SG and Apex Plates Testing
Derek Runes, 2013
All Boards Sports and Bola were kind enough to let me test a couple different plate systems this winter. First, I picked up the SG plate with 2×4 hardware to test on my own board. The second plate was the Apex Sport V2 plate with 4×4 insert mounting hardware. The board I was using for testing was my Virus 183 GS. This is my go to board that I know very well. In firm conditions this board has a very tenacious grip and wants you to push it.
SG Plate Stiff Flex
The SG plate is a very well made carbon fiber plate that is pretty simple in design. Flat, mostly rectangle in shape with a “stiffening” rib running lengthwise on the underside of the board. SG offers two flex versions, medium and hard, and the version I was testing is the hard one. The black anodized aluminum hardware is very straight forward and easy to set up. From previous testing I knew that I wanted the hardware to be mounted on the outer most position both front and back. The plate itself has a lot of mounting holes for positioning the plate itself on the hardware so this is where experimenting takes place. I ride with a 20.75” to 21.25” stance on my Virus so I marked the board where I usually had my bindings mounted so that I could place them as close as possible to where I normally rode them. This positioning placed both axles directly under the middle of my bindings.
When I tested the board in this position I was never able to get comfortable with it and struggled with my riding. I attribute this to the axle to boot location as I could bow the plate upward if I pressed either forward or backward on my boots. Next go around I moved the plate back one set of holes and my bindings in closer to each other so that the axle was a bit fore and aft of my boot centers. It took me a bit to get used to the tighter stance but the ride was much better. There wasn’t as much of the plate bowing up as the first test and this helped to make the ride better, still I did not feel as comfortable on this set up as I had hoped for. The plate did smooth out the ride and increased leverage with the added stack height and I was able to decrease my binding angle a few extra degrees. I think that with more time experimenting with the set up on the SG plate it would help in getting an optimal position for the ride that I want but I didn’t have the time to achieve this setup.
Apex Sport V2 Plate
The next plate I tested on my Virus was the Apex V2 race plate. This plate is also very well made with a carbon fiber plate. The V2 no longer has the “duckbill” so it is now a bit lighter than the original. I assume that Apex put in a lot of testing to get the profile that they are producing. I say this because, unlike the stiffening rib of the SG, this plate had a contoured profile that got thinner just in front of the rear binding before gaining thickness again at the binding/axle area. The Apex hardware is a mix of an aluminum rear mount and a stainless steel front mount. Both are made for a 4×4 setup so mounting it to my Virus was easy. Again I chose the outer most mounting positions for the hardware and since the hardware is slotted I had to do a couple of “tests” to get the axle spacing correct before tightening down the screws. The axles themselves are stainless steel pins designed to receive a cotter pin to keep it in place. This was easy to do and once done I noticed that the plate would move side to side on the axles.
This sideways movement wasn’t good, so I went back to the bags of mounting hardware and found a bag with a lot of extra washers. I ended up taking each axle out and adding washers to either side of the hardware to “tighten up” the tolerance of the plate to hardware interface. This did the trick but in my mind it wasn’t any sort of ideal design that is optimized. I would think that Apex would have tighter tolerances designed into the CNC program to “fit” the slots to the mounting hardware instead of having to use bunch of washers to “fix” the problem. Having all these washers stacked side by side also made the appearance look more “cobbled” together rather than the best plate money can buy.
When I went out to test this new setup I was greeted with a much better feel for what the board was doing. From my first turn the V2 felt right. I don’t know if it is the hardware design, the axle spacing or the plate profile but this plate gave me a much better feel of what the board was doing than the SG plate did. The grip was incredible, the ride smoother and I felt the snow underfoot more than on the SG plate. I spent a couple days on this setup before making any changes since it was working so well.
Rewind for a minute to the day I picked up the Apex V2 plate, Bola also sent me home with an SG Full Race Pro Team board to try out as well. So I mounted the SG up with the Apex V2 plate to see just what a top race setup is like. WOW! This was a big difference from my Virus which is very lively with its huge amount of camber compared to the nearly flat SG.
The SG Full Race Pro Team is what some of the top racers, like Justin Reiter (silver medalist at the World Championship this year), are racing on. Well, this one got mounted with the Apex V2 plate and it was a very damp, fast ride that kept a grin on my face for quite a while. I liked this combination very much and had a difficult time bringing it all back to Bola and the shop.
So, the SG plate is top notch and would probably work better for me with additional experimenting to get all the locations correct for my riding. It is easy to set up so making changes doesn’t take too long. The Apex V2 Race Plate is not as easy to set up with all the washers to mess with but the feel of this plate won me over. I would like to see Apex redesign the slotting to eliminate all the washers, which I think would be a fairly simple change to the CNC code. This would give it an even more “finished” look and possibly make it perform even better.