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Head Monster 78 Review

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

A lot has been said about this ski, but I wanted to add my 2 cents, having finally got these after thinking about them for a year or so.

About me: I'm 39, 5'9, 170lbs or so and ski primarily at Tahoe, with a trip to Utah every year, if all goes well. I put myself in the upper echelon of the SF Bay weekend skier crowd. I have decent technique and ski everything with confidence at reasonably high speeds. I do not ski like a former racer or 25 year old local stud.

I haven't skied a ton of skis over the years, so that's a relevant point here. I''ve had first generation Bandit XX's (not so great), Pocket Rockets, K2 Crossfires, and Gotamas. Still have the PR's and Gotamas. I've demoed Salomon Fury's, Mantras and Watea 84's, and Head 82's. This is really the first multi-metal heavy duty ski I've skied on, so I'm sure others are similar in some respects. I was looking for a hard snow ski, specifically for spring Tahoe days, where it starts on very firm groomers, then the off-piste opens up as the sun allows. The Crossfires, at 68mm, were simply too narrow and flimsy for the variable conditions that come up, but I still wanted something carvy, hence the 78's. I tried the 177, on hard snow only, and elected to go with the 171. I'd like to spend some more time on the 177 if I ever get the chance, to see how versatile it is in tight bumps etc.

 

I was blown away by this ski. In short, it is tremendously stable, solid, and quiet, but does everything I ask of it without protest. It feels like it is glued to the snow and just removes any chatter or surface irregularities like they aren't there. I have found it to offer super high levels of performance in all conditions, yet it is not in the least difficult to ski. They like to go fast in all conditions, but are easy to control. There have been many wow moments as I got to know the ski.

 

First, on icy morning groomers, the snow types and transitions just don't seem to matter. Just arc across them without a problem or shock as the snow transitions. If you want to line up the run and do it in 2-3 turns, no problem. Super stable at speed. What's remarkable is how they quiet the snow and isolate you from the ice, etc. They seem to do all turn shapes well, from quick side to side rhythms, to opening them up. Lots of fun. This stability comes with a trade off. They are not super snappy or energetic, but more calm and sure.

 

Loose snow and crud were a big surprise. I just arced through it with no fuss. The tip on these things is actually bigger than on my PR's and not much smaller than the Gots. I purposely went through some refrozen crud and hardly felt it. Nice! I haven't had that on the lighter skis I've been skiing.

 

The biggest wow, and something I can't get out of my head when I go to sleep, came on a super steep bump run on decent, but variable snow. Firm on the back of the bumps, some cruddy fluff around the troughs. This is the kind of run I love Squaw for, where if feels like you're descending 10-20 feet of vertical for each long mogul. This ski gave me options I've never had before. I could flow with the shape of the bumps, OR I could carve wicked fast turns as I came over the top of the bump on the frozen backside of the bumps with complete control. The tight radius and stable, grippy nature of the ski made it easy to just turn on a dime in almost no lateral space. It was like dicing up the run with a scalpel. Super quick, no skidding turns any time I wanted, but I had no trouble floating or sliding as necessary. Again, really easy to ski. The ski makes everything feel smooth.  That said, when the terrain leveled off a bit and it was zipper line time, I couldn't just mash the ski around the bumps like with my Pocket Rockets. They are a firm, reactive ski. But they don't throw you around or take you for a ride either.

 

One reviewer commented that he liked the Watea 84 for soft snow and I can see that. After all it's a bigger ski. I demoed the Watea and was impressed with how it held on firm groomers for a light ski, but the feel is totally different. They are more like a higher performing Pocket Rocket, soft and playful, but the Head's just smooth and level everything out for you, inviting easy speed. On soft fluff, who cares, but for the variable conditions I got them for, they are ideal.

 

I would recommend that anyone looking for a midfat put these in their demo list. The performance and versatility are awesome. They aren't a snappy, poppy ski, so if that's the feel you're after, I don't think this would be the right ski.

 

One thing that I found, and it's been well commented on this forum, is that the factory tune sucks. They need to be reground and the base edges reset to 1 and a side bevel of 2 or 3. I went with 2 because all my other skis are 2 and I wanted to compare apples to apples. Given the performance was as good as I could have asked for, I'll stick with it for now. A lot of people have recommended a 3 side on the Monster series, so you may consider it. It's a shame that they come out of the factory jacked up, but just get them retuned right away and that's that.

