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Buying without demoing??? - Page 2

post #31 of 53
As of now, I've bought three pairs of skis. I didn't demo any of the ones I bought, although I did demo a pair I didn't buy. The first pair were some Bandit B2s, and I liked them for a while and then they started to fold up a little under me. Hmm... The relearning process. They've gone into the family quiver as a loaner ski. Lucky they have a demo binding. I got them at a steep discount because of being an employee of the company owning the shop.

The ones I demoed were the Elan m777, when I was looking for more ski with an off-piste emphasis. I liked them and wanted to really like them, but I'm not a big enough or aggressive enough guy for them. Don't remember the length off the top of my head, but I think they were a little long for me in the shortest length I could get my hands on, which I believe was the shortest in the line. After that experience, I looked for something with similar dimensions but shorter, and with less metal. That landed my on my Public Enemies, which I couldn't find to demo, but which I quite enjoy.

New for this year will be some Atomic GS:11s. These come from the theory that I want a very, very fast carving ski, they were available in my size, and eBay doesn't let you demo.

So I usually pay lip service to "demo, demo, demo." And it's certainly effected one of my ski purchases. But I'm too poor for retail skis, and the selection gets drastically smaller if you're bargain-hunting.
post #32 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ebough View Post
Would anybody marry a blind date? Before the date?
Silly analogy. You don't marry a ski, you buy it, use it, and dispose of it.
post #33 of 53
If I was buying a USED car, I would test drive it. To make sure it ran well, didn't pull to one side or shake uncontrollably or whatever....

A new car??? Hell, I'd buy one of those sight unseen. They're all good. As long as it fits your needs for seating, power, storage, whatever is important to you, and its in your price range....done.

As for marrying a blind date.... ridiculous analogy. It's much harder to replace a wife than to replace some skis.

I currently have 5 pairs of skis. Only one of which did I ski on last season. If you don't like 'em, get some different ones! If you are good at getting deals, you can buy and sell skis all the time and spend very little to upgrade.
post #34 of 53
I'm onto my 4th pair of skis now, never have I demo'd a pair, always just go with peoples word.
post #35 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by U.P. Racer View Post
A new car??? Hell, I'd buy one of those sight unseen. They're all good.
Yep. Look at the waiting lists whenever a new sports car comes out...plenty of people lining up before even the magazines get their hand on production samples. And we could be talking 30k through the-sky-is-the-limit there...
post #36 of 53
Very interestng and surprising responses.

I tried loads of skis the year I worked in Val Thorens (1997) in France and quickly learnt that ski choice is very personal. For example I loved all the K2's and didn't get on with Salomons. Other people off similar ability loved Salomon.

I'd definitely try before you buy. I remember Stockli Stormriders being raved about and they seemed like the perfect skis for me. I tried 3 different pairs but they just weren't right. Finally tried some Stockli Asteroids and still have (and enjoy) them many years later.

Also important to test for length. I just got some Dynastar Mythic Riders and they skied quite differently in the shorter length.

If you really know your brands and your ski preferences maybe ok to buy beofre you try but now that it is so easy at any resort does seem a bit of a risk. Skis plus bindings is a pretty big investment and makes a big impact on the pleasure you get on the snow.

Just my few cents....
post #37 of 53
a lotta you guys must be sucking up extra wax vapors while prepping your skis for the ensuing season.

1. the blind date analogy works. There's plenty of cretins out there in the world who marry somebody, use them up, discard them, and then find somebody new to repeat the process with.

2. not trying a new car before you buy it? So you've got enough cash to just plunk down say $20,000 without first trying it? C'mon, get realistic. Most dealers don't charge you to test drive a car. All you're out is your own time. I would never buy a new car without first test driving it. Back in 2004 I was looking for a truck. Knew I wanted something smaller (Toyota, Nissan). I went and test drove the Xterra. Clunky, rough ride. Went and test drove a Toyota Tacoma. Much smoother ride. Got the Tacoma. Sure, one could argue if I had never test driven either I wouldn't have known that one rode smoother than the other. But I would have hated driving the Nissan off the lot after paying only to find that I didn't cotton to how it handled.

