makes it possible to make sharper turns.
Longitudinal flex is a measurement of the amount of flex in the snowboard from tip to tail. Longitudinal flex allows the snowboard to bend along its length. This flex allows the snowboard to contour itself to ramps and other obstacles.
The amount of camber, along with the amounts of flex, effects the force that your snowboard exerts on its contact points. The contact points of a snowboard vary depending upon the camber but are usually close to where the nose and tail begin. Less camber allows the snowboard to spin easier, which can be good for certain, freestyle moves, and a larger, springier camber allows for greater stability at higher speeds and in hard snow.
Knowing a little about the camber and how it works is important when shopping for a snowboard especially if it’s used. While a lower camber may be good for a freestyle board, it can also be a good indicator that a used snowboard is worn out. Since the control and stability of the snowboard is linked to the amount of flex and camber of the snowboard it stands to reason that a heavier person will require a stiffer snowboard with greater camber in order to maintain the optimal camber when riding.
Another term that you may hear, but has died out, is rocker. Rocker is the opposite of camber or could even be considered an extreme camber. With rocker it is possible to turn the snowboard upside down and have only the center, rocker, point touching the ground. This design was for riding in deep powder where a higher camber is needed in order to maintain control. However, over all improvements and demand for multipurpose snowboards has basically killed this idea.
Much like on a car, the camber and flex of your snowboard determines the stance of your snowboard. A lower camber and flex will allow you to spin more easily but will not be as stable at higher speeds or on hard packed snow. A larger camber and flex is suited for heavier riders and results in greater control and stability at higher speeds. Also, looking at the amount of camber when purchasing a used snowboard will help you to determine how much life is left in the snowboard.