Crappy pic of me on the Rock n' Roll. Trying to lay that baby over and see if it will break loose. Never did.
Ski Reviews: 2011-2012 Head Peak 84 PR Pro 177cm, Head Peak 90 177cm, Head Rock n' Roll 94 180cm
Conditions: firm snow, groomers, some sugary snow on top, firm/icy off-piste conditions
Skier info: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 30-50 days a year, can ski the whole mountain, enjoy pretty much any condition but prefer challenging terrain, steeps, and bumps; probably rated somewhere in the “9” PSIA range, skiing speed is moderate fast to fast.
I got a couple of days on these 3 skis. I had skied them the past spring, at the Snowbasin demo, in mostly firm groomers and bumps, with also some corn, and came away very impressed with my short time on them. The past few days' demo was more revealing though. Conditions were relatively tough; off-piste snow is skiable, but very icy, as we have been getting 50 degree temps during the day. Need a storm in a bad way right now.
These 3 skis are all within 10mm waist width of each other. The Peak 84 PR Pro features a new titanium laminate layup (reminiscent of the old iM Monster series) but with a new (toned down) Flow Ride tip. The Flow-ride tip allows the ski's tip to flex along the length of the ski when pressured, but stays rigid when flexed laterally.. The flex pattern is much stronger in that first 10cm of contact length. The Peak 90 is similar to the 84, but without the titanium layup, and is therefore a touch softer. The Rock n' Roll has a subtle rocker tip and tail (maybe a few cm of length), twin tip construction, no metal either, is quite light, and the tip flexes a bit stiffer, to offset the rocker. The entire Head lineup has been redesigned for 2012. We took a 2-year hiatus with regards to carrying their line, but as the skis are some of the best out there right now, we are bringing them back in for 2012.
Peak 84 PR Pro: the stiffest ski of the 3. Tail is somewhat more aggressive, not overly so. Slightly more stable than the others, a bit more grip as well. Likes big turns more than the others. Good in off-piste chunk and bumps. Reminds me of a Kastle MX78/88, but has more energy and isn't quite as solid at insane speeds. More versatile than most, should get great reviews. One of the best narrower skis I have ever tested. Better choice for me than the Blizzard Magnum 8.1 I used to own, which was super fun at big speeds, but a handful in the bumps.
Peak 90: softer than the 84, not quite as stable, but close. Edge grip is very good for a no-metal ski. More energy in the tail, likes to stay a bit more fall-line. Very fun; otherwise, similar to the 84. Solid frontside performance, very reliable, forgiving enough for the solid level 7-8 skier and the improving 6. Technically oriented, yet forgiving of mistakes. Provides solid positive feedback when the skier makes good movements. Going to have better float than the 84, not quite as much as the 94. Sweet in bumps, great all-mountain tool.
Rock n' Roll: also a great carver, as much grip as the 90. The tail is more forgiving, showing itself to be the best ski on steeper off-piste crappy snow. Easier to pivot on the tip when pulling feet back at the top of the tip. Speed limit almost that of the 84. This is really, really good ski; what I wished the Mantra was (that ski was always too stiff for me). This is the ski I would choose if I had a “daily driver” or “PM ski” for Squaw, when I was skiing steeps and bumps and was skiing skied out or firmer conditions. A stellar performer, at least for a guy my weight and skill set. I can't think of a ski that is better in this width range, but watch for updates. We are going to do a Bonafide and Rock n' Roll shootout tomorrow.
Performance rated on scale of 1-10:
Reviews in depth:
Fall line steeper groomers: out of the 3, the 84 takes the most work, in that to really stay in the fall line, you want to be very active fore and aft with the feet. It pops out of one turn to the next, if you load it up, but seems a bit more GS oriented. It could also have been rust though: I haven't been on the snow much this year. The 90 is more forgiving here, providing more energy and a less stout release out of the old turn: it wants to be re-directed into the new turn a bit quicker than the 84; the 84, with the stiffer tail, provides more power but also holds on a bit longer. The Rock n' Roll was the quickest of the 3; it just bounced from one turn to the next. The tail is the softest and has a bit of rocker, so it releases in a hurry, and feels almost like a fall-line slalom ski. If you can pull your feet back in time and set up the top of the turn, you feel like you are skiing a Porsche on this one. The others too, but this one really wants to power out of each turn. Really fun.
