Niche Snowboards 2017-2018 Review
We were fortunate enough to spend a day on snow with the Niche Snowboards Crew in Brighton, Utah last winter to test out a few of their 17-18 lineup. Not only are these boards eco-friendly, feather-light, and mesmerizing to look at, they also translate into how passionate the Niche crew is about creating a better product for riders and our planet for generations to come, and that’s something we can all get behind.
Niche Aether 2017-2018
Niche classifies the Aether as the quiver-killer snowboard. With multi-camber, a mid-stiff flex, and a somewhat mild magne-traction edge, this board’s tech makes for a very responsive and stable ride. When I first saw the Aether at the Snow Show, I was really interested in the unique graphic, which comes from the Japanese folklore character Raijū, a creature whose body is composed of lightning and may be the shape of a wolf, fox, or dog. It’s impressive to look at, and knowing the the digi-print topsheet is eco-friendly and 100% recyclable, just like the rest of the board(s) from Niche, I was very impressed with the detail that went into creating this snowboard. The wavy edge and lightness of the Aether are additional features that draw you into this board; I’ve never been a fan of magne-traction, but after riding this board, I found Niche provided a good balance for providing stability and edge control in any condition.
The Ride: The shape of the Aether is appealing: a directional twin that is extremely light. I was able to ride the 156 Aether, and, paired with my Union Ultra bindings, it was exceptionally light. It didn’t take long to feel comfortable carving on this board, and the magne-traction gave me a consistent grip in hardpack riding regular or switch. This board rails into turns and doesn’t chatter at high speeds, something I was afraid might happen since it’s so lightweight. The Aether was responsive in all conditions, and had tons of pop, especially on little side hits (I almost had too much pop on one and flew out further than I was expecting to). It also pops well on take-off of jumps and is stable on landings as well. Niche says that the Aether’s multi-camber will provide “greasy presses,” and it sure felt like it; boardslides felt great on the Aether too. We took a little hike and dropped into a pow section, and the 156 handled amazingly well. It was nimble and floated easily; I was really impressed how the Aether rode all over the mountain.
The Aether lived up to its reputation, it’s an all-mountain destroyer. From groomers, park, or powder, this board is lively and stable everywhere. I was dreaming about riding this board for months after we left Brighton; I’m sure it wasn’t the lightning bolts from the Raijū graphic on the topsheet, but this board absolutely is electric to ride. The Aether is amazingly lightweight, and is a workhorse in any conditions you throw at it on the mountain. If you’re looking for the full package snowboard, this is it.
Niche Knew 2017-2018
Niche puts the Knew in an interesting category: a park board with freeride capabilities — and it rocks.
I haven’t enjoyed flat camber boards, mainly because the boards I have ridden in the past all washed out easily and felt a bit squirrelly. The Niche crew was very excited about the Knew, so I was looking forward to seeing what it could do. A park and freeride combination seemed right up my alley, but flat camber had me second guessing. At first I wasn’t sure if it was the early rise or 2X Traction Bumps near the tip and tail that made this a different experience, but I absolutely enjoyed riding the Knew everywhere. In the park it was fun on jumps and felt great on rails; you can really lock this in (thanks flat camber). I didn’t get a chance to really dive into the powder on this board, but I got to take a few little tree excursions along the sides of the runs in some minimal powder and the Knew felt easy to just drop my weight back and float through. This board also has a very appealing graphic; it’ll drive you “batty” for 2017-2018. The board is feather light, but still a big hit. The Knew really got me thinking about flat camber differently; this board is a park rat’s best friend, but I wouldn’t be afraid to take it out for some pow laps, because I’m sure it will float like a dream too.
This board changed my mind on how flat camber rides. The 2X Traction Bumps gave me more edge control, and this board didn’t feel as loose as other flat camber boards I’ve ridden in the past. The Knew was easy to press and boardslide on every rail I tried; I really enjoyed this board on rails and the small jump line felt great as well. I’m sure it would handle most any size park feature with ease. The Knew is a great board for those who want a park-style ride that can go anywhere on the mountain, and even float well on powder days.
Niche Story 2017-2018
As Chris mentioned, we first came across Niche at SIA in 2016. We were totally drawn in by the unique graphics. We had the opportunity to go out and ride with the Niche crew and test out some of their boards. The Niche Story has won multiple awards, and definitely gets an OGRT approval for being an all-mountain slayer. I rode the 162, which is bigger than I’d been riding most of the season. I was blown away at how light it was. It weighed less than the 155 I had been riding all season. The combination of multi-camber and magne-traction make for a super fun, very responsive ride. Even though it was a 162, it was very
agile for a big board. The camber profile isn’t very aggressive, and makes for a smooth ride. We rode a wide variety of conditions at Brighton, and I found the Story to be highly versatile. The magne-traction is very pronounced on this board, and provides a super grippy edge hold. The Story is rated a 7 out of 10 on the flex rating, but I had no problem with butters, and it had some solid snap on ollies. It was surprisingly fun running through the park, and had plenty of snap of jumps. The first jump I hit, I could really feel the weight difference from other boards. We did a bit of hiking to find some pow lines, and this is where the Story really came to life…it flat out charges big lines and floats like a dream in pow. I was really impressed that the board was very stable at high speeds and had had minimal chatter.
The shape and profile of the Story is very pronounced; all those extra contact points really provide amazing control when you really need it. This board totally excelled in steeps and pow, and you will fall in love with its responsiveness. The graphics and weight, as in all the boards we tested, are definitely an added bonus.
Niche Theme 2017-2018
Light, powerful, all-mountain and do-it-all park board? Niche has some bold claims about the Theme, and they back it up with a board that absolutely does what you ask it to do. The Theme is a true twin with traditional camber and .75 mm Traction Bumps in the binding area for added grip and enhanced carving ability. The Theme is a medium flex board with traditional camber. I found this board to have a ton of pop and incredible responsiveness edge to edge. The 2X Traction bumps are very subtle, but really make for a fun ride. Like the Story, the Theme is very lightweight, and it was super fun to butter, carve, ride switch, etc. I’m not a huge park rider, but it really locked onto rails well and made me more comfortable hitting features. It excelled in the jump line: super poppy, and awesomely lightweight. The Traction Bumps grabbed nicely on a few sketchy landings where I probably should have washed out. Because the Theme is somewhat park-oriented, I expected more chatter at high speeds, but the ride was surprisingly smooth.
The Theme could absolutely be a quiver killer. This board excelled all over the mountain. Great edge hold, super fun to carve, powerful pop, just a great all-around board. Eco-friendly, 2-year warranty, killer graphics, lightweight, responsive…what more could you want? Definitely add this board to your quiver.