The K2 Simple Pleasures aims to make every turn a joy. If you want a carving powder board, is this the shape to get you dreaming?
The K2 Simple Pleasures features a directional camber profile that combines traditional camber with rocker in the nose and tail. This is not a high 90’s camber, but a modern low camber running from forward of the front inserts through to just short of the tail contact points.
In front of this camber zone is a slight flat section which smoothes out the transition from the camber to the long nose rocker, with a short subtle version of this in the stubby tail, which helps the tail break out of turns and slash around. Up front, a healthy amount of early rise merges smoothly into the kick of that big pointy nose. Surprisingly, having that long nose doesn’t make the board ride shorter, as the 116.68cm effective edge of the 156 model we tested is similar to a park board of the same length.
The pointed nose and shallow half-moon swallow tail are first to catch your attention, saying “surf inspired powder shape” but it is the width that stands out when you get up close . The 156 comes in with a 27.1 waist, thanks to K2’s Volume Shift concept which adds volume rather than length for float. K2 recommends that you size down 5 to 7cm from your regular board length to account for this wider waist. A 7.7m sidecut is not excessively tight, but combined with 22mm of taper, promises to keep it maneuverable on piste. A Bambooyah core, Hybritech sidewalls, a cherry veneer topsheet and tweekend tips are all premium features showing K2 have left no tech behind in making this board. To close out the specs, K2 have chosen the Simple Pleasures to have their fastest sintered graphite base.
How does it ride?
When transitioning to the Simple Pleasures from a regular width board, you will feel a slight lag from edge to edge from the extra waist width at first. However, I only really noticed this for about a run or two, and after the first day it felt totally normal. In fact, after most of the season giving this shaped board the in-depth review treatment, I have become so used to it that now “regular” width board feel a bit strange! (Disclaimer: I used to hate wide boards. With a passion.)
This was my first run on the K2 Simple Pleasures and it went from piste-side pow to morning groomers. It was also my first time on a really wide board, so I was just feeling out where the edges were – but it still carved pretty flawlessly!
Every board has its sweet spot of how it wants to be ridden. When you find this on the Simple Pleasures you will have A LOT of fun. On groomers, if you try and engage the edge too far forward, into the rocker zone of the nose, it can feel a bit loose. Once you start to load the edge from the front foot back, it really locks in and you’ll be ripping euro carves harder than you ever thought possible! All that extra width translates to less toe and heel drag so you can carve to your heart’s content. Once spring rolls around it also planes over and holds a line through the chop as well as most stiff mountain charger boards out there – while being much more fun to play around on.
Strapping in, with the extra width and the solid tail flex, you might worry that it will be a bit of a boat. However, when you start working the flex through the length of the board and rolling edge to edge, it really comes alive. When it comes to pop, that solid tail flex which powers your elbows-down piste carving feels a bit unforgiving at first. Don’t be put off though, for when you actually ollie, there is more than enough pop to boost off the flat base or pop off the edge on sidehits. This is a great board for tranny-finder airs as the width and nose rocker can smooth out bumpy landings while the stiff tail will hold your high speed run out.
A surprising bonus was the banked slalom performance. I wasn’t expecting a super wide board to handle the confines of tight banked slalom courses all that well. You have to be bit more pro-active in your edge change but the edge hold and tight radius turning ability made it great in the gates! Combined with the fast base, it meant I never wanted to switch out boards for race day. This was a big positive for me.
If you normally ride park on stiffer, slightly directional boards, you’ll have no problem amazing your friends that you are riding it all on a “powder board”. Just don’t let them try it out and see how responsive it is! While landing switch feels fine, switch take-offs on side hits or park jumps are not really this board’s strong point. This is about the only downside to this shape and the only time I felt like grabbing a different board out of the quiver – which shows just how versatile the K2 Simple Pleasures is.
In powder the Simple Pleasures floats and comes up to speed quickly. Just like on piste it still wants to find features to pop off and arc quick turns. In featured powder terrain the feeling is like playful dolphin than loves (to mix marine metaphors) porpoising up out of the snow in air turns. To keep that analogy going, just like dolphins, this board isn’t a fish. Although it is tapered, it likes to plane flat through the snow rather than sinking the tail for angled float. This makes it fast and agile, and the Simple Pleasures likes to arc a carve in powder just as much as it does on piste. You can sink the nose if you really try… but with that nose shape and early-rise rocker profile it just pops back to the surface.
The versatility of the Simple Pleasures continues in the deep stuff. It’s not just a soul carver to keep on the ground. The first time I got the Simple Pleasures on steep powder run with plenty of fun features, I felt a bit like an 80’s hot-dogging mogul skier, bouncing off every powder-covered roll. Unweight your feet at the end of a powder carve and you’ll be in the air again!
In the back of my mind, I was skeptical how a shorter and wider board would stack up against a much longer full-on powder shape for those ridiculously deep days that we are blessed with in Japan. The Simple Pleasures has floated more than enough on those occasions, whether speed lines on open terrain or navigating tight trees to access zones on storm days. Coming from 160+ size powder boards, not once did I find myself wishing I had more float.
To grasp for some negatives, if your idea of a perfect powder day is packing down lips and spinning, or leaving your filmer buddy wondering “Was that switch?” when you shred a line, the directional shape isn’t the best choice for you. However, switch landings in powder and the odd switch layback are much more possible than the shape would suggest.
Final thoughts – who is this the board for?
After most the season testing this board in all conditions, I can say I am fully converted to the wider waist width concept. The heelside carving alone is enough reason to recommend this board, but there’s more to it than that. This would bring huge smiles to the face of any directionally-minded shredder who wants a single board to handle everything. K2 have really hit a home run with the combination of playful yet stable characteristics that enable this one board to rail turns, float in pow and still be fun to get in the air. It’s so versatile that it could be the board for spending a season chasing powder, or heading up each weekend to carve and boost off sidehits with your homies. The trade-off with powder shapes has often been deep day float at the expense of freestyle fun. The K2 Simple Pleasures is very much a directional powder shredder, but it has a freestyle heart and enough flow and pop to make any day on the hill fun. Once you’re in tune with the directional shape and wider width, you can crank up the freestyle fun all over the mountain, regardless of the conditions. A word of warning though – getting used to riding this board might spoil your appreciation of the rest of your quiver!
Get more information on K2 Snowboarding at their official site.
Disclosure: The K2 Simple Pleasures was provided by K2 Snowboarding.