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The mantra...DEMO DEMO DEMO...The Reality...

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Ok, living in the northeast during the winter usually means snow and bitter cold wind. These two compounding forces create, dare I say, less than desirable snow conditions much of the time. You would have to travel at early hours of the morning to trek up to Vermont or Canada to find the real good stuff.

So far this year has been nothing less of a (pardon the pun) washout. With warm temperatures and a recent rain soaking of my area, I am growing ever more disappointed with mother nature. To make matters worse, or better depending on how you look at it, ski equipment is at deep discounts in my area. The reason for this being bad? Well, on a good day, demos are not easy to come by in my area. And with this weather? Forget it. So, I have two options. Run to the store and blindly choose a ski that I think is right for me or wait yet another year in hopes that mother nature will cooperate so I can demo and finally buy the right ski for me.

Don't worry, there is a point to all of this. Well, its more of a question really. I have been eyeing Volkl Supersport S5's for, well the last two years or so. There is a deep discount on them at a store near me. Should I pull the trigger? OR, Shall I wait til mother nature cooperates in a year or so and demo them then, in hopes that the ski next year is as good if not better than this years?

praying for snow,

Brett :
post #2 of 37
Demoing is overrated.
post #3 of 37
I thought this was a thread about some mantra's?
post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 
nope, just me ranting about demoing and the lack of snow here in the northeast
post #5 of 37
A bait and switch thread...
post #6 of 37
For me it would depend how cheap I could get them. Personally, I never buy a ski without demoing...I've demoed the "hot" ski of the year several times and come away thinking it wasn't so great. Ski mag reviews are useless, therefore, IMO you've got to demo.
post #7 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay_p View Post
For me it would depend how cheap I could get them. Personally, I never buy a ski without demoing...I've demoed the "hot" ski of the year several times and come away thinking it wasn't so great. Ski mag reviews are useless, therefore, IMO you've got to demo.
My problem with demoing is that the quality of the demo experience is directly related to how well cared for the demo ski is. i.e., a crappy tune will negatively affect your perceptions of how "good" the ski is. I think that's especially true in New England "hardpack" conditions. Dull edges = crappy ski experience here.

Reading just one magazine's review is a mistake (IMHO), but you can usually get a good perception of how well a ski is suited to you if you read bunches of them -- i.e., SKI, Skiing, SkiPressWorld, Ski Canada and Peter Keelty's site -- and you know exactly what you're looking for in a ski and what qualities you're willing to trade off.
post #8 of 37
Buy first demo later.
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Buy first demo later.
Makes sense. I guess.
post #10 of 37
Sometimes you run across a deal so good you feel you can't loose. Only you can make the call about what that price is.

Solid ski that you're thinking about, but you won't know if you like it until you're on it. The only question being asked right now is if a round peg fits in a square hole ... yes if it's small enough.
post #11 of 37
If the deal is good enough that you can recover a good portion of your invesment by unloading the ski to some poor fool, buy it. Then if you hate it, start looking for fools with money.
post #12 of 37
Thread Starter 
All great advice! In the end, I think I might wait til next season. When all is said and done, I might be moving out west and two, if I bought anything, I would probably use it two days at best thanks to this weather, and the whole college thing in a couple of weeks.
post #13 of 37
Good luck trying to find any '06/'07 Mantras to demo.

Most of the shops around Tahoe aren't (demoing them).

In spite of claiming that they are sold out (and not having any available for demo), however, I saw quite a few 177s at various shops around Tahoe.
post #14 of 37
I too think demoing is over rated- for the experienced rider. those of us who have been at it for a while know how a particular ski is going to ride and also know that new skis may take time to learn. styles change with rides. one day even is often not enough to fully learn an appreciate what you've got. If you want them, buy them. Volkl is right up there in quality. Next year's will be better though. they always are, that's the real mantra.
post #15 of 37
I think demoing is over rated for the less than expert skier. I've done it and enjoyed the process but I think I would have been better served listening to the reviews from Dawg, SierraJim and Realskiers. They know what they are talking about. Next time I buy skis I'll see what they have to say and go from there. They know more about it than I do and they can communicate it well to the general public. Demoing is fun but I don't think it's very helpful for the average skier.
post #16 of 37
If you know what you're looking for and trust the good folks on here, you can be steered into the proper ski without demoing.

My Elan M666 is the perfect ski for what I'm looking for - that combined with my crazy deal on it ($200 I recall?) = no demo.

