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Head WC iSL RD VIST Review

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Got my new 166cm Head WC iSL RD VIST last week and had the Tyrolia FF14 mounted with an additional 8mm raiser. A complete tune up was made by a pro ski tech and I did some additionla waxing just to make shure the base would stay "black" on my first day out last sunday. The new VIST plate leaves some air inbetween the toe and heel parts (about 15cm) and probably lets the ski flex better than the 05 model (my previous ski in 161cm length). If this is a very smart solution I dont know because now the plastic part connecting the toe and heel part of the Tyrolia bindings hangs in the air in the middle and I bet that if I or somebody else accidentally tripps or steps on them the unsupported part of the plastic connector will brake or get damaged. Time will tell.

Anyway, conditions were not optimal but the snow was nice and hard with some icy spots and some piled loose man made snow here and there. There was a big crowd out there as well so I had to play it safe. Im an 6foot2 92kg expert level skier and ski-instruktor taking it slow due to age and back problems but still likes to go fast.

Had bought a pair of 02/03 seconhand 157cm Atomic SL11 that I tryed first. I dont know what it was but they were a bit flimsy underfoot and my outside ski kept stearing away from me. The plate was also not very high so my foot was only about 50mm over snow and I felt like I was booting out especially when I hit the soft piled up snow. Switching to the Heads was like strapping on a pair of railroad tracks. They felt like much more ski. I know they are almost 10cm longer but it was also something else. They are also much heavier than the Atomics but that is offcourse mostly because they are longer. However, slow skidded and wedged turns were easily executed and regular open parallell turns were also a breeze. Speeding up the action really did not wake the ski up significantly, they still seemed to be basicly just there. Compared to my old skis these were a bit crispier with a little more responce. And the flex was much more even produsing more even arched carved turns. I dont know if this is all in my head but I had the feeling that I was not standing on the middle of the ski pushing on the inside edge with my boot but being slightly distanced from the ski. I believe this has to do with the new plate. Going as faast as I could on the narrow crowded track was no problem and I had absolutely no worries of bootout or anything else. I must have been way under speed limit.

I talked to a guy in the lift that had a pair of new wide Atomic metron type skis. He was not too impressed with his new skis and told me he would switch back to his regular SL's. I watched him ski and saw him make some really tight carved turns, something I could not have done on my Heads. Followed the tracks however just for the heck of it and to my surpirce there was no problem for me to carve exactly in the same tracks. I felt like I was doing a lot wider turns than what it I was actually pulling off. But you have to work to make them deliver.

If you have some input here please post. Im very pleased with the skis and Im looking forward to my next day out on the slope.

Tom
post #2 of 20
Thanks for that tdk, sounds like a great ski. Can't wait to get out on mine (hopefully in a week and a half). I take it that the binding issue sorted itself out. Did you have any problems mounting them?
post #3 of 20
Happy to see that the new Heads are easier to ski in a tight arc than the older model. I remember that many guys didn't like the way the ski flexed, especially in a 165 since it was so longitudonally stiff that it felt like the thing was on rails and would be hard to naviguate in the tighter parts of the course. Great grip, great stability, but felt like driving a big rig.
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Posted by tdk6
I dont know if this is all in my head but I had the feeling that I was not standing on the middle of the ski pushing on the inside edge with my boot but being slightly distanced from the ski. I believe this has to do with the new plate.
I have recently been VERY interested in Heads for some reason. They seem to be putting out some great recreational and race skis these days. If I have the capital I might get a pair to give them a go mid-season (I need new GS skis anyway).

ANYHOW, moving to the quote I copied over - this intrigues me. Mainly because that is a similar feel that I had on my Nordicas last year, which happened to have the exact same plate on them. It seemed to make the ski VERY smooth. You will notice that once yous tart skiing on ice a lot, you can bend the ski and get normal rebound, when you bend the ski enough to flex that metal topsheet on the plate - hold on. They will snap FAST. The nordicas aren't that snappy of a SL - and even they snapped into the next turn almost borderline violently.

Good luck with the skis though. They sound fun (I wish I was skiing already - I have a new pair of 165 Nordica Dobermann SLR's sitting at home just waiting to get unleashed).

Later

GREG
post #5 of 20
Heluva, ehwdt you have in mind for a GS, out of curiosity,? The only gs i've skied is the 2001 Salomon 2v, uhhhh... for that purpose (not race,) i use some atomic 201's now... ehehehe.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckInstructor
Thanks for that tdk, sounds like a great ski. Can't wait to get out on mine (hopefully in a week and a half). I take it that the binding issue sorted itself out. Did you have any problems mounting them?
Some planning ahead was nesessary. The problem was that the toe binding had to be put so far in front that the front screws were colliding with the screws that the plate was attached with to the skis. But there was room enough in the end and it fit nicely (I have bigg boots, 335mm 29,5). As I described earlier I use an additional 8mm raiser plate to get my boot higher than the original 52mm and it worked as well as with the last years model. The problem is that my boot is pritty wide and I dont ski only on hard icy and prepared racing tracks so I tend to boot out with lower plates like the ones on the Atomics. This is one reason I like the VIST format since its easy to make own raiser plates. Just cut some plastic and get longer screws. To maintain the efficiency of the FreeFlex system I made 2 different pc to fit under toe and heel separately.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffr
Happy to see that the new Heads are easier to ski in a tight arc than the older model. I remember that many guys didn't like the way the ski flexed, especially in a 165 since it was so longitudonally stiff that it felt like the thing was on rails and would be hard to naviguate in the tighter parts of the course. Great grip, great stability, but felt like driving a big rig.
They are still very stiff and hard to force into tighter turns. However, it felt hard but I was still managing those tight archs. Yeah, big rig, lots of ski.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier
I have recently been VERY interested in Heads for some reason. They seem to be putting out some great recreational and race skis these days. If I have the capital I might get a pair to give them a go mid-season (I need new GS skis anyway).

