Lib-Tech Travis Rice Snowboard w/Magne-traction and Banana: Snowmodo Review

Snowboards are basically sticks. Lib-tech's rocker-shaped bottoms and magne-traction edges are changing things up through tech and design for one of the most fun rides I've ever experienced.

I'm not a great boarder. I fall on my butt, knees, shoulders and arms, but the surf like feel and tiger-claw like grip of this board make me feel like I can ride much more aggressively without facing dire consequences. I've been able to much more easily charge through steep moguls, do slashes on steep sides of almost any gully, and carve deep and long enough to double grab the inside of the board on turns. Can't seem to pull it off on the old board. Maybe there's a magic feather effect going on here, or maybe its the tech.

Traditionally cambered snowboards bend the tip and tail downwards to help push the corners of a board down into the snow. Like a ski. Lib-tech's banana boards, taking a queue from rocker boards from the 80s, invert this curve, bending boards upwards at the ends.

This has several effects: It helps boards float a bit more in powder and over choppy snow, pivot the entire board between the feet for quick slash turns, make the ends less accidentally catchy, and precurving the board's ends in an arc that allow the board to carve well when you lean over enough. It gives the overall board a very free feeling, like a surfboard or park board with no edges, but let you carve when necessary when you put the board up on its side.

There are three minor disadvantages/catches: edge to edge for a quick turn is the same as on any traditional board, but going from carve to carve takes a bit more effort. Also, the rocker shape is good for keeping from diving in powder, but you're certainly not floating over it, either. (Lib sells a longer variant of this board with a shovel nose, and a narrow tail model called the Snow Mullet specifically for powder.) And when you are exhausted, since no edges press down on the snow when you're just standing there, it's hard to control unless you are charging. (Hey, those of us riding should be charging all the time anyhow, right?) The board always wants to move.

The bottom line is, rocker boards are super fun because you can take more risks on them, and they fly over lots of rough terrain. Every other board maker is going in on this revival of old 80s rocker shapes. But Lib tech boards like this one also have magne-traction, and so they can carve unbelievably well.

Regular snowboard edges are curved but smooth, like a samurai sword. Magne-traction boards have waves in them, basically turning the edges into steak knives. Here's how I'd explain the advantages to this. Imagine cutting a piece of ice with a butter knife, and then again with a steak knife. Steak knife does better, right? OK then! But here's another advantage the wavy edges have: smooth snowboard edges don't assume lateral movement. The kind of movement that happens when an edge of a board or ski slides out on ice. Take the same ice cube, and drag the butter knife across the ice and it should just move. The serrations on a steak knife serve to hold the edge in place, or regrip again after moving, very quickly.

It's hard to express how much I enjoy this board, out of all the boards in my collection. Usually, I'd have to deal with compromises in terms of short and maneuverable boards and boards that can survive on powder, but somehow through shape and technology, it manages all to a certain degree without being dull. And the paint looks pretty killer, too. I'll be riding it at Snowmodo, for sure.