Getting Dialed: Setting Up Your Equipment

Are You Regular Or Goofy? Before considering the details of setting up your board andbindings, one question must be answered-are you regular or goofy? For riders with experience in othersideways sports, this is a no-brainer, but for those whose first sideways encounter is with a snowboard,listen up. Regular foot means you stand on a board with your left foot in front, and goofy foot implies yourright foot forward. Don’t let the names fool you, neither is more common or correct, but one will most likelybe easier for you. To determine which way you should ride, go through a couple self-tests. Pretend you’reTom Cruise in that movie Risky Business and run and slide on the kitchen floor in your socks-which foot doyou naturally place in front? If you’re already in the mountains, try it on a patch of ice while waiting for theresort shuttle bus. If you find that you can do it with either foot forward, then it probably doesn’t matter.You’ll learn either way equally well. During your initial stint on a snowboard, it won’t be a huge issue if youguessed wrong in regard to your stance (although it can serve as a good excuse), you’ll be making moresideways than directional moves.

When turning, though, a regular-foot rider set up goofy, or vice-versa, will have a hard time shifting their weight forward, and initiating turns-they may even find it easier to ride backward. Take a few minutes, and a couple turns of a screwdriver, to get yourself riding in the rightdirection, literally. (body) Standard Procedure 1. Stance Width 2. Binding Placement 3. Stance Angles 4.Toe To Heel Centering 5. Binding Adjustments There are as many exceptions to the “rules” of equipmentsetup as there are rider types and riding styles. The rules, in fact, are mere reference points from where youshould explore what works for you and how you’d like to snowboard. The term “stance” connotes a rider’sposition on their board, its two main components are stance width and binding orientation, or angles.Figuring out your stance width (the distance between your bindings-measured from the center of one bindingto the center of the other, in inches) isn’t a set-in-stone process. Initially, try “shoulder width” or the length ofyour lower leg measured from just below your knee to under your heel.

This can then be tweaked to accommodate your riding style. A wider stance will afford freestylers more stability and less rotational”swing” weight, making it easier to spin, while a narrower stance will focus your weight in the center of theboard for better use of its design when turning. My shoulders measure nineteen-and-a-half inches, my lowerleg is 20, and I ride with a twenty-one inch stance. Once you’ve determined the width of your stance, thebindings need to be placed on the board in the right spot-usually relative to the center of the board’s sidecut(the narrowest part of the board).

Freeriders, and all but those who ride completely symmetrical twin tip boards, tend to ride “back of center,” meaning that the nose of their boards are longer than the tails. This is also where the center of the sidecut probably lies. For deep powder you may set your bindings even farthertoward the tail of the board to allow the nose more length to flex above the snow’s surface. To ensure theright placement, measure out from the center of the board’s sidecut, rather than in from the tip and tail. Yourstance width will remain the same and your bindings will be placed in the optimum position (for a twenty-inchstance, place your bindings ten inches each side of the sidecut’s center). Then choose the holes (inserts)closest to your stance-width and loosely tighten down a couple of screws (use a number-three Phillips-headscrewdriver for most bindings) to hold them in place before adjusting the stance angles. A stance that’s too wide will inhibit your board from flexing properly (smooth turns) and limit your range ofmotion.

A stance that’s too narrow won’t allow you as much control over the tiip and tail of the board, will make itharder to spin in the air and balance while riding and landing jumps. Stance-angle, or binding-orientation,preferences are largely dependent on what’s comfortable. Your prior experiences and anatomical makeupwill be primary indicators of this. In addition, your equipment will be a factor because the correct stanceangles are also the ones that position your boots so they don’t hang over the board’s edges. Binding anglesare measured in degrees relative to the board’s nose-zero degrees is perpendicular, straight across theboard, and 90 degrees is parallel to the board, pointing toward the nose-and are usually stated back foot,front foot, like “ten, eighteen.” With your bindings tacked on at about the width and stance placement youwant, put your boots in them to see how things fit on the board. Turn the binding (if the screws are looseenough the bindings should turn without removing them) until the toe and heel of each boot are just over theboard’s edges. If the boot’s toe and heel don’t line up evenly-the heel flush and the toe hanging wayover-you’ll need to center them by: (1) adjusting the binding’s heel cup (rear part of the base), or (2)selecting the proper holes in the mounting discs, moving them forward or back toward the toe or heel. If youknow what angles you prefer to ride, cater your equipment to your stance. For example, I like to ride attwelve, twenty-eight and I wear a size nine-and-a-half boot (that’s not my foot size), so I ride boards no lessthan 25.3 cm wide in the waist.

Any narrower, and I’ll have to compromise the position that I’ve foundworks best for me. The makeup of your body also has something to say about the stance angle you choose.Knock-kneed and bow-legged riders have different needs to achieve comfort and effective riding positions.Knock-kneed riders should try increasing the difference between the front and back binding angles (e.g.,from 12/25 to 9/28), while bow-leggers should bring ’em in a little by decreasing the variance. Ninety-ninepercent of snowboarders ride with less angle on their back foot than front, but some find it comfortable theother way, kind of pigeon-toed (some racers use this position). A minority of freestyle riders who spendalmost equal time riding backward (fakie) as they do forward, actually use negative angles on their backfeet-called Duck Stance-pointing the rear binding a few degrees toward the tail (knee surgeons love theseguys). This supposedly makes it easier to ride backward, or switch-stance as it’s called, and brings us to agood point: excuses for your riding are usually not found in your equipment. When you pinpoint your stanceangles, tighten the binding mounting screws as tightly as you can by hand. Stance angles that are too great, or steep, will move your toes and heels away (inward) from the board’sedges, making turning slow and difficult.

Not enough stance angle will cause boot-drag. Dialing in your equipment is a continual process. Theelements of your stance evolve with your progress, style, and changes of equipment. When riding a setup forthe first time, carry a tool with you and experiment until you find the sweet spot. Every board, boot, binding,and rider is different, so it may take a combination of factors to get things just right. But when you find it, theright stance and personalized adjustments will allow you to take full advantage of your setup.