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Volkl AC50 or Volkl Mantra?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

About Me: Born and Raised in Tahoe, Have skied for 5 years, Level 9 Skier (can ski anything... pretty much... within reason...), Work on Mountain Safety / Patrol at Northstar. 160ish pounds, 6' tall, 19 years old, Love all conditions except: muffin chunder and ice that you can see your reflections in. Love tight high speed turns, moguls, bumps, trees and skiing irresponsibly fast.


Looking For: 1 ski quiver. Being Tahoe born and bred also means broke. Finally have the money ($650) to buy a pair of skis. Want something I can be happy with. I don't get too many powder days in, so something hard snow biased and reasonably good on those few powder days is ideal.


I've Demo'd: Volkl AC30, Volkl AC50, Nordica Top Fuel, K2 Recon, K2 Cross Fire, Volkl Tigershark 12, Dynastar Legend 8000.


Currently Ski: '01 170mm Dynastar Agyl Plus (the ski's I've had since the beginning, cost me $100, HATE THEM)


The Question...: I like the feel of Volkl's; stiff - don't surprise you - confidence inspiring. I haven't been on the Mantra's yet but everyone says they are a better ski than the AC50. Are they? Why so? How do they compare? I get really cheap demo's but they don't have the Mantra, so I actually have to spend some money to try them out. What do you guys think?


post #2 of 27

You sound like a perfect candidate for PMGear's 188 Bro Model.  It just slays it in firm conditions and is one of the most stable skis I have seen in crud.  Has enough footprint to make powder work for you too.  The company stands behind its product like no one else can, and the "factory" is down the street.   Kind of pricey but definitely in the budget you quoted.  The Bros are going to have a much better off-piste behavior than any of the skis you mentioned on your list, but I don't think you'll give up anything on the groomed.


Take a look at the skis being offered by Dawgcatching, SierraSkis.com and Ptex1 in the Special Deals for EpicSki members.  There are some fire-sales for sure on some great gear.

post #3 of 27

 I would also check out the High Society FR. I just got a pair and their versatility blew me away. They feel a bit more solid on edge than the Manta and carve better, yet float better as well. They are relatively stiff at the tip compared to the Mantra and have a poppier feel so they will kick your ass a bit if you're not on top of them in bumpy terrain. And they've been selling for really cheap online.


Between the Mantra and AC30, the Mantra is so-so on groomed and is alright in deeper stuff whereas the AC30 will rail groomed but seriously submarine in pow. If I had to pick one, I'd do Mantra. But I'd get something else in any case.

post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks Guys! You just made my decision that much more difficult!!!


I took a look at the PMGear's ski's... I definitely need to give the BRO 179's a go. 32m sidecut is kinda a lot considering I love those super-fast, tight, high-speed slalom carves... But everything else seems spot on.


Just need to find someone in the North-Shore/Truckee area to demo them from. Suggestions?


Also looked at High Society's FR... There is actually a place right in town where I can demo so that's a plus... From what I read it seems to be a more park oriented ski... Yeah, I'm no park rat... We shall see how that goes.


The AC30's were a submarine in the powder... they were nimble submarines though... and talk about a fun groomer/bump/crud ski...  


The AC50's were also awesome. Less fun on the groomers but a much better choice in the crud. They were also a fine powder ski. Didn't have tons of float, but for being under the snow, incredibly nimble. They did the "tip-dive" which caused me to eat shit in front of some other patrolers which wasn't so cool.


Any opinions on AC50's vs. Mantra's?

post #5 of 27

The AC50 is a pretty stiff ski and I could understand why you would get tip dive from it. At 6' and 160, long and lanky, I would suggest soemthing a bit softer that will get up on the snow more. For AC50 type skis, the Blizzard Magnum 8.7 or K2 Explorer for the Mantra type skis, Blizzard Cronos. What size were you trying these skis in? But for your size and where you will be skiing them, I would say the Mantra over the AC50.  

post #6 of 27
Originally Posted by thesoggycow View Post

Also looked at High Society's FR... There is actually a place right in town where I can demo so0 that's a plus... From what I read it seems to be a more park oriented ski... Yeah, I'm no park rat... We shall see how that goes.