3. I realize that demoing skis can be costly. That's why you try and do it at an on-mountain shop that has a good selection and lets you take out multiple pairs for the day. Sure, it's not 100%, since you're at the mercy of the tune and the conditions, but if you're going to drop $1000 on a brand new set-up, why not test it out first. Pretty much ever shop these days will put the cost of demo toward the purchase of the skis. So in those cases where you end up liking the skis, the $40 you spent on the demo gets deducted from your final purchase price.

4. I fully understand if you live in an area that isn't blessed with a ton of shop or if you are bargain hunting. But is a bargain really a bargain if you end up with the wrong thing (or something that you don't end up liking?)

5. A lot of manufacturers host demo days. In fact some hills even have massive demo day events where multiple manufacturers show up with their full line-up and you can demo them for free (or very little money). So the options are out there.

To me, if you're serious about your gear and are about to dump a lump of change on them, you'd really want to make sure that you're getting the right piece of equipment.

Not only that, but demoing is fun.

Just my 2 cents and some change.
post #38 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
not trying a new car before you buy it? So you've got enough cash to just plunk down say $20,000 without first trying it? C'mon, get realistic. Most dealers don't charge you to test drive a car. All you're out is your own time. I would never buy a new car without first test driving it. Back in 2004 I was looking for a truck. Knew I wanted something smaller (Toyota, Nissan). I went and test drove the Xterra. Clunky, rough ride. Went and test drove a Toyota Tacoma. Much smoother ride. Got the Tacoma. Sure, one could argue if I had never test driven either I wouldn't have known that one rode smoother than the other. But I would have hated driving the Nissan off the lot after paying only to find that I didn't cotton to how it handled.
When I bought my current car, a Saab 92X Aero, the deals were great (discontinued model) and they couldn't keep them on the lots they were selling so fast. I bought my car site unseen through email/fax/phone in one day.

This summer I bought a brand new 31' travel trailer. No dealers around here had the model we wanted, so we bought one from a dealer in the next state and had it delivered without ever seeing it. We never even saw that model in person prior either, just did our research and new what we wanted.

So I spend almost $50,000 on stuff I never "tested" first and still have exactly what I wanted. It's not unrealistic if you know what you want and do your research.
post #39 of 53
I second the statement about buying sight unseen "Dumb luck, or you don't know what you're missing".

But skis don't always matter. A lot of us don't CARE what we're missing anyway!

I demo but end up buying something I didn't demo'ed!

Was that a waste of time? No. The demoing saved me from buying the completely wrong TYPE of ski (fatties for the east coast, for example). But when it comes to individual ski, I bought one I didn't demo because, last season was pretty poor around here. So I was out of snow time before I completely zeroed in on a particular pair.

With the end of season sales going on, it's time to play the "buy it, use it then dump it" game! I know it's the right type of ski. So I won't hate it and dump it right away. And when I'm done with it, I'll either enjoyed it a lot or sell it for little lose because I didn't ski on it much. Not bad outcome either way.
post #40 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post
Demoing is highly overrated if not absolutely useless. A skier can't get to know a ski in a run or two or probably even in a day. Good skiers know what they want and that is what they buy. All the demoing in the world would never convince me to buy a hypercarver because that is not what I like.
I totally disagree. I can get a competent feel for a ski within a run or two. Of course, I usually ski them at industry events where the tunes are reliable (although I have had a few bad tunes, but it is typically fairly obvious). Demoing from shops can be much harder unless you know the tech and have confirmed that the tune is accurate.

Here is my demo procedure: pick a long run or two, not more than three, that can throw a little of everything at you. I like to find something with some moderate groomers to get an initial feel for the ski at slow and mid speed, see how it skids, see how it arcs and enters the turn. I try to find some bumps, some crud, a steep pitch, and a high-speed, fairly steep groomer within those two runs. If I am not convinced or am getting a funny feeling with the ski, I go out for a 3rd run. It is good to compare different skis on the same run or two in order to keep it consistent. If you can, bring a screwdriver to play around with boot position, especially if you feel too forward or aft on the ski. It can make a huge difference.

