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Thoughts on Volkl: who/what is Volkl??

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

After reading and following Volkl's ski products and thinking about their ski offerings I found myself asking "as a company, what has Volkl become and what is their place in the market?"  It's been quite sometime since I worked in a shop selling skis, boots, and bikes to help pay my way through college and I realize that for most businesses, innovation is key for survival.  I realize that Volkl is not the same quiet German company that manufactured big performance oriented skis which demanded the most their user but also rewarded the user with a superior ride.  This is not to say that the current Volkl product line is not performance oriented and dopes not offer an inferior product.  But when I look at Volkl in 2015 I find myself asking who is Volkl?  First, and full disclosure I own a pair of 2012 Racetiger SL's, but I look at this UVO thing and am instantly transported back to the early 1990's or late 1980's when Dynastar tried that dampening device (I owned the Course Sl's) or Rossi's VAS.  

 

Clearly Volkl has responded or led advances in ski technology and worked to integrate those new advances into their lineup.  Similar to any company the results have varied.  Some of the product results are good and some not so good.  But overall, the direction Volkl has been heading seems to be to  broaden the mass appeal of the product line at the expense of quality or risk getting cannibalized in the market.  The get bigger or die theory.  Perhaps I'm wrong with this assessment.  I have skied the RTM line and found it to be a good product for the targeted buyer.  The Mantra and Kendo have been great products, got a lot of strong reviews, but the performance seems to be lagging in recent years.  

 

Overall, who is Volkl?  They have worked to avoid the Salomon/Rossignal mode, but is Volkl similar to a Stockli and to a much lesser extent Kastle (obviously the Kastle history has been volatile so perhaps not the best comparison), or is the Volkl business model unique? Is the business model and the product line working?  What has been the retailers response been to the diverse product line?  Removing the highest end user, are the middle of the market consumers buying the RTM line over products from Rossi, K2 and Salomon? 

 

Obviously a long winded question/observation that doesn't have an answer.  Just interested in what the community's thoughts are.    

post #2 of 29

I agree.  IMHO, Völkl used to be a top notch product delivering top performance to a minority of skiers who knew how to ski such a product.  They are now producing more products for the masses, products that do not require nor highly reward highly advanced skills. 

 

BTW I loved the Dynastar Coursa SLs with the chicken harts at their design speed, but as I thought I could only have one pair of skis and was a speed freak bought skis that were stable at high speed instead. 

post #3 of 29

Reason = K2/Jarden

 

Doesn't need a lot more analysis than that.  My ski tech mate reckons their cores are a lot mushier to drill since they became part of the corp (and don't get him started on Line Chinese made vs the Canadian (Karhu) factory).

 

I'm still impressed that my Shiros have that GSy feel on the (soft) groomed that is a Volkl hallmark.

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbob View Post
 

Reason = K2/Jarden

 

Doesn't need a lot more analysis than that.  My ski tech mate reckons their cores are a lot mushier to drill since they became part of the corp (and don't get him started on Line Chinese made vs the Canadian (Karhu) factory).

 

I'm still impressed that my Shiros have that GSy feel on the (soft) groomed that is a Volkl hallmark.

 

 

Reason = K2/Jarden........hahahaha great point and one that I kind of forgot about when I was writing.  An interesting business strategy: acquire 2 companies in the same product space, leverage the lower production costs of the K2 line into the premium, Volkl, product while rebranding the premium product away from a stodgy esoteric German ski company and then pocket the margin.  Unless the acquisition of Volkl provides for market penetration in countries where K2 is an smaller or irrelevant player , like Europe, I wonder if the strategy is working.  Meaning, has Volkl been able to gain market penetration in the US? 

 

Like I wrote, I own a pair of Racetiger SL's and love them.  BUT it was the incorporation of gimmicky items like that UVO and the carbon technology that really made me think about Volkl.  I'm judging without testing, but the addition of those gimmicks are strange and seems to deviate from Volkl's core DNA. 

post #5 of 29

Volkls in Europe have always been a germanic focused brand - the Gotama then the Mantra got them a lot of fans I think among the sort of people I actually notice skiing but kinda been swamped in that sector by alternatives.  I think I saw a big RTM rental fleets in a shop in Mayrhofen when I was there a month or so ago.

post #6 of 29
Wally, have you skied the Katana V-werks? Books, covers, that sort of things.
post #7 of 29

What I recall about Volkl from the 70s and 80s is that they were the premium brand with very loyal customers who gladly paid a premium price for Volkls. What they got in addition to performance and stability at speed was a ski with unmatched longevity. My Snow Rangers with 300+ days still rule the crud but take a lot more effort to turn and control than today's Mantra and other skis, which is why I rarely ski the Snow Rangers anymore.

