Date: Feb. 17, 2015
Location: Sunday River, Maine
Weather: cloudy; calm; teens F.
Conditions: typical Sunday River: overgroomed mix of decent packed powder, boilerplate , a few sections of hard overskied bumps, sugar piles and the occasional stash of old thick crud on out-of-sight-line trail edges ... one run, at least, was alternately glare wind-blasted ice and hard, chalky, near-coral-reef windpack (There may have been decent conditions over in the Oz / Jordan pod, but circumstances did not allow me to navigate over there.)
Terrain: Green / Blue / Black groomers and bumps, packed-out trees
Me: 5' 7" (171cm), 135lbs (61kg); 52 years old; east coaster; beer leaguer; 40 days a season; home mountain: Saddleback, Maine
Ski: 2014-15 Fischer Motive 86 Ti @ 168cm ... excellent tune from Ski Depot
Own or Demo: Demo
Number of Runs: 4
In the market - as I have been for, it seems like, years - for something in the 85mm range as a daily driver to fit between my race skis and my 100mm 5-point design Armadas. I had been wanting to try the Motive 86 for a long time. My favorite shop is a Fischer dealer and they often have good prices on Fischer stock starting at about this time of year. Several Bears have mentioned that this year's incarnation is a step up in construction and pop from previous iterations. The recent swell of enthusiasm over the Motive 95 only increased my desire to check this ski out.
Handling the ski, two things are quickly apparent: 1) Kinda stiff! and 2) That's a serious-looking tail.
On snow was the Motive feels very much like a Fischer: Lots of snow feel and lots of edge grip. I'll just say up front that these things kill it if making clean arcs on groomed snow is your thing. The nominal radius is 17m, I think, but they ski a bit quicker than that; with the early rise and that wide tail you can really make them come around fast if you want to. I'd say it felt more like a 14 or 15m ski. I've never been on a ski this wide that gave me quite this combination of absolute grip, solidity sans dampness, and quickness. Can we do that again? It does take some speed to get there, of course.
Elsewhere I discovered that this is not the ski I'm looking for. When skiing scarved "instructor turns" on groomers I found it difficult to modulate the edge angle smoothly. These things feel extremely rigid torsionally and want to hook up. When I reduced the edge angle a lot, they would make brushed turns fine, but they still felt a little on the planky side and it took concentration to make them bend into a smooth curve when doing this kind of turn. Clearly they are made for someone with more heft than I have.
In bumps they were okay. The early rise helps a bit with terrain conformance, but once I got past that there was too much "sproing" for my taste. Surprisingly I did not find the big square tail a showstopper here. Then again I didn't take them into any really difficult moguls. I did not bother with the trees because I could already tell this would not be a great glade ski for me.
I ran the Motives through some challenging semi-consolidated chowdery crud at the trail edge, maybe 6" deep. Here they felt more secure and planted than the NRGY 90 I tried the same day, but as with the scarved turns the tip and forebody tended to plow rather than bend into the turn. My Kastle LX 92 that I ran as a reference ski was distinctly better here.
I happened to see someone in the lift line on the Motive 95. The very different tip shape was readily apparent even at a distance. Long and low. (The 86's tip rise is on the short and sharp side.) If my shop had had that ski, I would have tried one, for sure. But in the wake of this experience it's definitely not a ski I'd buy without a demo first.
Bottom line, for someone of my size and ski habits, this is very much a wide carver, not an all-mountain ski. The skier I see loving this ski is big, skilled, damn-the-torpedos east coast guy who is a beer league racer and needs a one-ski quiver.
Edited by qcanoe - 2/20/15 at 6:21pm