No B.S. Summary
Hydroflex Surfboards offers one of the most advanced and newest surfboard technologies on the market for high performance surfboards.
- One of the most advance and dynamic surfboard technologies currently on the market...just awesome!
The Not So Good
- A bit pricier than your average board but the benefits you get are well worth the extra cash!!!
No B.S. Review
One of the biggest perks of my job with the Dailystoke is having the ability to test pilot so many surfboards and surf related products. I’ve had the honor of connecting with some of the best innovators, designers and craftsmen/women in the surf world and I am lucky enough to experience riding their craft and unique wave catching machines first hand before reporting back to you on how well they worked, and if I think the average “Joe” can benefit from such a purchase or investment. I am most passionate about surfboard construction and performance and with the new technologies and materials that have been emerging over the past few years; surfboard design has never been more exciting to be a part of! I have developed a totally new stoke and profound appreciation for anyone that gives manufacturing a board a try and even more for those that push the norm and the limits of what is possible. Near the very top of my list of “must-try” boards using newer technologies has definitely been Hydroflex, and I am pleased to say we have finally been able to connect!
Hydroflex is a relatively new and incredibly innovative company that has quietly been injecting itself into the surfboard market over the past few years and catching the attention of some pretty big names in the industry. They have an in-house brand (Bufo Boards) but also license their technology to third party manufacturers and shapers. The brand was born in Germany of all places, a country certainly known for forward thinking and advanced development; but not as much for waves and surfboards as it is for cars and beer! Well, there must be something in the water over there because a designer by the name of Rouven Brauers (a.k.a. – Bufo) continues the German tradition of innovative and design while helping to take surfboards to a whole new level in the process! We are honored to spotlight Bufo, Hydroflex and their Supercharger Technology in this review…
Let’s get right to it…What is this Supercharger technology and how is it going to help you? What if I told you that one board could provide all the elements of your favorite stick and add durability, a customizable and more responsive ride, and an overall weight reduction? Well, stop drooling because that is essentially what Hydroflex has done and they are available now!!! Hydroflex uses stringerless EPS blanks that can be milled or custom hand shaped into your desired shape and dimensions. They then use their proprietary and patent pending process to glass and finish the board. The key to Hydroflex’s process and what separates them from everyone else is the method in which they bond the shaped foam core to the outer glass shell. The result produces millions of tiny roots of glass and epoxy resin, which embed themselves into the EPS core, making it nearly impossible to delaminate. This gives the board additional strength characteristics and provides a platform for their Supercharger technology. The Supercharger is where it is at with this board and I still can’t get over how cool and effective it is! The Superchager is actually a pressurization system which allows the user to pump or “charge” the internal pressure of the board via a small deck vent and supplied bike-style pump. Why pump? By adjusting the internal pressure with the pump you can achieve different flex, rocker, and rigidity attributes; allowing you to really tune the board in perfectly for the conditions you are going out into. No stringer actually compliments this system perfectly and allows for maximum customability and flex.
For the purpose of this review, Hydroflex sent one of Bufo’s favorite and most proven designs, the Boogiefish. I was a bit skeptical based on the name and it’s unique shape, but after explaining the conditions I surf in daily, my height and weight, etc. they thought a 5’11” would suit me best and give me a good feel for their Supercharger Technology. The Boogiefish arrived quickly and my first observation was how light it was! The EPS construction and precision glass job give it an incredible strength to weight ratio while still maintaining a solid feel. The board’s less traditional shape is also very interesting and features 3 different outline curves blended together… it makes you do a double take for sure but there is a method to the madness! The theory is that by seamlessly blending the multiple outlines, it will create less drag and very low entry lines; ultimately giving you the perfect combination of speed and maneuverability. The supercharging port or vent is located on the top of the deck and is protected by a screw-on, flush-mount stainless cap. Removing the cap exposes a vent similar to the stem on your bike tires. So similar they use a modified bike pump and an adapter specifically calibrated for Hydroflex boards. The pump and it’s integrated PSI gauge attaches to the deck stem and allows you to add internal pressure to the board. Recommended settings range from 1-6 psi. Higher pressure settings are geared for glassier days while the lower pressure settings are designed to enhance performance in smaller, crappy surf. The internal air pressure is easily discharged by pushing the release valve in the center of the deck stem. This internal pressure also aids in the overall durability, creating a counteracting force that helps keep knee knockers and pressure dings to a minimum.
