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Blizzard Kabookie and Bonafide, Nordica Hell & Back, Kastle FX94

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

In depth Ski Reviews

 

Video of the conditions (skiing the Kabookie here)

 

Skis:

 

Blizzard Bonafide 180cm

 

Blizzard Kabookie 180cm

 

Kastle FX94 176cm

 

Nordica Hell & Back 177cm

 

Conditions: over 3 days; some light snow, some heavier set-up new snow, windblown crud, windblown crust, soft bumps, lots of trees, up to 14” of new good quality snow hidden in the trees.

 

Skier info: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, skis 100-200 hours a year. Good all-mountain skier, fairly athletic, 36 y/o, technically oriented. Currently working on improving with more active upper and lower body separation, more active and balanced feet, and moving from the ankle.

 

Skis in the past I have really liked: Kastle MX88, Kastle BMX108, Rossignol Experience 88, Fischer Motive 86, Fischer Progressor 900, Blizzard Power 800s, Head Rock n' Roll, Nordica Enforcer. As you can see, all of these skis are fairly “technical”; they respond well input, both positive and negative. I like skis that provide feedback and finish a turn. I typically don't like vague skis that are too “loose” and can feel the same in any turn, except in deep snow. I mostly ski resort conditions, and require skis that are good in variable skied out crud and bumps, as well as new snow. Skiing style: I like angulation and rebound. Not a cruiser, I ski fairly fast.

 

On to the reviews: these are 4 classy skis, 4 of the most talked-about models of the past few years. The FX94 has 2 sheets of metal, early rise tip, flat tail, classic Kastle snowfeel and power. The Blizzard Bonafide also has 2 sheets of metal, is much stiffer, much longer, low early rise tip, slight early rise tail, tapered tip and tail. The Kabookie is identical in dimensions, but is lacking metal. The Hell & Back is quite similar to the Kabookie, a touch softer when flexing the ski, but feels a bit stiffer laterally at the tip (the Kabookie will flex a bit at the tip when it is twisted by hand). The tail on the H&B is more or less flat.

 

NEW SNOW: in new snow, I felt the Bonafide and Kabookie had the edge over the other 2. Mainly it comes down to the extra tip length and profile of those 2 skis. They had a bit more lift. The FX94 was fine, but skied a little short in the 176cm for new snow at faster speeds Hell & Back I only could find a turn here or there in new snow; it was floaty, had more functional length than the FX94. When skiing fast in new snow and windpack, in bigger turns, the Bonafide was the best of the group; very powerful and blasted through anything The Kabookie was just as surfy but not as beefy, more playful. The FX94 was more in and out of the snow, a more dynamic ski, and the Hell & Back had a similar feel of not wanting to plane as much as it wanted to camber and de-camber, springing you a bit more from turn to turn. It depends on the feel you are looking for. The FX94, it is worth noting, is somewhat handicapped by it's length relative to the others when the snow is deep. Had it been 180cm with the same feel, it would have matched the others.

 

Cruddy broken up snow and small to medium bumps:

 

this really depends if you are arcing big turns, or medium turns and want something more playful. In big super-G speed turns, the Bonafide reigns supreme. It has unshakable stability in chop. In tighter turns and especially in set-up crud and bumps, it can feel like too much ski. Tough to flex, I really have to concentrate to stay on the ski. Kind of reminds me of the old Legend Pro ski; a great big mountain tool, but you had better come to ski it and be prepared to ski fast, at least if you weigh 155lbs In smaller bumps, it isn't the most supple at slower speeds, you have to be ready to flex it and allow it to follow terrain. Stay fall-line with the torso and you are fine: get rotated and you may go for a ride. It is worth noting that other bigger skiers like it in tighter terrain, probably as they are getting the tip to flex more progressively.

 

The H&B has more energy and is more playful; not the top end of the Blizzard, but it likes to turn, it likes to pop, and if you can harness that energy, it is a rewarding ski. It is a ski that likes to be driven from the foot, likes early tipping motions, likes fluid movements and has a great release. Great combo of snow feel and power in this type of mixed snow. I actually like this feel in more open spaces; it has a precision that is missing from the more rounded tips on the Blizzard skis. Of course, they slice through snow differently and are floatier; it is a trade-off.

 

The Kabookie is less damped than the Bonafide, less damped than the H&B, but just by a smidge. It has a lot of snap out of the turn if you are ready for it. This ski is quick; it feels much more nimble and supple in those small turns and bumps than the Bonafide, and has a tail that releases easily and isn't overpowering, making it a good tree ski as well. Great tool in junk snow as long as you don't plan on skiing a million miles an hour. Great fall line tool. This ski took a little getting used to (it is pretty lively) but once I figured out the flex pattern, I was skiing really well on it. It is torsionally less stiff than the Bonafide and feels much less “on-off”, so a bit less power at the top of the turn, which makes a more ideal tree and bump ski, but not as ideal for powering through rough snow at speed, or groomers. It is the 2nd most challenging ski here in the bumps: with that said, if you ski it well, really focus on retracting the feet before the top of the bump and moving forward with a pole plant, it skis very well. Playful yet aggressive.

