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Why doesn't anyone measure and report flex anymore?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm annoyed. As far as I know, unfortunately, no ski magazine or website reports a numerical value for the longitudinal flex of skis anymore. In fact, even in text reviews, its about a 50-50 chance whether mention of stiffness refers to the physical stiffness of the ski versus the tester's on-snow impression of its stiffness.

Back in the 80's, the ski mags used to measure and report the flex index, but at some point gave it up. I consider this to be one of the worst decisions they have ever made, and it reduced the value of these mags to me.

As I recall, they made arguments like:

1) "Most people don't even know what this number means" - (yeah, right - if people see that it takes more pounds to bend something one inch, they won't know that this means its stiffer???).

2) "Many other factors affect the performance of the ski" - Sure, but flex and sidecut are the two most important factors. Report the numbers that you do know (or can easily measure), and at least consumers can narrow down what we are looking for.

3) "Its too hard to measure" - This is their most absurd reason, and the one that annoys me the most. With the backs of two dining room chairs to support the skis , a yardstick (to set the separation of the chairs and measure the flex), and a jerry can filled with water hooked on to the ski, I can measure the longitudinal flex of a pair of skis every few minutes to very decent accuracy. The process goes even faster if someone else is sitting at a computer typing in the results into Excel.

Now tell me that the cost of a simple measurement like this isn't an insignificant fraction of the total cost of flying a bunch of skis and testers out to a resort for the spring tests. The techs that set up the bindings for the testers could have a flex measuring setup like this in their shop and measure all the skis in the test in a couple of hours the night b4 the on-hill testing.

4) "There is no standardization about what to measure" - So what? Standardized measurement conditions are not in place for lots of things. Just decide on some reasonable test conditions, tell us what you decided on, and report the results.

Within a series of tests under the same conditions, it really doesn't matter whether the supports are 1 meter apart for all skis measured, or at the tip and tail for all skis measured - one will simply give the midsection stiffness and the other will give the overall stiffness. Either is more useful information than what we have right now (which is zero). In fact, why not have two pairs of chairs (supports) set up with different spacing and do both measurements – it hardly takes any time at all. Similarly, within one series of tests, either use light or heavy loading for the tests, or point vs distributed loading - just tell us – we’ll be happy.


With ridiculous "reasons" for not testing like the ones I mentioned above, what I'd like to know is what are the REAL reasons behind this decision.

Tom / PM
post #2 of 23
real reason: COST. period.
post #3 of 23
Amen! you tell it brother...preachin to the choir now...sing it out.
oops, wrong board [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #4 of 23
Phil, cost?? Cost of what?? An extra line in the review to show the flex value? The reviewers of the skis are volunteers anyway, why not recruit them to mesure the flex in exchange for the privelege of all that free skiing? IMO it is because the average SKI mag reader is a weekend skier, doesn't know anything about equipment, and likes to buy into the hype regarding skis (thats why there are so many flailing back seat drivers riding on X-Screams).
post #5 of 23
Get your umbrellas out!


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 07, 2001 12:27 PM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #6 of 23
IMO, removing any factual information about a ski from the Ski/Skiing magazine reviews makes the reviews 100% subjective. It's a miracle if you can even get the tip/waist/tail dimensions. Since the review now never say anything bad about _ANY_ ski, they don't piss off their revenue stream... the companies that build skis and buy advertising in their magazines.

I guess all the back seat flailers are going to be on the Atomic Ten.Ex this year? I guess I should buy a pair. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 23
Uuummm....you mean I'm NOT supposed to be sitting in the back seat, flailin' around : !?!

Damn, and just when I wuz gettin' good at it too!
post #8 of 23
As Physics Man pointed out, there used to be a lot more in the way of technical explainations in ski magazines concerning both boots and skis.

For boots, forward lean was measured in degrees , flex under different loads, info about foot board ramp angles and more detailed descriptions of boot characteristics including rear cuff height, as well as the standard instep, heel, toe box, liner and forefoot info was provided.

