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2014 Kastle FX104 184cm review

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ski: Kastle FX104 184cm 2014 model (revised, new model for this year)

Skier: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, 37 y/o, skis about the equivalent of 15 full days a year, can ski most any terrain, prefer bumps and trees

Other skis I like: Kastle MX line, Atomic Crimson Ti, ON3P Tychoon, Kastle FX and BMX line, Fischer Motive series, Elan 888/999/1010, Blizzard Kabookie and Magnum 8.5, plus many others.  Elan SLX Waveflex and Blizzard Power 800s on the groomers. 

 

Skiing style: try to be active with the feet, lots of retraction and extension, with PMTS-ish movements (tipping and moving laterally) involved as well. Depends on the turn. 

 

Conditions: partially set up 4-6" of crud, soft underneath, with 1-3" of new snow on top.  April snow, mid 20's temp, not blower, but not cream cheese either.  

 

Review: as noted elsewhere, for 2014, Kastle revised the FX lineup.  The 104 in particular feels softer in the tip, should be laterally grippier (more metal), has early rise, and a flat tail.  I have skied the 174, it is a hoot, but pretty short for a Western skier who tends to ski pretty fast.  Hence the 184 review.  Chris Davenport is about my size, this is the ski he primarily uses, so despite my skills being about 15% of his, I was still excited to finally give it the paces it deserved. 

 

I primarily compared this to the Blizzard Cochise in 185 on this particular day.  The Cochise was a beast in comparison: ridiculously stable, but could really put me on my heels if I made a small mistake.  I could see that being the ride on a heli-trip or for uncut snow.  In comparison, the FX104 was a superb ride. I was worried about the length being too much, but it skied a little shorter, feeling a good 4cm shorter than the Cochise. It was very stable, but not crazy stable like the Cochise was.  Just the right amount of stability without wanting to go too gonzo in trees and tight spots. 

 

In terms of what this ski could do in the chop: it was smoother and more damp than the Cochise, much more glued to the snow, easier to ski. I felt like the Cochise was a bucking bronco, whereas the FX104 has trademark Kastle smoothness and a nice sweet spot. The FX104 is definitely a ski for a skilled skier in this length (9cm above head height), but it was extremely manageable.  The length gave me a nice platform to extend and push the tips down upon getting the ski flat after down-unweighting, making skied out trees a breeze to slash through.  On deeper snow, I stayed more neutral and tried to load the outside ski more, unweight rapidly, and use momentum to cross over, like I was skiing a GS.  The tip isn't super huge on the FX104, it is only moderately floaty, and so the ski doesn't feel exceptionally smeary or surfy in the tip.  It liked to be skied either with active feet or loading with angulation; hence the "good skier" designation.  I ripped through both skied out trees and new snow trees: if I had to choose, I would say it was good in new-heavy snow, but something wider at the tip would have been better.  Once the snow got skied out just a little though (which is your typical resort day, even in April), this ski has to be considered amongst the best I have ever skied.  Wow.  Just so easy to maneuver, such a big sweet spot for a powerful, stable, grippy ski.  FWIW, I am not typically a huge fan of some of the big splay skis with 5 point designs: most of the skis I tend to enjoy are more subtle shapes that respond well to input but aren't overly turny or that have a mind of their own. I like a ski that rewards good skiing, but doesn't totally punish bad skiing, and that when a turn is executed well, loads and releases in a way that gives the skier feedback that say "hey, that was a great turn, lets do it again".   I get kicked around on stiffer skis, as well as skis that have more of a 5-point shape to them: they just don't seem to track the way I like them to, nor do they have to the tail that really wants to finish the turn.  

 

In terms of how nimble it is: I would say it feels quicker in pivot and also edge to edge (moving laterally) than the Cochise. The latter feels more like a big mountain bruiser, the FX104 what I want on my feet in dicey terrain.  So quick if you ski it cleanly. It has a posted 26m radius, but on the snow, feels more like a 20m.  

 

This ski was also excellent in bumps. A nice little bump line formed in Little Canyon (before the snowboarders killed it) and while the Cochise was a real handful here, the FX104 was totally manageable.  I had to ski it cleanly; it is a fairly stiff ski, but as long as I focused on a few things (flowing pole plant, pull back the feet at the top of the turn, and push down-get long into the trough), the FX104 just sucked up those turns and flowed well.  Stout, but manageable.  On what passed for groomers (basically soft snow chop that wasn't too deep), the FX104 would load well and be quite a bit of fun when I got down to the scrubby snow underneath. Nice bit of pop, good grip, predictable release, confident.  This would be a decent groomer tool, considering the dimensions.  I love the blend in feel in how I could either blast the crud out of the way, or if it was setting up, dance around it like I was skiing mini bumps.  Many crud blasters won't do the short fall-line turn well, and many softer skis get kicked around when pushed in crappy crud.  The FX, as does the MX88, can do either, depending on the turn you are looking for.  No railed feeling here; it gets onto and off of edge perfectly. 

