Never Summer Snowboards don’t need much in the way of an introduction, but I’ll give you a little history lesson anyway. Starting out as a basement operation in 1983, the Canaday brothers, Tim and Tracey have grown the business into an internationally recognised company. They work closely with the world’s leading raw material manufacturers and engineers to make sure each snowboard is the most durable and high performance on the planet. Each snowboard is handcrafted in their Denver factory and so confident are they of the quality of their boards that they all come with a 3-year warranty. They focus less on promotion and hype, letting the snowboards that come out of the factory do the talking for them.
In late 2010, Never Summer received the patent on their RC Technology. The 2013 boards carry the US Patent number with all boards in the range using both RC technology and ‘Vario Power Grip’ sidecuts. RC is short for ‘Rocker and Camber’ which places rocker between the bindings and camber areas at each end of the board. This board profile apparently “destroys anything in it’s path from parks to steeps, to powder and high speed cruisers” and provides, “unmatched power and snap out of turns.” The ‘Vario Power Grip’ is added to increase edgehold and provide “added control and response in any condition.”
Flicking through the 2012/13 Dealer catalogue a new addition to the range can be found. The Proto has been given a bigger brother in the form of the Cobra adding another board to the Carbonium series. The Cobra is a directional all mountain board that looks on paper a powerhouse. Another thing I noted was the lack of ‘glow on the snow’ bases. The luminous green and pink bases of the 2011 range were sick and people stared in amazement as you rode past on what looked like a hover board with the snow glow. Please Never Summer, like last season when you bowed to public demand, bring them back.
Following on from last season’s reviews, I received a few emails from Vince Sanders, Product Development Manager at Never Summer which resulted in interviews with Vince himself (the coolest man you know), Jeremy Salyer and some amazing behind the scenes features on GONEboarding. I also received a phone call from Paul at The Rider Social offering me the chance to head out to the Portes du Soleil in January 2012 to test the 2013 range straight from the industry board test in La Clusaz.
So January came round and having flicked through the dealer catalogue, I was eyeing up a Cobra to test. Unfortunately none had made their way over the Pond, so having tested both the Proto CTX and Premier F1 last season in Spring conditions I plumped for both boards again, keen to try them in the powder that had eluded us last season.
Never Summer 2013 Proto CTX 158
In January 2011 the first ramblings about a new board to the Never Summer range started appearing on the internet. The board was talked about as a cross between the Evo’s twin shape and responsive dampening and the SL’s powerful flex. As the owner of a Revolver (wide Evo) and a rider who likes a playful true twin, my eyes opened wide when I read this information and I was lucky enough to test one last season. I wasn’t disappointed. The only thing missing last season was the chance to test it in powder. This season was my chance.
When Fi from the Rider Social dropped the boards off, I was slightly disappointed that the Proto I’d been given to ride had a black base. The white base shows off the strategically placed carbon stringers under the binding mounts and I could only just make out the end of one of the stringers under the white eagle. Hey ho, beggars can’t be choosers and all. The top sheet had the same pimply feel created by the carbonium and the graphics had a similar feel to the 2012 board.
Fresh pistes, off piste powder, bumps and buildings.
The first thing you notice when riding the Proto is how it rides longer than it’s actual length. The 158 I was given, rode more like a 161 due to it’s longer effective edge and blunted ends. My friend Mike who normally rides a 161 SL found little difference between the boards in terms of their length when he took it for a spin and felt right at home on the Proto.
The 2013 Proto was to be tested on polar opposite conditions to the 2012 model. Despite this, I found small, medium and long radius turns easy to initiate and carves locked on with no fear of wash. Cross under turns were a pleasure, putting a big grin on my face as the board reacted instantly to what my feet were telling it to do. This created a responsive, flowing ride as I cut a line through the couple of inches of fresh on the L’Abricotine run down to Lindarets.
As I’ve mentioned, just a few times already, I wanted to try the Proto in powder. I’ve never really had a problem with my true twin Revolver in powder so I wasn’t expecting one with the Proto. The rocker/camber profile lends itself well to powder riding and the Proto didn’t disappoint. Whilst the experience was like night and day compared to the Premier F1, powder riding was still great fun. The board cut through the fresh with relatively ease and although I’d set the board up centered I had no need to crank my weight over the back foot to raise the nose. Here’s a video filmed on a Go Pro of me riding the Proto CTX in powder:
Reading the dealer catalogue, the Proto appears to be have downgraded in terms of it’s dampness (from 4 to 3.5). Last year I remarked that it was like riding a bucking bronco at times. This was most noticeable in flat light when you had to ride through feel and rely on your knees and feet to react to changes in terrain. Due to the flat light and conditions I reverted back to the Premier after a couple of days on the Proto due to it’s better dampening. The thing is, if you make a board damp you lose it’s playful and responsive side, something the Proto has in spades and something I wouldn’t change.
