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Head RS 96 Review

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Boot Make: Head
Boot Model: RS 96 (2005 model) Size 28.0
Snow Conditions Used In: Groomed, chop, bumps, powder
Number of Days Used: 5 so far
Your Ability: Advanced
How Many Years Have You Been Skiing: 30
Avg. Days per Year Skiing: 120
Previous Boots: Tecnica XT 17 (28.0), DPXR (27.5), TNT XR (28.0)
Your Height/Weight: 6' 170#

Comments:

I ordered these boots sight unseen (no shop I could find stocks them) on the basis that they were low volume, soft flexing, and most importantly, a relatively upright cuff.

On arrival, the box contained a parts bag with an allen wrench (for cuff alignment screw) and bolts for the boot spine. Decided to install lower bolt in spine.

These are the heaviest boots and hardest to put on and take off that I've ever used. The handles on the sides of the liner are a necessity. My first attempt at skiing them resulted in major foot pain after about 15 minutes, and foot numbness after 30 minutes. I was surprised at the lack of instep room and narrowness of the shell, given that I fit into the XT comfortably with no modifications. I am using Surefoot footbeds.

After several days of grinding, wearing, and grinding some more, the boots are now comfortable. I chose to buy a dremel tool and grind them myself, as I had serious doubts about the competency of the first shop I went into and couldn't afford the services of the second.

The plastic on these boots is about 4 mm thick, so there is plenty of room to grind. Frustratingly, the cuff is riveted on making work difficult. Also, the buckles are all riveted on. The catches for the cuff buckles are screwed on, with two possible positions.

After finally removing enough material to achieve a decent fit, I was wishing Head made a "RS 98" model, which like baby bear's porridge, would have been just right. According to Dawgcatching, the fit of the RS 96 will be "eased" for 2007. Some time earlier, I tried on the RS 100, but even with the insert installed the heel pocket was too big.

The liner is thicker than my XT's, but thinner than my old DPXR's and TNT XR's.

The cuff volume is quite wide, at least for my somewhat chicken legs. I moved the cuff catches to the inside position and get a good fit at the second notch.

I was doubting my decision to buy these boots until I was able to ski them without discomfort. Without question, the stance geometry of these boots has dramatically improved my skiing, especially in variable snow. Where I struggled to keep from being bounced back in the XT's, I stayed balanced with little effort in the RS 96's. At times, I couldn't believe how easily I was linking turns in nasty snow conditions. I asked a qualified trainer to compare my turns between boots, and was told that I was in a more powerful stance in the 96's with a more upright tib/fib, and that the 96's stance geometry appeared to match my anatomy.

As good as the XT's are, and as much improvement I experienced in moving from the relatively high volume DPXR to the XT, the stance of the RS 96 has resulted in a dramatic and exiting improvement to my skiing. Thanks to Head for making a low volume boot with an upright stance.

The flex of these boots is smooth and not nearly as affected by temperature as the XT. (I have considerably softened my XT's) At some point, I will experiment with one, two, or no spine bolts.

RS 96 as compared to XT:

Flex is softer
Boot is much heavier (but it does not ski heavy)
Fit is tighter overall, except for heel pocket which seems about the same. After modifications, the fit is satisfactory, but the XT fits my foot like a slipper right out of the box
Liner is thicker
Boot is warmer and doesn't leak
Harder to put on and take off (good luck getting it off in cold weather)
It's cool looking! The best color for a ski boot - black.

Conclusion: Boot alignment is an underemphasized but major factor in the ability to ski to our potentials. Of the boots I have tried, the RS 96 so far has the best stance characteristics for my anatomy and for my preference for all mountain skiing. Using this boot has made a significant improvement in my skiing, mainly off-piste. In the future, I will be interested in the 2007 RS 96 and in the new 98mm Lange. Tecnica until now has been my boot of choice, as I seem to have a "tecnica foot", but for me, their current low volume boots have way too much forward lean. I would like to find a boot with the lower shell fit of an XT and the upright stance of a RS 96 - Sywsyw's XT modifications are worth more consideration.