 

The FX94 just moved effortlessly from turn to turn. This might be the snow feel champ; also the easiest to ski in this group. Wonderful, playful, easy ski in bumps and crud. The short length held it back at bigger speeds in crud, but as long you aren't skiing faster than 99.5% of the people on the hill, you are good. What really sets this ski apart is just the ease of use and huge sweet spot combined with some serious power if you want it. The FX94 is almost 2 skis in one: buttery smooth in bumps and rough snow, but has some real horsepower under the hood.

 

Junky challenging snow:

 

They were all solid, to varying degrees. The FX94 was super easy: the other skis for whatever reason were a bit more challenging. Could have been the smaller sweet spot on the rest of these skis. The Hell&B was a little underdamped, and could kick me around a bit if I wasn't on my A game. Same with the Kabookie; they are quite similar, powerful flexes. I did have a bit more tip precision to work with on the H&B; the Kabookie wanted to be more flat before re-direction, so I couldn't rush the turn. It took more patience to find a good line on, but was rewarding once I figured that out. As noted above, it took a few runs to really figure out the turn that ski liked, but once I was there, it was a great ski. The Bonafide was quite challenging in this snow for my weight: It had the precision needed, but softer flex would have been nice. Again, it needed to be skied with a good retraction move and flat ski, and not rushed into the turn, similar technqiue to the Kabookie. To me, in those small junk snow turns (necessary for staying in control), the Bonafide wasn't at home, mostly due a fairly overpowering flex. I bet if I were 40lbs heavier, I would be saying the Kabookie was too soft and the Bonafide was a great flex. It is nice that Blizzard offers skis for the both of us. The Bone would rip through bigger turns, but I like to keep things under control in heavy, challenging cut-up snow.

 

Summary: all good skis, just different. The FX94 and H&B were similar in performance, but very different in feel. The H&B was relatively easy to ski and lively, the FX94 just buttery smooth, damp, and almost had auto-turn initation. The Kabookie and Bonafide were like siblings, but not twins. If both were football players, once would have grown up to be a Defensive End, 6 foot 4 and 270lbs, while the other was a Strong Safety at 6 foot 2 and 210lbs.  The H&B feels like the most technical ski, followed by the FX94. The Bonafide and Kabookie can be technical skis if you have the skills, but they don't necessarily feel like the precision tools that the other 2 are. 

post #2 of 22
Nice reviews! A little detail I remember reading somewhere. The FX94 does have two sheets of metal, but apparently they are thinner than usual 0.5mm, so you end up with effectively one sheet. This is the ski Kastle built for Davenport, right?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

Nice reviews! A little detail I remember reading somewhere. The FX94 does have two sheets of metal, but apparently they are thinner than usual 0.5mm, so you end up with effectively one sheet. This is the ski Kastle built for Davenport, right?

Yes, 2 of the .4mm sheets of metal.  Definitely thinned out at the tip, softer flex at the tip than the other skis on review.  

post #4 of 22
As usual, great reviews Scott!
post #5 of 22

Great reviews.  So, where would the Nordica Soul Rider fit in these reviews, how does it stack up against these superstar skis?

post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

Great reviews.  So, where would the Nordica Soul Rider fit in these reviews, how does it stack up against these superstar skis?

 

 

better tree ski than any of them thats for sure. Ill be doing a review of mine soon.

post #7 of 22
Funny how different people like different skis and why demos are good. Tried the FX94 yesterday and really couldn't get used to it. Felt "tingy" and certain look/felt like a lot of tail and little tip. Hooky and grabby. Promptly went back to my Enforcers and all was right w/ the world again. Snow was chalky. Ones mans treasure..... I'm sure it was me but maybe the tune was off.

Not trying to be a buzzkill - just that personal demos are important methinks.
post #8 of 22

That is exactly where my mind was drifting (especially after this past weekend) Josh.  I'm looking for the ideal, slightly thinner east coast EXPERT tree ski.   The Soulrider, on paper has all my prerequisites.  Some early rise, 98mm, twinned-tail, an medium turn radius, no metal, good reputation...

 

In fact, I think I will start a thread in ski gear discussion, the search for perfect East Coast tree ski, sort of an ode to you, Josh : ) 

post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

Funny how different people like different skis and why demos are good. Tried the FX94 yesterday and really couldn't get used to it. Felt "tingy" and certain look/felt like a lot of tail and little tip. Hooky and grabby. Promptly went back to my Enforcers and all was right w/ the world again. Snow was chalky. Ones mans treasure..... I'm sure it was me but maybe the tune was off.

