2013 Kastle Ski lineup Overview.
Feel Free to post your reviews here too!
New skis for 2013 (only skis that I have tried)
Returning skis (review updated if possible, or just using last year's review)
Skis that are new but I haven't yet tried
For 2013, Kastle introduced a few new skis, listed above. Other than that, their product returns unchanged, as they don't have model years on their skis. Basically, a ski goes from year to year, typically without cosmetic changes or structural changes, until it is re-designed. At that point, it will see cosmetic changes as well. We sell a lot of Kastles and try to ski everything, if only for a few runs, but I can say that I either own, or have owned, at least ½ of the skis on this list at some point.
One note about Kastle: they are quite size specific, which is why you may see skis like the MX78/MX83/MX88, and wonder why they have such a tight size range, especially since each ski is quite similar in construction. Much of the answer lies on the length each ski is offered. If you take the middle size in each of these skis: MX78 in 176cm, MX83 in 173cm, MX88 in 178cm, you will see that much of the feel coming from the ski is due to the length of that ski, not the dimensions of tip/waist/tail. Length has a huge bearing on how each ski will respond, especially in a powerful, metal-laminate ski such as the MX series. As an example, the MX78 176cm to me feels like a carving rocket, yet versatile. The MX83 173cm feels like a slalom/GS hybrid, much quicker, more snap and energy. The MX88 178cm is the ultimate big-turn, big speed crudbuster. They all have more than adequate edge grip and stability, but the feel of the skis is dictated by the length, and it makes a huge difference. I am sure if I skied each ski in the same length, they would be quite similar in feel, but in fact, they are wildly different. This is a somewhat innovative way to size skis: many brands group their similar skis in basically the same length runs: 163/170/177/184 across the board. With Kastle offering different length options, forming a matrix of some sort in terms of available length, it will make it easier to find a ski that is the perfect length, not just a “workable” length.
One note about the MX series in particular: they have no real early rise, either tip or tail. They tend to ski on the longer side compared to the BMX, XX, and FX skis. Size and demo accordingly!
Quick summary of each line:
MX series: serious skis, have the most horsepower in the line, ski best with good technique, very rewarding. Many reviewers favorites, including mine.
MX78/83/88 are 3 of the best skis on the market, at any price.
RX series: same as MX, just more hard snow oriented. RX12 might be the best on the market for a frontside carver.
BMX series: added soft snow flex and tip/tail, still skis for charging skiers, but more tolerant of worse technique. I own BMX98 and BMX118. Great road trip skis, as they can tackle most any condition.
FX series: “mountaineering” skis, in that they are meant to handle changing snow conditions, from ice to deep snow. Extremely versatile, with just a little power loss over the MX series. Have owned the FX94 and loved it
TX series: touring skis, I have yet to try these.
XX series: new lineup with softer flex and more rocker. Narrower skis are quick and playful in challenging snow. Wider ski is a great pow tool and surprisingly good in bumps.
MX78: unchanged for 2013. Previous review as follows, but with updates. Tested in 178cm (was called 176cm last year, measures 176cm, no changes from 2012).
MX78 is a slightly narrower version of the MX88 and 83, and a bit stiffer in flex, with a more aggressive tail. The MX78 is still a capable all-mountain ski; it was the only ski I owned for the majority of a season in 2011. Due to the construction, it blows up crud. There is no better all-mountain ski on groomers, period, and edge hold is wicked on full ice. I had the chance to compare it to a Magnum 8.1 from Blizzard, and simply put, there was nothing to compare to; the MX78 was so much grippier. I don't know how they get this much grip out of a ski this width, but then again, it is built like a race ski, and almost as stiff as one. The MX78 is exceedingly stable: ski it in the head-height length, and you would swear you were on a full-bore consumer GS ski. I compared my 178 to the 175cm Progressor 9+ (which I also owned) and the MX78 was actually about 10% more stable: it felt like I could ski that much faster before the ski became nervous. In real terms, that is basically GS course speed, as fast as one should be skiing on a relatively open hill with only a few skiers around. In bumps, this ski is solid: definitely on the stiff side, but manageable. You can really work the ski fore and aft if you know how, and the tail won't take you for a ride, although it isn't as forgiving in the bumps as a softer ski. It is just “soft enough” for good skiers. I have skied some steep, big zipper lines on my pair, both at Winter Park and Alpine Meadows. The feel is totally GS: rock solid at speed, no surprises, and not a whole lot of energy. It feels like someone took a GS race ski and turned it into an all-mountain ride for top skiers, without changing the GS characteristics or detuning it significantly. That is quite a feat. I don't think there is a better hard-snow oriented all-mountain expert-level ski around.
