MAY 22, 2013
BY: STEVE HARTMAN
In this skis.com podcast, Levi from Burton sits down and discusses the technology and innovation that sets Burton Snowboards apart from the competition. He also talks about his shockingly high amount of days he rides each year, his Snowboard collection and a new lacing system that is competing with the Boa lacing system.
STEVE: Hello and welcome to another Summit Sports Podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com. Today we're going to talk about Burton Snowboards and across from me I have Levi. He's been at Burton for 4 years now, worked at shops quite a bit before then so he's been around the product quite a bit. Now, Burton is fairly unique from Channels in snowboards to EST in the bindings and something similar but not quite Boa in their boots. So, I'm going to start off by saying, Levi, how's it going? And thank you for doing this.
LEVI: It's going quite well. Thanks for having me.
STEVE: Sure. All right, so let's start with Burton Snowboards. What is the Channel?
LEVI: The Channel is Burton's unique mounting system we developed probably about six or seven years ago now I want to say and it's just really has changed the way a binding can be mounted to a board in that it has also opened up so much flex in the board. Traditionally, when you mount a binding to a board it stops the board from flexing right underneath you foot because you've got this hard material now keeping that wood and everything from flexing but with the Channel system you're able to mount the binding on the outside of your foot and what it does is you can get rid of all the material under your foot and allow the binding to actually flex with the board. It takes away stress points and it also opens up so much in terms of stance options so…
S: Okay, now besides the Channel, what else sets Burton's snowboards apart from the competition?
L: There's a lot of great companies out there but I'm so excited to work for Burton just because of all the passion I see from everybody that works at Burton. From our owner and founder, Jake Burton, who's still making the big decisions, he's still out there testing product and he still rides more than I do and most people I know do. He's a great guy with just an immense love for the sport and the progression of the product. He's always put product, kind of, first and foremost and whether its kid's product, women's product, everything he's just always trying to push the envelope and make sure our team does as well.
S: Okay. You mentioned he rides more than you do. How often do you ride per year?
L: I'm from the Midwest and we've got our short seasons but I still try to push a hundred days a year. This year I fell a little short with 85, I believe but I have a trip planned out to Mt. Hood so we'll see if I can get the other 15 in but…
S: Just 85 days?
L: Yep, just 85 but Jake normally pushes plus-100 so…
S: Wow. I had people in here say they get about 30 and I thought that was a lot. I average maybe about 5 ski days a year.
L: I try to get out everyday after work. It just helps free my mind.
S: Absolutely. Okay so tell me about some of the technology in the Burton bindings.
L: Burton bindings are awesome. I think they're some of our more unique…I mean there's only so many ways to build a snowboard right now and we're still trying to push that but in terms of bindings, I'd have a hard time putting my feet into anything else. From things like EST which stands for Extra Sensory Technology which pairs up with that Channel system allowing your binding to flex under foot to other things like the Hinge which is on some EST bindings that allows for a little side-to-side pivot of the heel hoop so you can basically load up the tail or nose of your board kind of like you would a skateboard ollie and not have it feel too rigid side-to-side but still get the heel/toe response out of it. Other amazing things that I have a hard time doing without nowadays are things like the heel hammock which comes in, if you have Burton's higher end bindings which just is a rubbery-type material that really locks on to the back of your boot and holds you down in it and even on our lower price point bindings we've got things like reflex which can be put on to any type of board but allows for some flex underfoot. It's not quite as much as EST but it definitely helps open up the flex pattern of the board and take away the stress points on the outside of the binding.
S: Okay. Now let's go on to boots. I noticed that there's something called SpeedDial, and it's a little different than Boa which has been pretty popular these last few years
L: Yep. Burton's always kind of stood by the fact that we want the best fitting boot possible and Boa's a great system and we've just kind of stayed away from it because we really want the boots to be the best they can be and so when it came time to try and do a system that's quick and easy to get in-and-out of we wanted to, kind of, make some updates on that system and so how our SpeedDial system sets itself apart from Boa is things like the fact that it's micro-adjustable. Once you're in that boot, say you tightened it up too much you can actually back off just a little bit so that you don't have to pop it open and start over like the Boa system. Also instead of using a metal cable we're using a lace that's kind of like our lace that we use in SpeedZone and it basically, by not having a metal cable over the top of your foot, we don't have to reinforce it with plastic so the nice thing is there you don't have this hard material right over the top of your foot giving you cramp points or anything like that. It's also easily adjustable and also can add different color pops to your boots because we can throw different color laces in there too so…
S: Okay. With the metal from the Boa differing from the lacing that you guys have, it's still just as durable, right?
L: Yes, it's still a very durable material. It's this company out in New England that we work with called New England Ropes and they're known for making shipping ropes back in the day and they've worked with us quite a bit to just come up with the strongest possibly cable or rope for our boots. They also do a lot of climbing ropes, things that other people trust their lives to and, yeah, it's definitely much stronger than even your traditional boot lace.
S: What else could we expect for boots this year?
L: Burton just always pushes the envelope in terms of fit, comfort and performance and I see that with some of our product developers. These guys are riding tons of different boots, they'll always be going in, taking breaks and I'm like ‘Why are you taking break?' and they're like ‘Oh we need to try that different boot' and these guys they might ride 80 days a year but try out 3 different boots a day so they're always just doing a ton of testing trying to really perfect our boots and we've been doing it for a long time and there's just so much R&D going into each of these boots. They told me a story about using a cadaver leg to basically test pressure points in a boot and doing X-rays with little steel balls in there just things I know other companies aren't doing out there so in terms of what to expect from our boots, just so much thought has gone into them that I expect them to be the most comfortable boots out there.
S: Okay. What are some of your favorite new products introduced this year?
L: Some of my favorite new products are definitely going to be the Cartel now that it's getting the Hinge. Hinge has been one of my favorite innovations in bindings and so now that we've added the Hinge to the Cartel I'm really excited about that thing. Also, in kind of the lower price-point there's a board called the Descendent. For $379 it's an amazing snowboard. I know a few guys on the team that have taken that thing out and these guys can ride any board in the line but love that thing and it's just a great all-around board that also works quite well in park being a true twin so…
S: Okay, my final question just because I'm always curious about this is how many snowboards do you have or do you ride on?
L: I typically kind of switch between about 3 per year and then normally I try to pick my favorite from that year to save for my collection so when you walk into my hallway at my house I've got the last probably about 8 years and I've still been trying to track down some of the years before that, the boards I've ridden the most that year so…
S: So, you have about 20 snowboards?
L: Probably about 15 right now. I'm still trying to track down about five.
S: All right. Well, Levi, thank you for coming in and doing our podcast, for everyone listening out there, thank you for listening to the Summit Sports podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com. Check out all the Burton products there on snowboards.com. Thank you very much for listening.