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Kneeboard Savvy
What you should know before you buy

Is your kneeboard a four-inch thick hot pink and lime green plastic beast with a skinny strap permanently twisted up beyond recovery? If so, it's probably due time for a new board. But, before you run out, you'll need some tips to find the best board for you.

As the old saying goes, you usually get what you pay for. Unfortunately, that's not the way kneeboard shoppers usually see it. In the wakeboard world, Joey, for example, wants what the best riders are riding. So, he goes to the local ski shop to pick up that board. When Joey realizes how many lawns he would need to mow in order to pay for the best, he settles for the next step down.

For kneeboarders, it's the other way around. Since there is less hype and no well known sponsored riders, Joey may not even know what an O'Brien Lowrider or HO Joker is. He may think that his old plastic board is as good as it gets. Therefore, when Joey goes shopping for a new kneeboard, he'll start at the low-end boards and work up to what he can afford.

The problem with this is obvious. Joey may never get to realize the full potential of a kneeboard and will give up the sport early. So, if you want to excel in kneeboarding, look at the top boards and work down to the one you can afford.

The majority of kneeboards are constructed two different ways: roto-molded and compression molded. Roto-molding is a process in which molten plastic is injected into a mold as it spins around to help distribute the plastic evenly into the proper shape. When the board is removed from the mold, the inner void is filled with foam for strength and flotation. Roto-molding is a very inexpensive way to make boards; therefore, most of the beginner boards are made this way.

Compression molding starts with a foam core. Then, layers of fiberglass and resin are placed around the core. Finally, the whole thing is placed into a mold and compressed at very high pressures to attain the proper shape and to eliminate any strength reducing air pockets. Compression molding is a more expensive process than roto-molding. Most of the higher end kneeboards are made this way as well as virtually every wakeboard.

Which one?
So, now which one do you choose? Fortunately, there are not so many choices to boggle your mind. Roto-molded boards are a thing of the past. They are only for beginners, cost-minded individuals, or the occasional ride. If you're reading this, you're most likely more interested in kneeboarding than just an annual ride or two. Go with a compression molded board. They can handle a lot more abuse and have a thinner profile for better performance.

If it's hard cutting or surface spins you want to do, a board like the HO Kustom or O'Brien Airageous or Jobe Slayer will be good. These boards have a fairly flat bottom to allow for good cutting and easy spinning.

If you want to get big air, go for the O'Brien Lowrider or HO Joker or Jobe Prophecy. The big air boards have lots arc from tip to tail, called "rocker". This is what gives you lots of pop off of the wake. The down side is that they ride very rough in rough water. If you are always riding in rough water, you may want to purchase a board with less rocker and rounder edges. Big air boards have sharp edges for cutting, but may catch if performing surface spins on choppy water.

So, go out there and get a new board. Several specialty shops may even let you try before you buy. Just remember to start at the top-of-the-line and work down to your price. You'll be a lot happier in the long run since you may not need to upgrade.

Visit these sites for more specifics about the boards mentioned:

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