Matt “Mayhem” Biolos: No Bullshit Asymmetrical Theory After 25 Years Braining Out On It
“Why use two boards? I believe we can do it with one board, and a little Asymmetry.” – Matt “Mayhem” Biolos
This month, Matt “Mayhem” Biolos released a fresh model that’s been bouncing around his brain for more than a quarter century, …Lost’s first asymmetrical offering, with a name that practically wrote itself” The “Maysym.”
“I couldn’t help myself,” says Mayhem.
Built on the bones of some of Matt’s most beloved groveler templates, the model is a sort of toe-dip into Asymmetry, and the first major Asym effort from a major international player.
While working on Mayhem’s Guest Editor earlier this year, we took the chance to let him wax on about his lopsided explorations, which started on land twenty five years ago.
This weekend and into next week, we’ll be giving away two custom Masyms—one regular, one goofy—holding what we assume will be the largest Stab Poll ever—if only for its sheer simplicity—in the name of Market Research. With board builders considering standardized, stance-dependent offerings, we must know, once and for all: What’s the actual split, Goofy vs Regular. Stay tuned. Until then, take it away, Mayhem:
Matt “Mayhem” Biolos on location in Mammoth, California, for his Stab Guest Editor shoot.
My introduction to Asyms was actually through snowboarding, in the winter of ’92/’93. I ended up with a NITRO “Pyro” snowboard, a twin-tipped asym—meaning it could be ridden either direction. One way, for regular foots, the other way for goofys. You simply set your bindings depending on your stance.
The outline and sidecut was the primary asym component, with a tighter radius sidecut on the heel edge (for tighter arcs and turning radius) and a larger radius side cut (longer, more drawn out arcs) on the toe edge. These side cuts were also off set, with the heel radius pulled back further, and the toe side pushed forward.
That board was a revelation. It fit the geometry of your body, and was really the first snowboard where I felt I could properly engage my heel edge.
We’d actually seek out fresh, low-angle groomed runs and carve on that thing. I goofed around with a couple asym surfboards that next summer, but nothing that stuck to the wall.
My first proper Asym surfboard was not until 2000. I had read an article in The Surfers Journal about these guys riding Asymmetric tails in tubing reef breaks. It sparked my interest, so I made a board for an upcoming Mentawais boat trip. It was a diamond tail on my toe rail and a round pin on the heel. It was my favorite board on that trip. It also worked great back home, at Lowers. I still have it in my garage.
I like the idea of removing surface area behind the heel. It just feels more positive, especially on shorter, wider tail boards. Tighter arcs on the back-side turns (whether a cutback when surfing frontside, or on a backside bottom turn). I feel it helps keep you tight in the pocket on F-side arcs and carves—even hooks under the lip. Then, it gives me more confidence on backside bottom turns.
It opens up the sweet spot for your rear foot, backside. I think you can get away with more surface area, more linear outlines, and more rail rocker on the toe edge.
Well, to keep [asym theory] simple, the body moves a lot differently on your toes than your heels. The heels are an immobile fulcrum. The toes have the use of your ankles and toes. Rotation comes into play as well. It’s harder to rotate, and twist over your front shoulder (squaring your shoulders facing forward) than it is to rotate inward, like on frontside bottom turns, or backside carves.
Another interesting thing: most everyone stands with their toes further apart than their heels. Our front foot is almost always angled outward, and most everyone stands with our rear foot square. That means the distance between our two big toes is a few inches wider than between our two heels. Many surfers stand with their rear foot “ducked” outwards, adding even a couple more inches to the gap, and making the heels even closer together.
This is the reasoning behind most asym snowboard designs.
We call ours “Genial” Asyms. Honestly, without calling anyone out, it seems to me that most guys doing Asyms are more about garnering “shock and awe” on Instagram. Looking for that visual “wow” factor rather than attempting to improve performance.
I’m not talking about someone like Ryan Burch, who has clearly put more time into them than anyone, shy of Carl Ekstrom of course. Carl is the High Priest of Asymmetry. Brilliant designer, but it’s not like Carl has been able to self-test his own equipment with any degree of expertise in many years.
Ryan is obviously designing boards for himself to really rip on. These other guys, I dunno….a lot of these guys are just tossing the kitchen sink at things. The stuff I see on IG is hilarious.
“This is the Mayhem,” Dane joked, pulling out the instantly identifiable Burch asym during filming for last year’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test.
Alan Van Gysen
Dane on his first session on the Ryan Burch pickle-fork double-double.
Alan Van Gysen.
I dunno, maybe I’m an old grouch, but the proof is in the pudding. Show me someone ripping on them, and I’ll shut up, even if it’s just the shaper linking smooth turns. It doesn’t need to be JJF doing 6′ airs to prove a board’s performance.
All this to say, I’m keeping it simple.
Right now, I’m only really working with Asyms on one design, or model. I’m attempting to improve upon wide, short, high volume, small wave boards. I’m thinking that by reducing the surface area on the heel side, it can help retain all the skatey, speedy, small wave pop of a stubby, wide-tail toy, but allow me to really push harder in my frontside wraps (without fear of drifting, or sliding), and give me more confidence and precision on backside bottom turns, which in turn, allow me to stay tighter in the pocket, backside. These are usually the two biggest drawbacks on short wide tailed, small wave boards.
