Ski: Kastle MX108 and BMX108, 2011 and 2012 model
Length: 187cm MX108, 188cm BMX108 (I don't think these have changed at all, but the lengths are now denoted differently). 300mm rocker tip, 200mm rocker tail, camber underfoot, tapered tip. No metal, fairly dense, heavy wood construction. A very high quality ski.
Ski Test Conditions: 1st day: 6-8 inches of new over boilerplate ice, with steep off-piste chutes, wide open terrain, some crud, some scraped off hard snow, and bumps. 2nd Day: lots of fresh: 8 inches overnight, probably 20 inches in the past 72 hours, and 70 inches in the past week. Mostly tree and lower-angle skiing the 2nd day. 1st day was on the "BMX108" and 2nd day was "MX108" although they are identical as far as I know.
Tester info: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 30-40 days per year, tend to ski fast and aggressive, can ski pretty much anything on the hill, prefer steeps and challenging off-piste terrain.
Review: after a month of hard snow, I was able to finally get some quality time on my Kastle MX108's in 187cm. They are mounted with a Marker/Kastle K12cti binding that is adjustable. I also got on them at the demo at Snowbasin, as well as the MX128, which will be reviewed separately Tune is 1 base/2 side, with a fresh grind.
1st day at Snowbasin: Skiing them in some new (up to 8 inches of fresh) was a real treat. First off, there is no speed limit on this ski: 187/188cm is a lot of ski, and it shows. It skis about like it's printed length, not short like an S7. You won't be out-skiing this. It is a pure big-mountain ski; stable, confident in any condition, relatively easy to ski, but takes a knowledgeable driver to get the most out of it. I had it in steeps with good snow early, and simply put, it out-skied any other model I tried on the day on that pitch, save for the Cochise from Blizzard and the MX128, also from Kastle. It just had a mean amount of power and an absurdly high speed limit; you will get in you vert on this ski. I then dropped in to a narrow chute (2-ski widths or so) that was semi skied out, and the ski came alive. It comes around in a hurry. The tip is soft, the tail is soft, but both are there for you in a way that isn't true on every ski. What I really noticed about this ski and the MX128 is that they respond well to foot movement, tipping (aggressive pedal movements with the feet), and aggressive turns in the steeps. This ski loves a strong, downhill pole plant where you are tilting the pelvis, loading the side of your body, and uncorking it across the fall line. It comes around in hurry without wanting to wash out on you. Very, very solid.
In crud, this was perhaps the most capable ski I tried. It was soft at the tip, but stayed engaged with the snow, and had no dreaded tip flap. I could pull my feet back at the belly of the turn, get my COM moving down the fall line, and get my feet forward again to work the tail, with great success. It was OK in park and ride mode, but there are better skis for that style of skiing. This ski just gets better as the skier's skill level goes up. Likewise, when I screwed up and got onto the tail and out of balance, the ski didn't punish me, but did give me feedback that something was of. But, a well executed turn is so rewarding on this ski: it floats between transition and loads up so well with plenty of feedback. The more you give, the more you get.
In bumps, this was as good as anything over 100mm I tried. There were plenty of bad skis (stuff with lots of rocker and little camber tend to be pretty awful in bumps) but these have enough underfoot to be pretty decent, and although the tip is rockered, it is a low-rise tip that stays in contact with the terrain. You can pressure it however necessary to execute a turn. Once over onto some scraped thin snow and ice, it was OK, but not great. There isn't any metal in this ski. It isn't an ice skate, and wouldn't be my choice for an everyday ski. I have narrower skis when it hasn't snowed in a long time and is icy or really firm. It skis like the MX98, only wider and worse on hard snow, which is to be expected. And, on groomers, it is pretty lazy. big turns are OK, but this is likewise not a groomer ski in the way the Armada TST is, or even the Cochise from Blizzard. It is meant for off-piste skiing.
2nd day at Bachelor: lots of new snow. This ski did everything that was asked, and again showed off the big speed limit. On a new snow day, nothing is going to phase the MX108, provided you can ski the longer length. It ruled soft snow and trees, and came around as quickly as a slalom when necessary. It will scrub speed when turned sideways, but it is so easy to pilot that you can just point and shoot it where you want to go, and turn on a dime. At Bachelor, it is relatively flat and we have little need for that; I can usually just slalom the trees and not pick up too much speed. It was even more impressive in mid-day soft bumps that were forming. What an easy, forgiving ski here. Felt like a 170cm when I wanted it to, and a 190cm when I wanted to ski fast. I had a blast, and wouldn't trade this for any other ski I have tried.
Armada TST: as this is 101mm underfoot, has more rocker tip and tail, is lighter, and a funshape, they are somewhat different. I found the TST to be a bit quicker, and a much more fun carver. Also, the weight would make the TST a better AT setup. In crud, I found the speed limit on the TST at around 30-35mph, whereas the MX108 goes far beyond those numbers. In the steeps, TST is slightly quicker, but the tail can wash on you more and isn't as solid. It has a more mellow character. And, the TST is more forgiving and easier to turn, no doubt.
Rossignol S7 Super: more playful in soft snow than the MX108. Lacking stability; needs to be skied more from the center, doesn't like as much foot movement and working the ski. Also quite floppy in crud and skis short; super easy to turn, but the tail can feel really washy, or not even there, if you aren't in uncut or barely cut snow. Not real confidence inspiring in steeps. The S7 is more poppy and mellow, the MX108 more big-mountain iron.
Blizzard Cochise: also skied in 187cm, similar dimensions, so a great head-to-head. These 2 are pretty darn close. The Blizzi feels a bit heavier on the snow, a bit more damp, transmits a bit more energy to the skier, while the MX108 is a bit smoother. MX108 is similarly quick. Cochise seemed to have a bit more edge hold in steeps and dicey snow, and also the edge on groomers. MX108 has the edge in terms of stability: it feels 5cm longer in how stable it is. Both are very easy to ski. Bumps: the MX108 may be a touch more engaging at the tip and therefore easier into the new turn. Both are also Skiers' Skis; they like to be worked tip to tail and are extremely rewarding. I think the difference is more in feel than in performance: I could be happy owning either.
Bottom line: As good as any big mountain ski I have yet skied. Love it, would purchase again in a heartbeat.
Edited by dawgcatching - 3/1/11 at 1:13pm