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Atomic M11:B5, Atomic Snoop Daddy, Head im77, Nordica Hot Rods, Volkl AC3, AC4

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Went up to Loveland yesterday with Noodler for the Christy Sports Demo Day. It was my first demo day ever, and what an experience! I've only been skiing for a short time and have ridden only a few skis, so I'll have a hard time articulating the differences between the skis I tried. I could get a general feeling of the ski, but can't really distinguish the subtle differences between skis too much.

My stats: 32-yo male, 5,7", 175#, level 7-8 skier.

My background: I'm starting my 4th season of skiing. I've averaged about 40 days per season. Ski most of the mountain, with a special fondness for ungroomed stuff: powder, crud, trees. Have usually skied about moderate speed. More a fan of technical stuff than going full throttle. Not very good in bumps.

My groomed skiing has changed quite a bit this year -- specifically the last two or three days. I've been watching and trying to emulate racers at Loveland, and I've been generating quite a bit of speed and very high edge angles. Really tight railed turns -- I've turned 360 degrees up the hill on a single turn and my tracks are two thin rails all the way through. My bump skiing is still not where it was at the end of last season.

My current skis: My current quiver (if you can call it that) consists of an '04-'05 Nordica SUV12 (170cm, 70mm waist) and an '05-'06 Atomic Metron M:EX (165cm, 84mm waist). I like the edge-to-edge quickness of the Nordicas on hardpack -- love the feeling of railed turns on groomers. The Metrons are however my everyday ski -- they are beefy, but I like their stable, bust-through-anything feel.

My goals: I wasn't really looking for anything in particular. I just wanted to get on different skis and see what they felt like. If anything, I was interested in something to fill the gap between my 70mm-waisted Nordicas and my 84mm-waisted M:EX's.

Conditions: The snow conditions were decidedly early season -- hardpacked groomers. Not boilerplate though, but soft enough to really sink your edges into. Our circuit was to take Catwalk/Mambo off Chair 1 down to Chair 6, hit the bumps off 6, and ski down to the base and switch. The small bumps off 6 were actually quite soft. Things did get very icy by the afternoon. We did mix it up a few times by hitting Spillway and Richard's Run.

Enough about myself...on to the skis now...
___________________________________________

Atomic Metron M11:B5 (163cm, 76mm waist)
Took these out for my first turns of the day. On the catwalk off Chair 1, I tried some low-speed RR tracks, and these obliged perfectly -- they want to turn. The harder I drove, the better they performed. They are definitely beefy, with a similar stable feel of the M:EX. In the small bumps they weren't too bad -- but I can see that they could be a somewhat of a chore in tight bumps. These skis definitely impressed -- they're like a turnier version of my M:EX's. They perform best if driven hard and fast (not that it felt like it would punish me if I didn't) -- the skis just slingshot around underneath you on groomers.

Atomic Snoop Daddy (174cm, 88mm waist)
These are the closest replacement to the M:EX, so I took them out for a spin. They just felt kind of squirrelly. Don't know if it was the skis, the tune, or if I was just being lazy. They felt kind of dead (compared to the M11:B5), requiring a lot of effort to get on edge, and even then, they didn't really rail like the Metrons. Not that I'd expect them to, given the dimensions, but my M:EX's are a lot more...dynamic than these. Not impressed.

Head Monster im77 (170cm, 77mm waist)
Probably the most unimpressive ski I tried. Felt very light after the Metron. Tried some gentle RR tracks on the catwalk, but they want to slide forward rather than turn. Edge hold was not very good. Great when I want to scarve/pivot my turns. Did not feel very comfortable when on edge.

Nordica Hot Rod Modified (170cm, 74mm waist?)
These skis were solid without excelling in any one area. Nice for carving on groomers, nice in the bumps. Not as stiff or beefy as the M11:B5's, so easier to handle. But they just didn't have the "wow" factor for me.

Nordica Hot Rod Top Fuel (170cm, 78mm waist)
Tried these on Noodler's suggestion. Felt a bit more stable than the Modified. But again, just didn't have the same zip as the M11:B5, or some of the other skis to come.

Volkl AC3 (170cm, 76mm waist)
Nice ski! Felt very similar to the M11:B5. Like the Metron, pretty beefy and stiff, but if you drive it hard, it responds with great turns. Edge hold on ice was better than the Metrons. I could feel the snow better on these than on the Metrons. Their stiffness made them a bit hard in the bumps, but overall a great ski.