I've been more than happy and have since been able to ride the skies I would have compared it against had I demoed? My answer - stick with the Elans.
post #17 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
I too think demoing is over rated- for the experienced rider. those of us who have been at it for a while know how a particular ski is going to ride and also know that new skis may take time to learn. styles change with rides. one day even is often not enough to fully learn an appreciate what you've got. If you want them, buy them. Volkl is right up there in quality. Next year's will be better though. they always are, that's the real mantra.
I agree. Once you gain knowledge on the characteristics of skis (dimensions, turning radius, flex, construction), you have an idea what a ski will feel like before getting on it, and it's usually not surprising how it skis. Especially if you read quality reviews/advice here and at TGR. My last two skis have been bought without demoing and I have been happy, but I am always learning more. These have also been bought online as I did the research myself and did not want/need shop advice, so I saved a considerable amount of money even after shipping/custsoms charges to Canada from the US.

Demoing is useful to learn the feel of different shapes of skis and how different companies 'feel'.
post #18 of 37
Thread Starter 
That is a good way to look at it. I have gained some valuable advice from the Bears and Realskiers. Besides, the one time I did demo at a resort near me, the tunes left something to be desired and I was never able to ski what I wanted.
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
I too think demoing is over rated- for the experienced rider. those of us who have been at it for a while know how a particular ski is going to ride and also know that new skis may take time to learn. styles change with rides. one day even is often not enough to fully learn an appreciate what you've got. If you want them, buy them. Volkl is right up there in quality. Next year's will be better though. they always are, that's the real mantra.
I heartily disagree and it's based on my own personal experience over the past 5 years. I believe that those of you who think you don't need to demo are the ones who don't get the opportunity to demo before purchases. Your purchases may have been good or "lucky", but you'll never know if they were the best because you didn't get the chance to directly compare the skis you were considering.

I too used to think I could fairly judge a ski by what it looked like on paper and hand flexing it in the shop, but I've learned through my own purchase mistakes over the past few years that many times it's not the case.

Here are some specific examples:
1. On paper the Elan M666 looks almost identical to the Stockli Stormrider XL. I found a great early season deal and couldn't turn it down. They just didn't ski the way I anticipated and I got rid of them.
2. I purchased the original Volkl Supersport 5 Star in 2002 and had a tough time deciding on the length. I ended up going with the 175. In 2003 I got the chance to demo the 168 and realized I had made a huge mistake on the length for my purchase. I really thought the 175 would be right at the time.
3. I found another great early season deal and purchased the Elan S12 to replace my Volk 5 Stars in 2005. On paper they looked like they would be the perfect replacement for my front-side carver. Unfortunately they ended up being too stiff for me to effectively bend them at my typical skiing speeds.

That's just 3 of my non-demo purchases over the past few years that didn't end up the way I thought they would. I've been skiing for over 30 years and thought I could size up skis fairly well UNTIL I started demoing a lot of skis. Through demoing I learned a lot about my own skiing and how skis can't always be "read" until they are actually used.

My main "go to" skis are skis that I had demo'd before purchase and really hadn't considered much at all until I rode them in demos. On paper I never thought I'd like a ski like the Elan M777, but I ended up loving it.

Like I said - very often you will be lucky and make a decent purchase and the ski "seems" to be working just fine for you, but you'll never really know if you've made a "great" choice until you start demoing more skis.
post #20 of 37
^^^ absolutely agree.
I'm not going to go against what I had originally said, I know there is a benefit to demoing. I just think it's overrated.
I know I don't like foam boards.
I know I like wood.
I know wood and metal is even more fun.
I know volkl's engineering using software to match sidecuts with flex patterns results in an amazingly clear turn.
I know salomons spazz more than woodies. some like that, I don't.
I know rossies blow up when impacting rock.
all that I learned from riding skis over hte years, mine and other's.

alot can be learned from demoing. A LOT. But all the demoing in the world isn't going to change my preferences or allow me to learn how a ski behaves over time.

Most of my skis take several days to get dialed after I shape the geometry. Not two runs before I switch to another ski.

I hated my gotamas off deep snow when I first skied them. Can you believe that? they were given to me as a warranty replacement for my G4's. I missed the shape. I missed carving like I had learned to do on my G41's, then my G4's. Then I re-learned to ski like I did when I was on gs planks. Suddenly, I loved them in all conditions, not just pow. That took a few weeks. Wouldn't have bought the Gotama based on my initial review. Now, after I learned how to ski it, I have the opposite opinion.
post #21 of 37
samurai - I totally agree with all of your perceptions and preferences. We're definitely on the same page.

You make an interesting point about "learning to love a ski". You're right that at first a ski that's radically different to anything else you've ever tried might be perceived as "bad", but in reality you just need to adjust your style and skills to make the new ski work for you. That's definitely a consideration when demoing skis. You just have to keep everything in perspective when you're demoing and keep in mind what you're really looking for. You should have goals when demoing to get more out of it. I generally go into it on a quest for a particular ski to fill a hole in the quiver.
post #22 of 37
fill that hole noodler. (at least keep trying)
any of the 08's you would buy without demoing them first?

Katana?
Coomba?
Atomic's 128-86-114?
Hellbent?

