Tag Archives: tuning

Understanding Base Structure

A very important aspect of a ski/board base is its structure. Recall from , a board or ski does not slide on snow, it rides on water. As the base moves over the snow, the energy from the friction melts the snow. The base then rides over a small pool of water. The water then re-freezes after the base has passed. Therefore just as a car’s tires has threads, a ski or board should have structure to allow the water to flow unrestricted.

Most interesting, not all skis or boards have structure. Usually, a new ski has a structure out of the factory; however as people have their skis tuned, the structure may gradually fade if disregarded. In the back room of a ski shop, tuning machines have the ability to remove and apply structure. To remove structure, skis are driven over a sanding belt. To apply structure they are driven over a stone grinder, which has been cut with a diamond to apply a pattern to the ski.

When an economical tune is applied, a fine sanding belt maybe used as the last step, thus eliminating any structure. A racer or high performance tune is usually finalized with the stone grind, which imbeds a new structure to the ski /board. (See photo).

There are many technicians that believe that the structure is the most important part of the tuning and should not be overlooked. A good structure will not only provide speed but better control. Be sure that your tune up includes a base structure!

Well Structured Base
structured base

Unstructured Base
unstructured base

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Beveling the Edge of a Ski or Snowboard

Beveling the edge of a ski/snow board

When tuning a ski/board it is important to take care of the steel edges. The edges are filed and then polished with diamond stones of varying grit to remove burrs and harden the edge. To better understand why edges are beveled, it is important to understand what happens during the tuning process.

The diagram shows a cross section of an edge and each step of filing the base and side.

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As you can see both the edge and base where filed resulting in a different shape. Since 3 °were taken off the edge and the base the result was still a 90 °angle.

Base and side angle increase performance of the ski/board differently.  If the 90 °edge/base angle was not modified it would be very difficult to ski/ride. The skier/rider would constantly “catch edge” and have minimal control.  Also steel does not glide as smoothly as the polyurethane base. Therefore, the base angle must be modified to reduce friction. The side angle is modified to grip the ice or snow on turns.

The typical angles used by manufacturers and shops are a 92° side angle and a 1° base. However, skiers/riders can change these angle based on the conditions of the mountain or the type of skiing/riding.

Base beveling tool

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Side beveling tool

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Preparing for the Snowboard Season

With the first snowfall in many places around the country, a lot of people are getting really excited to break out their snowboards and head to the mountains. A lot of people who snowboard will bring their board into the shop for a pre-season tune-up, in anticipation of the lifts starting to turn. It’s similar in the spring when people bring their bike to the shop for their annual tune-up, or every 2000 miles when they change the oil in their car. However, unlike when the gears are skipping on your bike or the odometer has added 2,000 miles, there isn’t exactly a super clear indicator of when a snowboard needs to be waxed. A quick look at the bottom of your board after a few days of riding it will reveal that is has changed color a little bit. A lot of snowboards have almost a straight black base, and the best indicator of when it’s time to wax is when it is getting a fuzzy white to them. Usually, this will start on the edges and work inwards. This is due to simply spending more time with weight on the edges, and can be thought of as how your tires might wear out on your car. Once this fuzziness starts to appear, it’s time to put some more wax on your snowboard to keep it happy. George, who is a very accomplished backcountry snowboarder, let us ask him a few questions. Here are his responses.

Do you wax your snowboard? How often?

“Yeah, I wax my board once every three or four times I go out or whenever the snow temperature or type changes dramatically. Fresh fallen snow is far different than snow that has been sitting on the ground for a few days. It makes a big difference.”

What’s the biggest and most important difference that you find after you wax your board?

“Consistency of speed and knowing what to expect while riding. The value here depends on what you are riding. If you’re riding park with a dry base on either really cold or really warm snow, you’re going to case jumps and knee yourself in the face. Sadness will ensue. Likewise, if you’re making a big traverse or trying to ride out flats at a resort in the wrong type of snow, you’re going to get stuck and have to unstrap and push. Once again, sadness will ensue. Basically, keep your board well-maintained and you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.”

Do most of your friends who snowboard regularly wax their snowboards? Do you think they should?

“It’s about a 50/50 split, and I’m always telling the ones who don’t maintain their stuff that they should. It really isn’t that hard.”

You’ve snowboarded on a freestyle team and down some really impressive mountains like Mt. Rainier. Do you think that beginners should wax their snowboards?

“Once I started tuning my own equipment, I definitely saw in improvement an my ability. It just made things way easier, and instead of fighting the board, I was more with the board and could focus more on getting better. Happiness ensued after that, and every time one of my friends starts getting into snowboarding or skiing, I offer to help teach them to maintain their own equipment.”

George really sums it up well. By maintaining your equipment, you can access more terrain, go bigger in the park, and overall have more fun and be a better rider. Whether you bring your stuff to a shop or do it at home, it’s really important to keep your equipment well-maintained.

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