EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › What is a "pair" of alpine skis, in 2013?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What is a "pair" of alpine skis, in 2013?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Once upon a time, I think, there was a concept of a "matched pair" of skis. The idea was predicated on the understanding that - at least at one time - skis coming out of the same mold could have different characteristics, depending on construction factors too subtle to control easily with available skill and technology. Typically a "matched pair" had close to identical stiffness, flex pattern, camber, dye lots, etc. The two skis comprising this pair received matching serial numbers. I'm pretty sure this kind of thing still receives attention in the world of nordic skiing.

 

Am I making this history up? If not, is any of it still applicable in today's world? If I have a brand new, late model unmounted pair of skis with serial numbers that don't match (and flexes that - subjectively - don't match either), does that mean I don't actually have a pair, or does it just mean that this particular factory gives a unique serial number to each ski, and that I am likely over-analyzing? Do the facts about this vary from brand to brand, or even from model to model?

 

What practices do retailers apply in this area? For example, if a retailer receives six pairs of a particular model in a given length, are they received from the manufacturer as designated pairs? If so, does the shop then take pains to keep the designated pairs together?

 

What about warranty concerns? I would imagine that the integrity of a ski (or lack thereof) is completely independent of who its mate is, and that therefore there would be no warranty implications to having a mis-matched "pair" (although there might be performance implications).

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 29

They should match.

post #3 of 29

I'm not sure about my newest pair of skis, but the other two pair definitely have matched serial numbers.  

post #4 of 29

I've seen skis in plastic wrap in the shops, so they do usually come in pairs from the manufacturer, not just assorted skis that you can mix and match. I do see how things can get messed up in the shop, I've seen plastic wrap, rubber band and nothing at all holding pairs together so you might end up getting a pair that is not exactly the pair that came from manufacturer... 

 

I have no idea about this perfect match though... interesting to see what others have to say!

post #5 of 29

Re: mismatched ski serial #s. I think the ski shop screwed up and that there is another customer who has a pair of skis that are the same length as yours with similar mismatched serial #s. I would go back to the shop with the skis and see what they have to say.

 

Here is my story: Back in the early 80s I had a new pair of Kastle Super Gs, 208cm (fantastic, smooth skiing ski). On a narrow trail ,in a very heavy fog, I bushed against a snow cut-bank at about 2mph, fell down and bent a ski. The ski shop said there was no warranty but sent me to the distributor's warehouse and they agreed to sell me a single replacement ski at wholesale price. I said I wanted to buy a pair so the flex and camber would match. The rep said that (paraphrasing) "now-a-days (early 80s) skis come off the production line so similar that there is no difference between individual skis, they are all identical."

 

To me, they skied the same. I proceeded to get hundreds of days on my numbers mismatched Kastles, maybe the most days of any ski I have ever owned, and certainly one of the best and most memorable ski I have ever owned.

post #6 of 29

qcanoe, mind if i ask what brand and model skis? I plan to visit a local ski shop by the end of the week and also REI, i'll be able to look at a variety then and get back to you.

post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonorchid View Post

qcanoe, mind if i ask what brand and model skis? I plan to visit a local ski shop by the end of the week and also REI, i'll be able to look at a variety then and get back to you.

 

Thanks for the offer to help, neonorchid. Actually I'd prefer for this thread to stay generic. I don't want things to devolve into predictable and boring debate about what qcanoe and/or any other parties involved in a specific case should or should not do or have done to avert and/or fix a specific situation. For now I'm more interested in seeing if there is consensus on the state of the world regarding this topic, or if ski brands are all different. There have been some helpful posts already, and I'm hoping that some retailers like Philpug or Dawgcatching might opine, and also maybe some of the manufacturers' reps who I know read this board.

post #8 of 29

My guess: the bigger brands that use robots, they're all pretty much the same.  But many indie brands likely do some matching post production.

post #9 of 29

interesting question.   also waiting on answer.  but to further this, do the manufacturer's ensure that a pair of ski's is made from the same run of materials including wood?

post #10 of 29

Even if the skis are absolutely symmetrical, is your body absolutely symmetrical? Probably not.

post #11 of 29

In my experience, skis are matched up.  Skis coming through finishing are laid out in small batches on a perfectly flat steel table and those with matching camber and line are paired up.  Skis that are a little off are brought back into spec with a bit of persuasion from a bending bar or with a few torsional twists to take out warp.  If the numbers match, odds are that you've got a pair that has virtually identical characteristics ski to ski.  With lower camber, no camber, tip and tail rocker in current skis, they are most likely paired up in a similar manner to match the specs for that particular model and length.   I spent several years skiing on a pair of skis with non-matching serial numbers.  They worked just fine.  The better ski factories today are able to hold much tighter tolerances than in years gone by, so the skis are much more consistent ski to ski.

