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|Bottom Line||If we could only pick one, this would be it||Turns like a swallow and floats like an eagle||High performance embedded with a consistently playful charter||Industry-leading value; we're certain of that||Blow past your friends with this user-friendly model|
|Rating Categories||K2 Alchemist||Yes. Optimistic||United Shapes Cadet||Jones Frontier||Never Summer Proto...|
|Float in Powder (20%)|
|Stability at Speed (20%)|
|Pop and Jumping (15%)|
|Specs||K2 Alchemist||Yes. Optimistic||United Shapes Cadet||Jones Frontier||Never Summer Proto...|
|Riding Style||Big mountain||Alternative Freeride||Freeride||All Mountain||All Mountain Freestyle|
|Weight||6.8 lbs||6.2 lbs||6.22 lbs||6.44 lbs||6.45 lbs|
|Tested Length||157 cm||151 cm||156 cm||159 cm||155 cm|
|Available Lengths (cm)||154, 157, 159W, 160, 163, 164W||151, 154, 157, 161||144, 152.5, 156, 159, 162||152,156,158W,159,161W,162,164W, 165, 167W||149, 152, 155, 158, 161, 157X, 160X, 163, 159DF, 162DF|
|Core Material||Bamboo, Carbon, Wood||Carbon-wrapped wood||A11x (poplar, bamboo)||Wood||NS Superlight Wood|
|Waist Width||25.0 cm||26.6 cm||25.6 cm||25.4 cm||25.5 cm|
|Radius||7.8||6.5 m||7.5 m||7.5 m||7.426|
|Taper||6 mm||6 mm||20 mm||0 mm||0 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The K2 Alchemist is a standout board for advanced riders. This board is one of the most feature-packed models on the market. Its most notable feature is the Spectral Braid, which is a patent-pending technology that uses a variable angle carbon weave to strategically control the torsional flex of the board without any unwanted consequences to the longitudinal flex pattern. Shorter radius turns were easier on this model than others of similar stiffness because of differing levels of torsional flex within the board. Overall, this board has a great feature set and is a highly capable model.
The K2 Alchemist is one of the best models on edge due to its power, edge security, quick turn initiation, and overall feel. This model feels crispy, lively, and powerful throughout the turning experience. This model is best suited for those who already have good turning technique and can bend the board in the turn.
This board provides a powerful, crispy in-turn experience on groomers. It's constructed of a bamboo blended core and what is essentially a varied carbon matrix. These two attributes allow the board flex to accept energy and then rebound with impressive power. The progressive nature of the bamboo and carbon means that the more you can flex them the more you will get out of the turn. While this board is stiff, you don't have to be a professional rider to benefit from its character. If you put a little into it, you can still expect to get a lot out. Its incredibly capable and spring-like character loves to get airborne out of driven turns. This is where a lot of the Alchemist's potential exists.
We found the edge security excellent on all surfaces. The cambered profile and stiffer torsional flex near the tip and tail allow this board to bite on hardpack despite not having any edge distribution. We felt about as secure as one can while trying to lay down nice arcing turns on firm surfaces.
The Alchemist performs short, medium, and long radius carved turns exceptionally. Each radius is fun and offers a performance feel. Long radius turns offer excellent stability, and short radius turns have a lot of power, rebound, and pop with a crisp feel. Short radius turns are generally less user-friendly, but especially so on this board due to its stiff flex and rebound. Advanced riders can control this board through this style of turn and reap the benefits.
The Alchemist can skid turns fine whenever you need to shave speed, and with a bit of effort, can make some fun surf-inspired cutbacks. Due to its lack of a buttery feel, it would take some effort to skid turns down the entire mountain on anything but spring slush.
The narrow waist width means that there will be a small bit of heel and toe drag. For deeper heelside turns, we would have to mitigate the drag with technique. However, the 250mm waist width is only about 2 to 3 mm less than the standard freeride waist width. To be close to drag-free with a size 8 boot, it needs to be around 258mm.
Overall, the Alchemist provides an incredible user experience and is a very capable model on edge, but its performance-focused design requires a strong rider to fully reap the benefits.
