This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (September 2019)
Lib Technologies is an American snowboard manufacturer known for its radically innovative approach to snowboard design. Often referred to as Lib Tech, the company falls under the umbrella of parent company Mervin Manufacturing. Surf company Quiksilver bought Mervin in 1997. As of 2013, Mervin was purchased by Altamont Capital Partners.
Mike Olson built his first snowboard in 1977, and by 1984 had dropped out of Pacific Lutheran University, to begin making snowboards full-time. Mervin Manufacturing's headquarters were set up in an "old racehorse barn," where Olson worked for two years, paying rent by mowing the lawn and cleaning the gutters for the barn's owner. Olson was quickly joined in his efforts by Pete Saari, and the two began churning out small orders for members of the nascent snowboard community.
Gravitating away from the long, smoothly curving sidewall and edge of a traditional snowboard, Lib Tech's Magne-Traction technology employs a "serrated" edge consisting of seven bumps in the side wall. According to Lib Tech's co-founder and VP of Marketing, Pete Saari:
- "Magne-traction is 7 bumps or teeth along the length of your sidecut and edge each specifically sized and located to improve edge hold and focus control and power where you need it. The 3 largest most aggressive teeth are located between your feet adding control to the un-pressurable "dead zone" at and between your feet where your balance is centered. Smaller less aggressive teeth are located between your front foot and the contact area adding edge hold for turn initiation and control but keeping the tips and tails loose for catch-free freestyle."
Since its debut, Magne-Traction has been generally well received by both reviewers and the general snowboard community, winning more than 15 Transworld Good Wood Awards and over 20 Future magazine awards.
The introduction of Lib Tech's Banana Technology marked yet another departure from orthodox snowboard design. Traditionally, snowboards are built with camber—the gentle arch formed in between the board's contact points when placed on a flat surface. Camber geometry was first introduced for skis, which each have only one central area of pressure input (i.e., under the skier's boot). Snowboards, however, have two areas of pressure input (i.e., one under the front boot, and one under the back boot), leaving the rider unable to efficiently depress the center of the snowboard, an effect which Lib Tech's Pete Saari calls the "dead zone."
Banana Technology does away with this "dead zone" by reversing the snowboard's camber between the rider's feet; rather than arcing upward, like traditionally cambered boards, those with Banana Technology arc downwards, allowing the board to rest on its center when placed on a flat surface. As Saari puts it, "Banana Technology focuses edge pressure between your feet, bringing the dead zone to life. It adds catch free tips and tails for jibs, rails, and forgiving landings. It adds pre-bent rocker between your feet for edge hold and carving, and it adds tip and tail float in powder."
Banana Technology has been extremely well received by the snowboard community; in 2008, Banana Technology's inaugural year, Lib Tech experienced an 81% spike in sales. Boards equipped with Banana Technology have garnered Lib Tech a slew of awards:
- Winner, 2009 Best of Test, Snowboarder Magazine (Skate Banana)
- Winner, 2009 Good Wood Test, Transworld Snowboarding (Skate Banana)
- Winner, 2009 Good Wood Test, Transworld Snowboarding (TRS BTX)
- Winner, 2009 Women's Good Wood Test, Transworld Snowboarding (TRS BTX)
- Tested Best, Men's Over $600, Future Snowboard Magazine (Cygnus X1 BTX)
- Tested Best, Men's $400–599, Future Snowboard Magazine (TRS BTX)
- Tested Best, Women's Over $400, Future Snowboard Magazine (TRS BTX)
- 2007 Innovation of the Year, SIA Snowpress Innovation Awards (Skate Banana)
Banana Technology (BTX), like Magne-Traction before it, begins with the premise that a snowboard is not a ski. Banana Technology replaces camber with rocker "Banana" between your feet. When you stand on your board, pressure is now applied inward to the edge area at the between your feet. As your weight presses out the rocker, tips and tails still make full contact for control and stability but edge pressure is reduced in tip and tail allowing them to float, climb and deflect like never before. The Banana Technology flex pattern is slightly stiffened at the tip and tail to increase pop and stability on big landings. Magne-Traction is incorporated into the Banana Technology to improve edgehold and put even more control underfoot at your balance point. The end result is a board that is loose and catch-free, presses boxes, rails and jibs extremely well with the preset rocker, maintains pop with a stiffened tip and tail, and turns easily on hardpack and ice when the built-in rocker is put on edge. The built-in rocker curve makes the board float naturally in powder and the firm nose and tail prevent the board from folding in chunky conditions.
Lib Tech is known throughout the snowboard industry for their longtime commitment to environmental sustainability. Mike Olson took the first steps towards sustainability early in the history of Lib Technologies; he replaced toxic ABS plastic with recyclable polyethylene in 1986, and introduced sustainable polymer topsheets and bamboo cores in 1995.
Currently, Lib Tech even has its own environmental task force, dubbed the "environMENTAL division," which oversees the company's sustainability measures. Not only does Lib Tech incorporate environmentally friendly materials into their snowboards (such as water-based graphics, non petroleum-based bio-plastic topsheets, Volatile organic compound resin, renewable wood cores, and basalt fiber rather than fiberglass), but the company has also designed their factory with the environment (and the health of their employees) in mind. The factory's heating system runs on canola-based bio-diesel, which Lib-Tech makes available to employees and local farmers through a bio-diesel co-op program. Wood sawdust is recycled as a soil additive, scrap wood is repackaged as kindling, and scrap plastics are reground and reused. Water-cleansed grinding systems reduce airborne particulate levels, and the factory's air supply is constantly fresh due to a 2700% air-replacement ventilation system.
The following snowboarders are currently sponsored by Lib Tech:
- Travis Rice
- Jesse Burtner
- Mans Hedberg
- Austen Sweetin
- Blair Habenicht
- Eric Jackson
- Mark Landvik
- Jamie Lynn
- Wille Mathissen
- Stefke Vandeweyer
- Chris Rasman
- Fredi Kalbermatten
- Matt Cummins
- Scotty Whittlake
- Ted Borland
- Brandon Reis
- Phil Hansen
- Tyler Nicholson
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