Switch riding, as you would expect from a true twin was a doddle.
Wow, the pop on this board is still as impressive as when I rode the 2012 model. When loading either the nose or tail you can feel the pressure build ready to catapult you into the air. The carbon stringers placed strategically under the bindings add to a powerful flex that make nollies and ollies easy peasy. I had great fun hitting side hits and boosting air higher than normal, giving me the all important air time to style out a grab. The blunted ends, light core and carbonium all add up to a board that’s low in swing weight to aid rotations.
Never Summer rate it as a 5 in flex placing it on a par with the SL. I found the Proto stiffer than my Revolver both torsionally and longitudinally. Playful and responsive, it held a solid carve through the turn, leaving a classic pencil thin line. Whilst not as easy to press as my Revolver it was still relatively easy and you could feel the pressure mount as you held the press in butters.
Rider in Mind
If you’re an intermediate to advanced rider looking for a do-it-all all mountain board then you’d be hard pushed to find a better board. Classed as all mountain freestyle it’s very responsive, kills it off kickers, is easy to press and for a true twin isn’t too shabby in powder. I’ve said before to people looking for an a playful all mountain board that if you like jibs and butters go Evo, if you like kickers go Proto.
The Proto is a very robust board. The pimply carbonium top sheet makes it pretty much scratch proof and the base is hard as nails with it’s Durasurf sintered base. As a result the board was reluctantly handed back with hardly a mark on it.
Owning a Revolver, I was always going to be at home on this board. To me it’s a ‘jack of all trades’ and I still stand by my thoughts last season when I wrote that the board was ‘an excellent all rounder’. The board rides roughly 3cm longer than it’s actual length, so think about downsizing from your normal length if you buy one.
Last season I told you to be quick about ordering one. From what I gather there were heavy pre sales and all Protos were sold out within a month of hitting our shores. I therefore urge you to get in quick if you’re thinking of buying one.
My friend Mike who owns an SL took it out for the day and didn’t want to hand the board back. I think that spoke volumes about the board.
What Never Summer say
Type: All Mountain Freestyle
Proto: “The 2012/13 Proto will continue to dominate! We’ve taken the powerful flex of the time tested SL, and blended it with the responsive dampening of the Evo to create the ultimate all mountain true twin. This board has the versatility of Never Summer’s patented Rocker & Camber Technology, our new Superlight wood core, graphite impregnated Sintered 5501 base and added a whole new element into the proven Never Summer Carbonium Series of boards. Our new blunted, true twin shape cuts down material on tip and tail for a reduced, more balanced swing weight, while increasing effective edge for on snow stability. The Carbonium Proto CT is the future.”
Proto CTX: “A wide version of the original.”
Carbonium Laminate Technology
Bi-Directional Rocker Camber Profile
STS Pretensioned Fiberglass
NS Superlight Wood Core
EDS Dampening System
Sintered P-tex Sidewall
Durasurf XT Sintered 5501 Base
P-tex Tip and Tail Protection
Full Wrap Metal Edge
Never Summer 2012 Premier F1 159
The Premier has been part of the Never Summer stable for over 10 years, changing name slightly to the Premier F1 for the 2008/09 season. The Premier F1 is classed as an out and out freeride board, able to handle anything in it’s path. I rode the 2012 model last March in what can only be described as awful conditions. It had to cope with mud, ice and water and a token amount of snow. The 2013 model was going to be witness to the complete opposite, powder heaven.
Last season I noted the board’s ability to carve and hold an edge even on the worst of conditions, whilst providing a damp ride. The powder had arrived and I had the chance to put the Premier’s pin tail to good use.
When I first laid my hands on the 2012 I was very impressed with the new graphic. Like previous years, it’s understated with no gimmicky jib kid graphics. It’s crisp white with a mountain back drop, topped off with a bright red Never Summer logo. It was very pleasing on the eye. It had the same tell tale shape of previous seasons but unless my mind is playing tricks on me (10 months can sometimes do that to you) it felt heavier than the 2012 model.
Fresh pistes, off piste powder, bumps.
If I could sum up the Premier F1 in one word it would be ‘beast’. Simply put, it’s a beast of a board that needs to be tamed. Pre trip it was decided to put the campers at the test week on SL’s as the Premier could be too much of a board. The Premier has a multi flex profile that could be too stiff for some less able riders and it’s certainly not a board you can relax or be lazy on, it wants to ride hard and fast. The stiff flex allows it to cut through most conditions and powers you out of the turns. The dampening of the board (rated 8.5 by Never Summer) means that you’re not being thrown about even when riding bumpy red runs blind. In fact after riding the Proto I switched back to the Premier due to the fresh snow and poor light conditions as I knew it would be more fun and I could trust it to be easier on the knees.
