2015-16 Ride Helix 157 cm
- Effective Edge: 1228 mm
- Tip Width: 301 mm
- Waist Width: 253 mm
- Sidecut Radius 7.93/6.7 mm
Factory Tune Base / Side Bevel: 1.5°
Camber Profile: Asymmetrical Hybrid Twin
- Slimewall Sidewalls
- Carbon Array 3 Laminates
- Pop Rods 2.0 Core
- Hybrid Glass
- Fusion 4000 Base
Stance 22.5” wide, 10° front, -8° rear
Boots / Bindings: Burton Ruler (size 10) / 2011 K2 Company (size M)
Reviewer: 6’ 160 lbs
Days Tested: 4
Test Locations: Snowmass & Crested Butte, CO
While snowboard designers are always experimenting with board shapes and materials, one old technology that’s re-emerging is asymmetrical sidecut. Asymmetrical sidecuts first appeared in the 80’s on carving boards, most notably when Jose Fernandes won the giant slalom in the American World Championships in Breckenridge, CO on an asymmetrical Hooger Booger.
Burton’s first asymmetrical board came out in 1990, and in 1991 they made their entire alpine lineup of boards asymmetrical. They experimented with different amounts and locations of asymmetry throughout the 90’s in freeride and alpine boards.
Asymmetrical sidecuts have seen several resurgences since then in racing and carving boards, but were introduced into today’s freestyle / all-mountain market by YES and Mervin Manufacturing (Lib-Tech and GNU).
This asymmetrical technology addresses the question, “If your heels and toes aren’t symmetrical, why should the heel and toe edges of your snowboard be?” I was eager to find out if the asymmetrical shape of the Helix stood up to Ride’s claims of offering a “perfect balance in the turn” and allowing you to “get more out of your turns with less effort.”
Boards with an asymmetrical sidecut are designed to make the heel edge feel more like the toe edge. On a symmetrical board it requires lots of pressure applied to the highbacks to initiate and hold an edge, making it harder to hold a clean carve on your heels than on your toes.
Snowboarders turn much more efficiently on our toes because we lift the heel edge up and put pressure on our toes using our leg joints.
This makes the toe side more responsive and easier to get on edge. It’s impossible to flex our heels up and down the way we can our ankles and knees, so we must shoot our hips backwards like we are squatting into a chair to turn on our heels.
On a board with symmetrical sidecut the rider has to put in more effort to edge on the heel side and it is much harder to initiate a sharp heelside turn then a toeside one.
However, asymmetrical boards counteract this by making the heel edge sidecut slightly tighter than the toe, making it easier to get the board on that heel edge with less energy which makes tighter turns easier to initiate.
This works by letting the rider get the board on less of an edge to achieve an equally tight turn on the heel edge. Because the board doesn’t need to be on as much of an edge, you don’t have to lean so far over your heels, allowing you to keep more weight over the board through the turn. It should also be easier to disengage the turn because you have more weight over the board requiring less energy to get from the heel edge back to center for the next turn.
The Helix has a hybrid profile with camber between the feet and a little bit of rocker right before the nose and tail to maintain the edge hold and pop of a cambered board while exploiting the rocker’s float in powder, easier turn initiation, and ability to press.
Ride rates the Helix’s flex as a 5 out of 10, which felt accurate. That being said, it’s a snappy board for a 5. It is stable and absorbs a decent amount of chatter with the camber and Slimewall urethane sidewalls, but is by no means damp. It can be pressed a little, but is not jibby. It lies right in the middle of the scale as a poppy and well-balanced board.
Groomers / Hardpack
The camber and asymmetrical sidecuts make the Helix a blast to carve on. The camber provides a responsive feel even through extremely tight turns, without ever slipping out.
The asymmetrical sidecut makes turning on the heels feel more natural. Instead of leaning out over the edge and pressuring the highbacks to put pressure on your heels, you just put pressure on your heels using your feet, similar to turning on your toes, and the turn is initiated.
When I first got on the board I could only slide through turns, not carve. However, after a few laps, I figured out how to pressure the edges correctly, and I was able to rail turns regular and switch with no problem.
Once the turn is initiated it is easier to hold an edge. You do not have to drop your hips as far back to get enough pressure into your heels and highbacks to maintain the turn. You just lean back far enough to get pressure in the heels and it holds – it really feels like turning on your toeside edge.
However, the camber and snappy core make the board catchy, and theoretically the tighter sidecut would make the heel edge catchier than the toes.
In many ways the Helix feels like a poppier, more playful version of the K2 Slayblade. While the rocker tips are supposed to help with this, it is still pretty unforgiving. It is even less forgiving with the razor sharp factory tuned edges at a 1.5° bevel. I usually detune my boards, but did not initially with the Helix which made it feel even catchier.
Firm Variable Conditions
For being such a responsive board, the Helix did especially well at absorbing chatter while still letting the rider feel the terrain underfoot. The camber, along with Ride’s Slimewall sidewalls, a soft urethane sidewall, absorbs the harshness of the chatter while the snappy core still gives you some feel for the snow.
Through moderately choppy snow, holding an edge was effortless. This meant that the board was very responsive, playful, and great for all-mountain freestyle riding.
I found myself riding more playfully than I usually do in firm conditions, throwing lots of backside 180’s, cab 360’s, and butters off of little features.
Soft Variable Conditions
While the Helix can be ridden aggressively on hard chattery snow, it is very playful when the snow softens.
Despite the catchiness, the board allowed me to ride even more playfully than usual because I could make tight turns and have the snappy camber launch me out with enough speed to hit every little feature I could find.
NEXT: Jumps, Halfpipe, Etc.