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

I'm going to pile it on even deeper here and bring up the question of weight. What is "within tolerance" for weight differential between two skis in the same "pair"? I just weighed two new skis - no bindings - and came up with the following numbers: 1917gm and 1834gm. Difference of 83gm (3oz), or 4.5% of the 1834 number. Do we think that's par for the course? People talk on this forum about the quality of manufacture in the Kaestle line, for instance. Anyone have two new unmounted Kaestles with which to do a similar weight comparison?

post #13 of 29

Wow, at that point I'd definitely go back to the shop, that's nuts.  Especially with the different serial numbers.  I can see it now, we'd be putting little weights on our skis like tires!

 

3 Oz maybe is not much, but I'd say it's indicative of other differences.

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

I'm going to pile it on even deeper here and bring up the question of weight. What is "within tolerance" for weight differential between two skis in the same "pair"? I just weighed two new skis - no bindings - and came up with the following numbers: 1917gm and 1834gm. Difference of 83gm (3oz), or 4.5% of the 1834 number. Do we think that's par for the course? People talk on this forum about the quality of manufacture in the Kaestle line, for instance. Anyone have two new unmounted Kaestles with which to do a similar weight comparison?

 

I can understand skis that come off an assembly line being off by a bit on camber, rocker, slight warp etc., but what causes skis to come out weighing 3 oz. difference between them?

post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

I'm going to pile it on even deeper here and bring up the question of weight. What is "within tolerance" for weight differential between two skis in the same "pair"? I just weighed two new skis - no bindings - and came up with the following numbers: 1917gm and 1834gm. Difference of 83gm (3oz), or 4.5% of the 1834 number. Do we think that's par for the course? People talk on this forum about the quality of manufacture in the Kaestle line, for instance. Anyone have two new unmounted Kaestles with which to do a similar weight comparison?


Yeah i do, give me some time to take them to my local ups or supper market and weight them on calibrated scales and i'll get back to you.

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

I'm going to pile it on even deeper here and bring up the question of weight. What is "within tolerance" for weight differential between two skis in the same "pair"? I just weighed two new skis - no bindings - and came up with the following numbers: 1917gm and 1834gm. Difference of 83gm (3oz), or 4.5% of the 1834 number. Do we think that's par for the course? People talk on this forum about the quality of manufacture in the Kaestle line, for instance. Anyone have two new unmounted Kaestles with which to do a similar weight comparison?

 

Woah.  Maybe I'm way off base here, but for flat skis that cost about a grand that seems like a pretty big difference.

post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

Woah.  Maybe I'm way off base here, but for flat skis that cost about a grand that seems like a pretty big difference.

To clarify, my skis are not Kaestles. I mentioned that brand because people seem to think they are carefully made.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

I'm going to pile it on even deeper here and bring up the question of weight. What is "within tolerance" for weight differential between two skis in the same "pair"? I just weighed two new skis - no bindings - and came up with the following numbers: 1917gm and 1834gm. Difference of 83gm (3oz), or 4.5% of the 1834 number. Do we think that's par for the course? People talk on this forum about the quality of manufacture in the Kaestle line, for instance. Anyone have two new unmounted Kaestles with which to do a similar weight comparison?


OK, just returnd from weighing my skis at the UPS store -

My new Kastle ski's (flat sans bindings), weight exactly the same, 62.4oz (3.9lbs), per ski. They are of the BMX line which is more affordable then the hand made MX, etc., lines but more expensive then the new XX twin tip line.

post #19 of 29

Weight differences come primarily from three sources. One is the core which contains many layers of wood stacked vertically with glue lines between each. Wood is inconsistent and varies along the length of each piece. The thickness of the glue lines are variable as well. The biggest variable is the overall amount of glue used in the layup process. 3 oz in weight is a pretty small quantity in volume when epoxy is the medium. When spread across the entire surface of say a 180 cm ski, there would be no measurable difference in the thickness of the epoxy layer in any one spot. Lastly, the clear urethane topsheet that is on most skis is pretty varible as well. Mismatched serial numbers are not ideal but are to some extent at least, a fact of life in the retail world where customers are constantly taking skis off the rack, flexing them and putting them back in the wrong spots etc. I have never seen a manufacturer refuse a warranty claim based upon mismatched SN's.

