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Metal or non-metal in ski ?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Would somebody explain the difference between skis that do have metal (Titanium/al or so they claim, and ALUminium) and skis with "wood".

 

For example some manufacturers offer skis in both versions - with/without metal (Cham 97, Elan Spectrum 95/105).

 

In what conditions, types of skier, groomers/trees/bumps these differences come to play?

post #2 of 22

Generally speaking, Goranmilos, and all else being equal, a ski with a layer of titanal (which is an aluminum alloy; even though it sounds like it must be titanium-based, it isn't) will be torsionally stiffer (resists twisting along its length better) than one without. That is to say, it will tend to grip better, as its tip and tail will not twist to a lower angle than its center, under your boot. It may also be less forgiving of error, and harder to get to pivot and skid on the snow. 

 

Personally, I tend to prefer skis with a layer (or two) of titanal in them. But they are going to be a little heavier, and generally also considerably more expensive. They are also more prone to getting "bent" with abuse--or even just in skiing moguls aggressively. Not very many manufacturers even have the ability to incorporate a layer of titanal in their skis; the major brands do, but many of the smaller "boutique" brands do not. 

 

Good, basic article about metal in skis, and titanal in particular, here.

 

Best regards,

Bob

post #3 of 22

And then there is the feel of the ski.  I have found myself buying more non metal skis lately because I like the way they feel.  Most of my skis are using carbon fiber now rather that metal.  Just try a few different makes and see what you think.  We all have different preferences.  And like Bob said, I like skis that forgive my errors.;)

post #4 of 22

Metal! Thumbs Up

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
 

Generally speaking, Goranmilos, and all else being equal, a ski with a layer of titanal (which is an aluminum alloy; even though it sounds like it must be titanium-based, it isn't) will be torsionally stiffer (resists twisting along its length better) than one without. That is to say, it will tend to grip better, as its tip and tail will not twist to a lower angle than its center, under your boot. It may also be less forgiving of error, and harder to get to pivot and skid on the snow. 

 

Personally, I tend to prefer skis with a layer (or two) of titanal in them. But they are going to be a little heavier, and generally also considerably more expensive. They are also more prone to getting "bent" with abuse--or even just in skiing moguls aggressively. Not very many manufacturers even have the ability to incorporate a layer of titanal in their skis; the major brands do, but many of the smaller "boutique" brands do not. 

 

Good, basic article about metal in skis, and titanal in particular, here.

 

Best regards,

Bob

I agree and disagree with your statement. While you have good description of benefits  having metal in skis at the same time same or better results in performance of the skis can be achieved without metal. And because small ski makers doesn't have assess to Titanal doesn't make our skis inferior

post #6 of 22

As an engineering type.... all materials have their place.   You could probably design a ski that sucks with or without the material.    And while it may be another tool in the toolbox I bet there are a number of ways to achieve stiffness or dampening characteristics.   


The thing is with skis....there are very few ways to differentiate/market the product.   You have to bullet-point out every "feature" knowing that a certain percentage of your customer base will shop with that bullet list in hand.  

 

The more meaningful engineering work is probably harder to market.  

post #7 of 22

For hard conditions I like metal.  For soft I like it without.

post #8 of 22

This ^^^^ may merit a sticky, and then we can all stop arguing about ski composition...

post #9 of 22

I find with many skis (in general) , the higher, the ability level the ski, the more often the metals are added. This to me means its (again generally speaking) better for handling the demands of a more aggressive or more challenging skier. I am sure as "Kevperro" mentioned these things could be achieved in different ways with different materials but that's what R&D teams are for and also budgets.  

 

Although my limited knowledge about skis, types, and materials are from the days of pre shaped skis and I'm only recently being brought up to date , I would assume the similar still applies. Correct me if this is now somehow wrong. The more advanced the ability level of the ski, the harder it is to ski it, but the better one skis, the more advanced ski he requires. This is why skis are for beginners, intermediates and advanced and experts. The ski must fit the ability level and leave room for some improvement.  For both ends of the spectrum a beginner shouldn't be on a expert ski as it would be too hard to ski on. And an expert wont get the performance he demands from a beginner ski if the ski even lasted. Ski size, shapes, and core materials are what dictates the ski level of ability with metal (in general) often being added towards the higher end of that scale. But woods also change and/or combinations of the two including fiberglass, carbon fiber, and combinations of those too etc, can all create higher and lower levels of skis for the different skier abilities.

