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Kastle Shootout: FX95HP vs BMX105 vs BMX105HP in-depth review

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Kastle Off-piste Shootout: FX95HP/BMX105/BMX105HP reviews

 

Quick video to describe the conditions: 

 

As you likely know, Kastle overhauled their entire lineup of off-piste skis this past year. Gone is the older BMX lineup, with great snowfeel but some turn radii that were a bit much for some skiers. The FX lineup has also been overhauled for 2016: the FX has moved away from “MX-lite” to a much more off-piste based design. For 2016, Kastle is building basically the same “last” of ski in several widths: the FX and BMX series are almost identical skis; compared side by side, they have the same layups, close to the same rocker profiles. The difference is mainly in the graphic: the FX being the Chris Davenport “ski mountaineering” line and the BMX being the “big mountain” lineup. The other main distinction is the HP and the non-HP versions of each model: HP has 2 sheets of metal, the non-HP does not have metal. The non-metal version of this ski basically mirrors the layup of the “old” BMX lineup (BMX98/108/118/128). Kastle therefore has one of the most complete “off-piste but not super wide” lineups around, in the FX85, FX85HP, FX95, FX95HP, BMX105, BMX105HP. This is a massive range of skis that will cover any condition, skill level, and skier weight.

 

Tested today are the FX95HP/BMX105/BMX105HP

 

Conditions: see video attached: 16” of fresh snow in the previous 48 hours, quite heavy, lots of wind-loading, heavy skier traffic from MLK weekend, and therefore heavy set up crud and small to medium sized bumps forming. Flat light conditions as well.

 

Skier info: see video attached. 5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 15-50 days a year. This was my 2nd day on snow this season, so skiing a bit slower than normal due to conditions and lack of fitness and timing! 38 years old

 

Reviews and comparisons:

 

Kastle FX95HP: this is the “flagship” model for Kastle for 2016, as it is the most commonly sold width. 95mm underfoot is suitable for just about any condition; the tip and tail rocker is enough to get out of the way upon turn entry and exit, yet it doesn't feel disconnected from the ski as some rockered skis can. The flex on this ski is dialed; very balanced tip to tail: no spots in the flex pattern that don't seem to fit the rest of the ski. The tip is stiff enough to hold up in chop, but supple enough to not to “push back” in bumps and set-up snow piles. The flex, IMO, couldn't be better. Getting exactly the correct tip flex in a ski is an elusive skill: we all know of wider skis that have aggressive tips that seem to rail around on hardpack groomers. Once off-piste however, they seem to be constantly pushing the skier into the backseat, making driving the tip a real chore; almost asking the skier to revert to skidding and other poor defensive techniques.

 

The first thing I noticed about the FX95HP is that it tracks unlike no other ski I have been on in a long time: snow hugging, but not a damp noodle. It has a substantial amount of metal, but is anything but
“clangy” in the way some skis seem to ricochet off any sort of crud pile. The FX95HP will track exceptionally well, provided you use some ankle flexion to help absorb terrain. Tipping to turn isn't quite enough with this ski: it likes active feet, even just a bit. I found the best way to navigate the cruddy bumps on this ski was to use a combo of techniques: the aggressive tipping of the new inside ski; down-unweighting at the end of the turn, and a foot-pullback move. This really allowed the ski to go flat and to engage the rocker early in the turn, pushing it down and getting the tip working fully. Some skis with less rocker, such as the Monster series, don't require that pull back move as much; tipping will suffice. But on a ski with rocker, tipping won't quite engage the front of the tip in the same manner: pulling the feet back in conjunction with the “little-toe edge tipping” move is more effective.