 

Shortly after the onset of shaped skis is IIRC was when Volkl stopped selling for more than other bands.

 

Shortly after the company that owns K2 bought Volkl, the head ski designer left and went to work for Nordica and shortly after that Nordica started making some very stable, excellent tracking skis. The Hot Rod Jet Fuel is one that comes to mind.

 

Today, imo Volkl still has a loyal following, just not as strong as in the past. But some of their skis such as the Mantra, Gotama, Kendo, Kenja are worthy of that loyalty.

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 


Have not skied the V-works Katana and I'm not sure that's relevant.  I also clearly stated that I have not skied the entire line and the not-so-subtle comment about judging a book by it's cover is confusing.  To clarify the point of thread, which other members of the site seemed to comprehend, is to discuss and offer thoughts, opinions, insights, and different views about Volk's corporate and product evolution.  If you could offer some clarity past that superficial and incomplete comment, perhaps some value can be added to the conversation.  

post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

What I recall about Volkl from the 70s and 80s is that they were the premium brand with very loyal customers who gladly paid a premium price for Volkls. What they got in addition to performance and stability at speed was a ski with unmatched longevity. My Snow Rangers with 300+ days still rule the crud but take a lot more effort to turn and control than today's Mantra and other skis, which is why I rarely ski the Snow Rangers anymore.

 

Shortly after the onset of shaped skis is IIRC was when Volkl stopped selling for more than other bands.

 

Shortly after the company that owns K2 bought Volkl, the head ski designer left and went to work for Nordica and shortly after that Nordica started making some very stable, excellent tracking skis. The Hot Rod Jet Fuel is one that comes to mind.

 

Today, imo Volkl still has a loyal following, just not as strong as in the past. But some of their skis such as the Mantra, Gotama, Kendo, Kenja are worthy of that loyalty.


First:  Awesome avatar  That is a fantastic classic picture of your parents and I hope that you have it framed somewhere.  

 

Second.  Agreed about the old skis from the 80's.  I was born in the early 70's, 73 to be exact, and was a kid for most of the 80's although I skied a little pair of Fischers, Rossi's, and then those Dynastars with the ABS in the tip.  I worked in the ski industry in the 90's, Ski Market, and sold/skied Volkls. I remember the Volkls being such a solid ski where the German heritage was so present and visible.  

 

Third.  Thanks for the observations about the corporate evolution after Volkl was purchased by Jarden. Volkl still make some fine skies but have felt that the quality in the last couple of years has waned......in particular I feel that with the Kendo and Mantra.  They just seemed to lack something.  Obviously this sentiment is not shared by all and that's cool.  But I find Fatbobs comments about the production facilities interesting.  

post #10 of 29

Volkl is in a good position in the market place. Several skis that get top billing, I still like their product except I like full camber if I can get it. Never liked the UVO thing but have not skied a ski with it installed. BTW you can buy a pair for $100 and install them on any ski but I don't know why you would want to. In their day they were the best you could buy and if you did not have the technique to ski them you would be slammed into the ground until you did. I still miss my 210 P9 RS super, a supersonic speedster! One day I hope to demo a Kastle or a Stockli and then maybe my loyalty to Volkl will change. 

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyk View Post


Have not skied the V-works Katana and I'm not sure that's relevant.  I also clearly stated that I have not skied the entire line and the not-so-subtle comment about judging a book by it's cover is confusing.  To clarify the point of thread, which other members of the site seemed to comprehend, is to discuss and offer thoughts, opinions, insights, and different views about Volk's corporate and product evolution.  If you could offer some clarity past that superficial and incomplete comment, perhaps some value can be added to the conversation.  

Whoa... No idea what I did to pee in your Wheaties there, Wally. You're comment in the first post about the Katana V-werks read as it was somehow a lesser Volkl. My comment was not of let appearances fool you. Volkl is in a technological transition. The Katana V-work is the sharp end of the spear. Is a big beefy metal sandwich that crushes crud for lunch like the old one? Nope. It's more of a slicer and dicer of crud, but a fine and substantial ski. It's a different Volkl and nothing made by others makers quite feels or skis the same. It's an interesting ski and bodes well for Volkl's future IMHO.
post #12 of 29

Volkl has a pretty big presence in the freeride arena, and seem to still attract some high end users. I ski on Shiros and they seem to combine stability (including at speed) and maneuverability in a way that nothing else I've skied does.
 

