The “don’t call me a shortboard” shortboard. How does Rome pack so much deck into a tiny 148?
Last year, Rome released three new specialized powder boards adding them to their ‘Deep Collection’. They came in three sizes (148, 154 & 160) and in three different shapes, ostensibly for different conditions, terrain or styles of riding. The three share the name ‘Powder Division’ and are differentiated only by an acronym at the end of their name. ST for ‘swallowtail’, MT for ‘moontail’ and PT for ‘pintail’. This review is for the 2016 148cm swallowtail. Only the graphics have changed for 2017.
The Rome Powder Division ST has a Powder-S 3D camber profile which is camber underfoot with a rockered nose starting just after the front inserts.The ‘3D’ stands for the 3D rounded convex nose, which helps with powder floatation and turn initiation. It has a carbon Turborod in the nose for limiting nose chatter, and 24mm of taper for float.
The most talked about spec of this board is no doubt the waist width. At 29cm wide, the Rome Powder Division ST is ridiculously wide. You could say it makes up in width what it lacks in length. This width provides stability and extra surface area for maximum float. Finally, the Rome Powder Division ST has a sintered base.
How does it ride?
A common problem facing many of the earlier short fat boards was the lack of a decently-sized nose, which leads to getting bucked in chop and the occasional ‘over the handlebars’ crash. For the Rome Powder Division ST, this is no problem – the nose is absolutely massive. With the inserts set back by a whopping 60mm, the board is all nose. There is no reason to fear choppy tracked out snow anymore. As if that wasn’t enough, Rome have added a mild 3D rocker nose, which brings a certain smoothness to the ride when rolling the board from edge to edge. It’s nice to have, and makes planing over pow that much more effortless. I prefer this shape to the deeper 3D nose of say, a Bataleon Camel Toe, since that acts more like a boat hull, ploughing through the snow, increasing friction. On the Powder Division ST, the shallow 3D nose seems to skim above the snow easier and definitely gives you more glide over flat spots.
The 29cm waist is the widest board I’ve ever ridden but in powder I didn’t even notice it. On hardpack, you’ll feel it but not enough to have your day ruined. One reason for this is the tiny swallowtail – with almost nothing behind your back foot, quick turns are a breeze. You can wiggle through tight terrain as fast as your legs can keep up.
With plenty of effective edge (1145cm), the Rome Powder Division ST is good for carving but there’s no denying it’s more challenging to get freestyle with. The disparity in size between the nose and tail make the board unbalanced in the air. It’s not impossible, you’ll just have to adjust your riding. Personally, for a groomer sidehit day I would just switch out for a board with a more traditional shape.
Float. This board has loads of it. The Powder Division ST is the board to grab when it snows a meter overnight. It’s the type of board that gives you the confidence to explore over the next ridge, knowing that you just will not get stuck.
While the long 3D nose, rocker and wide waist will give you the float of a much bigger board, it’s the short swallowtail that will give you the maneuverability to let tighter trees than usual become the new normal for you. Although it’s quite short, the tail does have slashing power and you can regulate your speed by pushing down on your back foot. The one time you can’t rely on that tail is if you get some air back foot heavy, there’s nothing there to catch you on landing. I had one air to back flop in pow before realizing that you really want to land on the bolts with this board. Oh, and backside 180’s into pow are not recommended either…unless you need a reason to keep your chiropractor in business.
Rome rider, Evan Wilcox shows off the Rome Powder Division ST’s capabilities in Niseko powder:
If you’re looking for a dedicated fish-like powder board and want the ultimate float, the Rome Powder Division ST should be on your shortlist. It is pretty much unsinkable and has a unique feel in powder, combining big board surface area with short board maneuverability. Its size makes it fun, the camber keeps it solid in end of the day sun crust, and the nose keeps you gliding in the deepest powder. Extremely reasonably priced at $429.99 USD, it’s nice to see Rome making it easier for people to add a powder board to their quiver to make deep days extra special. While Rome could certainly think of a more memorable name than Powder Division ST, it’s a powder board that will have you grinning from ear to ear on your next deep day.
Get more information on Rome at their official site.
Disclosure: The Rome Powder Division ST was purchased by the Japan Grabs Team.