The more you get a chance to demo and ski different models, the more you will develop a feel for the differences in stiffness, lateral stiffness, responsiveness, rebound, dampness, forgiveness, ease of initation ect. that characterizes a ski. It is a bit like cupping coffee: the more coffees you get a chance to put across your palette (good coffees, not Starbucks charcoal-roast), the more you will begin to notice the buttery notes, chocolate, berries, fruit, spices ect. that define a particular lot.
post #41 of 53
i think dawg nailed it.

though he forgot the wine/beer/cigar/chocolate analogy to go along with the coffee one.



you can really pick up the personality of a ski after a couple of run. The first time I demoed back in the early '80s I zeroed in on Volkl and Rossi as the skis that fit my taste. Wasn't a fan of either Solly or Dynastar.

next time demoing in early 2000, same thing. Found I liked Rossi and Volkl still. Wasn't terribly fond of Head and Fischer. rooted around some more and discovered that I didn't cotton to Stockli. But I dug Blizzard and AK.

i still don't really know what i want or really like in a ski, but i have a decent enough of a parameter based on what i have skied in the past and what i currently ski now.

i still like to demo, though, especially with the influx of really good indie companies (PMGear, Fatypus, Prior, Moment) who are making interesting sticks that just beg to be tried as an alternative to the mainstream offerings out there.

dawg also nailed the solid suggestion of taking demo skis on the same runs a few times, thus giving them all the same riding experience. it's also good to try different sizes. these are "tricks" i didn't learn the first few times, mostly because it's exciting demoing skis (as SierraJim pointed out, it's very easy to get sucked into the demo black hole. i know, i've been there several times). also demoing at larger resorts can make doing those runs a bit difficult, especially if the shop is at the bottom of the hill. That said, I got a good demo day in at Loveland on Icelantics. Took out two of their skis and rode them off of Chair 8, 3 runs each through windbuff, chunky laced pow, ice moguls, and groomers. Really gave me a good idea of how the skis handled a variety of conditions and what their strong suits were. But that was a rare demo day (Icelantic bought me a beer for trying their skis, even!)

personally, now that i have had time to really think about it and have pretty much run my demo jones into the ground I think that next time i am in the market for skis i'm going to bring along a boombox and an old Mojo Nixon CD and play it really loud next to the skis and see which ones react the best to his skewed brand of mutant country blues. maybe i'll test 'em out with a little AC/DC and Run DMC, as well, just to cover all bases.
post #42 of 53
Wait a minute.... you like Volkl AND you like Rossi? But you DON'T like Fischer??

To me Volkl's and Fischers feel very similar. I think Rossi's feel TOTALLY different.

Huh... I guess that's why you demo.
post #43 of 53
Buying without demoing a particular ski is less risky if you have demoed a broad enough range of skis, brand to brand and type to type within the brand to have some data to extrapolate with.

I bought my WC SCs without giving them a test ride, but I had riden RX8s, Atomic SX10s and SX11s, Rossi 9S, 9X and Bandits, Salomon Equipes, and various streetracers, Atomic Balanze 11, Ellan S12s and S10, some old race skis, and a few other skis.

I would jump at the chance to buy a brand new last-years model Corvette without a test drive at 75% off MSRP. Heck, I'm not fussy; I'll buy a brand new any model car with a dealer network in Canada at 75% off MSRP.
post #44 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
I totally disagree. I can get a competent feel for a ski within a run or two. Of course, I usually ski them at industry events where the tunes are reliable (although I have had a few bad tunes, but it is typically fairly obvious). Demoing from shops can be much harder unless you know the tech and have confirmed that the tune is accurate.

Here is my demo procedure: pick a long run or two, not more than three, that can throw a little of everything at you. I like to find something with some moderate groomers to get an initial feel for the ski at slow and mid speed, see how it skids, see how it arcs and enters the turn. I try to find some bumps, some crud, a steep pitch, and a high-speed, fairly steep groomer within those two runs. If I am not convinced or am getting a funny feeling with the ski, I go out for a 3rd run. It is good to compare different skis on the same run or two in order to keep it consistent. If you can, bring a screwdriver to play around with boot position, especially if you feel too forward or aft on the ski. It can make a huge difference.

