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Showdown: Elan M666 vs. Stockli Stormrider XL

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am finally working on figuring out my own quiver (I have way too many skis right now). The first ski "challenge" was between my new 2006 Elan M666 and my 2005 Stockli Stormrider XL.

I think this review may also be of interest to those of you not really interested in these particular skis, but in how ski construction is not always a great predictor of how a ski will actually ride in the real world.

I went out today with the intent of testing the performance of these skis on front-side groomers and some moguls.

Here's the specs:

Me: 5' 7" 175 lbs. - in my 30th season of skiing
2006 Elan M666: 168cm mounted with Tyrolia Cyber Carbon D9 on a Tyrolia Free Flex Plus plate (boot midsole aligned with ski midsole mark)
2005 Stockli Stormrider XL: 174cm mounted with Marker Comp 14.0 Piston Control Turbo (boot midsole mark is 25mm forward of ski midsole mark - used BoF method to determine mounting position)
Conditions: Over a foot of new snow fell about 3 days ago, but there was nothing fresh left (no surprise there!). The groomers were hard and the moguls were harder - there really wasn't anything soft left on the mountain, but there wasn't any serious ice to speak of either.
Testing Methodology: I ran each pair of skis for 3 runs each and then swapped (total of 12 runs). Laps included groomers and moguls only.
My Typical Ski Preferences: I like stiffer damper skis with excellent grip that I can still handle through off-piste conditions and moguls. I'm not a big fan of the lighter more "noodly" skis.
Ski Construction Info: Both of these models are vertical sidewall, dual titanium metal sheet, wood laminate core skis. They have virtually identical dimensions (actual measurements: Elan 117-75-102 Stockli 116-75-102), but of course their lengths were not identical (although lining up the bindings shows that there's not much of a difference when distributed between the tip and tail). Edges on both sets of skis were setup at 1/3 bevels.

Here's the Tests:

2006 Elan M666:
I started out on the Elan M666 to get warmed up. The M666 is an interesting "compromise" between the feel of damper skis like a Volkl and the livelier feeling skis like a Dynastar. They have the unique ability to hold like glue without feeling overly heavy and lifeless. However, they do transmit much more of the snow "feel" than I'm used to. Their shorter length provides slightly tighter carved turns than the Stocklis.

On groomers they felt like I might be able to over power them, but I never actually got to that point. High speed big GS turns are well within the means of these skis, but I don't get that super confident feeling that the skis are going to stay under me the whole way. I needed to stay very centered and keep my skills in check to run them this way. I wouldn't be able to use these for high speed cruising all day unless the snow was softer - I just don't like all of that slope "feel" being transmitted into my boots.

In the moguls these skis have a nice round progressive flex with a firm enough tail to kick back if you get into trouble (in the back seat). They're very easy to swing around and pivot through and into tight troughs. I wasn't able to get the "glued in" feeling though where the skis just kind of flow through the moguls like water down a river. I never felt like they were hugging the terrain - more like I was lightly riding on top of everything. I have skied these before in softer moguls and absolutely loved them then.

2005 Stockli Stormrider XL:
These were the last skis I was on for the day and I really didn't want to get off of them. Stocklis have this feel - they make slopes feel like velvet - really. On groomers they just do not have a speed limit that I can find. They're incredibly good at inspiring you to just go faster and faster - when you realize just how fast you're going you just might wet yourself (my GPS clocked me at 51 mph today on these skis). They don't really like tighter turns - they're more at home with the medium to large variety, but they can be coaxed into tighter stuff if you get real aggressive. I skied these last year when I had the bindings mounted at the manufacturers midsole mark - and these skis OWNED me. I was kinda scared of them. They got away from me really easy and were very tough for me to control in the bumps. This season the forward remount has changed everything. They don't like to be driven from the tips though - they like a very centered and balanced position and they just come around beautifully.