P.S. These boots are used with Head Mojo's, Head Monster 72's, Head XRC 1100 Chip's and Atomic M11's.
post #2 of 29
the boot you describe is the RD 96 isn't it, not the RS???
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
This is the RS 96.

The RD 96 was $100 more, and if I understand correctly, is the same volume but much stiffer. I'm not positive, but I think that the RD has more forward lean.
post #4 of 29
I am glad you found a boot which is better for you than the XT.

The XT can be made made more upright. You can add a lifter under the toe of the boot or under the binding toe piece.
As you know, the mods i made to my boot were made with a different reason in mind. The more upright stance is just the result of a lower spine. But it does make a difference, though... I can tell you that it is very much like the Lange RL11 now. Still, i suspect it is more forward than a Dobie or Head. But i have not tried the Head.

IMO if you are not completely satisfied with the fit of the Head and you are looking for a bit more room, i have one suggestion. Get a thinner liner. I have the Diablo Race R lace up liner. It is thinner than the stock liner. The Dobermann lace up liner costs $170 (if i remember correctly). It is cheaper than a new boot...

Jamie
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by stvbck
This is the RS 96.

The RD 96 was $100 more, and if I understand correctly, is the same volume but much stiffer. I'm not positive, but I think that the RD has more forward lean.
Supposedly, the RS and RD are the same last. The boots will change ever-so-slightly as well for 2007, with a tad more upright stance (or so I have been told). The move toward a slightly more-forgiving fit is a good one: almost nobody can ski the RD out of the box. Also, on the RD, the buckles and cuff are screwed on (I have removed my cuff to grind it, and boy, it is heavy! Some seriously thick plastic).
post #6 of 29
stvbck, there is one more thing. If you want to cut the lower shell to soften the boot that is ok. But if you want to cut it to make it a hinge boot or a lower which blurs the hinge and mono designs, that is a different thing. I explained what i did to the boots and the pics show that on the XT thread. But i did not get the chance to ski them. I know what to expect from the hinge design, but i have to try it to be sure.

I too ordered a boot (but i tried it on so i know what my size is). I wanted a carving weapon to use on groomed snow. The XT will be the weapon of choice for mixed terrain.
IMO, the stock XT with its mono shell is great for carving and racing (especially if you put two screwed studs in to maximize response, increase lateral and rear support and stiffen flex). For freeskiing, even if they freeski relatively well for a race boot, there are better choices out there (IMO).

Jamie
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Today I skied the RS boots with my XT liners. Widthwise the fit was better, and I noticed an improvement in instep room.

However, I had to use Instaprint Eliminator shims and buckle the cuff up as tight as it will go to get good cuff fit.

I'm surprised that a boot with so narrow a last would have so large a cuff.

BTW, does anyone know the actual figure, in degrees, of forward lean of this boot? Does the Head RS series have more/less/same forward lean as next year's Lange WC boots?

The ideal boot for me would be an XT with an upright cuff.

stvbck
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by stvbck
Today I skied the RS boots with my XT liners. Widthwise the fit was better, and I noticed an improvement in instep room.

However, I had to use Instaprint Eliminator shims and buckle the cuff up as tight as it will go to get good cuff fit.

I'm surprised that a boot with so narrow a last would have so large a cuff.

BTW, does anyone know the actual figure, in degrees, of forward lean of this boot? Does the Head RS series have more/less/same forward lean as next year's Lange WC boots?

The ideal boot for me would be an XT with an upright cuff.

stvbck
Do you think the Langes will fit like the XT does?
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by stvbck
I have considerably softened my XT's
How did you soften your XT’s? I recently picked up a pair from Cupolo’s on a gamble that they would fit my low volume foot well. I think I made a good choice - while I haven’t skied them yet, the fit seems to be very close to spot-on for me.

But I’m a little worried about the stiffness: I’m coming from a (very tired) pair of Tecnica Explosion 8’s, and comparing them side by side (in the warmth of my living room), the XT’s are definitely stiffer – which I expected. I reckon the difference in stiffness will become even more apparent in normal skiing temperatures.

Of course, I will ski the XT’s before making any modifications, but I’d like to have an idea as to what I can do to soften them if necessary.