ANYHOW, moving to the quote I copied over - this intrigues me. Mainly because that is a similar feel that I had on my Nordicas last year, which happened to have the exact same plate on them. It seemed to make the ski VERY smooth. You will notice that once yous tart skiing on ice a lot, you can bend the ski and get normal rebound, when you bend the ski enough to flex that metal topsheet on the plate - hold on. They will snap FAST. The nordicas aren't that snappy of a SL - and even they snapped into the next turn almost borderline violently.

Good luck with the skis though. They sound fun (I wish I was skiing already - I have a new pair of 165 Nordica Dobermann SLR's sitting at home just waiting to get unleashed).

Later

GREG
Smooth is a good word. First time in a long while that I could feel the ski bend evenly over the whole length. On the old ones when I took out the small rubber thing between the toe and heel part of the plate it felt like the ski bent more under the foot itself causing it to loose grip at the front and rear. On the GS I dont think it is much of an issue because they are longer and stiffer hens they still have the old plate. The new plate is also much lighter.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Posted by Wassnowboarder
Heluva, ehwdt you have in mind for a GS, out of curiosity,?
Just last season I switched my slalom ski from Elan to Nordica. The change was followed by some great improvements in my slalom technique. So, due to my success there I continued on and got a newer (165cm) pair of SLR's for this year.

I ski mostly slalom, so getting a GS ski wasn't at the top of my list, since my Elan GSX that I have, has only been skied about 15 times. They are 2004's, but were brand new last year because I broke 3 pairs of them during the '04 season. The skis I have now are the final pair of replacements that Elan sent me at the very end of the '04 season. They rip; but they are stiff as hell, and pretty much miserable to ski on if you are intending to cruise - so since pain-in-the-ass skis seem to be my forte I have been looking toward the next best thing: Head and Nordica for GS. Supposedly they are two of the meanest skis out there (especially the Nordica GSR), but the Head i.GS WC RD (did I get the full name right?) is no slouch on the snow either.

I used to ski on retail salomon, then went to race stock salomons - btw - the stock LAB skis RIP. They are great skis, but I really like something that pushes back a little bit and tend to stay more focused on what I am doing (thus end up being faster - even if I don't feel like I am - I did a test of about 15 runs at practice on two occasions comparing the Salomons to the Elans, and the Elans were much faster (usually by seconds). Keeping them going in the direction I wanted to go was the challenge though.

Later

GREG
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Just last season I switched my slalom ski from Elan to Nordica. The change was followed by some great improvements in my slalom technique. So, due to my success there I continued on and got a newer (165cm) pair of SLR's for this year.

I ski mostly slalom, so getting a GS ski wasn't at the top of my list, since my Elan GSX that I have, has only been skied about 15 times. They are 2004's, but were brand new last year because I broke 3 pairs of them during the '04 season. The skis I have now are the final pair of replacements that Elan sent me at the very end of the '04 season. They rip; but they are stiff as hell, and pretty much miserable to ski on if you are intending to cruise - so since pain-in-the-ass skis seem to be my forte I have been looking toward the next best thing: Head and Nordica for GS. Supposedly they are two of the meanest skis out there (especially the Nordica GSR), but the Head i.GS WC RD (did I get the full name right?) is no slouch on the snow either.

I used to ski on retail salomon, then went to race stock salomons - btw - the stock LAB skis RIP. They are great skis, but I really like something that pushes back a little bit and tend to stay more focused on what I am doing (thus end up being faster - even if I don't feel like I am - I did a test of about 15 runs at practice on two occasions comparing the Salomons to the Elans, and the Elans were much faster (usually by seconds). Keeping them going in the direction I wanted to go was the challenge though.
The same guys I was talking about, the ones who hated the "earn every freaking turn" philosophy of the Head i.SL RD of old all loved the GS ski. It is a lot of ski, but it isn't ridiculously stiff and demanding like the SL is. Smooth, stable and a LOT of grip. Damp also, if that's your thing.

And yes, the Labs really do rip. I tried my pair a couple of time this season and even in 165 length at 140 lbs, it's an easy ride for me.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffr
The same guys I was talking about, the ones who hated the "earn every freaking turn" philosophy of the Head i.SL RD of old all loved the GS ski. It is a lot of ski, but it isn't ridiculously stiff and demanding like the SL is. Smooth, stable and a LOT of grip. Damp also, if that's your thing.