Not trying to be a buzzkill - just that personal demos are important methinks.

 my thought too. So many demo ski's are just beat to shit and poorly tuned.  the 94 is sooooo smoooth predictable and yet exacting.  Hooky is not a word I would use at any level for it.  

 

@Liam, the soul Rider is a fantastic ski for sure and a very good tree ski. 


Edited by Finndog - 2/25/14 at 7:21am
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

Nice reviews! A little detail I remember reading somewhere. The FX94 does have two sheets of metal, but apparently they are thinner than usual 0.5mm, so you end up with effectively one sheet. This is the ski Kastle built for Davenport, right?

 

2 sheets @ .4 = .8 which is actually 20% less than the MX series (2x .5mm).  That's a theoretical 20% softer on paper of course, the flex pattern makes the ski "feel" very complaint however.   

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
 

 my thought too. So many demo ski's are just beat to shit and poorly tuned.  the 94 is sooooo smoooth predictable and yet exacting.  Hooky is not a word I would use at any level for it.  

 

@Liam, the soul Rider is a fantastic ski for sure and a very good tree ski. 

Josh and Finndog giving it the Glade seal of approval really says something to me about that ski (especially couple with Dawcatching's review)!!  

post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

Funny how different people like different skis and why demos are good. Tried the FX94 yesterday and really couldn't get used to it. Felt "tingy" and certain look/felt like a lot of tail and little tip. Hooky and grabby. Promptly went back to my Enforcers and all was right w/ the world again. Snow was chalky. Ones mans treasure..... I'm sure it was me but maybe the tune was off.

Not trying to be a buzzkill - just that personal demos are important methinks.

Yeah you must have had one with a bad tune and quite possibly bindings too far back. Esp if the Enforcer was less grabby. The tip on the FX series is about as neutral as one can get. I haven't skied the 94, but the 84's tip lets you do what you want with it, rarely gets caught in anything- "grabs", yet if you make it hook up it will. That's why it's their touring ski. And i'm talking about the full cambered version. The early rise new one would be even less grabby.

 

I've found the tail of the 84 as well to be amazingly controllable and yet still offer a little of the great Kastle tail solidity present in some of the square tailed skis like the MX series. It doesn't have the powerful stomping tail that jets you like some of those, but a nice tiny trampoline if you want it. Or in soft snow of some depth you can bury the tails and pivot around them.

 

I'm curious as to what people think who've spent some time on the FX series. Would you be content with this ski as an everyday ski? I find the 84 a superb ski with excellent snow feel, among the best I've skied. However, it's lightness while an advantage for touring and possibly moguls, is a slight disadvantage for general skiing and ripping fast lines. It'll do it, but feels I suppose what a race car with too much aero lift at speed feels like. A bit light.

 

Maybe this is a weight issue, being nearly 50lbs heavier than dawgcatching. Again, not really a criticism of the ski, as it's been designed to be light. I find that I sometimes miss that "heavy", solid feeling of a beefier ski. 

 

Also curious as to how the new profile with early rise affects the new versions. I hope the changes haven't affected the superb flex, control and feel of the old skis. Definitely those skis are at the top of that design criteria. Just excellent.

 

edit: Also, metal in skis does not necessarily mean stiffer. You can build a very stiff ski without metal. Afaik, it's more for torsional stiffness, dampening, and influences the flex feel in ways that don't necessarily make it stiffer. Usually, skis with more metal are stiffer but it's not necessarily the metal that makes them stiffer.

post #13 of 22
It was weird - I really wanted to like it and would have bought a pair. The binding placement seemed too far forward, actually. Any speed + any cuff pressure and up the hill she went. - touchy on transitions too. Thought I was going to end up in a pile. I would try them again under the right circumstance ie. not as far a walk to the car smile.gif
post #14 of 22

@Tog  yep its my go-to ski for any days when there's nothing new or not a lot of fresh. You are correct about the tip and shovel, its what makes it slightly less of a carver due to the design of the shovel to be "hook-free". Its superb in tracked stuff. easy in the bumps. The tip flexes just enough to be almost soft but still firm enough that it doesn't collapse/fold on you. As a non expert skier, I actually skied firmer bumps and days old piled tracked with more confidence.  

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

Funny how different people like different skis and why demos are good. Tried the FX94 yesterday and really couldn't get used to it. Felt "tingy" and certain look/felt like a lot of tail and little tip. Hooky and grabby. Promptly went back to my Enforcers and all was right w/ the world again. Snow was chalky. Ones mans treasure..... I'm sure it was me but maybe the tune was off.

Not trying to be a buzzkill - just that personal demos are important methinks.