 

I would check the flex, the camber and the thickness of the ski in the middle......if those all match up, the chances are the skis are fine. Still........if you were inclined to do so, you could probably get the skis replaced by the store you bought them from.

 

SJ

post #20 of 29

Jim - any reality to my guess that indies might do more post production matching vs. the bigger brands?  Just curious.

post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post

 

I would check the flex, the camber and the thickness of the ski in the middle......if those all match up, the chances are the skis are fine.

 

 

I don't think I have a decent way to measure the thickness (sidewall height does not equal thickness on this ski), like a pair of calipers or something. But it eyeballs okay. Camber looks okay. Tip on one ski is a couple millimeters higher than the other, lying on a nice flat table. Flex, subjectively. is significantly different, which is how I started down this rabbit hole. rolleyes.gif  So tonight I put together a rudimentary test where I suspended each ski between two footstools, put a gallon can of shop alcohol in the middle of the ski, and tried to measure the deflection. I'm sure there was a pretty big margin for error in this experiment, but even so ... I did it twice, at two different measuring points. In one case the heavier / stiffer ski deflected 11mm vs. 13mm for the other. In the other test the numbers were 16mm and 13mm. In the first case that's about 15%. In the second case it's about 19%. These numbers tend to support the suspicions initially raised by my subjective hand-flexing.

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

 

I don't think I have a decent way to measure the thickness (sidewall height does not equal thickness on this ski), like a pair of calipers or something. But it eyeballs okay. Camber looks okay. Tip on one ski is a couple millimeters higher than the other, lying on a nice flat table. Flex, subjectively. is significantly different, which is how I started down this rabbit hole. rolleyes.gif  So tonight I put together a rudimentary test where I suspended each ski between two footstools, put a gallon can of shop alcohol in the middle of the ski, and tried to measure the deflection. I'm sure there was a pretty big margin for error in this experiment, but even so ... I did it twice, at two different measuring points. In one case the heavier / stiffer ski deflected 11mm vs. 13mm for the other. In the other test the numbers were 16mm and 13mm. In the first case that's about 15%. In the second case it's about 19%. These numbers tend to support the suspicions initially raised by my subjective hand-flexing.

 

Wow, that seems like a lot.  Time to name and shame?  What brand and model?

 

 

 

 

As for how things used to be...my understanding - is a pair of production line skis where just matched based on their order throught he production line, so the chances of the skis matching were higher because the had the same wood used for the cores, same base material, same guy running the machine, same temparatures, humidty etc etc.

 

Only WC skis that were hand made, however were all measured and put together as pairs. 

post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonorchid View Post


OK, just returnd from weighing my skis at the UPS store -

My new Kastle ski's (flat sans bindings), weight exactly the same, 62.4oz (3.9lbs), per ski. They are of the BMX line which is more affordable then the hand made MX, etc., lines but more expensive then the new XX twin tip line.


Wow, great research neonorchid. Above and beyond. Thanks. I owe you some kind of beverage.

post #24 of 29

If it was me with sold to as a new pair but with that much difference and mismatched S.N., I would return them and get another pair. This is the ski shops screw up. It happens, they need to make it right.

post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

Jim - any reality to my guess that indies might do more post production matching vs. the bigger brands?  Just curious.

 

Absolutely spot on that they should. Whether they do or not is an open question. Evidence that we see on a daily basis suggests that (mostly) they don't.

 

SJ

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 

There were a few people who wanted the down-and-dirty on this eye-opening little experience of mine. Now that the issue is finally resolved and I have a pair of skis in hand that have matching serial numbers and - more importantly - much more similar flexes, I feel comfortable telling more of the story. It may be instructive for anyone buying skis - especially on line.