 

What I really liked about the FX104 was the overall similarity to the MX88 (which, IMO, is the best do everything ski on the market right now).  The FX104 has the stability and relaxed nature in rough snow, the composure, the sweet spot, and the flat-out confidence of the MX88. It is a bit softer, skis better in junk, the tip is more relaxing in challenging situations: it really feels like a off-piste oriented MX88, built for deeper, fresh to junky snow. That is saying something.  I would choose this as an excellent soft-snow road trip ski, and bring the MX88 as the other part of the quiver, in case it hasn't snowed in awhile.  

 

If anything, this reminded me a bit of the old 184cm Legend Pro Rider (waist width of around 100, last generation).  The FX is smoother, bigger sweet spot, a bit more stable, but they both have a similar confident feel in crappy snow. 

 

Overall, the FX104 was built for this day in mind.  For skiing fast, but not crazy speeds, skiing trees, chop, crud, soft bumps; doing it in a way that I could ski aggressively and not feel like I was fighting the ski.  The FX104 was a very, very impressive ski.   This is a loaner from the rep, but I told him to go ahead and send me an invoice; it isn't going anywhere. I found my new soft snow Western ski.  

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 15

I own the fx104 in 184 cm and I totally agree with your review! What a nice and fun ski!.I have the same ski lenght but am 55 pounds heavier. I used this ski after a dump and to go a little out of bounds in tight trees and just love it! I also love the way it behave when I get back on the trails, on groomed, in crud...2 week ends ago, I got too far out; I had the right skis but not the right ski poles ( small basckets!) and my poles would went into the snow up to the handes...So I would say that the fx104 has good flottaison...At least for here in the East... I'm curious to see how they will compare with the Bonafide demo I just bought from you...

post #3 of 15

Mogsie:

You also have the 2014  FX94 in 184cm, though with a touring binding.

Any comments how the 2 of the compare, considering you have both in same length ?

 

Dawg:  Do you keep a dedicated deeper powder ski ( say 1 to 2 ft of pow ) , or can your FX104 do it all for you ?

 

- Andy

post #4 of 15

They are 2 very different skis... The 94 is more of a charger: more stiff and more camber and the 104 is more surfier...

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARL67 View Post
 

Mogsie:

You also have the 2014  FX94 in 184cm, though with a touring binding.

Any comments how the 2 of the compare, considering you have both in same length ?

 

Dawg:  Do you keep a dedicated deeper powder ski ( say 1 to 2 ft of pow ) , or can your FX104 do it all for you ?

 

- Andy

 

No, the 104 will be my go-to ski.  I had a BMX128, and although it was fun; I got bored quickly.  I greatly prefer the feeling of being in the snow and moving in and out, the weightless feeling when skiing powder, to just something so wide that I don't sink down more than 2 inches.  The really wide skis make everything like a groomer for someone at my weight.   Also, I only weigh 155lbs. If I weighed 190, float may be more of an issue, but at 155, the 104 for me will float like a 125-130 for a bigger skier.  There might be a day or 2 each year where I wished I had more ski, but it won't be enough to justify the cost, and I have skied some pretty deep snow on my 98's, so I don't really see the need.  Like I said, at 155lbs, float isn't hard to get on something around 100mm.  

 

Given the choice, I would rather be on something long and around 100mm (say 185-190cm) vs something wider and shorter.  I tend to find that float is much more important up at the tip, and terrain is easier to handle, on a long ski.  Waist width isn't as critical.  If I have the tip staying surfy and not getting hung up, I am good to go.  I had a BMX108 in 188cm, and while the tip wasn't super wide, the length was awesome: I could ski any depth of snow on that ski, it was so surfy.  

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mogsie View Post
 

They are 2 very different skis... The 94 is more of a charger: more stiff and more camber and the 104 is more surfier...

I am pretty sure that is why I like the longer 104 vs the longer 94.  The 94 in 186 would be too much ski for someone my size who isn't a total bad-ass.  The 104 is pretty soft toward the tip, making it pretty approachable and not feel overly long.  The FX94 in a hypothetical 180cm would feel really close to the 184cm FX104 in terms of perceived length.  I hope they bring that ski to market at some point. 

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mogsie View Post
 

I own the fx104 in 184 cm and I totally agree with your review! What a nice and fun ski!.I have the same ski lenght but am 55 pounds heavier. I used this ski after a dump and to go a little out of bounds in tight trees and just love it! I also love the way it behave when I get back on the trails, on groomed, in crud...2 week ends ago, I got too far out; I had the right skis but not the right ski poles ( small basckets!) and my poles would went into the snow up to the handes...So I would say that the fx104 has good flottaison...At least for here in the East... I'm curious to see how they will compare with the Bonafide demo I just bought from you...