(Sorry about the thread drift.)
post #10 of 29
Merlyn, until stvbck answer your questions, i will try to help.

I softened my XTs. I transformed it into a different boot w/ a hinged design. You don't have to cut it to make it a hinged design, but it can be cut to make it softer. Here is a link to the thread i started: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...light=tweaking

The most important thing is: i asked a member of the Epicski community who made similar mods, about the performance of the boot after the surgery. He said exactly what i expected: ankle subtlety and better sensitivity for small movements. To sum it up: a better freeskiing boot.
Now all i have to do is get on the hill!

I am sure the boot will raise your game. From the very first run!
Jamie
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
I skied the 96's again today, and was further impressed with the stance geometry. A difficult run in variable snow felt like just another blue groomer.

I still need to soften them up some more, however. Next will be to ski them with both spine bolts removed. If still too stiff, back to the Dremel.

Merlyn: Check your PM's.

Sywsyw, I did try the XT's with shims under the toes, but felt a loss of edge grip. I'm looking forward to an on-snow report of your hybrid XT modification.

stvbck
post #12 of 29
As i said, another member of our community made similar mods and he said that he liked the very much. He said that the boots are fantastic (with the mods). This means that i was right when i said what my expectations were on the XT thread. I am relaxed. I have no doubt that they won't work on the snow. But i have to wait until next season to ski them.

IMO if you feel that the lifters did not help, you could try the Dobermanns. As you probably know, many people consider them to be more upright than other models.

Jamie
post #13 of 29
Thanks for the responses, guys.

sywsyw - interesting modifications. Although it's probably more than I am willing to undertake, I'll be interested to hear how they work when you get them on snow.

stvbck - thanks for the info. I have a further question which I'll PM to you.

I'm in the backcountry this weekend, so I won't be able to try the XT's until the next weekend. I'm quite sure I don't want to use a stock XT as an AT boot.
post #14 of 29
Can someone points me to where I can get RS 96/ RD 96 at a good price?
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by agent.5
Can someone points me to where I can get RS 96/ RD 96 at a good price?
I have the RD96 for $310 in my remaining sizes. Sorry, but no RS96's in at this point. 541-593-2453
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by agent.5
Can someone points me to where I can get RS 96/ RD 96 at a good price?
I have the RD96 for $310 in my remaining sizes. Sorry, but no RS96's in at this point. 541-593-2453
post #17 of 29
Merlyn,
Yes the modifications were made with a different purpose. You can always soften the XT and still use the monoblock design. I wanted to show you the pics b/c that is how you can soften them. Simply make V or U cuts but not as low as i did for the hinge design. If i remember correctly (it's been a while since i mod the XT), there are cuts on the high lower shell. They are not V or U cuts, but can be made like the ones you saw in the pics.You can start from there. Do not cut the high spine.
Yes i will give you a report after i test them

Jamie
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Another observation on the RS 96

One reason why I ski better in the RS 96 is due to the more forgiving flex, especially to the rear.

Today I skied a steep, narrow run making hop turns (old chair 10 breakover, for those that know Mammoth) and found myself at one point in recovery mode having been thrown back.

In the XT's, with their very stiff spine, my mistakes would have resulted in a fall (nothing new) as too much pressure on the tails would have caused the skis to jet out ahead of me, but the RS boots, thanks to a softer rearward flex, did not allow as much pressure to end up on the ski tails and I was able to recover.

I still need to do a little work on the RS's to gain more instep room. Back to the dremel. I will try next year's Lange WC when I find some for comparison, and also will look at the Atomic RT CS, but I would probably have to repaint those to be able to ski them.

Also, the difference in flex between one spine bolt and no bolts is dramatic. Much softer, maybe too soft.
post #19 of 29
If you like the fit of the XT you will probably be dissapointed by the Lange WC 150. I have the Lange and its last is very different. The liner is different. Yes the Lange will be more upright than the stock XT.

