EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Review: RX8, i.SuperShape, SpeedMachine 16.1, XRC 1200 SW, Zenith Z9
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Review: RX8, i.SuperShape, SpeedMachine 16.1, XRC 1200 SW, Zenith Z9

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I got a chance to try these up at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin on Saturday (and a few all-mountain skis which aren't really served well by a review on that hill)

I'm 6'0, 160lbs and a level 8 skier on the hardpack. I usually ski on Atomic SL:9s here in the midwest and liked the Dynastar Legends out west.

165cm Fischer RX8 - After one run I could tell why everyone raves about them. I was able to crank off practically effortless short turns on these. They had a good amount of rebound in transition and really sucked you into the next turn. They felt very light and lively underfoot which transmitted the snow texture and condition back to the pilot. While they would make longer turns, they really felt best in short to mid-radius turns. Get these guys up on edge early in the turn and they really crank you around.

165cm Head i.SuperShape - For me, Head has really hit a home run with these skis. They are smooth through short and mid-radius turns with a ton of rebound. If I really retracted my legs through transition on these skis they would pop me up into the air. They didn't have quite the same feeling of automatically going into the next turns as the RX8s and needed a bit more concious piloting but I found them to be a bit more comfortable at speed. They do not like to be straight-run though, keep them turning and on edge.

170cm Head XRC 1200 SW - Smooth, Stable, Fast is how I would describe these skis. If I wanted a ski to rip groomers at ultra-fast speed in any condition these would be the skis. Regardless of what I was skiing through soft, hard, icy, whatever it all felt the same on the 1200s. I found these to be completely confidence inspiring as I was skiing as fast I possibly could on the hill and felt as though I was barely moving at all. A bit of work in short turns but loves to get up to high edge angles. If I had any complaint with these skis, it is that they made the hill seem rather boring.

170cm Nordica SpeedMachine 16.1 - I didn't expect to demo these, let alone like them as much as I did. This was my favorite ski of the day. Skiable at slow speeds but come alive as the speed increases. Unlike the XRC 1200, these skis felt fast at speed. That isn't to say they were unstable or chattery because they had great edge hold and stability, they just felt a lot more exciting to ski. More than any other ski I've ever been on, they felt as though they dissapeared when I clicked in. If you can't have fun on a pair of these, check your pulse.

162cm Rossignol Zenith Z9 - I tried these on a recommendation from a local store owner and was very impressed. The 162 was definitely too short though as something around 170 or so would have been a better length. The Z9 was happy to ski any way I wanted too. If I relaxed and just cruised they were undemanding. When I cranked up the speed and angles they were ready for the task and responded with good pop and edge engagement. If I needed a ski to rip with my friends in the morning and then cruise with the family after lunch this would be a good choice. I can see why it is so praised as a one ski quiver. Very easy and comfortable to ski on.
post #2 of 16
Excellent review! If you liked the SuperShape and Z9 that much, you should try to get on a pair of b5s. They are the same sidecut as the SuperShape, but the SuperShape weighs a bit more and are narrower. Nonetheless, especially for someone used to the SL:9, you may find the b5 more to your liking (I do, obviously).

The Nordicas are really coming on strong, aren't they?
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
My dad purchased a pair of Metron B5s last year @ 162 and I have tried them a few times. I thought they were a blast on the hardpack and had that same terrain erasing character in the chop as the XRC 1200s. Up until I skied the RX8, they had the most automatic turn entry of any ski I had been on.

If I had a giant money hat I think my quiver would be an Atomic Metron:B5 and Head Monster i.M 88, but given that I don't and I already own an SL:9 I might end up getting the Head i.M 77 instead.

I tried the Hot Rod Nitrous as well, but given that Wisconsin Ice Blocks are a little out of place for an all-mountain ski I found it to be adequate as opposed to exciting. It could hold its own on the groomed but in those conditions comparing it against something like the XRC 1200 or RX8 is just unfair.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
If you liked the SuperShape and Z9 that much, you should try to get on a pair of b5s.
I can't speak to the SuperShape, but the Z9 is about 1/10th as demanding to ski as compared to the B5. The Z9 will accept about any type of skier input. I don't think you can say the same about the B5.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Coach, I had the same feeling about the Z9. It didn't really feel like it was asking anything of me as a skier but at the same time didn't complain at all when I asked a lot out of it.