 

You know, mogsie, if you want to branch out into buying some shorter skis, I'm here for ya', man. I can watch over them really carefully for you. And I'm sure Dawg would appreciate the business, too.

post #8 of 15

I was just thinking that I should pack on a few pounds so that I could pick up some of Mogsie's skis when he gets tired of them.  They are all at least one size too big unfortunately. :o)

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by budge View Post
 

I was just thinking that I should pack on a few pounds so that I could pick up some of Mogsie's skis when he gets tired of them.  They are all at least one size too big unfortunately. :o)

Well he has a pair for sale now. Maybe get them while you pack on the pounds?

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/127294/fs-2014-kastle-mx83-183-cm-marker-k12-cti

 

Josh also has the 173's for sale.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by budge View Post
 

I was just thinking that I should pack on a few pounds so that I could pick up some of Mogsie's skis when he gets tired of them.  They are all at least one size too big unfortunately. :o)

Just bring a backpack with some water, food, ...and you never know if the temperature could drop so bring also some more clothes...:D 

post #11 of 15

So, I have almost come to the end of my season (well maybe a couple more trips as time and weather permits) and have been on these the entire time. My other 100mm or so all-mountain ski is the 185 Nordica Enforcer (new version) and while that is a fantastic ski -> I have skied every day, but one run and a half day on 189 105's on these 184 fx104's. 

 

Unfortunately, I don't have a 10k foot mountain range out the back door, so I am forced to travel to ski and luckily I am out West a lot.  The point is, many times I can only bring one ski - logistic wise, mixing in work travel with ski travel, or just a quick trip.  The Fx104 has been a perfect companion.  Smooth, predictable and just fun.  They have traveled to Vail (2x), Aspen, JH, Alta, DV, Bird, PCMR in a variety of conditions from bulletproof to knee-deep->waist deep pow. 

 

I wouldn't say that they are the exact "right tool" for each of the above, but certainly a great compromise - "jack of all trades" ski.  However on a softer, boot-top day mixed with groomers. off-piste and tress - I cannot think of a better ski.  Don't pay too much attention to the 26m - its ski's tighter than that.  While it has a touch of tip rocker, its minimal.  think of it as a more traditional ski - its fairly easy to ski (not a beast) but will bite back if you get lazy. Overall, its made me a better skier this year.

 

Totally agree with everything that Scott outlines above, having owned a 185 Cochise (which is a good ski as well) - the Fx104 is just smoother and more refined.  There are still pairs out there - in fact, I have an extra pair in plastic.  My only complaint is that I am prone to blasting through crud and while these skis are up to the task, my technique could use some help as my skis sometimes get too close together and these topsheets seem a bit fragile (I forgot to take a file to the edges). 

 

Overall, a great ski and the right length for me in 184

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post
 

So, I have almost come to the end of my season (well maybe a couple more trips as time and weather permits) and have been on these the entire time. My other 100mm or so all-mountain ski is the 185 Nordica Enforcer (new version) and while that is a fantastic ski -> I have skied every day, but one run and a half day on 189 105's on these 184 fx104's. 

 

Unfortunately, I don't have a 10k foot mountain range out the back door, so I am forced to travel to ski and luckily I am out West a lot.  The point is, many times I can only bring one ski - logistic wise, mixing in work travel with ski travel, or just a quick trip.  The Fx104 has been a perfect companion.  Smooth, predictable and just fun.  They have traveled to Vail (2x), Aspen, JH, Alta, DV, Bird, PCMR in a variety of conditions from bulletproof to knee-deep->waist deep pow. 

 

I wouldn't say that they are the exact "right tool" for each of the above, but certainly a great compromise - "jack of all trades" ski.  However on a softer, boot-top day mixed with groomers. off-piste and tress - I cannot think of a better ski.  Don't pay too much attention to the 26m - its ski's tighter than that.  While it has a touch of tip rocker, its minimal.  think of it as a more traditional ski - its fairly easy to ski (not a beast) but will bite back if you get lazy. Overall, its made me a better skier this year.

 

Totally agree with everything that Scott outlines above, having owned a 185 Cochise (which is a good ski as well) - the Fx104 is just smoother and more refined.  There are still pairs out there - in fact, I have an extra pair in plastic.  My only complaint is that I am prone to blasting through crud and while these skis are up to the task, my technique could use some help as my skis sometimes get too close together and these topsheets seem a bit fragile (I forgot to take a file to the edges). 

 

Overall, a great ski and the right length for me in 184

 

I was/am considering adding a pair of 185 Nordica Enforcers to the quiver to go with my pair of FX104, so I hope you don't mind some follow up questions.  What motivated you to go with the FX for almost all your days this year?

