Franco Batwing II ReviewFebruary 21, 2017
- You get to tweak every last design spec
- Environmentally friendly production
- Not for the park
The Batwing II from Franco Snowshapes is the best powder-oriented all mountain board we’ve ridden. With plenty of float it performs superlatively on deep days and is also fun for ripping fast runs down corduroy. But its powder-oriented shape ensures it’s not for the park.
Before Franco Snowshapes, the most expensive boards weren’t always the best, just targeted at folks with more money than time. But Franco Snowshapes changed the game. They are one of the only custom snowboard outfits in the US built in Jackson, Wyoming with a proprietary process and finished with custom graphics. Riding a Franco will spoil you on factory-built boards. We rode a handful of Franco’s boards last year—boards that were *not* built for us, and we were sad to return home to our sizeable quiver.
Fitted shapes start at $2,500 and put the rider in direct communication with shaper Mikey Franco. The process begins with the 36-question Rider Genome Profile that analyzes a riders’ ability, style, as well as the rider’s snowboard wants and desires. Mikey Franco created the profile based on 25 years of teaching and guiding at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. All Fitted Shapes come with a three-year warranty and a quiver building recommendation. The Batwing II is on the powder board end of the all mountain spectrum. It’s ideal for deep days, but also excellent for big and surfy Euro carves.
A short tail means the Batwing II is ideal for power and cruising through the trees. Like most boards in the test, the Batwing II features a hybrid camber with rocker between the feet and camber in front and behind the bindings. The wide nose is soft, making it great for powder and plowing through crud. The board gets stiffer closer to the tail.
POP + ENERGY
The nose is short, so you can probably guess this board isn’t for big ollies. But basalt fibers keep the board active. The Batwing II is the only board in the test that lacks a top sheet. Instead, there’s only a resin clear coat.
The Batwing II is more of a quiver board than a quiver killer. It’s great all-day board for when you’re riding during a storm cycle or coming out of one. An exquisite pow board, the Batwing II is also fun on the corduroy. It’s also confidence-inspiring for the gnarly side country crud you have to deal with to get back inbounds in places like Jackson.
The Batwing II is pretty good on slick stuff, but if it’s icy from top to bottom, you’ll probably want to go with another board.
SUSTAINABILITY + CRAFTSMANSHIP
The Batwing II is beautiful—like permanent collection MOMA beautiful. Some folks even use them as wall art, which is both understandable (they’re prettier than a lot of contemporary art) and tragic (because it’s like keeping a Ducati in a museum and never taking it to the track). Craftsmanship is top notch. Since they’re built domestically from lots of eco-friendly bits, Franco Snowshapes’ boards have one of the smallest carbon footprints on the planet.
We tested these boards in the Eastern Sierra, in and around Mammoth and June Mountain. Testing began at a trade show in February, where we took about 15 boards. We rode each for about an hour. After that, we whittled the number down to the six tested riding all the way into August thanks to Mammoth record breaking season. They were open daily until August 6. We rode in all conditions from bulletproof hardpack to pow and everything in between.
Stephen Krcmar splits his time between Mammoth Lakes and Los Angeles. A snowboarder, cyclist, and motorcycle guy, he skied 76 days last winter. He’s written about the outdoors for more than 16 years.