Bean Snowboards hand-makes all their boards right here, in a Brighton garage. This year’s models feature a new line of graphics done by local artists Steve Holding (aka Metalwing) and Ryan Lombardy (Enamel Kingdom).
Their motto: “Buy local, shred local.”
Previous model of "the Commonwealth".
The Bean guys were kind enough to walk down to Irish Village in Brighton, where we shared a few drinks, and chatted about riding the east coast and making snowboards.
“East coast board culture is the best in the world,” said Patrick Leary, brand manager for Bean. “It’s steeped in tradition and has a large hand in snowboard history.”
Out east, a short season is known for its icy conditions and temps falling below 0° F. We breed half-pipe riders because the conditions are so brutal, the Bean crew said.
“It’s more about riding with my bros, not getting out 100 days every year,” said Joey, Bean’s new head of staff photographer.
And that’s what Bean is– a group of bros passionate about snowboarding: three mechanical engineers from Northeastern, a designer, a marketing pro, and a photographer. And now, Eugene Stancato from Dorchester reps Bean as a team rider.
They let me take a peak at this years designs– after I promised not to reveal any of the dirty details. This will be their fourth year selling boards, and sixth year making them. I can say this, the new designs won’t disappoint.
Joey holds up last year's design by a local artist.
Bean has come a long way from their modest beginnings.
“The first year, we just wanted to see if we could make a snowboard at all,” said Mike McGraw, one of the engineers. None of them had done this before.
Starting out in a basement woodshop, the three friends went online to skibuilders.com, cut a snowboard in half (it was the designer’s brother’s board), and started trying out their homemade boards.
“A lot of it is trial an error,” Mike said. They described the board like a sandwich. Layers of polyethylene, fiberglass and a wood core are glued together with epoxy. They use an I-beam press to bind it all together. All the materials are locally sourced.
Snowboard press in Bean's garage.
This year, Bean is working on a board with no plastics in it whatsoever, just that good ol’ bamboo.
Mike holding up snowboard with bamboo.
Bean has three lines of boards, each come in three different sizes: the Commonwealth, an all-mountain board; the Violator, which is a bit more poppy; and the District, the most-flexible and smallest of the three designed for smaller dudes and women.
They sell the boards online and at Wicked Sharp, a retail store in West Roxbury.
“Every board we put out there is like one of our children,” Patrick said. “If one of our boards malfunctions, we drive to your house with another board in the truck.”
“It’s almost like they’re our friends– an extra bonus,” Patrick said of those who ride Bean boards.
Great dedication goes into each board. The guys spend over 30 hours a week making the boards during the fall and winter– on top of their real jobs. That’s right, they each have “real jobs” as well.
“It just get’s ridiculous and the conversations just get weird and ridiculous at those hours,” said Warren Huffman, BUST alumni now working with Bean.
‘I call it a glorified hobby,” Patrick said. “Snowboarding is all of our lifestyles, and the goal is to make snowboards and get the community riding them as a full time job.”
On Sunday, they’re setting up a rail jam at the Allston Street Fair. For Bean, this means getting up at 8 a.m. to shovel ice shavings from an ice rink, the make-shift snow, so kids can hit a meager rail.
“These kids show up with all their gear, and to ruin their decks on concrete, just to get some riding in after the summer,” said Collin Murray, one of the original engineers.
As a final note, the Bean guys love high-fives.
Boards on wall in the Brighton garage.