The Contract Circus – Men's and Women's snowboard review
Tuesday 20th November, 2012
Contract Snowboards has taken the UK snowboard industry by storm with its new patented 3D Snake Transition Nano Technology, straight from the mountains of Poland. To cut a long story short, the Contract developers managed to separate board flex and cross flex, and after the success of the vigorous mountain testing, now integrate this into their handcrafted boards. So, with that said, we felt it was time to strap in and put the technology through its paces in the UK freezers.
Men's review – Jon Derbyshire
Women's review – Cerys Allen
Action photos – David Allen
A few seasons back, Contract took its line of boards to the UK industry snowboard test in Kaunertal, hoping to expand into the UK market. The general feedback from everyone who rode the boards was extremely positive, however, breaking into new territory requires a distributor, and it’s taken until now for this to happen. After witnessing first hand the quality of the boards and the standard of the technology, Yeah Snowboards stepped up to the plate and made the full line up available to the UK market.
Contract tells us that the idea behind Snake Tech is to introduce pre-stress to the board in the form of ‘waves’ between the binding insets. Storing the energy inside the board makes it more reactive, responsive and livelier. It also allows for thinner and lighter board construction, with greater durability. This Snake Tech increases the torsional rigidity by 15% and additionally increases the board flex by 35% at the same time (compared to standard construction).
The Contract Circus is a zero camber freestyle board. The Snake Tech makes it able to handle whatever is thrown at it and is aimed at a wide spectrum, from the regular beginner to advanced rider hitting the park and urban locations.
So, with some of this rad technology at our fingertips, we thought there was no better way to test it out, than throwing it into everything the UK scene has to offer right now. With that in mind, the boards were thoroughly tested at the Big Bang Snowboard Show, a full day with Definition Freestyle and a full day with Grounded Freestyle.
Board – Men's Contract Circus 151
Tester: Jon Derbyshire
The Men's Contract Circus tested was a 151 and paired with Union Force bindings and size 9 32 TM-Two boots.
The board was ridden at both SnoZone Milton Keynes and The Snow Centre Hemel Hempsted. Both locations offered freestyle slope setups, and allowed for testing on a large and medium kicker, long and short boxes, flat down box and a down rail.
Contract's flex rating for the board is 3. I found that the board flexes easily but is stiffer between the feet than at the nose and tail. Anyone with experience of presses will find the board easy; beginners will find the flex quite forgiving. The layer of triax fibres in the Circus is designed to help transfer the power directly to the edges, which I found aided the charging while still remaining flexible. It also has additional fibres called power plates beneath the binding area to aid with power transfer and provide additional dampening. Buttering is easy due to the softer nose and tail.
The zero camber does require a little more effort than a rocker board but to aid with this, Contract has built in what they call ‘Trip Technology’. This lifts up the edges at the points where the sidecut meets the tip and tail of the board. This provides easier turn initiation, safer landings and a catch-free ride.
The board is heavily geared at the freestyle rider riding the park, urban rails and generally jibbing about. That said, it handles general riding rather well. The board would make a great all-rounder for the UK rider hitting snow domes, but still wanting something they can take to the mountain for a week at a time.
The board locks in an edge better than most boards I have ridden. The flat camber really lends itself to locking in especially on landing spins. For me this was really where the board shone. I have a tendency to over rotate spins and with rocker boards it’s difficult to lock in an edge and not revert. This board instantly addressed a lot of these issues for me. This is where the board will pay dividends to someone new to freestyle. It helps remove the issues of reverting and really allows a solid ride away, especially for those riders not so confident with riding switch.
The 3D Snake Tech combined with the Trip Technology makes carving a dream. I was quite surprised how well a freestyle oriented board handled the carving even in the light powdery snow in some of our domes. The rider is really able to make quick tight turns. Especially useful for the park rider/mountain jibber/dome kid avoiding the inevitable cut up’s from people paying little attention to their surroundings.
Popping and ollies are the foundations for freestyle. That’s exactly what this board was designed for and offers solid pop. Both on piste and side on. The pre-stress within the board helps create additional power.
This board contains what Contract call X-React technology. This, they say, is carbon and Kevlar stringers running diagonally across the board from contact point to contact point to give huge pop and reduce vibrations. The board doesn’t do all the work itself though. I did feel the need to put the extra effort in for generating greater height.
Sending the board off jumps is of no concern. The board is light and the construction keeps it stable and allows the rider to absorb the impact of larger landings with ease.
I found that spinning off kickers, rollers and flatland jibs felt a lot easier than many of the other boards I've ridden. With that said, I had to dial down some of the power I was putting into jibs because of the ease the board was able to spin. The board felt very well balanced and the swing weight of the board makes spinning a dream.
