- Board: Lib Tech T.Rice Pro HP
- Time on Board: 3 Weeks
- From: Lib Tech
- Price: £529.99 – $599.95 (US) – $699.95 (CAD)
The T.Rice Pro HP is designed to do it all – the first in the series of Travis Rice Snowboards, this board is supposed to embody the riding style of the man himself. If you’ve not heard of Travis Rice, he is arguably the best freeride snowboarder on the planet right now, with a win at last months Freeride World Tour stop in Japan. The standout feature of this board is the use of Lib Tech’s Magne-Traction and hybrid side cut, which if you haven’t come across before effectively serrates the edge of the board like a steak knife. This means the board should be able to gain great levels of traction in the turns, even on icy runs.
The T.Rice Pro Snowboard
I’m a rider who likes things simple, so picking this board was perhaps a mistake – It’s packed to the hilt with tech! Here’s a run through of what the T.Rice Pro comes with.
Packed with tech
Shape: True twin (symmetrical nose and tail) so it will ride identically regular and switch, it comes in either pointed or blunt nose. Size range from 150-164.5cm. They also make it in a wide version for the large of feet.
Edge: T.Rice Pro utilises Magne-Traction: a serrated edge designed to increase the number of contact points between the board and the snow. Each side has the traditional two points of contact plus an additional five points which get more pronounced toward the centre. Designed for ice to increase grip and stability when you really need it.
Side-cut: Traditional boards have a camber profile (when unweighted the nose and tail touch the ground with the middle arched like a bow), then came the rocker profile (basically the opposite of camber with the tail and nose lifted and the centre section in contact with the ground). The T.Rice Pro has a hybrid (camber/rocker combo) side cut (C2) with micro camber section under each foot and rocker between the feet. Use of hybrid profiles has split opinion, with traditionalists favouring a camber but at this point it seems to come down to personal preference as to which is better. Laid flat the middle is the lowest point with the nose and tail slightly raised, like a see-saw. The camber under the feet increases board pop while the rocker makes it easy to initiate turns and manoeuvrable.
Hold the horses
The ‘HP’ part of the name stands for ‘Horse Power’, which doesn’t mean it has an engine – It’s a method of manufacturing that uses more environmentally friendly materials that are also lighter and smoother than the traditional. The glass on the board uses a basalt alloy and the top sheet is manufactured using “Bio Beans”, which is essentially an environmentally friendly material. The core uses a variety of woods (Aspen & Paulownia) to add pop in certain areas and dampen it in others. It has a sintered base, faster but less durable than extruded bases, meaning it will need to be waxed more often.
On The Snow
Transitioning from a traditional camber background (as I have) the T.Rice Pro has a very different feel, most notably when turning where the board wasn’t rebounding quite as I was expecting. It did take a few days to get the feel for it.
You can ride this in any condition on the mountain, but it will come as no surprise that it’s better in some areas than others. The highlights were in tight trees and ice.
Powdery tree runs are what I love and this board nailed it. Turns are incredibly easy and quick to initiate – I’d just push my board where I wanted it to be, and it would bounce back wanting more. The twin shape gives it great stability and control for hidden bumps and icy spots too.
Ice Ice Baby
As a preface to my reaction on ice I have to state first that Whistler is not typically an icy mountain. In fact I would go as far to say a bad day here is a good day on other mountains. Having said that this was the best snowboard I’ve ridden on ice. Going over my first few icy sections there was the usual trepidation.. not going too fast.. hoping it was going to do as well as it claimed it would, but I could instantly feel the grip was better. Throughout turns the board was stable and I felt in control. As my confidence grew the board responded in turn and only under pretty aggressive manoeuvres did the edge feel like it might slip. But never did.
Stability was also a standout feature in the big mountain double black areas, where it was great in choppy conditions at speed. The twin shape makes it perfect for switch riding and gives an advantage with switch tricks off jumps.
However, the two areas it came up short were in deep powder and at high speed on groomed runs. For the former I will admit that I was riding in reference stance and for deep powder many would move the stance back giving the board more float. I could ride up to around 25cm of powder snow without noticing or having to put much effort in keeping it above the snow. With some adjustment on that stance though things will improve.
The instability at speed on groomed runs is more of a concern. I can ride pretty fast, but pushing things to my usual limit and things started to feel unstable. Now, it could be me still figuring it out, as it’s not often I ride at that top 5% of what I’m capable of, but when you do instability in the board is not what you want.
A great all mountain snowboard designed one of the best riders on planet and incorporating lots of the latest snowboard technology. If you prefer freestyle riding and powdery tree runs but still want to venture into the park on occasion, the T.Rice Pro HP may be your perfect partner.