 

The FX95HP, in the junky crud, stuck to the terrain, was forgiving, and had a very nice sweet spot. It is a considerably quick ski, but not as quick as the non-metal BMX105. Stability doesn't get any better, although the 181cm will ski a bit “short”. Compare it to a 177cm traditionally cambered ski: not in terms of stability; as the 181cm has as much beef as any skier will want. Rather, it doesn't have the “wheelbase” of a ski that is more than 176/177cm; the FX95HP is quite nimble but not overly grounded in the 181cm reference length. It's a great length for me, although for soft snow, I would gladly take this in a 184cm. Tracking is nearly perfect: in comparison to some stiffer all-mountain skis I have tried recently, it is down right silly in terms of how easy this ski is to get on edge. Another amazing feature of the FX/BMX lineup is that no one turn shape is preferred: if you go directly to a high edge angle early in the turn, it works with you. Like to let the ski run flat and slowly tip and edge? It isn't aggressive to find that new edge, unlike a lot of skis out there. It lets the skier decide the turn shape and style. The HP is also as good as anything in the market for that drift to edge turn, the one where the skier sets up the turn, begins to tip on to edge, and then counters the correct amount to load the ski before releasing. The “impact turn” as some would call it; this is the FX95's bread and butter.

 

In the mixed conditions I was utilizing the FX95HP, I couldn't have asked for more. Calm, controlled, smooth, easy, powerful; this ski can almost read your mind. I did venture out to a soft groomer, and the HP was decent. I wouldn't call it a carver, but it held up OK, with lots of energy, if you are willing to really get a big edge angle. At lower edge angles, it won't do much on groomers, and wants to drift. The tip has to be fully engaged to get the most out of it. The tail can pack a punch when loaded properly, no doubt. Still, this is primarily an off-piste ski. If you roam groomers for the most part, I would keep the MX series firmly in sight as the “holy grail” of a do-it-all with no compromise on hard snow ski.

 

BMX105: same ski as the FX95HP, but 10mm wider and no metal. First off, for those wondering about the width differences; in terms of edge engagement and quickness in those soft snow conditions, I couldn't tell which was which. Surely hard snow would lean more toward the 95, but this 105 was very, very quick indeed. Adding to the “narrow” feel was the light weight of the tip, and the ski in general: it turns in a hurry, and has very likely the “narrowest” feel of any wider ski I have ever tried. I would classify it as more of a “wider all-mountain” ski rather than a mainly new snow ski or a powder ski. I also compared it to a Fischer Ranger 108 the same day: the Ranger undoubtedly had the edge in tip float, but the BMX105 handled variable resort conditions in a superior manner. Look for a review shootout of of those skis soon.

 

The BMX105 was supremely capable: in terms of stability vs the 95HP, it lost maybe 5% of it's top end stability. Quickness was amplified by the light weight of the ski. It absorbed terrain even better than the HP; feeling like an upgraded BMX98. Very damp, just leveled undulating terrain and floated right over bumps. Quick onto edge, super precise once there, and will complete any turn shape you ask of it, with no predisposition to a certain turn shape or release style. The true definition of a hero ski. At my weight, not having metal in the ski was not a detriment. I wouldn't mind the extra stability, but by no means was I out-skiing the non-metal version of the BMX. Bigger skiers will want the HP metal; guys and gals near my weight have a decision to make. Trade off a bit of stability for extra quickness and ease of use, a larger sweet spot, and marginally better terrain damping? Or get the HP metal version and gain a bit of crud-crushing power and a stiffer, more snappy tail? Personally, I could go either way. In the video I linked, that terrain is best suited at my weight to a non-HP version. Above tree line, where I can really open things up, I would go HP all the way. Also, I do believe a skier will adapt to either one, and it would be impossible to make the “wrong” choice.

 

Kastle BMX105HP 181cm: same ski as the BMX105, but with 2 sheets of metal. Everything I said about the above 2 skis regarding turn shape suitability can also be said here; unlike some commenters, I don't prefer to hear myself talk endlessly, so please reference those notes. I did find the HP to have more top end, but also want to be opened up a bit more at my weight. It was just a touch less friendly in steep bumps; I had to ski cleaner, and engage the tip more aggressively. Definitely a ski that will strain at the leash just a bit. As smooth and terrain-leveling as any ski made however: it has more sweet spot than any ski in this performance category. If you find yourself looking for a ski that can handle tight terrain when asked, but also has the ability to magically transform a wide-open 35-degree crud field to groomer status and skiing speed, this is your model. If this were a car, it would be a BMW X6M: an M engine and M6 suspension+subframe, but with all-terrain ability and pure velvet glove luxury. Making a ski that is relatively easy to use isn't that hard: making a ski with a top end that would please any big-mountain freeride pro isn't too tough either. Marrying those 2 attributes into a friendly package that can please elite skiers is a skill that very few ski companies can pull off.

