Not sure which size Simple Pleasures to drop in on? We put the smaller of K2’s premium powder and carving shape to the test.
For sizing, K2 recommend sizing down around 5-7cm for their Volume Shift boards like the Simple Pleasures. On K2’s sizing chart I sit right on the cusp of recommended weights for the 51 and 56, at just under 150lbs. Even without sizing up for extra powder float, I usually like riding boards where I’m right at the bottom of the recommended rider weight range for a more aggressive flex and edge hold. With this is mind, I was really curious how much powder and groomer performance the 51 Simple Pleasures could pack into such a compact package.
The 151cm K2 Simple Pleasures has the same high end construction and features list as the 156cm. Volume Shift tech moves volume for float from the length to the width, in this case a 26.1 waist width. The pointy powder nose curves smoothly into this wide carving chassis, with early rise rocker in the nose subtly blending into directional set back camber. The camber runs from just in front of the front foot inserts through to the tail. K2’s durable and smooth-flexing Bambooyah core, and top-of-the-range Carbon Infused 5500 Sintered Base round out the specs. This fast black base has carbon added to a durable sintered base. This increases wax retention and decreases drag for faster carves and smoother pow glide.
…which matches the camber into mid-way from inserts to nose (above) and almost all the way to the tail (below):
The smooth lines of the nose and tail:
How does it ride?
On piste, the 51 loves to dart around, cranking carves to find fun in every transition. The board has a silky smooth ride around the contacts, which shows the thought that has gone into the shaping. This isn’t a shape that has been thrown together to jump on the short wide or pointy nose powder shape bandwagon. The waist of 26.1 doesn’t even feel wide at all – and that’s with a US 8.5 boot. The wider waist width is offset by the deep 7.4m sidecut and 22mm of taper. The taper makes the board roll edge to edge smoothly, and the deep sidecut gives a lively, responsive feel on edge. Any tight bank or wall of snow becomes a candidate for a snappy slash.
On wide open groomers the 51 can lay down deep carves with a solid, locked in feeling. Just like its bigger 56 sibling, the edge hold is pure smile-inducing fun. Quick turn initiation is followed up by the stiffer flex of the tail slingshotting you out of turns. More than the 56, the 51 gravitates towards medium and short radius carves, and the board responds well to quick changes of direction – like spotting a new side hit or patch of fresh that needs spraying.
The only negative on piste was hitting chop and variable terrain at speed. There is a limit to how much good shaping can evade simple physics, and if you want to charge chop or blast speed runs on uneven terrain, the short running length and narrower stance options can leave you feeling a bit unstable. When everything is tracked out, but nothing is groomed yet, I reach for the 156 to plane through chunder. This isn’t really a criticism, more just pointing out that there are limits for this nimble piste and powder shark. In the confines of a tighter banked slalom course, the 51 is really fun to whip around sharp turns and that carbon-infused base is genuinely fast. There is enough stiffness in the tail to support pumping out of banks, but for more open courses with high-speed railed turns, I’d be reaching for something a bit longer.
Having logged many powder days on the 56 K2 Simple Pleasures, I was skeptical about how well the 51 would work on deep days. This was the biggest surprise of the 51. In powder it rides longer than its length, thanks to that pointy nose, and I didn’t really notice that I was on the small version.
The shape has a really smooth feeling in powder, with the tapered shape and fast graphite-infused base giving a silky, drag-free feeling in powder that makes it feel floaty and manoeuvrable at low speeds. I never felt like I needed more slope angle to get up to speed to float and have fun in powder. With this amount of float the 51 really excels in tight trees and playful features, bringing that same ‘enjoyer’ fun from the pistes to the powder.
Another unexpected positive was how well the 51 Simple Pleasures handled switch landings. Popping 180’s into deep chopped up powder, I was expecting to have to revert around almost immediately after landing. To my surprise, it handles switch run outs in powder really well, with only the same moderate weight change you would make on any directional freeride board. Testing that further, switch powder runs are doable – and much more so than you’d expect looking at the directional outline.
The 151 K2 Simple Pleasures shows that good things can indeed come in small packages. The board really flows from edge to edge, with that same luxurious feeling of a well shaped board that the 156 has. Although it shares the same premium feel and exciting “woo hoo!” carving edge hold as the 56, it has its own personality too. It’s more playful and nimble: a slippery fish of fun, wiggling into every little space, but with a solid backbone when carving. If you are just getting into the whole ‘short and wide’ quiver shapes thing, the 51 Simple Pleasures offers an immediately comfortable ride for anyone falling in the recommended specs. For smaller riders, weighing less than 145lbs, it can be a full size powder charger. For a bigger guy it can be your lively small board for carving fun days. If you are lucky enough to be in that overlap zone of around 140lbs to 185lbs, there is a good case for holding both the 51 and 56 in your quiver. They offer unique but complimentary rides. Two different size brushes for drawing different lines: Pull out the 51 for more responsive agility on piste or in pow, or size up to the 56 for crushing speed and maximum float. Either way, quality turns await.
Get more information on K2 Snowboarding at their official site.
Disclosure: The K2 Simple Pleasures was provided by K2 Snowboarding.