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opinions on Head Xenon 8.0 xi & Volkl AC 20

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Im starting to look at some skies for myself, would like to buy at the end of the season or beg. of next season to save a little. I have been looking around and would like some input on these two skis..Head Xenon 8.0 xi and Volkl AC 20. I will  be skiing mostly groomed trails (Catskill Mts NY) I havent skied in 20 yrs....was a pretty good intermediate i think then, Im 41, 5'10" tall 185lbs. I also understand that boot fit is very important, and i think i found a shop about an hour + away that was reccomended from some guys on here, the shop has a very good boot fitter. Anyway, if anyone has any input about these two skis, that would be great. One final note, the shop where the bootfitter is sells Head skis, so that may factor in, if he takes the time for fitting, it would be cool to give him the buisness for the skis also, but that is not set in stone yet.... thank you for your help.


post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

nobody has used either, no opinions

post #3 of 16

I rented a pair of Head Xenon 8.0 xi (red top sheet I think they had) in Mt Washington, BC 2 days before Xmas after I had put a core shot in my beloved Scott Missions the day before.

I thought they were a great intermediate to advanced ski - easy turn initiation, forgiving, well damped (as most Heads seem to be) and just an easy ride all 'round. I would have preferred a little more 'pop' but I would certainly recommend them to anyone who spends most time on piste and wants a nice, well sorted, easy turning ski.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

thanks for the info,,,,, im not certain what you mean by "pop"..........

post #5 of 16

Ahhhh pop - I mean they didn't seem to give you back a lot of energy when unweighting after compression in a turn like a ski with a stiffer tail would - this is a plus and minus IMO. Ski's which have too much can be harder to stay on top of when you get tired and tend to sit you in the back seat. I'll defer to the more knowledgeable Bears for a better explanation.

post #6 of 16

I got the Volkl AC-20s a year ago.  At the time I was looking to buy the Head Xenon 7.0 (which I believe is now the 8.0) and the guy at the store steered me to the Volkls.  He told me I'd outgrow the Heads before the Volkls.  I took his advice and, after a year in which I went from greens to blacks, I still love them. They're very stable and give me a lot of confidence on the slopes.


FWIW, the AC-20s made the short list for "Aspiring Expert" in Ski magazine; the Head Xenons did not.  They also got a fairly good review by Peter Kealty on the Realskiers site (better than the Xenons, if I remember correctly).



post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

thank you, this is the kind of info im looking for......this site is great!

post #8 of 16

Last year I has skied Head Xenon 7 and Xenon 9.  These were very nice in soft snow but noisy and not firm on ice.


For the current year Head replaced with the Xenon 8 and Xenon 10.  I have skied the Xenon 10 and it is very much improved over the Xenon 9.  Gone is the tin can noise and edge hold on ice is greatly imprroved but still far less than the skis like Supershape, race skis, XRC, Monster 78, etc...  It is fabulous on soft snow.   Can only surmise the Xenon 8 is as much improved over the 7 as Xenon 10 is over the Xenon 8.


On demo days with soft snow and at bigger mountains skiers loved the Xenon 10 and before that the 9.  On icy days these skis were not favoured.



post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

i forgot to ask, what length should i be looking for, 5'10", 185lbs ?? thanks guys

post #10 of 16

I've demoed both of those skis in the last week... and while they're both great skis, they're pretty different.


First of all, I consider myself an intermediate moving towards advanced skier... and 150lbs... my demoing was on small hills with a mix of light powder, loose granular, hard pack, ice... and I did one green, blue and black run with each demo.


The Xenon 8.0 really excels on soft/loose snow - it's a lot of fun, easy to ski, very forgiving...it's most at home doing short turns on soft snow.  I also demoed the Xenon 9.0 the week before in similar conditions, and honestly, they felt pretty similar to me... the 8.0 might have had a bit better edge hold on hardpack, but it was not spectacular on hardpack/icy conditions....  They are both just as managable at a slow speed on greens as they are on steeper slopes... I decided I didn't want them because I ski mostly in Ontario and Quebec, where we have a lot of hard pack/ice...so I wanted a ski that excelled at that.  I tried both skis in 163cm.


The AC20 I tried in 170cm, which was probably a bit long... still, I found them a lot of fun in all conditions - they carved hardpack, icy conditions like a knife through butter with little effort...and were also fun in a bit of powder.  They have a very smooth feeling - with none of the skidding/chattering that I got with the Xenon 9.0 earlier in the day.  If you ski mainly hardpack/icy conditions, this would be my choice over the Xenons.  This would be a good ski to learn modern carving techniques.  I personally like a ski with a shorter turn radius (like the Dynastar Contact Groove), but that's personal preference... I would have liked to try this ski in 163cm, but it wasn't available... I have to think I would have liked those even more.


As for ski length...one thing that's really hit home with demoing so many skis lately, is that just because you prefer a particular length in one ski, doesn't mean you'll like the same length in another ski.  I'll let one of the members with more ski knowledge than me help you with that...

post #11 of 16

I often ski my Xenon Xi7.0 and like them a lot.  They don't chatter on ice unless I make them chatter, so that makes me a better skier.  They have a huge sweet spot (the skier's balance can be a bit forward or back and these still ski well), and they're stable at speeds as fast as I've ever wanted to ski.  I ski my Head iSupershapes when I want even more edge hold on ice or when I want a higher performance ski (and my Dynastar Mythic Riders when i want more float in the powder).  I think the Xenon Xi8.0 is very similar.  The people I listen to about skis thought last year's Xenon Xi9.0 had the tail too stiff, and I haven't heard anything about the new Xenon Xi10.0.  I don't have experience with the AC20.


For size in these skis, I'd suggest about a 163 or 165cm ski for you.  This is the middle of the size range for this line of skis.  For myself, 6', 200#, very good medium energy skier, I have good results buying the skis one size below the top of the size range for any given model...170cm Xenon and SuperShape, 188cm Mythic Rider.

post #12 of 16

Monkers -- BTW, FWIW, last year when I bought the AC-20s, the sales guy also recommended the Atomic Nomad Bluemoon.  They didn't have it in my size and, as I said earlier, I've been very happy with the AC-20s.  


I just mention this in case you're still demo-ing different skis.

post #13 of 16


Originally Posted by monkers View Post


i forgot to ask, what length should i be looking for, 5'10", 185lbs ?? thanks guys



I'm 5'9" and 150 lbs (with change in my pocket).  I have the 163 cm AC-20s, which are fine for me. 

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

thanks guys, i think i will end up with the Volkl AC 20 in size 163, thanks for your help

post #15 of 16

A little late to this thread but I just bought the AC20s in 170cm length and I am the same height and weight as you.  I was going to buy the 163 but the sales guy talked me into the longer length because I like to ski fast.  


I got them out today for the first time and what a great ski.  I was a bit tentative at first and was just cruising around.  The skis were fine for that but when I turned it up a notch, the Volkls really started to shine.  I was surprised since they are marketed as an upper intermediate ski.  Edge grip was great and they were very quiet.  I also love the light weight.  I tried some quick slalom turns and they were just okay for that.  


Anyone try these in spring slop?  I'm thinking they will be great for that because of their light weight.

post #16 of 16


Originally Posted by ontario View Post



Anyone try these in spring slop? 


Yes, they are fine with that.  Spring slop is one of our main forms of snow down here.

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › opinions on Head Xenon 8.0 xi & Volkl AC 20