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Elan S12 Fusion review

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Ski Make: Elan
Ski Model: S12 Fusion
Ski Lengths:168/176
Snow Conditions Used In: hard snow, rough/soft groomers, GS course, crud, wind pack, bumps, 8 inches of light pow.
Number of Days Used:6 and counting
Your Ability:advanced/racer
How Many Years Have You Been Skiing:16
Avg. Days per Year Skiing: currently 50+
Other Skis You Like: Head RS119 race GS, Elan SLX WC, Head i-XRC, Elan Mantis 662, Fischer Big Stix 75/FX7.6
Your Height/Weight: 175cm (almost 5 foot 9), 155lbs
Comments: I have tested this ski in both a 176 and 168-2 days on the longer length, 4 days on the shorter. Elan recommends the 168 for my height (they say go down 5 to 15cm). Tested on hard snow, rough/soft groomers, GS course, crud, wind pack, bumps, 8 inches of light pow.

First, the S12 Fusion in 168. Very good carver, smooth and stable at speed. One of the more demanding race carvers/cross skis I have been on. It can run away from you if you get lazy-it isn’t really a relaxing ski (look to the M12 Fusion if you want a high-speed cruiser, as the S12 is much more high-strung). This has close to race-ski power-the first prototypes of the S12 were full-on vertical sidewall skis just like the race stock models, and they skied like it too-way too much ski for a rec ski. They have since “detuned” the ski by keeping the 90 degree sidewall underfoot, but playing with the tip and tail to ease entry and exit and remove the demanding “on/off” nature that their race skis exhibit. Still, not really a ski to be taken lightly-if you aren’t an expert with solid technique, check out the S10. This ski can really do it all-definitely the most versatile carver I have skied. I have been in 8 inches of fresh snow, crud, and bumps with it (along with hard snow)-it handles everything with ease. For me at least, that is what sets this ski apart from some of the other carving skis that I like (such as the Fischer RX8)-the Elan is just more versatile. I can’t say that I have skied another powerful carver such as this that was actually good in the bumps. The 168 is very stable and smooth of it’s length-just such a fun ski. If I had to pick one ski, this would be it. Of course, it is somewhat of a compromise-deep snow won’t be as good as on a midfat/fat, and you can’t beat a real GS for high speed/rough snow on groomers. If I had only 2 pair of skis, they would be a pair of midfats and a pair of race GS’s. If I have to choose 1 pair, I like the S12!

Second, the 176-I didn’t feel that the 176 was “too much” length for me, even though Elan would say it is. The extra length is a plus for rough-snow stability, but takes away from the quickness and versatility of this ski. Don’t get me wrong-it is still a fabulous ride, but doesn’t have that outstanding versatility of the 168. Feels much more like a GS race carver in 176, while the 168 was more pure carver (quicker, tighter turn radius). Crusty wind pack was more work on the longer ski. OTOH, it really shines in rough snow on the groomers at speed (up to GS race speeds). Here in the PNW, we always get that soft snow/rough snow on the groomers-rarely do we see hard snow/ice/smooth courdoroy up here. Therefore, having the extra length is a plus-you don’t get knocked around like you would on a shorter ski. In a 176, this ski gets close to my Head RS119’s in stability and smoothness, but not quite. I still prefer a real GS for high-speed carving. This ski was fun in the longer length, but lacked the outstanding versatility of the 168. If you were a high-speed all-mountain and groomed snow skier that lives somewhere that gets soft snow, you may consider a longer length that recommended in this ski. In the longer length, this is also a great NASTAR/club race/masters GS ski. I ran gates on it, it was as good as any other race carver I have tried. It would be a suitable race GS for someone looking for a tighter turn radius than 21m (the 176cm has a radius of 16m). If you live in the East, get the recommended (shorter) length for anything short of racing-end of story. One thing to check out-both my 168's and 176's (both shop demos) were seriously detuned from the factory at the tip. Both required quite a bit of edge work to get a sharp edge on the tip (each ski had one edge that came basically buzzed off round from the factory probably 2 inches down from the contact point at the tip)-I had to remove quite a bit of material to get the edge back at the front of the ski. The first day I skied these, I didn't pay attention to the factory tune, and the tips weren't hooking up as they should (I put an edge back on and that solved the problem). Definitely something to have the shop check out before you take them home.

