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(LONG) Atomic M:EX vs. Volkl Karma vs. Head iM88 vs. Head Mojo 90

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Today I Fell in Love

But not with the skis I was expecting...

First, let's get the obligatory specs out of the way: Your ski tester today has 35 years of skiing under his 38 y.o. belt. I'm 5'8" and 170 lbs and a solid 8 to maybey 9+ skier on a good day. I like high speeds, bumps, and seek out the steep diamond and double-diamond runs.

I'm searching for skis that will broaden my spectrum of experience and allow me to tackle back-country powder while still being as good as possible on the front-side bumps, steeps & groomers. I'm willing to trade off some carving and quick turning ability for better deep snow performance so have been looking at skis with waist widths in the 85 - 90mm range. Previously I've demo'd the Volkl AC4, K2 Apache Outlaw, and Rossi B3 which was written about in another thread.

Today's conditions at Crystal Mt. in Washington pretty much sucked. Bulletproof would be a good way to describe the majority of the snow. Jagged, crusty/icy bumps on the steep/non groomed runs. Everyone was skiing the groomers so they had a decent layer of ice shaving on top of the occasional patches of clear ice. I did manage to find two steep, higher North facing pitches where the snow still had some semblance of softness to it but was still chunky & crusty. Temps in the teens and strong, gusty winds, enough wind to shut down the Silver Queen chair which also effectively cut off access to some of best and most technical in-bounds terrain at higher elevations. At least the sun was out and the sky was crystal clear blue.

I figured if the skis I've been looking at performed well in today's conditions they would be awesome in better conditions.

I started the day off on a Pair of Atomic Metron M:EX's in the 175 length. In short, these are too much ski for me. Too stiff and I constantly felt like I was getting pushed into the back seat on them. It was a fair amount of work to stay in their fairly small sweet spot. They didn't want to turn quickly unless I really pressured them but they did arc big Super-G style turns very easily. They did hold edge the best of all the skis I tried today and seemed to have no speed limit to them, the faster you went the better they skied but when you got onto clear ice they got unnervingly squirrelly. They also tied in the "least chatter on ice while trying to carve" category. They are without a doubt the stiffest ski I've tried this year and I'm learning that I like something a little softer.

Since a Seattle area ski shop was putting on a demo day but I'd rented the M:EX's from the on-mountain ski shop I gave them to the ski check and dived into the demo fray as there were several models available I've been dying to try but haven't been able to find 'til now.

Next up were the Volkl Karmas in 185, a ski we've all heard a lot about and that everyone seems to like pretty well. Only the 185s were available at that time so I took them out. Wow, what a difference from the M:EXs. Much more forgiving and easier to turn. Held an edge very well on the hard stuff but chattered like crazy when pressured on ice. Could be skied at any speed and felt plenty stable though were very noisy at high speeds in the chopped up ice cubes. Carved nicely but tended to wash out at the end of the turn, probably because of the turned up tail, a traight the Mojo 90 (see below) also shared, and furthermore a trait I could live with. Overall I really liked them, then I took them onto the steep, softer (relatively speaking) snow I'd found. They surprised me with how hard they were to bring around the fall line, they were much slower than I would've expected from how they felt everywhere else. When I took them back to the Volkl tent a pair of 177s had come back so I grabbed them and took them out. Funny how 8cm can make such a big difference, they skied much, much better. I had no trouble turning them on the steeper pitches at all and they were just as stable and solid, and they also chattered just as badly when pressured on ice. Overall, I really, really liked them, lots of fun and up to that point the best ski for what I'm wanting that I've been on this year.

Next up were the Head iM88s in the 175 length. "Monster" is a good name for these skis. I didn't like them, they skied very stiff and not very lively. Found myself catching inside edges on them and they were hard to make turn on the steep, crusty snow, had to do kick turns rather than letting them carve. They wanted to run flat-out in a straight line and only make big GS-style turns on the hard stuff. Made two quick runs and took them back, didn't really push their limits on the ice as I wasn't interested in them. Maybe big guys with 40+ lbs and several inches on me would like them.

