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Volkl AC50 - Review

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
Today was my first day on Volkl AC50's, which I purchased pre-season.

Conditions: A single blue run at A-Basin. The snow was surprisingly good, with small bumps, some slush, and a few hard patches. In the afternoon, snow was soft and smeary on top, with hard base beneath. Conditions and terrain weren't varied enough for a full vetting of the skis. Hence, findings here are preliminary.

Me: (Thought you'd never ask ). 6'1", 185 lbs, level 8 skier. Good basic technique, with reasonable facility in powder and varied conditions.

Skis: Volkl Unlimited AC50. Dim: 128-85-112 Radius: 18 meters. iPT Wide Ride 14 Bindings - 30% wider than most bindings. Flex: stiff. Weight: medium. Wood core (Sensorwood) with two titanium layers, and bindings embedded deep within "power channels" over each edge.

Other Skis: Volkl Gotama, Atomic M:EX, Atomic M:9's, Volant Chubbs.

MO: I began with medium-radius turns, lengthening into long, swooping turns. I then tightened into short, quick turns, and targeted moderate bumps. I varied between feathered, smearing turns, and fully angulated carves.

Turn Initiation: Automatic - much easier than my M:EX's. The AC50's are wider in the tip, and hook-up quickly on the turn. Engaging the tip required much less effort than anticipated.

Stability: Imperturbable. On the run I skied, it wasn't possible to red-line the skis. They were stable as a freight train. The Sensorwood core provides a smooth feel on crusty or variable surfaces.

Edge-Hold: Predictable Volkl edge-hold. The AC50's grab like crampons. On the worn hard spots I found (on the edge of the run), I purposely angled hard. They never let go.

Feathering: On the soft snow, I had no problem letting the tails go.

Forgiveness: It's difficult for me to measure this. I found as long as I stayed over the skis, they were completely accommodating. If you get into the back seat, I'm sure they'll spank you.

Long Radius: I couldn't make many wide turns due to the number of people on a single run. Near the bottom, however, I could let the skis run a bit. No surprise here. They arced confidently, with precise control.

Short Radius: This was the biggest surprise. Due to the stiffness and size of these skis (more surface area than my Volant Chubbs), I didn't expect much in terms of short turns. I was wrong.

The AC50's snapped short-radius turns almost as well as my Atomic M:9's (74 mm waist), and with better control, stability and smoothness.

Moguls: Hard to say. We only had small bumps on the hill, except near the end when medium-sized moguls formed. On these easy bumps, the AC50's were fine. I had no trouble carving over, and around the moguls. The easy turn initiation helped. I doubt these skis would be great in large, hard bumps.

Energy: Explosive. The AC50's are dynamic, and nimble. They'll cruise fine, but prefer to dance.

Soft Snow: Hard to know. There was a few inches of soft slush on top in the afternoon. In this snow, the AC50's were easy to steer. They floated over the chunks. Real powder is another animal, which must wait for another day.

Conclusion:

When I first received the AC50's, I worried I'd be overpowered by these skis. The flex was stiffer than my M:EX's (84 mm underfoot), and they're wider in the tip and tail. Comments from reviewers, such as: "feels more like a wide race ski than a midfat", deepened my concern.

Within 30 seconds, all concerns vanished. The AC50's are an easy ski to manage. They turn with remarkable ease and quickness for a ski this size.

If you have decent basic technique (over your skis, with good angulation), you'll have no trouble driving the AC50's.

Volkl's wide iPT binding does what they say: brings greater power to the edges. I wouldn't expect an 85 mm ski to be this agile.

Last year I always brought both my M:EX's and M:9's to the hill, because they didn't overlap much. This year, I'll bring the AC50's in place of both.

If the AC50 can also handle deep snow with reasonable facility, it's as close to a true one-ski quiver as I've skied.

I'd like to compare the AC50 to Atomic's Nomad Crimson TI, and Blizzard's Magnum 8.7 IQ. Both are skis I considered before going with the AC50's.

Of the many skis I've owned and demo'd, the Volkl AC50's are, by clear margin, the most fun and versatile skis I've tried.
post #2 of 77
Good review, would like to hear more once you get off the WROD
post #3 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Good review, would like to hear more once you get off the WROD
Thanks.

Yes, more conditions and terrain are required for a complete report.