IMO, it blows the high-end carver/cross competition away. It is as stable as the Head i-XRC and Atomic Supercross, and as smoothly powerful as the Fischer RX8. But, so much more versatile than any of those skis. For example, the Fischer is great at speed on hard snow, but just isn't fun in bumps, deeper snow, or other challenging non-groomer conditions. So are the other skis mentioned-they are all marginal in 3-D conditions. Sure, you can ski them in deep snow, but I would prefer not to. That just isn't true with the S12 Fusion. I really don't know how they get so much versatility out of such an aggressive, powerful, stable ski. I am really, really impressed. Sure, it isn’t quite as good as a Midfat/Fat in deep snow, or quite as smooth as a race GS at high speed, but performs within 10% of either type of ski. Plus, how many race GS’s can ski the bumps and crud? How many midfats can hold a wicked edge on blue ice at 40mph and exit the turn with darn near close to the power of a race stock ski? If you can get a demo on this ski-DO IT!

[ March 02, 2004, 06:53 PM: Message edited by: dawgcatching ]
post #2 of 27
Thread Starter 
This is a follow-up after 3 month's use (probably about 20 days on this model).

I still love this ski-I feel it is the best all-around ski I have ever been on. The more I improve, the more I appreciate the ski-it is just capable of so much. When pushing it on hard snow, the ski is like glue to the ice. It is proven to be very, very smooth through crud-as much as can be expected of a ski in 168cm. Decent in deeper snow-much better than you would expect. It is a great learning ski-easy enough to try new things, and powerful enough to be rewarded when you do those things right. I have had the chance to ski it on really hard snow (we don't get much in Oregon, not until April) and the ski is very energetic-close to a real race ski. At speed, it feels alot like a GS-not as smooth through rough snow as my 180cm Head RS119's, but what do you expect? The ski has been very nice in the bumps-it is certainly better than I am. A perfect tool for someone who wants a bomber hard snow ski that does everything well and has a tight enough turn radius to avoid traffic on the weekends. If their is one nitpick I have with this ski, it is that it won't expose your flaws like a good GS ski will. It turns with less than stellar technique, and you can get lazy if you so desire-the ski will still be relatively solid.

Overall, this ski comes closest to (for me) the universal ski-after skiing lots of 2005-model skis in various dimensions, I have developed even more of an appreciation for this ski. The only ski that *may* give the S12 a run for it's money that I have been on is the Nordica Speedmachine 14-it is a more stable carver (basically a race ski with sidecut) but at the expense of some versatility (although still more versatile than the full vertical-sidewall carvers coming out next year, such as the Head i-XRC SW and Elan GX Pro). Still, I urge anyone at a high-advanced level who skis fairly aggressively and who wants a ski that will lead them into expert status to check out the S12 Fusion!
post #3 of 27
I bought them in 160 cm. They say "longer would be more stable." Really?! How can they be MORE stable?!

These do it all - ice, packed, natural. Carve, skid. Fast, slow. Groomed, bumps. Free ski, teach. I'm delighted. The business about them being for top skiers? I'm not, and I ski better on these than anything before.

When I first demoed these (courtesy of one of my supervisors), my first turns said "ice skate, smooth". The S12 Fusion requires that the skier actually do something, sort of a feeling of muscularity rather than ease. I soon discovered that they make short and long turns beautifully, and while they don't have the feeling of "lightness", they're as quick edge to edge as I am - not really a great testimonial, I admit, but hey! They're as quick as I need.

