Extruded vs Sintered Base Material – Which Skiboard Base Material Is Best?
The best skiboard base for you will depend on a few factors including budget, ability level and riding style.
Extruded bases are created by super-heating and melting polyethylene pellets. The result is a base that is essentially one piece.
Pro #1: Extruded skiboard bases are cheaper to manufacture than their sintered counterparts. Thus the overall cost is less.
Pro #2: They are cheaper to repair. If your extruded base gets damaged it will be less costly to get fixed and easier to fix if you are fixing it yourself.
Pro #3: Easier to maintain. Although they don’t hold wax as well as sintered bases waxing is not as important.
Waxing an extruded base won’t make as much difference as waxing a sintered base will. Therefore it is not necessary to wax as often. For example an un-waxed extruded base (EB) will actually be faster than an un-waxed sintered base (SB). A waxed SB on the other hand will be faster than a waxed EB.
Con #1: EBs won’t hold wax as well. They aren’t completely non-porous but aren’t as porous as their sintered cousins so won’t hold as much wax either.
Con #2: Because of con #1 they aren’t as fast as a waxed SB – so if you are willing to keep your SB well waxed and want better speed out of your bases then go for SB over EB.
Con #3: Less durable. Though there is some debate as to which is more and less durable. Even so, as per pro#1, if you do damage your EB it is easier/cheaper to repair.
Extruded bases best for:
Freestylers: Freestylers aren’t typically too worried about hyper-speed so that’s not really a downside. Also if you are riding a lot of rails and other obstacles there is a higher chance of damage – the EB is cheaper and easier to repair, so might be a better option. If you’re hitting big features, and mostly ride the jump line as opposed to the jib line, you might still appreciate having a sintered base, rather than an extruded base.
Some All-Mountain Riders: Less aggressive and more budget conscious riders will be OK with an EB and maybe won’t notice enough benefit of going for the SB if they are looking to save cash and don’t ride that aggressively and/or want to be lazy with waxing. But most all mountain riders are better off with a sintered base.
Beginner: Beginners are probably more likely to cause damage (if trying new things, or if there are exposed rocks or roots in the terrain – e.g. late or early season), are less likely to be skilled in the art of waxing and less willing to pay the extra cost of a sintered base (and the extra maintenance costs). Also, quick acceleration is not necessarily a desirable feature for a beginner!
Lazy or more casual riders: Less maintenance is great for those who can’t be bothered waxing (and don’t want to pay to have it done) and those who only ride a couple of times per year and don’t want to invest in waxing gear (especially if they are only going to wax once a year or every other year) or pay someone to wax for them.
Sintered bases are also created using the polyethylene pellets. However, instead of being just melted they are forced together under super-high pressure creating a base with microscopic pores. Despite the often held assumption that sintered bases are better there are some pros to having an extruded base – there are also downsides.
Most of the pros and cons are the opposite for sintered bases naturally.
Pro #1: Holds Wax well. Yes you have to wax it but the SB will hold that wax well, which means you should get a fair bit out of your waxing – and this should also help with prolonging the life of the base. Plus you will get the benefits of Pro #2 below
Pro #2: Speed. A well waxed SB will accelerate quicker and glide much more easily on those slight up-hills and flat sections. They are also faster through powder and slush – particularly the sticky kind.
Pro #3: More durable. This is somewhat debated but the balance of evidence seems to be in favor of the SB being more durable.
Con #1: Maintenance. In order to maintain its speed advantage over an EB, the SB needs to be regularly waxed. If you are riding a lot this should be a regular task anyway regardless of EB & SB but if you neglect it with SB’s then you will notice a greater difference.
Con #2: Price. The process of “sintering” the base is more expensive for manufacturers and that is reflected in the price of the skiboard that has a SB.
Con #3: Cost of repair. SBs are more costly and more difficult to repair if damage does occur.
Sintered Bases are Best Suited to:
Free-riders: Those who enjoy and search out speed, the backcountry, powder etc will definitely want a sintered base. This is a major part of the reason why free-ride boards are more expensive on average than freestyle and beginner boards.
All Mountain Riders: Those all mountain riders that are willing to spend a little extra on a SB. Most all-mountain riders, who are at least an intermediate level, will appreciate a sintered base. It’s even more appealing for the more aggressive style all-mountain rider and worth the extra cost in most cases.
Advanced Riders: If you are a more advanced rider (except perhaps if you only ride jibs in the park) then it’s probably worth the extra cost to go with sintered.
Racers/Boardercross riders: Anyone racing wants to be fast of course!
Then there are Graphite Bases
Sintered bases can also have graphite added making them even faster and more durable. Graphite is added because it is conductive. As a skiboard slides static charges form between the base and the snow which increases friction. The graphite helps dissipate the static charges, reducing friction and making the base faster. Graphite bases can also hold even more wax than normal sintered bases, which again makes them even faster.