Upping the spins on larger features wouldn’t faze me, knowing how well suited the board is for this task. Combined with the flat camber and edge locking ability, it’s the area I find most impressive with the board.
Rider in Mind
I would not hesitate to recommend this to any level of park rider. I’d also recommend this to the intermediate rider looking to step up his jibbing and move to the next level in the park. For indoor riding, the board is a dream and imagine the board will be even more impressive when taken to the mountain for some freestyle mixed with a little bit of charging.
This board isn’t mass produced in a Chinese factory. Each board is handcrafted in the NBL factory in the south of Poland by highly skilled workers who spent nearly 10 years crafting boards for Burton snowboards. Under the Burton contract, the NBL factory were not allowed to produce its own line of boards. When the relationship ended, Contract was born. This in itself should give you an idea of the quality.
The board’s graphics are quite striking. The evil panda design is eye catching and placed perfectly between the bindings. The colour way of the men’s board could be construed as a little dull but for those riders who like to sticker tip and tail this is of no concern. The female version however is one of the best designs and colour ways this season. It retains the excellent evil panda design but adds a striking pink and purple colour way suited to the female riders who prefer bright but feminine designs.
We couldn’t bring you an unbiased view of the board without including negatives. Too many reviews shy away from negatives and we don’t feel this is a fair reflection.
Firstly the board does require regular waxing. This isn’t a board that can go and go and go with no maintenance. The board has an extruded base and as such requires a wax on a semi regular basis to keep the speed. Without semi regular waxing the board does start to slow down quite a lot although a rub on wax does help combat this mid shred.
Lastly the base does tend to get dirty quite easily even in indoor snow domes. Then again if you are having to regularly wax the board giving it a good clean is not an issue.
Neither of these points are much of an issue and would not stop us from purchasing this board.
I’ve been riding a rocker board for the past 5 years and was a little hesitant when riding flat camber at first, as my riding style can get a little lazy when tired and I didn’t want to start catching edges. I needn’t have worried as the board performed great. The Contract Circus is lightweight, flexible and most of all fun! It took a few hours to really get used to but once there I found the board really started to improve areas which I needed to tweak i.e. locking in an edge landing switch.
I would happily ride this all over the mountain and I’m really looking forward to taking it to a full park and giving it an even bigger thrashing. It’s an ideal board to be both learning and progressing on.
Board – Women's Contract Circus 148
Tester: Cerys Allen
I first rode the Contract Circus at the Big Bang Snowboard Show at Snozone MK. The slope was a bit sticky because of the newly blown sugary snow, but it couldn’t stop me from spinning 3s off the kicker. I also found it easy to lock on to the rails and the ribbed gas pipes.
My lip slides on the rails were easy and I found spinning a 180 easy and I even managed to whip round a 360 off the lip, so the spinning is super easy. The way you ride is easily changed with The Circus - I found it was really easy to switch from goofy to regular and whichever way the turns and speed was easy to edit.
The Contract is full of pop. Spinning 180s on the kicker was difficult because the pop was so easy, I couldn’t help but spin 360s! Tail presses again were super easy to slide onto. Overall the pop is great and I found landing strong and easy.
The Contract Circus has an easy flex. Tail presses were miles up in the air both on boxes or just on snow. Pulling Ollies are like nothing because of it. The flex was not too soft or too hard - you seem to only think about foot peddling, and you change direction. But this is no stick of cucumber - it has a real strong core with allows you to get in the air - and as we all know ‘Air time means trick time’.
Rider in Mind:
The Contract is a girls' best friend, if you're cruising or flat lining at Boarder Cross or flying in Slopestyle you can rely on The Contract Circus (unlike most men)! The graphics are so now - I love the style of the lettering and the colours are bright and vibrant. Any girl would want them on her board, but I do know lots of boys who also love to ride in pink!
The next day I took the Contract up to my home slope of The Snow Centre at Hemel. The snow here was running really quick and I could push the Contract Circus to some high speed flatlands which it took in its stride. The flex really came into its own with tight accurate turns.
In the afternoon my coach, Gav Learmonth of Definition snow camps, set me some hard tricks to hit over the big kicker. Once again, the Contract showed its full potential with some super high and floaty 3s and 5s, along with some great grabs - including my signature 180 Tourist Method!
The Circus is a fun spinning-top of a board, stacks of pop, playful to ride indoors, yet strong enough for a mountain. I would recommend this to any girl rider, whether just starting out or just someone who wants to get better.
Contact Snowboard are available now from Yeahboards
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