 

Overall suitability of each ski: this is a tough one, and completely subjective. It depends on 1) the skier's size; 2) the skier's ability; 3) the skier's typical terrain; 4) the skier's typical skiing speed. Starting off, if you ski really tight spaces and are a lightweight, look first at the non-HP models. If you are lighter, skilled, and skiing all turns fast, you could choose either. Looking for maximum top end and big turn ability? That calls for the HP. Bigger person that isn't skiing hobbit-sized woods all day? HP. Bumps? Non-HP is slightly better, but both are good. Less skilled big guy? I would look at the non-HP, you won't overpower it. Live for wide-open terrain at moderate speeds? It's a wash, the HP will track a bit better, the non-HP has the school-bus sized sweet spot.

 

There are enough nuances between these models to keep even the most passionate gear-junkie occupied for months, testing the various skis in funky snow. I will follow up when I get more time on then. But suffice to say that Kastle has truly hit a home run with the FX and BMX, and now an off-piste selection to rival the MX. The MX, for what it's worth, is considered by many to be the best frontside and mixed-condition ski line ever made.

 

 

 

 

dawgcatching.com is a well-known Kastle dealer, and as a sponsor of this site, I pen a lot of reviews, as unbiased as possible. We do ask that you support Epicski and the sponsors, who do a lot of hard work getting these reviews up and contributing to information, which is the most thorough on the web. Taking advantage of the Epicski discount and supporting the hard work of sponsors is one way to do that, so that we can continue to bring you reviews of quality that you will not find anywhere else. And great service too; we won't put you in a bad ski, and if we do, we will make it right.

post #2 of 26

That review just C-R-U-S-H-E-S it  !  

You need to add a "Donate to Scotts' Beer Fund" payment button at the bottom of your reviews.

The quality of your reviews & insights are worth paying for, thank you.

 

~ Andy

post #3 of 26

Thanks Dawg, great review as always.

 

How would you compare the BMX105 HP to the previous year FX104?  Is the change basically the same as the FX95HP to FX94?

 

edit: for context, I ask because I just got back from a fun weekend in little cottonwood with lots of snow.  I rocked my FX104s the entire time and I found them lots of fun!  First wide ski I've skied in anything other than untracked and really enjoyed.


Edited by AngryBadger - 1/20/16 at 10:23am
post #4 of 26

Here is a link to Scott's previous comments on the 104 vs 105 from an earlier thread:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/132534/review-2016-kastle-fx95-hp-181cm#post_1833415

post #5 of 26

Thanks much!  I saw that thread, saw somebody had asked the question but missed his answer.  :confused

post #6 of 26

This comment!

 

"The HP is also as good as anything in the market for that drift to edge turn, the one where the skier sets up the turn, begins to tip on to edge, and then counters the correct amount to load the ski before releasing. The “impact turn” as some would call it; this is the FX95's bread and butter."

 

Well stated!

 

I love that turn (and am one who calls it that), and yes, it is money on this ski!

 

I will add to your reviews later, but suffice it to say, after skiing the 95hp and 105hp, I ordered 1 of each!

Just sweet skis w/ great feel, and even though I don't often like "early rise tails", and am a new convert to "early rise" tips, this ski nails these new school features best. I think the tail is just plain Magic for skiing steeps.

 

Cheers,

Holiday

post #7 of 26
Holiday,

Are your Motive 95s going to see snow action anymore after you recieve the FX95s? Is there room for both in a quiver?
post #8 of 26

Yes, expanding on Giotto's question...

 

I own the Motive95, so how about a quick comparison? Thanks.

post #9 of 26

good question.

 

Not a full compare, as I have pow to go ski!

 

I am not selling my motive, 

what's interesting is that my Motive feels closer to my Scale Delta then the FX 95. It has the super friendly tip, but is more of wide carver, while the 95 is more of a playful off piste ski. I will still ski both and see which days/places I prefer. If I"m skiing really steeps, the FX is unbeatable. If it's more on the snow, riding the ski around it's arc's and smilin', Motive is better.

post #10 of 26

Great reviews, very informative. Thanks and kudos!

