Go take out a really stiff snowboard. Better yet, take it into the trees and try to control it, even at slow speeds. Seriously. If it’s not your style, you’ll get bucked around wild bronco style, like the board is riding you versus you riding the board. It’s not a good feeling, but it’s a good reason to get out your flex meter and find out what stiffness fits your style of riding before buying a snowboard.
First, the two types of flex:
Torsional Flex is the flex across the width of a snowboard, between the two edges, and defines how a board holds its edge. More (softer) torsional flex will make it easier to twist the board and initiate sharp-radius turns, and manipulate the board on park features.
Longitudinal Flex…. you guessed it, is the flex of the snowboard going the long way, from tip to tail. Freestyle riders prefer a softer longitudinal flex as well, for laying down ‘butters’, boardslides and bonks without catching an edge.
The longitudinal flex will either be balanced through the length of the board or progressive, ie. progressively stiffer towards the nose, or softer. For example, a softer nose than tail is ideal for soft snow because it resists diving beneath the surface, while the stiffer tail helps maintain edge control and create ‘pop’.
Really it comes down to personal preference, and most boards will have a flex rating on a scale of 1-10. Once you’ve gauged your own flex preferences, that’s a good place to start. And remember, the softer the flex the easier a board is to turn, but if it’s too soft you won’t feel stable committing to turns at high speed. -MH