Update: still one of the best narrow harder snow skis on the market. I really am smitten by this ski; it's lack of any speed limit, raw horsepower, combined with agility and ease of use. If this were a car we were looking at, it would be a BMW 335xi: capable as a daily driver, versatile in funky conditions (winter specifically), ripping 300hp canyon carver, easy to drive, but a pretty fun track car on the weekends! 176cm was the length I tested (and would purchase) most recently. It would be a tough call between this and the MX83: the biggest difference really was the overall feel of the shorter, turnier ski. The MX78 was very oriented to speed and GS turns. The MX83, just as fast, but wanted to be on edge more, and exiting the turn, had more power, less dampness. The MX78 was more of a fast, power cruiser with moderate energy and loads of confidence built in.
Does well: Power ski, cruiser ski, versatile all-mountain ski, all in one. Crazy fast if you desire
Does not do well: float in over 6-8 inches of new is a chore. Can be work in trees.
MX83, tested in 173cm, new for 2013. Features 2 sheets of metal, but with the softer ABS sidewalls shared by the MX88, not the phenol race stock sidewalls of the MX78
Review: well, hands down, I would have to say this is THE most impressive ski I tried last spring. Not that it was the best ski for every condition, or the best ski for any condition really, although it was. That is a whole different level of subjectiveness, and there is much to add to that conversation. What I mean by loving this ski: it put a huge grin on my face, probably more so than anything I tried all spring. I was superman on the MX83. Bumps: I could rip as easily as I could on softer, rockered tipped skis. On re-frozen early morning spring hardpack, this ski was sick! It just sucked me into turns and sprung me out the other side, as a true slalom carver would do, but without the drama and patience required to feather the ski. Skiing this on hardpack in the trees; instead of backing off, I wanted to attack those trees as if they were gates. It truly made me a better skier, or at least allowed me to use more of still-developing skills. This ski responded best to active feet: it literally danced underneath me as I was working feet fore and aft. Also, it just responded so well to input; makes a fantastic skill-development ski for upper-end skiers. In crud and in new snow, I was fine with 6-8 inches of freshies underneath. This was a good width to keep me from getting hung up, but narrow enough that I was still in the snow, not on top. If there was a “can do no wrong” ski I tried, this was it. And yes, a huge grin in every turn. On the first day I tried this, skiing with the rep (him on a pair of BMX98's and out-weighing me by probably 60lbs), I was still pulling away in the trees, as I was just so confident that the skis would all me to really open things up, whereas he was backing off just a little, due to funky ice chunks lurking. I felt like I could attack every turn. This ski has enough energy that even in lower-angled Bachelor type skiing conditions, turns are fun, and I never felt like I was just cruising along at with low-energy input turns. Instead, every turn was fun, every turn I looked forward to the pulsing release out of the belly, that unloading of potential energy that is best part of a ski day. If this one is a car, it has to be a E90 series M3! I recently drove my buddies' 2011 3 series M, and the combination of 414hp, comfortable yet body-hugging M seats, and supple yet track worthy suspension reminded me of the MX83. Just the way it morphed from daily driver to weekend track tool, the way I could control a slide around a hairpin and yet get the car right where I wanted it, never feeling out of control, was exactly the MX83 feel. Power on demand; can be pushed hard, yet smooth, communicative, positive, and a real skier's ski. It is hard to think of someone who wouldn't drool over the MX83 if they have tried it, just as I don't know too many people who don't think an 2011 M3 isn't a pretty special car for a “daily driver”.
