I picture myself hunched over a countertop, trying to force a butter knife through a block of ice.
It’s a thought experiment of sorts, presented to me by Niche Snowboards co-founder Ana Van Pelt. She’s trying to explain the wavy edges on her new line of boards.
“It’s a lot easier (to cut through ice) with a serrated knife,” she says.
She’s describing Magne-Traction: a series of bumps along a snowboard’s edge. These bumps give the board more contact points, which in turn give riders more control on ice or compressed snow. It’s a relatively old technology (first developed in 2002), but it’s new to the Niche lineup.
That’s good news for environmentally-minded riders. Niche is among very few companies that strive to create eco-friendly snowboards, and their 2016-17 line is proof that they can do that while maintaining high quality.
All modern snowboards are bound together by “stringers”: long, taut cords that run the length of the board. Depending on the winding pattern and the materials used, these stringers give their boards different levels of strength and stiffness.
Niche uses basalt or flax stringers in all six boards on the 2016/17 lineup. Both materials give the boards pop and help absorb impact and chatter. The stringers are set in a bio-resin composed of 37% sustainable and bio-renewable material. Production of this material results in far fewer toxins than that of traditional petroleum-based epoxies. Board cores are made from sustainably-harvested wood; edges and sidewalls are made from recycled materials.
Niche’s 2016-17 lineup is the company’s greenest yet, and offers something for riders of all styles and abilities.
The Aether and the Sonnet as “quiver-killers”: intended to perform well on terrain of all kinds. Each is built with multi-camber and seven traction points.
The Minx and the Knew are designed for park riding, with straighter edges (just two traction bumps) and a flat camber.
The Theme also features a two-traction-bump edges, but has a traditional camber for stability between cliffs, trees, and other mountain features.
The Story is designed for all-mountain dominance. Built with a multi-camber, seven traction points, and a solid core, the board runs fast and stable on out-of-bounds terrain.
All Niche boards are manufactured at the “Mothership” in Austria: easily the most advanced and eco-friendly snowboard factory in the world. The company itself is based in Salt Lake City.