An accessible freestyle board that rips upwind and rides comfortably in choppy conditions
This test first appeared in issue #86 in March, 2017
TEST TEAM NOTES:
The Bliss was one of the test team’s favourite boards in Cape Town last year. Inspiring the freestyler in us, there was still lots of balanced performance for freeride ease and it scored highly as an all-rounder.
Fundamentally, not much has changed, but the conditions were particularly challenging this year, and in this test we also had some boards whose pure focus is to provide ultimate feelings of grip and control in difficult conditions, so it was an interesting test. The Bliss leans more towards being an easy freestyle performer yet retains more accessibility than you might expect. The rails have a decent thickness, so offer an element of comfort through chop and a smooth bite when you load up and pop.
The rocker profile is fairly flat and there’s not much lift in the tips, but thanks to the rail shape and channel detailing in the base close to the rails, the Bliss feels nice to carve on. The flat rocker also ensures plenty of early planing and light wind performance. When you get the board on edge you’re engaging a lot of rail and can get upwind quickly. Lay your edge in, sheet out to let the kite move forward in the window and your equipment automatically transports you upwind. The outline is pulled in just enough towards the tips so they never catch and spray you, even in relatively heavy going chop. The robust weight and powerful flat rocker help the board punch through chop really well. In heavier chop you do need a bit more technique to negotiate the lumps than on a pure freeride board, and in strong winds the Bliss’s stiffness makes it more of a handful, but the pay off in extra performance from more rail engagement makes up for that in easy load and pop in prime conditions. The flatter platform offers stability for your tricks and there’s enough lateral grip for forgiveness when you don’t land quite straight.
Where the Bliss differs to some of the highly tuned freeride shapes is that it doesn’t have such a range of speed control. It has fewer gears, but it gets up to speed and then maintains that well without any management from you.
The Bliss isn’t light, but for tricks there’s a nice amount of swing weight. Also, when boosting in strong wind it’s often useful to have a bit of ballast to stabilise you in the air. The increased weight comes from the thickness of the Bliss as it’s strong and as well suited to boots riding as it is for straps. This is a really good board if you think you’ll be switching back and forth between straps and boots. It’s not tiring in straps, and won’t bog or over flex in boots either.
Fixtures and fittings on the RRD are big, bold, beautiful and easy to fit with lots of stance angle options. At the upper end of the development scale the pads are well contoured for grip and provide a comfortable but sturdy platform. The pads are some of the biggest on the market and cover a large proportion of the foot, but they’re very soft underneath and don’t pinch sharply in the corners. With four way Velcro tightening underneath it’s easy to find the right level of tightness / support to suit you.
The Bliss will help you progress all your freestyle tricks and yet won’t hinder your comfort and general riding ability too much when conditions get difficult. Although it can be a serious performer, there’s a brilliant playful feel to this board and it’s very well balanced for strapped and boot performance. Each size offers a different colour combo in the graphics. The 136 worked for all three of our testers well, but if purple and orange isn’t your thing, there are options…
Stepping up to a sturdy wakestyle feel without sacrificing easy freeride performance.
KW WOULD CHANGE:
If you’re used to a light weight freeride board it’ll take a while to get used to this, but it’s built to last and the benefits go beyond just improving your muscles.
BLISS BALANCE POINTS:
Build quality: 8.5
Fixtures and fitting: 8.5
Slider proof: NA
Boots applicable: Yes
Ease of use: 8 (For someone progressing their freestyle)
SIZES: 139 x 43.5, 138 x 42, 137 x 41, 136 x 40 and 135 x 39cm
Also available in women’s ‘Bliss Kiss’ model: 136 x 40 and 135 x 39cm