The slight twintip means landing switch in the park is yet another application these skis can handle :). I'd give them a try since you have the chance. The only thing that took me a few runs to get used to was how poppy the skis feel. These are a pretty stiff ski with no metal in them. At first, I was getting shot around all over the place but I figured them out after a few runs.

post #7 of 27

I've owned a Mantra for 3 years (along with a lot of other skis). For typical Tahoe conditions, I prefer the Dynastar Mythic Rider or the Blizzard Argos over the Mantra. Both of those are more stable in crud and soft snow than the Mantra. Both are good enough on hard snow that I had no complaints in the no snow conditions we had from Dec 26-Feb 7.


We have demos of both at the world famous Start Haus.



post #8 of 27

I have  both the AC50 and Mantra's.  If you intend to patrol not sure I would want a ski with a 32m radius so I would rule out the PMG's unless I patroled in Alaska with a powder outfit.  The 50's would be a good work horse ski for a patroler but would not cut it in powder since they are way too stiff.  If you insist on buying one ski I would wait and ski next years AC30 at 80 at the waist and bit wider in the tip and tail it may be versatile enough to work for you.  As for me, I prefer owning skis that do something great and not everything ok!!!  I own SL for carving on hard stuff, AC50's for crud and soft snow and Mantra's for eastern or resort powder.  Next up is a pair of rockered powder boards but that will wait for next season.  The new Katana looks like a good possilblility.  Good luck

post #9 of 27

Are you working patrol as in snow safety, avy work, medical paramedic responsibilities, search and rescue etc. which would require you to ski anywhere and everywhere on the mountain in any condition?  If that's the case you should really consider something like the Nordica Enforcer which is an evolution of the Nordica Beast which was a favorite of many patrollers a few years back.  It'll hold and carve on hardpack but it's surprisingly forgiving through bumps, crud and adequate in powder.  It has a nice stiff flex for busting through tough conditions.  This year's model loses the twin tip which is a good thing if you're patrolling.  Not great at any one thing but does everything you need it to do quite well.  I would be embarrassed to show up at the patrol shack with any of the skis you've demoed, they're not really serious go anywhere do anything Tahoe skis.  You're more likely to see them on the feet of tourists these days (OK maybe a little harsh, I've skied most of them and actually own similar skis but you get my drift).  If you can afford two pair then you might want to keep a skinnier carver around for firm days but it sounds like you can only afford the one ski quiver.  When the Tahoe drought is over and we start getting those 8 or 10 foot dumps again, you'll be thankful you bought yourself a more serious ski.


You might not think you need that much ski at Northstar but I know if someone was injured on the Backside and it was my responsibility to rescue them and get them down to the main village safely, I would want a ski that could handle any situation.

Edited by Cold Smoke - 2/20/2009 at 12:22 am
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks Classer and Cold Smoke

I'll definitely check out the enforcer.


I think I'm going to save up some more money and get a carver and a powder ski. 


Just a quick comment to Cold Smoke...

At Northstar 60%+ of the skiing patroler's ski the Mantra and the patrol director is on the Tigershark 12.


The Tigershark would be my choice for a 1 ski quiver, but that power-switch is too gimicky for my tastes.

I'm demoing on Sunday, I'll let you know how it goes...


Hey SierraJim? What kind of deal can you get me on demos from Start Haus in Truckee?

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Just an update, I was on the Mantra today...

Rainy spring conditions with 6-8 inches of HEAVY snow up top.


In a nutshell the Mantra has it's place, but it's not for me.


Good float... excellent "smear", good in the moguls, great edge grip


Super slow edge to edge, soft tip and tail, "poppy" over crud, inside ski takes a lot of work to get on edge and when you do, it sometimes tries to kill you. Doesn't like going slow, but feels nervous going fast. Not trust-worthy.


Overall a jack of a trades and master of none.

