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Head Monster 88 review: 2016-2017

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Head Monster 88 review

 

Ski reviewed: Head Monster 88 177cm; ERA 3.0 rocker (slight early rise at the tip, full tip taper, 2 sheets of metal with Graphene inlay). Mounted with an Attack 13 demo binding. 17M radius

 

Skier: 5 foot 9, 155-160lbs. Skis 10-30 days a year. See video for skill level and skiing style

 

The terrain: Copper Mountain soft snow, super cold pow, up to 12” deep; soft powder bumps, groomers, and some trees. Skied over 2 days. Mainly steeper bumps on Rendezvous and the far east side liftline; Spaulding Bowl and the steeper pitches off Sierra, random trees, and zippy Colorado Hero groomers.

 

First off, a disclaimer and a little bit about me: we are dawgcatching.com and have been a Head dealer for around 20 years now. They have usually made a great ski (although the REV wasn't my favorite and the Rock n' Roll was the best ski with a the worst graphic of all time). The original Monster was a bit of a standout in the category: a real “skiers ski” that was exceptional if you knew how to ski it. From there, the line evolved (some would say devolved) into the Peak series: some of which were very good to great skis, and some quite underwhelming. The REV worked for some, not for others; in steps the Monster reboot, in several key sizes. The 88 is reviewed here, although I have skied the 98 as well, and my comments would apply to the 98 as well.

 

Please give us a call if you would like more information about the skis we carry, and don't forget the Epicski member discount! 541-593-2453. We have these on mega blowout right now for $449.  http://www.dawgcatching.com

 

I was able to ski this hard for 2 days and put it through it's paces. I found the 88mm width to be money for the conditions at Copper: just enough float for the bowl's new snow,, but just narrow enough for skiing bumps at speed, staying zipper line. Great do-everything width for Colorado, and this was just after a big dump of around 22” over 2 days. I would encourage anyone looking at a one-ski quiver for Colorado to check out an 88mm-ish ski: you give up bump performance and a lot of fun with a wide 105, only to gain some float which you will rarely use. Ski choices are always trade-offs, but I love that width for typical Rockies conditions where the snow doesn't fall 3 feet at a time. I apologize for the digression.

 

Review: the Monster 88 isn't what it first appears to be. Upon glancing at the ski, most observers would note a fairly stiff ski, 2 sheets of metal, basically full camber with a tiny bit of early rise, and a non-tapered tip. If it were 72mm wide it perhaps would be called a carver. So this is a wide carver, correct? As they say in sports “that's why they play the game”. It's also why we are here to review skis!

 

First few runs: groomers, fast and wide, buffed out. The Monster doesn't come across as a ripping groomer ride. It is somewhat deliberate when getting tipped into the turn: once there, it holds like glue, but there is little energy to speak of. An aggressive “down the fall line” release coming out of a big angulation will put some light between your skis and the slope, but only a bit. Overall, it is competent, but lacks energy here. I was feeling a bit “off” and did some one-footed release drills on it: the Monster is a very competent slow-speed ski, and suitable for groomers. I was trying to help my S.O. advance on her previous day's lesson (discretion highly advised) and puttering around at slow speeds, I found the Monster to be agreeable. Consider it a worthy teaching ski.

 

The original Monster was considered a superb all-mountain, do everything right board. A true all-terrain ski that could handle any condition and not suck anywhere. AKA road trip ski. That is where the Monster started to sing for me. Sure, the groomers were nothing to write home about, but groomers is a spot where you notice the zip, the power of certain skis. Those same skis often leave a lot to be desired when traveling off-piste. The Monster is slightly weighted toward off-piste performance; they have the typical resort expert covered very well in this regard. I spent probably 20 runs bashing bumps over on Rendezvous (9 minutes lift ride, 4 minutes back down) and the Monster did not disappoint. The top section has a fairly good steep section with widely spaced bumps: the Monster loved the slightly longer spacing in those bumps. The action I used was an aggressive down the hill pole plant when turning on the backside of a bump; a strong unweight by pulling the feet back and moving over the skis; tipping and turning the inside ski's tip; then getting the skis back onto edge when finishing the turn, allowing them to drift to the next bump. The initial steep section is about 10 turns long when skied direct fall line, and very fast. The Monster ate it up! I was extremely confident in each and every turn: I honestly couldn't ask for more. Once in the tighter, lower angle bumps down underneath the lift, I found the Monster to again be capable. With this ski, tipping the inside ski and moving down the fall line was the most important movement. The tail of the 88 was solid but not stout: I could recover from a backseat screwup well enough. Get over the skis and push them forward, and the 88 was again a very happy camper. Very easy for this level of performance. It seems that ski just keep growing in forgiveness while retaining their top end. Next, I got the ski over to the slow lift next to Super Bee. The bumps there are more spaced out, higher speeds, more like crud piles that you would see on an old-school ski movie from the 70's. On the Monster, I was able to emulate the high-speed float from long spaced bumps, the weightless transition and slower edge to edge changes. Again, stay on the tip of the ski, and you will be rewarded with hero turns. Wow.

