Why I hate Burton

Talk about snowboarding clothing, travel bags, accessories, and other snowboarding gear not talked about in other forums.

Postby John » Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:22 am

Burton has a huge share of the market. Here are some possible reasons, all or none of which may be true, and which are not necessarily mutually exclusive:

- Superior engineering
- Excellent product design
- Big momentum (it's popular because it's popular)
- Market clout lets them impose minimum buy requirements on shops that are then less likely to have money to carry (and thus offer exposure for) other boards
- Appreciation from buyers for sponsoring riders and events
- Powerful advertising/marketing

I don't have a Burton board or bindings, but I've got plenty of other Burton stuff simply because I bought them in a retail shop and the shop carried only the Burton line.
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Postby bernwern » Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:19 pm

Canoer: yes, Rome has some pretty gangsta/gaudy designs. They cater to the younger market. Their tech is great. Their design is as well. But the graphics and colors certainly don't suit me.

From John's post:

- Superior engineering - Compared to some, yes. Compared to the industry leader they once were in this area, no. They seem to copy other ideas, like the Elan Inverse, more than using ingenuity.
- Excellent product design- On some models, yes.
- Big momentum (it's popular because it's popular)- definitely true
- Market clout lets them impose minimum buy requirements on shops that are then less likely to have money to carry (and thus offer exposure for) other boards- this I know to be 100% true. The House boardshop nearby (also www.the-house.com) is required to not only push Burton models more, but to give them preferential catalog placement and an entirely separate website to sell their products. If they do not, burton will no longer supply them....and since they sell well, because of marketing and tactics like this, The House and other boardshops simply go along for the ride to make money.
- Appreciation from buyers for sponsoring riders and events- true for any boarding company, but Burton sponsors WAY more than anybody else.
- Powerful advertising/marketing- definitely true. Go pick up a Transworld Snowboarding mag and count how many Burton ads there are compared to other companies. Also count the "free" advertising by their sponsored boarders being in pics and strategically holding Burton logo'd gear.

There is no doubt that Burton is "the Microsoft" of snowboarding industry. Just like people blast Microsoft for all the bugs and glitches, people blast Burton as well.

Again, I would like to reiterate that I hate Burton for what they have become, not for how they have helped the sport as a whole. They used to be the industry leader for having superior tech and design. Now they pump out the same Burton Custom, which is a good starter board, with no big tech changes....and they charge the same price. When you make and sell as many as they do, especially when you don't change tech, you can lower the price-point. Yet Burton boards sell at the same price or higher than the competition. They have become money-hungry. They have forgotten where their roots are. It makes perfect logical sense.

Enjoy your Burton boards and gear if you like them. I have no beef with that. I do have a problem with an industry leader diluting the market to make money and destroying what little snowboarding soul they have left.

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the burning burton bonfire

Postby leftcoast larry » Fri Apr 04, 2008 6:39 pm

Articulately written b

I followed your Craig Kelly reference out onto the I. WOW! What a life. There are links galore to many articles, interviews, and photo galleries. You Tube has tons of Craig Kelly video clips. What an incredible dedication and passion for snowboarding: only to be cut short so tragically

Based on the little I read and watched the case could be made that Craig's "controversial" move to Burton (from Sims) was the catalyst for Burton's rise and now current dominance. He was clearly their R & D inspiration, if not the guiding light for many snowboard innovations.

Thanks for the redirect and where or who do you think is the next Craig Kelly (if anyone is even close)? Is it Terje, Shaun, Antti, Travis...?
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Re: the burning burton bonfire

Postby bernwern » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:18 am

leftcoast larry wrote:Articulately written b
Thanks for the redirect and where or who do you think is the next Craig Kelly (if anyone is even close)? Is it Terje, Shaun, Antti, Travis...?

Terje Haakenson for sure. Went to the top like Craig, and now does what he wants. Still wins comps, trys new stuff (like riding goofy during the Mt Baker Giant Slalom comp), rides ill back-country (like the peak in First Descent, or his spread 2 years ago in Transworld), and started the current world snowboaridng championship system with the start of the Oakley Arctic Challenge. He also considers Craig, who he rode with alot, as his mentor.

Shaun White is poised to be the next icon. He was also in First Descent, and his eyes were opened, but he was not ready for what Craig found and Terje did.

That's my opinion.

Contact me if you want to see Let It Ride, or even First Descent.

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Postby snowd0gg » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:30 pm

First Descent was awesome - check it out if you haven't. I can't believe what some people can do - especially Terje. Hanna Teeter is always cool to watch. She isn't up there with Terje or perhaps some others, but she's got guts.
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Postby bernwern » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:20 pm

snowd0gg wrote:First Descent was awesome - check it out if you haven't. I can't believe what some people can do - especially Terje. Hanna Teeter is always cool to watch. She isn't up there with Terje or perhaps some others, but she's got guts.