AC50 feels way more capable.

post #12 of 27

Hi; Mantra and AC50 are two very different skis. I own Mantra 177 cm.and have fair experience with AC50 170 cm. I am 145 lb, 5'8" and experienced aggressive big mountain skier. Here is the difference: first Mantra is one of the most versatile skies ever made! playful, versaatile at the same time very solid. an appropriate GS type moderate side cut which allows both for carve and side-slip suitable for big mountain steeps.  its moderate stiffness allows excellent edge hold and carving ability on hard snow as well.  I have used it in waist deep Monashee, BC, pow. and it rips but not as floaty as Gatoma. I have used it on Eastern sheer ice with pleasure. very stable at high speed. Trees and soft bumps, no problem. the only weekness: tough in icy deep eastern bumps, unless you are expreiced bumps skier and be very alert to initiating your turn quickly. Obviously, it is not designed for that. soft western bumps, NO problem. HIghly recommend it, an all star ski 10 out of 10.

AC50. I was looking for a narrower a bit shorter ski that does most of what Mantra does but with more carving and hard snow capability. so I tried AC50 and Nordica Hot Rod at 170cm and Blizzard Magnum 8.7 at 174 cm. here is the impression:

AC 50, skis short, stiff, very heavy, damp not lively or playful. it is basically a heavey duty high speed carving ski. RR it and it takes off like freight train. it is like a locomotive not ferrari.out side of its comfortable turn radius it is not comfortable because of exceptional stiffness and heaviness. it takes effort to give it versatility. It sinks in powder like submarine. too heavy and tiering for bumps and eastern tight tree runs.

Nordica HOt Rod without metal sheets. in contrast was light quick playful and versatile. my main complaint: the tip rattles at high speed (30-60 MPH)( No metal sheets ) and not as stable on semi frozen crud. good on bumps. good ballance although it could react a bit unexpectedly when hitting sharp rolls at high ski.

And, then it is the Blizzards Magnum 8.7 cm; Everything I was looking for surprisingly, I found  in the Blizzard. it skis like Mantras with tighter turn radius 18.5 meter. carves like a GS ski. floats and plays like powder ski.  very very stable at high speed. ski the crud, powder, cut up frozen granular and hard snow like on fresh groomer, you wouldn't know the difference. this is an exceptional quality and a lot to say about a pair of ski. It has the best ballance of any ski I have every been on even surpassing  GS racing Volkls. Not once I felt off balance no matter what I tried. It does the bumps like a descent bump ski meaning they are quick on edge, have excellent ballance and can side slip effortlessly inspite of deep sidecut.  But again, in icy bumps they feel long and stiff. Soft spring bumps, a pleasure. I havn't tried them in deep powder. but, I am willing to bet that they wold be much beter than AC50. I bought a pair for these reasons and couldn't be happier. Later, I found out that they were designed by Volkl engineers who defected to Blizzard after Volkl merged with K2. No wonder, I felt so at home on them when I stepped into them for the first time. This is an absolutley superb not well know ski for an expert all mountain / big mountain skier.

Happy Turning.


post #13 of 27

I'm a big believer in the high 80's to mid 90's for a one-ski-to-rule-them-all. Also I avoid twins unless I have a specific need to go backward. (Maybe you do.) Surprised you didn't like the Mantras; I thought they were excellent at Northstar in the trees and crud, maybe a bit stiff and narrowly focused for day after day, though


Otherwise above rec for a 8.7 makes excellent sense to me, although at our weight (I'm 165, 6', advanced), I would also take a hard look at the Cronus. Both are superior to the AC50, period. Lighter, more snow feel, grippier, easier to initiate, but 8.7 is just as stable, Cronus not very far behind. I worry that the Argos would be pretty beefy and unidimensional for you. Probably a super choice if you wanted to spend most of your time hiking or in pow/crud at speed, but you mention bumps and trees, and your professional needs seem like they would keep you inbounds a lot.


