Here in the Midwest (and much of the country for that matter), winter is in full force, with current temps hovering right around a balmy 10 degrees. But despite the frigid temps, I’m still a happy man, as the cold weather means I’ve finally been able to get some serious time in on one of my favorite winter pastimes: snowboarding. And while you’re not going to see me hitting the Winter Dew Tour anytime soon, I have been snowboarding for a little over a decade, placing me somewhere in the advanced intermediate range (if I had to choose a skill level, that is). This year, as I’ve found myself spending more time on the slopes, I decided it was time to treat myself to a new ride, and after much research, debate and deliberation, I finally settled on the new 2011 Ride Society UL. After riding it for the past couple months, I have to tell you: this thing absolutely kicks ass.
In seeking out the perfect board, I already had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted, it was just a case of finding it. First and foremost, I wanted an all-mountain board that would be at home on a variety of terrains, with an emphasis on groomed runs and park use (namely, kickers and pipe). In terms of key attributes, it had to be lightweight, responsive, snappy, and tough – pretty much everything you’d expect from a great all-around freestyle board. Ultimately, after talking to a variety of other riders, reading a bunch of reviews and doing some demo tests, the board that most impressed me was the Ride Society UL.
At it’s heart, the Society UL features a cambered twin design along with Ride’s trademark Thin Con construction and UL core. If you’re unfamiliar with Thin Con, it means that the tips and tails are tapered, the swing weight is reduced, tip flex is enhanced and the sidewall runs past the effective edge, whereas the UL core UL features tip-to-tail full thickness silencer stringers placed strategically within the wood core for high strength and less weight. If it sounds overly technical, it is – Ride’s put a tremendous amount of technology in the Society UL, and Thin Con construction is just the start. From there, Ride added Slimewalls 85A (which are exclusive to the company), a UL base and UL steel. Unlike conventional sidewalls, the urethane in Slimewalls is virtually indestructible, not only protecting the board, but also absorbing impacts and eating up bumps and vibrations in the snow as you’re riding. As for the UL base and UL steel, they’re both new for 2011, and they’re both incredibly light and incredibly strong additions to the board.
As if the Society’s UL construction wasn’t already light enough, to help further decrease the weight, the board’s top deck features Hempbrain technology, thus eliminating the traditional plastic top. Instead, an ultra-thin layer of hemp that’s both lighter and more durable than traditional top decks is in place, with the added environmental benefits that hemp is both easily renewable and requires little processing to use. To make the board both super responsive and super snappy, Ride has added what they call Carbon Array 5 stringers and Pop Rods 3.0. The first element – Carbon Array 5 – are 5 widespread carbon stringers placed at the binding zone that gather input from any stance width and all pressure angles and subsequently channel rider input to the opposing contact points for maximum board control. As for the Pop Rods 3.0, they’re a series of carbon and urethane rods strategically placed in both the tip and the tail, adding a significant amount of pop to the board without increasing the board’s stiffness (the Society UL is the only Ride board featuring Pop Rods 3.0).
Believe it or not, these are only some of the tech specs of the Ride Society UL – there’s plenty I’ve left out. But the reason I wanted to detail the technical aspects of the Society UL is to give you a sampling of the immense amount of engineering that’s gone into it. It’s an incredibly technical creature, and when you’re riding it, you realize exactly how fantastic the tech is. It’s an absolute blast to ride doing so many different things. As noted earlier, I wanted a board that excelled at groomed runs and park use, and the Society UL does exactly that. Ripping up groomed runs is, in no simpler terms, awesome. The board is super aggressive, it carves superbly and it holds its edge extremely well. Hitting the pipe and kickers, the Society UL comes into its own. It’s stable, perfectly balanced and incredibly controllable in the air, easily ranking above any of the other boards I’ve ridden. The Ride Society UL can spin all day, and it loves doing so. Lastly, the Sociey UL has the absolutely perfect level of pop. There’s no question Ride’s tech features work as described, as the ollie power of the Society UL is ridiculous, but most impressively, Ride has managed to offer an insane level of pop without an overly stiff board.
Is the Ride Society UL the best snowboard you can get? It depends on what you’re looking for, but if you want a super responsive, super lightweight all-mountain board that can handle a wide variety of conditions, you won’t find any better than the Society UL. It’s tough, aggressive, responsive, playful when you want it to be, and it boasts a game-changing level of pop. For all-mountain use, especially on groomed runs and park use, it’s the perfect board.