YO AMAGAI GIVES THE K2 SIMPLE PLEASURES THE TUNE UP TREATMENT FOR EXTRA POWDER CARVING PLEASURE
Niseko-based K2 global team rider Yo Amagai has taken the hugely popular K2 Simple Pleasures and tweaked it to his refined tastes to create the K2 Niseko Pleasures. K2 call the result of this teamwork the “the best possible tool for riding in Niseko – debatably the Holy Gail of terrain and snowfall.” but as a rider based in Hakuba, I was curious to see how well it would hold up to the steep as well as the deep. I reviewed the 156 Simple Pleasures back in 2018 and it became a daily driver for its ability to handle freeriding and deliver carving sensations too. Next came the 151 Simple Pleasures which surprised in just how much deep stuff it could handle. In conversation with Yo Amagai, when he mentioned fine-tuning the flex to create a special version of the K2 Simple Pleasures he had my attention. Here we have the result of his turning and tuning, the Niseko Pleasures…
The Niseko Pleasures has the same volume-shifted outline shape as the 156 Simple Pleasures. Massive amounts of float come from the 270mm waist flaring out into that distinctive 321mm wide pointy nose. The width is made more nimble by 22mm of taper and a 7.7m radius sidecut, with 116.7cm of effective edge. It takes the directional camber of the Simple Pleasures and adds a small amount of early rise in the tail, and the Bambooyah™ Blended core has been tweaked to give more torsional flex between the feet.
K2 rate this as a 6/10 compared to the 7/10 flex of the regular Simple Pleasures, and a hand flex definitely gives more bend between the feet, and a touch more in the tail. The Niseko Pleasures also keeps the top-of-the-line Carbon Infused 5500 Sintered Base, while the regular Simple Pleasures gets bumped down to Sintered 4000 this year. A fast base isn’t just for the speed freaks and racers – who doesn’t want more glide across the flats and through rolling fields of powder?
HOW DOES IT RIDE?
As so much of the shape is shared with the Simple Pleasures, a lot of this review is going to be using that as the obvious reference point. First impressions strapping into the Niseko Pleasures are that this is much more ‘user-friendly’ thanks to the softened-up torsional flex between the feet, and the touch of early-rise added to the tail. Part of the extreme carving prowess of the 56 Simple Pleasures comes from the stiffness through the back foot and into the tail, but that can be off-putting at first, especially at low speeds. The Niseko Pleasures removes that “holy crap, i’m not sure if i’m ready for this much tail” barrier to entry and feels fun straight from the get-go. I was already used to the 270mm waist width from the Simple Pleasures and other volume-shifted boards, and while the Niseko Pleasures will feel really wide if this is your first step into the world of modern-wide volume-shifted boards, the softer torsional flex makes that width feel more manageable.
The Niseko Pleasures is noticeably light, and with its textured black topsheet has that ‘premium board’ feel in the hand and under the feet. On piste, it loves to carve playfully. Compared to the Simple Pleasures, there is a touch less of a locked-in feel to the edge hold, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The grin-inducing carving sensations are still there and it’s easier to manipulate the board into and out of turns, so what you might lose in all-out railing is gained in agility. This makes the K2 Niseko Pleasures really fun for side hits and drawing really clean turns when your jacket isn’t flapping with speed. I even took the Niseko Pleasures for an afternoon of early season park laps on the first day out, and the softer torsional flex made this relatively comfortable. While park is way down the list of things this board is made for, medium-sized jump and rail lines weren’t outside the comfort zone for this board, if you are already used to a tapered shape as a daily driver.
With the same volume-shifted, tapered outline as the Simple Pleasures, there was no question this floats. It’s already a shape that glides as it floats with minimal drag, and Yo Amagai’s design tweaks have made it even smoother. The softer torsional flex makes it easier to pump short turns around trees or through tight gullies. In powder my first thoughts were “It’s the float of the 56 Simple Pleasures with the agility of the 51!” A winning combination in the deep, especially in resort trees and smaller features.
Okay, so it’s obviously great in those Niseko-esque picture-perfect tree runs and powder gullies, but how about when it gets rough? Blasting mogul fields of crud on the Niseko Pleasures is like drinking wine from a pint glass. The Niseko Pleasures is designed to be savored smoothly, like the riding of its creator. I did my best to ride it like an uncultured heathen, and it did its best to make that fun anyway. With the touch of early rise in the tail, it takes less effort to change your line and moderate your speed in the powder. What it loses in return is a bit of that ‘hanging on for dear life, high-speed run out’ tail capability but it’s still far from a noodle. I cranked into what I thought was a powder covered bank only to find it was windblown crust. I was expecting the tail to give out and was ready for the butt-check, but it held up and spat me out on-line and hooting with relief. This is where board sizing comes in. For a heavier rider the outcome might have been different, but for riders around 65-75kg the Niseko Pleasures still has more than enough backbone.
The K2 Niseko Pleasures is, for want of a more original word, a real pleasure to ride. It has that smooth refined feel of board that has had real thought put into it – in this case, Yo Amagai’s feedback layered on top of the original design. It keeps nearly all of the carving prowess of the Simple Pleasures line while adding a more playful fun side that broadens the spectrum of fun to be had on it. At 5’9 (in my boots!) and weight-wise I sit right between the 51 and 65 Simple Pleasures on K2’s size chart. While I really enjoyed both of those boards, the 56 Niseko Pleasures feels just right – giving me the deep day volume of the bigger size with more of the playful agility of the smaller version. Although it’s a product of Niseko’s rolling terrain, the Niseko Pleasures isn’t confined to mellow carves and meadow-skipping powder. It can more than hold its own in steeper and technical lines – especially if you prefer to stay light on your feet. From charging through chop as you race to the next powder stash to lining up pillow drops in the trees, I never felt like I needed ‘more board’ and when the powder was gone, I was just as happy on side hits and groomers. Even if your local hill doesn’t have the same annual snowfall as Niseko, the K2 Niseko Pleasures can deliver a lot of fun on the groomers, and when the snow does fall, it packs massive amount of refined float. Thanks, Yo!
Get more information on K2 Snowboarding at their official site.
Disclosure: The K2 Niseko Pleasures was provided by K2 Snowboarding.