From Dawgcatching's 2011 Ski Reviews: Mid-Fat skis, 80-100mm Waists, 11/28/10
Kastle MX88: unchanged for 2011, is extremely well regarded as a do-it-all tool. If people could own only one ski, this would be at the very top of the list for a whole lot of people. 2 sheets of metal, silver fir wood core, top-notch race-room construction, 88mm underfoot, 18m radius.
These were tested over several days: conditions included lots of manmade snow, firm and rock-hard bumps, fast groomers, a few inches of new snow, steeps, icy chutes, some heavy new snow, and a fair amount of crud. Since I only got a couple of runs on these skis, for the most part, I didn't do the 1-10 scale for these skis.
5 foot 9, 155lbs, competent all-mountain skier, and could zipper-line double-black bumps for the first time in my life by early spring. Probably ski 40-50 days per year. I tend to enjoy big open, high speed bowls, bumps, trees, fast groomers. My skiing speed is fast to full-on. Overall fitness is high, as I am on my road bike 15+ hours a week 9 months of the year, and race pro-level races as a Cat1.
I owned the MX78, and the 88 is identical in layup, but I found that it had a different flex (stiffer) and was suited to different types of skiing. The 78 was more nimble, quicker, and better in bumps: the 88, at my weight, was decent in bumps, but a little stiffer than is ideal. Edge hold was superb; this is one of those skis that has a very even flex pattern edge to edge. The skier can roll it onto edge at any speed, and engage it as slowly or as quickly as desired. In this respect, it feels like a race stock GS, whereas so many all-mountain skis have a really aggressive on/off feel: you aren't on edge, and then, once you move past a certain edge angle, the ski really hooks up and takes off: you can't feather it like you can a good race ski (I always felt the Volkl AC40 was either on/off). The MX88 is the opposite: it reacts to as much or as little input as you give it, and won't surprise you in any way, which is what you want for an all-mountain ski. If you can find a speed limit on this ski, more power to you. I couldn't. This ski was made for high-speed crud turns, medium radius to larger radius skiing. I don't believe it really liked to go slow; even as it is versatile enough to ski slowly, the “suspension” of the ski is such that it wants to carry speed, and be comfortable in rough conditions where most skis would get tossed and ask the skier to dial it back. It barely deflects in crappy snow, at least in compared to most others I have skied. The speed limit on the MX88 is a good 5mph faster than any other ski I have tried, in this range. In rough snow, it is exceptional. Also, this isn't any sort of auto-turning ski: it requires skier input for direction. The sweet spot is simply huge for a ski of this caliber. I did personally feel that the ski, for a person of my weight, could have been softer, but anyone who out-weighs me will find it perfect. Probably built with the 165-200lb skier in mind; at close to 150, I am a touch light, but I still would own it, given the chance. When skied on boilerplate, it held as well as any ski I tried in this width, but several others were just as good, so I wouldn't characterize edge hold as superior, just very good. The overall performance envelope, forgiveness, and snow feel is what sells the MX88. It would be like comparing a Corvette to a Porsche 911 GT3: they may have the same specs on paper, but 1 lap at the track and you know these 2 cars aren't in the same class. The MX88 gives the skier several “best in class” attributes and rolls them into 1 ski, all with a very refined feel.
Pros: stability; snow feel; construction; edge hold; smoothness in crud; forgiveness
Cons: a bit stiff in bumps for me; expensive, not all that lively. Then again, you get what you pay for.