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2011 Salomon Grip Team Edition Review

An excellent all-mountain board

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

By

Salomon Grip

Your guide on his Salomon Grip

© Matt Gibson

I bought a 2011 Salomon Grip Team Edition for the 2012 season for a few reasons.

First, the Grip has received a lot of excellent reviews. From what I could tell it was generally considered one of the best all-mountain boards on the market.

Second, it was the previous year's model, so the technology was quite up-to-date, but the price was significantly reduced (I pride myself on being an expert at buying cheap snowboarding gear).

After weighing my options, I bought the Grip for $240. It normally cost $480. The reduced price was definitely affected my decision.

I've been riding my Grip for a couple of months now, and I have to say that I'm definitely pleased.

Overview

The Grip is a true twin with a hybrid camber and medium flex (3 out of 5). This means that it floats well in the powder, but also rides well at high speeds, on groomers, in the crud, and switchstance, which are all important to me. It's flexible enough to easily butter and press, yet stiff enough to hold a hard edge in the corduroy when you need to, although I would not suggest trying any high-speed turns on ice (not that you'd probably want to do that anyways).

Here is how the Grip handles in different conditions.

Ice and Hardpack

This is definitely a weak spot for the Grip. The hybrid camber means that the Grip can hold an edge well, but only to a degree. It slides out easily on ice and very compressed snow.

I wear size 11 boots. The standard160cm Grip has a 251mm waist width. That means that the Grip is barely wide enough to handle my boots without creating excessive toe and heel drag. The place where toe and heel drag makes the most difference, however, is in hard turns on ice and hard snow. That's when they can catch and really throw you down.

Those two factors combined mean I'll be careful when the hill is icy, but I try to avoid ice anyways, so I don't think that should present much of a problem.

Groomers

A nicely-groomed run is a pleasure to carve and the Grip does it well. But, again, it's performance is limited. If my stance is wide, I'll find the tail slipping out more than I'd like, but when my stance is a narrower and the pressure of the turn is concentrated closer to the centre of the board it holds a carve very well.

Deep Powder

I generally like to ride with my stance set right in the middle of the board and a bit wide to make it easier to ride fakie and spin. That stance on the Grip, however, doesn't perform well in powder. When I rode with that stance in deep powder I had to lean back constantly to keep my tip up.

When I took a trip to Jackson Hole I knew I'd be chasing fresh lines all day, so I narrowed my stance and positioned it as far back on the board as possible. The difference was amazing. The Grip floated through the powder with my weight centred over the board. I didn't do my trademark nosedig-to-frontflip once in four days of riding deep champagne powder.

Willingness to tweak your stance to suit conditions make this already versatile board even better.

Crud

Riding the crud plays to two of the Grip's strong suits: riding powder and on medium-pack snow. It transitions between the two beautifully.

Halfpipe

I have to admit that I haven't spent much time in the pipe on my Grip, and I'm not eager to. Since pipes are often icy and require holding a strong edge on a hard surface, I don't expect it to perform well there (see the Ice and Hardpack section).

Boxes and Rails

Again, I haven't had opportunity to try out the Grip on these features. However, the flex is medium and good (though not exceptional) for butters and presses, so I'm sure it would be fun to play around on the boxes on it.

Conclusion

The Salomon Grip Team Edition is a true all-mountain board. It handles the powder and groomers like a boss. It's got enough flex for some nice butters and presses, but it's not a board that you want to ride on extreme hardpack or ice. It will handle pretty much any thing you can throw at it -- and do it with style -- especially if you're willing to tweak your stance for different types of riding. The price is definitely reasonable for the board that you get.

However, if you're planning on doing a lot of power carving, your local hill is icy, or you want to spend a lot of time in the halfpipe, then you're better off looking for a more specialized piece of gear.

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