I'd like to get these puppies up to tear-inducing speeds, to see how they handle pressure. The titanium layers surrounding the Sensorwood are supposed to provide dampness and stability.

Also, deep snow performance is a biggie. I'm interested to see how well they surf soft stuff, and mank.

I'd also like to demo the Nomad Crimson TI, and Blizzard 8.7 Magnum, for a balanced perspective.
post #4 of 77
Captain Strato. Glad you enjoyed A-Basin this weekend. I know you wanted to try out the new skis and hope the snow condition report helped. Glad you like both the new AC50s and the start of a new ski season. Hope to share turns with you this year as well as many other Bears I have been meeting. James.
post #5 of 77
What length on the AC50?
post #6 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post
What length on the AC50?
Ahhh...right. A silly thing to overlook in a review.

177 cm.
post #7 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMD View Post
Captain Strato. Glad you enjoyed A-Basin this weekend. I know you wanted to try out the new skis and hope the snow condition report helped. Glad you like both the new AC50s and the start of a new ski season. Hope to share turns with you this year as well as many other Bears I have been meeting. James.
James: I look forward to it!

I'd like to connect with more Bears this year. Groups are a blast.
post #8 of 77
Captain, curious if you've skied the AC4/40, how you see the AC50 relative to those skis.
post #9 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
Captain, curious if you've skied the AC4/40, how you see the AC50 relative to those skis.
I never had the opportunity to ski either of those models.

Some on Epic have commented on the difference between those skis and the AC50.

My guess is that the iPT binding system made a difference. Normally, I find performance claims due to bindings to be 90% hype. Short swing performance shouldn't have been so easy.

I'm not sure if the turn radius changed with the AC50. This width is greater (82 mm to 85 mm). We'll see how much difference it makes in deep snow.
post #10 of 77
Your report is music to my ears. Just bought these skiis in the same size as yours but havn't skied them yet.

Man do I want some snow.
post #11 of 77
Great report Captain. I have had the first two AC4's and last year went to the AC40's. All are gone and now am waiting for first Eastern snow to try the 177 AC50's in my 08-09 quiver. I am 6', 220 lbs, level 8+ and had struggled with choosing 184 (more stability in crud) vs 177 (quicker turning & more versatile in bumps/trees). All of my previous AC's have been 177's. Your review makes me happy with my 177 AC50 choice.

Falcon_O aka Charlie

PS - I also have 184 Goats and 173 Shamans for those DEEP days.
post #12 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by falcon_o View Post
Great report Captain. I have had the first two AC4's and last year went to the AC40's. All are gone and now am waiting for first Eastern snow to try the 177 AC50's in my 08-09 quiver. I am 6', 220 lbs, level 8+ and had struggled with choosing 184 (more stability in crud) vs 177 (quicker turning & more versatile in bumps/trees). All of my previous AC's have been 177's. Your review makes me happy with my 177 AC50 choice.

Falcon_O aka Charlie

PS - I also have 184 Goats and 173 Shamans for those DEEP days.
Your quiver is familiar (except for the Shaman's - coolest graphics of the year).

I found the 177's to offer ample backbone. You needn't worry about the skis wimping-out on you.

If you're primarily a long-radius hauler, the 184's may be a good fit, at your size.

But, I'd lean toward the 177's for the same reasons: agility and versatility - especially on east-coast terrain.

Last spring I rode the lift with a guy on 184 cm AC40's. He was my height, but thinner. He looked bagged, and complained the 184's were too much in bumps. Size counts.

The AC50's snap turns with remarkable quickness. My M:EX's are slugs by comparison. I'm curious how much the iPT binding design (very wide, and deep into the ski) contributes to AC50's agility.

Ski engineering continues to transcend boundaries. I'm sure other brands have developed equally versatile contenders.

When 85 mm skis can move like this, we've come a long way.
post #13 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
Captain, curious if you've skied the AC4/40, how you see the AC50 relative to those skis.
Hi I own the 2005 and 6 AC4s and demoed the AC50 this season. I did find the AC50 was smoother and stiffer than the
AC4 which would make it not so bump and soft snow friendly.
If where you ski is mostly hard and icy with crud mixed in I would have to say the AC50 is better than the AC4 but the
difference is not big enough to warrant an upgrade though.
The wider base under foot although just 3mm over the AC4 is
noticeable but not too bad for hard snow. One thing I did find
was that the skis handled better with race orientated boots
on.
post #14 of 77
Didn't find much difference between my 4's, 40's and the 50's.

