Expert Review: 2023 GNU Riders Choice Snowboard [with Video]Published on 08/31/2023 · 9 min readSnowboard Expert Victor Von Claus tested the 2023 GNU Riders Choice snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Snowboard Expert Victor Von Claus tested the 2023 GNU Riders Choice board at Powder Mountain in Utah this past spring. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but don’t forget, every snowboarder is different and what works for one may not work for all. If you have any questions about the Riders Choice or would like recommendations on what board would be ideal for your needs, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
A quick note that we're not sponsored by any brands, so all of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does GNU claim about the board? [Victor] GNU has already given a pretty hefty claim to this board by naming it the Riders Choice, but I agree. This all-mountain freestyle board has the level-two asymmetrical true twin profile. That means that you will have a considerably more profound protrusion on your heel edges, for lack of a better term. Then on the toe edge here, it's going to be a lot more precise, a little bit more of an extra contact point, and a lot more response that you'll be able to get out of it. Additionally, they paired it up with the C2X profile, which is one of my favorite profiles from Mervin in general.
What is your overall impression? [Victor] This was the funnest board I rode all day today. I would think of stuff to do and it just delivered. It was pretty wild. It lives up to the name. GNU is absolutely killing it. It gives you a nice amount of rocker just for that bit of playfulness if you want to go jib around, but also have, if not a little bit more but definitely equal, amounts of camber distributed throughout the board. You get plenty of pop if you want to jib around or butter. They've really outdone themselves. I rode this board a handful of years ago and loved it. It was a little big for me at the time. This 154.5 was surprising because it's as big as my split board, and it didn't ride nearly as big as I felt it would.
How about edge hold? [Victor] I love asymmetrical boards, and every board I've ridden has improved over the years. It boils down to less is more. You put not nearly as much input in, and you get a ton of response out, and then if you want to turn it up and you have to dig in, these edges will do more than what you want in a good way. The edge wants to do what it does for you. The Magne-Traction, paired with the asymmetrical profile, truly holds an edge in just about any possible condition you could put it through. Today at Powder Mountain, we had a just-about-everything kind of a day. It started with very low visibility, colder temp, snowing, harder pack from the day before, and little stashes here and there. And then it broke off into what we've got now—sunnier weather, softened up a bit, but still hard and tricky in some areas. But it really didn't matter with this board. If I had to hold an edge and wanted to make sure I was getting through, no issues whatsoever.
How is it at speed? [Victor] At 40-plus miles an hour, you're a happy camper, especially if you size this thing accordingly. If you aim to get a smaller version of this, the more mid-flex profile it has may not be as stable. However, considering this borders the bigger size for me, it certainly felt extremely stable at incredibly high speeds.
Is it easy to control at speed? [Victor] Absolutely. You would think due to the extra Magne-Traction that turns ice into powder, as Lib Tech claims, paired with a level two asymmetrical cut on the side here, that it would be very prone to catching an edge if you made a mistake, but, realistically, that was not the case. So going super fast switch or regular, I didn't feel like there was an issue if I was going to catch an edge, lose any edge hold, or any of that kind of riding standpoint would be compromised.
Can you speak about playfulness and pop? [Victor] They named this board accordingly, especially if you're an all-mountain ripper or want to make this your dedicated park board. In this bigger size, I could butter around with no problem, pop off the nose, and spin the board around, even with the swing weight being a little bit more than what I'm used to. It was just an absolute blast. You could tweak grabs on it. Whatever you want, it will deliver for you. It is the Riders Choice.
Did you ride it switch? [Victor] Yeah, absolutely. I got a good handful of switch riding in on this to see how that asymmetrical sidecut would work on a stance that I'm not as familiar with at speed. And I still felt almost as comfortable as I did in my regular stance. I had it set up as a pretty true twin so that if I was getting those switch landings and wanting to make sure I could just point it out, I would see how that would respond. And it certainly delivered more than what I expected.
How is it on jumps and stability on landings? [Victor] Jumps. Oh, I would happily take this through jump lines day after day. Side hits. If you're an Arthur Longo fan, you want to find those secret transitions out in the sticks. Yeah, this thing will certainly do everything that you're hoping for. Regarding the stability on landings, it was just damp enough that I didn't feel like anything was coming up through, but it still provided plenty of playfulness through the board. The board felt that I could ultimately still get a gauge on what landings could look like in advance very comfortably throughout getting more and more tricks in my line.
How would it be in powder? [Victor] That's a good question. Today it wasn't exactly a good gauge for riding in powder, seeing what that would look like, especially on a true twin board. I would suggest that, if anything, depending on the rider, perhaps set the stance back just a little bit so you could get that extra bit of float, but it felt more like your traditional true twin that if it got really deep out, I'm not quite sure how that C2X Contour (shape of the rocker/camber put into this board) is going to help you out. But I mean, you can see here that it gives you a good bow. So, as long as it's not epic Alaska line deep, you should be well off in the powder.
How is it on uneven terrain and chunder? [Victor] With the Magne-Traction, being able to just lay into an edge and really find just the line to get out of that nasty stuff, I never felt too uncomfortable. A couple of times, especially at higher speeds going through chunder, it felt a little squirrely, but it was very minimal, maybe 5% or less of the time when that happened.
How is the maneuverability in the trees? [Victor] Maneuverability in trees was top-notch. Again, I would have to almost exclusively accredit that to the asymmetrical sidecut and paired up with the Magne-Traction on the edges. When you need it quickly or even spread out through the evolution of a turn, those extra contact points make a difference, so you ultimately get this edge that wants to provide all the responses you could ever hope for. And I really loved every inch of that. That was phenomenal. And it was well-executed on GNU's end.
What terrain is this board ideal for? [Victor] I suggest this for any rider looking to get out there and have a good time, especially general resort riding. If you're even a rad dad who loves to ride groomers, especially on sunny days when it gets spring corny, it's a great time. Still, even like your park ripper, if you're looking to hit just a plethora of stuff in the park, whether it's rails or bigger jump lines, you would probably do pretty well on this.
What terrain is it not ideal for? It might lack a bit for you if you're taking it to bigger mountain lines or riding the more technical stuff that's double black, plus at any of your bigger resorts that offer that world-class terrain. I don't feel it would hold up very well with that mid-flex. You might get tossed around a bit.
Is there any location you'd pack this board for? [Victor] Definitely out here in Utah. It can hang with most of the world-class terrain that we see. Again, not some of the very big technical stuff. You might get thrown around a little bit there. So I would take it here again to Powder Mountain, no sweat, like it handled anything the terrain had to offer. I absolutely love it here at Powder Mountain. It is an absolute blast. I also would take it back home to Cascade Pacific Northwest Riding; it's made in Washington, so they know what's up. I'm riding it like, "Oh, this would be a great board to take to Brighton for sure." Back home at Mount Hood Timberline, I would surely take this through some park laps. You'll also be pretty happy on the East Coast just because the Magne-Traction and the asymmetrical sidecut will ensure that even if it's the most ice-rinky day for you, you can make it down the mountain. Or if you just don't even want to deal with the ice anymore, you can make it back to the parking lot without slipping out. You're not going to have a bad time.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Victor or any other Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations. They’ll help you get unstuck in your research and find the perfect setup for your needs. Note that the 2024 version of the GNU Riders Choice is linked below - same tech, just different graphic: