Burton’s Squeezebox design uses thinner core sections underfoot, which then thicken toward both the tip and tail and toward the center of the deck. (By comparison, traditional boards maintain the same thickness throughout the board before slimming down at the tips.) The idea of this design is to transfer more energy out from your feet to the tip and tail of the board.
I was most aware of the effects of Squeezebox and transfer of power throughout the board when making sharp turns and ollieing. Both actions demand power and pop from the ends of the snowboard, as they are the first part of a board to enter a turn and the last to leave the ground when jumping. The EL excelled in both maneuvers. The board reacted and popped as a whole, whereas the boards I rode without Squeezebox had the majority of the snap came from the tail as it was just leaving the ground.
Squeezebox also aided the board substantially when leaving the takeoff of jumps. It became much easier to really pop off my tail when leaving the lip, giving extra snap to the board and allowing me to wait longer before initiating a spin off the takeoff.
One other feature of the EL is what Burton call “Pro Tips,” which reduce weight in the tip and tail of the board by tapering them gradually. This in theory reduces the swing weight of the board, but I can’t say I noticed any difference.
The true test of the Easy Livin’ lies in the halfpipe and on jumps. Danny Davis is one of the best pipe riders in the world, so his pro model ought to shine here.
Dropping into Windells’s 22-foot halfpipe, I was taken back by how well the board held an edge on firm, early morning walls. The EL has slightly protruded edges underfoot, but I was surprised they held as well and railed up the pipe as fast as they did. In my opinion, they held as well as the boards I’ve ridden with Magna Traction (Lib Tech and GNU’s serrated edge technology that provides more contact points).
On jumps, the EL demolished everything. It was snappy on takeoffs, stable on landings and through ruts, and turned sharp no matter what the snowpack was like because of its semi-sharp side cut. Although many people don’t like reverse camber because of its looser feel and tendency to wash out on landings, the Flying V did not have that problem and held strong even during the warmest and choppiest days.
The EL pops harder, goes faster, and has the stiffness to hold on through rutted out brake bumps or lips that other boards I tried could not match. Over the course of the summer, I rode the Burton Aftermath, Gnu Riders Choice, Burton Mr. Nice Guy, and the Burton Custom, but I kept coming back to the EL when I wanted to learn a new trick on a jump or in the pipe.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time on the Burton Custom and the Aftermath, but wasn’t completely satisfied with either. The EL finds the perfect middle ground between them. The Custom at times felt somewhat dead and unresponsive, while the Aftermath was light and snappy, but its skinny waist width and sharp side cut was nearly too narrow for my size 10.5 boot.
Unsurprisingly, rails were the one area where the EL did not excel, given that it is pretty stiff and primarily intended for halfpipe riding. I often found myself having difficulties swinging the board around for spins onto rails or urban features. I gradually quit doing many spins or presses on rails because it was so tough to press the board and very easy to get kicked off by the sharp edges and stiffness.
The 2012 Burton Cartel Re:Flex is packed with new technology, but it's not the same stiff, responsive binding that has been the choice of pros and advanced riders for years.
The 2011-2012 Nitro Team Gullwing is a loose, playful board with amazing pop, but it can get a little unsteady at high speed.
A first look at Völkl's one-ski-quiver contender, the Bridge.