The King of the Rome SDS Line
Review: Rome’s Agent Rocker Is an All-Mountain Assassin for Snowboarders
It’s rare that a snowboard performs as well on the rest of the mountain as it does in the terrain park. When you think of a park board, you think of a short, soft, reverse-camber board that offers plenty of playful give on rails and creative terrain park features. While these characteristics might be a blast on most terrain park features, the second you take the board to steeper pitches elsewhere on the mountain, it performs about as well as a piece of spaghetti would at loosening a Phillips head screw. All-mountain boards require a bit more support and stiffness to perform at their best on fast groomers and snake runs through the trees. Rarely does a board fall squarely in the middle, where it can show off in the park, and then head straight to your favorite powder stash in the side country — Rome’s Agent Rocker does exactly that.
Sizes: 150, 153, 155, 157 (155 model tested)
Shape: Almost Twin
Category: All-Mountain Freestyle
Bindings Ridden: Rome Katana
Test Location: Park City Mountain Resort
As a disclaimer, the 2012/2013 Agent Rocker is my all-time favorite snowboard and before riding its newest iteration (which got a massive overhaul this season), I knew that I would most likely love it barring Rome messing with the board too much. New for this year, Rome updated the camber profile on the Agent Rocker. In previous versions, when placed on a table, the board would rock back and forth with the centered rocker part touching and the cambered tip and tail staying in the air. This year, the cambered tip and tail touch and the rockered section in between the bindings does not. The result is a positive camber shape overall, which lends itself to aggressive all-mountain freestyle riding.
The new and updated camber profile makes for a board that offers the playful characteristics of a rocker board at slow speeds, but the grip and responsiveness of a cambered board at high speeds. I usually ride the entire mountain like a terrain park, whether that means ollieing over small trees, dropping and spinning off of cliffs, or doing flatland tricks during lulls in runs on the way to the actual park. The Agent Rocker not only handles it all well, but does so with something to prove. Many riders have switched over to the Mod and Mod Rocker as the board of choice in Rome’s line, but the Agent Rocker proves that it still deserves its spot as top dog.
Like previous iterations, the Agent Rocker sticks with the TurboRods technology. Rome first debuted what was then called its HotRod technology on the Agent Rocker back in 2011/2012 and has now transitioned it across much of its line. The Agent Rocker features the single barrel version of the TurboRod system, which allows the board to have a very progressive flex, much like the spring rate in a mountain bike shock. As you press out into the nose and tail of the board, the spring and pop gets progressively more snappy and active as you go outward, away from the bindings. In ollies, if you really load the nose or tail, the board rewards you with endless pop and response.
In comparison to other boards on the market like the Ride Machete, K2 Fastplant and Salomon Assassin, the Agent Rocker provides more pop and board response, while still staying true to its mantra of “all-mountain freestyle.” The closest in performance would be the Assassin, which features a similar camber profile, but lacks the snap and progressive responsiveness in the nose and tail that hard-hitting all-mountain freestyle riders crave.
The perfect binding combo for the Rome Agent Rocker is Rome’s infinitely adjustable Katana binding. Compared to other all-mountain bindings, the Katana offers far more customization. Adjustable features include the heel cup, two different footbeds, and the strap angle and tension (which in turn changes the flex of the binding). Other notable features include D3O shock-absorbing foam on the base of the binding and a newly designed rubber toe strap that stays in place when used as a cap strap or traditional over-the-toe strap. Adjustability is key in the Katana; you essentially have multiple bindings in one, when you change the flex to something more suitable for a freestyle ride or an all-mountain ride.