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Review: 2015 Volkl BMT 94

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I’ll cut to the chase – the Volkl BMT 94s are fantastic skis for freeriding, backcountry, and touring.  They do everything extremely well, in fact I'd say they’re the best skis I’ve ever owned.  I have to admit I was a bit nervous when I bought them.  While the reviews have been raving and the spec was what I was looking for, I have not previously been a fan of skis with carbon – I’ve often found them dead feeling and not progressive enough in their flex.  And while I own other skis with rockered tips and tails, I’ve never owned fully rockered skis before.  The BMT 94s are also eye watering-ly expensive.

 

But I took the plunge and bought them in December.  I’ve since put them through their paces in everything from icy groomers, to waist deep pow, to trees, crud, and numerous hours of skinning.  On the hard stuff they grip tenaciously and carve, and in the powder they float, surf, slarve, smear and do just about anything you want them to.  In very tight trees they were responsive and turny.  And on crud, despite their incredibly light weight, they motored on through.

 

The skis have a lively wood core feel, none of the deadness I usually associate with carbon.  They are incredibly precise and responsive, I never wondered what they were doing.  The side-cut is relatively straight (122-94-112) and the turn radius is longish (23m) and the skis are quite damp which means you can let them rip, especially in soft snow.  But the full rocker and very light weight (1570g per ski) means you can also turn these puppies on a dime.

 


Testing the Volkl BMT 94s in Chamonix - they work pretty well!

 

 

As a touring ski they performed very well.  Very light and easy up the skin track.  I bought the pre-cut, glue-less skins which also performed nicely.  I like the Volkl tip pin attachment system which is easy to use.  I was a bit nervous about over-tightening the metal tail clip on the plastic/carbon tail slot and so the skin tails slipped out a few times, but a bit of fine adjustment seems to have fixed that.

 

Anything they don't do well?  Although they hold a strong edge on ice and were perfectly civilized on groomers, they have a speed limit on hard pistes - they aren't going to blast GS turns like a full camber heavier ski with metal.  So I wouldn't buy them as a frontside ski - nor would I see them as the elusive one ski quiver for resort based skiing.  They really are a back-country, touring and freeride tool.

 

I’m 6’2” (188cm) 175lbs (80kg) and bought the 176cm which feel just right, especially for touring.  For the alps where I mostly ski the BMT 94s are perfect.  Narrow enough to fit typical skin tracks (lots of people rando here on skinny skis) and to handle the variety of conditions one finds, but the full rocker and progressive flex give plenty of float when hitting the pow.  I had them in waist deep blower pow in Chamonix (see photo) and the grin factor was real high.  But US Western and Canadian BC skiers may be happy to have the slightly heavier weight for the wider 109 or 122 skis.

 

Binding choice is a bit tricky.  The skis have a narrow H-shaped reinforced mounting area and scary language about the warranty being voided unless one mounts Marker bindings or something else that fits in the H pattern. I wanted lightweight tech bindings and there aren’t too many options that fit the H-shaped mounting pattern (WildSnow.com has an extensive thread on which bindings fit the H).   I went with the new G3 IONs which fit the mounting pattern well and have been very happy with them – lightweight but a responsive freeride feel, easy to use, and look the business.  Volkl also recommends the new Marker Kingpins which have been getting great reviews, but they are heavier than the G3s and have also had some initial production problems.  One could also mount Marker Tours or another frame binding if one is only touring occasionally, but a bit of a shame to have anything but a light tech binding on such a beautifully light ski.

 


Volkl BMT 94s with G3 IONs mounted

 

 

Volkl are marketing these skis as both touring AND big mountain skis and I think its not just marketing hype.  Through the combination of the wood core, carbon wrap, tapered edges, and ski geometry they have really broken the uphill-downhill trade-off.  These skis skin up like a dream and then are no compromise big mountain smile machines on the way down.

post #2 of 7

Thanks for the review !

 

Here are a couple more:

https://www.wildsnow.com/14816/volkl-bmt-94-backcountry-ski-review/

http://www.earnyourturns.com/25752/review-volkls-bmt-series-94109122/

 

I am currently in Zermatt with a few pals for the week, and 2 of us have V-Werks Katana.

Sadly no new snow Thumbs Down

Both of us think our VW Katanas are pretty awesome, except ( for me, 5'9" 175 lbs ) on hard on-piste snow where I have some troubles getting them on edge ( my bad technique ).

I was thinking the VW Katana in a narrower format would be the ticket for me.

 

Therefore thinking the BMT 94 186cm would be the great 1-ski travel quiver.

But then you added:

"So I wouldn't buy them as a frontside ski - nor would I see them as the elusive one ski quiver for resort based skiing"

 

I don't ski at mach speeds on the groomers, and not the front of the pack kind of guy, but certainly not the slowest.   Do you feel the groomer performance is still that "inadequate" to consider it as a 1-ski travel quiver ?  I don't tour, and would get the BMT 94 at 186cm.  My VWK are 177 and I can easily manage them.

 

Or what ski do think would make a great 1-ski quiver to European or Western Canada/USA destinations ?

