Originally Posted by Philpug
You mentioned Kastle...IIRC Kastles were the first skis that received perfect scores from Realskiers when they were first released and yes they received the same off the charts amount of praise here too. FX's an MX's had as much praise and lack of negative reviews as the Bonafide or the Enforcer...combined, the two skis that you are "boycotting". I am not sure why the change in your principles now.
We must be recalling different reviews. I bought MX98's the first year they came out, long before Real Skiers was on my radar. (Which BTW only awarded all 5's one year, to MX78's, actually). The reviews I read about MX98's indicated that it was a great ski, but definitely took some concentration to ski well. SKIING, for instance, gave them a 2.88/5 for forgiveness, and a 3.5/5 for maneuverability in 2010. Not their highest scores for the year by far, but fairly accurate.
Here's my Epic review from 2010: " The ski: Kastle MX98, 184 cm. 132-98-117, 27 m radius (but dual, think this is the longer rear radius; front feels more like about 20-22 m). Cut out classic shaped tip, square tail with slight lift.
The place: Mammoth, over four days, conditions ranging from 6-8" of daily fresh (Mammoth's version of Sierra Cement) to wind-scoured chalk and scratch up on top. Soft bumps, lots of crud and chop, no ice. Gradually warming through the week, so some stiff to soft to stiff cycles later on.
Me: 6', 162 lbs, middle aged, grew up in Calif skiing Mammoth and Tahoe, now east coast with couple of weeks out west each year. Technical style; do some racing, like to turn, decent in tight spaces, trees, solid but conservative on steeps. Just OK in deep pow, flail around in backcountry but trying to learn.
Other comparable skis I like: Stocklis, Blizzards, Goats, LP's, Mantras, Priors.
First morning, tried these out on groomers and light chop on the lower mountain. They kicked my ass. I own MX88's in 178 cm, assumed these would just be scaled up version with more float. Wrong. The 98's were a lot less tolerant of mistakes, felt big, while the 88's are forgiving, feel small. Found myself wishing the 98's came in a length between 174 and 184.
In the afternoon, started to figure them out. Excellent grip and very predictable release, cut through forming bumps like they weren't there. Took it up to a GPS indicated 54 mph, 98's were utterly planted and smooth, no discernable top end. Like all Kastles I've skied, combined Stockli-like silkiness with quicker edge to edge potential, and surprising snowfeel. The cut out shovels are very light, do a little flapping at speed, but it's all visual. The mid 3/4 is very beefy; at my weight took some work to bend them below 40 mph. The tails are also Stockli-like, progressive and predictable without that abrupt unloading that a lot of people like. The dual radius makes the 98's easier to initiate than finish. They tolerate almost any style, including scarves, pivots, and smears. But there are cheaper and easier alternatives if you like to skid your tails.
Warning: Whatever style, these want to be driven from the front, not neutral. And don't even think about the backseat. Get behind these and you will be in the next dimension before you can scream.
Next few days were spent exploring the top of the mountain. On steeper pitches with variable snow, from a foot of windblown to exposed chalk and stiff crud, the 98's really were in their element. In Climax or Cornice, they felt big and planted in a straight line or big open turn, but were surprisingly easy doing quick edge changes down the fall line. I don't do much air (bad knees), but they made lips and overhangs silly easy. The tips tended to stay higher than I expected, but the ski still drives through rather than rides over. Compared to a 184 LP, the 98's are far quicker and more responsive, less front deviation in heavy chop, about as damp, more stable at speed, heavier and more demanding to do it right. Best ski I've ever had in these conditions, but at the end of each day, my legs were toast.
In more technical lines, like the Dropoff and Hangman's chutes off of Chair 23, or Dragon's Back and Huevos Grande off the Gondola, the 98's were absolutely fail-safe. They went exactly where I pointed them, screw frozen chop or chalk or sudden double pitches, the edges always felt rock solid, and they did quick adjustments to avoid rocks without drama. If it were something serious, this is a ski I'd trust with my life. Period.
In moderate pitch trees with settled pow, foot or so, over toward Chairs 25 and 9, the 98's were nimble and predictable, but not really fun. The tips wanted to help, but the ski body stayed down in the snow, needed a lot of unweighting. Found myself wishing for more width. Moving the binding back might help but would negate some of the quickness, and doesn't cure the weight issue.
So I'm ambivalent. IMO, the MX98 is the best ski ever made for everyday hard charging on crud, chalk, and chop, which is what most big mountains have most of the time after the first hour the lift's open. And they're way better in tight spaces than any 98 mm ski has a right to be. But they don't make my size, they're too heavy to hike or skin unless you're a linebacker, they're overkill for groomed, and they're not wide enough for serious pow at sub-light speed. Might be the definitive middle ski, between an actual carver and an actual fatty, if you have the $. Or maybe a single ski quiver for a bigger guy who likes inbounds warp drive."
So Kastles were never perceived as perfect. By me or anyone else. If you're dubious, go check.
For the record, you do realize that RealSkiers uses ski shop testers to review their skis. Simply, RealSkiers testers sell skis, why? because shop testers know how to test a ski and understand who it's for. I know, and I agree completely. The only thing I have ever said about sellers reviewing skis had nothing to do with this thread or the Enforcer thread, it was a while back when I expressed repeatedly over a few years my concern over conflict of interest. I think the phrase "viral marketing" came up a few times. But few here actually appear to understand conflict of interest conceptually; most think it means deliberate ethical lapses. In any case, I waved the flag last year when the majority of posters said they liked to have advertising in the form of stated deals appear in posts on a review thread. You won Phil. Epic can be all about pushing products tactfully. Presumably all reviews everywhere are about pushing products. Long live capitalism. Chill.
Now, should we utilize "cons" more in the skis reviews, point taken. I will look to adding them more and I will suggest to our other testers too. If that was the only think you were looking for, all you had to say was "Guys, have you ever thought about talking about "cons" or "Things I would change" comment more in your reviews?" This is fairly funny, because yep, I've been saying, essentially, guys, balance in reviews is important, and a pro/con approach is a great way to do it' for about oh, a decade. I recall specifically defending Sierra Jim against some newbie on the grounds that he produced balanced and reasonable reviews. I've said the same about Dawg more times than I care to recall. And about others. So I dredged up the evidence about Kastle reviews, you get to do it about pros and cons. So while our reviews might not be perfect (none are) but we offer that invaluable feature that no one else does. I'm psyched that our reviews are going to become more balanced and perhaps thicker. That way we'll join the number of better sites, many mentioned in the poll, that include pros and cons. They may not be labelled that, but they follow the model that testers will also consider ways in which the ski is less than optimal, either for conditions or for skiers.