Snowboard flex ratings should be pretty simple. It’s just how bendy your board is!
Unfortunately, the lack of standardisation within the industry has caused unnecessary confusion.
Hopefully, this snowboard flex guide will bend things back into shape…
What is Snowboard Flex?
Snowboard flex isn’t that complicated really. A snowboard flex rating indicates how bendy a snowboard is.
Flex ratings generally range on a scale from 1 to 10; the higher the number, the stiffer the snowboard.
There are two key types of snowboard flex – longitudinal and torsional.
1. Longitudinal Flex
When a snowboard manufacturer refers to longitudinal flex, they’re talking about how the snowboard flexes along its length, from nose to tail.
This is probably what you thought about when I mentioned “snowboard flex’ too. Right?
A snowboard can have progressive or continuous longitudinal flex, depending on the brand and model.
Snowboards with progressive flex can have different flex ratings between the bindings, the nose, and the tail. As you may have guessed, continuous flex remains the same throughout the length of the board.
2. Torsional Flex
Torsional flex is how flexible the snowboard is from edge to edge. You’ll notice how stiff your torsional flex is when you strap in and try to twist the board with your feet.
Manufacturers still don’t give a torsional flex rating; however, many argue that it should be highlighted more (myself included).
Snowboards with a softer torsional flex turn more sharply and are better for freestyle than those with a stiffer torsional flex. But extra stiffness increases edge hold, which is better for carving.
Snowboard Flex Rating Scale
The most basic snowboard flex rating scale is pretty easy to remember. Snowboards can be either a soft, medium or stiff flex.
Soft Flex (1-3)
Soft-flexing snowboards are ideal for beginners, riders looking to do tricks, or those who prefer a looser, more skate-like feel.
These boards are easier to turn at slower speeds, making them great for maneuverability in the terrain park and urban settings. However, they can lack stability at high speeds and might not hold an edge so well on hard snow or ice.
Medium Flex (4-6)
Medium-flex boards are super versatile, designed to handle a variety of conditions and styles. They offer a good balance between maneuverability and stability, making them suitable for both park riders and all-mountain riders.
Medium-flex snowboards can hold an edge better than soft boards, but they still allow for a good degree of playful riding.
Stiff Flex (7-10)
Stiff snowboards are designed for advanced riders who want the most response and stability from their board. They’re ideal for high-speed carving, deep powder, and big mountain terrain.
They’re not as forgiving as softer boards and require a more aggressive riding style. These boards hold an edge extremely well, even in the hardest conditions. But, they can be challenging to maneuver in tight spots or when riding switch.
Alternative Flex Rating Scale
A more detailed flex scale breaks down looks a little like this:
- 1-3 is a soft flex
- 3.5-4.5 is a medium soft flex
- 5-6.5 is a medium flex
- 7-8.5 is a mid-stiff flex
- 9-10 is a stiff flex
How Much Flex Do I Need?
How much flex you require from your snowboard depends on a few elements. These include your snowboarding ability, riding style, and body weight.
Let’s start with riding style:
1. Riding Style
If you like to jib around and spin in the park, a softer flexing board is a good choice. Soft snowboards are more maneuverable and make buttering, pressing, and other ground tricks much easier.
Snowboarders who spend most of their time jibbing need a very soft snowboard with a maximum flex rating of 2 or 3.
However, riders who hit bigger jumps and still want to ride around the resort need something slightly stiffer (flex ratings between 3 and 6).
Freeriders who ride aggressively or head into the backcountry will benefit from stiffer snowboards. The stiffer rating offers more stability and edge hold, especially when hauling ass or carving up groomers.
Freeride snowboards also have softer noses, which help them float in powder, while a stiffer tail improves edge hold (progressive flex).
You can expect freeride snowboards to have flex ratings between 6 and 10. But your choice will depend on your preference and how much you weigh.
An all-mountain snowboard allows you to have fun anywhere on the mountain. They therefore need a flex rating that hits the sweet spot for all conditions and terrain types.
You’ll find that most all-mountain snowboards have flex ratings ranging from 4 to 10. However, some beginner all-mountain snowboards are much softer.
Before buying an all-mountain snowboard, you need to decide whether you will lean more towards freestyle or freeride. You also need to consider your riding style in terms of aggression, as it will make a difference to how stiff your snowboard should be.
All-mountain snowboards with a stiffer flex rating are designed for more aggressive riding. But you must also consider other elements such as shape, profile, and sidecut.
If you don’t ride aggressively or are slightly more freestyle, you may prefer a softer flex rating in your all-mountain board.
2. Consider Your Ability
Your ability is just as crucial as your riding style when selecting snowboard flex.
If you’re starting out, choose a softer flexing snowboard. These are much easier to control, especially at slow speeds. They’re also more forgiving, allowing you to get away with mistakes.
However, choosing an extremely soft snowboard isn’t a good idea (unless you want to focus on freestyle riding).
Remember, you’ll progress very quickly as a rider. These supersoft snowboards tend to chatter at high speeds and don’t hold an edge too well.
Consider picking up a medium soft snowboard (rated 3-5) that you’ll grow into and not have to upgrade straight away.
3. Body Weight
How much you weigh will also influence how flexible your snowboard should be.
If a lighter snowboarder rides a stiff board, they might find it challenging to control. On the other hand, a heavier rider on a soft board may find it too loose and chattery.
When you find your sweet spot in terms of snowboard flex and length, your board will feel just right!
Before you buy a snowboard, check the manufacturer’s sizing chart and use our snowboard length calculator. This allows you to cross reference your weight and choose the right board for you.
As you can see, snowboard flex ratings are very important when choosing a snowboard.
Try a few different snowboards with differing flex ratings. You’ll soon get a feel for what each one is like.
But remember, flex is just one of the many elements you need to consider. Make sure you’ve checked out our complete snowboard buyer’s guide before pulling the trigger.
Hope that helped?