The more you get a chance to demo and ski different models, the more you will develop a feel for the differences in stiffness, lateral stiffness, responsiveness, rebound, dampness, forgiveness, ease of initation ect. that characterizes a ski. It is a bit like cupping coffee: the more coffees you get a chance to put across your palette (good coffees, not Starbucks charcoal-roast), the more you will begin to notice the buttery notes, chocolate, berries, fruit, spices ect. that define a particular lot.
I think it is just great that you, as a ski shop guy, get to ski all of those skis with perfect tunes at industry events for FREE. For the average skier, it doesn't work that way. Unless you hit a demo day, it is $40 to $50 a day to demo a ski. At those prices, if I were a ski shop guy, I would recommend demo, demo, demo also. Then at the end of the season, as a ski shop guy, I would sell the demo ski for more than I have in it.

In my 35 years of skiing I've owned many different skis from many different manufacturers. I've only demoed once and it not because of the money. I can afford to buy as many skis as I want. It is because it is a waste of time. I've liked every ski I purchased and I never made mistake. Different skis from different manufacturers ski differently. So what? That makes the sport more fun. It makes me a better skier to adapt to different skis.

I also don't demo coffee, wine, or scotch before I buy it.
post #45 of 53
Buying skis without trying is guessing. You might be good at guessing but it's still guessing.

Imagine shelling out big bucks for a pair of skis and realising they weren't what you expected or wanted. Unless you are loaded you're going to be reminded every time you ski for a long time....

Given all the costs associated to skiing the cost of a days demo (if you even have to pay) is small.

Depending on your situation I can understand that it can be impractical and if you try many it could get expensive but I don't understand how someone can make a general statement that it's a waste of time? Certainly hasn't been for me - it's meant I've got skis I really loved rather than just liked.
post #46 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post
I think it is just great that you, as a ski shop guy, get to ski all of those skis with perfect tunes at industry events for FREE. For the average skier, it doesn't work that way. Unless you hit a demo day, it is $40 to $50 a day to demo a ski. At those prices, if I were a ski shop guy, I would recommend demo, demo, demo also. Then at the end of the season, as a ski shop guy, I would sell the demo ski for more than I have in it.

In my 35 years of skiing I've owned many different skis from many different manufacturers. I've only demoed once and it not because of the money. I can afford to buy as many skis as I want. It is because it is a waste of time. I've liked every ski I purchased and I never made mistake. Different skis from different manufacturers ski differently. So what? That makes the sport more fun. It makes me a better skier to adapt to different skis.
For those who has a big quiver, I sometime wonder if they remember what they have. Let alone how each ski! So perhaps each time they take their ski out, it's just a demo! Instead of paying for the day of demo, you can always pay for the ski and IF you use it enough, you earn your demo fee back.

If you have lots of money to spend on many skis, just buy them all. If you don't have much money, you get the cheapest option you THINK you'll like and you would never know differently anyway.

Demoing is ONLY neccessary if you're short on money but still want to be picky. By demo-ing, you elimniate the ones you don't like and find the one you like the most. One ski a time.

Quote:
I also don't demo coffee, wine, or scotch before I buy it.
If you don't demo coffee and wine, you may qualify yourself as one who couldn't care less what they taste like?
post #47 of 53
I always love this discussion because everybody's right.

Some people do some research, ask a few friends, never demo, and are absolutely thrilled with their purchases. And if they *have* tried demoing and ended up with a pair of badly tuned skis, then that just reinforces their belief that demoing is a waste of time and money. Makes sense (for them).

Other people (me among them) love to demo and would very seldom buy skis they hadn't tired. Those of us in that camp tend to have formed some kind of relationship at a shop (or shops) we trust and we have a fairly good idea that when we step on a pair of skis they'll be tuned well enough to adequately represent how that ski works. If you ever experience that absolutely magical feeling of getting off a lift and you just KNOW exactly where those skis are going after two turns, then you'll know what I mean. The best skis I've ever owned have come from that process. Makes sense (for me).