 

I'm a 6 ft, 200lb-ish guy and when I demoed the Enforcers on a slushy day I was blown away by how light and playful they were.  I could see them giving up a bit in terms of hard pack carving performance (and I'm not sure how the enforcers would handle speed in crud for someone my size), but I thought the trade off might be worth it.  Your experience seems to suggest it was not for you.

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryBadger View Post
 

 

I was/am considering adding a pair of 185 Nordica Enforcers to the quiver to go with my pair of FX104, so I hope you don't mind some follow up questions.  What motivated you to go with the FX for almost all your days this year?

 

I'm a 6 ft, 200lb-ish guy and when I demoed the Enforcers on a slushy day I was blown away by how light and playful they were.  I could see them giving up a bit in terms of hard pack carving performance (and I'm not sure how the enforcers would handle speed in crud for someone my size), but I thought the trade off might be worth it.  Your experience seems to suggest it was not for you.

 

I do like the Enforcers v2.  I reviewed them here: http://www.epicski.com/t/133671/2015-16-nordica-enforcer

 

I also had a pair of the OG Enforcers and Blizzard Cochise.  So maybe I lean to a more "traditional" ski but to be honest, id be totally happy with either.  Having skied both in deeper snow (last years closing weekend 2015 in CO for the Enforcers and just last week in CO for the FX104's) - the Enforcers w/ my -1.5 mount have more float.  But the FX104's were fine in knee deep snow, just needed to a) keep speed up b) stay in steeper terrain c) use a little more exaggerated up-weighting.  To me, where the FX104 shines compared to the Enforcer is deeper chopped up snow - they work better for me than the Enforcers.

 

I had the 104's but had not mounted them and did so on my first trip West in Dec this year (I also had brought the Enforcers) I skied the Enforcers while the 104's were being mounted and then went to the 104.s and kind of just "clicked" straightaway.  Since then, I just haven't had the motivation to bring both out - and since I have my lady's skis to carry as well - generally only take one pair - although I will make exceptions.

 

While the 104's have a measured 26m radius - they seem to be able to bend w/o too much effort to a smaller radius.  I think the Enforcers measure 18m or something and can be bent into smaller turns easily.

 

You are absolutely correct - the Enforcers are light and playful - perfect characterization in my opinion.  The Kastles seem to have a different personality - more serious, heavier, more damp.  IMHO, they are maybe a tad better on groomers than Enforcers - but haven't A/B'ed them and have been skiing mostly off piste when I can this year as I wanted to step up my off piste game this year.  The Enforcers are so forgiving vs. the 104's - figured I better get "bit" a few times than be complacent.

 

104's aren't unbearable in mid-winter bumps - so haven't felt the "oh, I wish I had those Enforcers"......yet

 

A minor consideration for me, was that I needed new shells,  Enforcers had 2 sets of holes already (line and -1.5) - thought I might be able to move down a size and FKS 14 generally wont let that happen.  So, again, nod to the 104's w/ more adjustable heel.  turns out i'm in same BSL - so that's moot now.

 

We have a couple of Spring trips planned - assuming it doesn't nuke snow - i'm certain that the Enforcers will make a trip or two - they were hella fun in slush bumps.  I don't know that I would purposely buy both - it just kind of "happened" - I guess my question would be "why" do you want the Enforcers? - as there is a pretty significant overlap.  I'm thinking of ditching the Enforcers and going with an 80'ish, the 104's and keeping my 120 Double Helix's.

 

hope this helps - sorry for length.

post #14 of 15

Very helpful! I demoed the enforcers under what may have been unusually great snow conditions for them (slush, spaced bumps) at the end of a week long trip.  I was a bit tired and the light feeling plus playfulness were big selling points vs the FX104.  I thought the enforcers were so great I really wanted a pair.

 

Sounds like the playful, nimble feeling is real but it is helpful to know they are more similar than different to the FX104s.  I think if I were to add something to go to the quiver I'd be better off with something really different like a Bent Chetler, Automatic, Armada JJ or going the opposite direction with a dedicated (<80mm) carver.

 

I also seem to be getting to the point of irrational acquisitiveness for skis (currently have 3 pair covering the 80s, 100s and 120+ segments), so the better choice might be to hold off entirely, but we'll see how long my self control lasts for.

 

Thanks again.

 

Edit: just to be clear, I usually love big, burly skis that are stable at speed. Hence I am super fond of the FX104s when I'm fresh, the snow is weird, etc.  I demoed the enforcers when I was tired and snow was slushy, so the nice things about the "serious" skis weren't as big a factor.

post #15 of 15

^

In my mind they are just 2 different executions of a 100-105 ski. The Enforcers are great, as are the FX104's - I'd be happy with either, but not certain I would have both (except that I do) smile.gif

Enforcers definitely more "playful" of the two, which isn't bad.
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