Mervin Manufacturing changed the game when they revealed rocker. And now, with so many companies latching onto this new shape—from Burton to Rossignol to K2—it's proving to be a design that's here to stay. Pete Saari is co-founder of Mervin Manufacturing, the maker of Lib Tech and Gnu Snowboards, and has been building boards since the early 80s. Here's his take on all things Banana.
Photo: Annette Veihelmann
Explain banana technology:
Banana technology is Lib Tech's snowboard technology designed around the needs of a snowboarder. Traditional snowboard design borrowed camber from skiing in order to make snowboards work better on hardpack. Camber is designed to work well with one central pressure input area (i.e. boot) on each ski, but was not really designed around how a snowboarder uses a board. Camber leaves an unweightable "dead zone" between your feet. Banana technology focuses edge pressure between your feet, bringing the dead zone to life. It adds catch free tips and tails for jibs, rails, and forgiving landings. It adds pre-bent rocker between your feet for edge hold and carving, and it adds tip and tail float in powder.
How did you guys think this up?
Lib Tech is an R&D company. Mike Olson and our ExperiMental crew designed our entire shop and all our tooling around change and evolution. We've been experimenting for over 25 years and still we're not completely satisfied with snowboard design. They still kind of sucked compared to surfboards, skateboards, and skis. It finally came to us; camber is for skiers. Snowboarders need a board designed around snowboarding. I can’t believe it took us so damn long to figure it out.
What kind of testing did you have to do before you were confident it worked?
We were confident Banana Technology would be the future even before we rode it, we have been thinking about snowboard geometry every day for years and so once we had Banana Tech in our heads we pretty much knew it was a go. The actual testing was almost a formality, but it sure was fun to see all our theories actually working. Banana Tech is letting riders push snowboarding to new levels everywhere from backyard jibs and everyday park shredding, to Torah Bright winning the icy pipe at the U.S. Open and people doing gnarly big mountain Alaskan lines. Basically we work on snowboards every day and it sure is nice to build and ride boards that make you work less, ride better, and put a big smile on your face.
Jesse Burtner swinging his banana around at Bear Mountain. Photos:Liam Gallagher
And now a few words about Magne-Traction with Pete Saari
Who came up with the idea for Magne-Traction?
Magne-traction was a collaboration of ideas out of our Lib Tech Experimental division. We are constantly dreaming up new board concepts, some get built some don’t. One of the snowboard design
challenges Mike Olson had in the 80’s and 90’s was that he always rode his 190 Dough Boy shredder freestyle board and in order to have the waist width he wanted with the sidecut he wanted the nose and tails got too wide for the materials the suppliers made available. Mike had always dreamt of having a board with three separate side-cuts; one behind the back foot, one between your feet and one in front of your feet.
The theory being that you could ride different sidecuts at different times depending on where you put your weight. That board never got built, but did introduce the concept of having an edge that reversed
its curve and went back inwards, which is later one of the key elements of Magne-traction.
We are twin freestyle board company, but every year the Mt. Baker Banked Slalom turns all our freeriders into racers and we get super involved in carving, edge hold and speed designs. In the early 90’s Temple Cummins kept coming in and saying he was missing “something” on his heelside turns. Mike challenged Steven Cobb our board designer to come up with a multiple side-cut design at the wide points at your feet to reduce heel drag, improve snowboard edge hold and heelside turning performance. Steven pondered the project for a few weeks and then came into the shop with a drawing of a board with small bumps or serrations evenly distributed along the length of the board. Steven built a board and went up and tested it and was immediately stoked on the added edge hold, but felt like it was almost too aggressive. We reduced the size of the bumps in-front of and behind your feet leaving the big serration’s (teeth) in the area between your feet.
We built 5 test boards and went to Baker for an Experimental Division test session, everyone was stoked and Magne-Traction was born.
How would you describe Magne-traction to someone who’s never heard of it?
Technically Magne-traction is 7 bumps or teeth along the length of your sidecut and edge each specifically sized and located to improve edge hold and focus control and power where you need it. The 3 largest most aggressive teeth are located between your feet adding control to theun-pressurable “dead zone” at and between your feet where your balance is centered. Smaller less aggressive teeth are located between your front foot and the contact area adding edge hold for turn initiation and control but keeping the tips and tails loose for catch-free freestyle.
How does Magne-Traction work?
With Magne-traction we focus the most aggressive teeth or bumps between the feet, shifting and focusing edge pressure to the under utilized but vital middle area of the snowboard and effectively bringing to life the “dead zone”. The Magne-traction bumps or teeth act like a serrated knife cutting into the snow improving edge hold along the entire length of the board allowing people to ride dull edges for jibs, rails and boxes
and still get great edge hold all over the mountain.