Concave Burton snowboards.


October 2013.



This is how the bases of our Burton snowboards looked after we (my son and I) had returned from our last 6 days trip to Hemsedal, Norway in February 2013. We returned from the trip with the impression that our boards had performed a bit more nervously than expected. Perhaps not surprising when taking a closer look at the pictures (click the pictures to enlarge).



Click the picture to enlarge.

Click the picture to enlarge.



As can be seen, the boards are extremely concave (the bindings are removed from the boards). Before we actually measured for concavity, we ordered some base flattener tools from SkiVisions ( But when we realized just how concave the boards were, we gave up using the tools, since (to our knowledge) the P-Tex layer is just around 1.2 millimetres thick. There simply wouldn't be any P-Tex left around the edges by the time the bases would eventually be level. So, what to do?


Well, you could of course throw away the boards, and sadly that might be the end of it. But since ...


- replacement boards aren't exactly cheap,


- at least until our last snowboard trip we've been very pleased with the boards,


- our bindings (CO2 EST) are dedicated to the Burton channel system (ICS), and so to throw away the boards also means to throw away

   the bindings (we are, for good reasons, pretty reluctant to buy Burton boards again),


... we'll go to great lengths in trying to fix the concavity of the boards.


In the text below you'll find a few words on what the boards have been exposed to, followed by Burton's own comments, as well as a short discussion on what seems to us to be the most probable cause(s) for the concavity. Finally, you'll find a description of the steps that we've taken in a rather desperate attempt to remove the concavity from the boards.




What have the boards been exposed to?



Time of usage.


As is evident from the pictures, the boards in question are a Burton Supermodel 159 and a Burton Supermodel X 160. Both boards were bought new from our snowboard retailer in 2010. We are lowlanders (living in Denmark), and our snowboard trips are restricted to one short yearly trip to our neighbouring country, Norway. That amounts to a relatively small number of hours during which the boards have been exposed to the white stuff: In total, 2 trips of 6 days for the Supermodel 159 and 3 trips of 6 days for the Supermodel X 160.


How have the boards been used and stored.


I'm 63 years old and have been snowboarding for 12 years. My son is 25 years old and has been snowboarding for 8 years. We're certainly no daredevils and mainly visit the groomies with some very short excursions to the non-prepped areas. Here's a headcam video from our last trip, to show that we are not mistreating our snowboards:; "Mikkel" is the Supermodel rider and the headcam man is the Supermodel X rider. 


When not in use, the boards have been kept dry in room temperature. Coming home from our trips we always do an interim preparation of the boards for the next season (drying the boards, preparing the rails and bases). The bindings have not been removed during the storage period.



Contacting the retailer and the Danish importer to get an idea of what might have happened.



Contacting our retailer (Surfline, Denmark), the shop owner said that he'd never before witnessed anything close to this kind of concavity. He contacted the Danish importer of Burton boards to get his opinion - in vain. The importer's words were that "... I presented the issue to Burton, and it's not a problem that they know of. They think that the boards may have been stored incorrectly ...?"


Our retailer tried again ("... I hope you can do better than this!"), but in essence he only got a repeat of the same answer ("...that's the closest I can get ...").


In fact it could have been a kind of answer - if Burton had defined what it means to store your boards in a wrong way. For instance, Burton might have said that if you keep your board in very hot environments during the summertime, concavity can develop. Or, Burton might have said that if you don't remove your bindings between your snowboard trips, concavity can develop. Or, Burton might have said that ...?


But Burton didn't give us a clue as to how we might at least prevent this thing from happening again with our next boards. And that leaves us with no other option than to start guessing as to what could have triggered the massive concavity.




Developing some theory about what might have happened.



To outline some plausible causes for the Supermodel/Supermodel X concavity, we first have to find out what could not be the cause.



1) It's not impossible, but not probable either, that the boards were manufactured at the same time. We're not even sure if the boards

     were manufactured at the same facility. And according to the specs, the boards are not made from quite the same materials (but



So, because of the presumably lack of identity between manufacture time, manufacture facility and board material it's most likely that the boards were OK when they were sent to Europe.