When I demo, I can tell in an hour whether a pair of skis and I could "date seriously". I can usually tell in ten minutes if it's going to be a "one date relationship". That means I can demo as many as six pairs of skis in a day and only pay one day's demo fee. I don't think that's a bad investment.

Also, you demo-haters out there are missing a really great way of saving money. If you demo a bunch of skis this season (and, as dawg points out, pay attention to what you learn from the demoing) you can almost always find great deals on your favorite skis at the end of the season. If you haven't demoed and you see dawgcatching or SierraJim or your local shop running a killer deal, you won't know whether you should jump on that deal or not.

I'm just sayin'.
post #48 of 53
Hear, hear Bob.

ps good name
post #49 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post
I think it is just great that you, as a ski shop guy, get to ski all of those skis with perfect tunes at industry events for FREE.
And in our shop, so does the customer. If they are interested in buying skis, they get up to 3 days of demoing (non-holiday), 3 pairs each day, to make their decision. Of course, if they don't buy anything, then they are on the hook for the rental price, but they know that in advance, and it is highly unlikely that they won't really like and buy one of those 9 pair. So, yes, I do encourage demoing, and we do make an effort to make sure the tune is good on those skis.

The industry as a whole should be doing a lot more to encourage demoing. As it is currently set up, ski invoices are due almost before the snow starts to fly, and definitely before the season gets into full swing and customers have had a chance to try some gear. The current push is to sell through as much product as possible before December 1st, which is a terrible idea. Too many customers hate the skis they bought on the recommendation of Skiing Mag, and the shop isn't in business to refuse their money.

I think that the Epicski crowd is often sophisticated enough to know what type of skis they like and can make a purchase decision without demoing, but that is precisely because they have either skied or owned enough skis recently to know what brands, shapes, and characteristics worked for them, and can extrapolate that information to make a sound purchase decision, especially with the help of detailed reviews here on the site. They know what they like precisely because of past experience trying different product. Isn't this basically the same as demoing: building up a database in one's head about ski characteristics over the years that were either positives or negatives for their skiing?

The average weekend-warrior isn't that sophisticated, as he may still be skiing the Sollie X-Scream from 1998, and the only new ski on his radar is the K2 Apache Recon, simply because his buddy is on it and it has a big ad and write-up in the mag. It may or may not be the best ski for his needs, but without a few demos of contrasting skis, he won't know. Many skiers aren't about their gear and will ski just about anything, and that is OK. For the others though, we want them to have the best experience on hill as possible, so they will enjoy skiing more and come into the shop more often. For those customers, demoing skis and getting them on the right product is essential.
post #50 of 53
I demo when it is free and convenient.

I buy most of my skis without demoing, and rarely make a mistake. I look for cheap skis on ebay and the cost of a shop demo is a good chunk of a new pair.

I'm not too picky and can have fun on about anything. I'm also a "glass is half full" sort of guy---all skis have good points and bad points. When I'm on them I appreciate the good points. It's nice to have a mix of stable smooth skis, quick skis, high performance skis and easy skis.
post #51 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
If you don't demo coffee and wine, you may qualify yourself as one who couldn't care less what they taste like?
Not at all. I'm confident enough to try new things without tasting them first. Do you ask to taste your meal at a restaurant before you order? So what if you try a $30 bottle of wine and find that it is not your favorite. Simple answer - move on and don't buy it again.
post #52 of 53
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post
Not at all. I'm confident enough to try new things without tasting them first. Do you ask to taste your meal at a restaurant before you order? So what if you try a $30 bottle of wine and find that it is not your favorite. Simple answer - move on and don't buy it again.
You know, MJB, if I had to keep eating that same meal day after day for 4 months, I would sure consider the first meal a demo and wouldn't keep eating it unless I liked it a whole lot!
post #53 of 53
Quote:
So what if you try a $30 bottle of wine and find that it is not your favorite.
"$30 bottle of wine"?

That itself, is a "demo price"!
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