Virus Review May 18th, 2008 Billy Bordy

Sunday, May 18th, 2008
 
Virus Phantom IV
It is not news that we at Hardbooter love metal boards. We stock almost every North American metal board made so it’s time to look abroad.
We love the ubersticks, and Virus is as uber as it gets; made in Germany, a country with a love for hardboot snowboarding.
Virus’s handmade alpine snowboard program started over 20 years ago and in that time they have mastered the alpine snowboard.
 
If you are considering a Virus, you are joining a club, like owning a Lambo or playing polo and there will be a cost to consider.
If you are ready to make the investment for enjoyment, then here’s some insider’s info.
 
First off, the quality of anything that says Virus on it is industry leading.
Frank Deitzel comes across as a free spirited smiling guy every time you see him but there might be a bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome going on because when he starts building a board he turns into the most anal builder on the planet.
Everything about the Virus product is built to the highest standard – something almost impossible to achieve if you’re a mere mortal.
 
Since the quality of the product alone is enough to justify the cost, then the selection and options provided by Virus on each new board should just be perks.
Buying a Virus snowboard is like purchasing a fine auto with personal options to define ones’ style.
 
Decide on a model, create your own shape, pick your preferred construction materials or perhaps even combine a few.
If you like the feel of a metal board but like more pop Virus can do it.
Want a super narrow wood board with some zylon? Sure thing, no problem.
Have a “great” idea for a shape and construction you think doesn’t exist; chances are Virus has are ready built the board you have in mind.
In fact, Virus has been the go to builder for several other companies’ products.
Many of the boards out of the Virus factory receive huge accolades in the alpine community without the riders even knowing they are aboard a Virus snowboard.
 
Frank has been building boards for over twenty years and has compiled a huge amount of templates for shapes.
It may be that this level of diversity has brought Frank to true snowboard building zen; mastering all conditions and styles.
 
Virus may be one of the only companies to please all of the people all of the time.
They may have the most diversified line up in alpine snowboarding.
Their boards range from pure high energy PGS and PSL race shapes for the high end athlete to the easy to ride cruising shapes for the alpine connoisseur to some of the most versatile powder boards to ever carve a clean line in the cord between stashes.
 
 
The Phantom IV and the Scalpel 180 came home with us after the SES in February and we have been putting them through the wringer since we got them.
Read on for the Hardbooter Review.
 
First off, as I mentioned, the construction of each board is un-matched.
As with all the Virus line it’s almost heartbreaking to even ride on one of these things because they are so damn pretty.
But looking at a snowboard only excites me so much.
So screw em’ literally.
I, as always, screwed the Phantom IV with some trusty F2 race plates and poly riser plates to keep the race feel alive. I rode it with UPZ Virus edition boots, Deeluxe 700′s and the Head Straus Pro’s.
The Scalpel found itself sporting poly plates with both the old F2′s and some Bomber TD2s with yellow pads and a suspension kit.
 
Lets cover the Phantom IV.
Frank brought this board over to SES just for us after chatting on the phone off and on for over a year. We were pleased that Frank had made this board just for us.
We had logged a ton of sessions on the Phantom III in and out of race courses and back to back with Kessler and Prior metal boards. We had already developed a great feel for the III and where very excited to see what the IV had to offer.
I wasted no time putting the first session in at SES over at Highlands. I had the III wired and was ready to unload on the IV.
 
Dave and I dropped in on some nice pitch with great AM cord and I threw the IV on edge and pushed, just a little at first to develop some feel and feedback.
Wow was this thing stiff! I pushed a little harder, then a little harder, finally I just cranked into it with every thing I had and that’s when the board came alive.
At first I was truly disappointed about the board being much too stiff for my weight. Frank and I are friends, so he knows how I ride.
He built the board while thinking of me. “Why am I having such a hard time making it work?” I was turned off after just one run.
How could this be? I love the III. I can ride however I want on the III. Forwards, backwards, left, right and even up and down with input ranging from not much to massive amounts.
The III loves it and I just couldn’t figure out why was the IV being such a bitch? I spent the rest of the morning wishing I weighed 40 pounds more and riding as hard as I could on the IV and although I was getting tired fast from working my ass off I began to become more comfortable on the IV.
By the end of the day, the board felt much friendlier but I had worked so hard to ride it I just wasn’t sure if it was the correct flex for me.
After getting my butt kicked hard early in the AM I wasn’t even sure if it was something I would like to ride all day due to all the energy it would take.
Plus, in this day and age of easy to bend metal boards, I felt the IV may have too much “old school” wood board feel like the days when we needed ski boots and metal bindings just to bend gear.
 
When Frank and I sat down to discuss the board I pulled no punches.
“Dude, I love the shape and size and the specs feel great but I don’t think I weigh enough to bend it.”
Frank just smiled and responded
“You are going to have to break it in a bit.” I over build most of my boards.
The first week, or five sessions or so, the board IS a bit much.
My level of respect for Frank is huge, so I of course took his word for it because he built the damn thing.
But as a test pilot, I wanted to feel it out for the masses so that’s what I did. Over a night of drinking (which I should have charged to the Hardbooter account because it was research, right?), I asked almost everyone I had ever seen ride a Virus how long it took to “break in” their boards.
The amount of time varied from one rider to the next, but they all said their board was too stiff at first, which confirms Frank’s response.
I need to log more days on the IV to give it a fair shake down, or even better I’ll hand it over to some one else to ride for a week then try it again, which is what I did.
You know, Burton has established a technique with all their high end boards; it’s called “infinite ride.”
What they do is over build each board.
Then, they place it in a robot that bends the board over and over again thousands of times to break it down so it can’t break down anymore for the rider.
Does this sound familiar?
 
