It was in Austria in jan 2008 that I first tried a board with rocker or reverse camber. I thought it was good but had no idea that what I was riding was going to cause a revolution in snowboarding shape and design akin to what carving skis did for skiing on the mid 90’s.

So what is ROCKER!

Pretty much since snowboards were first mass  produced in the early 80’s they have had Camber in the middle. This came from Ski technology. Camber gives the ski or board rebound and pop. Allowing you to spring in and out of your turn. The bend in the board (camber) working like a old fashioned bow storing energy to be released to give you the power and spring to really carve and give pop for jumps. As riding styles changed. The array of hi tech materials that are now being laid into the construction of boards offer as much if not more spring/pop reducing the need for such camber.

A couple of companies lead the way in playing with weather or not we really need camber anymore at all. These two companies were Mervin (makers of libtech & Gnu) with their SkateBananna and K2 with the Gyrator and its powder rocker.  Both of these boards seemed to bend the wrong way! Rather than the board being raised in the middle it hit the deck and it was the tip and tail that were lifted. This offered more float in deep snow and fewer catch points while turning.  As the board was pre bent into the shape of a turn you gained more grip. It proved to be an instant hit not only with the powder hunters but also with jibbers as the catch free nose and tail allowed for easy presses and few hang ups. It also seemed to make snowboarding just a bit easier. As all the brands started putting this technology on their boards. By reducing the chance of catching edges and falling over it gave beginners a massive head start and bred confidence even in the most experianced of riders to try new things.

As all the other major players joined in. Each one had their own take and tweak on the rocker / reverse camber idea, oh and of course each companies idea was way better than the last!! I have tried to break the many different type in to 6 main groups listing the pros and cons of each. (see below)

So the bottom line is  “Does Rocker work, is it worth the hype or just a fad that will pass”.  Well i think it does work and it is worth all the hype it gets. Now i know what your thinking “ you run a blooming snowboard store, of course you think its ace, you want to sell more boards”  Yes some of that is true but for the past 3 years now on our own boardtest trips we have had over 140 snowboarders try over 400 boards. All standards of riders and everyone has been so impressed with rocker that if give the choice they would not buy a traditional cambererd board again. The best way i can think to describe it is like popping power steering on your board, It just make everything a bit easier and that results in more fun! So I my mind Rocker is a good thing and i think it works, it allows average snowboarderds like my self to push the boundries.  That’s what we all ride for, whether its laps of the park, hiking powder lines or cruising on piste Snpowboarding is about improving and having FUN!!

 

Here's our basic guide to rocker shapes...

 

V rocker

This is where it started with lib tech. The board effectively kinks in a v at the middle  lifting the nose and tail.  We found this to work better if you ride a wide stance otherwise it can feel a little like riding a see saw it can also result in delayed pop and a quick release from the turn. Personally this is my least favourite of all the rocker shapes but it does work and it has many fans.

 

All mountain / Powder rocker

In most cases this is where the board is flat between the binding inserts and then lifts in the nose and tail after the inserts. By lifting more in the nose the board will float up effortlessly in powder or smash through the crud or slush on piste. By keeping the middle of the board flat you carry more speed and lose that unstableness you can get in the V-rocker shape.

 

Jib Rocker

Very similar to the all mountain. Again the board in most cases is flat through the middle and then lifted in the nose and tail. But the lift/rocker is much shorter and starts around half way between the inserts and each end. Some boards / companies use a continual curve which mellows in the middle resulting in the same feel. This is my favourite as it now means that even a smaller twintip board can now really go all over the hill.

 

Flat

This is as the name suggest completely flat! Buy getting rid of the camber this still reduces the catch points as there is not the pressure going through the tip and tail. This is a good compromise for those suspicious of the whole rocker thing and allows for a more aggressive ride and instant pop.

 

Pop Rock / Rocker Camber

As each company tries to develop their own take on the rocker you have these hybrids. Some still have a very low camber in the middle but as soon as you stand on them they push flat and pop the nose and tail up into a rockered position. You get the s rocker, flying V or gul wing . This is where board is rockered in the middle then cambered under the inserts then rockered again in the tip and tail. For me this just seems a little over complicated, the idea is that it gives you more of that energy and rebound you get from a camber  but with the catch free feel but to be honest it dose not really feel much different to me. If anything it seems to load up the corner contact points on the board in the same way a traditional camber board did.