Review: Cardiff Snowcraft The Goat

Review: Cardiff Snowcraft The Goat

Cardiff snowboards have been steadily building a good reputation in the snowboard industry. Their first offering, The Goat, was in development for over five years and went through ten different prototypes before hitting the market. The Cardiff Snowcraft Goat is a lightweight hard-charging touring machine that we had the opportunity to test for over a full winter. Read on to get our full thoughts on the board. 

Overview

  • Material: Pro Carbon
  • Length Tested: 166
  • Designed in: Utah
  • Country of Origin: China

Who is Cardiff Snowcraft?

To know Cardiff Snowcraft you first need to know Cardiff. No, not the Capital of Wales but a region of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.  It was here that inspired Sam Bawden to start designing snowboards. A long-time snowboarder and architect, Sam wanted a splitboard that climbed better than what was offered but was still able to tackle aggressive descents. We think he’s designed a winner with the Goat.

What is The Goat?

Goats, part of the genus Capra, are hardy animals that are known to be able to eat just about anything, live off of next to nothing, and climb wherever they please. Take this video of a family of ibex climbing a dam in Switzerland for calcium and other minerals for example:

With that in mind, we have a good idea of what kind of splitboarding the Goat is designed for. Climbing to get gnarly lines. The Cardiff Goat Pro-Carbon 166 we tested is exceptionally lightweight and thanks to its stiffness and large radius sidecut holds an edge really well on hard-packed snow.

What’s not in the name is that this board is a Set-Back twin. This means The Cardiff Goat is nearly identical both front and back but designed to be ridden with your stance slightly set back. The setback is 17mm / 1.7cm / 0.699 inches. So, your bindings should be 17mm back of center, yielding a slightly longer nose than tail. This allows for more float in powder but also provides enough tail for when you want to ride switch, or your chosen line requires you to ride switch 

What is The Cardiff Goat Made of?

The Cardiff Goat about to get a mechanized assist

All boards in Cardiff’s line come in two versions, an Enduro version, and a Pro-Carbon Version.  We got the chance to test out both versions, but to be fair, we spent 99% of the time on the ProCarbon Goat. It’s just that good. Following is a breakdown of the design of these boards. 

What is Enduro?

Enduro boards have a core made of a poplar paulownia mix with layers of carbon fiber in-between. In Cardiff’s words, the carbon helps the core retain its shape, and therefore provides pop and edge hold, much longer than boards made without carbon. Enduro boards also feature Cardiff’s UNIwall; urethane sidewalls that help further dampen bumps and chatter. 

What is Pro Carbon?

Pro-Carbon boards begin with a poplar and paulownia core as well. Then, vertically laid strips of aluminum, called TITANcore, act as dampeners. That makes the meat of the sandwich, the bread, is two full sheets of carbon fiber laid on top and below the TITANcore. This is what Cardiff calls the CARBONfiber100. 

Shared Tech between Enduro and PROcarbon

The Nose of the Cardiff Goat Enduro Series

There’s a lot going on in a Cardiff Snowcraft snowboard. By their account, decades of riding experience has gone into the design of this board as this is the first board Sam designed having gone through ten different iterations. I’ll attempt to break down the shared tech between Enduro and Pro Carbon boards. 

ENDUROcap

Cardiff calls their top sheet ENDUROcap, not to be confused with the Enduro line. The ENDUROcap is a scratch-resistant dimpled top sheet.  The Board I received has definitely shown some wear and tear on it, and it should, I’ve put 120 days on it and I got it when it already had 30 days on it. So, we’re now looking at 150 days of touring. I can’t fault a top sheet for having that many days and a few scratches. That said, like any top sheet out on the market, it will clump up with snow while touring in the spring. It is black after all. 

SPEEDbumps

Both the Enduro and Pro Carbon boards feature SPEEDbumps. These aren’t what you’d find in your local supermarket parking lot intending to slow you down. They are, in essence, a lighter version of magnetraction. Reverse sidecut bumps aligned with the bindings that add grip to tighter sidecut radii.

BOARDERpatrol

The Tail of the Cardiff Goat, Enduro Series

The next similarity between the Enduro and ProCarbon boards is BOARDERpatrol. All Cardiff boards have poplar stringer-backed sidewalls. This reinforces the edge while protecting the lightweight cores. Speaking of the edges of the board, all Cardiff boards have Urethane sidewalls. 

HALFcamber

Next on the list of naming conventions is HALFcamber. Half camber is, from what I can tell, a way to label early rise tip and tail. The Cardiff goat features 60% camber between the feet. 

FLOATilla™

FLOATilla is Cardiff’s take on surface displacement. By making boards wider, they are able to make them shorter but still retain the same amount of float in powder as the surface displacement of the board is the same, 

PERFECTpivot 3.0

The Cardiff Snowcraft Goat features what they call PERFECTpivot 3.0. This means that in the middle of the camber is a small flat, if not reversed camber section. This creates a small pivot point between your legs and is intended to make the board turn easier.

Captain Hook + the Goat

It takes a lot to hold a splitboard together. The bindings do a lot of the heavy work but don’t discount the clips. Cardiff spares no expense here as they use Phantom Spinner Clips on both the tip and tail. The model we tested had Voile Tipo clips that function just fine. 

In the middle of the board, we get Phantom Hercules Hooks. You already know that we like these hooks because you’ve read our review, right? 