I can't recall ever skiing the B5 slowly, I just got on it and took off. It was dying to make the highest edge angle turns I could throw at it (I found the RX8 and the SpeedMachine to have the same effect).
post #6 of 16
I'm in Vail this week and have demo'd the Volkl AC4 and the Rossi Z9. Here are the vitals:

1. 34 y.o 5'10" 195lbs. Been skiing since the age of three. I raced as a teen. I'll ski anything on the mountain from moguls to trees but have a special affinity for long cruisers where I can run imaginary gates at high speed.
2. It snowed for three days straight from the time I arrived. First day of skiing, I skied on 6" of fresh powder, second day 13" of fresh powder. For you math wizards, first day was date of arrival, hence, no skiing.

Onto the boards:

AC4's: 177. Skied these on the 6" powder day. (aside: for you purists, 6" of new snow may not qualify as a "powder day" but it beats ice, icy crud, and bare spots) I skied Gamecreek (Wild Card, Dealer's Choice), the trees in the back bowls (Seldom & Never), some cruisers in Northwoods, and a bomber down Simba at days end for kicks. They were competent in the new powder. They had some float to them, but not enough to qualify them as a good alternative to powder skis. On the groomers, they turned reasonably well, but not enough to make me confident to dig in hard and make consistent GS style turns. They ran well at high speed, but their luke warm turning abilities bothered me. After reading numerous positive reviews of the AC4's, I expected a lot more than what I experienced. Had they been really good in the powder, I would have forgiven their so-so turning performance. They seemed OK at a few things, but not great at any one thing.

Z9: 176. I skied them on the 13" powder day. (Argue with me on 13" qualifying as a powder day and I will show you a glass half empty.) This days travels took me to Game Creek (Faro), Sun Down (Seldom & Never, again), Tea Cup (Emperor's Choice & Genghis Khan), Blue Sky (Champagne Glade & In The Wuides), and a few trips under Chair 2 with the wife. The Z9's tended to s(t)ink in the heavy/deep stuff. It took quite a bit of work to keep the tips up and to make skis work with me on quick turns in the trees (Faro, Seldom & Champagne Glade). In the wide open spaces (Genghis & Emperor's) they performed better as my turns were not as quick. Once in a rhythm, they did pretty well. Later in the day, as all the freshies disappeared and the chop appeared in strentgh, these skis found their calling. The Z9's ran through, around, over, and under the chop with incredible ease. It was as though I was on a completely different pair of skis than what I had dealt with in the early morning. What a pleasure! Genghis, wide open and choppy, was a blast to shred at high speed, making super g turns. Then, when the cats had finished doing some late morning grooming, I ran down Pickeroon and Avanti at high speed making quick turns. The response from the skis was excellent.

Results thus far: AC4, didn't want more. Z9, pretty fine. Hoping to try out some Hot Rods tomorrow.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13
I can't speak to the SuperShape, but the Z9 is about 1/10th as demanding to ski as compared to the B5. The Z9 will accept about any type of skier input. I don't think you can say the same about the B5.
I agree, but he also liked the SuperShape, which is certainly in the same class as the b5 in terms of demand. The Z9 is a very similar shape. Hence, an encouragement to try them given the comparison.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
While demoing I also tried out the Volkl Allstars and realized I just don't care much for Volkl skis. They feel very heavy and solid underfoot which is confidence inspiring in the crud, and they hold a great edge, but I just don't care for the way the feel compared to Atomic or Head skis which I tend to prefer. My SL:9s and the i.SuperShapes felt very simillar to me, which given their likenesses is not altogether surprising, although they did feel significantly different than the RX8s so there is more to it than just shape.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl
My dad purchased a pair of Metron B5s last year @ 162 and I have tried them a few times. I thought they were a blast on the hardpack and had that same terrain erasing character in the chop as the XRC 1200s. Up until I skied the RX8, they had the most automatic turn entry of any ski I had been on.