In terms of fun factor, there isn't anything out there that we tried that exceeded this ski. In terms of practically, I would say it is a versatile ride for those days from frozen death cookies, to up to 8-10” of new snow. Virtually all my runs were off-piste, tree skiing or bump skiing (I don't ski groomers if the off-piste snow is workable and terrain is available). This, for me, is the narrower ½ of a 2 ski quiver. It will shine as a groomer ski as well, although that isn't where I put it through it's paces. After all, it is a Kastle MX series ski, they aren't exactly known to become limp noodles on firm snow at speed.
Does well: Impressively powerful yet versatile. Hard to find fault with it, on or off piste
Does not do well: deeper snow float will be an issue.
Kastle MX88: updated for 2013, with slight changes in dimensions. 88mm underfoot, 17m radius, 2 sheets of metal, tested in 178cm.
This has been a superb ski since it was introduced, one of the more impressive skis on the market. The changes were minor, and not having a 2012 on hand to test, it was tough to know exactly how they stacked up. I can tell you that I was ripping the 2013 version. There is nothing more stable in 178cm, it eats crud for breakfast. You won't find a speed limit, and it is so smooth, the skier can almost point the ski straight at 50mph and let it run in rough snow. As far as bumps go, it was moderately nimble. 178cm with a flat tail is a fairly long ski for a skier my size, but I could still put it everywhere it needed to go. Float in the soft snow we found was great, although the snow was only 8” deep; the ski had plenty of width to handle it. Feel is overall quite powerful, freeride-lite, but with a bit more ease of use, stability, and nimble feel to it vs something like a Volkl Mantra. It is a GS carver on groomers too, and skis narrower than the width would indicate. Grip is as good as it gets for a ski ~90mm. There is no more stable ski in a given length than the MX88. It is just that ski that really excels, or at least is one of the best available, in any given condition. One of those skis you have to at least try some day, even if you aren't in the market.
Note: I am not sure how this differs from the 2012 version. They feel very similar. Both rock.
Does well: Ultimate all-mountain machine, crud, GS speeds. No top end. Easy to ski. If I was stuck on an island and could only have one ski.....
Does not do well: Not much, unless you aren't up to skiing it.
These skis are all very comparable, it really comes down more to length. I was on the 176/173/178. Predictably, the 178cm MX88 felt the longest and was the best crudbuster. The 178cm MX78 still on the longer side, GS in feel, more nimble though in bumps and tight spots. 173cm MX83 was the quickest, more of a hybrid slalom/GS feel, very powerful, stronger end of turn release, best bump and tight space ski of the 3. Honestly, I really didn't even notice too much difference in the width. Perhaps between the MX78 and MX88, but the 83 could have been confused for the 78 or 88 in terms of width.; it just wasn't too significant. Length makes all the difference here. I would say these all ski 2-4cm longer than the typical ski in this segment. I could rip on the MX78 in 168cm as a frontside carver too! Not versatile though like the 83 is in 173cm.
RX12: slight changes in the plate for 2013, I have heard there were some other internal construction changes, but haven't verified that.
