The Head Monster i.M 75 CHIP was shown to me at the New England trade show at Killington and I think it is not available to the public yet, not sure. If anyone finds out, please let me know. The CHIP was added for the 2003/2004 season. The Monster i.M 75 - without the CHIP - is a 2002/2003 season edition and is publicly available in limited locations.
As for my retiring the Rossi Bandit XX's, please bear this in mind: Some have said that I change skis and socks with near equal frequency . . . well, that's hyperbole, because I change my socks at least daily, while I usually wait a few months before sliding into new skis
Also bear in mind that, while I am a so-so skier, I have a fascination with equipment construction, performance and sales - and suitability for the purpose and for the customer. That said, here's my comparison of the 2003/2003 Rossi Bandit XX and the 2003/2004 Head Monster i.M 75 CHIP Super Railflex back-to-back:
Grip and carving: Especially considering the 74 mm width of the XX, I thought it's grip and carving weren't all that bad - good, in fact. However, in that category, it can't carry the 75's jock strap. The grip and carve of the 75 were simply the best - and I also skied an Atomic cross-type ski the same day, for comparison. The 75 felt like I was ice skating with figure skates on a flat rink a few minutes after the Zamboni left the building. Not only was that grip tenacious - it was SMOOOOOTH. This was felt on hard frozen corduroy and ungroomed "Son of Death Cookie" snow - I mean, it was snow, sort of. In other words, the 75's grip and carve were not only good for a ski with a 75 mm waist - it was good for ANY ski. I gotta tell ya, it was a great feeling. If you decide to get into the railroad business, these guys make great tracks.
Skidding: I can't say that one was any better than the other.
Stability: Both at speed [meanng FAST] and at slow speeds, the 75 again was way ahead of the pack. This felt solid as a rock - and, again, smooooooth. Head claims that the "Intellifibers" react to the snow conditions in milliseconds, stiffining tortional ridgidity when required - and the CHIP is claimed to magnify that times five [or some such thing]. The confidence I felt running the 75's as fast as I could was unbelievable. They absorbed every smidgeon of roughness, stayed on course precisley, and felt like Mother Earth herself. My most notable complaint about the XX is its greater likelihood to chatter in high speed turns on hard snow.
Edge-to-edge/maneuverability. The ease and speed of changing edges is related to maneuverability - but they're not the same. The XX was the more nimble and had a lighter feeling. However, the 75 had a definitely heavier feeling but could be guided easily in carved turns. It's hard to compare them edge-to-edge. This is not a matter of "better" or "worse" - it's just that they're palpably different. The XX swishes back and forth more quickly and easily - but the 75 CARVES back and forth more quickly and easily. The XX makes short turns more easily, but not by carving. To label one as quicker than the other is less useful in comparing these skis. The 75 is definitely the more powerful feeling of the two.
Hard snow performance. If you don't know by now, you haven't been paying attention.
Soft snow/powder/crud. Sorry, folks. I only got to demo the 75 in the hard snow conditions I've described. I'm chafing at the bit to ski it in soft snow conditions. But let me guess . . . in heavy, chopped snow, the power of the 75 would be significantly greater than the XX. That's a guess.
Forgiveness. This is a toughy. The XX is an easier short turner, but the 75 treats you like God - you can do no wrong.
Bottom line: If I had to choose between the XX and the 75 . . . I'd choose the 75 without hesitation . . . but I don't need to choose one or the other, so . . . I expect to choose . . . neither. More on this in another thread at another time.
I hope I've answered your questions. Please feel free to ask more.[ March 09, 2003, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]