Then I grabbed a pair of Head Mojo 90s in the 176 length. Because they are a softer ski I would've really liked to try them in the 183 length but they didn't have them available. At 124/89/117mm these are the fattest skis I've been on and I wasn't expecting them to perform well in these conditions. Boy was I surprised. I loved them! They were surprisingly quick edge-to-edge for such a fat ski, dug in and carved really well, and for the first time today I found myself skiing with enough confidence to let it all hang out on the two steep runs with the softer snow, just face the fall line and let the skis turn under me. They soaked up bumps like nothing yet were plenty lively and had decent rebound. Turning them was almost intuitive, just pressuring the inside or outside edges with my toes brought them around lickety-split and went right where I pointed them and carved just fine where the snow was a little softer. The Head rep said these were a "turny" ski and he wasn't lying. They were surprsingly damp at higher speeds yet plenty lively when turning and in bumps. They were okay on ice but tended to skid more than the others (probably because of their width), though if you really leaned them over to make them dig in they held on fine and had the least chatter of any but the M:EXs. I wouldn't have believed such a wide ski would handle this well and still be good in bumps too. I think these are the skis for me though I still really want to try them in the 183 length. The only drawback to them is they aren't as fast in a straight line as any of the others, but I can live with that. Maybe they just needed base work and wax... When I got home I re-read the evaluation of them in Freeskier mag's gear review and had to pretty much agree with what they said as it applied to my experience on them: "A solid all-mountain offering from Head ... The 90 skis more big-mountain than park. ...the 90 has "quick turning ability." These skis were also picked for their "Editors Quiver" where they wrote: "A quick and lively offering that tends towards the all-mountain spectrum but isn't out of place when you want to hit the booters." Since my graying hair is totally out of place in the park and hucking myself off cliffs reminds me of my ACL injury back in '96, I don't have any problems with those evaluations. To top it all off, they are one heckuva cool looking ski, something that I'm almost embarrassed to say is somewhat important to me as I've been skiing on flourescent pink and blue Dynastar Vertical Assaults from '91 for far too long, and I didn't like those colors back then either.

My overall ratings:

Stability at high speeds (running flat) in today's icy conditions:
1) iM88 (2)Mojo 90 (3) Karma (4) M:EX

Edge hold on ice:
1) M:EX (2)Karma/Mojo 90 (tie) (4)iM88?? (didn't try real hard on them)
Gotta qualify this - while the Karmas were easier to get up on edge and dig into the ice, their tendency to chatter obnoxiously had me liking the Mojo 90 much better as it was more damp yet a little more work to get on edge. It also skidded more predictably, also with less chatter.

Turn initiation:
1) Mojo 90 (2) Karma (3)M:EX (4)iM88
(VERY close here, almost a tie between Mojo & Karma)

Turn radius (tighter is better):
1) Mojo 90/Karma 177 (tie) (2) M:EX (3) Karma 185 (4) iM88

Carving ability:
1) Karma (2) Mojo 90 (3)M:EX (4)iM88

Forgiveness/fun factor:
1) Mojo 90 (2) Karma (3) M:EX (4) iM88

A more powerful heavier skier would probably rate the M:EX much higher, I just didn't have it in me to flex them enough to keep them carving consistently or to make quick turns with them. For me, a ski this stiff needs a narrower waist and a smaller sidecut radius. That's probably what doomed the iM88s for me also. I'd probably like the B5 or M11 much better but want to stick with the wider waisted skis so I only have to take one pair on a road trip to Utah.

Can't wait 'til we get some fresh to try the Mojo 90s in, I'm betting they'll float like a balloon in the Salt Lake. Now I just gotta find a discount deal on them somewhere or face waiting 'til the end of the season to get new boards...

I'd like to thank all the Bears who've contributed to my previous threads, answering my questions and offering your suggestions, it's very much appreciated.

Here's how I'd personally rate all the skis I've tried this year in order of desireability/suitability for my wants/tastes:
1) Head Mojo 90
2) Volkl Karma
3) Volkl AC4 (If my primary concern was on-piste performance, these would be #1)
4) Rossi B3
5) K2 Apache Outlaw
6) Atomic M:EX
7) Head iM88

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 25
Great reviews. I've skied the Mojo90's, iM85, Rex. I'm a lighter weight skier like you (140 lbs), and I also felt the same way about these skis as you.

The im85's are a bit stiffer than this year's im88's, way too much ski for me. Ditto on the Rex's. These skis are obviously aimed at a heavier and more aggressive skier than me.

The Mojo's were way more fun and surprisingly versatile for a 90 waist ski. They definitely could be a 1 quiver ski, with good float in the pow, carves and hold well on the hardpack.
post #3 of 25
My bootfitter skis the 176 Mojo 90 mounted 6mm forward.He says they are the best skis he carries in his shop right now.
post #4 of 25
Wiilb,

First off...Awesome review , you covered a range of conditions suberbly and your insight was interesting. As a fellow lightwieght i really appreciate your findings .

Can you compare the Volkl AC4 to the Mojo? Pro's and cons relative to each other? Thanks.

Anybody ski the 8800 w/ the Mojo's?

