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Somebody 'splain me Head skis

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm (kinda) looking at Head skis b/c of the rep that they are well-built, solid, damp, but strong.  But what gives?????  The line-up seems WAY over-crowded with lots of overlap.  Can someone explain the various categories and waist measurements?  For instance, there are four Supershapes, with waists of 66, 72,76, and 80.  Huh?  What is the difference?  Obviously, a 66 is different than an 80...but do we need two skis in the middle?  Even RealSkiers said the Rally and the Titan were practically indistinguishable.  And then there is the Instinct line, with waists of 78, 82, 83.... and then the Monster 83.  This makes 8 different skis in a waist width range of 66-83.  And these are only the consumer models, not the race skis.

 

So... any wisdom?  I've looked at the Head site, but it doesn't seem to have been updated at all; it still references the Rev. series.  FWIW, I'm not looking for a specific ski recommendation; I'm looking for any insight into the "organization" or "intelligence" behind this really confusing layout of skis.  

post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post

I'm (kinda) looking at Head skis b/c of the rep that they are well-built, solid, damp, but strong.  But what gives?????  The line-up seems WAY over-crowded with lots of overlap.  Can someone explain the various categories and waist measurements?  For instance, there are four Supershapes, with waists of 66, 72,76, and 80.  Huh?  What is the difference?  Obviously, a 66 is different than an 80...but do we need two skis in the middle?  Even RealSkiers said the Rally and the Titan were practically indistinguishable.  And then there is the Instinct line, with waists of 78, 82, 83.... and then the Monster 83.  This makes 8 different skis in a waist width range of 66-83.  And these are only the consumer models, not the race skis.

So... any wisdom?  I've looked at the Head site, but it doesn't seem to have been updated at all; it still references the Rev. series.  FWIW, I'm not looking for a specific ski recommendation; I'm looking for any insight into the "organization" or "intelligence" behind this really confusing layout of skis.  

IMHO, the Titan and Rally are very different skis. The Titan shares the same sidecut with the supershape i.speed. The magnums have a very tight turn radius, and the Rally splits the difference between the Magnum and the Titan. Clear as mud?

The Rev 85... A bit wider than the Titan, but again, a very different and more versatile ski for most skiers. The Monsters are like a Rev 85 (give or take some waist) that have been to the gym over the summer, and have less sidecut than the Rev Series. These are smooth, damp, powerful skis.

I haven't been on the Instincts yet. They're the big question mark in your post above. It'll be interesting to see what the do.
post #3 of 19
Head needs to get their act together and update their website for 2016 gear. I've skied the 82mm and 83mm Instinct skis and a 70-something and can tell you they are really different from one another. I really liked the Strong Instinct Ti(83mm), quick, light and fun. It held an edge well and was good in the bumps I tried. It's a ski I could spend the entire day on. Would I take it into the trees? I've skied FA84EDTs in the trees and the Head is not as stiff so it would probably be better. I liked this ski enough that I'm buying it even though I have the Fire Arrows and I'm keeping them. The 82mm Instinct ski, can't remember what it's called, is the top of the series(most expensive) and a different construction from all the rest. It was not as much fun nor as responsive. For me, it was about as much fun as skiing a 2x4. If I weighed more, I'm ~150, maybe it would have been better. The 70-something Instinct I skied was yet a different construction and would probably be a good intermediate ski for relatively light east coast skiers.
post #4 of 19

For many years, I've followed the Head line of skis, and, can only conclude there is more overlap in skis than any other ski company. They make great carving skis, but, make it very difficult to select one for purchase. So, I feel you pain. Here's my quick take.

 

The Supershape line is Head's premium ski, in part, differentiated by use of KERS technology and very closely tied to the race ski line. Supershapes are $$$$ with MSRP in excess of $1k. The iSpeed is the short turn radius, closer to a Sl.  On my s/e Pa home hill, it would be my ski of choice. The magnum and Rally give you a little more GS like feel, pick your favorite waist size. My opinion, but, the Titan is too wide and more all mountain to purchase at this price point. Clearly, Head wants to market their WC race ski technology to the skiing public with the Supershape line, perhaps more-so in Europe. I don't think Head has much of a following in the USA outside of race skis.

