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Volkl Mantra Review

post #1 of 183
Thread Starter 
OK, a lot has already been said about these skis, and I expect that some of my fellow pioneers in trying this new ski will contribute as well. I don't like to review a product quickly, and with only about 100,000 vertical on this, I consider this somewhat premature. But here goes.

I have had the opportunity to ski the Mantra on spring corn, slush, colder groomed granular, boilerplate, plain old ice, and finally 33 inches of new powder, chowder, crud and sierra cement. Terrain includes blue groomers, black diamond ice bumps, boilerplate trees, sun soaked blues and blacks, steep powder headwalls, tree glades, rock bands to steep runouts and most categories in between. No breakable crust experience yet.

The setup: Mantra 184 cm with Fritschi Freeride AT bindings. Accessories include Glidelite STS skins. Ski vital staistics: 130-94-113. Intention: Resort skiing 80% off piste and backcountry alpine touring in California's Sierra Nevada. The Mantra is a conservative looking ski. If you want punk graphics, look elsewhere. Dark gray with fine irregular lines a black base with large Volkl graphics set aft an an orange logo in the tip. Nice fillet of metal in the tip (see pictures); orange sidwalls. The skis are light for a wide-body metal laminate. The skis (pair) weight 8 lbs 14 oz. the Fritschi Freeride DIN 12 bindings add 4 lbs, 9 oz, and there are lighter AT bindings available. This is a respectable AT setup. Rider, well you know, you can see for yourself below. The ski is a wood laminate with titanium top sheet and makes a classic V-Explosiv clink when brought together or skidded on ice. Nothing damp about it; silent and responsive in soft snow. Rebound? Who cares, this is a soft snow ski; you want rebound, buy a carver.

The Mantra is the heir apparent to the V-Explosiv. That is a big reputation to live up to. I have previously said, that Explosiv owners, will probably not be compelled to buy this ski. I stand by that. The Explosiv remains a great classic ski with most of the capabilities of the Mantra. The Mantra is a relatively stiff ski, but slightly more flexible than the Explosiv. The tip is wider, more rounded, and the turns it produces are more shaped. You can carve a Mantra with nice round turns. You can also release the tails and slip this ski. That is an essential quality for extreme steeps and tight trees. When the Mantra is put on edge and directed to take a line, you wil go exactly where you intend, regardless of crud, bumps, tree holes or whatever. This ski can handle speed confidently and directionally. These are qualities to admire when you life depends on it. In deep snow, I found it could be skied with weight on the fronts of the boot and the tips would still float.

Just when I thought this ski could not be made to dive, I took it through a deep roller to catch some air, and did. But I was missing one ski. I marked that up to a premature release. It was a clean heel release with no pressure to the leg at all; and I managed to clear about 7 feet of air before having to go back and retrieve the buried ski. In soft conditions, this ski absolutely rocks. On ice (think of temps in the 60s for a week falling to the teens with high winds), they could be skied, but it really wouldn't be my first choice. In soft bumps the ski flexes easily and is easy to run in the trenches or over the top. On groomed or hardpack, this ski can be laid on edge and carved. Irregular snow does not deflect the ski, but bigger bumps are easily absorbed. Easy tail release on demand. Nice landings from air. Don't try to ski the tails, it will run out from under you and leave you sitting. So far I am very impressed with these skis. My experience has been limited on wide skis, and these are certainly a pleasure in deep snow and any soft conditions. I do not recommend these skis for ice and hardened moguls. I know what a good firm condition ski is, and this is not my choice. Anytime there is some snow to be pushed around, these are the tool of choice. Intermediate and on-piste skiers need not apply.

