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Stockli Laser AX 2016 Review

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

Simply, I have no business even trying these skis. I am too weak, and bad. But as is the way of the world sometimes, I get to ski them. Please also note, that it is only the second ski I have tried in the last 20 years, so there is bound to be some bias.

 

These skis are one of the nicest man-made things I have ever seen and touched. The top coat is some honeycomb texture, and the paint job - while not my style - is immaculate. They are heavy to hold. Heavy and dense and balanced and stiff and sharp. I feel like I am holding some fancy Japanese sword.

 

When first putting on the ski, it feels something like an ice skate. The wind will blow you. I was in Heavenly and the Gondola was closed, so I got on the Gunbarrel lift and at the top went down that pathetic green run. The ski was very smooth filtering through holiday day snowboarders and after 17 seconds got to the bottom expecting to go to powder bowl and seeing a line that looked >60 minutes long. Yikes.

 

There was really only one option - I had to ski Gunbarrel down. So I did. The moguls were massive and there was a chop of 6 inches or so on top of ice. Rocks were becoming exposed. Basically a nightmare situation and probably the wrong thing for the ski. But what can I say. They aren't the easiest thing to bend around the bumps but the experience was exhilarating. The chop layer was totally to be ignored - the AX was ignoring it entirely. I rested 2 or 3 times on the way down. All this time, the AX was basically ignoring me. Somehow like "yeah yeah, I've seen it all before" and was just behaving like a pair of robotic limbs. Somehow they magnify any power I put in them but feel very much part of my body. The back of the ski helped me to crush the fall side of moguls (did I mention I barely know how to ski?). Got to the bottom where there were plenty of rocks, finished the run, collapsed in a deck chair and smoked a cigarette.

 

Got back on the lift and skied Gunbarrel another 6 times that day. The only difference was that I veered right to the "world cup" slope because it was less bumpy. If you know that area, it is basically a large slow bend across to the left. I figured I would just bomb it to see how fast the ski can go. "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA". "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH". Ok, so now I knew the truth. This ski is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.

 

First I had no clue how fast I was going. Then I realized. Then I panicked. Then I just thought lets go with it. I have no idea how fast the thing can go but I pulled off a massive jelly-legged turn. At every point I was thinking "My legs will give way before this ski does." I went the fastest I have ever been on skis. The AX remains glued on its edges. Again it is really not interested in my trivialities. It has a job, and it does it.

 

Next time down, I carved as tight turns as I could. The ski is lightning edge to edge and the smallest radius ski I have ever used. It didn't seem too stiff and I felt I could control it on the flat world cup slope (the Gunbarrel moguls were still another matter). This was likely the most fun I have ever had on a ski. I guess this is what the ski does best, but it was rock rock rock rock cement steel concrete solid. The conditions were not great - icy patches, chopped snow, etc. But here, while remaining unflappable, the ski was clearly having some fun and as soon as the fun started, it wanted to stay up drinking all night. I was skiing and laughing at the same time.

 

I hate to generalize, but I lived in Zurich for a while, and the AX reminds me of that place. The trams are on time. The streets are clean. Everyone does their job. A perfectly engineered system. Sounds boring, doesn't it? Well, one day a year in Zurich they have a street party. During that party, everyone goes totally insane. I've seen investment bankers dressed in pink spandex thongs. They PARTY. The AX is that ski. No situation seems to phaze it, but show it a good time and you get to party all night.

 

Other thing to note:

 

+ Everyone is jealous of this ski, and if they aren't, they must be clueless ;)

+ I was skiing lazy on my last skis, so I had to tighten my boots a bit for these :rolleyes

+ My ski instructor was very happy that I have "real skis"

 

Me: Intermediate, 165ls, 5'6

Ski: 167cm


Edited by failtocrushit - 1/20/16 at 1:16pm
post #2 of 38

So .... you thought they were OK?

