Essential Snowboard Maintenance
In our heads, we carve the snow like a demon, and dream of the time we can spend out on the slopes. But if we don’t look after that board in our garage in-between our precious snow time, then when it comes to your next run, it could be more of a catch and a faceplant than a glorious moment of air.
Let’s face it, your snowboard was not cheap, and it’s already taken some rough riding as you hit the slopes for a blast with your buds. But with a little snowboard know-how, you can keep it in tip-top shape for your next freeride. We take a look at the essential snowboard maintenance you should be doing to ensure you and your precious plank are always primed and powder ready.
Maintenance Starts With A New Board
Although you can ride a brand-new snowboard straight out of ‘the box’, there’s a few things you can do to get the best ride from the get-go. New snowboards typically come complete with a factory wax which is perfectly rideable, but most riders opt to give their new board a full and proper hot wax before taking it out on snow for the first time. Waxing not only gets you and your board moving faster, but it also prevents your snowboard from drying out and extends its life. We take look at waxing later in this blog. You may also want to ‘detune’ your new snowboard – that is buffing out any sharp or nasty edges which may catch – again, more on this in a moment.
Prevention Is Key
Look after your board, and it will look after you. This means that as well as regular care and maintenance off the slopes, you need to be aware of potential damage as you ride as prevention is always better than a DIY cure. Rocks and hard, jagged surfaces are a particular enemy of your board and can lead to a premature end of its riding life. So, although you are out for an adrenalin rush on the powder or as you trick, always ride with care, especially when the snow coverage is not that good. Also check your board regularly, after every ride if you can as catch a crack or dent early enough and you’ll prevent water seeping into the core of your board.
Channel Your Inner Mr. Miyagi
For all fans of the Karate Kid, now’s the time to take heed of his mentor’s words of wisdom when it comes to epic snowboard maintenance – wax on, wax off is always the way to go!
How often you ‘wax on, wax off’ is dependent on several factors, including the construction of your board, how often you ride and the conditions you’ll be riding in. Many riders recommend waxing after every three days of riding, but at the very least you should be giving your board a regular full, scrape and hot wax with top-ups depending on your riding plans. As a rule of thumb, you can be sure your board needs some waxing attention if the base starts to look a little white and your ride feels slower than usual on flat runs.
Scrape, Smooth And Buff
To re-wax your board you need to do the prep first, and this means removing the old wax. You can use a wax remover – typically a citrus solvent base cleaner – or use a soft brass brush first to scrape out the old wax before wiping down with the base cleaner to remove any dirt and residue, then leave to thoroughly dry before applying your new layer of hot wax.
To apply your new wax, run a hot iron over the board’s base, apply a thin layer of wax evenly over your board then scrape away any excess. Once your new hot wax has been smoothly applied – use a pad to rub and smooth the wax into the pores on the board – leave it all to cool down, typically for around 20 minutes. You should now have an evenly re-waxed board that just needs the final step – a good buffing with a dry cloth for a clean finish. You can also add a texture to the wax, using a horsehair brush to break up the surface tension and create small channels to wick water away from the base when riding. If you are unsure, check out YouTube for videos on how to re-wax your board – or ask at your local snowboard shop.
Fine-Tune Your Edge
Your board edges will also need regular attention to ensure there are no rough tips or burrs that can catch as you ride. With everyday wear and tear when out on the slopes, nicks, dents and dings can be caused by rocks and rough ground, leading to a less than smooth edge to your board. You can re-sharpen your board edges using a special edging tool. Hold the tool as flat to the board base as possible then run it along the full length of the edge in a smooth, non-stop motion from nose to tail. Repeat carefully until the edge is restored and feels nicely sharp and smooth. If in any doubt, get an expert to do it for you.
Being able to repair on the go is a wise thing, as it means in many cases you can fix when on your boarding trip and avoid a premature end to an otherwise awesome snowboarding weekend or holiday. If a scratch or dent is shallow or superficial, buff it out with fresh wax and you’ll be back in your bindings in no time. Choose an all-temperature wax you can keep in your ski backpack for an on-the-go running repair. For deeper gouges you can do a temporary fix with wax to prevent damp getting deeper into your board, giving you the time to get to your nearest repair shop for an assessment and professional fix.
Store It Away
How you look after your board away from the slopes is as important as how you take care of it out on the snow. A little regular TLC away from the powder will keep your board running for years to come. After each ride or day spent on the mountain, make sure you take some time to wipe off any excess snow and allow your board to thoroughly dry. Don’t forget to also pay attention to the small crevices around the bindings as moisture can cause metal parts to eventually rust.
And when your powder time has come to an end and you are putting away your snowboard gear for next year, give your board a final wipe down. Then, making sure it is totally dry, melt on a thick layer of wax and cover your board (don’t worry, you will scrape it off at the start of the new season) before storing carefully away in a dry, cool place. This way your precious board is out of any harm’s way and will be primed and ready for when the new season’s snow starts to fall, and you’re psyched to get back out and ride.