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevperro View Post
 

As an engineering type.... all materials have their place.   You could probably design a ski that sucks with or without the material.    And while it may be another tool in the toolbox I bet there are a number of ways to achieve stiffness or dampening characteristics.   


The thing is with skis....there are very few ways to differentiate/market the product.   You have to bullet-point out every "feature" knowing that a certain percentage of your customer base will shop with that bullet list in hand.  

 

The more meaningful engineering work is probably harder to market.  

Pretty good here. Materials are ingredients in a ski, they had be used in many ways to create the final feel. metal does not make a ski stiff...it can but depending on how it is used. The same can be said with carbon fiber, wood and fiberglass. 

post #11 of 22

its often discussed how skis can lose some pop and strength, and/or shape after use vs when it was new. But its actually kind of surprising to me that in todays highly technical era material wise that skis are not made with some material that will never lose its shape and pop ever at all. Basically have the ski ware down long before it ever lost any of that. But hey I could say the same thing about many products.

 

But I guess expense would be a big factor as well as the need for replacements for continued sales. It wouldnt be so beneficial to have a product your selling last for too long. You would make your money but then put yourself out of business. LOL

post #12 of 22

There used to be (time warp to about 1968) a divide between metal skis (more stable at speed, better gliding) and fiberglass skis (quicker, lighter, better on hard snow).  This was evidenced in racing where downhill and gs skis were metal (Head, Fischer Alu, Allais Major, Dynastar MV2) and slalom skis were fiberglass (Dynamic VR17, Rossignol Strato).  In 1970, fiberglass skis outsold metal skis for the first time on the strength of the Rossignol Strato and the Fischer Superglass.  For  a long time ('70's, 80's, into the 90's), fiberglass was seen as the superior laminate due to it's ability to generate better edge hold on hard snow.  Metal was reserved for speed skis.  Somewhere along the line, metal started to creep into slalom skis.  Volkl, in particular, was producing skis with a torsionbox/metal laminate combination that were a step above the rest in terms of performance on hard snow and everywhere else.    My guess is that various types of improved alloys and adhesives were coming available that made metal work better than it had before. This allowed skis to be softer and easier skiing but still have the edgehold and stability that skiers needed.  As skis got wider, metal was a good choice to keep the performance high.  Skis like the Volkl Explosiv, and it's heirs, Snow Ranger, G40/41, Mantra, and Gotama put race ski performance on a wide platform and opened up new terrain and snow conditions to less skilled skiers.

For lift served skiing and higher performance on hard snow metal seems to remain a good choice.  It can be (but doesn't have to be) a more demanding ride but delivers higher performance to stronger, more skilled skiers.  I think we are seeing a swing back to more fiberglass and carbon fiber laminates amongst performance skis.  As skiers are venturing father afield via side country and full on touring gear they need light weight skis and bindings that can still deliver top performance in and out of resort.  We are going to be seeing more skis coming to market at or above the 100mm waist  dimension that feature super light constructions along with very high performance.  You already have mainstream skis like the Blizzard Kabookie that offer performance virtually on par with their metal laminated brethren.  These will morph into even lighter models with a corresponding uptick in performance.  Mate these with a Marker Kingpin and an even lighter Cochise boot variant you've taken another big step towards the ultimate do it all package.  I see less need for metal in this very popular category.  However, for hard snow and precision, race ski inspired constructions using metal still seems to win the day.

The industry's marketing message to the high end skier focuses on hiking or skinning beyond the gate to find the sublime powder run.  That's why I saw so many younger folks skidding around on 100mm+ waist skis on a few narrow strips of man made snow at Killington a week ago.  In their brains they were arcing new tracks in pristine conditions.     In reality, something else was going on.  The ski industry has always been about selling the dream, so I can't fault anyone for that.  The coming wave of lighter skis, boots and bindings will continue to advance the equipment state of the art and make skiing easier and more enjoyable for more people. 

post #13 of 22

I do not think metal is compatible with a soft snow ski.  My ON3Ps (bamboo and carbon) and Icelantic Keepers both have a smooth feel that makes them disappear in powder and slush that you just can't get with metal.

post #14 of 22

The next greatest material: Boron!