2) To check whether concavity is common in new boards, we controlled some new boards (around 50, most Burtons) with a true bar at

     our retailer. Non of them had the slightest hint of concavity.


So, it's most likely that the boards were OK when we brought them home from our retailer. Perhaps underlined by the fact that the boards were bought at the same place - but not at quite the same time.



3) The boards have been kept in a dark, dry, temperate room between our snowboard trips. Temperate means between 15 - 25 degrees



So, the boards have never been exposed to excessive humidity, heat or the like. Yes, the boards have been exposed to cold (down to approx. -20 degrees Celsius) on our trips, but we suppose that's what the snowboards are built for ...



4) The boards have never been in contact with any base or edge grinding machine, structure machine, waxing machine, or the like.

     The boards have exclusively been prepared by hand with a Toko waxing iron (always in motion!), a plastic scraper and some Burton

     and Toko edge devices. And the waxes used have almost always been from the Swix LF series.


So, the boards have always been carefully prepared, both when returning from our trips and just before departing on one.



5) When transporting the boards to the Norwegian destinations, they have been kept in padded DaKine board bags in a roof box on

     our car. They've not been fixed hard to some roof racks in a way that could deform them.


So, the boards have been transported carefully, lying loose and protected in padded board bags in a roof box.



But then, what might have triggered the concavity?



1) When searching the internet it seems that some guys (claiming to have been working within the industry for years) argue that "Burton

     boards are notorious for poor quality construction", and that "80% of the (Burton) boards that came through our shops were

     borderline or completely untuneable because the base becomes concave"



     We haven't got the faintest idea if this is true or just a rumour. Perhaps the dominance of a brand will always result in such

     accusations, or perhaps lots of people have actually experienced massive quality problems. We don't know. But at least it seems that

     it's not quite unthinkable that some Burton boards have/have had weak constructions that allow concavity to develop.


2) Our bindings (CO2 EST) have always been fixed to the boards. Tightly, but certainly not by using excessive force. Of course, the

     bindings have been loosened when tweaking with the stance and angles, but they've never been removed for a longer period of time.


     Is it feasible that the continuous pull in the channels from the bindings could have pulled the boards concave? We've all seen what

     always happens under the boards that use the standard 4 screw mounts ("binding suck"), but here we're talking about channels in

     almost 2 thirds of the running length of the boards. If the channels are weak and/or haven't been solid located in the boards it seems

     (to us, at least) to be feasible that concavity in almost the whole length of the bottom of the boards could have developed. So there's

     good reason to take a closer look at the ICS mounts:


3) The boards are from the first (pre-2011) generation of ICS. The following generation of ICS seems to be a little more robust and went

     from M5 bolts/mutters/thinner tracks to M6 bolts/mutters/thicker tracks. Why did Burton beef up the ICS? Could it bee that Burton

     realized that the first generation of ICS were too weak to withstand the pull from the binding with concavity as a consequence?



Replacing the concave boards with new Burton snowboards?


If the cause of the concavity in our boards turns out to a mounting system that is too weak (a system that for whatever reason was beefed up from 2011 and onwards), then there's no apparent reason not to replace our Supermodel and Supermodel X with new Burton snowboards that have the post-2011 ICS, for instance a couple of Family Tree Juice Wagons.


But two things hold us back:


Firstly, until we get a confirmation that the (now dismantled) weak(?) ICS has been the main cause for the concavity, we'll have to assume that all Burton channel snowboards (including the latest) are exposed for concavity.


And secondly, the arrogance from Burton (or the Danish Burton importer?) in refusing to give us a hint as to what can trigger a concave Burton snowboard ought not to be rewarded. Meaning that just visiting our retailer to buy a couple of new Burton boards in replacement of boards that have been destroyed from within 12-18 days in the white stuff is not the right way to go.


So, although we've owned several other Burton snowboards over the years (T6 (4 screw mount), Custom X (4 screw mount), Barracuda (post-2011 ICS mount)) - and have been very satisfied with the performance and sturdiness of the boards - unfortunately we'll have to look elsewhere in the future.