 

Below the Supershape line, Head had the Monster which became the Rev which will become the Instinct for '16. Still great skis for hard snow in the high 70 to mid 80 waist. I don't know if Head is bringing back the Monster name in '16, but, there are many who think the original Monsters were very good skis. The price point for this line should make it a lot more affordable for the average skier and more competitive with other ski brands. Yup, a lot of overlap again, not sure why, other than, to appeal to those who like higher 80 waist skis. And, that's where the present market is. I'll await the reviews of the Instinct line, hopefully, Head will come to demo day near me this January ( they have been absent for the past two years, not a good sign for selling their product in Pa.)

 

I'd hate to be a Head retailer and have to carry all the skis in that line. It hurts my head to think about Head marketing.

post #5 of 19

No manufacturer expects dealers to carry every one of their offerings...although of course they would like them to. Offerings in segments are usually directed towards different markets and they can be sold off of the "halo" model of that series in a market where that Halo might not be the best ski. There is also overlap in width offerings. The Supershapes overlap with the Instintics which overlap with the Monsters. This is not different than any other industry, the auto industry..Rav4's overlap with Highlanders which over lap with 4Runners which overlap with...well you get the idea. 

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

No manufacturer expects dealers to carry every one of their offerings...although of course they would like them to. Offerings in segments are usually directed towards different markets and they can be sold off of the "halo" model of that series in a market where that Halo might not be the best ski. There is also overlap in width offerings. The Supershapes overlap with the Instintics which overlap with the Monsters. This is not different than any other industry, the auto industry..Rav4's overlap with Highlanders which over lap with 4Runners which overlap with...well you get the idea. 

Thank you all who have responded.

Phil, I get that no dealer will carry all skis.  Those are regional, market, personal decisions.  But I'll take issue with your car analogy.  I don't thing Rav4's overlap with Highlanders.  They are different sizes and prices.  Head Titan, Rally, Magnum are same price and seemingly same size (waist) and audience.  It's as if Toyota tried to sell the Rav4 and the CRV and the Focus all at the same time. 

post #7 of 19

@Optiontahoe  has a fair bit if info on Head skis.  Perhaps he can 'splain sumthin':popcorn  

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

No manufacturer expects dealers to carry every one of their offerings...although of course they would like them to. Offerings in segments are usually directed towards different markets and they can be sold off of the "halo" model of that series in a market where that Halo might not be the best ski. There is also overlap in width offerings. The Supershapes overlap with the Instintics which overlap with the Monsters. This is not different than any other industry, the auto industry..Rav4's overlap with Highlanders which over lap with 4Runners which overlap with...well you get the idea. 

Thank you all who have responded.

Phil, I get that no dealer will carry all skis.  Those are regional, market, personal decisions.  But I'll take issue with your car analogy.  I don't thing Rav4's overlap with Highlanders.  They are different sizes and prices.  Head Titan, Rally, Magnum are same price and seemingly same size (waist) and audience.  It's as if Toyota tried to sell the Rav4 and the CRV and the Focus all at the same time. 

As far as the car analogy, I was referring series, not the model within the series,  the pricing structures of Toyota's (example) SUV line, there is where the overlap is, the top of the line of one series overlap the pricing of the bottom of the line next series. Now the Supershape line, The Speed is the one that has a different construction, closer to that of the race skis, unique. The other three share the same constructor but different shapes, personally, I like the Rally, Markojp likes the Titan, he is a buffer guy than me. I know some more technical  oriented skiers prefer the Magnum. Honestly I do't think there is one ski that could take place of the three..could two? Maybe 73mm and 80mm options? Maybe. Maybe we will see that in the next generation. 

post #9 of 19

Here is the site I used for the 2015/16 Head lineup.  Not going to help if you are looking for insight into the "organization" or "intelligence".  It is categorized under skis like the NA site.