;)

 

I have similar feelings, so much so that I just bought a back up pair based on the rumor that Stockli is discontinuing the AX after this season.

Too bad.

post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Lutes View Post
 

So .... you thought they were OK?

;)

 

I have similar feelings, so much so that I just bought a back up pair based on the rumor that Stockli is discontinuing the AX after this season.

Too bad.

 

OK? :D

 

Sorry I wasn't clear: I'm pretty sure I can't imagine a better ski than this.

 

Hope that clears it up. :D

post #4 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by failtocrushit View Post
 

 

OK? :D

 

Sorry I wasn't clear: I'm pretty sure I can't imagine a better ski than this.

 

Hope that clears it up. :D

 

Very nice review! Sums it up nicely.  It is Stockli's #1 selling ski for a reason; I would be very happy to find this on my feet for hard snow ripping with some off-piste adventuring on tap for later in the day.  

 

Also, check out the Scale. I bet the Laser AX is going in that direction next year. The Scale has less metal, but has carbon, and is very playful, lighter, same tip shape.  

post #5 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Lutes View Post
 

So .... you thought they were OK?

;)

 

I have similar feelings, so much so that I just bought a back up pair based on the rumor that Stockli is discontinuing the AX after this season.

Too bad.

 

 

Hmmm, What is that rumor based on...

 

 

If true.. I wonder why? 

post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by failtocrushit View Post
 

 

OK? :D

 

Sorry I wasn't clear: I'm pretty sure I can't imagine a better ski than this.

 

Hope that clears it up. :D


It does. And I agree 100%. I've never skied anything quite like it.

post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by failtocrushit View Post
 

 

OK? :D

 

Sorry I wasn't clear: I'm pretty sure I can't imagine a better ski than this.

 

Hope that clears it up. :D


Well, yep it's a great ski, but keep in mind that the relevant issue isn't "better." Ranking higher end skis is useless, even if not relying on imagination. They differ in feel, maybe a bit in flex pattern, and in some small design details. I can think of three or four skis that are just as "good" as the AX, but in different ways. 

post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 


 I can think of three or four skis that are just as "good" as the AX, but in different ways. 

 

Stop teasing us, what are your picks ?  ;) 


Edited by ARL67 - 2/14/16 at 5:49am
post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARL67 View Post
 

 

Stop teasing us, what are your picks ?  ;) 

+1

 

Oh, and why, @beyond?

 

(pre-shopping for next season's new Frontside Plus skis)  

post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 


Well, yep it's a great ski, but keep in mind that the relevant issue isn't "better." Ranking higher end skis is useless, even if not relying on imagination. They differ in feel, maybe a bit in flex pattern, and in some small design details. I can think of three or four skis that are just as "good" as the AX, but in different ways. 

 

Agree, for the most part ….. the useless part has to go, however - nothing we do/say on this forum is useless; frivolous, petty and just plain silly, perhaps, but always entertaining so therefore never useless!  The unspoken qualifier for any gear judgement is "…..for me", even though it amazes me how many times the speaker fails to remember it.  

 

Similar rank to the AX: FA 84 EDT (another high end ski that's apparently about to undergo significant changes/disappear:mad) - different design and use, but equally good ……for me.  

 

And Dawgcatching - put me in the camp of less metal in the AX is not good.  

post #11 of 38
Thread Starter 

Yes, sorry. I am a noob, and I really couldn't imagine skis this good, so it stands to reason I can't imagine something better.

 

p.s. it felt pretty nice in Tahoe this weekend after it hasn't snowed for a while. People were skidding all over the shop on fat planks.

post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARL67 View Post
 

 

Stop teasing us, what are your picks ?  ;) 


Not picks, just IMO MX78, AX, G Power, Fischer F19 all a toss in terms of performance. Obvious differences in feel, dampness, nuances of handling. And I've heard amazing things about the new Blizzard Quattros. So are the Kastle and the Stockli "more refined?" Perhaps, we use the R word without much in the way of a definition. Just assumed if you have to ask you won't get it. Uh huh.

