Review: Prior ATV

I am a snowboarding addict. Also, I am a snowboard addict. Also, I am on my way to Big Sky, Montana next week.

When I was last there in 2002, I had been snowboarding for two weeks, and in the video, it shows.

I have a fairly complete quiver of alpine boards. However, since I rarely have a need for riding powder and bumps at my home hill in Madison, the only board I have for that is the old Sims Quest freestyle board which I started on many years ago (and never ride now). It’s fairly useless for carving, and is downright frightening at high speeds.

On the carve forum I frequent, a board that has gotten high marks for being able in the powder and bumps while still being a decent carver is the Prior ATV. I have never paid retail for any snowboard (making it easier to justify my addiction), always picking them up cheap on ebay or on closeout specials. However, after failing in a search for a better deal, I finally decided it was worth the money if it really did all they said it could do, and bought one in the longest length (171cm) for $650 from hardbooter.com. That’s many hundred more than I’ve ever paid for a board, so I had exceedingly high hopes.

Last night, I took it on its virgin run. The board is wide enough that I was able to go with a much less aggressive stance angle on my bindings, about 50 degrees in the rear and 55 in the front. My usual race board stance is 60/65 or so (and evern 65/70 on my skinniest board, a Volant Excel 162).

On my first run, it felt pretty strange to be on such a wide board, but it was clear that it was eager to carve a line without having to much much force into the edges. On my second run, I started to get more aggressive with it, and it definitely held its own much, much better than any freestyle board I’ve ever ridden.

It is very soft compared to my other alpine boards, even the other supposedly all-mountain board I ride, a Donek Axis 177. And in getting more aggressive on the carves, it was clear that the ATV would not accept being as aggressively pushed in the carve as my Axis. The Axis can take just about all I’ve got and not fold up, but the ATV definitely gave me vibes that it would not be happy with that (though on my first night I didn’t push too hard).

The sidecut was such that it was easy to keep turns within the tight confines of the runs I was on; definitely a tighter turner than the Axis.

The width did make it slower in edge to edge transitions than a pure carver, but that’s a fair price to pay for the ability to handle a wider range of conditions.

So far, so good. I then took it on the mogul run, hoping it would be somewhat close to my freestyle board in the challenging terrain.

I was shocked; I have never in my life ridden a board on which it was easier to handle the moguls. Jump turns, no problem. It easily took whatever line I (inexpertly) chose, and was flexible enough to be forgiving. Perhaps the best feature was the relatively short and rounded tail (I mounted the bindings pretty far back). It didn’t hook up on anything as I jumped and scooted around the bumps. This is in contrast to my Axis, with a more angular tail that liked to get hooked up sometimes, throwing me off balance and sometimes leaving me in mid-air with my tip and tail perched on adjacent bumps.

All in all, after a couple of hours on it, I really dig it. A great all-mountain stick. No, it is not the best carver in the world, but it’s better than any freestyle board, and much more forgiving than just about any board I’ve ridden.

I just hope I get a chance to try it on some powder in Montana!