As far as fin adjustments or experimentation, honestly, I’ve done very little work here. I follow an old mantra: “Don’t get loose, ’til you got control.” I really want to feel the changes in the shape, before getting all crazy with fins, and fin placements. I want to know if what I’m feeling is a result of the shape, or the fin’s placement.
The model I’m working on is simply called the MAYSYM…I couldn’t resist.
It’s wide and short, with a parallel outline. It’s a descendant of the “Rocket” family, most closely resembling the V2-STUB. I made the first Maysym about 5 years ago. I loved it, but the concept seemed too difficult to commercialize and I lost interest.
You have to remember, most these guys making Asyms are not simultaneously trying to take care of a dozen WCT Athletes, and manage a bureaucratic business as well. It’s hard to play in both fields, and I get easily distracted.
Anyways, the fins were standard placement. A couple years later, I see all these Instagram Shapers making these beautiful Shock and Awe Asyms, with outlandish fin placements, and I figure I might as well try. I made a couple more, and shifted the fins a bit. They didn’t work as good. I went back to the basics.
I like having the two front fins aligned. It’s relatable. It’s safe and dependable. Not to say that there is not some magic formula out there, but right now, I’m not the guy to do all the trial and error to figure that one out. Let Burchy have fun with that and let the others take shots in the dark making unpredictable boards. People buy a…Lost board, they expect it to work.
I’m offering a relatively safe, reliable way to dip your feet into the World of Asymmetrics. If you’re stoked on it, then maybe go and try some crazy off-set fin placement stuff.
Maybe it will end up like quads, where someone really nails it and makes a fin mark chart, like Bruce McKee did. I think every serious shaper in the world has downloaded and printed out his quad fin placement chart. Why? It fucking works, and it’s a great base to build from.
Mason Ho hucking one at home on his first Maysym.
The Stab boys were saying Dane’s been riding three different fins in his shortboards, with standard placement. I think it can make sense. I’ve never tried it, but it makes sense and it’s a safe way to experiment. By keeping the fin placements, and the shape static, you can really know what your feeling. Like in a science experiment, they always have what’s called a “control” factor. So you know what you’re actually testing.
I like the idea of a larger fin on my heel edge, for sure. Then a medium fin on the toe and maybe a smaller fin on the tail (especially if it’s a narrow tail). I’m no Dane, of course, but I have been playing with riding longer boards, and using thruster setups, with my MB medium front fins, and MB small rears. It really makes the board feel shorter and more playful, but I still get to play with all that rail line. I like this sort of stuff because you’re not risking making a fucked up board by screwing with the fin box placements.
Catch Dane’s ender, on a CI/Donald Brink Asym prototype.
It’s cool that someone who does have the skills of Dane is really hyped on fin adjustability right now, as well. I actually had a fun surf with King Kelly a couple months back. He was in one of his talkative moods, and was really jazzed on fin systems with adjustable attributes. Forward and aft, as well as inward toe and even degrees of cant. It was cool to hear him sound so excited about it. We’ll see where that goes.
I made Kolohe and Griffin some boards. Griffin surfed the first one we made him a half-dozen times, all without a video guy. I guess his dad shot one session, but lost the memory stick. But Griff was so jazzed on the thing that when he creased it, he ordered a new one immediately. He loves the thing. We made him a second one, and he surfed on it in Hawaii the other day. I have not seen the clips yet, but I know he’s really pumped on it.
Kolohe though. He filmed three surfs, one in HB, one at T-Street, and one at small, soft Lowers. He looks amazing. Fast, radical, playful, spontaneous and precise (see above). He was launching more airs than usual. Inspiring small wave surfing. He could win a small wave WQS event on one, easily.
Brother punting at T-Street on his high-volume Masym.
We also put one under Ian Crane’s feet and he surfed great, but with a different approach to Kolohe. He opted to stay on the face, link turns and not launch a bunch airs. It’s a nice contrast, and shows the different applications.
I’m really excited about the results.
One last thing. In general, I’ve kinda felt that the biggest benefits of Asyms are felt when applied to a higher volume board. I wanted to use asymmetric design to allow a wider, thicker, lower rockered board to be surfed in a more precise manner. To nullify some of the inherent corkiness felt by better surfers when riding these types of boards.
So often with wider, flatter, thicker boards, they “feel” great underfoot, but they rarely “look” as good, from the beach, or on video. These boards have glide and are easy to ride, but they tend to have limitations, even in small surf, and just don’t allow proper precise performance. My goal with the MAYSYM is to take minimize the hindrance and let the surfers do the same radical turns that they do on a HiFi comp board, but with more ease of speed.
All that said, I do believe that there’s room for Asyms in the highest performance competitive world. I envision making a standard Pro-Formance WCT comp board for guys like Griffin or Kolohe, but with a round tail on the heel side and a squash tail on the toe side. I truly believe that with some time and tuning, we can make it really work better than a standard symmetric board.
The perfect place to both develop, test, and prove this theory is the wave pool.
I was telling Carissa Moore, and Tyler Wright this idea back during the Future Classic test event. During the team comp, a few months later, I recommended many of our team to not rule out using a round tail board backside, and a squash frontside. Tyler did just that, for Team AU, and nailed huge scores.
Why use two boards? I believe we can do it with one board, and a little Asymmetry.
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