Torsional stiffness in a snowboard is often a confusing topic as it is related to many other aspects of a snowboard. For example, camber, flex and contact points are all related. Torsional stiffness isn’t really a single factor but a combination of several factors.
Typically when thinking of torsional stiffness people are thinking of three things, longitudinal flex, and torsional flex and flex in general. Total flex will be discussed in another article.
Longitudinal flex is how flexible the snowboard is from tip to tail. This flex allows the snowboard to bend and contour itself to curves and bends in the terrain you are riding on.
Torsional flex relates to how much the snowboard can flex across its width. The more torsional flex your snowboard has the easier it is to twist it when riding.
Of course each aspect of torsional flex impacts the ride and feel of your snowboard. Each style of snowboard has various requirements that translate to different torsional stiffness. For example a freestyle rider will want a flexible snowboard so that they can make tighter and faster turns while a Freerider will want a stiffer snowboard to give them more stability and control at higher speeds and in deeper snow.
The amount of torsional stiffness that you will require will depend upon what you wish to do with your snowboard and how serious you are about that aspect of riding. As you can well imagine a freestyle rider needs a lot of flex in their snowboard. The amount of flex depends upon the experience of the rider. A new rider would not want a super flexible snowboard, as they would find that this degree of flexibility was a hindrance each time they are thrown off when trying to turn.
As with many other things in life moderation is the key. When starting out go with a slightly flexible snowboard and see how it feels. Once you get comfortable with it and define your style of riding, try renting a snowboard that is a little more or less flexible. Most people will find that they do not need to think much about it until they become fairly proficient at certain aspects of snowboarding. When this happens you will already know how your snowboard flexes, how you would like it to flex and why.