 

I also got the ski into some new snow off Spaulding. Even 2 days after the storm, only a handful of tracks existed over there. It isn't exactly scary steep, but enough to put a ski through it's paces. What I learned about the Monster: it loves cut-up crud, and will blast through anything. It also isn't the floatiest ski: average for this width category. I didn't need any more float, but I wouldn't have wanted to spring for the Monster 83. It loved an aggressive release in the steeps: totally unlike a Rossi Soul 7, which almost seems to fold under countering and snappy releases. This isn't a skid and steer ski (not suitable for Texans I suppose) but a precision tool that delivers. It is quick, powerful, and comes around in a hurry. Same could be said for bashing tree openings and following tree bumps: it goes where you want, with the confidence to know it will turn on a dime. Not to mention the stability that comes with 2 sheets of metal, yet without the extra loss of sweet spot.

 

I loved this ski. If I were skiing the occasional groomer, doing drills on it, yet required a mid-width all-mountain ski, the Monster 88 would be at the top of my list. For those who spend a lot of time on the groomers, I would get something a little more snappy for that terrain, and likely pay a bit of a penalty off-piste (either a ski that is more grabby or stiffer). There are a whole lot of areas where an 88mm ski is the perfect everyday width, and this is one of the best models on the market. It was a superb partner for 2 days of off-piste skiing at Copper; it made me look better than I actually ski!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 25
Thanks for the review. Great info. For some reason I keep thinking about the Monster 83 but maybe the 88 might be a better choice. I am one of those very few that happens to like the Rev. The Rev 90 is pretty much my everday ski at Copper.

I could be wrong but you may have been over on Resolution not that Rendevous doesn't go to some fun areas also.
post #3 of 25
Dawg,

Great review. I've been a fan since I tried the prototypes last year. Got a pair if 177s in December and now ski it on all non fresh snow days. With fresh snow I take out fatter longer skis, but these get the most days. Just curious(and am sure others are too) of your comparisons to some other great skis in this category like your favorite Mx 88, the stormrider 88, and maybe the brahma.

Btw, I love their groomer performance and don't bother taking my old 63mm Stockli laser sc anymore. These carve some beautiful arcs that get me down low. But I'm not the expert you are.

Thanks for the great review.
post #4 of 25
I demoed the monster 88 a couple weeks ago at Alta and i absolutely loved the ski.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post

I demoed the monster 88 a couple weeks ago at Alta and i absolutely loved the ski.

It's weird: great ski, but we haven't sold a single pair. Not even a phone call.  What is Head's marketing doing? 

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
 

It's weird: great ski, but we haven't sold a single pair. Not even a phone call.  What is Head's marketing doing? 

You mean that Head is even worse than Fischer for marketing?

post #7 of 25
Weird, they're relatively popular around here. Maybe BC the prototype was going aroun last year and they're in many shops demo fleet. Maybe the graphics have something to do with it? I personally don't like them, prototype was better. But who cares, love the ski!
post #8 of 25
Great review as always! Sounds like a terrific ski! Looked at it but got the xride 88 FS, sort of on a whim to be honest. Think I made the right choice though -- I'm bigger and I mostly ski groomers and the occational GS course to shut up the kids.
post #9 of 25

Great review as always.  I have seen ONE pair of Monsters in the wild this season.  Weird.

 

If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear any comparisons between the Monster 88 and the Motive 86.  Even better, the new Motive replacement.

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRPufnStf View Post
 

Great review as always.  I have seen ONE pair of Monsters in the wild this season.  Weird.

 

If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear any comparisons between the Monster 88 and the Motive 86.  Even better, the new Motive replacement.


Sure, I can compare the Pro Mtn. 86ti in 175 and the Monster 88 in 177. 

 

Pro Mtn: feels like the better carver: wider at the tip, a bit more aggressive, really wants to be put onto edge and engaged.  Flex is super dialed for bumps.  I didn't get it into deeper snow in trees.  Zoomer groomer ski for sure, but versatile, easy. I loved it.