With skis, pictures of the cross-section of each reveiwed ski was shown depicting the material lay up. Info on the ski's flex characteristics at the shovel, mid section and tail were provided often in graph form so that you could compare it with other skis in the same category in addition to the sidecut, width and lengths available information.

All of this information was supplemented by tester's comments that tended to be much more cogent. There were few "smooth as butter" etc. descriptions that are so common in magazines today.

In short it was a gear geeks dream to await each season's Buyer's Guides.

I think that this year's SKI Buyers guide is the worst in memory and SKIING was hardly any better. :

The Japanese ski magazines have a lot of info on skis but it is is of limited help if you don't understand the the language.


Why the difference? I think skiers don't demand it and perhaps Ad revenues can't justify the extra pages. I just wish it were otherwise. Perhaps this thread should be forwarded on to the ski magazine editors.

Reading the detailed boot reviews steered me to my first pair of Raichle Flexon Comp's and I've been happy with them three sets of boots later. If the magazine's reviews had not been so detailed, the search for the right boot would have been much more laborious and I may have settled for another less suitable boot along the way.

Since many ski shops stock only three or four brands of boots and skis, without any rational way to zero in on those boots most likely suitable to your level, terrain preferences and style of of skiing, these major purchaces often can become irrational decsions influanced by which company has the :est Ads.

In North America SKI CANADA seems to have the best reviews but it wins no "Gold Medals". The best reviews I've found are on the www.footloosesports.com site but they are mostly descriptive more than technical. They do have a chat room though where they respond to questions asked about particular products.

Footloose's merit lies in that they compare different skis that they sell to other brands in a reasoned and rational way and use their employees as testers. I've ranted about this subject long enough. Perhaps we just will have to wait for better times.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 08, 2001 08:04 PM: Message edited 2 times, by Lostboy ]</font>
post #9 of 23
To Physics man:

The flex test is purely subjective and needs to be individualized.

I have always used this flex test. While in a ski shop, you can't push at the center of the ski and at least partially reverse the camber, then the ski is probably too stiff. If it flexes too esy, it's a noodle.

You decide what you want to ski on. A ski or a noodle.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
wink:
> "...I have always used this flex test.
> While in a ski shop, you can't push at the
> center of the ski and at least partially
> reverse the camber, then the ski is
> probably too stiff. If it flexes too esy,
> it's a noodle."

You are joking, aren't you? I have never encountered a ski that I couldn't bend by hand into large amounts of reverse camber. This includes super stiff old time straight skis, DH skis, etc.

Perhaps more Wheaties / spinach / sessions at the manly men's gym are called for. [img]tongue.gif[/img] (wink, big grin, razz)


Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 08, 2001 01:03 PM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #11 of 23
It all comes down to how a ski feels on snow, flex is just one of at least a dozen factors including dampening, torsion, taper angle, sidecut geometry, weight distribution and construction which all work together to give a ski its feel. You can't take any factor in isolation to assess the performance of a ski. I have demoed very stiff skis which couldn't handle speed because of a lack of dampening. You can't make any judgement on flex alone and for most weekend punters it would just turn into a stupid macho 'my skis are stiffer than yours' contest. Ski tip/waist/tail measurements are useful for categorising skis but not much more.

Basically the info is not provided because it doesnt help in making a decision on which skis to use and buy.
post #12 of 23
I've always paid more attention to how stiff the ski is tortionally. If it twists easily, it won't carve very well. It used to be that to make a ski tortionally stiff, the overall flex pattern had to be stiff, too. These days, that's not the case and that's what's allowed all the wonderful changes in ski geometry. Skis no longer need to be skinny and have the flex pattern of a 2x4 to give you good edge hold.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by kiwiski:
...flex is just one of at least a dozen factors including dampening, torsion, taper angle, sidecut geometry, weight distribution and construction which all work together to give a ski its feel. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

There are indeed a lot of factors, but I think you pumped up the list a bit with some extras, while you neglected to mention important other ones. For example, taper angle can be uniquely derived from sidecut geometry, so its not a separate factor. Similarly, specification of the ski's construction (including relevant dimensions) completely determines its longitudinal and torsional flex, damping, weight distribution and polar moment. Again, its not a separate and independent factor that should be listed.