Volkl AC4 (170cm, 82mm waist)
Wow! This was the "wow" ski of the day for me. I really wasn't looking for something this wide (since I have my M:EX's at 84mm), but decided to switch with Noodler since he raved about these. These are some of the best skis I've ever been on. For such a wide ski, they act like carving skis. Much less stiffer than the AC3 or the M11:B5. Can lay out RR tracks at low speed. Doesn't take much effort to get them on edge, but when I did, it was for the ride of my life! These things carve like there's no tomorrow. I generated edge angles like never before, with half the effort of the Metron or the AC3. For a mid-fat, they perform better than most carvers. Not as quick edge-to-edge as the skinnier M11:B5 or the AC3, but plenty quick (much more than my M:EX's). A lot more snow feel than the Atomic. Very good in bumps too. What floored me also was the edge hold on ice. I tried these in the afternoon, when there were large patches of ice everywhere, some with the blue-gray sheen. All the other skis went out from under me, but not these -- they held on like it was fresh corduroy. I had been feeling a little nervous about opening the throttle as the day progressed due to the ever-increasing presence of ice, but with these I didn't have to worry. There are no bad conditions with these skis. I could drive these skis harder and faster than any of the others with confidence. Now begins the quest for a pair.
___________________________________________

The only downside was the lack of snow. We didn't get to try the skis in more typical western ungroomed snow (hopefully we'll get to do that next weekend at the CS&G demo days). All in all, other than the Head im77, there was not a bad ski in the bunch. They all performed superbly. The Volkl AC4 stood head and shoulders above the rest though, followed by the Atomic M11:B5.

By the way, all these skis are getting mighty heavy!
post #2 of 20
Well done, Faisasy!

Did the skis feel heavy on-snow? Or just when you carried them?

I'm surprised you didn't break out the carvers in conditions like that... The SpeedMachines or the SuperSports... It would be interesting to see how those would compare to your experience on the AC4s, for example.
post #3 of 20
Nice reviews!

Steve:
It seems like Faisasy did break out carvers, the AC4's !!!
post #4 of 20
The AC4s carved, but I wouldn't call them "carvers". Again, I'd be interested in a side-by-side comparison. I have no idea what the results would be, since this year's AC4 is quite a bit more ski than the version I skied last year.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
The AC4s carved, but I wouldn't call them "carvers".
You'd be surprised! Granted, I haven't ridden dedicated carvers so I can't compare, but I was almost touching the snow on the AC4's.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
You'd be surprised! Granted, I haven't ridden dedicated carvers so I can't compare, but I was almost touching the snow on the AC4's.
I don't doubt it! I'm not communicating very well. They are not shaped like a dedicated carver, so there will be a different feel (the foot's farther from the edge, etc.). Just curious. I wish I could get out this weekend, but it's not looking good...
post #7 of 20
I had mostly the same experiences with these skis last spring, except for the iM77's. You must have gotten a similiarly badly-tuned ski as Noodler. Supposedly the iM77 uses the same FMJ construction as the old Cyber World Cup from 01/02 (the ski that originally got me on Head, and was an incredible ski at the time). I skied the iM77 in January and it ran neck-and-neck with the HotRod Nitrous as my favorite "forgiving" midfat of the day (i.e. you could relax on it w/o worries, yet still capable of performance). I also loved the AC4, and it would be at the top of my list if I was to purchase an all-mountain carver.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
I wish I could get out this weekend, but it's not looking good...
That's too bad! Noodler and I were hoping we'd be able to tempt you out on Sunday. Any chance of that? I'm hoping I can try out the AC4 on ungroomed terrain after this week's storms -- they rock on the groomers, but their off-piste performance will be the key for me.
post #9 of 20
Very nice job for your first time out. I find it somewhat funny that you consider your skiing speed "moderate". You're actually one of the faster skiers on the mountain. I'm always playing catch up now (big change for you from the beginning of last season).

Also, after reviewing my video from that day and watching your skiing, you're getting greater edge angles than I do most of the time.

Back to the skis - not only did you feel the best on the AC4s I thought your skiing looked the best on the AC4s. However, I agree with ssh that you should probably try to get on the Allstar Titanium on Sunday and compare those directly with the AC4. They are the same construction and I checked their flex pattern in the shop and they are very similar (the Allstar isn't overly stiff). You might also try some of the Elans since they will be available.

I was just looking through some of the ski stats to see what else might be worthwhile to test against the AC4. You should definitely get on some Stocklis (especially since you'll be at Vail quite a few times this season). I noticed that the M11 B5 actually has a much deeper sidecut than the AC4 - I didn't realize at the time that they were so different. The Head I.M 82 sidecut is practically identical to the AC4 - if they're in better shape (tuning-wise) it might be worth trying those too. Too bad next season's Elan Magfire Magma isn't available yet - that ski is almost identical in stats.