Well, this ski strikes again. One of these years, I am going to pony up for a pair of these. I also need to find more time to ski......it is such a thrilling carver. I don't know if it beats my other favorite, the Stockli SX, but they are very close. The Kastle has the edge in terms of being damp, with the Stockli a bit more energy in the tail. Both are insanely stable at speed. I am skiing this in 168cm as a carver. In the 176cm, I had a great time, but it was more of a mid radius turn, damp cheater GS ski, and I find I am desiring that turn less. More fun is the mid-radius carve, with more energy in the finish, and the 168cm gives up nothing in terms of stability, but adds fun and excitement, due to the shorter wheelbase. It is so smooth, nearly effortless to stay on top of. It just doesn't get rattled. This ski is the difference between a $1500 full suspension mountain bike and a $6000 ride: the suspension is more supple, smoother, yet responds to big hits better. An analogy could be made with the RX12: it is so smooth, predictable, easy to ski, yet has ridiculous stability and power on demand. I have skied a lot of race carvers over the years, and many of the better ones (like the Blizzard GSR) are thrilling when skied hard, but can push me around when I want to ski mid-energy. I feel the ski has to be really laid over and skied well to come alive. On the RX12, I am rewarded with good skiing, but if I dial down the energy or make a mistake, I am not tossed on my Keister. Also, the RX12 is actually quite a good bump ski (in 168cm especially) and I can't say that about the GSR. The best way to put it would be this: each top end race carver has performance to spare, no doubt, but the difference over most with the RX12 is the lower point of entry with regards to skill and speed: it can be skied at slower speeds, similar to the laminate Progressor from Fischer. And yes, even at the top end, it isn't a high strung ski; it is relaxing at pass-pulling speeds, and has no mind of it's own. Rather, it follows the skier's input. Just a superb ride for those looking for a carver w/a bit of additional all-mountain ability.
Does well: Hauls butt, no speed limit, fun in bumps for a high performance hard snow ski
Does not do well: not a good pow tool, lots of work in deep snow
RXSL: I didn't ski this one in the spring, here is the previous year's review:
no changes for 2012: a big horsepower, high-end power ski for short to medium radius turns. Not so much of a high-end carver as a race or race-lite ski. 68mm underfoot, and 13m radius. This ski, as long as you have the skills to get the edges and pressure where you want them, and the weight to flex it, is incredible. It blasts you from turn to turn like few skis I have tried, and it has tenacious edge grip; amongst the best skis I have ever tried in this area. It is demanding (I skied it 165cm): it wants to be on edge, and had a relatively small sweet spot. The tail is stiff and powerful, ready to accelerate you out of the turn, but don't get stuck back there, or you will pay the price. The tips engage just a touch easier and smoother than on a true race-stock level slalom (of which the Fischer WC SL I am most familiar with), but the grip underfoot and the tail release are in that same category. Others who are heavier may be able to bend it a bit better than I could. I didn't try it off-piste, except in bumps. It was OK there, but a bit demanding, as I would expect. The more damp RX12 is a better bump ski.
If you need a thrilling power carver, and have a high-end technical or race background, this ski might be as good as it gets, save for a full race-stock SL. I tried some other high-end carvers the same day (Waveflex 14, Blizzard SLR IQ, Stockli CX, Head iTitan) and nothing had the power of this ski (although the Stockli was easier to ski, and perhaps more fun and less demanding). This ski was the real deal. Probably I like the RX12 as a carver more, the RXSL is a more high-strung almost there race machine.
Does well: carve on the hardest snow surfaces. Likely pretty fast in the gates.
Does not do well: doesn't ski slow, not versatile.
New ski for this lineup is the BMX118. It is much appreciated. Perfect length for guys my size in 183cm!
BMX88: no changes, previous review w/updates:
new ski for 2012, shares the rockered tip and early rise tail of the 98, similar construction to the 98, with no metal. A much different ski than the MX88. Still 88mm underfoot.
Review, skied in 178cm: This ski was fun, playful, quick, and easy to ski. It felt somewhat similar to the Bushwacker from Blizzard, but had a bit more pop in the tail, whereas the Bushwacker was a touch more damp. With the soft, forgiving tip, it was a great bump ski, and a good carver. I was really able to lay the BMX88 over, the rockered tip really pulls you into the turn, and the ski, being softer in the tail, can really give you some pop during the finish. Great mid-radius carver, provided you aren't cooking speeds above 25mph. It is in the same stability range as the old Fischer RX6 or the newer K2 Rictor: a solid mid-speed carver. It can feel a bit nervous at high speeds, in rough snow, but is also probably the most forgiving Kastle I have ever skied on. In crud, it was best at moderate speeds, as well. I think the rockered tip is overkill for good technical skiers: those people will look at the stiffer ski with the longer running length: the MX88 or FX94. This would be a great choice for the more mild-mannered ski looking for a ski that can cruise, yet offer performance when up on edge. I skied this a lot in bumps, and the flex was spot-on. I felt more at ease than on the stiffer MX88. In junky snow, likewise, it was very good, similar to a Bushwacker in feel, not as much ski as the Blizzard magnum 8.5. It felt relaxed like the Bushwacker, or other moderately rockered, no metal skis I have tried recently. Good ski, quite mellow, not my personal favorite, but will make a lot of people happy.
