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If weights an issue, then ........

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've been reading a few of these reviews/discussions and people often refer to different skis a 'tanks' or a variety of other colourful terms that describe the ski as too heavy or occasionally too light. They seem to use it when comparing skis, obviously based on personal preferences

So, if weight is an issue, why don't manufacturers/retailers advertise what the skis, and or bindings, in fact weigh?
post #2 of 15
Weight is really not an issue unless you have to carry your skis any kind of long distance. Weight seems to be an issue to people who transition from a light ski to a heavy ski and do not let themselves adapt to it. I have gone between very heavy race skis (my race skis are the heaviest skis I have ever owned) and much lighter free ride skis and am able to adapt to each ski every time. The time I notice heavy skis the most is on the chair lift or when I am carrying them on a hike (or to the car). If a skier tests a Salomon cap ski back to back with a sandwich race ski they are going to feel that the race ski with all the metal in it is heavy and un-managable. If you go the other way the Salomon would feel like you were skiing on aluminum foil.

I also feel that ski characteristics can mask themselves as increased overall weight, when they may not be increased weight. If you normally ski on a ski with a light tip and tail, and then switch to a ski with a heavy tip and tail you may find that the ski feels like it weighs more... when in actuality the two weights may be very similar. The same goes for tip/tail width, waist size, edge to edge quickness, and various other factors. If the ski is slow edge to edge, or always feels glued to the snow (I had this experience with Head i.XRC 1100's) then they might feel heavy, but actually be the same weight as the skis you normally ski on.

Ride characteristics are much more important than actual weight. Some of the heaviest AND most maneuverable skis I have ever owned have been Elan SLX's. Last season I was racing on slalom skis that were heavier than my GS skis by several pounds. The slalom skis were still quicker edge to edge and more maneuverable. Mostly people's complaints with weight are psychological I think. If they were to forget about the weight and just ski the skis for awhile they would likely adapt to them rather quickly and within time would not be limited by the extra (usually minimal) weight at all.

Later

GREG
post #3 of 15
HeluvaSkier did a superb job of characterizing the weight issue. If you are a good skier that usually carves your turns then weight is a non-issue. If you spend a lot of time flailing around pushing and jumping your turns (especially in the bumps) you will be having a harder time on a heavier ski.

It is just as easy to ride in a Volkswage as a Cadillac, but the Caddy is a smoother ride and a little harder to park. The only drawback I find with heavy skis is long charlift rides without a footrest.
post #4 of 15
Dont' forget the "polar moment of inertia". ie, how much force it takes you to pivot the skis into a new direction. One does not always carve, so you will notice a heavy ski is hard to pivot. I suspect that's where the notion of the "tank" or "barge like" feel comes from.

So, a manufacturer might not like to advertise ski weight to get away from this characterization. However, if you use the sidecut of the skis to turn the weight is not so important. As Heluva said, skis really can be heavy but still feel quite nimble -- if you ski them "right".
post #5 of 15
I have very heavy skis I like and find very maneuverable and would generally agree on these points, except that my powder skis are very light and it does seem to make a difference in those conditions. Maybe it's my skill or placebo effect. Do you think weight may play a role in deep snow?
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
I have very heavy skis I like and find very maneuverable and would generally agree on these points, except that my powder skis are very light and it does seem to make a difference in those conditions. Maybe it's my skill or placebo effect. Do you think weight may play a role in deep snow?
If you ski deep snow by porpoising and re-directing your skis every time you surface, absolutely. If you ski the deep stuff more smoothly, don't let your depth change very much, and let the flex of the skis laid on edge make the arc for you, differences in their weight will be barely noticeable.

Note, there is no particular value judgement implied in the above. Sometimes, one is in a situation where one has to porpoise and re-direct the skis, and sometimes, one simply can't resist porpoising just because it's fun, but if you do play this way, you'll start to notice the energy it takes to pivot your skis.

One final comment - If you ski powder on shorter skis, the energy you have to expend to overcome the polar moment of inertia can be quite small. This is because this quantity decreases faster than the square of the length of the ski. What you are likely feeling as you try to pivot a ski that is still partially immersed in soft snow is a rotary viscous drag on the extremities of the ski. This is because the latter effect only decreases with decreasing length as the first power of the length, not the square.

Tom / PM

PS - (Mandatory PS for Mudfoot as we've had this discussion before) - Increasing the ease of turning by skiing on shorter skis decreases many aspects of their stability, particularly, at speed (eg, yaw stability, propensity to tip dive, changes in speed when you go over a patch of wetter snow, etc.).
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE View Post
Dont' forget the "polar moment of inertia". ie, how much force it takes you to pivot the skis into a new direction. One does not always carve, so you will notice a heavy ski is hard to pivot. I suspect that's where the notion of the "tank" or "barge like" feel comes from.

So, a manufacturer might not like to advertise ski weight to get away from this characterization. However, if you use the sidecut of the skis to turn the weight is not so important. As Heluva said, skis really can be heavy but still feel quite nimble -- if you ski them "right".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
I have very heavy skis I like and find very maneuverable and would generally agree on these points, except that my powder skis are very light and it does seem to make a difference in those conditions. Maybe it's my skill or placebo effect. Do you think weight may play a role in deep snow?
As one who rides skis that are often referred to as "heavy", "tanks", and virtually every other metaphor along these lines, I have found that velocity has a lot to do with this impression. A ski with greater mass becomes easier to ski as one picks up speed, or as the slope of the hill increases. In either instance the decrease of the effects of friction mitigate the weight of the ski, in a similar way that cars without power steering are easier to turn once the car gets rolling.