I like the Cronus with a Baron more for a lighter skier who likes the AT possibilities, better than the 8.7 in soft snow, lighter crud, trees, and bumps. I've seen several patrollers and resort personnel back here on them. The 8.7 is nicer for ice, blasting stiff crud, higher speed limit, more stable, but it'll be stiffer, a touch slower edge to edge, and more of a tunneler in real powder. Nearly as good in most bumps. Also keep in mind that you could easily handle a 180 in the Cronus, but would go no more than 174 in the 8.7, FWIW. 


I would also think about a Watea 94, which I understand to be a Mantra slayer for lighter skiers, lot of good skiers here really like it. And finally a vote for the Sollie Fury if you particularly like in-bounds bumps, chutes, softer snow in tight places. Very underrated ski IMO cuz it's "easy." But holds up well at speed, is surprisingly damp, kills crud. Interesting comparison to the Cronus in terms of versatility.You'd want to try it first to see if you like the light feel. 


In terms of $, the Fury's will be the cheapest; they'll be everywhere on deep sale within a month (some companies like Sollie and Dynastar just seem to overproduce). Any Blizzard will be hard to find, and they hold value, but the folks above can help set you up. Wateas should also be available at decent prices, but not as easy to track down, go fast. Good luck!



Edited by beyond - 3/19/2009 at 06:44 pm
post #14 of 27

Those may not have been the best conditions on which to eval the Mantra.  I've yet to deal with a rainy spring day on em but I've done everything from 4 feet of Alaska powder to hardpack, to tight trees on mine with no issues. 


I agree they dont turn over very fast edge to edge.  That's the deal with a 96 underfoot as I understand it.


Mine are 184s and I would not trade them for anything.



post #15 of 27

177 Mantras without question.  The best one ski quiver for the West hands down.

post #16 of 27


Originally Posted by classer View Post


I would wait and ski next years AC30 at 80 at the waist and bit wider in the tip and tail it may be versatile enough to work for you. 


Classer -- where did you hear this?    Thanks.

post #17 of 27

Re: AC 30 changes


I heard the same information from one of the shops on the hill.  Apparently the AC 30 will have the wideride binding arrangement like the AC 50, with some changes to width (though they didn't sound huge from what I recall). 

post #18 of 27

HI Soggy;


I have had Mantra 177 for 3 years. I am 5.8, 145 lb. Aggressive all mountain skier ( level 9-10). I picked a longer size to use them in the back country ( no base ) deep powder. They work! I love them, they are one of the best skies I have had, I use them everywhere, steep tree runs in Jackson, deep pow in Monashees BC. Killington in VT. they re very versatile ski great for back country. the only place you may feel a draw back would be in icy bumps, If you go on your heels they are gone. Recently I demoed AC50,170CM. and compared them with Nordica Hot ( the yellow ones cant remember which model exactly) and Bllizzard Magnum 8.7. 174 CM. Blizzards are EXCELLENT! They empressed me enough to buy a pair on sale for 650 with bindings.Blizzards do everything AC50 does but with more ease. They are FAR MORE VERSATILE. I am Volkl man, I have never had a pair of volkl that I didn't like, these I didn't care for.. they were the heaviest ski I have ever had on, unweildy!, they felt very short and very stiff under foot. its best performance were in medium redius pure rail road track parallel carved turn when they take off like a freit train and accelerate like you have seldom experienced. Not versatile enough. Blizzards do everything AC50 does and much more with more ease. I wrote a review for them on Epic. look it up.

Comparing Mantra with Blizzards, they feel similar! but, Blizzards are stiffer has deeper side cut and deeper camber. gives higher performance on harder surfaces. great carving ski exceptionally good in crud. havn't tried them in deep pow. but they are not going to float like mantra would. for inbound pow they should be OK ( profile 128-87-113)



post #19 of 27

Lots of opions so I'll add one....  Had the AC4 for a few years and upgraded this year to the Mantra but also got a chance to demo the 50.  LOVE THE MANTRA!  Not the best on ice but a ski that wide shouldn't be, but it does everything else well.  Like all Volkl's, you have to ski them they don't have an autopilot.  So, if you're on ice and like the front side of the mountain, go with the 50's.  If you want to ski the whole mountain in any condition without thinking twice about it, go with the Mantra!

post #20 of 27

I just returned from T-ride and faced this same one-quiver question following trying several skis...including the AC50 and Blizzard Argos.   I've not skied Tahoe,(Aspen, Taos and T-ride this season) but my experience lines up with SierraJim and would greatly suggest you demo the Argos if you want just one ski. 