Does well: ease of use, versatile in wide range of off and on piste conditions, fun in bump
Does not do well: lacking in the top end, not an expert level tool
BMX98: no changes, but I have skied this extensively over the past year. I really put my pair through the paces at Snowbird on a day with icy crust underneath and up to 12” of new on top.
Review: this ski is close to a do-it-all tool. It isn't as exciting or powerful as a metal laminate ski, but when the snow gets fairly deep, rough and choppy, having a ski such as this really comes in handy. Unlike the narrower skis, I like the fact that this one isn't too stiff: it allows me to ski a slightly longer length, and get more float and forgiveness out of the flexing and rockered tip. This ski is moderately rockered: just enough rise to get out of soft snow, but not enough to become detatched and fish-out-of-water floppy at speed on firmer surfaces. It really rocks in 3-d snow: talking crud and bumps. There is great flow to the ski; it seems to conform well to variable surfaces. Especially in bumps: this is as good as a 100mm wide ski gets in bumps. Trees, and variable snow there too, I found the BMX98 to be predictable, quiet, and damp. No drama! On soft groomers, it was stable, smooth, not too exciting, but got the job done. I don't think I would look at this ski as a primarily groomer ski; there are too many other choices that have more energy and hold. In crud, in a wide open bowl, the BMX98 comes into the top tier of skis. There aren't many this responsive, this smooth and stable. Plus, with the forgiving flex tip and tail, and the very moderate rocker, I can really work my feet fore and aft and follow the terrain variations. This is a big plus for me, as I struggle to do this on stiffer skis. We had a chance to straight line a couple of chutes into some moderate mandatory air (I am usually a chicken) yet the ski was confident. If I could only own 1 ski for all of my skiing, this is in the top 3. It has the right width for a pretty large number of days.
Where/when I would like to use this ski: on any road trip, provided I am going to a location that has great off-piste terrain, bumps, trees, tight chutes. It is one ski that can handle anything, and do it well. Where I wouldn't prefer this ski: skiing groomers, stuck on a small hill with little terrain. The BMX98 isn't super exciting to ski, but it is super solid in a wide range of conditions.
Does well: handle any type of big mountain, off-piste terrain with ease
Does not do well: not really a hard snow ski, boring on groomers
BMX108: unchanged for 2013. 188cm in length as tested, 108mm underfoot.
Review: nothing much to update. A big mountain crusher. Skied a bunch in the past. It likes to go fast, and relatively straight. In this length, a lot of ski for me, best in open spaces. I find it fairly versatile, but still a lot of ski for tight spaces in 188cm, which is a big length for a guy my size. Sweet in open spaces: no speed limit whatsoever. In fact, you can ski at speeds you may not be used to on this ski, and get up to those speeds rather easily. Watch out! Damp and predictable. Not especially turny; it feels like a pro level freeride ski, more than a resort style easy wide ski. In big wide open spaces, there aren't many skis I would trade it for, honestly. Definitely needs room to run. I would suspect that a larger skier would find this more manageable in trees: someone 6 foot 0 and up will find this to be a fun, playful ski. I found it to be pretty serious, but no less fun!
Does well: Go really fast, float in deep snow, tool for a good skier on a big hill
Does not do well: lots of ski for a smaller skier. Ideal length 5-10cm above head height
BMX118: back for 2013, but in a key length, 183cm! No metal, rocker tip and tail, fairly straight profile. Lots of pink; not sure how that is going to affect sales, but I don't mind.
