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'05-'06 Head Monster iM 88 review - Page 2

post #31 of 52
I haven't skied them in straight-up pow, but speaking with people who have-it isn't the most dedicated powder ski out there. My test days have always been crud and 8-12" of pow, nothing bottomless. The iM88 should work in those conditions pretty well, and is more verstaile than some of the softer skis, but good pow transitions seem to require a soft ski longitudionally, which are different beasts altogether. I have a customer with a quiver that consists of a Mantra and a 666 Fusion, and he says that in deep snow, the Mantra is the ski to have, and on hardpack, the 666 is far superior (which is what you would expect).

If you are after a crud and pow buster that isn't really going to be skied on the hardpack much, then, in addition to all of the usual suspects, check out the Elan 999. I haven't skied it yet (I will tomorrow) but another guy here at the shop took them out (he is an ex-racer and very strong skier) and promptly ordered a pair. Said they were super-stable and blasted through anything from 3" of crud to deeper snow. Flex-wise, they are pretty soft longitudionally, but stiff laterally (and with 2 sheets of titanium) so deflection should be nil. Based on what he said (knowing that he is pretty demanding and buys about 1 pair of skis every 2-3 years) I expect to really like them. I will report back....
post #32 of 52
Bs"D

Thanks Matter, Uncle, and Dawg - still waiting to hear more - but sounding like I'm not going to jump on the im88 bandwagon for my uses.
But, there still may be a powder ski as good as the 8800 while also better than it on hardpack.

I also spoke to a guy at a Vail shop which carries both Head and Volkl. He said that what I'm looking for is the Head Mojo 90. He said that it also carves on hardpack, but is softer in the tip than the 88 and is a better powder ski. He concurred that the Mantra should also be similar to the Mojo 90.

So, I may be changing my demo list to the Mojo 90 and Mantra, and maybe the Elan 777? (If the 999 is not as good as those on hardpack then it drops out). But, all will have to be as good as the 8800, or I should probably just stick w/ it in combo w/ the Supershape. What do you think?
post #33 of 52
RadRab - I haven't skied the Legend 8800, but the sidecut is pretty similar to the M777 which I now own (the Elan is probably a bit damper, not sure how the flex compares). I've also ridden the M999 and it's not as good on hardpack as the skis you're looking at. What you're looking for is a tough combo - I really think you're better off sticking with what you have or changing your criteria to looking for a better dedicated deep snow ski that can survive on hardpack (that would be the M999).
post #34 of 52
RadRab, I'd expect you to stick with what you have, possibly adding a deep/crud snow ski like the 999 to the quiver without dumping any of your existing skis.
post #35 of 52
Y'all might want to go see what Peter Keelty (the tech Guru over at Tech Support for Skiers http://www.techsupportforskiers.com/) has to say about the various skis mentioned here. He likes the Head Monster im 88 quite a bit and also likes the Élan 777, the Atomic B5, and the Dynastar 8800 (as well as many others). He did rate the im 88 as the Ski of the Year due to its "superior float and yet could be used (by a good skier) to run GS." He mentioned Atomics B5 as a very similar ski.

I never really liked having a "quiver" of skis, I think I might demo the Atomic B5, the Head im 88, and the Élan 777 to see just how different they all are. After spending the past few years skiing on Atomic 11.20's I have want something with more float but which can still carve and run the hard snow well. With PNW snow density I doubt I really need anything wider than that but there are days . . .

Mark
post #36 of 52
I skied the M999 and the M666 Fusion today. In a nutshell, the M999 cut through the 8-10" of fresh, and the barely-chopped crud very well. It makes short radius turns if you get it up on edge (the turn radius is 27m) but can be flexed into a much shorter radius. Really, really easy in the trees. Stable and smooth in the right conditions. Once I got to packed-up crud and soft groomers, the 666 was a much better ski. More stable, less bounced at speed (the wide tip and soft flex definitely deflects on the 999), with much more of the predictable, GS-like smoothness that I enjoy when cruising fast. The 666 is so stable and smooth in rough, semi-packed and packed snow. They would make a good quiver combo. The 777/iM88 are more like the 666 in feel, being a bit wider, but still GS-like, smooth, fairly stout, can rip on hard snow, good in pow and really good in crud, provided the skier has technique to get it up on edge. The 999 is a great ski, and is passable for hardpack, but more demanding at high speed on rough snow than the other options. Just not the best choice for little or no new snow. A great option for the PNW would be to keep the 999 for the first 2/3 hours of the day (where untracked and partially tracked lines are on the mountain) and then go back to the car and trade for the 666 for the remainder of the day. Or, if you want to split the difference, get a 777 or iM88. I personally think that the M999 is overkill for someone of my weight (150lbs) as I get tons of float from even the iM88 (a 75mm waist ski is even fine for me is most any condition).
post #37 of 52
Bs"D

Here, you just turn the 999 upside down when you hit the groomed and it turns into a 666. To bad it doesn't work that way.