Peter Keelty called these a "home run". KeeeeeRECKT!
post #4 of 27
I couldn't agree more. I demoed these skis for a half a day in January. I have never felt more comfortable(if that makes sense) and confident on a pair skis as on the S12 Fusion. It sounds weird, but I knew I was in love from the moment I got off the chair lift.
post #5 of 27
Originally posted by singsing:
I have never felt more comfortable(if that makes sense) and confident on a pair skis as on the S12 Fusion.
Those are the words that so very well describe my own reaction - comfortable and confident.
post #6 of 27
Dawg or Oboe

Have either of you skied on the 5 star and if so, how would you compare the two skis.
post #7 of 27
The 5 Star is great. Some of the instructors I work with ski on them. I've tried them a few times.

Compared to the S12 Fusion, the 5 Star is more grabby. Both hold an edge about equally well, but the S12 Fusion feels like an ice skate - great edge grip and soooooo smoooooth. Yet, the S12 is easy to skid when you want to, while the 5 Star is a very balky skidder, making the 5 Star tougher for me in bumps. They're both stable, but I feel more comfortable and confident on the S12 Fusion.

If I were to be offered a choice of one of these models absolutely free, I'd choose the S12 Fusion. As it happens, I did have a choice, and I chose to pay for the S12 Fusion. I am a better skier with them.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
I also think the S12 Fusion is a touch more stable than the 5-star. It is probably more like the 6-star in terms of stability, but like the 5-star in terms of versatility. That is why I prefer it over so many other top-end cross skis-it has the heft to hang with any ski short of a race-stock model, but can be skied anywhere. Very confident at speed.
post #9 of 27
I own the 5*, and demo'ed the S12 for a day this season. I'm going to be getting the S12 at the start of next season, as I've given up finding a pair this season (and this season is pretty much over anyway).

I think the S12 is a vastly better bump ski, especially for a hack like me. The 5* rocks in bumps as well, if you can stay dead center on them -- they're very stiff, especially in the tail, so if you tend to get back seat in bumps, it's over.

I didn't get an opportunity to try the S12 in any kind of deep snow, so I really can't comment on it. I've skied the 5* in five or six inches of glop, and it just plowed right through. Again though, that was carving on whatever was underneath. The 5* lives for the carve.

If you're into laying down trenches, I'd think the 5* is the better ride. The S12 certainly has edge gripping power, but I'd say it's a notch below the 5*, especially as the speedometer begins to uhhhh, climb.

They are both absolutely wonderful skis. The S12 is somewhat easier at slower speeds -- you can relax on it, and is more tolerant of a skid-based technique. The 5* wants to be driven.
post #10 of 27
Originally posted by KevinF:
If you're into laying down trenches, I'd think the 5* is the better ride. The S12 certainly has edge gripping power, but I'd say it's a notch below the 5*, especially as the speedometer begins to uhhhh, climb.
Disagree. I did not find the 5 Star superior in that respect.

EDIT: However, the nice things you said about the S12 Fusion are true
post #11 of 27
oboe, I'm with you. I found the S12 to be more like the 6* (actually, just a touch higher performance than the 6*). The 5* was a notch below both, and couldn't handle my higher-speed carves without breaking loose.
post #12 of 27
Were you able to demo them up in Vermont? If so, where did you demo them from? I own the 5 star now and am not unhappy with them but would like to try the Elan. I demo'ed the 6 star earlier this season and did not see enough of a difference to change skis. I think top end performance on both are pretty much the same. I think you notice more of a difference at slower speeds. I think you need to be skiing faster in order to wake up the 6 star. I'm not concerned about powder or crud as I also own the Head im 75 chips which aren't too bad
post #13 of 27
I lucked out, nikonfme. One of my supervisors at Smugglers' Notch happens to be the Elan rep. At a party at his house for the instructors, we were talking about some skis I'd demoed, including the Elan Mantis 662. I demoed those through the local version of the Ski Magazine Gold Medal Demo Center. He suggested I try his own Elan S12 Fusions (the binding is easily adjustable for boot sole length without tools). I did. Love them! He "happened" to have one pair with bindings in his garage - new in the box. Elan has no more to sell for this year - sold out. I bought the skis from the rep on a pro form for a great price. I am a happy camper.