This is probably going to be my pow ski for 2013. The length is perfect for a big-mountain ski, from open bowls to trees, for a 5 foot 9 skier, as is the flex. Smooth, supple, forgiving in this length: it sucks up terrain and snow imperfections, without overly punishing any back-seat mistakes I might make. I can work the ski very well, whereas on stiffer skis, I end up trapped in the middle of the ski, using the radius to turn, instead of skiing dynamically and keeping my feet moving. Very stable in this 183cm length: I really can't find a speed limit on this one, yet it isn't pushing me down the hill in a hair-on-fire manner, either. I can actually get to the tip and pressure the ski on demand, which is tougher with the big skis closer to 190cm. Width is great: perhaps a little wide for everyday skiing, but great if we are seeing lots of new snow. My “everyday” ski would be closer to 90-100mm anyways. 118mm is a big ski for sure. Compared to the BMX128, I like the length much better. Float is marginally less, but still feels like I am on top of the snow more than in the snow, which is fun for keeping up speed and flying down the hill. The width is plenty, even in flat trees where I would get stuck on a narrower ski. I will likely use it only on deeper days, when we are seeing more than a foot of new. As the large end of a 3-ski quiver (something 70's/low 80's for hardpack days, 90's for everyday soft snow skiing, and this bad boy), I should be covered in any snow condition. Compared to my Elan Olympus in 183cm, the BMX118 is less quick (for a big ski) in feel, has more float, wants to run a bit more straight, a little more damp, more punchy and stable. The Olympus gets the nod for bumps, tight spaces, and for being overall very nimble and light on it's feet.
Does well: float in deep snow, remain versatile and nimble for lighter but skilled skiers
Does not do well: firmer snow/tight bumps
LX92: This is similar in construction to the FX series, but with a slightly tapered sidewall. I skied the mid 170's length (I think it was a 174). It has a bit of rise on the tail, unlike the MX series, and therefore skis a bit shorter than the MX in the same length. Slightly softer on-snow flex.
Review: This ski was a welcome surprise! I wasn't expecting such a high performance ski, honestly. I thought the LX series was very solid and refined, but could use a little more beef in the 72 and 82 versions. It seems that they have fixed it with the new 92, though. Flex was just about perfect for someone of my weight; it felt like a slightly softer MX88, which for a groomer ski might not be ideal. But, for a generally off-piste ski (which is where I ski 85% of the time, this particular ski was tested at Sugar Bowl, so skiing bumps all day), the flex was spot-on, and the ski had a very neutral, controlled, refined, damp, high-performance ski. It was classic Kastle, just in a slightly softer and more manageable flex for lighter guys like me. I always loved the MX78, but it was about as stiff as I could manage in steep bumps, and the MX88 was just a touch too stiff in bumps for me. The LX92 was money there; perhaps the best bump ski I tried all day. Over in some soft snow and crud, it floated well, and again, was super easy to release at the tail: there wasn't any hit of grab or hold, like some square-tailed skis can be. It just seemed to bounce from one trough to the next in the bumps. Steeps? No problem? You could do a full turn in a ski length; it is extremely quick. Where it did let me down a bit was in open spaces, at high speeds. It did get rattled above 30mph or so, especially in rough snow. With that said, it felt like more of a length, rather than a design, issue. 176cm, with the turned up tail, skied short for me. I usually opt for a high 170's, low 180's ski, depending on the design. This felt like a low 170's ski in comparison to my MX98, or the MX88/78. I think if I had the chance to ski this in a 180cm (which sadly, isn't in production), it may have been a ski I was ready to buy. As it was, though, I really thought highly of of the LX. It just seemed more terrain smoothing than the FX, although not quite as much ski at higher speeds. A trade-off, perhaps, but might be one worth making, depending on where you ski and how fast.
Update: still loving this ski. One of my favorite Kastles. I just wish It was offered in a longer high 170's length. It is a superb carver for the width, and great in bumps too.