Thanks to all for chimming in.
Due to the fact that my Supershapes @ 170cm are so versatile - not only in turn size and speed - but in that they can also handle moderate powder (not like an old school Slalom), I guess I can/will just stick w/ the SS-8800 combo leaving the 8800s only for deeper days and when there is less chance of finding hardpack anywhere.

And, they are still better than an even more dedicated powder ski, because except for Heliskiing, you will always get at least soft pack groomers on part of even a powder day. I also like skiing somewhat in the powder.

Here's wishing that we all encounter this "problem" very often.
post #38 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching
I skied the M999 and the M666 Fusion today. In a nutshell, the M999 cut through the 8-10" of fresh, and the barely-chopped crud very well. It makes short radius turns if you get it up on edge (the turn radius is 27m) but can be flexed into a much shorter radius. Really, really easy in the trees. Stable and smooth in the right conditions. Once I got to packed-up crud and soft groomers, the 666 was a much better ski. More stable, less bounced at speed (the wide tip and soft flex definitely deflects on the 999), with much more of the predictable, GS-like smoothness that I enjoy when cruising fast. The 666 is so stable and smooth in rough, semi-packed and packed snow. They would make a good quiver combo. The 777/iM88 are more like the 666 in feel, being a bit wider, but still GS-like, smooth, fairly stout, can rip on hard snow, good in pow and really good in crud, provided the skier has technique to get it up on edge. The 999 is a great ski, and is passable for hardpack, but more demanding at high speed on rough snow than the other options. Just not the best choice for little or no new snow. A great option for the PNW would be to keep the 999 for the first 2/3 hours of the day (where untracked and partially tracked lines are on the mountain) and then go back to the car and trade for the 666 for the remainder of the day. Or, if you want to split the difference, get a 777 or iM88. I personally think that the M999 is overkill for someone of my weight (150lbs) as I get tons of float from even the iM88 (a 75mm waist ski is even fine for me is most any condition).
Scott - We seem to have the exact same take on the skis we've both ridden. So I'm sticking with you for my ski purchases and buying advice. Now you just need to pickup the Stockli line and I won't ever have to go anywhere else.
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadRab
Bs"D

Here, you just turn the 999 upside down when you hit the groomed and it turns into a 666. To bad it doesn't work that way.

Thanks to all for chimming in.
Due to the fact that my Supershapes @ 170cm are so versatile - not only in turn size and speed - but in that they can also handle moderate powder (not like an old school Slalom), I guess I can/will just stick w/ the SS-8800 combo leaving the 8800s only for deeper days and when there is less chance of finding hardpack anywhere.

And, they are still better than an even more dedicated powder ski, because except for Heliskiing, you will always get at least soft pack groomers on part of even a powder day. I also like skiing somewhat in the powder.

Here's wishing that we all encounter this "problem" very often.
Smart decision - and in my view, the right decision.
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddog
Y'all might want to go see what Peter Keelty (the tech Guru over at Tech Support for Skiers http://www.techsupportforskiers.com/) has to say about the various skis mentioned here. He likes the Head Monster im 88 quite a bit and also likes the Élan 777, the Atomic B5, and the Dynastar 8800 (as well as many others). He did rate the im 88 as the Ski of the Year due to its "superior float and yet could be used (by a good skier) to run GS." He mentioned Atomics B5 as a very similar ski.

I never really liked having a "quiver" of skis, I think I might demo the Atomic B5, the Head im 88, and the Élan 777 to see just how different they all are. After spending the past few years skiing on Atomic 11.20's I have want something with more float but which can still carve and run the hard snow well. With PNW snow density I doubt I really need anything wider than that but there are days . . .

Mark
If you've got the skills and the funds you should add the Stockli Stormrider SS (Scot Schmidt) to your demo list. I would think that would be an ideal ski for fresh snow in the PNW.
post #41 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching
I have a customer with a quiver that consists of a Mantra and a 666 Fusion, and he says that in deep snow, the Mantra is the ski to have, and on hardpack, the 666 is far superior (which is what you would expect).
that is the very 2-pair quiver I was considering.

and then I took a gamble that the iM88 would do the job for both.

and so far, the gamble's proven to be a winner!

today skied the back side of Ski Discovery in Anaconda MT. my first time there. that back side just plain rips!