The Mojo's were not on my radar screen until this review. Now you've got me curious. A local shop has talked to me about these and offered to mount them up for a demo. I might be calling them to try 'em next time up.

Thanks again.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by team ftb
Wiilb,
...
Can you compare the Volkl AC4 to the Mojo? Pro's and cons relative to each other? Thanks.
...
Thanks again.

I don't know how fair a comparison I can make. When I skied the AC4s conditions were completely opposite of what I experienced yesterday - light fluffy pow with nary a patch of ice anywhere.

I'd have to say the AC4s are much quicker edge-to-edge as would be expected from a narrower ski. They were also more stable at high speeds. Turn initiation was pretty much a tie, they both want to turn but the AC4s are far superior in carving ability and being able to make tight, carved turns and I was skiing the AC4s in the 184 length too. Can't make any meaningful comparison as to edge hold or how well they'd handle ice though I'd speculate they'd be better in that category also. The *only* thing keeping me from going with the AC4s is their deep snow performance, it just wasn't what I'm looking for. They were serviceable in deep powder but between them and the B3 and Outlaw they had the least float. The Outlaw had the best float and the Mojo 90 is slightly wider still so unless they have some strange design flaw that causes them to sink, I'd expect them to float as well or better than anything I've tried. Overall the Mojo 90s came closest to the AC4 in the on-piste fun factor which is why they're at the top of my list now. Nothing has matched the AC4 in my eyes when skiing marked runs where the snow isn't too deep.

I can see myself adding the AC4s to the quiver in the next couple of years and they'd be my "go-to" ski for days when there hasn't been any new snow for awhile and the powder is all skied out, or when the fresh snow is only 6 inches deep or so and I'm not planning to hit the back country. They probably would have been a much better ski for yesterday's conditions than any I tried, there just wasn't enough time to try them again.

Hope that helps...?
post #6 of 25

Outstanding review!!!

Willb -

I was also at the demo at Crystal Mt yesterday. Drove up from Vancouver, Wa (3.5 hour trip one way). Like yourself, I was also looking for a wider ski, in my case in the 88mm to 92mm range.

The conditions at Crystal were very disappionting for demoing wider skis, and hence your post is a very impressive effort. Great job sorting out the skis like you did given the conditions.

I'm 43yo, 5'10", 180#, level 7/8, and ski with a moderate level of agression. Ski all blacks and the easier double diamonds. Because of my level of ability and agression, I definitely don't want too stiff of a ski.

Yesterday I demoed the Fisher Kehua (177cm), K2 Outlaw (both 167 & 174), Salomon 1080 Gun (175; it's the relabeled Pocket Rocket), and Head Monster iM 88 (175). Your (Willb's) review now has me wishing I would have also tried the Mojo 90.

(Previously I had demoed the Rossi B3 & B4 and Volkl Mantra last weekend at Mt Hood Meadows. Rossi & Volkl were the only ski companies that showed up!)

The Kehua & 88 had the best "feel", i.e. somewhat lively & playfull, but still stable at speed. Since the feel of the 88 reminded my of my beloved Elan 662s and the soft tip of the Kehua concerned me for skiing crud, I bought the 88s at the end of the demo (Sturtevant's will ship me the skis early next week).

I'll write a review once I get a chance to get a few days of skiing on my 88s in a variety of conditions (which will be in a few weeks). It will be interesting to see how stiff the 88 feels in fresh powder.

Again, Willb, great job on your review. Enjoy your new skis!

Dave
post #7 of 25
Willb: Did the M:EXs have adjustable bindings? It sounds like you experienced the same feeling I got on my REXs when I had the binding one notch too far back.
post #8 of 25
Willb,

Awesome write-ups . Thanks for the notes on the AC-4 and Mojo.

Can other Bears help and let me know...are last years Head Mad Trix(red, whire and blue) the same ski as this years Head Mojo 90????

Thanks
post #9 of 25

Mad Trix Mojo's

Mojo 90's and Mad Trix Mojo's are the same ski w/ different graphics. This ski is the best ski I have ever skied. The only conditions it is marginal in is boilerplate. Every other condition I have skied these puppys rip!!!
post #10 of 25
PSA: Good deals can be found on the Volkl T-Rock (like $400 brand new).

The T-Rock is a tele ski but it is the EXACT same construction as the Karma, the only difference is no twin tip (its also the EXACT ski as the Queen Attiva....but we'll keep that on the DL ). The lack of a twin might give the tail a bit more bite and stability.
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by X-EastCoaster
PSA: Good deals can be found on the Volkl T-Rock (like $400 brand new).