 

Put it this way: I have had the opportunity to drive several elite sports cars, as in well north of 100K, over extended periods. And some serious luxury cars, like a Rolls. I have never felt that they are more "refined," or "precise," in a global sense. For instance, I'll take several 30-40K sports or rally cars over a Porsche or Benz or BMW in terms of how, uh, "precise" the steering is. Meaning linear, nearly perfectly predictable response with appropriately sensitive feedback from the road surface and the rest of the car's suspension. Indeed, the pricey jobs' steering is, IME, universally inferior because they weigh too much, have too many horsepower for the (variable) rates of steering feedback that are necessitated by the weight, and use electronics instead of mechanical links, so there's a vaguely numb quality. And I've also found some surprisingly unrefined bits in these cars, in the sense of very pedestrian small components inside and out you could find in a Ford or Kia. For instance, the idiot (excuse me, navigation) screens that look and act equally cheesy and plastic in a Tesla or a Hundai econobox. Or wood bits right next to plastic bits. Yet we'd all automatically label these pricey cars "refined." So I honestly think that these words are more about how we project our own fantasies onto more mundane and quantifiable characteristics. I also think we count price as a measure of refinement. 

 

In terms of skis, Kastles have outstanding snow feel, the best I've come across. Meaning for me, I get plenty of feedback from the snow as the tip encounters it, but somehow the ski does not follow this up with a lot of high frequency liveliness and bounce; it's silky smooth. The tails are very progressive and predictable. OTOH, many would prefer a Fischer snowfeel; as much or more initial feedback but more subsequent reactivity and pop in the tail. They're "livelier," more of a rush slingshoting out of turn. Stockil's are also silky smooth, but damper overall, with subtler initial snowfeel that's prolonged a touch more than a Kastle, but overall is much lower amplitude. Equally progressive tails, not a lot of pop. So a more muted quality. Except that they make more noise - unclear why. And in terms of grip on ice, in which all are excellent, I'd nonetheless rank them Blizzard, Stockli, Fischer, and Kastles. Eg, the Blizzard is the one I'd pick for a race course because of its grip and security at speed. (In fact, Sierra Jim did a number of years ago.) So which of these four are the most "refined?"  I'd say the ones with the glossiest topsheets...:D 

post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 


Not picks, just IMO MX78, AX, G Power, Fischer F19 all a toss in terms of performance. Obvious differences in feel, dampness, nuances of handling. And I've heard amazing things about the new Blizzard Quattros. So are the Kastle and the Stockli "more refined?" Perhaps, we use the R word without much in the way of a definition. Just assumed if you have to ask you won't get it. Uh huh.

 

Put it this way: I have had the opportunity to drive several elite sports cars, as in well north of 100K, over extended periods. And some serious luxury cars, like a Rolls. I have never felt that they are more "refined," or "precise," in a global sense. For instance, I'll take several 30-40K sports or rally cars over a Porsche or Benz or BMW in terms of how, uh, "precise" the steering is. Meaning linear, nearly perfectly predictable response with appropriately sensitive feedback from the road surface and the rest of the car's suspension. Indeed, the pricey jobs' steering is, IME, universally inferior because they weigh too much, have too many horsepower for the (variable) rates of steering feedback that are necessitated by the weight, and use electronics instead of mechanical links, so there's a vaguely numb quality. And I've also found some surprisingly unrefined bits in these cars, in the sense of very pedestrian small components inside and out you could find in a Ford or Kia. For instance, the idiot (excuse me, navigation) screens that look and act equally cheesy and plastic in a Tesla or a Hundai econobox. Or wood bits right next to plastic bits. Yet we'd all automatically label these pricey cars "refined." So I honestly think that these words are more about how we project our own fantasies onto more mundane and quantifiable characteristics. I also think we count price as a measure of refinement. 