The Fritschi bindings have a very secure attachment to the ski. Other than some noises from the boot/binding interface, and a fairly significant lift off the skis, it is just like any other downhill alpine binding. Ok, you have read what I think, some "real life" pictures follow. The rider was having another bad hair day, but he claims to have a few years of experience that contributed to the condition. Please ignore the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in the left hand, and yeah, thats another big pile of snow at Sierra, different location than January.




post #2 of 183
Awesome graphics I think, subtle and quiet look, one of the best of 2006 in my opinion (especially when compared to the painfully ugly stuff Rossi is putting out). Good review, sounds like a really fun ski, one I dreamed about getting but was too expensive (went with 8800).
post #3 of 183
Nice review Cirquerider and I'd very much agree with all of the above. Skied my 184's in about 30" of fresh yesterday and had probably the best ski day ever. Skis did everything I could ask for and felt that they can do even more once I get better on them.
post #4 of 183
Great review. Thanks. I have a line on some new Sploders (180) for about $299. This review is helping me to make up my mind.
post #5 of 183
Hi Guys. Great review and great pics. Glad to see you guys are having fun on the Mantra. I myself am picking up a pair since we were able to get a few in stock. For the ladies out there we are trying to get a few Queen Attiva's. Very similiar to the Karma, should be a great pow ski for the ladies. If anyone knows someone who wants Sanouks we just dropped the price to 749.
post #6 of 183
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canyons
Great review. Thanks. I have a line on some new Sploders (180) for about $299. This review is helping me to make up my mind.
While I would not encourage JimS to run out and purchase a new Mantra to use alongside his V-Explosiv purchased this year, the purchase of a new ski is another matter. There are improvements in the ski that are worth exploring. The Mantra does appear offer better versatility and turn shape that may justify a slightly higher price when buying new. Float is better and turn shape is more refined. The V-Explosive will be discontinued in favor of the Mantra which is a better ski for the conditions we have in the Sierra IMO. Whether that holds true in Montana or Utah, or for skiers that prefer figure 11s over arcing remains to be seen. Its a tougher call to decide if the ski is improved enough to justify the higher price of the new model. HarkinBanks with more experience on both skis seems to prefer the Mantra. My experience skiing with a comparable skier on an Explosive is that when conditions got gnarly, the Mantra was capable of more rounded complete turns to decend, compared to more Z type turns on the Explosiv. Your results may vary. I look forward to seeing the results of your demo.
post #7 of 183
The Mantra looks very cool. The top sheet seems almost like flamed maple stained translucent black. Pics don't do it justice.



I took about 4-5 runs on the Mantra in two different lengths.
I would agree the Mantra is more turn friendly than the Explosiv and has better float. It is a bit more front side or on-piste friendly than the Explosiv and hence more versatile.

The Explosiv performs a bit better in the variable snow we get here in the Tahoe area. It does feel stiffer and I think the Explosiv has more rebound. Today I was hucking small cliffs in chopped up powder at Mt Rose and was glad to have the Explosiv as my tool.

177 Mantra was very turny if not squirrely for me at 6'2" and 190 lbs.
184 Mantra felt more akin to my 180 Explosiv. Most importantly, the 184 felt prodigiously different than the 177: almost like two totally different skis.

If I destroy my Explosiv, then I might pick up a pair of 184 Mantra.
"Might." Right. Who am I kidding?!

(But today I bought the stiff Dynastar Legend Pro 186cm brand new for $499. ).
post #8 of 183
Thread Starter 
All right Jim! What is that, the third or fourth pair of wide skis this winter? Need a caddy?

A minor note on the Mantra, scratches show up in that shiny top skin really fast.

About Tahoe...its amazing. Sierra reported 48 inches at the summit today, 20 at the base in 12 hours; 72 / 40" in the last 24 hours; 85" / 58 over tha last 48 hours. The base is 18'-6" at the summit and 11 at the base. Similar results are reported for Kirkwood. All highways have chain controls and 88 to Kirkwood just opened after avalanche control today. I believe tomorrow is a Mantra day; or Explosiv Gotama, Chief, Legend or whatever wide board you can get to the mountain. Just be there.
post #9 of 183
I skied a day at Alta and a few runs at Snowbird so far on my 184 Mantras. The most fun I had was ripping through cut up pow, carving on softpack where you could really power out of the turn with the stiffer tail, and I thought they railed great on the groomers.

I took back to back runs on my Gotamas and Mantras top to bottom at Snowbird, down the upper cirque in 1-2 ft. of pow, cut up pow, and softpack so I got a little of everything, steeps, soft bumps, trees, open pow fields. The Mantra skied everything well, but was more demanding and not as much fun as the Got. Felt like I had to stay right on top of the Mantra, while the Gotama was more forgiving, better float, you can vary the turn radius easier, slide the tails around in tight places, and I could still rip about as fast in chopped up stuff. The Mantra has a stiffer tail and likes to lock into a turn a bit more. Prefer the Gotamas in that kind of deeper softer snow.