On the other hand, you made no mention of important other factors like the polar moment of inertia or the longitudinal distribution of flex. A plot of the latter tells you if the tip or tail is unusually soft or stiff, etc. You also didn't mention the fore-aft position of the waist of the ski.


<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
You can't take any factor in isolation to assess the performance of a ski. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Of course not, but some factors are a lot more important than others in determining performance, and I would contend that overall flex is second only to sidecut in importance.

However, the way you use the information is always the most important factor.

Your example of the stiff ski that doesn't do well at speed speaks to this latter issue. In your example, you assumed that people would equate one factor (stiffness) with one type of performance (good at speed). This isn't the way any knowledgeable and logical person would use information on stiffness.

The proper reasoning would be "NOT stiff implies poor high speed performance", not the other way around, "stiff implies good high speed performance".

Other examples of the use of quantitative data to eliminate possibilities abound. For example, if I know that the sidecut radius is more than 30 meters, I immediately know that the ski can't possibly be a hypercarver.

If I know that a ski has a very stiff tip or a high polar moment, I know that its not likely to be good in the moguls.

In other words, having the numbers, I can exclude many possibilities - I can't say that the ski does something well, but I sure can tell you what it won't do well. This gives the consumer a huge benefit in narrowing down his choices (eg, when selecting models to demo).

Unfortunately, the usual impression-based text descriptions just don't work like quantitative data. If a review makes a very specific statement like "this ski is no good in the moguls", it doesn't give me any clue whatsoever as to whether this is due to a high polar moment of inertia, being excessively stiff or something else.

I'm not asking that the written summary be replaced by quantitative data, rather, that whatever quantitative data that is easy to measure (like flex) be provided.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
...for most weekend punters it would just turn into a stupid macho 'my skis are stiffer than yours' contest. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You don't need numbers for this to happen. Right now, 10ex's and G4's have a big-boy reputation, so every wannabe macho big-boy will be on them this year, independent of their skill, weight, etc. This happened even without any quantitative data.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
Ski tip/waist/tail measurements are useful for categorising skis but not much more. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Add overall flex to the sidecut data, and you can categorize even better.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
Basically the info is not provided because it doesn't help in making a decision on which skis to use and buy.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Having such data doesn't make the final selection for you, but it sure helps narrow down your choices tremendously, and that's exactly what good reviews should do.

Basically, my argument is that supplementing the reviews with any easy-to-obtain relevant quantitative data can only be a good thing.

My dissatisfaction with the reviews in Ski, Skiing, or Powder is not limited to the issue of longitudinal flex. Other trivial-to-obtain data that is also not published by these magazines includes ski weight and polar moment. I think it is somewhere between condescending and utterly absurd that even simple data like these are not published in their reviews.

[/END RANT]

Tom / PM
post #14 of 23
you were able to buy Igneous skis in different flex patterns and levels of flex. were able.


colin
post #15 of 23
Physics man,

Of course you should be able to decanmber jsut about any ski in the shop, becasue every ski is suppose to flex, right ?

Ok... you just don't flex one ski, you do several. Some will flex easier than others, and you compare.

But frankly, since just about all skis have a shape that's no longer a pencil, I am wondering if flex is that much of an issue.

It was more of an issue when we ahde to force the ski to decamber when we skied. but now the arc of the turn is already built into the ski. Lay them on their side and they turn.

So if flex is important, then the degree with which you must push the ski to decamber in the shop will tell you how dynamic the ski may or may not be for you on the slopes.If a ski takes a lot of effort to decamber, its a stiff ski, if a little effort, its a soft ski. If it takes the right amount of effort from your perspective, then it could be the right ski, could it ?