 

In terms of skis, Kastles have outstanding snow feel, the best I've come across. Meaning for me, I get plenty of feedback from the snow as the tip encounters it, but somehow the ski does not follow this up with a lot of high frequency liveliness and bounce; it's silky smooth. The tails are very progressive and predictable. OTOH, many would prefer a Fischer snowfeel; as much or more initial feedback but more subsequent reactivity and pop in the tail. They're "livelier," more of a rush slingshoting out of turn. Stockil's are also silky smooth, but damper overall, with subtler initial snowfeel that's prolonged a touch more than a Kastle, but overall is much lower amplitude. Equally progressive tails, not a lot of pop. So a more muted quality. Except that they make more noise - unclear why. And in terms of grip on ice, in which all are excellent, I'd nonetheless rank them Blizzard, Stockli, Fischer, and Kastles. Eg, the Blizzard is the one I'd pick for a race course because of its grip and security at speed. (In fact, Sierra Jim did a number of years ago.) So which of these four are the most "refined?"  I'd say the ones with the glossiest topsheets...:D 

The old-school hydraulic steering rack in a BMW is pretty tough to beat, though....too bad they don't make them like that anymore

post #14 of 38

I rented a Laser AX 175 and SR88 177 today for fun.  I now understand why folks are gaga over the Laser series.

Excellent dampness, snow feel, and precision / reaction to inputs.  Though I don't have a need of such a "turny" ski like the Laser AX, and prefer a longer radius.

The AX's little bit of rocker sure helped in today's chop and a few inches of pow.

 

FWIW - as a longtime FX94 176 owner, I was not gaga over the SR88 177 -> mine could have been in need of a tune ?

I would readily take my FX94 over the SR88 today,  but admittedly I am conditioned/trained for what my FX94's deliver.

I saw a few folks on the SR95 today, but no time for me to go swap out for it.  The SR95 183 sounds like a great length for its shape.

 

~ Andy

post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
 

The old-school hydraulic steering rack in a BMW is pretty tough to beat, though....too bad they don't make them like that anymore


No lie. The 1998 M3 may have had the best steering ever, any car made. 

post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by failtocrushit View Post


Simply, I have no business even trying these skis.

Me neither. I had no business trying those things and would never consider spending $1100 on a pr of flat skis. But the magazines talked them up so much and I was curious. Demo'd them, and then again a couple days later. It was about the most fun ski I'd ever been on, and I bought a pair. In the last several yrs. I've bought a couple pr. new Stockli non fis gs skis, and also have some earlier Stockli fis gs. They're all just excellent. A description would be silky smooth and precise. The AX is pretty much like that. Just tons of fun when a gs or sl isn't the best choice.
post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARL67 View Post
 

I rented a Laser AX 175 and SR88 177 today for fun.  I now understand why folks are gaga over the Laser series.

Excellent dampness, snow feel, and precision / reaction to inputs.  Though I don't have a need of such a "turny" ski like the Laser AX, and prefer a longer radius.

The AX's little bit of rocker sure helped in today's chop and a few inches of pow.

 

FWIW - as a longtime FX94 176 owner, I was not gaga over the SR88 177 -> mine could have been in need of a tune ?

I would readily take my FX94 over the SR88 today,  but admittedly I am conditioned/trained for what my FX94's deliver.

I saw a few folks on the SR95 today, but no time for me to go swap out for it.  The SR95 183 sounds like a great length for its shape.

 

~ Andy

 

The AX is a special ski.  Both of my demo partners at the NorCal demo are getting a pair after skiing them.  It has a quality about it and such a huge range: they simply don't make skis that are so capable off-piste but still like to rip on hard snow; adapt to such a wide range of skiing styles and turn shapes.  