The remount gave the skis additional tail length that has softened that section enough that I love these skis in the bumps too now. The Stocklis are a bit stiffer than the Elans, but not by alot. I've had Volkls that are much stiffer (6 Star, P50), but the Stocklis just seem to hug the moguls like a good friend. These skis do give me that water flowing down the river feeling - super smooth with a very stable platform under my feet. Sometimes I feel invincible on these things. The more you "give" to a Stockli the more you "get" back.

Conclusions:
I'm absolutely amazed at how different these skis feel. I purchased the M666s at the beginning of the season without a demo (something I usually don't do), but I found a good deal. I was really looking for a less expensive substitute for my Stockli Stormrider XLs and reviewing the construction and dimensions I thought I had found the right match. Somehow though the "sum of the parts" (although almost identical between the two models) didn't add up to the same skis. To me these skis feel nothing alike and has proven to me that you can't assume how a ski will feel or behave based on the published construction alone.

I will probably use the M666s whenever the conditions are softer and stick to the Stocklis when I want to rip on the hardpack. I'll probably compare these two skis again when fresh snow conditions are available. I will be comparing my Volant Machete Sins to these skis real soon to finally make a decision on which ski is my favorite. I really loved the Sins last season, but I haven't spent much time on them this season (too many skis!).

So after my "learning experience" today I have only one thing to say:

DEMO, DEMO, DEMO - it's the EpicSki way ya know...
post #2 of 23
It seems to me that the comparisons are not really equal. The M666 in a 176 length is probably more comparable. Do you think it would have made a difference?
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by seattle_sun
It seems to me that the comparisons are not really equal. The M666 in a 176 length is probably more comparable. Do you think it would have made a difference?
Not a bit when it comes to ski feel. The only thing that would have been affected would be the ski turn radius that the ski was most comfortable with and possibly the flex pattern (probably a bit softer lengthwise if longer).

The difference in running length between these two skis is 6cm (a little over 2 inches). When those 2 inches are divided between the tip and the tail you're not talking about a lot more edge contact. I agree that the 176cm would provide a more direct comparison, but I don't own that size so take what you want out of my review.
post #4 of 23
noodler,

by 05 XLs do you mean the current brown and (allegedly) slightly softer ones? I have the red/blue flame XLs in 174 and I've found them surprisingly friendly (in the normal mounting position) - more demanding than the softer and less shaped Atomic R9 180 that I was on but not THAT demanding. I am 10lbs heavier than you though which might make a difference. I do recognise a lot of what you describe though

J
post #5 of 23
Nice job on the review and analysis. One of the best, most scientific and well-written I have seen on Epic.

JoeB
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
jedster0 - I have the red, white, and blue XLs from last season (2005). They have a 3rd layer of titanium only below the binding mounting area (I should have mentioned that) hence they are supposedly a bit stiffer underfoot than this year's XL (however I couldn't feel a difference hand flexing them in a shop that had both on display).

The reason for my forward mount on the XLs is due to my "passion" for using the BoF method for determining the proper binding fore/aft mount position. I've found that this method puts me at the right place on the ski. With the bindings mounted where I need them, the XLs became much more user friendly for me this season.

People shouldn't be scared away from Stockli (they kinda have that reputation) - if you have the skills, the construction they use can be very rewarding. I've found some of my Volkls in the past to be more demanding (and much stiffer).

The only problem with Stocklis is that it's hard to find them at a sane price - I guess that's what happens when the company only produces 50,000 skis, where 1/3 are exported to the U.S. (approximately 15,000 pairs), and then only half of that shipment includes their really high end stuff. We're all fighting over about 7,500 pairs = high demand = high prices.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
Nice job on the review and analysis. One of the best, most scientific and well-written I have seen on Epic.

