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Equipment observations from Japan...

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Over the weekend there was a pre-season introduction to 2005 model ski, boots, bindings, skiwear in Hiroshima, Japan(Western Japan). Population: 1 million+.

I went for the express purpose of trying on the Tecnica Diablo Race Pro 120 and Diablo Race Pro 110 and the Fischer Skis and boots. I brought my customized Birkenstock cork ski boot insoles from my Tecnica XT17 27.0cm.

To my disappointment, no Diablos (they were being unloaded from the container that week, so I was told)...and Fischer boots (top of the line model) are not going to be carried by this large retailer. His comments were: too stiff and will require too much customization for just normal feet and noted that the cost/performance for the "offset" sole stance it offers can be 80% rectified using custom insoles, sole canting (i.e. via Lange) and in combination with the double axis shaft canting. Hmmmmmmmmm. I suspect the real reason is Fischer is not giving this shop a big enough rebate to carry this line and the they currently don't offer Japanese market models (slightly shorter upper boot) along with the regular North American/European models.

So I said what the heck, I brought these insoles for naught. Hey! Look at those patent shiny(not dull black) Nordica Dobermans 120, 110, and 100s! I recalled the cement forged pain of trying these puppies on in the past. But to my surprise the 120 at 27cm slipped right on (no instep pain) with no pinching when taking them on and off. Very comfy for a consumer-model DOBERMAN? Hmmm, my toes where barely touching the tip of the inner boots. So I asked to try on the 26cm...ahhhhhh, the typical pre-packed out tightness and the longest middle toe is touching the front of the inner boot. Nice. By the way, there are two choices of inner boots. The original laced, leather sewn one and a more volume oriented non-laced, fake leather molded one. I was trying Dobermans with the second one.

While I was at it I saw a rack of 2005 Red Course Spaceframe Salomon (hexigonal holes) Boots and tried them on at 27cm...my impression? No radical change from the off the rack consumer Course model of 2004.

On the table behind the reps was a mixture of plug boots. There was only one model in my size so I cannot give an impression of any boot other than the Salomon Red Course plug boot. Just like the commerical model, it had the hexigonal holes but it was stiff, stiff STIFF. I had noticed the hexigonal holes go all the way through the lower shell and are covered(from the inside) or should I say sealed with a flimsy looking clear thick saran wrap just wide enough to cover the holes! Glued on and looks like it WILL eventually let moisture and water into the boot.

The one non-plug boot was a pre-production 2005 Atomic racing consumer model in white and red. No more three/four piece components on the lower sole, subframe. It has a traditional one piece mold.

For you Flexon lovers out there... Kneissel Japan, will again offer two models of the Flexon boots for 2005. A red model for advanced freeriders and mogul maniacs and a yellow with black trim intermediate model. They are called the Kneissel Flexon Ski boot here. Whether this is excess stock from last year or not, I don't know. You can find the 2004 model at this retailer. You can mail them directly for more information. The 2005 models looked exactly the same.


On to the skis. I'm sure all you guys in North America don't want to hear about models you can buy at home...so I will comment on what I say on Japan only models (to my knowledge):

Fischer RC4 Race Railflex.
Radius 16m 170cm. 110-66-96. 175,170,165,160
suggested for beginning male racer or female racer. (Since all my skis use the railflex system, these caught my eye..hint, hint, no new bindings).

Volkl Supersport Superspeed(model above the 6 star)
115-70-99. Length(radii) 161(14.3),168(15.9),175(17.6),182(19.3),189(21.0)
Binding Motion AT Racing W/R DIN 5-14
Option: Piston Oil Control System add Yen15,000 to binding and add Yen10,500 to the ski... 1US$=JpnYEN 108

I saw a Line REACTOR binding for the first time. Interesting how the heel pivots and releases in unison the the toe piece. The concept was very different of what I imagined by looking the drawings on the web site. The toe and heel twist and pivot and the base of the binding moves when release is initiated. I am tempted to buy a Dark Side Titanium, just to try the bindings!

Nothing else caught my eye so I went to the kiosk and had a bowl of udon(white wheat noodles in soup) and went home.

7-29-04 update: I got to see a Tecnica Diablo Race 120 and a Diablo Magnesium Ultrafit. They were not in my size so I did not get to try it any of them on. First impressions of the 120 were as follows: a no bells and whistles model compared to the rest of the Diablo line (i.e. no shaft canting, aluminum buckles, a Doberman like velcro attachment between the shell and inner boot to increase forward lean). Overall stiffness in flex is controlled by two screw-in metal plugs in the back of the upper shell; putting both of plugs maximizes stiffness. The inner boot reminded me of a more traditional mass-produced, injected inner-boot. The 2004 XT innerboot was sock-like and thin.

The Diablo Magnesium Ultrafit reminded me of the 2004 ICON line. All the bells are included (dual pivot canting, rapid access, etc.) with the exception of 3Density-Twin Support. A thin stiff translucent plastic is wrapped around the regular upper and lower shell. This model has magnesium buckles instead of aluminum ones. Targeted for "private racers"?
post #2 of 4
well, personally, I think the concepts behind the Reactor are a major advance in skiing equiptment (both with the centralized interchangable mount plate and the pivoting of the toe and heel peice), however, Line has had many problems with the binding. I know initially they would release even from the forces of spinning a 360, but they pulled the binding and went back to work, those problems should be worked out, but then they had outsourced the binding construction and they got killed by SARS (litterally, a vast majority of people working in the plant died). As far as I know their pros were using other bingings because of production numbers, not quality. I'd look for their pros to be using them this year, unless they have another technical problem.

Personally, I think the binding is a great idea, and hope that Line gets the glitches worked out, it'd be nice to have one binding for multiple pairs of skis, especially if it would virtually eliminate the possibility of knee ligament damage.
post #3 of 4
All that I can say is that touring ski shops in Japan is like going to Disneyland if you are a skier. There are so many shops. Some of the stores take credit card payment in two installments (or more?) which is also a neat idea. Plus they get next season's gear before N. America. I envy you being there now.

I don't know what the deal is with the Flexon in Japan other than I'm glad they are still available whether new or carry-over . They were carried by a lot of Tokyo shops, at least two seasons ago when I was last there.
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

The place you mentioned is a twenty block section in a ward called Kanda (nearest JR Ochanomizu Station) in Tokyo. Winter sports outfitters and ski retailers abound.

Unlike the mega-city of Tokyo I am located in the 7th largest city in Japan (the most southern prefecture where there are ski still two mid-sized ski areas among 8 within a 1.5 to 2 hour drive on the expressway) and there are still quite alot of pre-season exhibitions showing 2005 products. This weekend is another one.

I mentioned the Flexons because on another thread called Flexon lovers were lamenting the loss of further production and purchase of the molds by K2, etc. etc.

You are right, we had one ski retailer here who has offered the Flexons for the last two seasons here too.
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