I did like the Magnum 8.1's because they were lighter to carry but skied the same.
post #15 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post
Didn't find much difference between my 4's, 40's and the 50's.

I did like the Magnum 8.1's because they were lighter to carry but skied the same.
Really??? Wow.

Did you try the 8.7?
post #16 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post
Didn't find much difference between my 4's, 40's and the 50's.

I did like the Magnum 8.1's because they were lighter to carry but skied the same.
I have not skied the Magnum's so cannot comment, however, I did find a noticeable difference beteen my 1st year AC4s (grey), 2nd year AC4s (red) and last years AC40s.

In sort, progressively stiffer with the most noticeable difference occuring between the two AC4s. For me, the progression resulted in better firm snow / ice hold, quicker turn transistion and greater stability at speed. I thought the red AC4s had slightly better soft = spring snow performance then the AC40s, especially in corn snow bumps. My only bark concerning the AC40s (177) was they were nervous in knee deep, semi-heavy chowder. Most likely a 184 would have improved this performance factor.

I am looking foward after reading Captain's review to determine what differences I find, especially in the chowder as I stayed with the 177 length.

Falcon_O aka Charlie
post #17 of 77
Thread Starter 
I wouldn't be surprised if my old M:EX's float better in fresh than the AC50's.

The M:EX's have less surface area, but they're softer.

How these variables trade-off, remains to be seen.

Speed will be another facter. Sometimes stiffer is better in chowder/powder, if you're flying.
post #18 of 77
The Blizzard 8.7 magnum will be more like the M:EX in deep snow, i.e. softer, and floated better for me than the AC50...
The 8.7 didn't back down in the chowder like the M:EX sometimes does..
And it was as good as the AC50 there, easier and BIGGER FUN!

nfp
post #19 of 77
Have you had the opportunity to try Dynastar Contact 4x4?

How do they stack up to the AC50?
post #20 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bird Blaster View Post
Have you had the opportunity to try Dynastar Contact 4x4?

How do they stack up to the AC50?
I've not tried the Contact 4x4.

Sorry.
post #21 of 77
Thread Starter 

2nd Day

Skied the AC50's a 2nd day at A-Basin today.

There's an inherent bias among anyone who buys a ski. You WANT to love it, because you paid for it and will feel like a Bozo if you don't.

Anyone who reviews a ski they purchased is guilty of the "original sin" - you're bought and paid-for. It's a bit like LeBron James endorsing Nike, because they pay him $zillions. Well, not QUITE like that - since I'm still poor. But, you get my point: limited credibility.

Hence, I wanted to re-visit my initial findings, slightly removed from the first-blush rapture, on similar conditions.

Although lifelines were horrific today (30-40 min - thanks Epic Pass), I managed a decent number of runs.

On Ramrod, A-Basin's 2nd run open (blue), conditions were crusty and a bit icey.

In these conditions, the AC50's again proved stellar. They initiated, held and released effortlessly. I wouldn't want a thinner ski, because I like the solidity. They're better than my M:EX's, and anything I've skied in this size, in terms of stability, edge-hold and agility. Yet the AC50's remained easy to drive.

My M:9's are a more agile, due to narrower width (74mm). But, they lack the AC50's rock-solid stability. The AC50's initiate as easily as the M:9's, and are almost as quick. I feel safer in the AC50's at speed and through soft snow/hard snow transitions.

I have to assume, what Volkl gave the AC50 in harpack performance, they removed in powder prowess.

As soon as Ulr cooperates, I'll post an update on chowder chops.
post #22 of 77
Kinda like when people were paying 2K above sicker for Accords,no way in hell are they going to give a lousy review.