The T-Rock is a tele ski but it is the EXACT same construction as the Karma, the only difference is no twin tip (its also the EXACT ski as the Queen Attiva....but we'll keep that on the DL ). The lack of a twin might give the tail a bit more bite and stability.

X-EastCoaster - that's very interesting information. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but this *is* the internet and experience has taught me it's always wise to double check sources. Can you let us in on where you found this info as to the construction of the various Volkl skis or any other corroborating evidence? Are they exactly the same flex pattern & everything?



Mudfoot - yes, the M:EXs were demo skis so had demo bindings on them. I suppose it's possible they were adjusted too far back. They definitely are stiffer skis than any others I've tried and I'm discovering I like a softer ski. I must be getting old...
post #12 of 25
The T-Rock may be the same as the Queen Attiva, but it is NOT the same as the Karma. It comes out of the same mold but with a different core, volkl's sensorwood core (no balsa stringers like the Attiva), the Karma is WAY more ski and a full twin-tip. The T-Rock seems to be lighter and softer (like the QA) but volkl says it's a different core construction than the QA. Three very similar skis, one mold, different models and construction.
post #13 of 25

Good review but you are missing something crucial

WillB according to your level and size (170 lbs expert) you were on the wrong size Metron M:EX ski.

Atomic was very specific in their instructions and everyone seems to ignore them. As a 170 lbs expert doing medium radius turns you should be on the 165 ski and not the 175. You even qualify for the 155 as well with an index of 1288. That number puts you between the 155 and 165.

My buddy recently did the same thing until he tried the 165 after being told that it was the correct size for him. He ended up coming back and buying a set. He said that it was a 25 - 30 percent better experience on the correct skis with no compromise in stability (at speed) or float in the pow.

Do yourself a favor and try the 165 and then come back and tell us what you think. I'm actually very interested in your new impression.

Your M2 index: 1288

"View sizing chart"
post #14 of 25
That's a very interesting chart. Which confirms my suspicions about myself.. On every one of those skis my weight, ability and turn shape all fall nearly exactly half way between two different sizes...with the exception of the MEX which does put me on the 165. All the others..my index value is in between sizes. This has been my skiing experience on nearly every ski I've demo'd in the past couple years..that they either feel a little short or a little long.

My index works out to about 1324. Sometimes its a little less (by maybe 10) and sometimes a little more(by maybe 10) depending on if I use 5 pounds less weight (hoping to lose some) or play with different turn shapes or even I went down to Advanced skier ability just for fun to see what a difference it would make and not much.

Anyway, that's interesting. I will try the 165 M:EX. But that is just a very interesting chart to me that explains much of my frustration finding a good ski the last couple years.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willb
Maybe big guys with 40+ lbs and several inches on me would like them.
Like Mrs Heed apparently since she rides the 175cm and loves them.
post #16 of 25
the Karma is the wrong Volkl in this comparison, as is the Atomic M:EX.

Volkl should be Mantra.

Atomic should be Sugar Daddy.

OR,

the Head should be iM 77 only...

if you're trying to keep niches together that is.
post #17 of 25
Wow, just another example of how distinct personal skiing style and tastes dictates ski appreciation--I never got around to trying any of the twin tips--but I did ski the Outlaw, the MEX and I bought the im88.

I've only used the im88 in eastern conditions so far but, In my experience it is an incredibly quick and easy carver--way moreso than the mex or the outlaw. It's fantastic on ice-especially ice that's mixed with cruddy snow piles and irregular surfaces-it just plain tracks and holds. And, among these three, it was the only ski that felt comfortable and manageable in the bumps.

That said, your review and others comments do make me wish I had spent some time on the mojo 90 and the m777---but alas, none were to be found.

But it shows you why even these learned ski threads are no substitute for demoing--glad you found the ski you wanted!

good reviews-

Liam
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam
Wow, just another example of how distinct personal skiing style and tastes dictates ski appreciation--I never got around to trying any of the twin tips--but I did ski the Outlaw, the MEX and I bought the im88.

I've only used the im88 in eastern conditions so far but, In my experience it is an incredibly quick and easy carver--way moreso than the mex or the outlaw. It's fantastic on ice-especially ice that's mixed with cruddy snow piles and irregular surfaces-it just plain tracks and holds. And, among these three, it was the only ski that felt comfortable and manageable in the bumps.

That said, your review and others comments do make me wish I had spent some time on the mojo 90 and the m777---but alas, none were to be found.