Does well: highly competent in a wide range of conditions. Excellent grip and power for a forgiving ski
Does not do well: deeper snow float
Kastle FX84: Unchanged for 2013:
Like the other FX series skis, and especially the 94; the 84 is a sort of enigma. It doesn't feel like any other ski I am aware of. The horsepower is under the hood, but the ski is light and agile, unlike the more damp MX series. The MX series of skis feel like they could be straight out of the GS race room, but tuned for street performane. The FX is different; an outstanding ski to be sure; different in feel than almost anything on the market. They are so light on the snow, as to make you think they are unstable, but that is certainly not the case. I was able to hit some insane speeds on this ski. It is so quick to pull me into and across the fall line, and it likes a lighter touch than the MX series. It responds with more subtle imputs: just a bit of tipping is often all you need to get it up and onto edge. The FX84 is particularly good in bumps: just the right amount of flex in the tip. It does ski a bit shorter than the MX: the 176cm feels a good 3-4cm shorter than the MX78 of the same length. Also, in crud, it is a little lighter, a little more nimble than the MX series; not as damp, and not quite as much ski here. I would say the FX may be the superior off-piste ski, especially if you like that finesse feel, with the MX being a bit more ski for groomers and hard snow. Then again, good skiers can ski either; it comes more down to a feel. If you want a refined ski that is light, agile, yet has power under the hood, the FX series has to be on your radar. I just wish they made these in 180cm.....
Update: I almost purchased this for my hard snow ski, but it lacked a bit of zing that the MX83 has. It is probably better for a less skilled skier, though, as it has some room to back off and still be able to control the ski. The MX83 wants to be pushed, for the most part.
Does well: Easy to ski anywhere on the hill. A true 50/50 ski
Does not do well: not really a pure carver.
Kastle FX94: unchanged for 2013, this ski is in it's 3rd year.
Review: I skied this a ton last year, so I will share my additional thoughts.
1) this ski is really good in trees, bumps. It is very easy to change direction, easy to work the ski tip to tail, responsive. Working on a big release/absorbsion move in the bumps, I could do it easily on the FX94.
2) Very forgiving! I can do what I want on it, without any fuss
3) solid carver. Not up there with the MX88, but I think it might be better in trees especially.
4) Not much of a speed limit, but it does ski true to length. 176cm is a little on the short side for me, and it feels like a 176cm.
5) As a crud buster, there isn't much out there to best the FX94. It has just the right amount of metal, right amount of flex. Extremely smooth, like a luxury SUV, in the rough stuff.
6) I remain impressed with it's bite. One thing this ski has going for it, over basically any soft rockered ski, is just how much edge bite it has. I would take a bit of ease of use in really soft snow at the tip for the security of knowing it will hold on a sketchy, icy, no-fall traverse.
I have to say this is one of the most well-balanced skis on the market. The only downside is that perhaps I fall between sizes; I could easily ski this in 179cm. Not really a fault of the ski, but when I am hauling in soft snow, I want more length than a 176cm provides. Other than that, for mixed-use terrain, it gets the job done exceptionally well.
Does well: balanced for any skiing condition. Above average carver, but superb in crud and bumps
Does not do well: tip doesn't get the best float in deep snow
Kastle FX104: No changes for 2013!
104mm underfoot, the lighter .3mm thickness ti (vs. the .5mm on the MX88). This ski is the only 100mm+ ski in the lineup with metal, making it basically the burliest, most stout offering of the Kastle family with regards to wide skis. Out of the FX series, this was undoubtedly the most ski. It absolutely killed crud at speed, was a serious ski in every way, and had the Kastle refinement one would expect out of the FX and MX series. In feel, it was closest to the MX88; quite a bit of ski, and perhaps a bit more ski than a lightweight like myself needed. The 184cm also is an issue for guys like me: that is a lot of ski when you only stand 175cm tall and weigh 70kg. Outstanding; it reminded me a ton of the old MX98 (the one with metal) but a little lighter on the snow, with a little more of a flickable backcountry feel to it. Still, it held really well on the hard snow we were experiencing that day at Sugar Bowl: both on firm bumps and on groomers at high speed. You could really lay this baby over. I didn't think it was the best bump ski I tried: it was fairly stiff, and again, it would work better under a bigger guy than it did for me. I would opt for the 94 personally, then jump up to the 108 for soft snow at my weight. Bigger guys are going to really appreciate the extra bit of beef on this ski. This is definitely one of the most stable skis (from any brand) that we tested the past spring. The 174cm likely compares very well to the now-discontinued, but classic, MX98 (the metal version from 2 years ago). That was maybe the best big-mountain, every day, any condition ski made.