I'm thinking the Mantra will shine in Mammoth type variable conditions where you get a lot of windpack and chop to blast through, along with the hardpack on the lower mountain. But I have yet to see those conditions as I've been in Utah all week and it's been snowing with deep snow every day
post #10 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
All right Jim! What is that, the third or fourth pair of wide skis this winter? Need a caddy?
I always get to the mountain early and park by the lift.

Quote:
A minor note on the Mantra, scratches show up in that shiny top skin really fast.
Gee, it really is the offspring of the Explosiv!

Quote:
About Tahoe...its amazing. Sierra reported 48 inches at the summit today, 20 at the base in 12 hours; 72 / 40" in the last 24 hours; 85" / 58 over tha last 48 hours. The base is 18'-6" at the summit and 11 at the base. Similar results are reported for Kirkwood. All highways have chain controls and 88 to Kirkwood just opened after avalanche control today. I believe tomorrow is a Mantra day; or Explosiv Gotama, Chief, Legend or whatever wide board you can get to the mountain. Just be there.
Yesterday was dreamy at Mt Rose. I hucked some small cliffs and often was the only one on the mountain. I have off this week Wed-Sun. Boy was my timing lucky!!!!
post #11 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim S
... I might pick up a pair of 184 Mantra.
"Might." Right. Who am I kidding?! (But today I bought the stiff Dynastar Legend Pro 186cm brand new for $499. ).
You have got a serious problem!

Anyone ski the 191cm Mantra and can compare to the 190 Explosiv ? Or, how does the 184cm Mantra compare to the 190cm Explosiv ?

I'm new to the Explosivs this year, but I think I have the same affliction as JimS and Banditman.
post #12 of 183
Thread Starter 

Its a Mantra thing

I just got back from an EPIC day at Sierra. We have had 8 feet of snow over the last 4 days. I am still exploring the capabilities of the 184 cm Mantra. I am 51 years young with these, and people are starting to talk. Received a lot of compliments going up the lift from people who saw me on the slopes. First runs down Preacher's Passion bombing the new powder with underlying bumps and chopped powder from the day before (maximum crud). On the third lift up the chair malfunctioned when I was near the top. Asked attendant if it would be a long delay, when he said yes, I said, mind if I jump? He didn't recommend it which I took as meaning OK, so I did. Nice landing on those wide bases. Went through the steep Jack Rabbit trees, caught the Nob lift and doubled back to get first tracks in Avalanche Bowl (steep and waist deep even on fatties). Its deep when the snow surface starts rising to your eyeballs!

Skied trees in West Bowl , then heading up the lift with some kids (20s) on spring break, they said they would like to ski some trees and powder. Being a really nice guy, I told them I would show them a good run. So, they followed me into Dogwood Trees. It really feels great to be an old fart and ski youngsters into the ground. They were huffing and puffing, as we cut across to go to Clipper. The V-724 skis they were on didn't have a chance in this stuff. They missed the last traverse out, so, no friends on a powder day....see ya.

Back to the top of Grandview. They just opened Gates 2 and 3 to backcountry Huckelberry Canyon. I partnered up with a tele BC skier. We both had beacons. I have skins and have the Mantra mounted with Randonne bindings. First tracks down a 40+ slope with powder flying over the sholders; well more like ski a couple hundred yards, wait for the tele skier and repeat. At the bottom there is a walk-out and traverse that was not cut yet. On with the skins and bust trail. In walk mode I barely sank over the boot-top, but standing to put on the skins, snow was up to my hips. Came around the corner and saw day old avy debris with a big slab still hanging above the fracture. Avoided that and found a traverse out on the other side of the valley. About an hour for that run, and by the time we were done we were pulling a train of about 20 snowboarders using the trail we broke. Too many kids on spring break, and clueless about the hazards. Took another OB run that didn't have a walk-out, skied down backside, over to Avy bowl and found another steep deep shot to finish the day. Exploding through a drift along the trees, I figure it just can't get any better.