 

Rumor has it Kastle will phase out the MX 98 next year. Perhaps the thought is that the FX 95 hp makes it redundant. I love the MX 98 @ 184cm but from Scott's discussion am pretty sure I'd enjoy the FX 95hp @ 181 also, and it's probably less of a beast.

 

There'll now be some overlap between the target market for the MX88 and the FX 85 hp, too, depending on whether you're looking for a more traditional feel or a ski with a bit of rocker in the tip, which is maybe slightly easier to turn.

 

One key point, which Scott's reviews highlight: which of these skis (or any skis) will suit a particular skier will depend greatly on skier size. I'm 79 kg and find the BMX 105 hp @ 181cm a really versatile soft-snow ski. I could happily ski a two-ski quiver of the MX 88 and BMX 105hp in nearly all conditions. Last week I was talking to an instructor skiing the FX 95, who said that he tried the 105 hp for a week and concluded that for him, at 64 kg, it was too much ski. Makes sense.

post #11 of 26

I now have BMX 105 non-HP 181cm on order as my wide-ski for a couple upcoming ski trips.

It will be my first non-metal Kastle after owning LX92, MX78 , MX88, FX94 previously.

 

I have been on the MX88 178cm again for a few outings over the last week+.

I find it a bit too much ski in that 178 length for my H/W & skill, and miss the subtle rocker of the FX94 176cm.

I should have never sold my FX94 -> it was ideal for me.  ( I'm 175cm 175lbs , 49 yo )

post #12 of 26

Another great morning on my FX 95hp!

 

This ski is just so much fun, and easy.

this snow was a bit a wind crust that doesn't show up in the iphone vid, but the shape and flex just make odd snow feel like butta.

Vid is my boring old man turns, about 1000 vert of bumps under wind deposit w/ crust.

 

 

I don't htink fx is a beast, mx can be, but new fx is super friendly while having the ability to work on tough terrain and tough snow.


Edited by Holiday - 2/4/16 at 8:26am
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holiday View Post
 

Another great morning on my FX 95hp!

 

This ski is just so much fun, and easy.

this snow was a bit a wind crust that doesn't show up in the iphone vid, but the shape and flex just make odd snow feel like butta.

Vid is my boring old man turns, about 1000 vert of bumps under wind deposit w/ crust.

 

 

I don't htink fx is a beast, mx can be, but new fx is super friendly while having the ability to work on tough terrain and tough snow.

 

 

 

Good looking skiing and snow! 

post #14 of 26
I had ordered BMX105 non-HP in 181 but HP's showed up. Decided it must be fate, so kept them rather than return.
Got on them today solely on groomers here in Banff, Alberta ( Sunshine ). Will get on them again tomorrow at Lake Louise, also only groomer action as no new snow anywhere.

First off , these skis visually ooze quality.
Just like my FX94 had black on black Kastle lettering top sheets, the BMX has white on white topsheets.
The green lettering and hollowtech is vibrant without being garish.
The old school green Kastle lettering on the bases is also retro cool.
I don't like the "dual rise" graphic on the tail -> what the heck is the point of that visual clutter ?

Mine are mounted with K13 Attack demo binding.
My BMX setup certainly has some heft to them. I will get them on a bathroom scale when I get home.
I also impulse-bought the new DPS Wailer 106 Foundation ( hybrid, not carbon fiber ) in 185 from a shop in Banff, and mounted up with Jester demo binding.
The BMX setup easily weighs more than the DPS, which is longer and has a heavier binding setup.

On my first run on the BMX there was an immediate familiarity underfoot.
I have skied FX94 for 2 seasons and I felt right at home.
Normally I take it easy on a new ski , but I immediately went to high gear.
Wow, they were very easy to turn and super stable !
I thought the 181 length was ideal for me ( 5'9", 175lbs )
Despite my mention of their weight, they felt nimble underfoot.
The new hollowtech is very large, so reduced weight at the tips.
I can't write any better than Scott's super review of them, so refer to his spot-on comments.