The Premier gives a very responsive ride with fast and effortless edge changes. Small, medium and large radius turns were no problem for the board, although cross under turns were a little more effort than the softer torsionally flexing Revolver or Proto with less feeling of rebound (attributable to the stiffer flex). Whilst carving, the Premier felt like it was on rails with no chance of washing out. Ride it hard and fast.
The powder that I craved in 2011 was there in abundance. The Premier was ridden on hiked off piste lines and fresh powder lining the sides of the pistes. The stiff pin tail sank effortlessly into the knee deep powder and gave an effortless ride without any need to shift the weight back. Retraction turns were great fun and gave a lovely bounce coming out of the turn.
Switch riding, whilst never perfect on a directional board, was doable and I was able to ride out the odd fs1 with relative ease.
First morning and the customary ‘waddle’ to get going. “Wow, was that pop off the nose? They’ve stiffened it!” Those were the thoughts running through my head. I’ve read the Never Summer spiel and can’t see any note of changes to the board’s flex, but I’m sure the nose has been stiffened from the 2012 model. Popping off the nose certainly seemed to have more oomph rather than the damp squib of last season and more comparable to the stiff tail.
We had one day of powder and park. Being too far from home I had no choice but to take the Premier F1 for a ride over the Avoriaz Baby Park kickers. Not my weapon of choice for such a task and Paul remarked that, “You won’t see many of those in the park.” However, due to it’s powerful tail flex the board popped quite effortlessly off the kickers.
The Premier F1 has a multi flex profile to which Never Summer give it a 6 on their sliding scale of stiffness. I disagree with this and would class it as a 7/7.5 in comparison to boards I’ve ridden. The torsional flex is most certainly stiff and as a result, cross under turns take more initiation. Once on an edge the flex pattern makes sure the board carves clean lines with no chance of wash. In terms of pressing and buttering, as expected this is more difficult, but I found once in a press it appeared to ‘lock on’ and it was still fun.
Rider in Mind
You need some skills to tame this beast, otherwise it could hurt. It’s a classic freeride board offering a damp, responsive, solid ride, with the pin tail shape aiding float in the powder. If you’re a high intermediate/advanced snowboarder this should be high on your list to buy.
The pistes and off piste terrain were in great condition and with very few queues the board took no real punishment. The board was returned with no marks whatsoever to the base or topsheet.
I rode powder, carved up the pistes, demonstrated basic turns and hit the kickers on the Premier F1. Despite all this, the Premier F1 would not be my everyday go to board. For hiking lines and hitting fresh powder or carving up the corduroy it would however be the first board I reach for.
What Never Summer say
“Our high performance Premier F1 takes freeride technology to a whole new level! The Carbon V-Twin Laminate Technology and custom F1 Elastomeric Stabilizers underfoot increase edgehold and vibration absorption in any snow condition. With the NS freeride technology, the Premier F1 will power through anything in it’s path keeping you on edge and in complete control at any speed. The modified NS Custom Flightcore also incorporates a multi-flexing profile giving the Premier a powerful tail flex and a more responsive mid flex. For unmatched carving ability, powder flotation and effortless turn initiation, the F1 has arrived.
Carbon V-Twin Laminate Technology
F1 Elastomeric Stabilizers
Multi-Flex Profiled Flightcore
STS Pretensioned Fiberglass
RDS 1 Damping System
Sintered P-tex Sidewall
Durasurf Sintered 4501 Base
P-tex Tip and Tail Protection
Full Wrap Metal Edge
Stance: 54cm / 21.25”
Stance Angles: Regular, +15, -12
Height: 5ft 9” / 175cm
Weight: 11st 8lbs / 162lbs / 73.5kg
Boots: 2011 DC Ceptor UK10.5
Bindings: 2008 Union Force L/XL
Resort: Portes du Soleil
Boards I’ve owned
K2 Fatbob 158
Forum Destroyer 157
Option Sansalone 157W
Never Summer Legacy 159
Capita Unorthodox 158
Capita Stairmaster 152W
Never Summer Revolver 156
Never Summer Legacy 163
Capita Charlie Slasher 158
Qualified to BASI Level 2, I generally like to cruise the piste (at speed) with the odd bit of buttering and ollies/spins off little hits. If there’s fresh you won’t find me on the groomers, as I’ll be out looking for fresh lines. I rarely hit the park.