Its a Mantra thing, and its a whole new level.
post #13 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
I just got back from an EPIC day at Sierra. We have had 8 feet of snow over the last 4 days. I am still exploring the capabilities of the 184 cm Mantra. I am 51 years young with these, and people are starting to talk. ...
Its a Mantra thing, and its a whole new level.
Cirquerider - this is exactly how I felt after skiing my Explosivs. Except of course I'm nowhere near as eloquent as you so it came out something like "these skis friggin rock ... dude".

I'm in no hurry to replace my Explosivs, but when the time comes it sounds like the Mantra is the next step. At least I'll have plenty of time to figure out which size (184 or 191) to get.
post #14 of 183
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodee
I think I have the same affliction as JimS and Banditman.
Count me in. This could get dangerous to the budget.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodee
Except of course I'm nowhere near as eloquent as you so it came out something like "these skis friggin rock ... dude".
ROTFLMAF. My disadvantage - windbag.
post #15 of 183
Cirquerider, nice pics and a great review.


My experience thus far on the Mantra's is this:

Ski Make: Volkl
Ski Model: Mantra
Ski Length: 184
Snow Conditions Used In: Spring Corn, Frozen Coral Reef, 18-24" of pow, crud, and groomed
Number of Days Used: 13
Your Ability: Expert
How Many Years Have You Been Skiing: 27
Avg. Days per Year Skiing: 40+
Other Skis You Like: 188 AX4; 183 Gotama
Your Height/Weight: 5'9" 183 lbs.
Comments: Have skied this ski for the last 3 weeks, alternating between it and a 184 AC4, sometimes every other day, sometimes every other run. The 184 Mantra skis comparitively to the 180 Explosiv and the 188 AX4 (G4). Great off trail, on trail and everywhere. The tail is stiff, but if you push it, it will reward you, just like any Volkl. The turn radius is just what I was looking for (long) and the ski performs exceptionally well in crud. As I have said in other threads, it is softer than the 180 Explosiv, but stiffer than the 183 Gotama. This will end up being my everyday work ski for next year. Overall, the ski just keeps getting better and better. It really reminds me of a 188 AX4/G4 in the crud.

Topskin scrathing hasn't been a problem yet, but watch out for metal slivers (ouch!).
post #16 of 183
Thread Starter 
The Mantra keeps busting powder and crud. this is April 9 at Avalanche Bowl, Sierra at Tahoe just under the cliff band. I agree with Harkinbanks "Overall, the ski just keeps getting better and better".

(figured I would put some pictures up and disrupt the spring malise)


post #17 of 183
Nice, Cirquerider!
post #18 of 183
Nice pics!!!
post #19 of 183
Hmmmmmmmm..................sounds good.
Rose was sweet today.
post #20 of 183
I haven't mounted my Mantras yet so I can't provide a review, but others I know who own the ski just do nothing but rave (just like you guys)

eBay has one pair of brand new Mantra's and the price right now is only $442....given that Volkl ran out of Gotama's and to some extent Karma's by October of this past year, those waiting until next year to get Mantra's might want to get off the fence and get them ahead to avoid shortages when all the reviews come out in the magazines.

Since Freeskier magazine rated the Karma's the ski of the year in 2004/05, I can only imagine what they'll say about the Mantra's this fall

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...sPageName=WDVW
post #21 of 183
btw, I'm stilll agonizing over whether to mount the Mantra's with FKS 155 race bindings (metal) or the Axial 140 pro's I already bought

I'm just worried about the toe piece on the 140's due to it's plastic construction

any of you guys ever have it break on you? can I still do jumps of 30 ft or so and not worry?
post #22 of 183
i have skied both the FKS & the Look Pivot 12/14s quite a bit. We actually have 4 pairs of fks & 8 pair of p12/14 in the house now between my bear & I. I like the pivot 14/12s better b/c of the ease of use & adjustment. the 12/14 also allows upward release should you need it ( i usaully do a couple times a season) food for thought
post #23 of 183
Mantras...........mmmmmmmmmm.......mantras........ .......definitely not for the midwest, but can not wait to mount em and ride next year in the sweet pow in Utah!!!
post #24 of 183
Squawman, again...mix and match the toe(155) and heelpiece(140).
post #25 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by John J
Squawman, again...mix and match the toe(155) and heelpiece(140).