 

I really like the SR88, but the FX94 is not slouch.  For me, that is somewhat of a toss-up.  Similar lengths, similar flex; different tip design, different snow feel, same performance.  The nice thing about the SR88 is that there is a small redesign for next year, so places like us are blowing them out.  The AX is also being slightly redesigned, but it was so popular that Stockli is mostly sold out already.  The current version and the new version are slightly different at slower speeds, but as the speeds increase, the skis are basically the same. 

post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
..........The current version and the new version are slightly different at slower speeds, but as the speeds increase, the skis are basically the same. 

 

 

Now that's the best news I've heard all week!

 

... even if it does mean less metal

post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utahski View Post


Me neither. I had no business trying those things and would never consider spending $1100 on a pr of flat skis. But the magazines talked them up so much and I was curious. Demo'd them, and then again a couple days later. It was about the most fun ski I'd ever been on, and I bought a pair. In the last several yrs. I've bought a couple pr. new Stockli non fis gs skis, and also have some earlier Stockli fis gs. They're all just excellent. A description would be silky smooth and precise. The AX is pretty much like that. Just tons of fun when a gs or sl isn't the best choice.


I agree... the most fun ski I've ever been on as well. I just had to buy a pair after a few hours demo. Something about that rubber insert in the tail that makes it such a turning machine if thats what you're looking for. The most confident I've been on a pair of skis at higher speeds period.

post #20 of 38
Thread Starter 
Another 4 days on these. It just gets better. Turn initiation is especially good. I don't have the technical terminology to describe it, but the inside tip of the new outside ski (make any sense?) feels like a razor shovel as it digs under the snow and clamps on the new turn. Amazing stuff.

And since we are doing car analogies, it reminds me of the chassis on the original Minis. Set the direction on the front tyres, and the rest will follow under any condition.
post #21 of 38
Now you should look into getting a tune done. I believe the factory tune is a 1 degree base and 1 degree side. Just retuned mine to a 1/3.
post #22 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonfme View Post

Now you should look into getting a tune done. I believe the factory tune is a 1 degree base and 1 degree side. Just retuned mine to a 1/3.

I have not really got a clue what this means.
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by failtocrushit View Post


I have not really got a clue what this means.

Basically, 1 degree "less" than flat on the base edges, and 3 degrees "beyond" vertical towards the center of the ski on the side edges.

 

So instead of a 90 degree angle on the edge, you have an 88 degree angle for more bite.

 

I'm a bit of a pundit about the 3 degree angle recommendation.  First off, is Stockli so stupid that they make and successfully sell $1000+ handmade skis, but don't know what the optimum edge tune is?  Second, 1/3 makes for a less versatile off-piste ski IMO, and that versatility is part of the idea of the AX.

 

It just reminds me of the mountain bike world, where no matter what width handlebar your bike comes with, it should have been wider.  And your stem should have been shorter!

 

Rant over, but I hope the explanation of edge bevels helped!

post #24 of 38
Not clear why 1:3 is less versatile off piste since by definition edge angles have relatively little impact on soft snow. Last year coupla pros in SKIING argued whether it made any sense to ever tune soft snow skis; one said no cuz edges are irrelevant, other said yes cuz edges are irrelevant so having good groomer tune would help on way back to lifts...
post #25 of 38
Not looking for off-piste performance. Don't think a 1/1 or 1/3 makes a difference off-piste. I will however be using these skis on eastern hardback aka boilerplate.
post #26 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Not clear why 1:3 is less versatile off piste since by definition edge angles have relatively little impact on soft snow. Last year coupla pros in SKIING argued whether it made any sense to ever tune soft snow skis; one said no cuz edges are irrelevant, other said yes cuz edges are irrelevant so having good groomer tune would help on way back to lifts...

 

I can certainly feel what's under the soft snow on a new snow day -- truly "bottomless" days are rare for me -- and 1/1 or 1/2 definitely feels less abrupt in hook up than 1/3 to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonfme View Post

Not looking for off-piste performance. Don't think a 1/1 or 1/3 makes a difference off-piste. I will however be using these skis on eastern hardback aka boilerplate.