Try to get Catch The Vapors and watch the Jeremy Jones segment....his back-country stuff is sick. Especially on this vid, as he wears a helmt cam. 55°+ slopes...and he rides the spines! Absolutely amazing, especially when they zoom out after his run is done and you see the lines. I will blow your mind and make you rethink boarding, especially with so much focus on jibbing lately. Back to the roots! JJ also has some nice footage in several other Standard Films movies: Paradox, White Balance, Draw The Line, etc.
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Postby John » Mon May 26, 2008 10:14 am

In a thread thread titled "Burton Custom for $215" (http://tinyurl.com/46buw5), bernwern points to a good deal on the Burton Custom board and says "I hate Burton and feel they reguritate the same crap every year and sell it mostly based upon marketing and brand recognition....but I know several on here liked this board and thought I would share."

A few posts later Snowride asked: "What's wrong with Burton? I have had a Burton Feel Good for a few years and it gives a really good ride. I love my Palmer the best, but I have several boards, and can't say anything bad about my Burton!"

That lead to the thread you are now reading.

I've now expanded my own thoughts on the matter, which I've put into a post on the Grays on Trays blog (www.graysontrays.com). The link to the specific post is http://graysontrays.com/blog/2008/05/bo ... urton.html. You'll miss the links if you don't go there, but if you're willing to put up with that, I've pasted the post below. I'm not calling for anything militant, and not even an outright boycott. I take some Burton stuff (tools, a leash) with me every time I'm on the mountain, so I think of the "boycott" as more of a preference for everyone else.

Is Burton good for snowboarding? It's a matter for debate in any number of discussion forums, including one for ski and snowboard instructors. For the last several months I've been toying with the idea of writing a brief article explaining my dislike of the company. In short, it has done some good, but it also promotes an image of riding that is bad for the sport--or at least bad for mature riders.

To quote a member of the Grays on Trays discussion forum,

Snowboarding is a sport, and one to be enjoyed, not to see who can dress more "gangsta."

I try to avoid buying from brands promoting such crap. Burton is the biggest offender, go so far as to put a d*** "spinner" in one of last year's boards.

Yeah, that's one reason to avoid Burton. But friend, I'll see you and raise you one gangsta: Avoid Burton because it encourages riders to violate property rights.

From the Associated Press (December 2007):

Burton lays down a $5,000 snowboard poaching challenge. ... BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Burton Snowboards is challenging snowboarders to go where they're not wanted, offering a $5,000 bounty for the best video of those who take to the slopes at "elitist, fascist" ski resorts that don't allow snowboarding.

"Poaching isn't simply a peaceful form of protest. It's truly your patriotic duty," the snowboard maker says on its Web site.

Complete and utter nonsense, even if it is great marketing. Patriotism means love of country, and the good that it stands for. In the case of the U.S., that includes a respect for private property. Yet here's Burton, calling for people to go where they're not wanted.

Ever hear of live and let live? Apparently not.

Jake Burton is lauded by some for taking a "pure" approach to snowboarding by not selling his company for the multimillions it would fetch. But comments such as those above--echoed by too many riders--are off-base. For one thing, they're incredibly offensive to victims of real fascism, who have been denied life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There's also a strange sense of justice in the "we're going to ride wherever we want to" campaign. Says Mr. Burton:

"For 25 years we've been working to open resorts and we couldn't have done it without the involvement of local riders. I don't think that our job is done, so you can snowboard everywhere. ... Mountains can be brutally cruel but they're not discriminatory. I don't think any resort is entitled to be discriminatory based on what's on your feet."

Of course "mountains" do not "discriminate," since they're not moral actors. But what of the people who spend millions of dollars to install lifts? Certainly they ought to be able to have some say over what people carry onto those lifts, which are their property.

Think of this: Is is wrong for a movie theater to "discriminate" against patrons who bring floodlights into screening rooms?

Let's continue with the news story.

Like Mad River, Deer Valley said its guests are looking for a ski-only experience.

Snowboarders have options at other resorts, said Coleen Reardon, director of marketing.

"They (skiers) feel that snowboarders ride the mountain differently than skiers ski it, and that they'd feel a little safer," she said.

The few times that snowboarders do poach: "We tell them snowboarders aren't allowed and help them off the mountain," she said.

Here's a business that is attentive to the wants of its customers. For various reasons, some skiers don't like to be around snowboards. You or I may think that's a foolishness, but then again, there's no accounting for taste.

Back to the story:

But that's discriminatory, says Burton.

"Just like you want to be able to walk into any restaurant and eat. You want to go to any resort and ride," he said.

Burton is no stranger to poaching. He and his wife were hele-boarding in Utah a few years ago when they were dropped off at the top of Alta.

"We were screamed at," he said of the ride down.

A few points. One, the restaurant analogy is absurd. A better analogy would be this: You walk into a restaurant with your own food and portable stove and demand a table. The restaurant refuses. Are they being "discriminatory?" Yes, and rightly so.

It's too bad that Mr. Burton and his wife were screamed at. People can be such idiots. But then again, should customers of a business who expect one service be happy when an outsider comes in to disrupt their experience? Say Mr. Burton and his wife are having dinner at a fancy restaurant. Would he be thrilled if a bunch of guys came in, set up a couple of kegs at the next table, and started throwing bones from chicken wings down at the floor?

