Pros: powerful, nimble, excellent edge grip
Cons: not much
Previously in the Epic Forums I have posted several enthusiams for the 2011 Salomon Enduros, even though I, like many others, found the ski to be too stiff. Then I was especially excited to discover at Sturtevant's Demo Day that Solly had softened them for 2012. Hooray!
Since my last posts, I managed to wheedle a pair from my local Salomon rep (albeit at full price) five months before they will officially become available. And what a deal! We expect to have spring skiing into June.
After a few days on them here are some more discoveries:
Yep, they're the smoothest, dampest, snakiest, carving-est, quickest-to-initiate all-mountain ski this 155-pounder has ever been on. But they have their downsides, of course.
During the first full day on the 2012 ski, it seemed that they only wanted to do slalom turns, even at higher speeds on groomers. Whether throwing the turns rapidly, or starting gently then deepening them, the turns always initiated gracefully and felt very smooth, but they were always tight turns. It was on my second day that I learned to stay off the tip and make good, powerful GS turns. Come to think of it, my boot position was also farther back on the skis on the second day. At any rate, they now feel fine in big arcs, but they're really slalom skis at heart.
And carving skis at heart. Even this softer 2012 model doesn't like to skid much. I like this trait, but they demand more precision than my Monster 82's. And of course, they have terrific edge grip. We had some dreadful ice last Sunday, and their edge grip seems equal to my Supershapes (but they aren't as powerful a ski).
As mentioned in previous posts, they smooth out rough hard snow-- they seem to have a slightly pneumatic ride, minimizing vibration. Supposedly the edges are mounted on some rubber-like substance, and it seems to work well. So they're really damp, unlike most Salomons in recent years (X-Wings, Pocket Rockets).
They have a pretty round flex (in contrast to skis with extra stiffness underfoot with softer tips and tails such as K2's Apache series), and when carving the rockered tip doesn't seem to shorten the ski-- the whole ski seems to engage the snow.
Something else troubled me on the first day: the way their big tips affect them in cut-up crud. The Enduros have tall, high-profile tips. This presumably will help them stay up in light powder, but it seems stop the ski somewhat when they hit piles of dense crud.
I've only owned Heads in recent years, so I'm used to their low, stiff tips, and I'm concerned by the Enduros' frequent hesitations in cut-up crud. I've read that a low profile tip-- such as on my Monster 82's-- will more readily pierce through piles of crud for a faster, smoother ride in rough, stiff cut-up snow. I think that's what I've observed.
But last Saturday we had some fresh spring glop that got cut up (on Breakover at Crystal Mtn.) and I was able to rip some big, fast GS arcs about as well as I could have on the Monsters. I may have had a little bumpier ride (these ski are also shorter than the 183cm Monsters), but they felt pretty calm, stable and powerful. I conclude that they do pass the high-speed crud test.
It may not be practical, but I fantasize about cutting the last inch-and-a-half off the tips of my Enduros. Maybe I'll like them even better with a lower tip.
But on the other hand, maybe the big, fat tip plays a role in turn initiation when the ski is IN the snow. On close inspection, I notice that the widest part of the ski isn't in the usual spot. It isn't in the rockered portion of the tip, and it isn't at the point where the tip turns up sharply-- the widest part of the ski is up on the tip, well above the snow when the ski lies on hardpack. So the tip isn't only tall (like some Dyanastar Legend tips), it's also proportionately wider than any I've seen.
I think that Salomon isn't crazy. The tip width must contribute to the fact that this ski STEERS better than any I've been on. In soft snow, the slightest tipping of the ski makes them turn in a hurry.
Example: There were a couple of moments in heavy powder in the trees when I found myself too far down the hill over my skis, with not much pressure on them to make them bend much. In both events I was sure that I was going to fall, but the tips of the Enduros came to the rescue and the skis miraculously turned to come back under me. The result wasn't pretty, but I've never been on another ski that would have kept me from falling on these occasions.
Was it the rocker? Surely. But having more of the curved portion of the tip in the snow also must have added some oomph to pull the ski around. So I think the width of the tips helped, and perhaps, even their tremendous height.
I don't yet have a final verdict regarding the Enduro's tip.
Lastly, it seems that Salomon often puts bindings farther forward than other brands, and so it is with these. I haven't yet taken much advantage of the demo bindings to play with fore/aft boot position, and I don't come with strong preferences about it. So far I like the skis very well with the binding pushed back about a centimeter from Salomon's position. I've proven that this location doesn't leave me with too little tail-- the skis aren't very stiff and I still can turn them nicely even when in the back seat, which suits this careening, loose skier when off piste.