And yes, the Labs really do rip. I tried my pair a couple of time this season and even in 165 length at 140 lbs, it's an easy ride for me.
I had fun on the GS RD, but with the big turn radius, it made bigger arcs than I was used to. I could ski it no problem, and it was smooth and not demanding. I just mounted up a pair of SL RD's, so I will ski those as soon as it stops dumping and report back.
post #12 of 20
tdk, what (if anything) did you do to prep yours before taking them out? I was going to give mine a few hot wax coats first to get it good and worked into the base. Do you happen to know what the base and edge bevels are from the factory?
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckInstructor
tdk, what (if anything) did you do to prep yours before taking them out? I was going to give mine a few hot wax coats first to get it good and worked into the base. Do you happen to know what the base and edge bevels are from the factory?
I had a tech fix the edges with a sidewall planer. He also told me the edge angle is 88.

Well back at home I put some black graphite wax that the tech gave me on the base. This was something I hadnt done before and I got into heavy trouble. The graphite dryed very quickly and I did not get an even layer. It also looked horrible at the large white base part of the base. Got it all scraped and brushed off in the end but Im not going to experiment with that again before consulting the tech. Then I put on a few layers of purple wax and the base stayed completely black after 2h of skiing on hard surface. My old iSL RD from last year I did not wax before using and that turned out to be a misstake since they got gray spots under the front binding after only a couple of runs. After the base gets gray spots it has to be planed and that I cannot do myselfe so its kind of a problem. The base part of the edges are also something I dont touch.
post #14 of 20
Do you have brushes? Usually you can use a brass brush to brush out base burn unless it is REALLY severe. I wouldn't reccommend graphite wax, btw. It is usually only for really cold hard snow from what I understand. I have never really understood the advantages since it seems like it would really harm your bases. Go out and get or order a block of swix prep wax or CH8 or CH10, and apply that to you skis (about 10 caots). Hot/warm scrape most of them and crayon it in between coats. Let the skis cool between passes so they dont get too hot. This should have you set for a god base layer, and then the skis will only require one coat every time or every other time you go out skiing.
Later
GREG
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks Greg for the advise. The tech told me that on new skis I should put graphite first, then purple wax so thats what I did. But the graphite was a real pain in the but. Until someone shows me how to apply it properly Im sticking to purple wax. I have a new brass brush and a softer one as well and good scrapes. Im going to start waxing them down properly like you suggest. I did that last year as well with the old skis allthough some shook their heads when I just kept on waxing them day in and day out. I have been dooing two waxings a day in order to let the skis cool down and the wax settle properly. How hot should the iron be BTW?
post #16 of 20
Thanks to Gary Dranow and the MSR Team I have a new Swix waxing iron, which has all of the wax temps right on it. So I just set it to whatever wax I am using. Before that I had a normal iron with no holes and kept it on VERY low temps. Just enough to melt the wax. If I saw smoke or bubbling in the wax I knew it was too hot. Never let the iron smoke.
Later
GREG
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Greg, your making me a bit worried here... Im still using a regular iron. A proper one like the one you have has simply been too expensive for me at this point of my financial state. Anyway, when I apply wax I have the temp set so that when I run the iron back and forth over the ski the wax bearly stays melted on the whole base. And my iron smokes but I think thats normal because thats what the wax does when it heats enough to melt. Let me go and wax for a minute... Ill get back with some feedback in a while.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
Ok, now I see what you mean by iron smoking. It stopped smoking as soon as I backed off some and I could actually set it a lot cooler than I have been having it. Still the ski becomes warm on the other side.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6
Greg, your making me a bit worried here... Im still using a regular iron. A proper one like the one you have has simply been too expensive for me at this point of my financial state. Anyway, when I apply wax I have the temp set so that when I run the iron back and forth over the ski the wax bearly stays melted on the whole base. And my iron smokes but I think thats normal because thats what the wax does when it heats enough to melt. Let me go and wax for a minute... Ill get back with some feedback in a while.
A good rule of thumb is to see the wax melt about 6-8" behind the iron. I do this with typically 3 passes, and it heats up the ski enough to start to feel a touch of warmth coming through the topsheet. I find that a wax-specific iron is a much better tool than the clothes iron (which I used to use). The main reason is temperature stability. A waxing iron does not dissapate heat rapidly (thicker base), and the heater is set to turn on at a slight loss of heat (less than 5 degrees F). Clothes irons will go through the heating cycle at perhaps 15 or 20 degrees F, meaning that the wax will melt and then cool as the iron turns off. Often, if using a cold wax, the user has to turn the iron on too hot to keep the wax melted at all times, which results in some smoke at the top of the heating cycle (burning the wax is a bad sign). Either that, or you end up with wax that melts and re-solidifies in a matter of 2 minutes. I have some Swix consumer irons around for $35 (they retail at $70) if you are looking for a relatively cheap iron that works well. They are night and day vs. a clothes iron. I definitely would suggest an upgrade at some point-it is worth it!
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
dawgcatching, we have a holliday at the beginnig of the week but I will look into the iron issue asap midweek.
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