The flex of a snowboard is a non-quantifiable factor that determines the performance of your snowboard. While flex may not be quantifiable, it can certainly be felt and definitely determines the purpose of your snowboard.
The flex of your snowboard can’t be measured due to the number of variables that work together to create the total flex of a snowboard. Some of these factors include camber, contact points, longitudinal flex, torsional flex, snowboard construction and materials and even the rider’s weight. Each area of flex changes the snowboard’s ability to perform various tasks.
In the simplest of terms, the softer the flex of a snowboard the easier it is to bend and twist. Why would anyone want a snowboard that bends and twists easily? The answer to this question relies upon understanding how a snowboard reacts to a rider trying to turn or perform any other action.
Due to the laws of physics a snowboard naturally wants to go straight down a hill as fast as friction and gravity will allow it to. This is great if you are a skier and have poles to lift your skis off the snow and point them in a different direction. To turn a corner a snowboarder must twist the snowboard in the direction they would like to go and then lean into the curve hard enough to cause the effective edge to bite into the snow and ice thus effecting the direction change.
As you can imagine, the easier it is to flex a snowboard the easier it is to get it to bite into the snow and ice and thus turn faster. Sharp cornering is an exceptional ability depending upon when you are using it. If you are hurtling down a hill on a highly flexible snowboard and decide to bite hard into a corner you will end up launching yourself into the air and down the hill.
Sharp cornering is an ability that is only useful at relatively low speeds which is perfect for freestyle riders. While a freestyle rider is moving through a snow park and dizzying speeds they are not moving as fast as a Freddie snowboarder does. A softer flex snowboard, easier to flex, is essential to freestyle riders as it allows them to turn very sharply and their snowboards to contour to the terrain that they are riding.
On the other end of the scale is a Freddie snowboarder. This style of snowboarder will want a harder flex snowboard as it will be more stable at higher speeds and will ride higher in soft snow.
While your style of snowboarding may determine the general type of flex that you need, your personal preference will decide the rest. Some people enjoy a very soft snowboard while others prefer a medium flex snowboard for the same things. The only way to know for sure is to try out various snowboards to see what you like the best.
The trying of various snowboards may be easier than it sounds. Since snowboarding is the fastest growing winter sport, many manufacturers are providing hills with the latest and greatest snowboards in the hopes that people will purchase them. This is an incredible opportunity for you. Before deciding upon the correct flex for you, rent and try various snowboards in different conditions to see what you like best. This experience will ensure that you get the most out of your snowboard purchase.