 

Boron fibers are similar in stiffness and weight to carbon but much stronger in compression. A few more of the engineering tools @kevperro can do meaningful engineering work with. Expensive though. How marketing runs with this is beyond me.

 

@rollin My Goodes are "all carbon" and have held up quite well over several years of abuse in the bumps. The dings and operator applied damage is taking its toll but structurally they still rock. My Volkl Race Tigers with wood and metal have structurally changed - maybe it's the wood and metal. Maybe the engineering...

 

Personally I prefer light skis. Composites enjoy a significant strength to weight advantage so I do prefer them but I have really enjoyed some heavier metal skis. Demo to see what you like.

 

Eric

post #15 of 22

The marketing worked on me.  I bought a ski with not one but TWO layers of Titanal which is the brain-child of some marketing guy who discovered a cleaver way of using Aluminum yet hinting that it was more expensive titanium.    

 

Carbon and boron nanotubules will be significant upgrades with some really cool properties for skis in the coming years.    Don't be surprised when we are all old geezers that our kids will be riding around on the next generation "Nano-Ski" that marketing departments will make the next necessary bullet list item in your favorite high performance ski.  

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eleeski View Post
 

The next greatest material: Boron!

 

Boron fibers are similar in stiffness and weight to carbon but much stronger in compression. A few more of the engineering tools @kevperro can do meaningful engineering work with. Expensive though. How marketing runs with this is beyond me.

 

@rollin My Goodes are "all carbon" and have held up quite well over several years of abuse in the bumps. The dings and operator applied damage is taking its toll but structurally they still rock. My Volkl Race Tigers with wood and metal have structurally changed - maybe it's the wood and metal. Maybe the engineering...

 

Personally I prefer light skis. Composites enjoy a significant strength to weight advantage so I do prefer them but I have really enjoyed some heavier metal skis. Demo to see what you like.

 

Eric

When you say Composite are you referring to a composite core or wood core with composite layers?  I only ask because I thought for the most part that composites cores don't last as long and is why they are found in (as a core) some of the beginner and intermediate models. But to modern technology, one would think engineering wise they could come up with types of fiberglass and/or composites that would out perform and outlast most anything and then also tweak it differently to behave as per what ever type and ability level ski it would be in. But I guess if that were the case it would be already going on.

post #17 of 22

@rollin I'm pretty sure my Goodes are carbon skins over a foam core (PVC?). They are very light and have held up better than any other skis I've owned.

 

The composite structure can utilize many different cores. Honeycomb, urethane foam, PVC foam, balsa, wood and coreless construction have been used successfully in skis. The core selection is an engineering tradeoff.

 

I build waterskis that push weight limits and have tried lots of cores. Urethane cores did break down over time for me (as you noted). Honeycomb eventually picked up water and corroded from the inside to lose strength. Wood changed measurably over time. My coreless stringers held up well until overloaded. Balsa was great mated to foam. PVC seems to last very well. Yes, I've built and broken lots of skis over the years. Currently I'm building with PVC cores, carbon skins and boron reinforcement on the skins. My skis with bindings weigh about the same as a factory blank. If they don't break, I take something out of the next build. Whether the light weight of my skis gives me an advantage or not is debatable but my skis do work well for those of us who ride them.

 

Some claim that snow skis work better when heavy. I've skied some wonderful very heavy skis. But for the skiing I like (bumps and powder) I ski better on light skis. I want the long term livelyness, pop and edging of the ski when it was new to last. Careful composite selection can make that happen in the weight I desire.

 

I saw a sample of boron reinforced aluminum. Wow. Titanal move aside!

 

Eric

post #18 of 22

Here is part of the forefront of current ski production. The Sportiva Vapor Nano.

 

http://www.sportiva.com/products/ski/skis/vapor-nano

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

Pretty good here. Materials are ingredients in a ski, they had be used in many ways to create the final feel. metal does not make a ski stiff...it can but depending on how it is used. The same can be said with carbon fiber, wood and fiberglass. 


This is the best thing anyone has said in regards to the current technologies.

 

Unfortunately people will still continue to cling to old paradigms due to lack of information or experience.

post #20 of 22

What's happened to the skis made out of rocks? Ie. Dynastar and their use of basalt fibers?

post #21 of 22


METAL  \m/ \m/ !!!!!!!!!

post #22 of 22

Heavy metal baby!

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