 

http://www.headsnow.co.nz/

 

The 82 mm mentioned above is the Power Instinct ti Pro.  I believe it was the only "Allride" ski reviewed by the latest SKI 2016 product reviews along with the Performance labeled Rally.  There have been a few reviews on here you might want to read.   I think the Rally has been well covered by reviews and observations on here.


Edited by Mike78 - 9/3/15 at 7:43am
post #10 of 19

In the auto industry, it's the idea of using a few platforms with different sheet metal over the top. In the airplane industry, it's literally stretching or upscaling an established design, tweaking the interiors and engines. Not sure how this actually works for skis, vis-a-vis molds and presses, because AFAIK, they aren't adjustable; each is unique for a specific model and length. As if a car were all platform, covered with paint, no "body" to create different models. So cannot be certain of how useful any car or plane analogy is. 

 

Yet some kind of "micro-manufacturing" lots of overlapping models in smaller runs has to work here, in the sense that everyone's doing it. Not just Head. Somehow the marketing types have decided that's what sells, and engineers have figured out how to do it. Unless they're all committing economic suicide in an arms race. :dunno 

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tch View Post

Thank you all who have responded.
Phil, I get that no dealer will carry all skis.  Those are regional, market, personal decisions.  But I'll take issue with your car analogy.  I don't thing Rav4's overlap with Highlanders.  They are different sizes and prices.  Head Titan, Rally, Magnum are same price and seemingly same size (waist) and audience.  It's as if Toyota tried to sell the Rav4 and the CRV and the Focus all at the same time. 

The supershapes all ski differently. Really. They do. The Titan and Speed share a slightly longer sidecut and are considered a bit stiffer. The 68 waist is a piste machine. The Rally is a great all around quiver piste ski for the west, and some in the east will like it as well, but with generally narrower trails, smaller vert, the magnum with its 12-13m r sidecut comes into it's own. I've skied the Titan a lot. it's rare even when teaching and clinicing that a significant part of the day/session isn't spent off piste. For exams, the 15-16r of the Speed and Titan are money. I'd own the speed if I lived east of the Mississippi.

Regional stuff.., the Monsters will be popular in the west. Supershapes are a quiver ski in the west, but would be one of my first choices for the Midwest,etc.. Shop inventories regionally/internationally will reflect this.
Edited by markojp - 9/3/15 at 8:10am
post #12 of 19

Think of 4 distinct groupings . . . 

 

1. Race Skis (think real FIS race skis, no rocker, designed for racers and race courses)

       iDHrd, iSGrd, iGSrd, iSLrd (i=intelligence,rd=race dept)

       Head also offers an iSL and an iSpeed, they are non FIS radius compliant.

 

2. Performance (similar to race skis but with a slightly softer flex and shovel rocker)

       iSupershape (Speed, Magnum, Rally, Titan)

 

3. Allride (about 80-108 mm at the waist)

       Raw Instinct, Power Instinct, Monster 88, Monster 98, Monster 108

 

4. Freeski (AKA Flight Series-think fat, rockered twins).

       Venturi 95, Collective 105, Cyclic 115, Turbine 125

 

 

If you're a racer, the choices are race skis.

If you're a big mountain skier, the choices are Monsters or Flight series.  

       Monsters are directional and powerful with a straighter tail.

       Collective/Cyclic/Turbine are more playful, maneuverable twins.

If you're looking for a technical* ski look at the iSupershape or Instinct series.

      

 

ISupershapes (waist range 66-80).

      ISupershape Speed (66)-this is a SL ski with shovel rocker.  At 66 under foot it's designed to turn all the time.  It's amazing on groomers and the shovel rocker makes it slightly more versatile then a pure race SL ski.  