Such silly thinking may not be unique to Burton, and any company that was the market leader in snowboarding goods would face incentives to spout nonsense about being unjustly discriminated against.

Even so, I try to avoid buying Burton goods whenever I can. Unfortunately, sometimes it's rather hard to find substitutes, especially if you're pressed for time and need to stop in a retail outlet rather than wait for a mail-order product to arrive. So at times I contribute to the fortunes to a company that makes riders look silly and morally confused. But thinking back on this last season has given me more reason to consider planning ahead and finding alternatives.
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Postby bernwern » Tue May 27, 2008 11:27 am

Another example of Burton regurgitating crap:


They call their new binding system "Infinite Channel System". This was doen by Marvin years ago (Marvin owns and makes GNU and Lib-Tech). It failed miserably ... the channels get snow/ice buildup in them. They also had a tendency to break out of the board, not to mention riders commenting on the ride feeling "looser" than the 3 or 4 bolt system.

Burton is now touting this as a major advance and a great item. Thankfully they are only using it on a few boards, showing that they are even unsure how it will perform and/or sell.

Again, I have Burton gear (mitts, gloves, etc) and I got it because it was cheap (and made cheap, as it fell apart within months of use). I prefer to avoid Burton products when possible.

You need to make your own decisions. A Burton Custom might be a good stick for a beginner. There are other options for the same price ... options with lighter construction in some cases, or better tech. And then you won't be contributing the the ballooning profit margins of Burton when they sell you a board with the same tech for the last 5 years at the same price as other companies making advancements. You be the judge.

Again, I will reiterate that I am glad Burton has helped the sport evolve and become mainstream. I am not happy with the direction they have gone in recent years.

Thanks for the post, John!

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Postby MrEMan » Fri Oct 31, 2008 1:02 pm

Interesting discussion ... for the sake of full disclosure, I ride Burton boards (at the moment exclusively, but not always) and bindings. I don't wear their boots or use their softgoods.

But I'd like to comment regarding the notion that Burton is not the "industry leader they once were" with respect to superior engineering, ingenuity, etc. I suspect that in this industry, like most others, creative ideas that revolutionize the industry come in cycles ... and not always from the same people. Progression takes place when many people look at a problem and try to solve it from their own unique perspective. Burton, like many others in the snowboard industry, has contributed to this evolution but they are by no means responsible for it. And to try to hold them accountable because they currently aren't "leading" is a mistake. Creativity and ingenuity is often driven by the ideas of others.

As for owners of Rome, you could make the case that many of their boards aren't significantly different than what they designed when they were with Burton. Particularly not when they first started up.

Anyway, I guess my point is that there is a place for all of these companies ... if you don't like Burton, don't support them. But don't knock folks that have chosen to support them ...
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Postby GravityAddict » Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:46 pm

I base my equipment choices solely on performance. I ride hard and daily and if it works perfectly for me ... I buy it.I have distilled my choices down over years of hard riding and abusing equipment. I ride a Rome Machine, Rome 390 bindings and Burton Ion boots.If the Rome machine snaps on the mountain I'll whip out my ride dose for a couple weeks till the machine is replaced. I think of Burton like McDonalds... Money grubbing heart-less corporation, driving down wages and destroying diets of the young and less educated, and the lively-hood of the American farmer.The "food" is crap. But those chemical laced fries taste like heaven at midnight when you're stoned. You've got to remember, the vast majority of snowboarders ride very rarely, maybe 5 to 10 days a year.Most are young and concerned about peer pressure.They don't ride enough to be able to tell the difference in equipment, so they buy snowboards like you buy a water heater. They buy a brand they've heard of. :D
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Postby patmoore » Sat Nov 01, 2008 8:10 am

Interesting topic. In the interests of full disclosure, we don't sell Burton but only because a nearby shop does and Burton won't play one shop against another. We carry Nitro, Rossignol, Head, and a few Palmer boards. There is enough demand for the brand name that we'd like to carry the line.

My first board was a very heavy 168 Burton Air twelve years ago. I tried to see if it was possible to do a handstand while wearing it.


I opted to switch to a much lighter K2 Zeppelin for the few halfpipe competitions I did (last one was four years ago at age 58).

Today I have an old pair of Burton step-ins on my Nitro softboot set up and Burton Physic step ins on my slalom board. I have Burton race plates on my GS board.

The Burton Physic will occasionally get stuck and not release. I was in Davos two years ago and stopped at a mid mountain restaurant to respond to an urgent call of nature. I fought with the binding for fifteen minutes before I hit on this solution....


When I think of Burton I think of legendary customer service. My first pair of softboot stepins developed a crack in the boot where it engages with the binding. I contacted Burton and told them I had bought them used. They said no problem and sent me not only new boots but new bindings! The boots were too small and I returned them. They sent me another pair that I still use today. I never even had to pay shipping. This kind of customer service is unheard of today.
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Postby MunkySpunk » Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:39 pm

Wow... I didn't know you were a gorilla.

You might want to try a board on your hands AND your feet then. Imagine the possiblities on the halfpipe. :lol:
- Old age and treachery always overcome youth and skill
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