(I NEED the Katana with Marker's new 6-16 din touring binding.

I would buy that set-up right now, then I would get in my car and drive down to Nagano and skin Hakuba BC lines from the top of the resorts (see these photos; scroll down to the actual shots;
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=41925

any questions???
post #23 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Buy first demo later.
+2

Words to live by.
post #24 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
I know I don't like foam boards.
I know I like wood.
I know wood and metal is even more fun.
I know volkl's engineering using software to match sidecuts with flex patterns results in an amazingly clear turn.
I know salomons spazz more than woodies. some like that, I don't.
I know rossies blow up when impacting rock.
all that I learned from riding skis over hte years, mine and other's.
Some of the new Salomons are wood. Some non-wood are starting to feel like wood. Some wood/metal are starting to feel more like foam. Atomics aren't wood, but feel like it. Volkls' feel changed a lot this last year.

I guess my point is that you can think you know those things, but I'm not sure that they all hold true any more. And with the CAD that's happening with virtually all ski designers, this is likely to become more--rather than less--the case.
post #25 of 37
Demoing is hard in the North East I just don't see it that oftern and when I do it's usually not for Skis I'm interested in. So I would say can you afford the mistake? I just don't think a few runs is enough.

who are we kidding though we're in the North East go to your local golf retailer and Demo some new clubs at least those you'll get to use
post #26 of 37

Demo

I'm 100% in agreement with Noodler. In the past two weeks I have read about every post on all mt. ski's here on epic and I rated these opinions very high in my consideration. Especially dawgcatchers ski threads. So I went out an demo'd the Head IM 82 and 88, the elan, nordica and rossi all in one day. Spent all day on those 4 especially the IM82. Although I liked the 82 I decided not to buy and the next day went to the Lookout ski shop in Kellogg and took up the hill some Atomic Snoop Daddys, liked the ski, a little twitchy in a straight line but very easy turns in the powder and crud. Went to the shop up on the hill at 1430 and took out a pair of K2 Apache Outlaws. And, that was the ski for me. The point is I wouldn't have known this as the Outlaw was the last of 6 ski's I had demo'd.

Although I enjoy, believe, trust and like the recommendations, they are only to me rec to demo not to buy. Every skier is different with variable traits, habits, balance, agressiveness and likes and dislikes. I'm with Noodler go demo thats the only REAL way to know if you'll like the ski.
Love my choice, the K2 was one of the ski's demo'd alot in the ski threads, so I rode it too and really love the ski. The point is that is just me, you may hate the ski even though say; we are same height, same weight and both of the same ability. BUT WE ARE STILL DIFFERENT.
post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Some of the new Salomons are wood. Some non-wood are starting to feel like wood. Some wood/metal are starting to feel more like foam. Atomics aren't wood, but feel like it. Volkls' feel changed a lot this last year.

I guess my point is that you can think you know those things, but I'm not sure that they all hold true any more. And with the CAD that's happening with virtually all ski designers, this is likely to become more--rather than less--the case.
I was pretty ecstatic at that X-wing line having some wooden skis. Glad to hear they are doing it and even considered for the first time in about 15 years, buying a pair.

given construction and footprint, along with an idea of flex is not the same as riding, but will give me a very good idea of what I want. Should I be interested in a new ski that I am tentative to buy, I may consider demoing it. But I won't not buy it without a demo. CAD is becoming the norm. with today's skis vs what I grew up on, it's REALLY hard to go wrong with virtually anything. I could probably list a good 15 skis right now that I know I would be happy with once I progressed my style to match that ski.
post #28 of 37
This is a good thread with some interesting thoughts on demoing: I don't think there is one "right" answer.

Demoing can be important, but hasn't been altogether necessary in my experience. Certain brands have a "house feel" that tends to run across their line. Knowing if you like or don't like this "house feel" is sometimes useful in narrowing down choices. Also, being realistic about your ability, your aggressiveness, and your fitness is important. If you ski powder for 2 days per year and spend the other 10 on groomers, don't buy a 90mm waist ski and expect it to perform well on most of your ski days. Don't buy a ski that is overly long, or too stiff.

My own opinions vary on this topic. I just finished demoing a lot of all-mountain skis (review to follow) and found that each and every ski did really what it advertised. Performance across the range was outstanding: there wasn't a bum ski that I tried. With that in mind, consider that there isn't a ski that does everything well: compromises always exist. Want an aggressive ski? You had better be in shape and skilled. Want nn 80mm, all-mountain, short-radius carver? Be prepared for hooky character in deep snow. Want a wide ski? Prepare for that ski to be pretty limiting and a poor builder of technique on frontside days. Want a full-on race ski? Be prepared to work in anything but hard snow.