 

thanks for any comments  - Andy


Edited by ARL67 - 3/18/15 at 4:45pm
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey Andy,

 

Actually as a 1-quiver travel ski they'd be pretty great as they do handle everything well and especially if your travel might include some touring and the light weight makes them a pleasure to schlep around airports.  They're actually an enjoyable, responsive carving ski on piste at normal speeds - much better than other touring skis I've used and probably better on piste than the much wider V-Katana.  But any ski this light inevitably has a speed limit and they do get bounced around if it is hard and rutted up.  So if you're only doing lift served skiing and expect to mix it up between piste and off piste there are better skis (e.g. the Mantra is awesome), but if you want something that is outstanding for touring and off piste, and still enjoyable on relaxed groomers, this is a great arrow for your quiver.  Re length, I'm 6'2" 175lbs and the 176cm feels good to me, anything longer would be tricky for kick turns and manoeuvring in tight spots in the BC,  But I ski longer skis for lift served andI could also imagine the BMT 94s or 109s in the longer length would make a nice freeride set-up. 

 

Hope you get some snow in Zermatt!

post #4 of 7
This is a small update--see Manigod's review for the more comprehensive review.

Through amazing luck I picked up a pair of 2016-2017 Volkl BMT 94's in a 176 cm length at a huge discount. I put my old Marker Dukes on them, which may have doubled the total weight! I know this set up may seem obscene to the backcountry purists, but I do sidecountry mostly. I absolutely hated the vagueness that I used to feel in an older generation, light AT binding. The Dukes are bulletproof. For reference I am 5'11" 200 lb. My main ski is a 2016 Volkl Mantra 177 cm that I ski very centered.

I have skied eight days on the BMT 94's: two in M.A.S.H. on mainly hardpack and six days of spring skiing at Squaw/Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood. In short, I skied everything from hero snow to snow that requires one to jump for each turn. Sadly, I have skied no powder on them. The BMT 94's can handle these conditions well, but here, details matter.

More than any ski I've been on, the BMT 94 requires centered skiing. I feel that this ski has a much smaller sweet spot than my Mantras. This particularly evidences itself on steep slushy slopes where the snow can give way through the lower third of each turn. The smaller sweet spot likely originates from the rockered tail. By comparison, the tip feels more traditional, it has a smooth progressive flex, and it is not pushed around easily by crappy snow. It supports decisive turn initiations.

My advice to folks who buy this ski is to make certain that you are mounted properly fore-to-aft. This is more a conversation for another thread, but skiers placed behind their balance point will be constantly compensating on this ski. The stock mount position may not suit everyone.

This BMT 94 is versatile. In M.A.S.H. I skied lots of hardpack--the sort that skis easily chatter on. This ski rewards strong angulation. It holds a strong edge and can snuff out any chatter. The ski is not a speed king, but resort skiers will not lag behind their cohort either. On icy hardpack bumps (which I ski ok--I'm no natural) it feels like the rockered tails promote smoother lines. Again, Volkl-style edgehold is delivered.

New to the 2016-17 BMT is Volkl's ICE.OFF top skin that doesn't collect snow. It seems to work as advertised. On lifts I noticed that my wife's top skins held snow. The BMT's never did.

The BMT 94 is marketed as a backcountry ski, but it can serve well in the resort setting.
post #5 of 7

Thanks for the update Treeskier.  I currently tour on the BMT 109, which I absolutely love for winter skiing in Northern California.  I have, however, felt a little "over the handlebars" feeling on them from time to time and wondered if a couple centimeters shift to the aft would help.

 

I have been thinking about getting the BMT 94 for spring skiing (which should last through July this year!).  I have read a couple people recommending mounting behind the recommended line.  Wondering which if you mounted on the line, or if you would have a mount point recommendation?

post #6 of 7
[quote name="mcross" url="/t/133431/review-2015-volkl-bmt-94#post_2070389"I have been thinking about getting the BMT 94 for spring skiing (which should last through July this year!).  I have read a couple people recommending mounting behind the recommended line.  Wondering which if you mounted on the line, or if you would have a mount point recommendation?
[/quote]


I bought the BMT 94 for skinning up backcountry areas during the spring. Even on steep terrain I haven't felt like I am likely to go over the tips. I sometimes feel that I am occasionally overweighting the tails (on slushy snow) even when centered.

Mounting is an arcane issue that some folks on this board likely understand, so I will tackle the issue here, (but it's a topic better posted on another thread.) In the old days of straight skis, determination of the mounting point was easy to measure even though most shops didn't do it. With shaped skis the older method became impossible to apply accurately and the issue is now almost never discussed.

On the BMT 94 the way I determined my optimum mounting position is by knowledge of my previous five mounts. When I bought skis, I would mount Marker Schizo's, Atomic, or ESS bindings on them. These allow one to shift their mount position +/- 3 cm or more. I would ski the ski in powder and observe how the tips would rise or sink during turns. Then, I would adjust the bindings fore or aft and take more turns. Very quickly, I would find a position that kept the ski neutral throughout turns. Interestingly, after this exercise I never felt the need to move the binding again and the ski would feel very good on hard snow.

My Marker Dukes don't allow one to try different fore-aft positions. Here I measured from the mid cord of the BMT's running surface (which differs from the stated length). I measured the boot displacement from the mid-cord found for my older skis that had adjustable bindings. Then, in a leap of faith I went with this measurement for the Dukes on the BMT 94's. For me this was 1.5 cm forward of the position marked by Volkl.

The mounting position is specific to each skier. Some skiers--like my best friend--don't notice much difference, but I and my wife always gravitate to the same measurement regardless of ski. (She's typically forward too but I think it comes from her short boot length.)

In short, I couldn't begin to predict anyone's best mounting position. But the BMT 94 seems quite sensitive to this position. Mounted too far back, you might feel that turn initiation is somewhat weak. This can also occur if you need a heel lift. I would recommend experimenting with mount positions as I have. Or just go with the stock mount and hope for the best.
post #7 of 7

Thanks for the input Treeskier.  That was very helpful!

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