 

Monster 88 is a bit stronger ski, especially at the tip. It blasts through crud a bit better, a bit more ultra top end, but with that said, still very easy to ski. Stiffer at the tip, I had to make sure I was pulling my feet back, but it was rewarding.  In the deeper snow I got it into, it felt more at home, stood up a bit better in sun baked crud than I think the 86 would.  The 86 felt more all-mountain frontside/groomer, the 88 a bit more all-around feel.

post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRPufnStf View Post
 

Great review as always.  I have seen ONE pair of Monsters in the wild this season.  Weird.

 

If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear any comparisons between the Monster 88 and the Motive 86.  Even better, the new Motive replacement.


Yeah, considering how common the old Monster 88 was.  They were very popular locally, probably the best selling ski we have ever had in here

post #12 of 25

"hope for fat skis"

I tried this one in a bit of fresh, on and off piste; at Whistler last spring. Length was 'appropriate' (means i forgot what length ). For decades I've skied every day... with the boys. I hate giving up 'race' performance in wider skis and when you get much over 80mm under foot; ski performance turns into an unresponsive Meh.
I was really surprised because this Monster had a really decent GS feel. A great mix of edge-grip and control let me trust it so I forgot how wide it actually was ! This nice mix of variable arc and slip combines with good damping- without feeling heavy... Where am I going with this ?

Versatile !! If you only have one pair skis or if you are not sure where you and the boys are skiing today; grab this one.

The last point is that these are very rare as yet... I see a few more of the Graphene/new Heads like the Joy-variants and more Cyclics around: why is that? 

ps: The new Head Graphines have not much to do with the old Monster im82's which were really decent GS skis... but really damp and so tough in the rough. The old Head Monster 88's were really stiff and my Mojo 94's are really dumb; I think these feel like Head kept the same thickness of metal and just made 'em wider; so stiffer.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YFjUnV2JNA

 he sure looks like he is riding a ski that has few compromises.


Edited by g-force - 3/5/16 at 6:41pm
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by g-force View Post
 

"hope for fat skis"

I tried this one in a bit of fresh, on and off piste; at Whistler last spring. Length was 'appropriate' (means i forgot what length ). For decades I've skied every day... with the boys. I hate giving up 'race' performance in wider skis and when you get much over 80mm under foot; ski performance turns into an unresponsive Meh.
I was really surprised because this Monster had a really decent GS feel. A great mix of edge-grip and control let me trust it so I forgot how wide it actually was ! This nice mix of variable arc and slip combines with good damping- without feeling heavy... Where am I going with this ?

Versatile !! If you only have one pair skis or if you are not sure where you and the boys are skiing today; grab this one.

The last point is that these are very rare as yet... I see a few more of the Graphene/new Heads like the Joy-variants and more Cyclics around: why is that? 

ps: The new Head Graphines have not much to do with the old Monster im82's which were really decent GS skis... but really damp and so tough in the rough. The old Head Monster 88's were really stiff and my Mojo 94's are really dumb; I think these feel like Head kept the same thickness of metal and just made 'em wider; so stiffer.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YFjUnV2JNA

 he sure looks like he is riding a ski that has few compromises.

 

Interesting. I found them to be very versatile, as you said, a jack of all trades, it ticks all of the boxes for an everyday ski when you don't really know what the conditions will bring. 

 

I never see them on the hill either!  And we haven't sold a single pair, although our demos have been very popular, both the 88 and 98.   I suppose Head's investment into racing doesn't give it a United States presence? 

post #14 of 25

When I went to demo days early, and the brand reps were there, I recall the Monsters got described as chargers, stiffer, a faster ski.   Not as a versatile ski.  Mag reviews seemed the same.  It was on my demo list, but not near the top.  

 

(Demoed ~35 new skis this 15/16 year so far in spite of an injury after New Year's, and the Monsters were next up but never made it out, for me.  Guess I'll put them back up there.)

post #15 of 25

How does it compare to the Kendo?  And would you prefer a larger radius if you had a choice?  Thx  Pete

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterk123 View Post
 

How does it compare to the Kendo?  And would you prefer a larger radius if you had a choice?  Thx  Pete

 

I haven't skied the new Kendo. I liked the version from 2 years ago. The Head feels similar to that ski, a little more damp, and a little more friendly, maybe not quite as much top end. I typically like skis in the 17-20m radius for this type of ski. Turny "enough" but not the "auto turn" that is always wanting to hook up. 18-19m is just about perfect for a do-everything all mountain ride.  

post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski otter View Post
 

When I went to demo days early, and the brand reps were there, I recall the Monsters got described as chargers, stiffer, a faster ski.   Not as a versatile ski.  Mag reviews seemed the same.  It was on my demo list, but not near the top.  