My powder skis are certainly the heaviest skis I own, but I think that the surface area more than mitigates the small difference in mass over lighter weight skis. I mean, if my skis weight ten ounces more a piece than another make, what is that compared to the weight of the parka I'm wearing, let alone my body weight, it is really infinitesimal.

Heavy skis do seem to make a difference in difficult snow conditions, where resistance to deflection and setting an edge into hard snow are an issue. Perhaps this is just perception, but I don't think so.
post #8 of 15
I happen to disagree, and think weight is a fairly signifigant and often overlooked factor. In boots, going from 15 lb Tecnicas to 8 lb Flexons was huge for me. I weigh all my skis and bindings and have setups ranging from 13lb to over 20lb (deflex'ed 218cm dh skis). I match skis with bindings partially because of weight - some setups I want lighter, some heavier. A 1 or 2 lb difference in binding weight is pretty noticeable. Many other physical charteristics come into play as far as the feel of weight, as discussed above.

Weight is LEAST noticeable when you are carving cleanly on smooth snow, but in almost any other situation it is quite noticeable. If you are trying to carve on choppy snow or ice, a heavy ski that stays on line better, plowing through things, is much better. But if you are making lots of non carved turns and direction changes, such as when skiing bumps, trees, jumping, or in powder, a lighter ski is going to be easier to work with.

On certain skis last year, I went from 6.5 lb S916's to 4 lb 957 Composites, and it was a huge improvement since they were both on powder skis. I've got a set of 957 Composites on 195 AK Launchers, and finally have those skis dialed after several years and trying them with S916's and then Freerides. They are probably the lightest pair of skis I have, around 13 lb, but they are big, have good edge grip for a pow ski, snappy and I can rock bumps with them. They'll be my main touring ski (w/trekkers), but I'll also do a bit of freeskiing on them on bump days, since they really are good in bumps now.

The other setup I put 957C's on was on a pair of Rossi axioms (had 997e's then S916), which weigh about 11lb without bindings (heavy), but only 15 lb total with the 957C's. Having a light binding keeps the overall weight down to improve manuverablity, but having a heavy ski overall along the length helps it stay stable in choppy snow. My powder pluses were mounted with S916's and driver plates, which made the setup just way too heavy overall (~19lb), they were awesome on heavy/choppy pow, but just got to be too much in some tight spots.

I also built some super tall lifters out of aluminum square tubing for my old stormriders, so the stand height is about 65mm, with p18's. Dropped about 2-3lb vs. the atomic+plate setup that was on there before. Less damp, but more versitile since they are lighter.
post #9 of 15
I think swing weight is more noticable that scale weight. When I switched for 05 Neox's to 06's, I didn't notice anything. Weight is important for skiing bumps and powder. My FB's were killer in soft snow because if the high swing weight.
post #10 of 15
Weight can be pretty important when you are trying to spin. Otherwise, its not such a big deal.
post #11 of 15
Like Highway Star I noticed a huge difference when I switched boots and dropped a pound and a half per foot, but I do not seem to notice the difference when I change to heavier skis. I think the increased smoothness of the ride may mask the additional effort that they might require in some situations.
post #12 of 15
I wish someone would manufacture a ski that would kick in the anti-grav's when I'm slugging them up the hill to the lift (on my shoulders, that is).

Otherwise, I don't notice much difference when they're on my feet.

(Note: I've got some old scx's in 143cm, those, I notice the diff in wt.)
post #13 of 15
I'm not saying weight is bad, it just has it's place. I prefer to keep powder/treeskiing skis light with lighter bindings (p18's, and 957C's), and bombing/carving skis heavy with heavier bindings like S916's (sometimes with lift). I typically prefer the ski itself to be somewhat heavy.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post

(Note: I've got some old scx's in 143cm, those, I notice the diff in wt.)
What colour? The yellow ones were foam core.
post #15 of 15
To go into more detail on the above, here are my general preferences and what I think is optimal gear weight vs. skiing style....I think they can apply to pretty much any advanced to expert skier, and you will notice a difference. Keep in mind everything is relative. You also can't really talk about ski weight without considering length, a long ski will feel heavier in swing weight.

Bumps: Light binding, light to medium ski.
Trees: Light to medium binding, light to medium ski
Powder (all around): Light binding, medium/heavy to heavy ski
Powder (high speed): Medium to heavy binding, medium/heavy to heavy ski
Freeskiing (Do everything): Light/medium binding, medium/heavy ski
Freeskiing (High speed carving bias): Medium to heavy binding, medium/heavy to heavy ski
Freeskiing (short turn carving bias): Medium to heavy binding, medium light to heavy ski.

I'm 190lb, 6'1", and a strong expert. For the above, here is what I would consider heavy, light, etc, and specific models I like. If you are bigger or smaller than me, you would have different perceptions of weight. (weights are per pair)

Bindings:
Light - 4-4.5lb. 957 Composites, FKS 120, p12. Most 12 din bindings
Medium - ~5.5 lb. P18's, most 14 din bindings.
Heavy - 6.5-7+ lb. S916, sometimes with lift. Other race stock. Atomics. Setups w/Plates.

Skis:
Light: 7 to 8.5 lb. Any skis without metal, 180 to 195 cm, any width. K2's, etc.
Medium: Around 9 lb. Skis with metal, wider, light to medium weight core, 180cm to 190cm. Or narrower (<80mm waist), with a heavy core, metal, 175-190+ cm. Im88's, 186 LPs, Mantras, metal/wood carvers, etc.
Heavy: 10lb+. Heavy metal, heavy wood core, wide, 180cm to 190cm. Or, 190+cm, medium metal, meduim to wide, medium weight wood core. Big stocklis, 194 LP's, P+'s, Titan pros, etc.

Obviously there are exceptions, but think these are pretty good guidelines.
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