Strongly suspect the tune and/mount position. Tog's right. Owned the 94, will again soon, about the least "helping" tip I've ever experienced. It engages when you tell it, not a moment before or after. In fact, think that's it's major drawback for some. Not a ski that leaps into a turn. 

 

Tog, as far as everyday ski, I'm 165, also noted it's light feel in rough snow (pre-early rise version), used it more for soft snow, bumps, trees, the rare bout of actual powder. Could handle ice fine, but not my first choice or third for that, and not a ripper ski. For that, and if I were 40 lbs heavier, I'd go with next year's MX98, frankly.

post #16 of 22

the new version with more metal is very good in rough snow; does not get knocked around and has damn near the feel of the MX, plus the added slight rocker is just enough to allow it to get up a bit without too much planing. The new 94 is an off-piste tool. superb.  

post #17 of 22

Music to my ears, Finn. Few years ago, reviewing the earlier FX94 here, said that if Kastle only made it with early rise, and a bit more dampness, it'd be perfect. My BMX98's are high mileage now, and hey, a man's gotta stick with his arguments. Just invested in a pair of new 94's, courtesy of Dawgcatching. :D

post #18 of 22

Liam knowing your prefered method of turning ...tipping i would say that you would be pleasantly surprised by the power and grip of the soul rider. 

 

putting together a little edit here is a teaser from today. I am on Soul Riders.

 

 

post #19 of 22

my only issue with the Soul rider was the tail when things got a bit firmer. I just found there was a tad too much rise/run in the tail. Otherwise, i loved it in the trees in broken up to a few inches. I also thought it handled crud and rougher snow very well and was a great carver on soft groomers. It was very responsive and had a great feel underfoot.I had reviewed this ski last year. If you had the desire to deal with our search tool, I am sure you could find it.  :D

post #20 of 22

Josh,

 

Nice set of videos!  What length are you skiing, and what skis are you on in the 2014 Valentines day video?

 

Finn,

 

OK here's a history question, if I remember you were one of the first guys around here to pick up on Icelantic…I've liked my Shaman (the little one 161cm) in mixed to firmer glades (Josh, I know you are NOT a fan of the Shaman)…thinking back, how would it stack up with the soul rider?  I'm thinking I might already have what I need on the lower end days (in the Shaman) and ought to focus on diversifying the fatter end (with something like the Patron or the Shiro)..but skis like the Soulrider and the kabookie or even the Hell n Back loom large. A Thinner ski that can do the same thing in most conditions is a seductive proposition.

 

and, final thought, Icelantic is making a SKNY version of the Gypsy next season, same shape and construction but cut down to a 99mm waist…that could be a real east coast soft snow tree slayer…when anyone gets on a pair post up!

post #21 of 22

177cm soul Rider, since I am using in conjuction with a ton of other really good tree skis, I wanted a shorter length for trees when they were not epic. 

 

in the V day video I am 185cm Patron which is IMO the best overall Eastern Tree ski made so far. Ill be using that today along with the soul rider. 

 

I find the Soul rider awesome as long you can GS turn and get it over on edge. The video above is really firm snow with fairy dust on top on the groomer. 

post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
 

Josh,

 

Nice set of videos!  What length are you skiing, and what skis are you on in the 2014 Valentines day video?

 

Finn,

 

OK here's a history question, if I remember you were one of the first guys around here to pick up on Icelantic…I've liked my Shaman (the little one 161cm) in mixed to firmer glades (Josh, I know you are NOT a fan of the Shaman)…thinking back, how would it stack up with the soul rider?  I'm thinking I might already have what I need on the lower end days (in the Shaman) and ought to focus on diversifying the fatter end (with something like the Patron or the Shiro)..but skis like the Soulrider and the kabookie or even the Hell n Back loom large. A Thinner ski that can do the same thing in most conditions is a seductive proposition.

 

and, final thought, Icelantic is making a SKNY version of the Gypsy next season, same shape and construction but cut down to a 99mm waist…that could be a real east coast soft snow tree slayer…when anyone gets on a pair post up!

wow, the shammy and the SR are polar opposites. I quickly lost my zeal for the shammy. It was fun and OK but its overly stiff an the uber 160mm wide tip can get hooky and I give it a failing grade in bumps.  The SR is far more fun, versitile.   Now, the Patron/unleashed Hell are much closer for comparison. The Patron/Unleashed are really great skis and I totally agree with Josh on his assessment.  if you want more float, go Patron.  

 

I have really gone to skis with lower splay, less sidecut for powder (save the Soul7) and little tail rocker. I find tail rocker (especially splay) is easy to slarve around but I like some tail (even some nice taper and some pin design) to use to finish turns in trees, and for speed control too.  The pin allows slaving but can still be used for control and speed control by sinking the tails during turns or even purposely wheelying. (think flex feet sink tails but stay over center) 

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