In its Web series "Every Third Thursday," California-based snowboard company Signal Snowboards gets loose and creative in the shop and designs experimental one-offs that push the boundaries of what a snowboard is all about. Last month, the team made a surfboard-snowboard hybrid, and in the most recent installment, they created a snowboard that operates like a bike tire called "Air if you Dare."
When we first heard "inflatable snowboard," we assumed that we'd be looking at some type of hollow PVC backcountry board designed to roll up into backpack size and inflate at the top of the mountain (another Third Thursday, maybe?). We were thinking inflatable paddleboard for snow. Instead, what they did was build an actual snowboard with inflatable inner tubes integrated into the core.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Why the hell would they do that? Well, we weren't entirely sure, so we asked Signal founder Dave Lee.
"I was changing the tire on my wife's road bike and I was like 'Oh man, I could put these inner tubes in a snowboard core and change the flex or change the base structure pretty easily,' " Lee explained. "I wanted to see if we could actually add air to change the form of the board. What if air could be used to take your board from a light rocker nose and tail to a heavier rocker setting for different snow days."
Upon building the board, Signal found that the tubes changed both the flex and the base shape. Deflated tubes made for a flexible board ready to trick and turn through the park. Lee said the inflated board added some stiffness but really wound the board's pop up, allowing it to spring forward with more power on jumps and ollies. The base also changed shape when pumped up - in the video, you can actually see the beefed up tube pumping the base out.
The board doesn't look ready for the shop floor just yet - Lee blows a hole in it at the end of the video - but it's an interesting concept. An inflatable snowboard could be the ultimate do-it-all quiver board. Theoretically, you could have a stiff, stable board for big mountain and a super-flexy, playful board for freestyle - all at the touch of a pump or nozzle. I guess getting a flat would be a problem, though, since the tubes are actually sandwiched inside the board. And of course too much pressure might cause a blowout like the one on the video. Maybe they can solve those issues another Thursday ...
Source: Signal Snowboards