Anyone else have any suggestions for skis that would compete with the AC4 (or a good all-around front-side carver)?
post #10 of 20
AC4 is the ski atomic wish it made right off the bat. I still like the atomics but spent some time on 170 Ac4 and liked them alot more than my metrons. For a fat carving ski.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
I had mostly the same experiences with these skis last spring, except for the iM77's. You must have gotten a similiarly badly-tuned ski as Noodler.
I'm with Dawg on this one. I demo'd an iM77 from his shop and found it to be a great ski that carved very nice GS turns on hardpack and ripped in the crud.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
That's too bad! Noodler and I were hoping we'd be able to tempt you out on Sunday. Any chance of that? I'm hoping I can try out the AC4 on ungroomed terrain after this week's storms -- they rock on the groomers, but their off-piste performance will be the key for me.
I'll see what I can do. You may have to help me bribe Terry...
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
I'm with Dawg on this one. I demo'd an iM77 from his shop and found it to be a great ski that carved very nice GS turns on hardpack and ripped in the crud.
I have to agree on this one. I own a pair of 77chips and find them lively, stable and quite solid in a carve. For fun, I even took them through an icey GS course and held a pretty good line. I was really surprised at the reaction from both you and Noodler. I agree with Dawg. The tune must have been terrible.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post
Anyone else have any suggestions for skis that would compete with the AC4 (or a good all-around front-side carver)?
According to specs and construction, I think the Jet fuel may compete. JF= 126-84-112 ; AC4= 125-82-110. Both wood, glass with two sheets of metal, though slightly different marker systems.

I don't have the opportunity to demo here in japan. I'm on volkls now (gotamas, G4's) and really wanted that AC4 but there were only two pairs in a 184 in tokyo and I missed them. The jet fuels (also only two pairs in a 186) were available so I ordered them.

However that was 7 weeks ago and they haven't made it from tokyo to Yamagata. Luckily my shop hasn't charged me yet. I'm starting to consider ordering a pair of AC4's online via the states. May pull the trigger this week if I completely lose my patience.

Any thoughts?... Should I wait for the JF and save shipping (as well as have a shop)?
post #15 of 20

AC4 softer than AC?

Thank you, Faisasy, for your excellent review. I was surprised to read that you (and Noodler) felt that the AC3 was stiffer than the
AC4. Normally a "less expert" model is more flexible hence easier to bend and carve in a turn, and therefore more appropriate for a somewhat lower level skier.
I am approximately a level 7 skier, 40 days a season, (hope to improve to 8 this year, especially on ungroomed) and was considering the AC3. Your review makes me think that the AC4 would actually be a more forgiving, easier ski. What do you think about the AC3/AC4 choice for a skier like me?
Thanks again for the great review.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySki View Post
Thank you, Faisasy, for your excellent review. I was surprised to read that you (and Noodler) felt that the AC3 was stiffer than the
AC4. Normally a "less expert" model is more flexible hence easier to bend and carve in a turn, and therefore more appropriate for a somewhat lower level skier.
I am approximately a level 7 skier, 40 days a season, (hope to improve to 8 this year, especially on ungroomed) and was considering the AC3. Your review makes me think that the AC4 would actually be a more forgiving, easier ski. What do you think about the AC3/AC4 choice for a skier like me?
Thanks again for the great review.
Id have to flex them again but here is my take. The more shapely AC4 although stiffer(last time I shopped flexed them) has more sidecut which makes it easier for some to turn, which IMO is why it may have felt "softer".

The same thing happens on the atomic B5 when you flex its feels like a ultra stiff ski but when you ski it it feels noodly.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
Id have to flex them again but here is my take. The more shapely AC4 although stiffer(last time I shopped flexed them) has more sidecut which makes it easier for some to turn, which IMO is why it may have felt "softer".

The same thing happens on the atomic B5 when you flex its feels like a ultra stiff ski but when you ski it it feels noodly.
How does it feel in comparison to your M:EX's?
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt7180 View Post
How does it feel in comparison to your M:EX's?
I dont own M-exs but have skied them.....The M-Ex are much softer than AC4 or B5s flexing wise. but when skiing them the M-Ex is one powerful ski and feel very solid at HIGH speeds than either of those skis. One of my favorite Atomics made in fact. Please note I ma speaking of the 175cm M-Ex
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
I'm with Dawg on this one. I demo'd an iM77 from his shop and found it to be a great ski that carved very nice GS turns on hardpack and ripped in the crud.
Yep--Same experience here, which is why I now own the im77.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
I dont own M-exs but have skied them.....The M-Ex are much softer than AC4 or B5s flexing wise. but when skiing them the M-Ex is one powerful ski and feel very solid at HIGH speeds than either of those skis. One of my favorite Atomics made in fact. Please note I ma speaking of the 175cm M-Ex
Thanks. I have been wanting to demo them, but have had a hard time finding a pair. They are cheap enough on e-bay that i may just buy a pair. If I do not like them, I can sell them and not be out much.
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