JoeB
Thanks for the positive feedback. I do appreciate it. I'll post some additional reviews in the coming weeks.
post #8 of 23
I still think that the 168cm 666 will ski much differently than the 176. I have skied the 168 a few times, and while it is great on hard snow, and easier in the bumps than the 176, you lose a TON of soft-snow stability and the ability to relax in more challenging conditions. It would be the ski to choose if you wanted hard-snow performance without giving up too much when traveling out West. It is really a huge contrast to the 666 in 176. I skied that yesterday in quite challenging conditions (2-3" new over death cookies) and, if I stayed centered and just rolled the skis on edge, I was sailing through the rougher terrain at basically GS speeds with a minimum worry. On the 168, I would have felt that I was red-lining it and needed to back off. I actually left a couple of guys (one on an iM88, the other on an AC4) in the dust when we went off-piste. It was fun because, on the long traverse out, I totally out glided-them and left 'em behind, even though they outweighed me. Those multiple hot scrapes a few weeks ago and new tune really paid off!

You may find that the Stockli is slightly beefier and more stable (for example, the Head iM82 is a bit more stable in 172 than the 666/Magfire 12 in 176) but the difference in stability will be much less when comparing the 176 666 to the 174 XL For example, the 666 is incredibly stable for its high forgiveness level, while the Head iM82 is a bit beefier and more demanding, IMO. I think a similiar comparison can likely be made between the XL and 666.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Dawg - hmmm, interesting theory. You're attributing a great deal of differences to 6cm of additional contact length. You've been right on the money before so I don't doubt you (and you've ridden the M666 quite a bit).

I still contend that the length has nothing to do with how these skis feel on the snow though - I'm specifically referring to the dampness of the skis and how much vibration they transmit. The Elan M666 has been a surprisingly lively feeling ski to me (about as lively as I can tolerate). I don't recall feeling that way about the Elan S12 (and I have a few days on those) so I wouldn't say that all Elans feel the way the M666 feels to me. I don't have enough time yet on the M777 to have a good feel for how it skis.

I'm taking all of the Elans to ESA for the week in Utah. Hopefully spending good bit of time on each will help me dial-in my likes and dislikes about the skis.

I've been thinking though - if for next season Stockli has joined the "wave" and created a new super sidecut all-terrain ski then I could seriously see me being able to get rid of a lot of skis.

Dawg - did you ever decide which new brand of skis your shop was going to pick up? I don't think I ever saw the conclusion to that thread.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler


Dawg - did you ever decide which new brand of skis your shop was going to pick up? I don't think I ever saw the conclusion to that thread.
Nope, I still have to test the skis before I make the call. There are lots of promising skis out there this year, and it looks like more ski companies are "getting the message" by beefing up their line. I am not sure how this will affect the average skier, but it will be great for the general population on this board. Beefier, more powerful skis from Nordica (the Mach3 stuff), Elan (new Speedwave), Head (iM82, XRC 1400 and 1200, both of which are all-mountain designs), Volkl (mostly stiffer across the board, although I can't buy them) will make things interesting. I am still not sold on the "super-sidecut" skis. Of the ones I have tested, they just weren't for me. My preference for all-mountain use locally is a 15-18m radius, 170-178 length, 75-82mm waist. If I lived somewhere with mostly hard snow, I would be on something 69mm waist with vertical sidewalls most likely, which is still verstaile enough for skiing out West a few times a year (I used to ski the Sceneo 500 and then the S12 all over locally-I didn't have anything wider, and they didn't ever let me down).
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler
Dawg - hmmm, interesting theory. You're attributing a great deal of differences to 6cm of additional contact length. You've been right on the money before so I don't doubt you (and you've ridden the M666 quite a bit).

I agree with dawg on this one. It's not just the extra length, it's the extra length added far from your BoF. Think about the lever-arm it has on your BoF. The farther out you go, the more the added length contributes to edge leverage. You'll have to pardon my rocket scientist tendencies, but here's an equation:

dM = p * L * dL

Here dM (d=delta) would be the change in edge leverage (also known as moment or torque), p is the edge pressure (per length) which is a function of how hard you edge the ski, L is the length from the BoF, and dL is the increment of length at that L location. So the L and the dL end up compounding each other when they contribute to the leverage moment.