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 


Sorry for jumping all over you but that book and cover comment just got to me.  I like that assessment about the V-Works being a totally different ski is interesting.  Candidly I would like to ski one of those out here in the east and see how it holds.  You think it would be a good eastern ski?

post #14 of 29
Quiver ski for the right skier.
post #15 of 29

Jarden stock performance...

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfan View Post
 

Jarden stock performance...

*****  http://www.jarden.com/brands  *****

post #17 of 29

An unsubstantiated opinion, I believe Volkl has the most loyal following of (older) skiers in the ski marketplace. So many times in the Epic gear forum, new posters tell they have been lifelong Volkl skiers now seeking a new Volkl, with no thought of other brands. Excellence of German engineering and construction, plus the status symbol, were worth the premium, similar to Mercedes or BMW. When riding chairs with Volkl owners, they are locked and loaded to brag about the greatness of their skis and dismiss how other brands can compare favorably. The experience for a non-volkl skier in such conversations is not delightful. Like many companies, they are not in the position they once were, and, it's all about competing in a tough marketplace with a high end product, especially with newer skiers. I give them credit to moving to the wide ski craze in North America with the Mantra that gave them a new perspective with the existing customer base and also those new to skiing. The Volkl name and trademark symbol continue to be top tier marketing.

 

I've demo'd them each year, more often than not, ended up wondering what all the fuss was about..For the first time last season, found one that I would consider buying. 

post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyk View Post


Have not skied the V-works Katana and I'm not sure that's relevant.  I also clearly stated that I have not skied the entire line and the not-so-subtle comment about judging a book by it's cover is confusing.  To clarify the point of thread, which other members of the site seemed to comprehend, is to discuss and offer thoughts, opinions, insights, and different views about Volk's corporate and product evolution.  If you could offer some clarity past that superficial and incomplete comment, perhaps some value can be added to the conversation.  

Whoa... No idea what I did to pee in your Wheaties there, Wally. You're comment in the first post about the Katana V-werks read as it was somehow a lesser Volkl. My comment was not of let appearances fool you. Volkl is in a technological transition. The Katana V-work is the sharp end of the spear. Is a big beefy metal sandwich that crushes crud for lunch like the old one? Nope. It's more of a slicer and dicer of crud, but a fine and substantial ski. It's a different Volkl and nothing made by others makers quite feels or skis the same. It's an interesting ski and bodes well for Volkl's future IMHO.

Spot on! The design of the V-Works products should have won an award. Usually great posts about them and I would love to try one to see if it has that old volkl feel.

post #19 of 29

"Jarden Corporation is a world-class consumer products company with a diverse portfolio of innovative products, over 120 powerful brands and a global presence."

http://www.jarden.com/

 

Jarden owns Volkl, K2, Marker, Marmot, Shakespear fishing rods, Sunbeam mixers, Oster clippers, Bicycle playing cards, much more.

http://www.jarden.com/brands

 

How many other ski companies remain?

Groupe Rossignol...Rossi, Dynastar, Look, Lange

Amer Sports...Atomic, Salomon

Head...Head, Tyrolia

Tecnica...includes Nordica & Kästle

Fischer...last old-line family owned ski maker

several small makers....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ski_brands

post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by levy1 View Post

Spot on! The design of the V-Works products should have won an award. Usually great posts about them and I would love to try one to see if it has that old volkl feel.

Nothing old about this ski. Re-read my post. It is NOT the old Katana. If you're looking for an old full metal Katana, I know a place that has a couple pairs still in the wrapper.

smile.gif
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post

"Jarden Corporation is a world-class consumer products company with a diverse portfolio of innovative products, over 120 powerful brands and a global presence."
http://www.jarden.com/

Jarden owns Volkl, K2, Marker, Marmot, Shakespear fishing rods, Sunbeam mixers, Oster clippers, Bicycle playing cards, much more.
http://www.jarden.com/brands

How many other ski companies remain?
Groupe Rossignol...Rossi, Dynastar, Look, Lange
Amer Sports...Atomic, Salomon
Head...Head, Tyrolia
Tecnica...includes Nordica & Kästle
Fischer...last old-line family owned ski maker
several small makers....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ski_brands

Don't think Kastle has anything to do with Tecnica/Blizzard/Noridica. If so, why would Head be making their skis, and why have the moved back into their original factory?
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by levy1 View Post

Spot on! The design of the V-Works products should have won an award. Usually great posts about them and I would love to try one to see if it has that old volkl feel.

