Not really a full review, as I only got to ski it for about 10 runs, but whoa! Incredible ski, best frontside all-mountain ride I have yet tried. Muscular, powerful, but forgiving: feels like some sort of off-road Subaru WRX rally car.
Conditions: 2-6" of new, over crusty hardpack. length skied: 173cm. 2013 MX83 from Kastle. Running length measures the equivalent of what a 175cm would be in the MX88, or 177cm in the MX78.
Trees: skiing trees on these was a total thrill. I was arcing through the trees like they were slalom gates. The metal-laminate MX83 had the beef to hook up when going through the blower snow on top: it was easy to load it up and power out of the turn, really using the hard snow underneath to arc and get energy from the ski. Very responsive, not demanding at all for such a powerful ski. Tail was really there for me, yet didn't punish me too much if I got back seat. It was super easy to recover, skis were soft enough that I could just pull them back underneath me and get on top of them again.
Soft bumps: Again, great ski. The tip I could just pressure down into the trough, with that wind-blown snow in there. Skis would slow right down. No funny feelings when absorbing the bump. Best bump ski I have tried in a long time.
Groomers; mostly soft cut-up snow on the groomers, punching through to scraped out ice underneath. This thing is an ice-skate for an 83mm ski, and a powerhouse. It has the feel of a slalom ski, once you get it into the turn. Must be the unique sidecut. The ski doesn't feel excessively turny (unlike a slalom ski or ski with a huge tip) as it has an 18m radius. It waits for the skier to make the move, releasing and tipping to initiate. However, once the tip is engaged, it just sucked me right across the fall line, accelerating me through the belly of the turn. Whoo hoo! Release was with a flourish, lots of energy, and then down the fall line again. In the chop, it was very, very stable. Couldn't ask for more in a short 174cm ski.
Off-piste crud: actually was pretty similar to the groomers. Amazed at how well this thing absorbed snow snakes lurking underneath the very light snow on top. Like the terrain undulations weren't even there: it just sucked up the terrain, and was incredibly smooth and easy to ski. The sweet spot felt about 20% larger than on the other skis I was trying. So easy to turn, provided you have decent technique and can release out of the old turn. Smooth, easy to ski, yet very stable with class-leading horsepower. I have yet to see this from another ski. This might be the BMW M5 of skis.
Speed limit: there is none, unless you find the length too short for deeper snow. I was skiing with bigger guys (all good skiers) on 100mm+ skis, and I was the one waiting for them at the bottom of the hill. They had to back off quite a bit though due to the scratchy snow underneath, whereas I could power through that stuff on the more responsive ski; I was skiing faster in the softer crud, too, though.
New (deeper) snow: OK here, not really it's forte though. Got it into 10" of new (blower) snow that had collected on the leeward side of a knoll. Easy to ski, but a little short at 174cm to really be skiing fast. Wants to stay fall line more than I would like, and due to the length, can't handle feet that are too active, pressuring the tips manage speed. Fun to ski, but the only condition where I would opt for something else.
Forgiveness: super easy to ski, for what it is. More forgiving than 75% of the similar skis I have tried this year, and higher performing than any of them.
Comparisons with other skis tried over those 2 days:
Kastle BMX98: the MX83 was a bit smoother in the crud, quicker and more powerful in the trees, bumps, and on hard snow. Much more thrilling ride, but no more demanding. BMX98 cut out easier, I had to feather it more. Better float in the uncut snow
Blizzard Bonafide: MX83 was easier to rally trees and crud in, and far superior in bumps and on hard snow. Bonafide didn't lead me to be as confident; it really wasn't grippy enough to really know it was going to hold when I wanted to come around in a hurry. Better float in new snow.
Blizzard Magnum 8.0ti: MX83 was much less demanding, much higher performance. 8.0ti didn't have any energy coming out of the tail; tip was vague and I had to counter more to get it to hook up. Working a lot harder on that ski. Also a smaller sweet spot. Skied really stiff in comparison.
Head REV85: much less power than the MX83, a touch more demanding, but not too much. Tip was a bit hookier, grip on hard snow wasn't comparable. Again, fun ski, not really in the same class.
Overall, the MX83 was such a versatile, superb ski. Truly a narrower component of a 2-ski quiver. Perfect for those days when you are skiing bumps, trees, and groomers, but not really much in the way of new snow. Obviously, if you are hucking, you want more length than this too. Much more responsive than a wider ski in all of the conditions I skied it in. If this were a mountain bike, it would be a shorter travel 29er full suspension. A Cannondale Scalpel 29er, Fisher Superfly 100, Niner JET9. Capable of all-day riding, tackling any trail short of freeride stunts, but sporty, quick, and playful.
In fact, my whole notion of possibly "getting by" on a wider ~95mm ski for skied-out conditions has gone out the window after skiing this ski. I have been on plenty of good ~80mm skis before, but this sets a new standard for both fun and versatility. The MX83 is so much more fun in skied out off-piste conditions, I want to own it for those days, and have something wider for new snow (thinking ~100mm for moderate new snow days, and ~115mm for deep days). If I were going to hit a 2-ski quiver, it would probably be the MX83 and something 110mm wide. After skiing this, something like the BMX98 or Bonafide isn't even close to cutting it on days like this. Even the Head Rock n' Roll and FX94, both of which are more responsive on hard snow than either of those 2, just aren't as much fun.
Trying to think of who wouldn't like this: it is forgiving, so it can handle a skier less than expert. Probably not the best choice for someone who gets stuck it the backseat (substantial tail) although it isn't bad for a high-performance ski. For people who are looking to just pivot, and not engage the edge, it also may not work very well, as it could be pretty grabby. Someone looking for a deep-snow ski; obviously this isn't the best choice. For pure ice or more groomer-only focused, look at the 78 or an RX12. Someone who is cheap or has no money won't like the price. With that said, I don't know of a better all-mountain, skied out and firm snow ski around. Haven't found one yet, at least.
Edited by dawgcatching - 4/6/12 at 10:44am