Compared to the XT, the Lange is, IMO, slightly wider at the heel and definitely wider at the forefoot. But the chief problem is not the heel or forefoot hold. It's the instep. The Lange has a very high instep and if you don't have a high/very high instep don't even look at this boot.
My size is US 7 and the XT is 294mm while the Lange is 300mm. Some people downsize.
The cuff was roomy.
The liner is heavily padded at the ankle and gives a false impression of an extremely tight fit at the ankle/heel. When i tried it with the Diablo lace up liner, everything changed. The boot showed its true fit. I can't even put the ZR liner in the XT. The liner is also one size bigger than the shell. While the shell is US 7, the liner is 8.

I was thinking of trying the Lange in a smaller size. It will probably be tighter but i am not sure it will solve the instep issue. My Icon Alu Comp is one size bigger than the XT (304mm) and it has a lower instep than the Lange and i can ski it w/o any problems. I even put the ZR in the Alu Comp and the padding at the ankle is working very well with the ankle/heel.


Jamie
post #20 of 29
Look at dawgcathing's RD96. the boot is superb, more upright and less ramp angle then most plugs and ski great. It is heavy and stiff and there is ton of material (plastic) that can be ground to fit.

the hardware IMHO is the best in the business. Skis very smooth & very powerful.

Absolutely no packing out so far and I have about 15-20 days on them. Also has short sole length for shell size 27 shell is a 310. (X2 & RT TI are 313-314 respectively)

Retail Lange 130 & Atomic T11 are 317mm in a 27.
post #21 of 29

RD96 RS96 in Seattle area

Atomicman
Did you get your boots in the Seattle area? What shops have them?
I know Snowcovers in Whistler has them, but anywhere closer?

Thanks
post #22 of 29
I got them from the rep. sorry, but you might call at Jim mates at custom boot service. he might know where to get a pair. tell him Cliff told you to call!

206-297-9298
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by NordtheBarbarian
Atomicman
Did you get your boots in the Seattle area? What shops have them?
I know Snowcovers in Whistler has them, but anywhere closer?

Thanks
If you need a pair, I can always send you a set via UPS, and if the fit doesn't work, you can send them back. I had heard that Pilchuck was carrying the boot too, but I could be wrong.
post #24 of 29

Head RD 96 Sz 28...Interested?...

howdy, kidz,

i have a pair of the 96's...$300 including ship.

let me know..reply to: bruceacim@gmail.com

thnx,

bruce marks
post #25 of 29
Look at this site. Best boot comparisson site arround. Almost readable also .

http://www.kandahar.co.jp/catalog/pdf/12_13.pdf

What is the difference between the RS 80/100/96? I have a very wide 29,5 size foot, slightly over 100. Im prepared to strech the outside shell.
post #26 of 29
Tdk6, i found that site last year and i thought, just like you, that it is the best boot comparison site available. When i first saw it, i was very satisfied b/c the boot i had was the Tecnica Diablo Race R. It was the narrowest boot in the test. But after i tried the Atomic Race Tech Soft and Lange RL11 ZC/ZC i changed my opinion. The instep measurements were not accurate. I found the Race R to be lower in the instep than the Lange. They say it's the other way around. I have to disagree. The Race Tech does have a low instep. According to the website, the X2 is the narrowest and lowest volume plug available. I was told that the X2 is quite roomy for a plug, especially in the heel. I do not know how accurate those measuremnts were.

As for the stiffness, they got it all wrong IMO. I had the Tecnica H17 flex which is significantly stiffer than the H13. I also tried the the Lange ZC/ZC which is stiffer than the ZB.

IMO try the boot first. Perhaps those measurements are better than Skiing mag/Skimag (the similar scores for Dobermann and Race R in terms of fit indicate that they are on the right track IMO) but they still need to make a lot more accurate mesurements.

Jamie
post #27 of 29
X2 is probably the roomiest plug!
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicman
X2 is probably the roomiest plug!
Thank you!
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sywsyw
Thank you!
Lots of instep room too! But it is narrow just infront of the hell on the lateral side of the boot where th honeycomb starts on the newer version. almost everybody I know had to have that blown out. Alot of forefoot room too. But keep in mind all the plugs are designed to be ground to fit your foot.
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