By Chris Weiss
Regular snowboard maintenance is essential to keep your snowboard in top shape, ensuring the best performance. Whether you choose to take your snowboard to a shop or tune it yourself, regular maintenance is a key part of the sport, and begins the moment you first get your snowboard.
Snowboard maintenance keeps your snowboard in top shape so that you are able to perform at your best on the slopes. It will keep your base smooth and your edges sharp. Maintenance also ensures that your board is optimized for your riding style and ability.
Snowboard maintenance should start from the minute you bring your snowboard home from the shop, assuming that the shop didn’t set it up for you. You’ll want to make a few adjustments and tunes to get the best performance.
Detune the front and tail edges (curved edges on front and back). These edges will come sharp from the factory, but are not necessary for riding and could catch on the snow. Detuning them will dull them to prevent catching. Use a deburring or gummie stone and rub them down until they’re dull. Consider detuning an inch or so of your front effective edges (edges that run the length of the board) to make the board less grabby.
Set the desired edge bevel. Most boards come with a zero bevel, which means that the bottom edge is completely flat, flush to the base of the board. The side edge is perpendicular. Check with the shop and snowboard manufacturer to make sure of the bevel that it comes with. You’ll want to adjust the bevel to meet your riding needs (raise it slightly off the ground). A zero bevel will be very catchy and may cause difficulties riding. In general, consider less bevel for alpine/carving riding and more for park/pipe/jibbing. Use an edge tool to file down the edges to desired bevel. Use the deburring stone to touch up afterward.
Consider waxing. Board will come with factory wax, which probably won’t provide top performance. Wax the board yourself for best performance.
Every snowboarder who maintains and tunes his own board will give you different advice as to how often you should perform maintenance. Quite frankly, it’s up to you and will depend on a variety of factors including how hard you ride, what type of terrain you ride, how much added performance matters to you and how much abuse your board takes. You could tune your board between every ride, between snowboard trips or even just once a season. More important than a specific timeframe is keeping an eye on your snowboard for damage and wear that requires attention. When you begin seeing scratches, a dry, worn down base and dull, nicked up edges, it’s time to tune.
Regular maintenance items that you’ll need to perform are waxing, edge tuning, binding adjustments and base damage repair. Here’s a look at each:
- Waxing—This will likely be your most common maintenance item. Waxing your base allows for the smoothest glide and fastest ride. Consider waxing your snowboard before every ride. Waxing is a quick straightforward process that requires an iron, snowboard wax (for the temperatures where you’re riding), a plastic scraper and scrubby pad.
- Edge Maintenance—You’ll want to keep you’re edges sharp and tuned, especially if you’re riding in hardpacked, icy conditions. Edge maintenance is less important in deep powder and park riding. You’ll need a file or edge tool, deburring stone and gummie stone for touch-up.
- Binding Adjustments–Bindings may come lose or require adjustments for performance and fit. You’ll need a phillips head screwdriver and possibly allen wrench to adjust mounting, settings and straps.
- Base Damage–Deep scratches or holes in your base require repair with p-tex. You’ll need a torch or candle, p-tex and metal scraper to repair your base. If damage is particularly deep, or reaches to the core, you may want to take it in for professional repair.
You may encounter more serious snowboard damage that goes beyond your typical maintenance. Types of issues that you might encounter include delamination, separated edges, deep holes and stripped mounting inserts. If you’re not experienced in snowboard repair, it’s often easier and wiser to bring your board into a shop for serious damage.