I tested the Boogiefish over a few weeks, at multiple spots, and in a variety of conditions. Mostly local reef and beach breaks but I did managed to find a long wrapping point that was spitting out a killer left! I would pump the board to 9 psi and over the course of the session I would release air to see if there was any noticeable difference in performance. After conducting this test over a few sessions I can honestly say that I did observe a notable difference in performance with differing pressure settings. I found it to be most profound in smaller, crappy surf when drive and speed are vital. At a lower psi setting I found that the board acted like one big suspension system and it somehow seemed softer under my feet. The board loaded up and released energy very efficiently going into and coming out of turns. They were effortless and I was surprised at how much speed I maintained coming out of an extended top or bottom maneuver…just turn your head or shoulders in the direction you want to go and the board will do the rest of the work and make you look like a pro in the process! Higher psi settings added a lively and refreshing rigidity to the board but still allowed for a controlled charge and recoil of energy in and out of maneuvers. I found the most significant results of higher pressure were seen on glassier days when the faces opened up and gave you some room to drive down the line. At these higher psi settings I felt like the board was more responsive to small adjustments in the pocket and it seemed to have less chatter coming down the face of bigger set waves. It is also just a crazy fast board but it manages the speed well and it seems to get more stable the faster it goes. I know it sounds funny, but overall I found it to be a quieter and softer ride than any of it’s PU counterparts. As for the Boogiefish design, it may look a bit odd but I’m hooked and think Bufo is really on to something; and I am confident that you’ll be seeing more Bufo logos in lines ups everywhere once the secret is out! It is configured as a quad and I loved the bite, tight turning capabilities, and general predictability that the set up offers. Critical transitions to the inside barrel sections were more successful than usual and I felt like the Boogiefish could fit into any shape the wave had to throw at me. It also can maintain a really high-line of trim which was great for going backside on faster moving waves. My last note is on the overall durability. As far as surfboards go I’ve personally ridden this board harder and let more of my mates try it than most others I test and I kid you not that there is not one pressure ding, knee knocker, or any another visible sign of damage! It has been driven into some fairly powerful barrels that ended in violent closeouts, been dragged along a few shallow reef sections, and tossed in and out of the back of my car and boat for the better part of a month and it still looks brand new!!!
In closing, I would first like to say that it is very hard to impress me as a consumer and board builder and I am truly impressed with Hydroflex’s Supercharger technology and in house brand of Bufo boards. Offering such a dynamic ride, unlimited customization options, and superior durability in a shape/brand you like is awesome and not found anywhere else. I can see just one board with Hydroflex’s Supercharger technology replacing up to two or three in your current quiver! There is no longer a need to bring multiple boards or even check the forecast, with a Hydroflex you know you’ll be ready for any conditions, just don’t forget your pump! I would highly encourage and challenge shapers across the globe to take their greatest designs and send them to Bufo and his Hydroflex team. I am confident that they will make your best board better and help you achieve performance characteristics that you may never have thought possible. I would also personally recommend that any surfer try a board with Hydroflex’s Supercharger technology before their next purchase. You will probably end up with the same board you wanted but in the first place but 9 times out of 10, I bet you’d take the Supercharged version if you had the option! With names like Lost, Bessell, Chemistry, Ekstrom, etc. starting to endorse the brand and use technology more, its only a matter of time before Bufo and Hydroflex will become a household name and have a presence in everyone’s quiver. Coming in around $800 I still think you’re getting a great deal. It is slightly more than you would pay for your traditional surfboard but the durability, performance, and versatility alone that this technology offers is worth every extra penny! Be sure to check out Hydroflex’s entire line-up of boards: http://www.hydroflex-surfboards.com and as always, be sure to tell a friend…. – Shaper
* I’d also like to drop a special thanks to Sandy Whann and Ed Santos for helping to make this review happen! You guys rock!!!