2016 Blizzard Bonafide vs. Fischer Motive 95
Funky firm off-piste and groomer review!
I had a chance to really put both of these skis through their paces last spring. Conditions were firm and odd off-piste: re-freeze, lumpy snow, some windblown in the steeps. Groomers were mostly firm to softening throughout the day (it was a 50 degree day, but early February, so thaw was only partial). Very challenging conditions for any ski. Of the skis I tried this day, the only one that really held up extremely well was the Kastle MX88, probably because it is a GS ski at heart and has the kind of damping that one would expect in a rutted racecourse, conditions that are similar to the off-piste snow we encountered that day. But this review is for 2 of the more off-piste oriented yet powerful skis on the market: the Fischer Motive 95 and Blizzard Bonafide (98).
Skier info: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 15-50 days a year, fairly technical based skier, athletic, strong overall ability. Prefer bumps and steeps in terms of terrain.
Fischer Motive 95: 2 sheets of metal with a carbon and wood stringer core: mid to mid-stiff flex. Classic Fischer race-bred feel, laminate construction. Early rise tip, basically a flat tail. Feels somewhat like an all-mountain version of a GS ski. Easy to ski, damp, stable, big sweet spot. Tip is fairly firm, not super surfy: wouldn't classify this as a deeper snow ski, more of a mixed conditions ski, like the old Kastle FX94.
First run, we got this ski into the top of the bowl: it handled the wind-blown buffed out steep (~40 degree) turns well (around 10 turns in total). Quick edge to edge, quite agile, easy to turn in that steep stuff, a nice flexible tip to engage at the top of the turn, nice de-cambering feel at the bottom of the turn that gave me enough loading to use energy to release. Once down into the lower bowl, which is lower angle (25-28 degrees), it is all open GS terrain, and the snow was extremely challenging and varaible. Down there, the Motive really came alive: it showed off it's GS pedigree, and encouraged me to just lay the ski over, really open things up, let the ski absorb the terrain while on edge. Not exactly as smooth as the MX88, but workable here, the Motive 95 tracked reasonably well. Once down outside of the bowl, we found some soft groomers and bumps to test the ski on. I would say the Motive in 180 is happiest in medium to long turns: swing turns feel a bit heavy, but it is easy to ski at any speed, nice high edge angles hold well on the funky groomers, the ski is as smooth as anything outside of a premier ski like a Kastle/Stockli. It feels fairly mellow on groomers: stable, easy to ski, not a ton of energy: again, somewhat like a GS board. In bumps, I liked it: the tip was very forgiving, I could push through into the trough well, not fearing a wicked rebound of the ski. Tail wasn't grabby.
Don't underestimate the ease of use on the Motive 95. It is simply easy to pilot at any speed, and doesn't require a super skilled skier either, but the better the skier, the better it will perform.
2nd run: high speed groomer this time. I really opened it up, and wow, it is a hero at speed. Very stable, grippy, just dives right into direction change when exiting a long turn. This ski 5 years ago would have been a bruiser, but with new technological advances, companies have figured out how to retain the performance of a very stable, powerful ski that is mellow and easy to ski when asked to do so.
Conclusion: super versatile board that holds it's own on any terrain, has the soul of a GS ski, yet is very forgiving for lighter skiers such as myself, and is a great mid-radius carver. Similar skis would be the Rossi EXP 98, Kastle MX88, Atomic Crimson Ti.
Blizzard Bonafide 180cm 2016 model: new for 2016, the Bonafide comes back with the Flipcore construction, but is much lighter in the tip and tail, flex patterns have been altered somewhat, while retaining the metal laminate construction that made this ski so popular the first time around.
Review: same 2 runs as the Motive: 1st run on steep wind-blown snow down to wide-open icy rutted turns at speed; short turn groomers, and bumps: 2nd run of GS turns on blue groomers.
The Bonafide made itself felt as a lighter, snappier ski right away. It has the “feel” of something more off-piste biased. Grip was great on those first 10 turns of the bowl: easy to handle, super quick, I felt very confident with the “dolphin” move of pushing the feet forward early and pulling them back to transition on the tips. The Bonafide had a very predictable flex at the tip: some skis can feel like they will run away with that move, but the Bone did exactly what was asked of it. I liked it in the funky stuff. Down a bit lower, when opening it up a bit more, the Bone wasn't quite as solid at the Motive: it didn't track as well on edge, and there was noticeable tip flap. It seemed to be trading stability at speed for quickness and ease in the steeps, which is a very fair trade. In this aspect, it felt more like an off-piste, funky snow biased tool instead of more of a GS thoroughbred, do-everything ripper. It loved short to medium turns in the funky lower bowl, but not the bigger GS arcs. Once onto the groomers, this characteristic continued: it was a wicked short to medium turn carver, very fast, precise at the top of the turn, felt like a 16m ski instead of the 20m printed on the ski. Lots of energy, aggressive tail release when loaded, nice aggressive initiation, and it loved turning. This is definitely a fun piste-ski. In the bumps, I found the aggressive nature of the tip a little much; the ski fought me in the bumps more than I would like, and some more bulk may have been nice to plow through and get that tip bending early.
2nd run: wide open zoomer groomer, bigger GS arcs. Again, the Bonafide felt planted, solid on edge, with lots of energy. This is an excellent piste ski. It is a bit more committing than the Motive: you have to really load the edge as it can wander on you with poor technique, but when there, angulated and driving the ski, it is rewarding. Tracking is slightly below the Motive, as discussed earlier: energy is up. Very fun piste ski all-around, except in bumps.
Snow feel is lighter, snappier than the Fischer. A bit more BMW Z4 vs. the M3 that is the Motive.
Overall, I enjoyed both skis. I felt the Bonafide was more hit or miss for someone my weight: excellent at moderate to fairly fast speeds off-piste, got throw around at really fast speeds, but the sweet spot is now considerably bigger and this ski is EXTREMELY confident in funky snow, as long as it isn't pushed too hard. It is probably suitable to more skiers in this incarnation: previously, it could be a lot of ski for lighter or less aggressive skiers. I didn't care for it in bumps, but in the trees, tight swing turns were super easy. And it is a great ski for most any condition, whether you find yourself on the groomers or in the steeps.
The Motive 95 is the ski I would choose if I expected to spend lots of time in the bumps, or were skiing really fast. It wasn't quite as quick as the Bonafide nor quite as confident in really dicey snow, but better at speed and seemed to be above average or better in every snow condition and turn. As a groomer tool, it probably equalled the Bonafide, but with a different tool. Definitely had a dampness and stability in really rough snow that I have seen from few skis. It is also extremely forgiving. Leans toward slightly longer turns, and is a great bump ski.
I do think that a heavier ski may find the Bonafide to be slightly easier and more forgiving, and to work very well in bumps. At my weight, I think the Motive is slightly more versatile, but I would happily own both. If I skied a lot of tight trees and funky snow in shorter turn situations, I would likely opt for the Bonafide. At Mt. Bachelor, I liked the Motive a bit better. Both are amongst the best skis on the market.
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