An attempt to save our boards.



As stated, it's impossible to remove the concavity in our boards by using grinding tools, as they'll just grind through the P-Tex (and probably most of the steel edges as well) before the boards are flat. The other option, of course, is to try to press the boards into shape again. Perhaps it's a kind of "mission impossible", but we've given this option a try.


In essence, we've made a couple of casts (kind of 3D prints, moulds) of the edge areas of the bottoms of the boards (in plywood, strengthened with carbon weave). Between the edge-supporting areas of the casts some material (plywood) has been removed, so that when pressing very hard in the middle of the boards (by clamps) it's possible to press them into a convex shape.


Simply applying clamps directly on top of the boards of course exhibits unacceptable point loads, so to avoid this we've also made a couple of "casts" (again from plywood, strengthened with carbon weave) of the middle sections of the boards. So when squeezing the boards between the "casts" it's hopefully possible to bring the boards back into their original shapes by counteracting the concavity by squeezing the bottoms into a convexity. If we're very, very lucky the snowboards will have regained their original flat shape when we release the clamps. Some "check holes" are drilled into the bottom "casts" to estimate just what goes on shape-wise between the casts.


Hopefully the pictures clarify a little.



The casts.

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The bottom casts lying ready.

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The boards in place on the bottom casts.

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The top casts placed on the boards.

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Squeezing the boards between the casts using clamps.

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The same - upside down.

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Controlling the squeezing/shape of the bases using a vernier gauge in the "check holes" (Supermodel).

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Controlling the squeezing/shape of the bases using a vernier gauge in the "check holes" (Supermodel X).

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The boards have now been squeezed for a couple of months, and soon we'll check what (if anything) has happened. If the squeezing has had no effect, perhaps we'll try squeezing the boards back into forms again, this time placing them in a hot environment (a sauna?) for a few hours. It may ruin the boards, but then again, aren't they ruined already?


One thing is for certain: If we really succeed in re-establishing the flat bases of the boards, we'll remember to always release the bindings as soon as we return from our trips, so that the pull from the bindings won't overload the presumably weak ICS mounts.


 Snowboard concavity, does it matter at all?


As is hopefully understood, we're not advanced snowboarders at all, and it's hard for us to tell just how much better a flat snowboard will perform compared to our concave snowboards. But when searching the internet for opinions on this issue, it's pretty obvious that even a smaller amount of concavity is considered to be something that must be avoided or otherwise corrected. In our case, we're not talking about a smaller amount of concavity, and correcting it by conventional means is unfortunately not an option. So we'll sadly have to trust the words of wiser people, for instance Scott Firestone from "alpinecarving", when he says: "A concave base is a nightmare, because your edges will keep catching when you try to initiate a turn or glide on the flats." (


Update, spring 2014:


After a couple of months of squeezing the boards they have been released from their prison. And after further a couple of weeks of letting them lying without pressure to allow for any possible compensating memory to work, it is time to valuate.


And in fact the pressure has worked - to some degree. There are variations along the lengths of the boards, but the general picture is that the middle of the boards  (along the centre lines) is almost squeezed back in position, while in the areas in between the centre lines and the rails there still re some concavity. In fact the cross sections of the boards can be described as the contours of gull wings.


Will the boards now be worth using? Well, we'll probably never know. Not being in a position to forsee how the squeezing experiment would develop and consequently how the boards would react when actually hitting the snow, we had to invest in a couple of new boards (and bindings) - just to be sure to have some quality time in the white stuff. And of course this time we didn't opt for Burton products, as we have lost a fair bit of confidence in their "the Cannel" mounting system - and in the ability of Burton to back up their products by at least producing a kind of explanation about what could possible have gone wrong with our boards.


Oh, and our new boards are a couple of Nidecker Megalights with traditional binding mounting inserts, equipped with Nitro Blackhawk and Salomon Caliber bindings. Using the Nidecker Megalights on our trip to Norway in February 2014 I can say with conviction that we'll never look back ...