We tested a Superbrand design & dims in PU & specialized EPS
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 26 December, 2015 - Having recently found a magic board—i.e., one that works in a majority of conditions and responds to my average surfing abilities—I immediately became depressed. It’s a board that works without having to think about where to put my feet, a board that’s fast, loose and paddles great. However, after you find THE ONE, it’s all downhill. Isn’t it?
Sure, you can surf it and be stoked, but what I’ve found is that with each session a little piece of my magic board is lost. And by that I mean to say: in six months this magic polyurethane board creased in two places, had a fin box busted out, and two inches of the nose broken off. Why? Because I’m having a great, reckless, fast, dangerous time surfing it—the way surfing a magic board should be.
So for this test we decided to replicate the magic board in a different, stronger construction to see how it compared. Full disclosure: This is not a truly scientific study. To do that we’d need a wave pool. Or at least a consistent wave. So we came as close as we could, in a variety of California conditions.
We tried the exact same computer-shaped model in an eps core with directional-glass-over-eps construction. The board, a Superbrand 5’10” Unit, is offered in what they call Superflex. There are a few versions of directional-glass-over-eps construction out there with Futureflex by Haydenshapes being the most popular.
Here is a breakdown of the differences in construction:
Magic Board #1.) Polyurethane: The very same material construction surfboard makers have been using for around 60 years—polyurethane foam with a wood stringer running down the center.
“All of the structural support is in the 0 and 90 degree directions (parallel and perpendicular to the stringer)” says Superbrand's Jason Koons. “The results are somewhat predictable, but with fluctuations in foam density and stringer grain the results for two boards shaped exactly the same can vary to a frustrating degree at the highest level of surfing.”
Board #2.) EPS: Koons claims the stringer-less eps core blanks are super predictable in flex and yield nearly the exact same results every time between two blanks. “Because the core has a consistent density from board to board and the multilayered glassing schedule is multidirectional we get a light predictable controlled product,” he added.
1.) Polyurethane: The magic PU board is glassed with one layer of fiberglass S-cloth on the bottom and two layers on the top and set with polyester resin.
2.) Superflex: Glassed with a layer of glass that has additional strands following the nose-to-tail direction called Warp glass. Think of it as going with the grain in wood instead of against it. Then they add Vectornet (the net-looking stuff on the bottom) which adds strength and controls flex further.
“The Vectornet used on the bottom is an engineering trick to add a bit of spring to the board,” says Koons. “The material used to make the Vectornet has very little structural value. The Vectornet frays a bit during application so to keep it looking clean we spray the rails of the blank black,” he adds.
The deck then gets glassed with regular glass and Warp glass.
What We Discovered:
The directional-glass-over-eps construction is much more durable. We dropped it on the sidewalk, paddled over a rock in the lineup and pulled into some thumping closeouts. The board received not a scratch.
Setting the two boards side-by-side then weighing them on a digital scale, we found their weights to be almost identical - 6 pounds 13 ounces for the PU and 6 pounds 10 ounces for the Superflex.
How did it surf?
I really liked the Superflex board. It surfed lively and well. Conversely, it did feel a tad stiffer flex-wise and didn’t quite knife through the water as well as it’s PU counterpart. It was more prone to skip out when turning hard off the tail, more so than the PU version (we tested both boards with the exact same Futures JC1 Blackstix fins).
For fifty percent of the sessions on the Superflex board it went fine. The other sessions it didn’t have that magic ‘zing’ —especially in bumpy surf.
Of the two constructions, the Superflex paddled better and felt as though it had more float than the PU board (remember, exact same dimensions) which helped during sessions in more gutless surf.
We liked the PU board better for performance, liveliness and responsiveness. Though, had I jumped on the Superflex construction first, I might be totally satisfied with that construction, after all we are comparing it to a ‘magic board’. One thing's for certain, I did not like how fragile the PU construction feels compared to the Superflex.
For this reviewer’s performance needs, the Superflex board is a good board; the PU counterpart is a great board.