     ISupershape Magnum (72)--If there is any obvious overlap, it's between the Magnum and Rally.  It's a personal choice mostly.  Most of my instructor and coach friends buy from this part of the line.   Magnum and Rally are the work horses.  Magnum (72) is a hair quicker turn to turn, but the Rally (76) is a hair more versatile off groomers. They are both similar with the Magnum being a bit more popular in the East Coast and the Rally being a bit more popular on the West Coast.  Both are incredible.

      iSupershape Titan (80)--this is the widest ski in the group and it's amazing too.  This ski appeals to somebody who wants as much edge hold as possible in a ski which is narrow enough to be a good carver but definitely wide enough to work all over the mountain.

     

I need to throw one curve ball in here.  If you look at the Race line, you will find another ski called the ISpeed.  It is a different ski then the ISupershape Speed.  The iSpeed is a GS ski with an 18m radius.  This ski should also be considered if you want a GS sidecut vs SL which translates into a longer turn radius.

 

In summary of the above category, go iSupershape Speed for pure carving, or go iSupershape Titan for all mtn carving (with race like performance).  The Magnum and Rally split the difference, Magnum being a tiny bit quicker edge to edge, Rally (while still lightning quick) is a tiny bit wider and a slightly better West Coast choice.  

 

Power Instinct and Raw Instinct.  Instincts are less expensive then the ISupershape skis and have a slightly longer turn radius making them a bit more compliant for all mountain skiing. The Raw is 78 under foot and the Power is 82 under foot.  When I say less expensive, don't think less performance.  Instincts don't utilize the intelligence electronics, thus making them more affordable.  My wife got a pair of the Power Instincts in a 163 and is claiming them as her favorite skis of all time for teaching and technical skiing.  She also owns Magnums.  If it's rock hard conditions or she's mostly skiing groomed terrain-she reaches for the Magnum.  If she's going to ski the whole mountain (non pow day) she grabs her Power Instincts.

 

 

One last thought.  As a former instructor I've long had a personal opinion that skis undergo a definite change in feel and precision somewhere between 75-80 under foot.On hard snow/groomed terrain sub 78 and narrower is ideal and gives the skier a mechanical advantage, better chance at edge hold, more precision and reduced chatter. At 80 or wider under foot, a ski looses some of the precision BUT has more surface area and plays better all over the mountain.  

     

 

My point is the dividing line between all mountain and technical starts somewhere at 75-80 under foot.  

Head offers a ton of choices in this area.  

      Looking for hard snow compliance?  Go iSupershape and pick your width.

      If you ski more all mountain look at Instinct.

      If you ski big mtn go Monster.

      If you like a loose skiing fat ski go Flight series.

 

I hope this helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* My definition of a technical skier is as follows.  

     You ski at an area which only has groomed terrain or it's a hard snow kind of day.

     You work on your skiing trying to emulate Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety, Anna Fenninger, Lara Gut, Aksel Lund Svindal .

     You are an instructor and know how to ski it all with a narrow ski.

     You are a race coach.

     You flat out enjoy the precision of narrow ski.

post #13 of 19
^^^^. Fabulous post, very thorough and informative. Applause.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post

^^^^. Fabulous post, very thorough and informative. Applause.

Didn't see the Joy series. I'm not familiar with the Head line, but presume it was left off because it's the female line. Which leaves off a lot. Not that I buy women's skis for myself, but my daughter uses them and that's all I'm looking at right now.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Didn't see the Joy series. I'm not familiar with the Head line, but presume it was left off because it's the female line. Which leaves off a lot. Not that I buy women's skis for myself, but my daughter uses them and that's all I'm looking at right now.
Point taken.

But the OP asked about the distinctions between apparently similar-waisted models on the men's/unisex side, and didn't seem confused about the Joy series.

Actually it would be cool if @Optiontahoe were to relate the Joy line to compable skis in the men's/unisex lineup.  
post #16 of 19

Great point re: Joy skis.

 

The Joy series comprises 6 skis.

 

Pure and Absolute are for beginners to intermediates.

   Pure is narrower at 73 under foot and more suitable for learning to ski groomed terrain and ability building.