I will post more once I get them in more varied conditions, and also my thoughts on them against the newest DPS 106.
Both will be coming along on the guys-ski-trip at the end of February.
Scott's comments had me going for the non-HP. I do hope to rent a set while away to get that out of my system.

~ Andy
post #15 of 26
^ what ski do you usually ski? I'm pondering some 105's - 185 is my usual length and think those 181's with tip and tail rise will be a bit short - I also like metal laminate skis but 189 AND metal seems daunting (and not fun dangling from chair).
post #16 of 26
FX94 176cm has been my goto ski
post #17 of 26

So you went up 5cm from the norm on the 105's.  Ill get a chance to check them out later this month in JH - think Pepi's is a big Kastle dealer.

post #18 of 26
The BMX105 comes in 173, 181, 189
I would absolutely not ski the 173 so the 181 is the winner for this 5'9" 175 lb guy.
I find it an ideal length. No complaints about being inbetween sizes.
post #19 of 26


Agree on the FX94!

 

If I had to choose one ski for the entire mountain it would be the FX94!  My favorite....but I'm still on the 88's and the BMX 108 is gold in powder!  As said, the 88's are demanding but when skied technically right still rippers!  Don't get in the back in the back seat on the 88's though!!!  The 108's for me are solid and fun!  All are great!!  Hard to imagine the 95s and 105s can be much better!

post #20 of 26

Keeping the FX & BMX stoke going .....

 

So we have a season under our belts with the revamped 2015/2016 FX & BMX line-up.
Not sure why Kastle kept both FX & BMX names as both have similar shape and construction with HP and non-HP builds.
But in a transition year of adding more rocker & shape & non-metal to the FX, and metal / HP  options for the BMX, maybe keeping both names made sense.

 

Next season's 2016/2017 FX & BMX skis will be the same.
But speculating, what about after that in 2017/2018 ???
Kastle kept the MX line the same for a very very long time, only changing the topsheet.
The MX series finally gets a revamp for next season -> width, tighter radius, better length options

 

Do you think Kastle is happy enough with how they re-invented the FX & BMX ?
Would you speculate they will leave it alone for 2017/2018 and only do an obligatory topsheet change ?
Or do you feel there is room for improvement in shape, flex, sizing ?


~ Andy

post #21 of 26

I hadn't seen this review of the Kastle BMX105's. But it mirrors my own impressions of the HP, which is what I demo'd recently. Sounds like conditions I had were not too dis-similar to yours as well. About a foot of wetter, heavier snow over a 48 hour period. I'm 6' and 172lbs, so the feel and flex of the 189 HP's was spot on. I really loved the flex of the tip, and like the subtle tip rocker. I had just come off the Rossi Soul 7HD in a 188, and it reaffirmed my preference for subtler tip rocker in a ski. As I mentioned in me review, the 189cm length felt pretty close to the right size. But in the bumps, I would have preferred something just a few cm's shorter. I didn't go into any tight spaces with it but my preference is for shorter radius turns, but 23M on the 189's is right in the ball park. Tip never felt hooky either.

 

I saw someone else, lighter than myself review the BMX 105's and they felt the carve was just okay. That surprised me, as I was able to get these to arc trenches in fairly firm fresh corduroy. But I also have been called Gumby back in the day due to my flexibility. So, it's no sweat for me to flex and ankle and rail a turn on the BMX's. I loved how they were just the right amount of damp, with enough on snow feel, that you knew your were connected to the snow. Borrowing from a different auto anology; kind of like an AWD turbo charged Subaru WRX.

 

I'm also more of a finesse skier. I'm not someone who normally likes to ski fast but these skis didn't feel like past metal layups that require a lot of speed to come alive. I think that's what impressed me most. I could feel that metal, damp stability underfoot but without the feeling that I needed to be fully switched on to ski them. Back in the day, when I was younger and stronger I owned the original Dynastar XXL Legend Pro Rider in the 187 cm length. That ski required you to be fully switched on to control it. It wanted to go fast, and needed some speed before you could make it go where you wanted it to go. I think a 39-40M radius too! And then after 2 hours, at least for me, my legs were worked. I don't see that being the case on the BMX 105 HP.

