The Dupraz D1 is the brainchild of French shaper, Serge Dupraz, founder of 80’s snowboard brand HOT. Dupraz have been refining the D1 shape since 2003 so with that heritage it’s safe to call this a legendary powder shape. While big brands might have added some really cool shapes to their line-ups in recent years, the innovators who pioneered ‘non standard’ shapes must just be smiling and saying “See, we told you they are fun!”
All boards are products of their environments to an extent. It’s easy to imagine the Dupraz D1 shape excelling the wide-open alpine terrain of the European Alps, but how will it fare in the deeper and often tighter terrain and super-deep snow of Japan?
This question was behind the choice of the 5’5 standard (165cm if you’re feeling metric). Although the Dupraz line up is almost entirely the one shape, it comes in different lengths and 3 different flex options: the softest is the “standard” flex, then a stiffer plus “+” flex, and an extra stiff “++” flex. I normally like stiff boards, but while riding the D1 6’+ was great in the open, it was a handful for me in tighter trees. I also knew from experience not to fall into the trap of assuming stiffer would be better. I chose the Dupraz D1 5’5 standard as this should be the ‘right size’ for my height and weight for all-round riding – and I thought this softer flex would be the best for making the most of that shape in Japanese terrain. Let’s see how that worked out…
At first glance the Dupraz D1 looks like a typically big-nosed powder board, but a closer look at the specs reveals some unique traits. Dupraz point out (no pun intended) that this is a 165 shape that rides like a 156 on hardpack, when that pointy nose is off the snow. The 115cm effective edge certainly backs that claim up.
The 25.6cm waist width is moderate by modern volume-shifted standards but while I’m only a size US9 boot, I was nowhere near getting any boot drag. Taper is also fairly moderate for what looks like such a powder shape, with 13mm of taper from the voluminous 310mm wide nose, so float will be coming from volume distribution rather than heavy taper.
The profile is what Dupraz call their ‘Aquasmooth Rocker’, which is essentially an “s-rocker” or “directional camber” variation with rocker flowing smoothly from that big nose into low camber through to the tail. Noticeable points are the long, almost flat, transition zone between the rocker and camber (which comes just in front of your front inserts) and how the low camber continues right back into the tail contact points. There’s no tail rocker zone to speak of, to loosen things up back there.A sintered base, which came with a nice stone-ground structure out of the box, rounds out the specs. Each part of the specs alone might be interesting on paper, but the real magic is in how they work together as the shape interacts with different conditions.
One of the unique Dupraz design points is the inserts are set slightly forward relative to the sidecut. Wait, what? Set forward? “Set back” stance location usually refers to the insert pack location relative to the shape and sidecut. For example on a typical twin, the inserts are centered, and on a typical powder board the inserts are set back. Of course with that big nose, the inserts on the Dupraz are set back relative to the overall shape, but they are set forward relative to the sidecut. Dupraz say this is one part of what gives the D1 its carving prowess, control and stability.
HOW DOES IT RIDE?
Euro-carving. EURO carving. They like it so much, it’s named after them. So of course this incredibly Euro board isn’t just a powder board. Riding on the runs in resort is actually one of the best things about the Dupraz D1 5’5 standard. It did take me a few runs to get used to riding Dupraz style – specifically finding the sweet spot of nose-to-tail weighting – but when you do, you can reap so many benefits. The standard flex has that ‘carving board’ performance but with a flex you can manipulate to play around with those carves. The carving sensations and acceleration in all kinds of snow make this a blast to ride on piste.
One of the things that takes getting used to is the speed. The D1 shape planes over slush and bumpy pistes. When you find the balance point to commit to carves, it slingshots you out with so much speed it can be a bit scary at first. When it gets too fast, if you are used to washing speed while weighting your back foot, that’s not going to happen easily! The edge hold through the back foot and tail is really strong – even in this softer standard flex. Instead you can weight the front foot and use the wide platform there to break the tail free and lift the back foot for really quick short turns on steep terrain, while keeping your body forwards into the fall line.
When you get used to this board, there’s something else you’ll have to get used to: waiting for your friends. From cruising cat tracks to carving icy end-of-day runs, it’s a not uncommon to get to the bottom with a massive smile on your face – then turn around and realize you’ve got time for a breather while your friends catch up! It’s a fast shape, but not just when you’re trying to ride as fast as possible. It’s just fast!
Since riding it, I’m in danger of turning into one of those “Oh, I only carve now” middle-aged soul riders. Okay, I won’t go that far – and luckily this board is also way more fun in the park than you would expect too. If you like the fun of riding park on an eye-catching directional shape (the first time it raised eyebrows with my snowboard instructor friends… “You’re riding park on that?!”) this is the flex for that too. While the stiffer + flexes might offer more extreme carving prowess, I found the standard flex to make the D1 more suitable as a daily driver and a lot easier to handle in trees. Speed run, carving, side hits, jibbing all over resort…it does it all, in its own “Duprazing” way.
The 5’5 Dupraz has all the float and finesse in powder that you’d expect from looking at the shape. This float is combined with power and hold at speed from the low camber running all the way through to the back of the tail.This shape planes smoothly and accelerates in powder, even on low-angle slopes. This means you can playfully carve around on less steep slopes where usually you’d just be going straight to keep your speed. More fun on every run!
Talking about powder, that often means riding in the trees – especially in Japan. A common perception of the Dupraz D1 shape is that it’s great for wide-open powder faces but has too much speed and length for tree riding. I had experienced a bit of that on the Dupraz D1 6’+ (178cm) in really tight trees, so I was curious to see if tight terrain was an issue on the 5’5 standard.
It took me about half a day to get used to the speed in powder, but after once I was used to controlling that I didn’t had any issue with it being too unwieldy in the trees. This was also another reason why I chose the standard flex. It’s not too stiff to take you for a ride, and you can bend the board into speed control slashes when needed. With all the float from the nose you can weight forward in steeper pow and moderate speed through tight spots by washing your unweighted tail side to side.Navigating tight spots over with, when the terrain opens up there’s not many better boards to ride at speed in powder on.
Dupraz might not be first name in most snowboarders’ minds when thinking of ‘daily drivers’ – but don’t be put off by the length or ideas that this is just a powder board. The Dupraz D1 shape offers a riding experience that turns average ‘blah weather days’ in resort into really fun ‘don’t want to stop riding’ days. Will it change the way you ride? Yes and no. The sensations it creates are super fun, so you might find yourself riding more and more in that way – getting low into carves, always looking for curves and places to slash. But once you get used to it, there’s nothing stopping you from riding it in any style. Spinning is fine, hitting jumps is actually very confidence-inspiring going forwards, and doable switch too. If you want to blast around resort hitting side hits and launching tranny-finders, fire away. Just because the D1 5’5 standard feels great carving doesn’t make it a one-trick-pony. This is a fast board in a friendly flex, and unless you’re a die-hard centered-stance twin rider, there’s a good chance the Dupraz D1 will put big a smile on your face.
Get more info on the D1 5’5 standard among the full quiver of D1 lengths and flexes on the Dupraz site. This review was carried out in the Hakuba Valley.
Disclosure: The D1 was provided by Dupraz snowboards.
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