This is a guest review, written by René Weiß. René is an intermediate snowboarder, happy riding powder and starting to learn some freestyle, upgrading from his first snowboard setup. Here’s his review…
The Rome Manual (and wide Rome Crail)
It’s a good board for me, a step up from my previous board, the Burton Bullet. I enjoy riding it. However, it turns out I may need something more freestyle-specific for my liking.
The Rome Manual is an all-mountain board toward the lower end of the snowboard-price range, aimed at progressing riders, so don’t expect some of the top end technologies and specs.
The Manual retails at 360 Euros. It’s the wide version of Rome’s Crail snowboard – with a waist width from 26.0 to 26.5. Both the Crail and the Manual have a directional shape, regular camber design and a 2cm setback stance. Being 9 centimetres longer that the tail – the nose has some extra scoop.
Setup and usage. I’ve ridden the Rome Manual with Rome 390 bindings for 6 days on snow. It’s the 162cm from 09/10, which I picked up at an end of season sale in Summer 2010. Note that Rome didn’t change any of the board specs between the 09/10 and the 10/11 version of the board – just the graphics. So this review works for both.
Board flex. On paper the board is stiffer than the Bullet – although I’m not sure how much those flex scales actually tell you, other than being a general guide. I really like the flex of the Manual – it’s smooth and consistent – the difference parts of the board seem to flex the right amount. It does a good job for the “all-round” or “all-mountain” design aim of the board.
In comparison, the Bullet felt more like a wooden plank. Going by the paper ratings it’s supposed to be a softer board – but it seemed hard and “un-poppy”. Buttering around was still possible, but didn’t feel that great, not very smooth.
Jumping, jibbing and butters. The Manual feels good with ollies and nollies. When it comes to jibbing, rails and boxes, I don’t have too much experience. The board feels good for this and there is potential left given what I can currently do. However, the board and bindings together do feel quite heavy, and the “all-mountain” length that I’ve got gives me the impression that my Manual is more at home on the slope/piste.
The flex of the board is great, buttering is working just fine, really “do-able”. However, I would say that in this area, the directional shape is a bit of a hindrance; it’s still doable but this isn’t a freestyle board.
Carving. The Manual feels good for carving; I can hold a good edge with this board, even if my heel-side turn is a bit weaker than my toe-side… 😉 The board is also stable at speed. You can make fast changes and the board reacts, without being too twitchy. There’s a little space for error, so the ride is fast but not too stressful!
Powder. The board makes riding powder easy due to the setback stance and longer, scoop’y nose. I like to ride powder without much forward lean on the high-back, and like this I get a surfy feeling with the Manual. There’s really no need to put that much weight on your back foot.
In comparison, my friend was riding an Ftwo Code from 09/10 (freestyle board), and he fared less well in the deep stuff. The Manual has good float and decent speed in powder conditions.
Personal. Overall, I’m happy with the Rome Manual. Compared with the Bullet, it gives me more possibilities. The Bullet gave me the feeling “I can do more than the Board allows me to”. There’s more room to progress with the Manual.
That said, I do have the feeling that something is missing. As mentioned above, I might have the wrong length for some of the freestyle that I’d like to learn. Maybe it’s just me and my riding, or it could be that the board is missing something that I want – it is after all designed for all-mountain use. I’m thinking about trying a twin board at a demo in September this year, which suggests that I want too much freestyle from the Manual…
General. I’d say the Rome Manual is a good board for beginner/intermediate riders because of its all-mountain performance and its friendly-flex that doesn’t hurt you on every single mistake. It’s also a good option for snowboarders who don’t want to spend too much money on a board – but still expect something of good quality, to progress on. It gives more than an absolute beginners board.
The Manual has a lot potential for all-round riding – but if you just want to do one kind of riding, e.g. carving or park, you should look for another board. The manual can do everything well, but nothing individually the best. Looking at that scale, I’d say it’s more suited to riding powder and riding on the slope, than it is to pure freestyle, so it’s more in the direction of a free-riding board. As above though, butters, ollies and nollies feel good…