I got into some new and loose snow of up to 2 feet deep today, with some hard frozen crust beneath.

again the skis amazed me with their same characteristics mentioned above.
post #42 of 52
I talked to a shop owner back east who's absolutley loves his 186's Head 88's for everything, even east coast ice, and he's skied about everything out there. He was going on and on about how much he loved those things. I have the 176 M666's and I agree with all Dawg has written, great all mountain ski, easy turning, smooth, but still powerful and fun. I've only skied a day on them in some tough snow conditions at Alta, it was 45* mid mountain with a bunch of fresh snow, and they blasted through everything with ease. My only reservation is they feel a little short for me (5'11, 160). I remember a couple years ago I was thinking of picking up a pair and Dawg recommended the 184's, and he was right on as usual. Unfortunately I never did anything about it until a spur of the moment decision on the Steepandcheap deal this year. The 176 is a fun length but for hard charging stuff I would like just a little more ski under me.

The more I ski my 183 Gotamas, the more I like them everywhere, even fun ripping the groomers at DV. Most of my skiing is in Utah where they're a great everyday ski, although maybe not the best for some other areas. I want a complement since I can only take 2 skis on most trips, and the M666 is almost it. A little wider, longer M666 would probably be ideal, so I'm thinking the Head 88 or maybe even better the new 82, if it has the same construction as the 88 could be perfect.
post #43 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadRab
Bs"D

But, there still may be a powder ski as good as the 8800 while also better than it on hardpack.

Mantra! Seriously... Its probably better than all the reviews make it out to be. Better than the 8800 in pow and groomers IMO. If you want to know anything specific, fire away.
post #44 of 52
Sorry to slightly hijack, but if anyones interested I've a new (in the plastic) pair of 186 im88's For Sale in the Gear Swap.
post #45 of 52
Bs"D

Matter, is this a "matter" of speculation, or have you actually skied both the 8800 and Mantra in relatively deep powder?

I could believe/theroizre that the Mantra would be better on piste with Volkl's and the Explosive's history of sufficiently torsionally stiff sandwich construction, and its slightly deeper sidecut than the 8800. But, how much better? As much as the im88 is definately better on piste? And, if so, is it really as good (not to mention better?!) in the powder than the 8800?
post #46 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadRab
Bs"D

Matter, is this a "matter" of speculation, or have you actually skied both the 8800 and Mantra in relatively deep powder?

I could believe/theroizre that the Mantra would be better on piste with Volkl's and the Explosive's history of sufficiently torsionally stiff sandwich construction, and its slightly deeper sidecut than the 8800. But, how much better? As much as the im88 is definately better on piste? And, if so, is it really as good (not to mention better?!) in the powder than the 8800?

Its experience AND speculation. I haven't skied the 8800 in anything deep (I tried the 8800 and 8000 early last year in soft cut up snow), but you can see 117/89/110 vs 130/94/113 and know the Mantra will have a sizeable edge. 5 more in the waist and 13 more in the tip will be noticeable. I never understood why Dynastar stayed with the small 117 tips from the old BIGs and INSpireds. Hell, the 8000 is like 116 in the tip.

I know from experience that the Mantra is more fun on groomers. You said it yourself, better edgehold and more sidecut. Its actually feels turnier than the printed radius. Because the tips are so big they really feed you into turns. The sidecut is mellow enough though that it still feels fine in a straight run. Overall, Mantras have really surprised me with their groomer performance.

I really think Mantra is exactly what you're looking for - demo them and see if I'm right. Only you will know if its worth spending the money. I bought mine for my pow only ski. At 160 lbs I thought the Mantra would float me nearly as well as the Gotama, but with more versatility. However, its pretty much ended up as my daily go to pair. I haven't skied the im88, but I'd bet its better on groomers and packed snow.
post #47 of 52
Bs"D

I think despite the relatively narrow 117mm tip (and not even counting its hull shape which is suppossed to increase float), the reason why the 8800 is good in the powder, in addition to its other reasonably wide dimensions, is because of its correctly tuned and even flex pattern, and its shallower sidecut.

