Length Tested: 177 (Rally)
Dimensions/Turn Radius: 15.9m (Rally)
Camber (select one, delete the rest): Early Rise Tip w/ camber (Rally)
Mount point: Suggested (boot center)
Other Skis in Class:
*177 Stockli Spirit OTWO (review coming)
*older Head Titan
Environment & Conditions:
Location of Test: Northstar
Number of Runs: 4 days
Snow Conditions: hard, some bumps/chop
Demo or Own: Demo
Height/Weight: 5'10", 180#
Ski Days/Season: 30-50
Years Skiing: 4
Current Quiver: Elan SL 165cm, Kastle MX 88 178cm, Blizzard Magnum 8.0 Ti 179cm
Home Area: Loveland, Northstar
Preferred Terrain (select one/all, delete the rest): groomers, terrain park, bumps, off-piste, trees
Pros: Hard snow power, but fun.
Cons: prefers to be on edge (see below), more hard snow than all-mountain.
Head Rally 177cm review
This is a fun yet powerful ski, an ideal tool for the narrow end of a smaller (3-ish) quiver, or someone looking to hone carving skills and wanting a ski to bring out the best in them for that. It skis great on groomers (obviously), the TR is on the smaller end of the cheater GS sidecut spectrum; they hook up and fire across the hill out of the old turn and into the new almost as enthusiastically as my 165 SL skis, but without the threat of breaking a leg lurking in the back of my mind. Once the hill became cut up and scraped off later in the day, the Rally showed grip and dampness, shrugging off irregularities on the surface and keeping me on track, while being nimble in piles forming on the side of the trail. I was comfortable trusting it from the first few turns.
No ski does everything well. The Rally’s weaknesses are float on a new snow day (it's not quite a 1SQ) and nervousness running bases flat at straightlining speeds (which to me is like tips flapping on a rockered ski: if you don’t like what you see your skis doing, stop watching them and keep skiing!); they aren’t a tiring ski, but they do like to be on edge.
Rally vs Head Rev85 Pro, 85mm, 170cm 14.8m TR
The Rev85 and the Rally are more similar than they are different; you can click out of one and into the other and ski the same without adjusting technique (I did just that, several times over a couple of days). The Rev is a fantastic collection of compromises, it performed much closer to a hard snow ski than I thought it would. Quick, fun, but stable. Rally is just more of those things: 10 or 20% more quickness, stability, and grip, coming at the cost of a little less soft snow capability, and a lighter wallet in your cargo pocket. I had spent most of a day on the Rev, thinking "this is all you need for anything short of boilerplate", then swapped back to the Rally and realized "Well, alright then: the Rally does dial up the trust, I can dare the ski more to keep up with my CoM as the pressure builds in the new turn..."
Rally vs Stockli SX, 72mm, 178cm 17.2m TR
The SX is more focused (or less versatile, however you want to look at it…), meant for someone more committed to the groomer experience, or someone with a larger quiver where each ski has less things to try and be good at. It takes the hard snow attributes of the Rally and turns them up to 11, much in the way the Rally does that vs. the Rev85. What the Rally offers is way above average hard snow performance, but still being fun at lower speeds, fun in bumps. It's not that the SX is difficult to ski at all, it even has a generous sweet spot (although the guy I saw riding the shorter SX 170s with a race plate might think differently), think ‘freight train that can corner’…
…which is where you feel the extra drain on your credit card went toward. There is more to it than turning things up to 11, the feel is so... refined. It wasn’t just me that remarked how unflappable the SX is on edge and at speed, the love child between Courvoisier and a crocodile, extra smooth with tenacious grip. It reminds me of my MX88s, only better in every way, at least on hard snow. Ferris could have been talking about the SX when he said, “It is so choice; if you have the means, I highly recommend it.”
-Side note: the surprise of the demo was the Rev85; I expected the Rally and the SX to be pretty much what they were billed as, and they certainly delivered, but the Rev was very, very good, it gets some kind of ‘punching above your weight’ award. It would be a great affordable bottom half of a 2SQ, or as a travel ski that has you covered for a range of unforeseen conditions. I would have preferred to ride the 177cm, but that the 170 impressed me so much speaks even more for the things.