Again, if possible demo. Then flex is no longer a primary issue, because you will experience ALL of the skis characteristics at the same time. After all, you are your own best judge !
post #16 of 23
PhysicsMan, I agree that it would be nice to have more data on the skis. However, have you considered that the lack of specifications is due to manufacturers not wanting to share such data? I am convinced that every manufacturer has all the specs of every ski, complete with graphs and numbers that most people would not even begin to understand. They could easily provide, flex, weight, flex/weight distributions, dimensions, etc. all of which would be standardized for each vendor - so we could at least compare skis from the same vendor. The problem is that such data would automatically give away "trade secrets", especially for a very successful ski (such as the X-Scream).

So we are left with magazines that don't want to (or cannot) do the type of tests and comparisons that many of us would like to see (Powder must be the worst excuse on the planet for a gear guide). It is very disappointing because I would trust the pros in the magazines far more than some amateur that tell me that his/her ski "rocks".

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 09, 2001 08:04 AM: Message edited 1 time, by TomB ]</font>
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by wink:
Physics man,

Ok... you just don't flex one ski, you do several. Some will flex easier than others, and you compare.

... So if flex is important, then the degree with which you must push the ski to decamber in the shop will tell you how dynamic the ski may or may not be for you on the slopes.If a ski takes a lot of effort to decamber, its a stiff ski, if a little effort, its a soft ski. If it takes the right amount of effort from your perspective, then it could be the right ski, could it ?

Again, if possible demo. Then flex is no longer a primary issue, because you will experience ALL of the skis characteristics at the same time. After all, you are your own best judge !
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hey Wink, don't mind me, I was just having some fun with my [img]tongue.gif[/img] (wink, big grin, razz) comment. I knew you probably meant to say that people should compare the flexes, and not "if you get it to decamber, its good".

You are also correct about demo'ing being the only real way to find a ski that fits your current abilities and perception of what you need. However, I like to have as much data as possible b4 I demo, so I can select a reasonable number from the huge number of choices available.

Cheers,

Tom / PM
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TomB:
PhysicsMan, I agree that it would be nice to have more data on the skis. However, have you considered that the lack of specifications is due to manufacturers not wanting to share such data? ... The problem is that such data would automatically give away "trade secrets", especially for a very successful ski (such as the X-Scream).

So we are left with magazines that don't want to (or cannot) do the type of tests and comparisons that many of us would like to see ...
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I've wondered myself about secrecy as a possible explanation, but after I think about it a bit, this explanation just doesn't cut it for me.

The reason is that each manufacturer has complete and extremely accurate capabilities to measure all the quantities you mentioned (as well as disassemble and microscopically examine skis).

They need such capabilities for their own product development and quality control work, but these capabilities could just as easily be used to reverse engineer another mfgr's ski. Its not rocket science to take these measurements. In fact, I would be surprised if each ski company didn't do this regularly to the successful skis of other companies, as part of normal business operations.

Any measurements done by the ski mags are going to be woefully incomplete and of much lower accuracy than what the mfgrs can do themselves, so I have to ask, exactly who are they trying to keep their designs from - certainly not each other.

I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I've got to wonder if perhaps one of the reasons for not publishing such data is that if its not available to consumers, the process by which people select skis is more fraught with error, and so the mfgrs think more skis will get sold in the long run as serious skiers keep trying to optimize their quivers based on hype and not quantitative information. For lower-level "1 pair of skis" folks, they are going to buy their one pair with or without this info, so it doesn't effect their purchasing decisions at all.

Then again, maybe they think we are just stupid and couldn't possibly make use of such info, so why bother publishing it.

Just my $0.02 of paranoia for the day - grin.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 09, 2001 09:45 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #19 of 23
PhysicsMan ~ That was a nice rant.

I heard somewhere a car salesman said he only ever showed buyers one car because if he showed them two it would confuse them too much.

It seems most people here know more about skis than 99% of the ski buying public but I don't think I could take a page of measurements and graphs and tell how a ski feels.

I think tip/waist/tail measurements are more than most punters can understand but are enough to categorise skis to form your 'short list' of skis to demo.