However, back to your situation: They are not available for demo at the Gold Medal Demo Centers - because those places only have skis to which Ski Magazine has awarded their "Gold Medal". Well, they missed the boat - no "Gold Medal" for the Elan S12 Fusion (although they did choose a number of other Elans).

If you have the opportunity to demo the S12 Fusion, it will be clear that they are a better, more powerful, more versatile ski than the 5 Star, better both a very slow speeds and very high speeds and everywhere in the middle.

Call Elan and ask them where you can demo them, either this season or next. That's the best I can come up with under the circumstances. Good luck!

[ March 05, 2004, 09:11 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #14 of 27
The demo shop at Snowshed(Killington) has the S12 Fusion, at least in 168cm. Also, Northern Ski Works, on the access road, had a bunch of Elan's to demo. I'm almost certain they had the S12's. You might want to give them a call just to make sure, (802) 422-9675. They also have shops in Ludlow (802) 228-3344 and Bridgewater (802) 672-3636, so they might have the S12's there as well. Good Luck.

Oboe, smoooooooooth is another excellent description of the S12 [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by KevinF:
I own the 5*, and demo'ed the S12 for a day this season. I'm going to be getting the S12 at the start of next season, as I've given up finding a pair this season (and this season is pretty much over anyway).
If you are still looking for the S12 Fusion, we have 1 pair of new skis and 2 pair of demos (both demos are in near-perfect shape). The new S12 Fusion's are 168cm and we are asking $549. The demo S12 Fusions are 168cm and 176cm and we are asking $475. Just give the shop a call at (541) 593-2453 and ask for me (Scott)-if I am not there (probably up skiing [img]smile.gif[/img] ) then leave your number and I will get back to you. Also, if you found the 5-star to be more stable and a better carver than the S12, I would guess it may have been the tune, but you never know. I have been running the S12 in some real GS sets this season-it would be a great Masters ski (or for anyone who wants a tight turn radius).
post #16 of 27
Thanks singsing and Oboe.
I'm going up Killington next weekend. I'll have to check them out.
post #17 of 27
Length is important, of course. I get everything I need out of the 160 cm length - very stable.

While I'm sure I'd also like the 168 cm, I know it wouldn't be as maneuverable and would be stiffer. Since I'm happy with the rock solid stability of the 160 at speed on hard snow, I'll stick with it.

I'm 5'8", 150 pounds, average skier, ski mostly in Vermont.
post #18 of 27
Guess I'm on the tail end of this exchange, but what the heck. I've been skiing the S12 Fusion all season. It is without doubt the best ski I've been on. I ski it in a 168. I'm 5'9", 165#. What I liked most about it over the 5 Star was it works at low revs also. The 5 Star, to me, was only happy going fast. And while it will hold an edge on formica at those speeds that somewhat limits its versitility. For what I do on skiis; teach (sometimes slow-sometimes fast, ski with my kids, some bumps, lots of trees, steeps, ice... I look for something with will do lots of stuff well. In fact, I actually liked the 4 Star more then the 5 Star because it could do more. To me it's only short coming was high speeds on steep hardpack, where it would chatter. Definitely a better ride in the bumps then the 5. The S12, however, is definitely and all mountain ski and about as close as an all things ski as you can come. And don't fret about going short. One of the instructors where I work, who is about my size, maybe 5# more, skiis on the 160 and loves it. And this guy rocks. My only comment about the 6 Star, and it's based on observation and second hand info. is you better be good and you better be strong, esp. if going in the bumps. I see that ski giving more then a few folks a tours of the mountain if you get my drift (who's skiing who?). Pray for snow. SD5
post #19 of 27

I coming back to alpine after being only on Tele gear for the last 10 years.