OK, so in that case, why not check out the SC?  @dawgcatching waxes eloquently about that ski.  Just loves it!

post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRPufnStf View Post
 

 

I can certainly feel what's under the soft snow on a new snow day -- truly "bottomless" days are rare for me -- and 1/1 or 1/2 definitely feels less abrupt in hook up than 1/3 to me.

OK, so in that case, why not check out the SC?  @dawgcatching waxes eloquently about that ski.  Just loves it!

Don't want to hijack this thread but wow! Now you are suggesting skis that I should test/purchase. I have plenty of race skis and I also own the Laser AX and will be quite happy with them with a 1/3. Just now looking to install a race plate for them but until then, I will make do with the bindings that were installed on them.

 

I do not agree with your previous comment at all regarding manufacturers tunes. I would think that most manufacturers set a baseline from which to work from. A 1/1 is a good all around general tune for skiers that don't think or care about it. IMO, you need to determine what your overall terrain/ski conditions are and set your tune accordingly. The AX is marketed as a front side carver working with variable conditions. A 1/3 works better for me to fit that criteria and it works well. I too am a bit of a pundit about the 3 degree angle recommendation and that’s why 80% of my skis have it. First thing I do after purchasing a new ski is have it tuned to my liking. In fact, a lot of tunes coming out of the factory from some vendors are pretty poor.

post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonfme View Post
 

Don't want to hijack this thread but wow! Now you are suggesting skis that I should test/purchase. I have plenty of race skis and I also own the Laser AX and will be quite happy with them with a 1/3. Just now looking to install a race plate for them but until then, I will make do with the bindings that were installed on them.

 

I do not agree with your previous comment at all regarding manufacturers tunes. I would think that most manufacturers set a baseline from which to work from. A 1/1 is a good all around general tune for skiers that don't think or care about it. IMO, you need to determine what your overall terrain/ski conditions are and set your tune accordingly. The AX is marketed as a front side carver working with variable conditions. A 1/3 works better for me to fit that criteria and it works well. I too am a bit of a pundit about the 3 degree angle recommendation and that’s why 80% of my skis have it. First thing I do after purchasing a new ski is have it tuned to my liking. In fact, a lot of tunes coming out of the factory from some vendors are pretty poor.

No no no!  And wow too!  I was responding to failtocrushit's question -- the OP -- then mixed up who was saying what in the thread.

 

Could not agree more with your comment about some factory tunes being poor.  Really poor.

 

But IME, Stockli is NOT one of those.

post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRPufnStf View Post
 

No no no!  And wow too!  I was responding to failtocrushit's question -- the OP -- then mixed up who was saying what in the thread.

 

Could not agree more with your comment about some factory tunes being poor.  Really poor.

 

But IME, Stockli is NOT one of those.

;)  I agree that the factory tune is pretty good for Stockli's. What's interesting to me though and I posted somewhere else on another thread. There have been varying opinions on the performance of the AX. It always makes me wonder if it was a demo, how was the tune. If it was a purchase, was the tune checked. That's the first thing I look at before I just say I'm not happy with the performance of the ski.

post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonfme View Post
 

;)  I agree that the factory tune is pretty good for Stockli's. What's interesting to me though and I posted somewhere else on another thread. There have been varying opinions on the performance of the AX. It always makes me wonder if it was a demo, how was the tune. If it was a purchase, was the tune checked. That's the first thing I look at before I just say I'm not happy with the performance of the ski.

Always worth checking the factory tune!  

 

With that said, I have been skiing the Stockli SC the past few days, mostly off piste and in junk snow. Also some blue ice.  Checked the tune, and it is DIALED. Perfect at the tips and tail, just the right amount of de-tuning above the contact point, perfectly flat.  If I re-tuned it on a top-end Wintesteiger machine, I could possibly get it a little better, but it was at least 95% of the way there out of the wrapper.  Most skis are 50-70%.

 

Scott

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