I do appreciate your candidness, I was/am tempted to get a pair of these, but knowing how hard I am on skis, I cannot justify it.
post #23 of 77

AC40 vs AC50

I am from Ottawa, Ontario, mostly ski at Tremblant and generally get out West to find some real snow once a year. I am level 3 instructor (which really doesn't mean that much), and a solid bump and pow skier. I weigh 155 pounds and am 5'10. Last year I bought the AC40 which I loved but found that the 177cm length was a little too much, especially in the bumps and at mid-speed. I sold them to a buddy and bought the AC50 in 170. I will let ya'll know how I find the difference. I think if I was in great shape living out West I would have kept the 177 but wanting a little better short radius and ability to not look foolish in big icy easten bumps made the choice for me. The AC40 were the nicest all around boards I have ever skied on, and hope the AC50 will give me even more pleasure. They came in the mail today from Jason at the Deep Powder Ski Hut in Calgary who gave me fantasic service, making me exited enough to share my story. Let's get ready to rip!
post #24 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by enos View Post
I am from Ottawa, Ontario, mostly ski at Tremblant and generally get out West to find some real snow once a year. I am level 3 instructor (which really doesn't mean that much), and a solid bump and pow skier. I weigh 155 pounds and am 5'10. Last year I bought the AC40 which I loved but found that the 177cm length was a little too much, especially in the bumps and at mid-speed. I sold them to a buddy and bought the AC50 in 170. I will let ya'll know how I find the difference. I think if I was in great shape living out West I would have kept the 177 but wanting a little better short radius and ability to not look foolish in big icy easten bumps made the choice for me. The AC40 were the nicest all around boards I have ever skied on, and hope the AC50 will give me even more pleasure. They came in the mail today from Jason at the Deep Powder Ski Hut in Calgary who gave me fantasic service, making me exited enough to share my story. Let's get ready to rip!
I've bought 3 pair of skis from Jason (but not my AC50's). He was wonderful to deal with.

Given your qualifications, I'll be interested in your findings.

I think the 170 cm choice was correct. The 177 is fine for me. For your size, weight and target use, 170 sounds perfect.

I look forward to your post.
post #25 of 77

AC 50 170

Hi Strato,

I am 5'-7". 150 lbs. level 7 skier. will be 50 yrs old next Jan. most skiing at West Washington 25+ days and 2-3 trips to whistler every season. Just sold my 2004 volkl 5 star 168 at ski swap. I also own 2007 goatama 176 which I skied most of the time last year. Do you think the AC 50 in 170 will be the right lenth for me or I should go shorter this time because the stiffness?
This will be the ski for none powder/soft snow day.

Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strato View Post
I've bought 3 pair of skis from Jason (but not my AC50's). He was wonderful to deal with.

Given your qualifications, I'll be interested in your findings.

I think the 170 cm choice was correct. The 177 is fine for me. For your size, weight and target use, 170 sounds perfect.

I look forward to your post.
post #26 of 77
I'm 155#, 5'8, and level 8...I demoed the AC50 @170 last year on a typical Tahoe day towards the end of last season, and also some other skis, viz. Blizzard magnum 8.7 @174, and Volkl Grizzly @ 170-ish, Head iM 78 @177...

I found the AC50 good on hard-pack, rather stiff and kinda "pompous" w/good edge grip, and rather hooky in softer PM snow...not too forgiving....

My favorite was the Blizzard 8.7 magnum which railed as well as the AC50 on hardpack, but was a bit softer and easier going/lighter-feeling in PM soft snow, and as a result a lot more fun...sorta beefier Fischer feeling....

The Grizzly was a bear, much too stiff and cumbersome for me...

The Head iM 78 was a real sweetheart, almost as good edge grip except the tips are a little floppy at real high speeds on hardpack, and was the easiest to ski in PM crud, where the tips floated up easily...felt like cheating...large sweet spot....rather damp ski...

The AC50 would be better for a heavier skier IMO, as my son who outweighs me by 30#, loved them...

So at your weight I would suggest you demo the Blizzard 8.7, or possibly go shorter in the AC50, but then in PNW snow I wouldn't recommend a length shorter than 170...

BTW I'm older than you....

My $.02










Quote:
Originally Posted by redski View Post
Hi Strato,

I am 5'-7". 150 lbs. level 7 skier. will be 50 yrs old next Jan. most skiing at West Washington 25+ days and 2-3 trips to whistler every season. Just sold my 2004 volkl 5 star 168 at ski swap. I also own 2007 goatama 176 which I skied most of the time last year. Do you think the AC 50 in 170 will be the right lenth for me or I should go shorter this time because the stiffness?
This will be the ski for none powder/soft snow day.