I just bought pocket rockets this year by rocemmdation only. Although they are big fun I want to get a ski to complement them. I have been eye balling the Elan 662. Even though I like to ski off piste most of my skiing is on piste cause the snow conditions locally are to crappy to risk trashing the ski. But when I get up high I am headed into the backcountry. My local shop has the 662 on sale for $329 which appears to be decent deal. Any feedback is appreciated. I am 5'11'' and 185lbs and would a appreciate a length recommendation.

I'm not trying to hijack this thread but it looked like a good group of people testing Elans here.

BTW I was at Steamboat springs last weekend and I saw only 2 people on Elans, and they were instructors.

post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
That is a great price on the 662-the shop isn't making more than $10 on that pair. Grab it while you can. I would probably lean toward a 184 for you if you ski fairly fast and will be primarily using it in crud/pow, 176 if you prefer a bit shorter ski or want more versatility in bumps and fun on groomers (Elan would say that you could go +/- 10cm from head height on that ski-at 5 foot 11 you are 181cm or so).
post #21 of 27
QUESTION for dawgcatching:

Is the Elan S12 Fusion different for the 2004/2005 season? If so (aside from cosmetics), how? Better or worse?

How is the Mantis 666 Fusion different from the current 662 (asode from cosmerics)? If I skied each for a day, would I notice the difference at all, and if so, how much?
post #22 of 27
Scott, your e-mail bounces back as a delivery failure - whassup?
post #23 of 27
Sorry for the unsol. input, but, the rumor mill says that next year's S12 Fusion will have a Tyrolia riding it instead of a Marker. That's the only piece of the puzzle I know.
post #24 of 27
I finally got a chance to ski my 168 S12's up at at Blackcomb, really ripped it up on these skis. I pretty much agree with Dawgs and other reviews, a great hardpack carver that's versatile enough to to take off piste. This ski's a lot of fun on the groomers, you can really lean on these and generate some g forces in the turn, but they also make quick short turns, they really seem to be comfortable in a variety of turn shapes plus they hold a great edge.

I took some 6 stars out for a few runs a couple days later, another great carver, but I felt I got knocked around more at speed, the S12 is definitely smoother. I also thought the S12 had better grip, but to be fair the 6 Star's were demos and had been skied more so I don't know how great the tune was. One thing I noticed about the Elan is it's a little more weight sensitive, when I got my weight forward at all the tip wanted to come around pretty quick, especially in softer snow, the 6 Star felt more comfortable, like it just wanted to blast through anything. I actually preferred the 6 star in softer snow and the S12 on hardpack, about the opposite of the way I thought it might be.
post #25 of 27
I demoed the Elan GX last weekend. I was told it's next year's replacement for the S12 Fusion. Uses Tyrolia bindings, comes in 165, 170, 175 and 180. The ski I tried was pre-production 178.

Incredible ski (at least on Midwestern hardpack) to carve any radius turn. Perhaps not as quick as the Fischer RC4 I tried, but I personally wouldn't want to be on Fischer all day long. Also tried the Volkl 6*, but liked turning both the Elan GX and Fischer much better. That also seemed to be the uniform consensus of everybody else as well. Now the only question is what length to get next year.
post #26 of 27
I just bought and skied the S12 Fusion last week based on comments from this site. Size 168, I'm 6ft, 205lbs, advanced (at best) skier.

You do not have to be an expert to enjoy this ski. It was easy to control but you have to ski them. They did not like me standing up relaxing on the backs.
Sweet spot was anywhere from under foot forward to tips for me. Did long, medium short turns equally well.
Awesome on groomed, hardpack, ice and blasted right through crud.
post #27 of 27
Great Ski - skied on for 10 days from powder to spring slush very hard to find any fault.

Very powerful one of the first skis you can really feel the pressure on the whole foot towards the end of a turn.
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