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First of all, this is NOT a soft boot. I bought new for a sick $199 at Snow and Water Winter Warehouse (an Ebay store). This is a solid high-performance choice for an aspiring intermediate or expert who doesn't want to hurt. It is not as stiff as a Lange Comp 120 or something like that, it's not all that different from, say, a Lange CRL 90 or Comp 100, and definitely more comfortable. It's a rather complicated piece of engineering, but there's nothing gimmicky about its many little features, as far as I can tell. It fit me perfectly out of the box, but my feet are not problematic in any way and average in all respects. Sometimes made fun of as a "doctor-lawyer" or "Lexus" boot because it tries to meld "performance with comfort" (that old boot cliche), I'm finding that it's more racey and brawny than I would have expected. It has three buckles (including the moveable "Auto 3D" instep buckle, which can be shifted on the instep without tools) and a hardy, Kevlar "Quicklace," which gives the boot the snugness, but should be used lightly. The Quicklace system's importance often seems to be overstated in references to the Ellipse, and somehow people have got this idea that it's like the outside laces you see on certain soft boots, but the Quicklace is really nothing other than a "liner tightener." I'm impressed with the range of set-ups that can be dialed in. But the reason I bought this boot is for the smooth progression of its flex and broad distribution of shin pressure during that flex. It's flex indexed at 90 and that's enough hard-assness for this city slicker. The lateral rigidity got my attention. Complaints I've heard about a loose instep seem ridiculously unfounded, though I have an average foot volume. A good comparison with this book is the Tecnica Rival X10 -- it's a direct competitor. Personally, I found the Tecnica mushy and needlessly complicated (anytime you need a laser-beam machine to adjust canting, you gotta wonder if someone at Tecnica's been watching too much Star Trek). The Ellipse, by comparison, seems oddly more down-to-earth and part of a natural technological progression toward overlap-class boot refinement. If there is any weak spot, it's clearly what defines this boot. It's meant for better skiiers, but not racers or hotdogs. This is not a macho boot, but the whole upper-class image thing is simply overstated. This boot has serious power and precision. Finally, another possible drawback, I think the boot's footbedding is fairly harsh -- I'm definitely going to stick a supplemental footie in there. It's big brother is the Ellipse 10.0 and it has the same flex index (90) and a few more bells and whistles, but nothing significant. The little brother, the 8.0, however, is definitely easier to flex and stripped in terms of features.