If I had a giant money hat I think my quiver would be an Atomic Metron:B5 and Head Monster i.M 88, but given that I don't and I already own an SL:9 I might end up getting the Head i.M 77 instead.
Did you then not like them on the other terrain as much as the 77 and the 88? Or...?

Just trying to understand the comparison you're drawing...
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
Did you then not like them on the other terrain as much as the 77 and the 88? Or...?

Just trying to understand the comparison you're drawing...
I'm not really comparing the B5 vs other skis so much as the B5 vs the SL:9. Those two skis have a ton of overlap so if I bought the B5 I'd just turn around and sell the SL:9s as I would never use them (which might not be a bad idea if I found a good deal).

Since I don't have a huge pile of cash to spend on skis, i'd be looking more to accentuate the weakness of the SL:9s with a ski designed more for ungroomed new snow conditions and a longer radius for high speed cruising.

In my opinion, the B5 and Head i.M 88 pretty much cover any condition/mood I am likely to be skiing in so they would be a pretty ideal match for me. Unfortunately, I could only afford one or the other and already having the SL:9s makes the B5 a little less attractive. I threw the 77 in there as it meets the longer radius new snow condition criteria as well (or the Dynastar Legend 8000).
post #11 of 16
It's great to hear from someone testing skis down in our neck of the woods!! My daughter and I regularly ski AV. I've got a pair of 167 K2 Escape 5500's and I've been thinking of getting a pair of the RX8's. I'm 5'9" 160#'s so I think the 165's would do the trick.

Thanks for posting the results!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
The RX8 @ 165 is a perfect Alpine Valley ski. As long as you set the edges early you can carve right through the wind scoured, scraped off tops of Lodge Express and Big Thunder with ease. Getting on a snappy hard snow carver with a slalom radius definitely makes these midwest hills more fun.

After demoing them, I have a friend who is 6'1, 200lbs who is probably buying the 170cm.
post #13 of 16
onyxjl, that makes sense, now.

I'd still go with the 88 if I were you, not the 77. I'd also seriously consider that swap of the SL:9 for the b5s. But, you knew that already, didn't you?
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
It's extremely tempting... must...not...use...credit...card.....

I wouldn't be surprised if I snagged a pair of 88s for out west skiing. I like to get the hell off the groomed when I am out there anyway as its my only option in the midwest. The B5s would still look pretty sitting in the hotel room though.
post #15 of 16
You'd use the b5s more. Just get the 88s out when the crud got really challenging or it dumped.
post #16 of 16
My Supershapes finally arrived and I got a chance to ski on them today at Perfect North. I have been on Head XRC800 177 since the middle of last year, I got the Supershapes in a 170. For reference, I am 52, 6' 240 ~level 8 skier while the legs hold out. Conditions today were heavy mashed potatoes with semi-frozen mud and fast grass on the side.

I started on the 800s and made about 4-5 runs. Then I switched to the Supershapes. Initially, I was really surprised how much more turn the Supershapes had. There isn't that much difference in turning radius between the skis, but the Supershapes turn right now and are a lot more lively. Blasting through the heavy crud was no problem with either ski. The Supershapes are slightly lighter than the XRC800s, but over all weight didn't seem to make a difference in cement blasting. BTW, both skis had fresh tunes and were waxed appropriately (sp?) for the conditions.

With the current conditions carving wasn't an issue with either ski and there was no good way to get an idea of the skis edge holding capability. The weather is supposed to turn cold next week and the local areas should be making snow again. I really want to ski the Supershapes on hard pack to see how they react. Taking a SWAG, I bet I'll be even more impressed. Based on my first impression, I think I am really going to like this ski.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Review: RX8, i.SuperShape, SpeedMachine 16.1, XRC 1200 SW, Zenith Z9