Float in Powder
Few things can compare to a powder day. But there can be a huge difference in your quality of experience depending on what type of board you're riding. We rode this on four amazing powder days and found it to have above-average powder floatation, especially with its true freeride shape.
The Alchemist offers good flotation that continues to improve with speed. It is wildly stable and very nimble and quick in the powder for riding in the trees. It can also make very fast and wide-open turns when you hit open and steep terrain. Its blunted nose, setback stance, and rocker tip provide the degree of flotation we would expect from a steller freeride shape. It delivers enough floatation to have a long day riding powder but still requires some effort and attention. The length of the rockered nose would allow the nose to resist diving and sometimes overcome an impeding tomahawk, depending on snow density. When riding with speed, the nose naturally wanted to rise due to the shape and setback stance. We wouldn't hesitate to bring this out on the average powder day, especially if we were looking to have a freeride style day.
Stablity at Speed
Stability at speed is a metric that sets freeride boards part. Snowboarding involves high-speed riding in both bumpy and smooth terrain; therefore, it's incredibly important for a snowboard to do well in this department. The K2 Alchemist did not disappoint. We never found the max speed limit for this stiff freeride board. It's incredibly capable and stable at all speeds, especially those of the average rider.
The stiff and mostly cambered profile of the K2 Alchemist provides one of the best degrees of security amongst the freeride category. The board is incredibly damp yet powerful — a hard balance to nail. Its dampness promoted confidence in our testers to find its speed threshold, and we rarely encountered moments of insecurity with this board. When we looked down at the nose at high speeds or in bumpy terrain, we observed a small degree of chatter, but the chatter was never relayed back to the rider. The Alchemist loves to go fast to fulfill its performance-driven purpose, and there are few boards that rival this degree of security
Playfulness speaks to how fun a board is to ride. To evaluate playfulness, we look at flexibility, user-friendliness, and versatility. We assess these subcomponents by buttering skidding turns and riding in different styles. While the K2 Alchemist is a blast to ride, it doesn't excel in playfulness due to its stiffness.
Unlike some stiff boards that feel like a dead plank, this board still has some character to it, but it is not found in butter. The camber and stance position of this board are constantly resisting the press. We have seen Sage Kotsenburg do incredible nose butter in powder on this thing, but it's likely not in the cards for the average rider. If you are looking to venture into the park, you will find other models in our review better suited for that application.
Given its spec sheet and design purpose, K2 did a good job keeping this board user-friendly. It is easy to initiate and release turns and can be used in a multitude of settings. We think intermediate riders can handle the board, but the advanced or expert rider will be able to maximize its potential.
Pop and Jumping
Our testers got a lot of time evaluating the pop from this model. Every carve and every ollie was an opportunity to see what that carbon-woven, bamboo strung and cambered core could do — and it did not disappoint. This board can pop as hard as you can.
When the camber was loaded while turning, we either powerfully accelerated out of the turn or let the pop levitate us into the air to transition to the next edge. The K2 Alchemist has a carbon fork in the tail. A Carbon Fork is two strategically shaped carbon inserts to give the board more stability and pop. These increase the board's pop, which was observed from our turn finishes.
The stance placement allows the rider to be in an ergonomic position for ollies and landings. The tail is quite stiff and offers lots of useable surface area for a reliable landing surface. Our testers measured higher ollies with this model than some others in the review. There's plenty of pop potential; however, it is not that easy to harvest it all due to the stiffness. Fortunately, a little bit equals a lot with this model. If you're looking for lots of pop and a stable platform for landing, this is a good choice.
This board has a lot of tech, which undoubtedly drives up the price. However, the performance is there to match the price tag, especially for the advanced free rider who has some extra cash.
The K2 Alchemist is a powerful, performance-driven snowboard that shines for stability, jumping, and carving. Of our test fleet, this was one of the models we were psyched to ride again and again because of its general capability. This board is excellent for advanced riders looking to ride the mountain in fast and strong style, whether in a freeride or carving context.