I have noticed this in a qualitative way. Small changes in length on a ski will make the tip or tail (or both) more/less pronounced, depending on where that length is relative to the BoF. Of course other factors weigh in as well (sidecut, ski shape, stance, etc), so the notion of edge leverage is a simplification and not the only effect.

The interesting thing about the leverage concept is that it works two ways -- one is that it affects your foot's ability to muscle/leverage the ski, and the other is that it affects the way the ski provides feedback to the foot. These can be subtle nuances, but I have detected this when trying out different sizes of certain skis. Added length is more noticeable on longer skis for sure.

Craig
post #12 of 23

Reconsideration of size?

Hi,

I read lots about the M666 and picked one up because couldn't pass on the price. They're mounted and ready to go.

I bought the 168 (the only size available since they were the last pair) and I'm 150 lbs, 5'10, level 8-8.5 skier. Ski Mammoth mostly and some locals in SoCal if I'm dying to go.

I hope I didn't make a mistake! I'm hoping at my weight, that I'll be alright, that the waist width difference will make up for the length considering that I'm coming from a 64mm waisted Atomic...

Any quick thoughts? It looks like 176's may have been the way to go but I'm not too worried considering that having the extra width underfoot should open up a new world to me in terms of comfortability in softer/slightly deeper snow.

Any quick thoughts?
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by LAXtoDartmouth
Any quick thoughts?
You're going to love the ski. Enjoy!
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler
The Elan M666 has been a surprisingly lively feeling ski to me (about as lively as I can tolerate).
Noodler, how do you describe "lively" here? For example, I would say the old '99 through '03 Salomon X-Scream Series was a very lively ski. in comparison the M666 is quite solid and stable underfoot. but I suppose that compared to a Volant Machete the M666 is a nervous nellie.
post #15 of 23
I have the 666 in 168 and loved them. However, with all the snow in the PNW this year, they were a bit unstable in the deep chopped up powder. I just bought the 176 and they are a lot more stable with speed and in the crud (it just blows through the stuff), but tougher in the bumps and trees.

Saying all that, I still think you'll like them in 168. I weigh quite a bit more (175 lbs) than you and they will give you a lot more float than with me.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle crud
Noodler, how do you describe "lively" here? For example, I would say the old '99 through '03 Salomon X-Scream Series was a very lively ski. in comparison the M666 is quite solid and stable underfoot. but I suppose that compared to a Volant Machete the M666 is a nervous nellie.
I know - the terms we toss around mean different things to different people.

So let me describe what I'm feeling in different terms with the hope that I'm conveying the feel of these skis.

The M666 never gives me that "glued to the snow" feeling I get from my Volant Machetes and Stocklis. It feels like I'm riding on the snow instead of becoming part of it (ok - I just re-read that - I don't think I'm helping here ). The vibration of the skis on the snow is much more pronounced with the M666 as opposed to my Volants, Stocklis, even my Elan S12. Even so, the M666 still has great edge grip and energy.

I'm up at Snowbird for ESA right now and I'm probably going to ride the M666 tomorrow since there will be some soft snow conditions. We're supposed to get almost a foot of new snow Monday night so it looks like I'll go with the M777 for Tuesday. After that it'll probably be the Stockli XL. I'm definitely looking forward to "fine tuning" my observations and opinions on these skis.
post #17 of 23
Did you know that you void the Stockli warranty when you mount a boot at any point other than on their line? Yep, the boot sole mark and the line on the ski must align or kiss the warranty goodbye. At least that's what their web-site says....
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
Did you know that you void the Stockli warranty when you mount a boot at any point other than on their line? Yep, the boot sole mark and the line on the ski must align or kiss the warranty goodbye. At least that's what their web-site says....
Wow - interesting. It probably has more to do with the reinforcement that's manufactured into the ski to hold the binding screws securely. I can't come up with any other reason why. My skis are already out of warranty so it's not a big deal to me, but I certainly will discuss this issue with my Stockli dealer next time I'm buying a pair.

