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United Shapes Cadet Review

Has a playful merit to its high-performance abilities
United Shapes Cadet
Photo: United Shapes
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $679 List
Pros:  User friendly, turning experience, versatile, playful
Cons:  Topsheet scratches easy, topsheet is slippery
Manufacturer:   United Shapes
By Isaac Laredo ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 29, 2020
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Edging - 25% 8
  • Float in Powder - 20% 8
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8
  • Playfulness - 20% 9
  • Pop and Jumping - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The United Shapes Cadet provides a quality ride. That's what it is all about. Whether we were ripping fast arcing turns or popping off a jump, the playful feel remained consistent, and it carried a playful character into each metric. The medium flex has a plush and lively feel, which was translated into a unique inturn experience. The Cadet can be used in most situations, though we wouldn't recommend it for teaching lessons because the top sheet scratches pretty easily. It's excellent for intermediate and above riders who are looking for a performance one-board quiver that is suited for enjoyment and progression.

Cadet Updates

United Shapes updated the Cadet since our test period. In addition to the new graphics pictured above, there is a new urethane sidewall, X-Glass underfoot, and a sintered, wax-infused base. The updated board also features carbon stringers. We've yet to test the updated model, so the review from here on refers to the version we tested previously.

February 2021

Compare to Similar Products

 
United Shapes Cadet
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $679 List$502.46 at Backcountry
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$500 List$480 List$489.99 at Amazon
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Pros User friendly, turning experience, versatile, playfulFloaty, precise edging, good construction, playfulLoads of pop, stable, fun turning experienceGreat value, versatile, stable, beautiful graphicGreat value, powder and park, playful, nimble
Cons Topsheet scratches easy, topsheet is slipperySwitch performanceAverage powder floatation, pop is less user-friendlyCan slip on hardbackCan slip on hard-pack, hard to maintain long radius turns on heels
Bottom Line Has a playful merit to its high-performance abilitiesOur first choice that we would recommend to anyone on the hunt for a new rideA board that we could happily ride every dayPorsche performance at Honda pricesOne shape that can do it all
Rating Categories United Shapes Cadet Yes. Optimistic Jones Mountain Twin Jones Frontier Ride Warpig
Edging (25%)
8.0
10.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Float In Powder (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Stability At Speed (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Playfulness (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Pop And Jumping (15%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Specs United Shapes Cadet Yes. Optimistic Jones Mountain Twin Jones Frontier Ride Warpig
Riding Style Freeride Alternative Freeride All Mountain Freestyle All Mountain Alternative Freeride
Shape Directional Directional Directional Directional Directional
Camber/Rocker Camber Hybrid-Rocker/Camber CamRock Hybrid-Rocker/Camber Directional Rocker
Flex Medium Stiff Medium Stiff Stiff Medium
Weight 6.22 (lb) 6.2 (lb) 6.1 (lb) 6.44 (lb) 6.2 (lb)
Tested Length 156 cm 151 cm 157 cm 159 cm 151 cm
Available Lengths 144, 152.5, 156, 159, 162 cm 151, 154, 157 cm 151, 154, 155, 157, 158, 160, 161, 162, 164, 167 cm 152,156,158W,159,161W,162,164W cm 142, 148, 151, 154, 158 cm
Construction Type Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich
Core Material A11x (poplar, bamboo) Carbon-wrapped wood FSC Mountain (dual-density wood, hardwood bamboo stringers) Wood Wood
Waist Width 25.6 cm 26.6 cm 25.3 cm 25.4 cm 26.5 cm
Radius 7.5 m 6.5 m 7.8 m 7.5 m 5.4/6.5 m
Taper 20 mm 6 mm 0 mm 0 mm 10 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

When we were riding with our friends, we loved grabbing the United Shapes Cadet. This board features a mostly camber profile and an early rise nose. It has a very user-friendly and lively directional flex pattern; this means it's softer in the nose and stiffer in the tail. All the design characteristics helped the Cadet earn an award for its playful, plush character.

Performance Comparison


Photo: Isaac Laredo

Edging


The Cadet feels like a Maserati. The directional flex pattern is plush and lively. The unique feeling flex makes for a versatile turning style that remained predictable and incredibly fun. It is slightly softer where the rocker transitions to camber in the nose, which allowed us to engage the nose of the board and drive through the tail to influence our turns. Case and point: this board rips, whether it is turning on a vertical 22-foot halfpipe wall or low angle groomers. Euro carves or laid back surf style turns — it does it all with a user-friendly and easy to control character.


Performance and ease of use are attributes that can be challenging to blend. In a turn, some snowboards can sneak up on you with the amount of power generated. The surprise can result in a good turn or a good wipeout. We always knew what was coming with the smooth and energetic flex of the Cadet; strong and playful turns start to finish. At the end of a turn, the stiffer tail supported a quick weight shift to accelerate and generate power out of the turn and into the next.