But it shows you why even these learned ski threads are no substitute for demoing--glad you found the ski you wanted!

good reviews-

Liam
I agree. I found the monster 88 to be a blast, even though mentally it seems short at 175. but stable at speed, all kinds of turn shapes, and held well for a 88mm ski. I tried the MEX replacement a Snoop Daddy in a 185 and loved its carving ability, not sure about soft snow becasue there wasn't any, but thought they didn't dampen the vibrations enough on frozen crud. I loved the outlaw as well and mentally liked the idea of the 181 size. They were extemely damp, held great and varied turn shaped relatively easily. I think the lightness and dampness of the monster might be the winner but having trouble getting over the small size. I haven't tried the 185 but it might no be neccessary since the 175 was so stable at speed on and off piste
post #19 of 25
The im88 has become my 80 percent time patrolling ski--and I work at a small east coast mountain. I ski it in a 175--I have found it unbelievably stable but very quick. I know a lot of folks like the longer skis--I have no opinion pro or con-but for me (165 pound, 5'10" fairly aggressive-likes fall line quick popper turns) the im88 has been dream--just hard to believe a fat ski like this (and yeah, to me anything over 80mm is fat)) is so dang versatile.

Who cares what the length is--whatever works is the right length.


Liam
post #20 of 25
Posted by Liam:

Quote:
Who cares what the length is--whatever works is the right length.
Here Here!!! Truer words were never spoken and hoping that more people heed this advice. We are all different and have differing needs. The 240 pound guy on his 177's AC4's might be as happy as a clam, just as I at 135 pounds on some 170 Top Fuels found bliss. Length seems to be skiing's version of politics and religion.
post #21 of 25
Earlier posts had me thinking that the iM88 is a very stiff ski. However, I quickly found that aren't and now they're the only ski that I'll ski on, taking the place of my Elan Mantis 662. I like my iM88s in everything - steeps, bumps, crud, groomers, etc.

I have found the stiffness of the iM88 to be very similar to the 662.

The only time I'll ski the 662s is when I haven't had a chance to wax the 88s.
post #22 of 25
I concur with forlamb. The M:EX in a 175 cm is whopping huge for a guy your size. I'm 205 lbs, level 8 and it's rated as too long for me.

You should be on the 155's, or, if you're an all-out, big-arc ripping expert, 165's.

The difference between a 155, 165 and 175 is enormous. The surface area is large.

I just returned from a weekend of skiing hard snow pack at Whistler, and the M:EX's grab on it like an ice-skate. As you said - no speed limit.

I love demoing different skis. At the end of the day, however, the M:EX satisfies my all-terrain, big-mountain appetite better than anything I've tried.
post #23 of 25

still cant decide...

Hi all,

ok heres my situation:

Age: 27
Sex: Yes please!! (i mean male)
Experience: 24 years skiing, 8 years racing
Specs: 5"11/160
Style: Fast, hard, aggressive, groomers-bumps-pow

I am looking at the Mojo 90, im88, Seth V.

I will keep my Blizzards for the groomers and no snow days, But what I want to get now is a ski for powder, back country, big mountian deep snow and I want to start doing tricks, cliffs, kickers but no parks really, not exciting to me.
The snow in Japan is deeep! and a maybe a little heavy, lots of tools messing around in snow they cant handle so the crud gets pretty nasty.

Any pointers, ideas, thoughts or questions?
Thanks in advance
post #24 of 25
Get the im88 if you want better choppy snow performance.
post #25 of 25
my 2 cents (which might only be work 1 cent):

I'm 39
My skiing weight bounces between 175 - 190 (last season it hovered around 182-185)
I'm 5'11"
Consider myself an advanced skier (ski Black Diamonds and can get down almost anything, though often I won't look like Jean-Claude Killy when I'm doing it).
I currenty own/ski the following (all or 05/06 models):
AK No Ka Oi 180
Blizzard Titan 8 175
Volkl Karma 177
Volkl Mantra 177

I skied the M:EX several times during the 04/05 season and LOVED them. why i didn't buy a pair, i still don't know. probably because since i hadn't had new equipment up to that point i got sucked into demo fever and really began to enjoy trying different skis every weekend.

I skied the Karma last season. First time on them I hated them. Then i got the tips and tails detuned and LOVED them. Bought a pair.

Thing is, I wouldn't compare the Karma to the M:EX. Granted I never skied them side-by-side, but if my memory serves me right, they skied totally different. In fact, I've found a few stashes of the 05's for under $400 and am seriously considering picking up a pair for sh@ts and giggles (it's not like i NEED another pair of skis).

On the Head angle, I skied the im88 last season on a powder day and HATED it. It was a beast, totally unwieldy, and felt like i had two super tankers strapped to my feet. I ended up with the Mantra instead, which I found to be much more nimble.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › (LONG) Atomic M:EX vs. Volkl Karma vs. Head iM88 vs. Head Mojo 90