 

(Demoed ~35 new skis this 15/16 year so far in spite of an injury after New Year's, and the Monsters were next up but never made it out, for me.  Guess I'll put them back up there.)

 

That's so weird: I skied a bunch of all-mountain 88mm skis last spring at the demos, and the Monsters were one of the friendliest.  They feel stiff when you flex them on the wall: when you actually ski them, there are quite forgiving.  I am only 155lbs, and don't like overly stiff skis. 

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

That's so weird: I skied a bunch of all-mountain 88mm skis last spring at the demos, and the Monsters were one of the friendliest.  They feel stiff when you flex them on the wall: when you actually ski them, there are quite forgiving.  I am only 155lbs, and don't like overly stiff skis. 

If you can remember, what were some of the "friendliest" 88 or 90 skis you've been on.

I know you've mentioned before the older Bushwacker was an easier or livelier ski and the Ranger were close behind it.

So if this is true
1. BW
2. Ranger
3. ??
Monsters??
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by smileguy1 View Post

Dawg,

Great review. I've been a fan since I tried the prototypes last year. Got a pair if 177s in December and now ski it on all non fresh snow days. With fresh snow I take out fatter longer skis, but these get the most days. Just curious(and am sure others are too) of your comparisons to some other great skis in this category like your favorite Mx 88, the stormrider 88, and maybe the brahma.

Btw, I love their groomer performance and don't bother taking my old 63mm Stockli laser sc anymore. These carve some beautiful arcs that get me down low. But I'm not the expert you are.

Thanks for the great review.
Hi Smileguy, Dawg always seems to ski quite long, I was looking at 170 vs 177cm, could I ask you height/weight please?
Edited by beejay - 3/11/16 at 1:30pm
post #20 of 25

I'm east coast skier, 5'11' 210lbs, 51, I bought the 2015/2016 Monster 88 as soon as they were available this year, I loved that they ski thru anything with ease, but they seem heavy to me thru the day and not that much energy, probably my skiing style and a little timid this year from knee surgery, so I got a few good demos liked the Fischer Ranger 90 ti but it was a 186 and I felt it was just too much in the back when trying to pop out of turn it was kicking me out of my turns, but I later  bought the 2015/2016 Kendo and it's got a lot of energy, carves well and goes over crud and chop well, but I still can't get it off my mind how well my Monsters just smoothly go thru everything with ease as if there's nothing there, so I made it a point of leaving them at home the past 10 ski days.

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by beejay View Post

Hi Smileguy, Dawg always seems to ski quite long, I was looking at 170 vs 177cm, could I ask you height/weight please?
I'm 5'10 165ish. I ski the 177 but liked the 185 equally as well. The reason I chose the 177 in the end is bc I wanted the ski to be differnt from the rest of the quiver which were all 185ish. The shorter ski and shorter turn radius was def something differnt then the rest- lots of fun.
post #22 of 25


Thankyou

post #23 of 25
The monsters were friendly to me. I ski on head rev 78s and the monsters seemed only a little stiffer. Very forgiving.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by daybreak View Post
 

Monster 88 ...  seem heavy to me thru the day and not that much energy, ...  the 2015/2016 Kendo and it's got a lot of energy, carves well and goes over crud and chop well, but I still can't get it off my mind how well my Monsters just smoothly go thru everything with ease as if there's nothing there...

 

Yes, you've described the main difference between the two:  Monsters are heavier, terrifically damped, and surely the best, not-too-stiff crud busters available.   The Kendos are pretty damp and more nimble.  (   http://www.epicski.com/t/146451/demo-day-ii-more-in-the-high-80-s   )

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

How well you are able to ski is related to how hard you are willing to fall.

post #25 of 25

Skied mah own, new pair of these today. I was hoping it would be a little whimpier, Like what I think I remember from my test drive.

Hell NO. This is a lot of ski and has serious manly grip... with serious torque and arc. It was actually on the creamiest soft-pack of the new 2 meter cushion we got now...  Surprised me how serious they are; much like the Head Monsters of yore. But wider; so that total of 262mm for the tips just smiles out of the snow...  Worried this could be a handful in the freshly warmed and deep dense.

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