Thanks
post #27 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redski View Post
Hi Strato,

I am 5'-7". 150 lbs. level 7 skier. will be 50 yrs old next Jan. most skiing at West Washington 25+ days and 2-3 trips to whistler every season. Just sold my 2004 volkl 5 star 168 at ski swap. I also own 2007 goatama 176 which I skied most of the time last year. Do you think the AC 50 in 170 will be the right lenth for me or I should go shorter this time because the stiffness?
This will be the ski for none powder/soft snow day.

Thanks
Given your weight, ability and height, 170cm sounds right.

I used to live in Bellingham, and skied Mt. Baker. The snow out there can be heavy and manky. It also becomes "west-coast-icy" when wet snow freezes.

The width of the AC50 makes it a good all-round ski for such conditions.

If you go shorter, you'll compromise the ski's ability to carry you through the chunk.

Caveat: I haven't yet skied the AC50's on thick or deep snow. Given my experience on hard snow with a bit of loose on top, they'll power through heavy stuff without deflection.

I expect the AC50's to float fine, given they have more surface area than my Volant Chubbs, or M:EX's. But, they're stiffer than both those skis, and likely less "surfy".

So long as you're over the skis, and not a back-seat rider, you'll steer them easily.

I'd also like to try the Magnum 8.7. I suspect they're softer in the tip, and more damp. I'm sure they're excellent, and a better choice for some.

The AC50 is a thrill ride, with ferocious grip and stability. I found them easy to manage.
post #28 of 77
Thank you so much for the helpful reply. I went to the local shop and they also recommend the Rossignol CX 80.
I am going to try the AC 50 in 170, Blizzard Magnum 8.7 in 167 and the CX80 in 170 on demo day they provided on mid of Dec then make final decision. One thing I like the AC 50 is they seems not easy be chipped on side wall edges like my 5 star . but not like my beat up gotama. Sounds funny???

Thanks again

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strato View Post
Given your weight, ability and height, 170cm sounds right.

I used to live in Bellingham, and skied Mt. Baker. The snow out there can be heavy and manky. It also becomes "west-coast-icy" when wet snow freezes.

The width of the AC50 makes it a good all-round ski for such conditions.

If you go shorter, you'll compromise the ski's ability to carry you through the chunk.

Caveat: I haven't yet skied the AC50's on thick or deep snow. Given my experience on hard snow with a bit of loose on top, they'll power through heavy stuff without deflection.

I expect the AC50's to float fine, given they have more surface area than my Volant Chubbs, or M:EX's. But, they're stiffer than both those skis, and likely less "surfy".

So long as you're over the skis, and not a back-seat rider, you'll steer them easily.

I'd also like to try the Magnum 8.7. I suspect they're softer in the tip, and more damp. I'm sure they're excellent, and a better choice for some.

The AC50 is a thrill ride, with ferocious grip and stability. I found them easy to manage.
post #29 of 77
Hi All,

I'm looking for some help with size. After a lot of thought and wasted hours I've just about decided to go with the AC50's; I just can't figure out what size. I apologize in advance for the wordy post but want to get the size right.

I'm 22 years old, between 5'11" and 6', and weigh 175-180. I used to be a decent skier and raced for a couple years in middleschool (I know that doesn't say anything) so I'm a 6-8 I guess. I had a bad accident siing in the Pyrenees 3 years ago and broke my face so I was wary of skiing for a while but want to get back into it. I don't know what level I'll be now but I have since bought a helmet am hoping to charge hard. I'm in NH / ME for the next 3 years skiing mostly at Stowe or Sugarloaf, which are rumored to get decent snow for East standards. I like laying trenches on groomers but want to get into the backcountry as much as possible.

Please let me know what size would be best! I was thinking 177 but thought 170 would be a nice quick ski for the hardpack we see here. Any input is appreciated. Thank you for your time.
post #30 of 77
Not really sure about the AC 50 but have skied previous Volkls (AC30 and 40 and the Grizzly). For high speed GS turns, the 177 would make a lot of sense - that extra length is something that I really prefer. However, for shorter hills in firmer conditions, the 170 might be more user friendly (I'll let EC skiers chime in instead).

Redski, the new Rossi CX 80 is really worth look. Lots softer than the Volkls (at least that was my take on them) but still reactive and responsive. I really liked the demo runs that I did on them. I was on a 170 and tend to like a bit more length. However, they had a decent speed limit at that length. They are definitely worth considering to supplement your Gotamas.
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