Nothing old about this ski. Re-read my post. It is NOT the old Katana. If you're looking for an old full metal Katana, I know a place that has a couple pairs still in the wrapper.

smile.gif

No I am talking about the carbon fiber skis. V-Works

post #23 of 29
So am I. It doesn't ski like a 'classic' Volkl. It skis like something new, which it is.
post #24 of 29

Back in the day, Volkl was looked at something like the way Kastle and Stockli are today: more expensive, premium built and performing skis.  Much more expensive.  But worth it to those who preferred them.  (I wasn't one who bit that hook, but I had respect nonetheless.)

 

Today, Volkl has made some brave and bold design and direction moves, successful or not.  They have committed to ski designs (both on and off piste, powder and packed) that have zero and close to zero camber.  They are in the process of converting their line to this concept: RTMs first, last year the Mantra, this year the Kendo.  

 

As markojp was describing, they have also committed gradually to converting at least most of their line to the V Werks design: much lighter with a beam down the center.  I think the Katana was a few years ago, and now the Bridge and the Gotama have been replaced, seemingly, with the center beam, lightweight design in the 90Eight and the 100Eight skis, which have received critical acclaim this year.  Can't wait to try them.  

 

I had thought the Katana was probably too beefy for my light weight, but the Gotama has been a wonderful ski to me, the Bridge also.  Both favorites with those devoted Volkl brand fans spoken of by Living Proof.  

post #25 of 29
Kendo's, the New RTM's, and the Ninety 8 are cambered. The RTM's barely, but not flat like last years.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski otter View Post
 

Back in the day, Volkl was looked at something like the way Kastle and Stockli are today: more expensive, premium built and performing skis.  Much more expensive.  But worth it to those who preferred them. 

 

In the US, but I'm not sure the same in Europe.  Most Germans would have just regarded it as a domestic ski brand , like the Swiss for Stockli. Remember the US isn't the world to a ski co and to a certain extent what US enthusiasts think of something like an RTM's camber is a bit irrelevant if Volkl have decided to push them as a rental fleet model and through European sports supermarkets.  Having said that no doubt the influence of the US market is huge and has been particularly evident in the burgeoning ranges of skis in widths above 90mm.  I'm still kinda confused about the Volkl freeride range - I was at a demo on Saturday and keen to try a V werks Katana but couldn't find one but could find some slinky looking BMTs.   I shoulda tried them I guess as reviews seem to indicate they hold up well on the power front. 

post #27 of 29

Believe when K2/Jarden bought out Volkl, most of the Volkl engineers headed to Blizzard.  May be a reason Blizzard has become one of the best reviewed brands going...

 

Also not sure they put out as good racing skis anymore, either.

 

Of course this is all by memory and opinion.

post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Kendo's, the New RTM's, and the Ninety 8 are cambered. The RTM's barely, but not flat like last years.

Haven't the new RTM's also gone to that VWerks, or beam down the center construction now? (which would partially explain their move from no camber back to a little, as part of an overhaul).  The Mantra has stayed at no or little camber, hasn't it?  I must have just assumed, erroneously, that with the change in the Kendo less camber would be a part of it.  

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rushski View Post
 

Believe when K2/Jarden bought out Volkl, most of the Volkl engineers headed to Blizzard.  May be a reason Blizzard has become one of the best reviewed brands going...

 

Also not sure they put out as good racing skis anymore, either.

 

Of course this is all by memory and opinion.


Interesting that a large portion of engineers purportedly went from Volkl to Blizzard.  Wonder why that employment shift would occur?  Maybe working for European centric ski company (Blizzard is owned by Technica Group.)?    I have not skied Blizzards in what seems like a lifetime.  But overall the reviews of Blizzard products from the EpicSki community generally seem to be favorable with some of the more reputable reviewers validating this theory.  

 

I can't speak about the quality of Volk's FIS skis.  However, I ski in a beer league and have been happy with Volkl's SL and GS skis.  On the other hand a friend of mine who races masters and used to swear by Volk skis switched a few years back to Stockli.  This was a huge deal to me as he was a Volkl advocate for 25+ years and believed that Stockli is a superior race ski.   Clearly his opinions are different than most skiers as he primarily races and does limited free skiing. 

 

That said, I'll be spending ample time in Geneva this winter and it will be interesting to take some of their Laser and storm rider products for a test drive.  

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