Big-turn GS arcs: the 84 has the edge here: the longer feel of the ski, due to the metal, really holds through the belly of the turn at speed. It likes a bit slower, more deliberate transition, and toward the end of the day, when the groomers are turning into piles of pushed-around snow, it tracks the best of the 3. A very good groomer ski here. The 90 is similar again, but has a bit softer turn finish, and doesn't grip quite as well in the belly of the turn. Feels like it wants to finish the turn a bit earlier, not quite as comfortable ripping at 40mph across the fall line, but still plenty stable for what it is. Rock n' Roll is the quickest of the 3 again, so it in theory should be the least suited to big arcs, however this was offset by the bigger turn radius (19+m) and just a tweak in technique. On the other 2, I was more focused on being active with my feet fore and aft, and on the Rock n' Roll, I made sure I was initiating with a subtle foot-tipping inside ski motion, as well as pulling the feet back. Do this, and you pull the ski quickly into the turn and set up your balance well; it rides through the arc with power and has plenty of edge grip at speed. Not quite as stable as the 84 in rough snow; a little better than the 90 though. It is close.
Groomers, short turns:
Peak 84: 8,
Peak 90: 8.5;
Rock n' Roll: 8.75
Groomers, long turns:
Peak 84: 9.5,
Peak 90; 8.5;
Rock n. Roll: 8.75
Steep, unpredictable off-piste icy crap snow, and trees: The 84 is easy to ski here. Releases smoothly, predictably, and the length is just right. The softer tip really is appreciated: I can get the skis around in a hurry, and pressuring that tip really helps. The tail holds on the most strongly of the 3, but it isn't overbearing. A skier with solid skills will have no trouble with this one. The 90 was similar, but a bit softer tip, and even quicker. I found it easier to be more active with my feet. If you give it just a bit more edge at the end of the turn (with the pole plant down the fall line, which loads up the skis and allows for a powerful release) it really comes across quickly. Rock n' Roll is the best off-piste; this ski is like cheating. The tip flexes perfectly. I can literally feel like I am pivoting across the fall line on only the tip when I start the turn by planting and pulling the feet back aggressively. So easy, and the tail offers no surprises: it releases exactly when you are expecting it to. Wow, I am really impressed with this one.
Peak 84: 8,
Peak 90: 8.5;
Peak 94: 9.5
Bumps: Peak 84 is a great bump ski. Width is perfect for bumps. Tip flexes just as you would hope a good bump ski does. One of the best skis I have been on; it was hard to do anything wrong on it. Peak 90: close, just a little wider in width keeps it a bit slower. Flex is also great. An excellent bump ski. The Flow Ride tip really works as advertised here; stays glued to the snow, but bends up at just the right amount to keep from clanging the tip off of the backside of the bump. Rock n' Roll; similarly good. Tail releases smoothly, tip flex is perfect. Again, a little wide, but other than that, no complaints at all. As good as any ski I have ever tried (mid-90's) in the bumps. Super quick tip and tail, almost like cheating compared to stiffer skis I have tried here.
Peak 84: 9.5
Peak 90: 9
Rock n' Roll: 8.75
Crud: I haven't had a chance to get these into real high speed crud, due to conditions. Due to the flex characteristics, I expect the 84 to do really well, the 90 to get tossed a bit more (but be just fine at any typical skiing speed), and the Rock n' Roll to be along the lines of the 84 for handling rough snow. Will update when conditions allow. I have had the Inferno there, and it was an excellent high-speed crud ski. The Rock n' Roll is basically a narrower version of that ski. Kevin spent some good time on all 3 in off-piste cruddy conditions last year and was really happy with the performance, but I can't say anything from personal experience.
Conclusion: all 3 skied well, definitely better than average for a guy my weight. All were really enjoyable: the 84 was the best hard snow ski and groomer tool, the 90 was a bit more mellow but still powerful and quick, and the 94 was the mainly off-piste powerhouse that still was a whole lot of fun on the groomers. These were very well reviewed last spring by those that got time on them, and it is obvious why. Head is back with some really good skis. Thankfully! I wasn't that impressed with the Peak stuff; no secret there. This new redesign is up to the mark, though. The way these play out: 84 is the groomer-oriented 60/40 ski with very little drop off in off-piste performance: 90 slots in as a slightly more forgiving, 50/50 ski for those who want a bit more technical feel (stronger turn finish) and the Rock n' Roll is a 40/60 ski for those who want a great off-piste ski that holds well on hard snow and is above average on groomers. There is probably enough overlap here that the Peak 90 doesn't need to exist: these all 3 are awfully close in performance. It would be hard to tell the Peak 90 and Rock n' Roll apart in a blind test, and even the 84 is only slightly more stable in choppy snow at speed on groomers, with a slightly more demanding tail.
Edited by dawgcatching - 12/9/11 at 2:44pm