Ski test: Fischer Motive 86 and 95ti, Rossignol Exp. 88, Volkl RTM 84 (2015 models)
I was up skiing very firm snow and bumps recently on both the Fischer Motive 86 and 95. It was a great testing ground: hardpack to ice groomers, some scattered softer snow, and very firm bumps. Good visibility as well, always a plus at Mt. Badweather.
Skis reviewed: Fischer Motive 86ti 175cm, Fischer Motive 95ti 174cm, Rossignol Experience 88 180cm, Volkl RTM 84 177cm
Skier: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, solid skill set, comfortable skiing all types of terrain. Tends to ski with an active inside foot and aggressive cross-under technique.
Fischer Motive 86ti 175cm: this ski my brother owns, so I have been on it quite a bit. First impressions are damp, smooth, very stable, and vice-like grip on ice. It hooks up at the top of the turn and won't let go. I could really work that tip into the snow with early dorsiflexion and tipping, and it would just come through the turn like a freight train. Quite stable. It likes that 14-17m radius best, and lots of edge angle. In bigger GS and up turns, the tip felt a little unnerved: I think that it might be a function of lateral stiffness and the higher early rise on that ski. In more of a medium-radius turn, it was $$$. And plenty of energy. Stability was really close, nearly on par to my reference MX88. Edge grip was every bit the equal of the MX88. Ease in bumps: well, it is a stiff ski, and didn't seem to bend all that well in bumps. I could ski it, but too stiff. If you want a mid-width Fischer, get the Ranger for bumps. This one is a lot of work. Sweet spot is about average: easy to ski, it won't push you around. Overall, I liked it a lot; felt like a very solid, all-around ski, biased toward groomers and hard snow, great power under foot.
Fischer Motive 95ti 174cm: the big brother to the 86ti, this was the 2nd model I tried on the day. I own the 95ti in 180cm. The 174cm was a bit more comparable to the 86ti, so I pulled it out for test. Like the 86ti, it was as solid laterally as it could possibly be. Simply outstanding edge grip on ice. The tip is a bit softer in that last 5 inches of contact length, but laterally, what a beast. It hooks up under good technique on pure ice and will not let go. Simply as good a wide ski here as I have ever tested. Stability is on par, if not a bit higher, than the 86ti, even given the shorter length. Energy, being a wider ski, is very good, although it doesn't quite have the “vroom” feel pulling me into the turn like the narrower 86ti did. A little more deliberate up top, waiting for direction on how to proceed, but really get forward on that tip, pull up the inside leg, and watch it hook up. This would still be a great groomer ski on softer Western style groomers, it has the feel of a powerful ski. Big sweet spot too, never felt pushed around in the least. It has the Volkl Mantra dampness, but is maybe 15% softer, so it is a much more forgiving ride for guys my weight. Tail has more energy than the Mantra. The 174cm is just quick, snappy, damp, stable, but pretty darn easy. Getting it into the bumps confirmed my thoughts: the 86ti has a touch more horsepower, making it more of the groomer tool, and the 95ti is a smidge easier, I can press and butter it into the bump troughs. Overall, such an impressive ski. Could be the best 95-100mm ski on the market.
Rossignol Experience 88, 180cm: 3rd ski I tested, in a longer length, as 180cm seemed closer to what I would ski on a daily basis. It isn't a super stiff ski, therefore I decided to run with the longer 180cm over the short 172cm. This ski I am not super familiar with; I don't believe it has titanium, making it a contrast to the other 3. It also has much less tip rise. As a result, it was quick, the most carver-oriented of all the skis. Very snappy, great turn initiation, predictable. It has lots of sidecut and a fairly round, low rise tip, making it less “on-off”. There is an outstanding ease about this ski at the top of the turn. Almost buttery. It likes a bit calmer skiing style. The tip being a bit softer, I felt like if I really got on it: aggressive down-unweight release, pull my feet back, early tipping, that I could overwhelm the tip just a bit, as it would hook up and shudder right at initiation. Likely due to the lack of metal in the ski. It likes more of a rolling the feet style, not super aggressive edge changes, has a bit more mellow nature. Grip wasn't up to the standards of the metal laminate skis, but ease of use was the best here. And it loved higher speeds, and especially the medium to medium-long turn. Just not early aggressive edge angles or pure ice; as it felt like it needed a bit more beef. In bumps, it was easy to ski; perhaps a little more sidecut at the tip than I would like, but huge sweet spot, and dropped through the troughs like water down a steep creek bed. Easy. I liked it; although I tend to be a little more aggressive than who this ski was designed for. I think if you maybe dial down the energy just a bit, you have a “can do no wrong” ski. In comparison to the Motive 86ti, I pick the former for energy in the tail and grip. Rossignol E88 for ease of use and a bit dialed back character.
Volkl RTM 84: having skied this on and off over the years, it is somewhat of an enigma. It always felt like it was one of the best frontside all-mountain skis on the planet in softer groomers, but was “off” on hard snow. I was excited to really get it on some laps on seriously hard snow. It was the stiffest ski tested here, and the only one without camber. Warming up on it, it had a distinct feel. Either love it or hate it. Skiing low energy when rolling the feet side to side, it hooked up early, smoothly, and had a huge top end. I would rate it above the others in terms of stability. But somehow, it really liked that park and ride mode: higher energy skiing, not so much. The tip was a little vague on really hard snow. No camber just seemed to neuter the ski somehow: upon a down-unweight and dorsiflexion move on the other skis, they would release, propel me into the air, and I could push the tip down, utilizing that high level “dolphin turn” that top skiers use to re-balance in transition. This ski didn't have the energy, it wanted to stay on the snow at the end of the turn, kind of dying a little bit there. It was as if it wanted a more static style of skiing. Which was a shame: once big edge angles were achieved, the power and locked-in feel was better than anything else here. So much top end on this ski, huge GS turns were really sweet. But it lacked much life; just happy to cruise at high speeds, not wanting to dial down the radius and pop out of one turn into the next. In bumps, it was stiff, almost too much (it is stiffer than my Blizzard Power 800s carver). Felt like a very stable cruiser, which is weird, as this is very high level construction, almost race-room stiffness. The ski was stiff enough that it was at the top of my comfort level, and that could have been part of the issue: I wasn't flexing the ski. For those new to ski buying; you need to be able to flex the ski to use it at a high level: otherwise, skiing the sidecut results, which won't allow for high performance skiing. Most of us are
“park and ride” skiers, but to ski at a really high level, dictating the turn based on the terrain, skiing is all about flexing the ski in various ways. And this ski I wasn't de-cambering, not flexing. But it was stable. A lot of fun in those big GS arcs. Just not the multi-turn radius, high energy ripper I would expect based on the specs.
Overall thoughts: all good skis, but it really comes down to your skiing style. Motives had a great blend of edge grip, stability, power, and relative ease. The E88 was easier, less energy, a bit more along the lines of a softer carver-cruiser. The RTM84 was a very strong ski that lacked energy and was stout.
If I could re-design or update each of these skis for how I ski and my weight, I would do the following:
Motive 86ti: change the tip shape to the 95ti's, soften the tip a tad.
Motive 95ti: pretty darn perfect the way it is
Rossi E88: add a bit of metal, maybe one layer, to give it increased grip and energy, but not be overpowering.
Volkl RTM84: soften it a touch, add more camber to the ski.
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