If manufacturers still have such a wide range of skis all with different properties it shows they still don't agree on exactly what makes a good ski so how would I know what flex is right for me?

More relevant than flex though is what happenned to the recommended length charts. Manufacturers don't even want to tell us what lenghth of ski is suitable for us anymore.

Having said all that it would be nice to have a web site with all the relevant info on all the skis on the market, but even independent reviewers don't want to. If anyone wants to perform all the measurements on a range of demo skis I'm sure we would all be appreciative.
post #20 of 23
Good Topic.

I have to weigh in with Wink & kiwiski here. PhysicsMon, your brain works too good for me and me thinks you have too much time on your hands.

Someone said that 99% of the folks on this list know more about skis.......or something like that, and I believe it. We still don’t constitute a very large slice of the skiing public and when that stuff was available, the majority of the skiing public was not able to do anything useful with it, or worse yet, did the wrong thing. You want an engineering journal published for the folks who hang out on this list. OK. Do it yourself. You will quickly find that you and some buddies like it and use it but you will have spent a butt-load of time and money doing so and will have netted no financial gain. Also, you will find that you didn’t change a thing.

All you have to do is listen to folks you trust and go out and ski the stuff. It's cheaper and just as accurate. Demo isn’t everything but it tells you more than flex graphs.

Also, don’t quit challenging everything that is taken for granted in this industry. Why do I think that won’t be a problem……?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 09, 2001 08:42 PM: Message edited 1 time, by jd ]</font>
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by jd:
Good Topic. I have to weigh in with Wink & kiwiski here. PhysicsMon, your brain works too good for me and me thinks you have too much time on your hands.
LOL! Between insomnia and no skiing yet, I've got to do something to keep busy, so why not rant about ski minutiae


Quote:
Someone said that 99% of the folks on this list know more about skis.......or something like that, and I believe it. We still don’t constitute a very large slice of the skiing public and when that stuff was available, the majority of the skiing public was not able to do anything useful with it, or worse yet, did the wrong thing.
You know what? I think you may have just hit the nail on the head and answered my question. The reason might simply be that the mags found out empirically that nobody used the flex information that they used to publish.


Quote:
You want an engineering journal published for the folks who hang out on this list. OK. Do it yourself. You will quickly find that you and some buddies like it and use it but you will have spent a butt-load of time and money doing so and will have netted no financial gain.
You figured me out. That's exactly why I'm ranting for someone else (like the mags) to do it for me. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Quote:
All you have to do is listen to folks you trust and go out and ski the stuff. It's cheaper and just as accurate. Demo isn’t everything but it tells you more than flex graphs.

Also, don’t quit challenging everything that is taken for granted in this industry. Why do I think that won’t be a problem……?
LOL on your last sentence.

About getting good advice, I always felt that it was almost impossible to find. I don't know why, but for some reason, I just never felt that I could trust reviews that contained statements like, "dOOdZ, my xxx rules" and I'm up on the blacks already on it".

(But that's another rant.)

Seriously, tho - your comments were right on the mark. Thanks.


Cheers,

Tom / PM

[ March 10, 2004, 01:45 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
I think it was DudeLeSkiBum (or whatever his current alias is) over on Powder who looked at the flex of a bunch of semi-fatties and fatties about a year ago. This was the only set of flex measurements I've seen published recently.

Unfortunately, unless he reposted it, his message probably got lost in the big purge several months ago. There is a good chance he went over to TGR in the mass exodus, so if you post your request there as well as on powdermag.com, he might spot it and repost his results.

Tom / PM

PS - BTW, digging up a thread from 2001! I'm impressed.
post #23 of 23
Bumping this old post to the top because someone at some point DID comile a pretty good database of basic flex info (just overall tip and tail flex under a fixed load) and I'm trying to find it. I know it was linked either jere or at PowderMag because I've seen it before.

If anyone knows what I'm talking about, could you please pst the link. It would be extremely helpful to me to have that info...
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