 

The skis in question were 2011-12 Armada TSTs. I bought them from an independent guy on eBay - not a shop, just some jamoke. I've had pretty good luck, generally speaking, buying and selling on eBay, with a couple of very minor exceptions. The skis were advertised as a brand new pair. They arrived quickly, carefully packed, still with the cellophane on. I soon noticed that they had different serial numbers (printed in different typeface, in different places on the ski). Most significantly, the flex was noticeably different, subjectively speaking. You can read more details on that story above. One chapter that I did NOT communicate earlier is that I brought them to my favorite shop, which happens to be an Armada dealer, for a sanity check. (They had not been able to order any of last year's model for me - yes, I asked - and I didn't want this year's graphics or prices.) Both guys at the shop quickly and independently, without influence from me or each other, identified the same ski my son and I had as being the much stiffer one and clearly mismatched. That was the deciding opinion. I contacted the seller and explained the whole story in detail, including all my research and interviews. He sent me a very rude two-word reply essentially telling me to go fly a kite. I opened a dispute with eBay and won, and now have my money back, barring further contretemps. (Note that based on an earlier preliminary conversation with the seller about this issue, I am fairly well convinced that, while he was a jerk about the refund, he had not been trying to pull a fast one on me. I think he genuinely didn't know that the skis were not a pair ... I don't think he was familiar with the concept, and probably thinks that I'm just loony. The TST has asymmetrical graphics, and he commented at one point that they must be a pair because there was a "left" and a "right" topsheet.)

 

Later I ordered another pair from a different source, having carefully ascertained that the serial numbers matched. They arrived and have very similar flexes (although maybe a tiny difference in camber), so I am happy now.

 

The take-away for people on this board is that if you are buying a pair of skis in person, check the serial numbers and flexes carefully. If you are buying skis on line or over the phone, triple-check this key datum with the seller, and ask for an assurance that you can return for full credit, including shipping, if it turns out they misrepresented the facts. (Example: They looked at the MODEL number on the ski, not the SERIAL number.)

post #27 of 29

Glad it worked out for you even if it sucked up a lot of your time.  

post #28 of 29

Your experience is interesting and the dialogue enlightening.

 

I'm curious. Did you put them base to base and squeeze them then sight down the edges to see if they were straight? This is something that I do to every pair of skis I buy. I usually buy used so this will quickly show any discrepencies in flex, bends, twists and other defects such as broken cores or edges. If you did, did you notice that one ski remained convex while the other was concave? This is what I'd expect from such a seriously mismatched 'pair'.

 

I would view the inconsistency between skis, in your case, simply as manufacturing variances, but would expect a pair of skis to be much more similar than your skis were.

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

Your experience is interesting and the dialogue enlightening.

 

I'm curious. Did you put them base to base and squeeze them then sight down the edges to see if they were straight? This is something that I do to every pair of skis I buy. I usually buy used so this will quickly show any discrepencies in flex, bends, twists and other defects such as broken cores or edges. If you did, did you notice that one ski remained convex while the other was concave? This is what I'd expect from such a seriously mismatched 'pair'.

 

I would view the inconsistency between skis, in your case, simply as manufacturing variances, but would expect a pair of skis to be much more similar than your skis were.

 

Hi. Thanks. Good point. I did not do the sighting thing. I don't think they were warped - I did lay them on a good flat table and didn't notice any rocking or anything. I understand what you're saying about the camber, where one ski might "overpower" the other when pressed base to base. I'll remember to do that test in the future.

 

I agree that this was probably a case of manufacturing variance ... kind of a big one, it seems to me.

 

Because I do basic tuning on my own skis on a weekly basis in season, and because I just like to fondle skis from time to time (don't we all?), I have spent a lot of really up-close and personal time with different pairs of skis I've owned over the years. I'm pretty sure I would have noticed sooner or later if any of these were seriously mis-matched, but until this incident I had never noticed that. (Exception: one of several pairs of old laminated hickory tur-langrenns with three-pin bindings on them, which still live in the rafters of my basement.) I went back and checked my other two pairs of alpine skis, both of which have several seasons of use on them, and they seemed, if anything, even more identical in camber and apparent flex than the newly arrived serial-matched pair of TSTs. I suspect that generally ski makers do a good job with this.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Gear Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › What is a "pair" of alpine skis, in 2013?