I cannot see why you would ever want to change them, but if you did, there’s one thing to be aware of. The Enduro series has the Top mount screw while the Pro-Carbon has the through mount. Other than how they attach to the board, the hooks function exactly the same. 

Trust me, this is one fast base

How Does The Cardiff Goat Ride?

Now that we have the details out of the way, it’s time to talk about how this board rides. It is, after all, a snowboard, and even though the uphill walk boarding is fun, what we’re really after is the downhill.

Turning

Snowboards typically have a sidecut between 6 and 8m. This is a deep sidecut that allows for quick and sharp turns. The Goat has a rather large sidecut radius of 11.5m. That’s a drastic change from snowboards but nowhere near how large a radius skis have on average of 15m or more. What this translates to is wider turns but with much more confidence at higher speeds. 

I found the Goat to be easy to turn in all situations despite its large turning radius. Tight trees, open glades, and alpine terrain. Railing a turn on the board is great but bear in mind, with an 11.5m sidecut, turns are not going to be as fast and easy to come by unless you add more muscle. That being said, I never had a problem turning this board in the trees at all. 

It holds an edge on ice really well compared to almost every other board I have ridden. Normally, on my way back from the backcountry I get nervous as I reach the point where Blackcomb’s “snow” is man-made. On The Goat, I feel more confident that I’m not going to suddenly lose an edge. This translates well to steeper lines as well. 

The only time I have a tricky time riding The Goat is on an out track from an area called Hanging Lake. It tends to become a gnarly, icy bermed track that leads to the bottom of the mountain. At times, I feel like I catch the tail on a few of the sharpest corners. 

Floating

This board has absolutely no issues floating in Powder. After all, it is 166cm in length and has a waist width of 270. This is a lot of board. What comes with a lot of board? A lot of surface area and therefore a lot of float. Add to the large amount of surface area, a set-back stance of 17mm and taper of 11mm and you know the goat handles almost any pow situation

In all but the lightest and flattest pow, The Cardiff Goat floats really well. As I have a steep front foot angle (30 degrees) I am not able to set my bindings back as far as I would like. If I had a more “normal front foot angle of 18 degrees-ish I think I could move my bindings back and gain some more float. There is 11mm of taper that helps the tail sink just a little. 

I still have to lean back to keep the nose afloat, but this is an all-mountain board, not a powder board. That should be expected. 

Charging

Point this board at just about anything and it handles well. Rough chunder, sastrugi, icy man-made “snow,” it all get’s plowed through. Cardiff rates The Goat at a stiffness of 9.  That sounds like a lot, but I found it to be the sweet spot for me. It was stiff enough to plow through most crappy snow but damp enough to handle the buck and provide controllable pop.

A special Note on Durability

There is a section on Blackcomb called the Cham Chutes, named after Chamonix. You have to repel into the chute a small amount before putting your board on and slaying pow. 2 out of 3 times I rode this line last year I slayed rocks. Hard. Yelling expletives both times thinking I had crushed the core or ripped out the edge and generally just destroying the most expensive snowboard I had put boots on. I was wrong, both times. These boards take a beating, not that I suggest you do that on purpose, but rest assured they can take it. 

One such core shot was right on the heel edge of the board. The Cardiff Pro Carbon Goat features edges that are welded 4mm into the core with a poplar backing.  This helps durability significantly, and I tested that about as harshly as I could. 

How does the Cardiff Goat Tour?

If a board is going to be named after the Capra genus, it better climb well, and the Cardiff Goat certainly does.  It is nearly the stiffest board I have used setting a track in deep pow, lessening the dreaded bathtub effect of softer splitboards. 

Despite its single ski width of 135 (far wider than most skis), it holds an edge well on icy traverses. I put this down to its wide sidecut radius that allows pressure to be more evenly placed on the snow than boards with deeper sidecuts.  

The Cardiff Goat is also quite light. Throughout the day having a lightweight board on your feet will equal more power left for the downhill. 

Overview

Bjorn Leines said this is the best snowboard he has ever ridden and I feel like I am not one to argue with him. I would place it in my top three in the last decade for sure.  The very first run I did on this board I started popping BS 180s on rollers. I was immediately comfortable on the board. It’s just stiff enough that it holds an edge well, flexes when needed, and provides enough pop for most freestyle needs. 

Rocking the board edge to edge is exceptionally easy for such a wide board. I expected to have to think about edge transitions more than I do on this board, which is to say, I don’t. Occasionally, I find myself catching the tail of the board while riding narrow forced turns. I had been almost exclusively riding very powder-centric boards with next to no tail  prior to the Goat and this could be my issue.

I would like to be able to push my front binding back a little farther but this would require the touring bracket to be set back farther and thus, likely, throw off the balance for touring. Perhaps I am more of a powder hound than a freerider after all. Maybe I should be talking to Daniel LaRusso about getting a Crane, Cardiff’s more powder-centric board?  

If you are still confused about what a Goat is, watch the following video so you at least know the difference between a Goat and a Sheep. You’ll thank me later and hopefully have a laugh too. 

Pros: Durable AF. Holds an edge really well in all snow conditions. Super Fast base.  

Cons: Mid wide means crampons are either too wide or too narrow. Price for the Pro Carbon may be an entry barrier. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Cardiff Goat,  head on over to Cardiff and check it out!

Black Sheep Adventure sports was provided with a free sample of The Cardiff Goat. This in no way affected our opinion and review of the boards.