2014 Fischer Motive 86: 86mm underfoot, 175cm length, tip rocker, 2 sheets of metal
2014 Head i-Titan, 177cm: 81mm underfoot, 15.5m radius, Supershape metal laminate construction
2014 Head i-Titan, 177cm: 81mm underfoot, 14.3m radius, Supershape metal laminate construction
Conditions: early season groomers (scratchy yet soft); off-piste crud and new snow; medium sized bumps. Good light conditions. No trees (not enough snow to venture off-piste).
Reviewer: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, fit, 36 y/o, skis 30-50 days a year. Likes to ski fast and primarily off-piste, technically oriented. Skis I like: Kastle MX, BMX, and FX lineup, Elan 888/999/1010, Fischer Progressor series, Rossi E88,
Overview: these skis are fairly similar, but somewhat different in execution. The Motive 86 is a touch stiffer than either of the Titan models, yet features a fairly aggressive tip rocker and flat tail. The Titan features just a tiny bit of early rise tip, and virtually flat tail. Running length on the Motive 86 is a good 3.5cm shorter than the 177cm Titan, so it would be labeled a 173.5 if it were a Head ski, comparing apples to apples. All skis mounted with a Head PRD12 Powerrail binding.
Groomers: They were all 3 pretty solid on groomers, but the Titan 170cm wins out as the best of the 3. I found it to be snappy, powerful, with an easily engaged tip, very powerful turn exit. It was a tip and rip type ski, or a ski that you could rapidly dump energy from an extended outside leg, and power right through the transition. It liked both turns, in that it could ski lazy, or it could ski with all the power in the world. Very impressive. In this length, it was more of a SL/GS hybrid feel. Not as quick as the i-Rally, a bit more damp, maybe more suited to powerful skiers looking to carry more speed.
The 177cm i-Titan was the GS carver of the group. Not quite as much fun as the 170cm. Don't get me wrong; it is a great ski, but the length (which is my normal length for a ski of this type) takes some of the energy out of the ski. It has a bit more stability, but loses the power and energy of the 170cm. If I was hauling butt all day, it would be the choice, but for a more fun “carver” feel, size it below head height.
The Motive 86 was a very stiff ski laterally, great edge grip. What prevented it from being a great carver is the tip: it simply has too much rise to easily achieve early edge engagement. Once on edge, it is a powerhouse, and tracks as well as the Titan. Tail release is more damp, and perhaps even more impressive. Too bad the tip can't keep up: it just isn't there at the top of the turn, and feels spoony, for a lack of better term.
Crud: The 177cm Titan wins by a nudge: it is the most stable of the group, and just moves loose cruddy snow out of the way. No speed limit, you can really haul butt on this ski. The Motive 86 comes in 2nd for the style I like to ski: great at GS turns, no tip dive, also powers through junk, but with a bit less stability than the 177cm Titan. The tradeoff is a bit more playfulness, it tends to want to juke and dive a bit more. More Barry Sanders and a little less Earl Campbell. Works even better when the crud needs to be skied around, just not through. The 170cm i-Titan is narrowly in 3rd. Still fun, just a little short for really opening it up in a crud field.
Bumps: The Motive wins here: it is a great bump ski! One of the best I have tried in the past 2 years. The tip is brimming with confidence: that rocker and smooth, round flex really makes extending down into the trough and keeping the skis on the snow easy. Again, that dance described above gave me a nice feeling of extend, relax, let the skis flatten, tip a bit, be patient and let the skis set up for the next bump. They seemed to have a “still moment” in between bumps that made skiing them a breeze. The 170cm Titan is also great in bumps, almost as good: the tip being stiffer, more sidecut, and more prone to pushback knocks it down just a bit. Very maneuverable and easy though. Good bump ski as well! The 177cm was more work than the 170cm here: OK in bumps, but I had to be on it more, with a less forgiving tail. I wouldn't feel as confident taking this ski into a steep, dangerous bump zone and trying to stay fall line with it.
Conclusion: based on length, the 170cm Titan worked better for me than the 177cm. The longer length defeated the purpose of the playful, quick Supershape design. If you are on the fence with this one, size down. The Motive 86 is more of a powerful off-piste ski than a groomer ski, and this is entirely due to the tip design. They have added off-piste performance and ease by neutering somewhat the groomer performance. That is just fine though: for a narrower off-piste ski, for bumps and trees when the snow isn't too deep, this is a great choice. I especially like the addition of a strong tail: too many skis are coming with rockered tails these days, and I like a strong finish to the turn, so that I can put the ski where I want. I can't really think of a better sub 90mm for off-piste performance; some comparables, but nothing definitively better comes to mind.