 
The snow started to soften up a bit so the Scalpel became the tool of choice.
Now this is Virus’s Euro Carve wide board and we had the 180cm version to play with.
The ride of this board is geared to a rider who likes to make the low, laid out style of turn.
Frank can rail euro carves all over the hill, so you can feel the “soul” he put in the board.
I made all the turn shapes I could think of and due to the metal construction, the board has great torsion from edge to edge for a board of this width.
What does this mean to the rider? Versatility! With Bomber bindings and a stiffer boot like the 700, the board was very predictable under foot.
It has a small turn radius when needed, almost like a big SL board, but it also lets you drag out the turn if you choose to do so.
Of course, as all metal binding riders know, the direct input in the board gives a very direct feel which hinders some laid out turns.
The metal in this board allows you the option to absorb the bounce and release that some time occurs while carving at high angles in a more responsive set up.
The side cut is great for making nice controlled laid out turns on moderate to steep pitches while still allowing plenty of options to bleed speed.
The slower speeds are much more rewarding with the metal binding allowing a lot of feedback not normally found in a board of this width, especially a metal construction board.
Now in the softer F2 binding, I really felt loose and had the ability to move around a bunch more.
This board felt a lot more relaxed under my feet and with the TD2′s I had to find “my sweet spot” on the inserts, which was more on the tail than centered on the insert pack. In the F2′s, I rode the inserts centered as well as set all the way back and a couple of positions in-between.
The board works much differently based on where you set it up; it has a lot of personality.
When you mount the board centered on the inserts, it’s a euro carving machine. It dives into the turn and settles down very nicely as the edge angle increases, something several other boards in this width don’t do well. Again, I would attribute this to the metal construction.
The nice thing about this board is when you start to mix up the styles and ride it more aggressively at higher speeds it still performs very well. I threw it around backwards; it railed turns.
I tried SL style turns; it railed turns.
I released the edge and reengaged it; guess what, it rail turns.
Bottom line is: this board rips. If you are looking for a high end wide carver that does it all, then this board clearly excels.
 
 
 
Of all the wider style alpine boards I have ridden, I felt this may be the most diversified.
This euro carver doesn’t force you to only make laid out turns, it lets you play all day however you choose to, something I feel several other board in the euro carve style have lacked.
I highly recommend that you find your way onto a Schalpel if you are in the market for a wide all mountain style alpine board.
With several sizes to choose from there is a Scalpel for everyone, even you.
As most readers know, I have a soft spot for a race shape and after throttling back a bit on the Scalpel I was ready to bring the Phantom back up to speed.
Now that it had enough sessions on it to “break in,” I was ready to rail the piss out of it.
When it comes to race sticks there is only one way to ride them; wide open.
Now after a few sessions the IV was flexing perfect under my feet.
If you are looking for a board to cruise around and make easy relaxed turns on, then the IV is not for you.
However, if you are an upper level rider looking to put 80% to100% of your effort into each turn and be rewarded by the smooth responsive ride you can only get from maybe three board manufacturers in the world, then the Virus is your stick.
It is elite, providing any rider who makes the correct inputs with all the edge hold, dampening, and feel of a team race stock board ready to do battle with the Kesslers, SG, or Prior PGS stick in the next gate.
If your riding is top notch, you can make any board work for you, but there are only a few boards that hold up under full power.
The IV even allows you to relax a bit without getting sketchy. It even rails turns switch.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a race board and may not be the tool of choice for the weekend warrior looking to “relax and ride with the family.” If you want the best PGS race shape offered from Virus, this is it. When you are ready to invest in a high end uberboard, then the Virus is a must buy for the high end alpine rider.
For me it is a must have; after one ride it will be for you also!!!! With Virus, there are some ride characteristics not found in the other manufacturer’s boards.
While several boards destroy PGS courses, the Virus may be the very first “hybrid” board offered to the public.
Many recreational riders mount up full metal race sticks for trenching their local cord.
Several riders have noticed there is a lack of the pop they love from the wood sticks.
Also, durability has become an issue for some hard chargers.
After hearing this feedback from several of their board testers, Virus has stepped it up with a full race shape that still has the pop and acceleration missing from the Kessler.
The Viruses maintain the longevity we have come to expect from a non metal board with the unmatched construction and quality only provided to Virus clients.
This includes the fastest base ever placed on a Virus and the legendary rubber tail. If you’re ready to make the investment into metal but have been skeptical about the durability issues with some of the first generation metal boards then your worries are over.
The IV may be the ultimate race shape board for the “race carver” who doesnt spend every day training to compete but still wants to look behind them for the friends they are riding with.
Get infected with a Virus! Hardbooter.com knows there is no cure. You should too!!
 
–Billy
 
For an image gallery of the Phantom IV, click here: Virus Phantmom IV Gallery

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