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Snowboard Camber is the bottom curve and shape of a snowboard's construction. Camber on a snowboard is determined by the bend from tip to tail. The different types of camber result in different advantages and disadvantages in riding style. One type of camber may excel in turning ability but not ride as well in powder (fine snow). The variety of camber gives riders the ability to choose a snowboard that suits their riding style. Traditional Camber, Reverse Camber (Rocker), Hybrid Camber, and Flat Camber are the four different categories of a snowboard's shape. Within these categories, manufacturers often have their own technology to enhance the types of camber, but the general curve and shape remains the same.
Traditional camber consists of a convex contour from tip to tail with the apex in the direct center of the board. When a traditional camber snowboard is laid flat on the ground, the board will flex up with the highest point in the center of the snowboard. Traditional camber snowboards provide the best edge control and high speed stability of any of the categories of camber. The weight of a rider's body compresses the board's convex contour to initiate turns and to keep contact with the snow by utilizing the board's edge. The rider's weight also gives the traditional camber a pre-loaded shape which results in more stability. A traditional board flex pulls the nose and tail down toward the snow which creates setbacks. In soft powder or wet snow (slush), the rider will have a more difficult time riding because of its downward pull.
Reverse Camber (Rocker)
Rocker, or reverse camber, lifts the snowboards points of contact off of the snow rather than pulling it downward. When laid flat on the ground, the snowboard will appear to have a slight "U" or "V" shape. The design of pulling the contact points off of the snow makes it possible to ride a shorter board than a traditional camber snowboard. Along with being able to ride a shorter snowboard, rocker makes it possible to float better in soft snow and glide across wet snow with less effort. Reverse camber boards also have a softer flex making it easier to perform tricks on rails, boxes and other obstacles on the mountain. A soft flex is more forgiving but it also reduces stability and speed. Less surface area is on the snow with a rocker snowboard resulting in decreased speed. A rocker or reverse camber profile is also more suited to beginner snowboarders because the bottom contour lifts the contact points off of the ground. This reduces the chance of tip and tail catch on the snow which often happens with new snowboarders.
Variations of Reverse Camber
Many snowboard companies construct snowboards with reverse camber. However, companies have designed their own modifications and style to reverse camber. In the 2007/2008 winter season, Mervin Manufacturing (the owner of Lib Technologies and GNU snowboards) designed their version of reverse camber named "Banana Technology." "Banana Technology" consists of rocker between the rider's feet and straight outside of the feet, to the nose and tail. K2 Snowboards was another frontrunner, introducing their version of reverse camber as "Rocker." The "Rocker" shaping technique is completely flat between the feet and raises up from the outside of the feet to the tip and tail. The shape of rocker from outside the feet to the tip and tail is also labeled "flat-kick" or a "skate-style kick."
Hybrid Camber (Cambered Medley)
A combination of convex and concave camber is used in the construction of a hybrid camber profile. Feet are placed on a snowboard near shoulder widths apart from each other. Between the foot placement on a hybrid camber snowboard lies rocker or reverse camber. However, outside of each foot traditional camber exists. When a hybrid board profile is placed on the ground, the shape resembles that of a gull's wing. The combination of the cambered medley profile provides a more versatile ride. In comparison to a reverse camber board, hybrid camber sacrifices float in fine snow but excels when riding on ice.
A flat camber snowboard has absolutely zero camber. This makes the snowboard lie completely flush against the ground. Flat camber creates a catch free and loose ride similar to rocker while maintaining the stability and edge hold of a traditional camber snowboard. The flat camber allows the board to use the entire edge which helps turning at high speeds. The profile of a flat camber board is compared to riding a broken-in traditional camber board, giving it many of the benefits of a traditional camber board while creating a more loose feel. The advantages it receives from traditional and reverse camber, often counter-act the original intentions of traditional and reverse camber.
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- Dave. "Tech Specs: Reverse Camber Snowboards." Pop Magazine. 31 Mar. 2009. Web. Jan. 2011. <http://www.popmag.com.au/8123/tech-specs-reverse-camber-snowboards/>.
- "Reverse Camber Snowboards." Reverse Camber Snowboards and Skis. Web. Jan. 2011. <http://www.reversecamber.com/>.