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Prior - Spearhead Split XTC

posted Nov 10, 2015, 7:14 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Nov 11, 2015, 9:16 AM ]

Nomen est omen: the Spearhead is designed to be launched through powder and cleave it like a spear! How could we miss the chance to test such a weapon of pow destruction? Last winter we grabbed the Spearhead in its split and lightened version (Spearhead Split XTC) and we took it out for a few spins. Here, we report on our riding experience with it.

Technical Description

The Spearhead is a directional powder-board with a clearly noticeable setback in the stance (the setback is only 2 cm with respect to the center of the camber, but the difference between the nose and the tail is about 20 cm) and an ample nose. It has a "Powder Rocker Profile", which is a combination of a rocker on the nose and a traditional camber profile underfoot reaching all the way to the tail. The Spearhead also has a prominent taper (~2cm) to host
oversized nose, designed to allow easier floatation and quicker turn initiation.

The XTC Carbon Construction is an upgrade available on all Prior splitboards that saves an average of 500 g (about 15% of the weight) off the same model with a
standard quadraxial fiberglass construction. 
The XTC Carbon Construction uses the same vertically laminated maple and aspen wood cores, sidewalls, bases, and nylon topsheets as in the traditional construction, but replaces the fibreglass weave with Carbon fabric.

Our test

We tested the XTC carbon version of the Prior Spearhead Splitboard (length 166, model 2014/2015) for a whole winter season. We had the chance to try the board in the backcountry on very different snow conditions: powder, wet and heavy snow, icy crusts, windy slabs, firn, spring snow. Even if it's not its favorite terrain, we also tested the Spearhead on the pistesWe used it exclusively in combination with the Spark R&D Magneto bindings (weighing approximately 1.5 kg). This is probably one of the lightest splitboard settings, with a total weight of less than 5 kg for a 166cm split!

First impressions on the snow
The Spearhead literally flies on powder and in deep snow in general. You can adopt a "more aggressive" riding style, almost leaning forward, even in deep snow. The board is very light, it turns easily,
and pow surfing is effortless and more governed by your front leg.

Lightness & Riding Agility
Thanks to the carbon construction, the Spearhead Split XTC is certainly among the lightest powder splitboards on the market. We set it up with a very light pair of bindings and split system (we used the Spark R&D's Magneto with the Tesla system). With this setting the total weight of the board is less than that of an average non-split snowboard of the same length. We always stress that lightness is of fundamental importance in the backcountry, because it lets you save a lot of energies during the long and steep approaches. This simply means that you can reach further and higher. Saving energies during the climb also means being able to enjoy the descent much more. Lightness is key in improving the agility of the board during the ride, especially when surfing the deepest powder. 

Flex & Responsiveness
The flex of the the Spearhead Split is intermediate and just right to make the ride fluent while still providing a comfortable damping effect thanks also to the camber. The true flex and responsiveness can be fully appreciated when riding on compact snow or on the piste, when vibrations - especially on the nose - can be noticed, but not terribly so. Of course, the piste is not the ideal terrain for the Spearhead, but when you get used to the new riding style, more pivoting on the forward foot, you start enjoying the curving. The cambered underfoot profile helps generating a good damping effect especially appreciated on landing of big jumps and during tight turns. 

Edge Grip
The Spearhead Split has a combination of a large rocker on the nose and a camber profile underfoot, plus a pronounced setback of the binding inserts. Its behaviour during the turns is radically different from that of a "standard" twin-tip board or from that of a more traditional directional board. You can lean forward and use your front foot much more to initiate the turns and control your riding. The underfoot camber provides good edge hold and stability, especially during fast and ample turns. The taper on the nose helps turn initiation and quickens the edge-to-edge switch.

Thanks to its pronounced rocker and the ample nose the Spearhead floats in deep powder effortlessly, even at low speed. Even in waist-deep powder the nose always sticks out of the snow without having to lean back. This means that you can ride in a much more comfortable and efficient position: with your weight equally distributed on both legs. Both the large surface of the Spearhead and its lightweight contribute effectively in enhancing the floating. As a result your ride can be more efficient, more fluid, and even aggressive in deep pow.

The Spearhead Split XTC is a powder split. Its favourite terrain is deep snow, no doubt about it. A natural concern is, therefore, how good is this highly asymmetric, directional powder board on hard,
compact snow? 
Surprisingly, the Spearhead does actually behave quite good on compact snow too. The riding style must be re-adjusted to be more balanced on the front foot, which is almost centred on the pivoting point of the board, but the riding feeling is nice and the edges provide good grip. Even if longer than your usual board you'll find it very agile and easy to turn. We found it very good in all the kind on terrains in the backcountry: from the gently inclined slopes in the woods to the steepest and tightest couloirs. 

The sintered Durasurf base is quite tough. It protects relatively well even from strong impacts with rocks and we had the chance to actually proof that a couple of times. However, because of its extremely lightweight construction, the top of the board requires some extra care, especially when carrying the board or when using it in touring mode. The flex and elasticity also tend to weaken quite rapidly with time. For this reason it is important to choose the correct length for your weight. If indecisive on the size, go for a few extra cm: these will offer more support, better floating, and greater durability.

Our verdict

The Prior Spearhead Split XTC is the ultimate weapon of pow shredding. It is an ultralight powder board ideal for the days of epic dumps, when being light and fast is key. The efficient and energy-saving skinning gives you more chances be the one drawing the first track. Our riding experience with the Spearhead has been outstanding in deep powder and surprisingly good on a variety of different terrains, including on the pistes!

 Lightness & Agility   10/10
 Flex & Responsiveness     7/10
 Edge Grip     8/10
 Floating   10/10
 Versatility     7/10
 Durability     7/10
 Total Score  8.2/10