Another ski I wish they made in an intermediate length. 179cm? I would line up to buy a pair.
Update: super strong ski. I liked it in 184cm, but it needs some room to run. Skis long, not great in bumps, but I found it surprisingly easy in trees, comparable in feel and work to the Blizzard Cochise in 185cm. Especially if you can use the snow to change direction, working terrain, you will be pleased ad how tight a good skier can turn this. Rips up crud at speed, more stable than the BMX108 in 188cm! That is saying a lot. For the strong skier, especially a bigger guy who wants a pro-level ski, this one is hard to beat. Shorter people can get a ton of horsepower and performance out of the 174cm. Guys like me would find themselves somewhere in between for an everyday ski.
Does well: big mountain tool for most any condition. Excellent carver for a wide ski.
Does not do well: bumps in the long length. Wish a more comprehensive size run existed.
Colby James West series: new sidecut shape, and more rocker than the current BMX series. Bit lighter flex than the BMX stuff as well. More oriented to more playful styles of skiing.
XX80 Colby: I didn't ski this one
XX90 James: Skied in 175cm. 90mm underfoot, 18m radius or so. A fun, quick, all-mountain tool, this has a unique feel. Like the 110, just quicker, and super fun in bumps. I was able to overpower it pretty quickly on groomers, especially laying it out there and expecting it to hold up, but in bumps and trees, it was super quick, agile, fast edge to edge. I can't comment on it's park abilities, but as an all-mountain ski, it reminded me somewhat of the Head Rock n'Roll, only lighter. I think the RnR is a better carver, but this might be the more playful, quick ski of the 2. Enjoyable in the trees, super forgiving, yet I could ski it like I was on a luge course, which is to say, fast and aggressively, close to trees, knowing I wouldn't catch an edge or be tossed. It really doesn't feel like anything else in the Kastle lineup. If I had to find a similar feel in a ski, it would be the Armada TST, although this is a narrower ski.
Does well: quick turns, light on it's feet, bumps and trees. Fun factor is very high
Does not do well: not a big time crudbuster, underwhelming on hard snow.
XX110 West: we had a demo pair of these in the shop all spring. Great colors, reminded me of my first ski jacket in middle school! It is biased toward deep snow, lots of tip rocker. I found it to be quick, playful, smooth, and light. Reminded me of the Gunsmoke from Blizzard, in that it wants to change direction with minimal fuss, has a damp yet powerful feel in chop snow, and unsurpassed float and ease of skiing. 134/110/134 are dimensions. Also quite useful in bumps. I could get the ski up onto edge with minimal fuss, and if I tried to drive it too hard, it barked back at me. Instead, I found the technique as to be light on my feet, quick, not pushing the ski, but just staying active. Feels like a quick, agile bump ski in this regard. That is how it skis in deeper snow too: it has tons of float, but isn't the most stable, and isn't a charger like the BMX108. Instead, it likes to carve, likes to pop out of turns, and really skis with plenty of energy. Again, similar in feel to the Gunsmoke from Blizzard, and a bit more steady, and not as turny, as the Rossi S7. If I lived on the East Coast and needed an off-piste ski, something that turned incredibly quick, I would check these out. For around here, I probably prefer something with a little more beef at high speeds.
Does well: turns without overturning, quick in tight spaces, easy to ski
Does not do well: not much heft for speed, little light for crud
Edited by dawgcatching - 11/30/12 at 11:56am