 

But if the FX104 is essentially the same ski as the BMX105, I might just have to look for a pair, as the sizing of the FX model is probably closer to what I'm looking for.

post #22 of 26

I'm a lighter weight guy, but the FX 104 and the BMX105 HP felt completely different to me, especially in chop or powder, but on groomers too.   The FX 104 I'd use as a charger, for speed on edge, even in soft snow.  It felt almost like a fat race ski, required lots of attention and being actively on top of it.  Super edge control, especially for such a fat ski.  Fun to sg speed ski a long groomer.   

The BMX 105 HP, by contrast, was forgiving, easy, a good off piste, powder and chop ski, as long as it wasn't too deep.  Not the best on piste carve on edge.  

 

Not sure how this would change for a heavier skier.  

post #23 of 26
I have spent time on the Kastle 95HP 181cm, BMX105 181cm, BMX 105HP 181cm, and the BMX 115 181cm and 189cm. Check out my comments on these skis at "Yellow Gentian Ski Reviews". I own the 181cm in the 105, my weight is 180lbs, and I live in Vail. Comparing the two 105s. Both of these skis are superb carving skis, for this width underfoot, with the HP version taking the honors, and the better choice if you generally prefer on-piste terrain. However, if you prefer off-piste, bumps (as I do), the softer flexing 105 is the choice, based on my profile, and is impressive in powder for this width ski. In my BMX 105 review, I compare it with the highly rated Blizzard Bonafide 180cm (which I also have in my inventory).
post #24 of 26

Just got my Ski Magazine 2017 buyer's guide. Quite surprised to not see the BMX 105's listed. Or maybe I missed them amongst all the pages? Did see several of the Kastle models mentioned for the narrow width categories. I'm just waiting for the preseason sales now to see if I can score a pair at a decent price!

post #25 of 26

The 105 HP's got mixed reviews, you might say. Some sites love them (Freeskier, for instance), some like them a lot with qualifications (Real Skiers, for instance, or Dawg here), some meh (Ski Canada for instance), some have dropped them off the face of the earth (Ski, for instance). My hunch is that they remain fairly demanding, even with the mild rocker; some reviewers want that, some not so much. And as Dawg says, the all wood version may be a better ski for many, but it rarely gets reviewed. We want that beef.

 

Also depends on your audience: Ski is aimed, by its own description, at the more casual recreational skier. And I suspect one who is more moneyed, and thus older. Thus the emphasis on resorts, the good life, and narrower, e.g., groomer, skis.

 

Finally, not convinced that the latest iteration of BMX skis are exactly right. Or maybe Kastle is losing its mojo. I'm old enough to have lived through the period when Volkl ruled the Cool, then got obsessed with stiffer and stiffer versions every iteration, blew it. Kastle may be making the same mistake. Could be a Teutonic thing...hope not. 

 

Anyway, IME there's an unusual amount of noise around the edges about Kastles other than the new MX's; comparisons that don't definitely state they're superior to the previous iteration, or dropping off lists, or quips about how great old-school skis they are. Kastles could be losing their status as the Serious Skier's In-Ski.

 

Whether this is really just about industry ADHD and the necessary New Latest Greatest Of All Time (which apparently now are Enforcers, ah, how we quickly we forget, Bonafides ;)), or it reflects some design malaise at Kastle remains to be seen. As one of the biggest Kastle freaks at Epic, I'm a little uncertain. :dunno But bet I'll test the waters anyway...:D 


Edited by beyond - 9/15/16 at 9:20am
post #26 of 26

Beyond - I get where you are coming from. I did buy the Freeskier Buyers Guide, and noticed they had the 105's listed. As they say, " to each their own." I actually really was impressed with the feel of this particular iteration of the BMX 105. But it's my one and only experience on a Kastle skis. 

 

I guess we will see what the Ski mfg. industry has up it's sleeve for 2017/2018 technology. But for now, I sit on the sidelines and no hurry to pull the trigger on a new pair. I'm perfectly happen on my existing quiver. More money for lift tickets!

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