Nevertheless, I understand the good possibility of the Mantra's potential superiority according to all you have said together with all of the reviews, and I think you understand the mix I'm looking for. So, thanks for the push, and despite all discussion above about maybe just sticking with the 8800, I guess I will definately have to demo the Mantra. (And perhaps the Mojo 90 as well).

But, since you seem to be an intelligent technical guy, I would like to throw in two additional questions before searching out a demo which would settle the issue:
Don't you think that the almost disproportionately wide tip (especially compared to the tail) would tend to make the Mantra a "better" skidder? Does the Mantra's tail hookup? An ability to skid might be ok (or even an advantage in certain situations) in powder, but the whole point here, as you know, is that I was looking for a great powder ski that also carves on the groomed.
Also, what length is advisable in this particular design? I am 5'7" and 175lbs. (going down). I ski my Supershape @ 170cm for all mountain, all turn, all speed versatility. I own the 8800 @ 178cm. Mantra @ 177cm, or 184cm?

Edit addition: Since I have really only taken a serious look at the Mantra as of late, I took a look all around at reviews. I don't know how much stock to put into Footloose but check out what they say, right in my line of concern - basically that it can handle the groomed but is an inferior powder ski:
"...This is one of the best skis out there for big, strong skiers, and it rules in crud and chopped-up snow, and grips better than most skis this size on hard snow. It’s a great choice for big Western ski areas that get a variety of conditions, but there are better true powder skis out there: it’s just too stiff to be a powder ski, but this is a worthy compromise for everyday versatility."

What say you to that?
post #48 of 52
Thread Starter 
whether a ski is a great powder ski depends a lot on how you like to ski powder.

if you want to get closest to snowboard surf, fat is pretty irreplaceable.

there are many ways to ski powder and surfing it is but one.
post #49 of 52
Bs"D

And how would you classify the different models discussed here?
post #50 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadRab
Edit addition: Since I have really only taken a serious look at the Mantra as of late, I took a look all around at reviews. I don't know how much stock to put into Footloose but check out what they say, right in my line of concern - basically that it can handle the groomed but is an inferior powder ski:
"...This is one of the best skis out there for big, strong skiers, and it rules in crud and chopped-up snow, and grips better than most skis this size on hard snow. It’s a great choice for big Western ski areas that get a variety of conditions, but there are better true powder skis out there: it’s just too stiff to be a powder ski, but this is a worthy compromise for everyday versatility."

What say you to that?
Few things and then I need to take off:

Mantra was way softer than I expected it to be given the various reviews. To me the flex is perfect, its not as stiff as an Explosiv, G4, Legend Pro, Stormrider, im88, but its not a noodle like the Pocket Rockets, old Seths, Rossis, Cheifs & Gotamas. Mantra has soft Gotama-like tips that always float up for me.

But you see the problem don't you? If you want a PURE powder ski like the Gotama or Sanouk you're going to give up groomer performance (Gotama isn't that bad on groomers though, its just not as good as the Mantra). If you want a ski thats reasonably good on groomers its not going to be as good as the dedicated skis. You said you wanted a pow ski better than the 8800 that also skied groomers better - Mantra does both. Whether you want to put any stock in the Skiing mag reviews or not, the 8800 has the lowest off-piste float score (2.7) of any ski tested in the All-Mtn Expert category. Mantra has the highest with (3.7). I'm confused why you would list the 8800's dimensions as contributing to its float. Why do you think all the manfacturers are making bigger and bigger tips on their skis? The reason the Mantra is 130 in the tip and a small 113 in the tail is so the tips float while the tail sinks. Next year K2 has the Pontoon which is shaped like 150/130/120 (no sidecut) to take this concept to the extreme.

Sounds like you need to demo and see for yourself. Gonzo is also correct that there are different ways to ski pow. If you want to make little short turns you need a soft ski. If you want larger turns you're going to want a firmer ride. If you want to straightline, firmer still. I think the Mantra covers this wide spectrum as well as possible. Look at what Dynastar does with its Legend Pro - its like the burliest fat ski around. Go tell Nobis his fat ski is too stiff
post #51 of 52
Bs"D

Ok, ok, there is no getting around it. Despite my "conclusion" in the new thread, I will just have to demo the Mantra. Case closed.
You didn't waist your words, they "Mattered".

But from where did you take these float scores from?
post #52 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by RadRab
But from where did you take these float scores from?
Oh they came from the *highly esteemed* Skiing Magazine test. I just posted them to give you an idea. I wanted to see how the mag compared the float of the Mantra and 8800 and saw they were at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

edit: had the wrong highly esteemed magazine, it was Skiing, not SKI
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