   Absolute Joy uses a slightly different core construction and a wider wist width at 79-opening up more terrain for the same skier.

   While both skis are for the aspiring skier, they have a broad performance range and a chief difference would be the width.

Super and Total are for advanced to expert skiers due to their stronger and more damp construction.

   Think of the Super Joy (75 under foot) as a carving ski, super quick and nimble.  Carved turns, ice, moguls, all around sneakiness.

   Think of the Total Joy (85 under foot) as a more all mountain ski because it's wider.  It won't be as quick on groomers but will open up more of  the mountain as the day grows warmer or the snow gets deeper.

Great Joy is an incredible fat all mountain ski for an advanced to expert skier.

    If you want a true all mountain western style ski get the Great Joy.  98 under foot is a popular choice for both men and women, especially in the west coast.  If you are a good skier, it will be playful on groomers but come alive across the whole mountain.  Soft snow, corn snow, new snow, junk snow, the Great Joy skis it all.  Some people think of 98 waisted skis as a one ski quiver.

Big Joy is a fat powder ski at 110. 

    Looking to ad a fat ski to your quiver? Go Big Joy.  It seems that women don't really always "need" as wide a ski as men, so a 110 is bigger then you think.  A great choice for that all time perfect deep snow day.

 

 

It's very important to understand the technology used in the Joy series.  Without going into tons of details, it's high tech and uses two materials to dramatically loose weight.  Koroyod and Graphene are the two main actors here.  Again, without going into chapter and verse, the Joy series is very very light.  Take a pair of Joy skis with bindings in one hand and most any other similar model in the other, the Joys will feel lighter.  The lightness does a few things which are important.  Firstly, they weigh less.  This is nice from a performance standpoint, in that, you can move your feet around more quickly then a heavier ski.  For some this gives immediate athletic improvement.  Also the walk from the car to the chairlift is more pleasant and you don't have that tug on your feet when riding a chairlift.  The most important positive aspect is how much more energy you can carry throughout your day.

 

Having said that, there comes a tipping point when a women might want a ski from the unisex line as mentioned in my earlier post.  It's a frame shape decision.  These are very very general thoughts BUT--if you are shorter then (say) 5' 8' and weigh less then (say) 150, try the Joy series, you'll be very happy to say the least.  IF however you are a stronger, taller, fall line charger type of a skier, you might try an iSupershape or Instinct or Monster series ski.

 

One last thought.  In these two posts I keep referring to small differences between waist widths and how it produces different applications.  This should also be viewed through the prism of a skier's quiver needs.  I don't play golf but I know you need more then one club in your bag.  Same thing with skis. Some skiers want only one ski.  Some skiers have 3 or more skis in their quiver so that they always have the exact right ski for any given day.  If you only want to buy one ski, think about where you typically ski and pick accordingly.  

 

I hope this helps.

post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post


Point taken.

But the OP asked about the distinctions between apparently similar-waisted models on the men's/unisex side, and didn't seem confused about the Joy series.

Actually it would be cool if @Optiontahoe were to relate the Joy line to compable skis in the men's/unisex lineup.  

The Joy line is pretty unique in the ski world. They are completely 'unique' skis, there are no 'unisex' ski that comes out of the same mold. They actually stand alone.

post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 

OptionTahoe, OP here.  Thank you very much for the very clear explanation!  As DesiredUsername says, it's very informative.  I'm not sure I really believe this much micro-sectioning is necessary, but I'm not running the business or selling Head skis.  I will only say that if a product line needs this much clarification, I'm not sure the average consumer is "getting" it.  I didn't.


Thanks again.

post #19 of 19
The interesting thing with the Joy series is that as a lighter male (5'10" and 145 lbs) I could see getting a Big Joy or Great Joy.

I've considered women's variants of men's skis, for example the Fischer Watea/Koa seemed really similar. If my GF doesn't get back on the slopes after her injury last year, I may "borrow" her Nordica Nemesis once or twice, which I believe is similar to the Hell and Back.
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