P.S. I just went to their web site to find their warranty info and couldn't find anything. BigE - Please post the link if you have a chance. Thanks.
post #19 of 23
This is from the faq on the canadian stockli site. I can't see how it'd be any different in the US.

BTW, it may an issue because they are located in Calgary, where there is a shop that uses a campbell dynamic balancer.....

http://www.stockli.ca/faq.htm
post #20 of 23

So in thoughts on a 176 m666/m12 vs. the Storm xl?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
I agree with dawg on this one. It's not just the extra length, it's the extra length added far from your BoF. Think about the lever-arm it has on your BoF. The farther out you go, the more the added length contributes to edge leverage. You'll have to pardon my rocket scientist tendencies, but here's an equation:

dM = p * L * dL

Here dM (d=delta) would be the change in edge leverage (also known as moment or torque), p is the edge pressure (per length) which is a function of how hard you edge the ski, L is the length from the BoF, and dL is the increment of length at that L location. So the L and the dL end up compounding each other when they contribute to the leverage moment.

I have noticed this in a qualitative way. Small changes in length on a ski will make the tip or tail (or both) more/less pronounced, depending on where that length is relative to the BoF. Of course other factors weigh in as well (sidecut, ski shape, stance, etc), so the notion of edge leverage is a simplification and not the only effect.

The interesting thing about the leverage concept is that it works two ways -- one is that it affects your foot's ability to muscle/leverage the ski, and the other is that it affects the way the ski provides feedback to the foot. These can be subtle nuances, but I have detected this when trying out different sizes of certain skis. Added length is more noticeable on longer skis for sure.

Craig
So I read on realskiers that ski length in the SAME ski will have more difference than same length in different skis. So getting as close as possible between the XL and M666 (174 vs. 176 respectively) should be more alike than say the M66 in the 168 and 174 lenght.

That being said, how similar would the XL 174 be with the 176. I mean all things equal are we talking 95% of similar performance?

I ask this question because the price difference in these skis is massive. Even used, the XL tends to be close to 2x the price. Discounted new, similar situation maybe around 1.5 x for the Stockli.
post #21 of 23

M666 Not a Powder/Crud Ski for Me

I too bought a pair of Elan M666 (without trying them first - mistake) and hoped they would provide some decent off-piste capability without giving up edge grip. Edge grip I got...

Unfornately, even though I am a 130lbs lightweight skiing them at a "long" 168cm (the shop wanted me to buy the 160cm), I find them to be mainly a mid-speed packed snow and bump ski (very turny and with great edge grip). Once the conditions become cruddy or with more than a few inches of fresh snow the ski becomes unruly and like a sinker. Fiercely angulating them helps, but for me this involves way more energy input than I expect from a 76mm waist ski (and more than that required from my 70mm B1's). Sitting back a bit in fresh snow also helps but we all know where that technique leads to....

IMHO my advice is to ski them long (though I can't say if a 176cm would have helped me or just would have been too much ski) and/or expect them to be a frontside-specific ski that is more bump than cruiser oriented. Of course YMMV.

P.S. I mounted them with Tyrolia Railflex bindings which allow some fore/aft adjustment. Funny thing is moving the binding back only made matters worse in fresh snow - they began to feel like snow-base seeking torpedoes rather than just plain sinkers.
post #22 of 23
Wow, this thread is 2 years old. Since then, I've left the 666 and moved on to the Mantra. Much better in the soft stuff.
post #23 of 23
"Stocklis have this feel - they make slopes feel like velvet - really."...I have skied the Stormrider XL and said the exact same thing about them. As soon as possible, I'm buying some XL's.
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