I'd love to do that.... but it voids the warranty on both pairs of bindings and may void the warranty on the skis as well, not sure

some shops also won't mount them that way because they'd have to certify an improperly configured binding and assume the liability if their name is attached

that said, it would make sense to have the metal toe on the Mantras since I won't be doing many jumps on next year's pair of groomer skis on hard pack..... and for moguls, I'd rather have the comfort of the upward release of the 140's

there is a guy on TGR who told me he broke 3 pairs of P14's/ 140's when he banged them too hard cleaning his boots off (broke the plastic toe at the top where it's glued to the metal), but so far nobody has said they broke them from doing hucks, etc just from abuse

also heard of a shop in Canada that told people not to mount metal FKS's on regular freeride skis because they were only meant to go on top of race plates and their mounting pattern is too narrow and causes heel pull-outs (most posters on TGR denied this as a problem)

anyway, I have the 140Pro's and will probabvly mount those at the next sign of snow in Tahoe or if no snow, then early next year (in case something better comes along, I can always use them for next year's groomer skis)

my dream would be for them to come out with a newer designed metal binding with wide brakes (it's only a dream)
post #26 of 183
Cirque-,

What's your height and weight?


I had a blast on my 180 Explosiv this weekend; had my 179 Seths out too but those Explosivs are IT.......the daddy of the Mantra.
post #27 of 183
Thread Starter 
Squawman, mount the Look/Rossi bindngs. I have never heard of a toepiece material failure resulting from the use of high impact plastics. Before that toepiece fails your skis or legs will shatter, or the mounting screws will fail. The toepiece resists lateral and vertical movements and is designed to release with excessive force. The forces from decambering in landing a huge air are imposed parallel with the binding mount (compression), and the force is on the center of the binding, not on the wings which are DESIGNED to move to absorb shock or release. The heel design helps soak up a lot of this in the Axial binding, and the toepiece pivot point and mounting base where this compression occurs is all metal. Its one of the best on the market for this kind of elasticity. If you are blowing out to the side or up, the release point will be reached long before the material failure point in the binding wings. All this and lightweight too. Don't sweat the details; get out and enjoy some spring skiing. I dare you to break them and collect the warranty. Good luck!

JimS: 6-1, 205.

Tom
post #28 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
Squawman, mount the Look/Rossi bindngs. I have never heard of a toepiece material failure resulting from the use of high impact plastics. Before that toepiece fails your skis or legs will shatter, or the mounting screws will fail. The toepiece resists lateral and vertical movements and is designed to release with excessive force. The forces from decambering in landing a huge air are imposed parallel with the binding mount (compression), and the force is on the center of the binding, not on the wings which are DESIGNED to move to absorb shock or release. The heel design helps soak up a lot of this in the Axial binding, and the toepiece pivot point and mounting base where this compression occurs is all metal. Its one of the best on the market for this kind of elasticity. If you are blowing out to the side or up, the release point will be reached long before the material failure point in the binding wings. All this and lightweight too. Don't sweat the details; get out and enjoy some spring skiing. I dare you to break them and collect the warranty. Good luck!

JimS: 6-1, 205.

Tom




excellent reply cirquerider, the 140 Axials it is

just wanted to make sure on the right binding because the hole patterns for both bindings are different and didn't want to end up havng to remove the wrong binding and redrilling for the new one

can't wait to get out on them (hopefully we get one more nice storm)
post #29 of 183
some Mantra ski porn....I posted these to try to lure Jim S over to the dark side but he is still in love with his "daddy of the Mantra's Exploder" despite the fact that the 'son' has 10cm more in the shovel


http://www.biglines.com/photos/blpic38334.jpg
http://www.biglines.com/photos/blpic38335.jpg


check out the surface area when you put the two skis together:

http://www.biglines.com/photos/blpic38333.jpg




Jim S - is the construction on the Mantra exactly the same as the Exploder? ie is the metal top sheet the same diameter? do you have a sidewall pic of the Exploder or do you remember when you compared them

seems to be the same but I thought there were two sheets of titanal, not one
post #30 of 183
Thanks for sharing the Mantra experience up to now Cirquerider and Harkin.
OTOH I do see no reason to discharge my Explosives (190s though) in favor of them from what has been said so far.
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