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hey faripour;


Thanks for the advice, I actually bought a pair of 8.7's for $500 the other day. I didn't like the AC50's soft snow performance and the Mantra was a bitch to get on edge.


I totally agree with all your observations concerning the 8.7. It is one of the most versatile skis on the market.


It's closest rival is the Volkl Grizzly. The Grizzly is just as capable as the 8.7 but feels so dead. It does what you ask it to do and that's it. It's way too serious. The 8.7 on the other hand is playful, gives you tons of feedback while doing everything you want it to. It's incredibly fun (that's what skiing is about right?).


I think the Blizzard Magnum 8.7 is THE one ski quiver if you ski the west coast. I've been on a lot of skis and the this one is the money.

post #22 of 27

I just recently sold my pair of AC30s and I will be getting the Blizzard 8.7s for my all around ski for out west. I have race skis that need to be bought so I only get one out west ski....I like the 8.7 a lot.


I thought I liked volkl.......tried 12 foot tigershark powerswitch, tried the AC50, tried their cheater saloms, owned AC30s, owned the first year of Volkl Bridges, owned Volkl Racetiger Race Stock SLs (Only volkl ski I like). I realized how much volkl was not that much fun after owning and trying most of there skis. Volkls skis are stiff and have good edge hold. But they totally lack flash. They have no liveliness or pop to them. They are heavy, stiff, and boring. Much better skis out there to be had for your price range.


Blizzard caught me by suprise....honestly. The magnium 8.7 is what I will be rocking next year for the out west rock ski.

post #23 of 27
I'm also considering the AC50 (177) or Mantra (184) (or now the Blizzard Magnum 8.7 based on comments above), but am quite a bit heavier at 6'0" and 220lbs.  I would call myself an advanced/expert skier and like to ski the black and blue runs at pretty decent speeds.  I enjoy moderately sized bumps, skiing through some trees and crud, but will ski almost anything on the above listed hills.  (I will also be skiing with my kids who are learning to ski so I will have to spend some time on the beginner runs...)  The snow is usually pretty decent, but can be somewhat heavy at the local mountains.

What are thoughts on these skis for my ability / terrain / weight?  I'm looking for that all round ski and willing to pay enough to get a ski that works well.
post #24 of 27
Originally Posted by BZach View Post

I'm also considering the AC50 (177) or Mantra (184) (or now the Blizzard Magnum 8.7 based on comments above), but am quite a bit heavier at 6'0" and 220lbs. 

What are thoughts on these skis for my ability / terrain / weight?  I'm looking for that all round ski and willing to pay enough to get a ski that works well.

Both the AC 50 and the Mantra would be good candidates. (don't know about the Blizzard)  They're pretty different skis, so you should try before you buy.  BTW, the guy I ski with is 6'5" and 250 and he skis on 170cm AC 50s and 177cm Mantras.  You're not too big or heavy for these skis.
post #25 of 27
how do the ac30's and bridge compare with the mantra for all mountain? or northeast vt, nh, me conditions?
post #26 of 27

Hard snow:

1) AC 30
2) Mantra
3) Bridge


1) Bridge
2) AC 30
3) Mantra

Soft Snow

1) Bridge
2) Mantra
3) AC-30


1) Bridge
2) Mantra
9) AC-30

post #27 of 27
I have both:

The AC50 is a demanding ski, not very forgiving in bumps and just ok in powder.  It is awesome at speed on groomers and crud. You have to be on this ski, or it will take you for a ride.   The Mantra is more forgiving in most conditions and will navigate bumps more easily than the AC50. If you want a one ski quiver for the Tahoe area, Manta would be my choice.
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