I believe that skis tend to get bad reviews for 3 reasons:

1) Bad Tune: an out of tune ski will make even the best ski feel either overly aggressive, slow, unstable, or hard to turn. Skiing a poorly-tuned ski is basically worthless, a bit like driving a Ferrari with bald tires and poor alignment, or listening to a high-end stereo that is being fed music through a $50 CD/DVD player. It is basically worthless. If you have one, carry a tru-bar in your pocket and check the tune on the ski before trying them out. Then, at least you know if the playing field is level between skis.

2) Skier ability/ski mismatch: Another reason skis tend to get poor feedback is the inability of skiers to see when their ability is not suited for that type of ski. The skier gets pushed around, is too aggressive, and wants to go fast, and many skiers think "hey, this ski isn't any good". Or, they mistake a feel for the ski with actual performance. As I found out the other day, the Snoop Daddy, B3, iM88, and 777 all get you down the hill in good time and with performance to spare. They all have a different feel, but it doesn't really mean that one ski is "better" than the other, just different. Also, many testers that give bad reviews just didn't have the skills to ski that model, and they get pushed around. Many skiers here in our shop (under the expert level) buy skis for what they don't do, rather than what they do. The skier inevitably buys the ski that doesn't punish their mistakes, rather than the ski that offers the best performance. There is nothing wrong with this, but instead of buying skis every 2 years and expecting a transformation in skiing ability, the skier should invest in some quality lessons or an ESA clinic, and would be much better served. I personally would much rather be a good skier on mediocre skis than a mediocre skier on good skis! Example: when I skied the 777 for the first time, it was a bit much for me. I did get pushed around a bit. Now, I love that ski, but it took better skills on my end for the ski to come into it's own. Certainly not the ski's fault that it was built for a better skier than I used to be!

3) Skier size/Ski size mismatch: This is the big variable in ski testing. Skis vary tremedously by size: Different brand skis of a similiar type and size will often feel more similiar than the same model of ski in two different sizes. It is really necessary that the skier gets good advice on what ski length is appropriate. Generic height/weight/length charts are worse than useless. Unfortunately, Noodler found this out when he purchased the M666 in 168cm. I ski it in a 176cm and wouldn't want to go shorter unless I lived back East, and am no bigger than he is. In that short length, it skis like a slightly wider carver: get it in 176cm, and it becomes a high-speed GS ski and crudbuster. Make sure you get the right length for testing: the knowlegeable shop employee or ski rep is a big help here.

If I were a weekend warrior, only skiing 15 days per year, I certainly wouldn't want to go through all the hassle of deming 10 pair of skis. 3-4 would be plenty, provided that they are the right genre of ski for my ability, and also the correct length. And, out of 3-4 pair, one will likely stand out. Unless you are the gear intensive type who has to ski everything on the market to justify your buying decision, skiing everything on the market (like I get to do) is probably not worth it. That privilege is reserved for $10/hour ski shop employees!

I wouldn't say that demoing is necessary, but do it if you can, especially if you haven't purchased skis in awhile and don't have a frame of reference for how a modern ski works or should be skied. Also seek out some good advice: this board is a great place to start, and you can get some quality feedback here. Support a shop with a knowledgeable staff that has actually skied the gear and has a good perspective on what works and what doesn't for certain people. Lots of shops have people who will tell you "this ski rocks, these skis suck" which isn't really all that useful to the buyer. Here at the shop, we encourage skiers to demo, but being a resort shop, we have the luxury of doing so. Our demo ski inventory is typically 40 pair, which covers every ski we sell, and multiple lengths in the more popular models. People who live in the city, 300 miles from the resort, may have to buy on reputation alone. Pick a good shop to spend your money in, and get some good advice before throwing down your hard-earned cash!

Also, take a good look at some of the lesser-known brands. Just becuase a ski doesn't have a full-page spread in every ski publication doesn't mean it isn't any good. The smaller brands at least hold their own, if not outperform at times, the industry giants. And, often their pricing is better. Can someone make the claim that a K2 Apache Recon is a legitiamtely better ski at $999 than the Elan 666 at $749? Nothing against the Recon, as it is a good ski, but I don't think it is worth a dollar more, yet alone $250. Factor in the cost savings from China and the fact that it distributed in the States by the parent company, and it should be selling for $599, not $999. The most popular brands on Epic (which is a forum that many "skiers" inhabit, rather than just folks who have to have the late hot model) in alphabetical order seem to be: Atomic, Dynastar, Elan, Fischer, Head, Nordica, Volkl. 4 out of 6 aren't well-marketed brands, but they do produce a great ski. Something to keep in mind!
post #29 of 37
Dawg - that's definitely the best gear post of the season so far in my book. Thanks again for your insight.
post #30 of 37
Thread Starter 
Invaluable advice to those of us who don't live next to a resort and ski 50+ days per season with unlimited access to demos. (Although I wish I could) :
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