2012 Ski Reviews:
Blizzard Bonafide and Kastle BMX98
Lengths tested: Bonafide 180cm, BMX98 178cm
Conditions for this review: heavy, beat down cratered wind pack, junky crud, buffed out wind pack. Fairly challenging snow, really demanding for skis and for skiers. Also posted a video of the BMX98 in better snow conditions. Notice that I am skiing it much more dynamically, feet more active. Just goes to show you what pretty good snow vs. not great snow does to ski technique for mere mortals like me.
Blizzard Bonafide 180cm: fairly stout ski, long low rocker tip and tail, not much tip or tail flex, 2 sheets of metal, 98mm underfoot
Kastle BMX98 178cm: bit more camber underfoot, shorter and lower rocker tip and tail, much softer flex pattern at the tip and tail.
5 foot 9, 155lbs male
Will ski 25-40 days this year, most likely
Solid all-mountain skier, skis 85-95% off piste
Skis I own: Kastle MX78, Kastle FX94, Volkl Kendo, Volkl Katana, Elan Olympus Mons, Kastle MX128
Own or demo: These are both the shop's skis, so I have skied them multiple times.
Review and comparison:
Steep junky snow; cratered wind pack: This pitch was the most challenging for the skis, and the skier. It is a steep pitch (well over 40 degrees) and tricky snow (we saw a guy go down at the top, right after we skied the pitch, and he lost 800 vertical feet before stopping. He was probably sliding for 30 seconds. It was a bad fall: he was headed toward a group of big boulders at 30mph on his back and somehow narrowly missed them by a few feet). Anyways gives you an idea of how firm the snow was. I wasn't skiing either particularly well, due to low confidence in the snow conditions. Felt pretty static on either ski.
Bonafide: I struggled on this ski in the steep wind pack. This is a very stiff ski: the tip was not “getting out of the way” (Ignore the bad skiing, conditions sucked and I am not a rock-star skier at any rate). I had trouble exiting the turn; the tip was just a lot of work, and I was having to muscle the ski, rather than letting the energy of the turn release me and pull me down the fall line. Tail was pretty stiff as well: I just didn't trust it, as if I got back there, I would end up getting jacked. Ski was too stiff for me in these shorter turns.
BMX98: Much better. After the first couple of tentative turns (I had just jumped on the ski and ridden up the lift, no warm up on it), I am skiing with much more dynamic movements, carrying energy from turn to turn much better on that ski. Still not great skiing; not as active with the feet as I need to be, or as much progressive edge angle as I would like, but still much more solid. Tip on the BMX98 was much surfier in the junk than the bonafide (much softer tip, flexed much more) and the tail was more forgiving as well. I am getting out of the snow and down the hill with my ski tips on it. Definitely a better ski in those short steep turn in mixed conditions: I had a lot more confidence on it.
Open Bowl, blown-in punchy wind pack: more lower angle stuff, GS speeds, still funky snow.
Bonafide: Very good in these conditions. This ski is stiff, powerful, and likes speed. I still struggled with getting energy from turn to turn: I could ski it well edge to edge, but kind of felt stuck on the ski, due to lack of energy, as I wasn't able to bend it up well. When I would, the ski was so strong that it would shoot me out of the turn. Very stable at speed, no flap whatsoever, very good in these conditions, as long as you stay centered. You can see in the video that I am just letting the ski do it's thing.
BMX98: not quite as stable, but more active. I felt it was getting in and out of the snow better, and releasing the junk windpack with a bit more ease than the Bonafide. I felt like I could work the ski more, but on the downside, was getting a bit more tip flap. Really solid in medium radius turns, felt a bit stuck in the larger radius turns, but that was more due to the nature of the snow (not wanting to blow out a knee) than anything else). Probably more upside for me than the Bonafide here (I am not likely to gain enough weight to really flex that ski) but if I was in park and ride mode, the Bonafide is superior. You can see in the video that my turns are a little tighter and a little more active on that ski.
Junky skied-out crud
Bonafide: a bit more work in this stuff. Just a lot of ski to muscle around. Felt planky in shorter turns when I needed to turn on a dime. Not a quick ski.
BMX98: more at ease, still a lot of ski though. Tip was easier to get out of the turn, tail slightly more forgiving. Slightly better in tight spaces; still not my favorite, though.
Bonafide: amazing grip for a ski this wide. I traversed across a full ice patch on a 40 degree slope, and it held like glue.
BMX98: a little soft for ice; needs metal and more lateral stiffness. I slipped a bit on the same ice patch.
Bonafide: very solid; again, not much energy, but stable at any speed, powerful, and smooth.
BMX98: a little quicker, I had to ski it better (it had a little less of a tip engagement, so it required more precision) but once there, nearly on par with the Bonafide. Not as stable though.
New snow (not videoed here):
Bonafide: absolutely a blast at speed in new snow. No speed limit, super powerful, new snow really allows me to decamber the ski well and get it where I want it. Superb performer.
BMX98: More playful than the Bonafide, more short to medium radius oriented, likes to be more fall-line. Very good as well. If you like Super G turns at speed, the Bonafide is better. For steeper terrain and tighter turns, BMX98 is preferred.
Overall: both superb skis, but just quite a bit different. The Bonafide is really stout. I found it to be too much ski for shorter turns and funky snow: tip and tail were just too stiff, and it was making me work really hard. It is most fun when I have room to let it run, and don't need to be really active on the ski with my feet. I think this ski makes the most sense for a bigger guy; several of us smaller guys who have skied it hard got pushed around. The BMX98, having the much softer profile, released with a lot more ease and helped me out in the crappy snow. While still a strong ski, it wasn't the beast that the Bonafide was, and at my weight, stiffness of a ski makes a big difference. Not quite as fun at bigger speeds and big turns as the Bonafide, but better in mixed tough conditions for me, which is what I ski alot of-wind affected, heavy snow. I do think a profile of a Bonafide, but with a flex pattern of “The One” from Blizzard, would be just about perfect. Will look forward to trying the new softer Bonafide this week.
Blizzard Bonafide Video skiing (crappier snow)
Kastle BMX98 video skiing (crappier snow)
Kastle BMX98 in better snow conditions:
Edited by dawgcatching - 2/6/12 at 10:41am