The board gets on edge easily and loves to make short and medium radius turns at whatever speed you might be feeling like. The turning diversity is supported by a medium-length sidecut that can be manipulated based on the flex. It has a slightly wider waist width than traditional snowboards to help manage toe and heel drag and provide additional stability when turning. The 156 supports a smaller profile size nine boot and is almost drag free. The medium torsional flex (side to side) of the Cadet added to its in turn stability yet maintained a playful ride in arcing turns or slashing waves. The waist width, sidecut, and flex pattern allow the Cadet to get on edge incredibly quick and display catlike agility.

With its mostly cambered profile, the Cadet held its own on firm spring snow. The board maintains solid edge contact, whether turning or heelside traversing steep icy snow. If you're looking for a truly fun, user-friendly, high-performance turning board, the Cadet might be for you. It supports a wide array of riding styles, from long high speed turns to surf styled pocket hunting. Whatever it may be, the plush and lively flex pattern makes this board darn fun.

The mid-wide waist of the Cadet helps mitigate heel drag for fully...
The mid-wide waist of the Cadet helps mitigate heel drag for fully tilted turns.
Photo: Laredo

Float in Powder


The United Shapes Cadet was designed to perform in all conditions but particularly thrive in soft snow, and that's exactly what it does.


It provided very user-friendly powder floatation that was required a little effort. The board has a beautiful drawn-out nose with a gentle early rise that begins before the contact point. This helps to increase the surface area and create an enjoyable amount of floatation. Additional floatation comes from the tapered tail and setback stance. These design characteristics work in tandem to place your weight on the tail, which raises the nose above the snow. If you need additional flotation, the board has an extra insert pack on the rear foot for those deep days.

The Cadet was easy and quick to move when turning based on its set-back stance. It felt at home in the trees but wasn't a stranger supporting turns in wide-open powder fields.

Stability at Speed


The mostly cambered profile of the Cadet provides impressive stability, whether we were gunning down the fall line or finding our way into frozen chunder.


We never had this board wash out on us, even though it has a medium flex. On a few high-speed turns where we got overzealous with the radius, we had some edge skipping. Overall, this board provided all the stability that riders need for a day in the resort.

A beautiful Craig Kelly like method on a shape that was modeled...
A beautiful Craig Kelly like method on a shape that was modeled after his iconic Burton Air pro models.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Playfulness


United Shapes has nailed the design of the Cadet for playfulness. The board had a unique, playful approach to each metric, which added to its quality of experience.


It is a defining characteristic of the board and a huge reason why it was the first one we would grab. It's diverse, predictable, fluid, and easy to ride. The board maintains these characteristics while providing a refined and high-performance ride. Its character is largely attributed to the plush flex pattern described above. The camber blends into the rockered nose, which provided a large surface to butter that is easy to initiate and maintain. Tail presses were obtainable, but its short nature of the tail limited what we felt we could do. Ultimately, it was a blast to butter and slash around the mountain.

Versatility is a large component within the concept of playfulness. The Cadet is incredibly versatile, which makes it a great everyday board. It can be ridden in most situations you might find yourself in at the local.

A playful feeling is a continuous thread in the performance of the...
A playful feeling is a continuous thread in the performance of the Space Cadet.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Popping and Jumping


As an all-around workhorse, the Cadet was lively and poppy, thriving on side hits and small to medium-sized jumps.


On larger jumps (>35 ft.), we prefer a larger platform for takeoffs and landing, and the shape of the Cadet is still conducive to switch takeoffs and landings. Popping off the short tail takes some adjustment. The adjustment is not unique to the Cadet but apparent on all directional shapes with a smaller tail. True to the character of this board, the pop was easy to load and utilize. This board is best suited for the medium-sized jumps for people who want to put some flair with their best method.

The United Shapes Cadet isn't made for large jumps but excels at...
The United Shapes Cadet isn't made for large jumps but excels at putting some flavor on medium size jumps.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Value


This board is priced competitively with other models. It can fill a variety of needs of any person, which adds to its value. For its quality of experience, we find it to be a great value.

Conclusion


The United Shapes Cadet is plush and its lively flex pattern and shape provide a playful character consistent in every metric. Our testers reached for Cadet more than most models for one reason; it's a lot of fun. This board is excellent for intermediate and above riders whose thematic goal is enjoyable progression and are looking for one board to ride in different styles and conditions.

Surf inspired turns of the versatile Cadet.
Surf inspired turns of the versatile Cadet.
Photo: Cooper Davidson

Isaac Laredo