Happy skiing!

post #2 of 16

Nice writeup, I pretty much agree all the way through.

 

Among the various Head Monsters I have tried over the years, the 78 has the most athletic/dynamic feel.  The damped Head feel can be kind of dead on some of the skis, but the 78 pulls it off well, mixing in just the right amount of character and spunk.  The 82 is similar, but lacks the hard snow capability of the 78 (which in turn makes it a little nicer in soft snow).

 

If I had one criticism of the 78, it's that it needs a little speed to turn and come alive.  I always notice this characteristic of skis when spending some time with my wife on green/blue groomers.  Some skis (iM82, Watea 84 in particular) are happy cranking turns at low speed, but the 78 was making me work.

post #3 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post

The damped Head feel can be kind of dead on some of the skis, but the 78 pulls it off well, mixing in just the right amount of character and spunk. yep. 

 

If I had one criticism of the 78, it's that it needs a little speed to turn and come alive.  I always notice this characteristic of skis when spending some time with my wife on green/blue groomers.  Some skis (iM82, Watea 84 in particular) are happy cranking turns at low speed, but the 78 was making me work. Funny I found just the opposite; suspect this is a length vs weight issue. The 171 78 I demoed was the "shorter" of the two relevant lengths for me, while the 172 82 I owned was the "longer" of same. Liked the low speed handling of the 78 a lot better.

 

post #4 of 16

I am 5'8" and 165 lbs and have the iM78s in 171.  I have not skied on that many other skis but the iM78 really does seem to be an excellent "all mountain" ski.  I have not found anything that it  does badly.  Sure, there are lots of skis that are better at certain things but the iM78s are generally good at pretty much everything.  They are surprisingly good in the bumps, forgiving, carve well and are good in chopped up crud.  At 171, they do not provide a lot of float in the deep stuff but theyperform well there as well.  I'm tempted to get a true hard snow carver firmer days but that would likely be too much overlap.

post #5 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by budge View Post

 I'm tempted to get a true hard snow carver firmer days but that would likely be too much overlap.

Well, if you got something with a waist of 63-66, and a length of 155-165, it wouldn't likely overlap very much. More depends on what kind of skiing you emphasize. 

post #6 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by budge View Post

I I'm tempted to get a true hard snow carver firmer days but that would likely be too much overlap.


A longtime devotee of carving/slalom type skis, I demoed the IM78 at the end of last season and bought them to be my soft snow ski (kind of an Eastern powder ski). The day after my purchase, I came down with the flu, and wasn't really well again for almost 3 weeks. By that time, the season here in the East was over.

 

Naturally, the first day out this year, I just had to try my new skis. The conditions were not exactly what I bought them for; mostly hardpacked with a little manmade fluff here and there, but I fugured what the heck. No problem; these skis handled everything well and I had a great day.

 

As the season progressed, I kept grabbing the IM78's regardless of the conditions. Sometime in mid-February (day 14 or so for me), we had one of those freeze-after-thaw days and I figured it was time to pull out the carvers. Conditions weren't as bad as I expected: Kind of like my first day, but still ideal conditions for a carving ski. I've thought about this a lot since then, and can't articulate exactly why, but I absolutely hated them. Up to that point, I had loved those skis. Perhaps it's the way carvers kind of turn themselves, and I enjoy the way a wider ski like the IM78 requires a little more skier input.

 

Whatever it is, at least I know it's not just me. Rode the lift a few weeks later with a guy who happened to be on carving skis for the first time all year after skiing nothing narrower than 80mm. Funny thing, he hated his carvers too.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Funny, how we get used to bigger skis. That's the one thing about the 78's, despite how impressed I am with their performance, they just feel and look so small. I can't say they ever felt small when I was skiing them, in other words in a detrimental way, but they feel/look small on the lifts. And I did get them short, at the 171. Wider longer skis just sort of impart a sense of confidence. I'm enjoying the narrower, edgier feel again, but I'm looking forward to trying a high performance, metal bound ski in a 88-90mm width as well. On the other hand, I think these things are going to continue to impress me, even in softer snow, which I haven't had a chance to try them in yet. Great skis, great choices right now.

Regarding "carvers",  for a mountain like Squaw, unless you're going to spend the whole day on groomers, I can't imagine wanting a smaller ski than this. It carves great, yet still gives you some power and platform for the bumps and fun off-piste lines which is what, for me anyway, skiing is all about. If anything, I would go bigger (of course I have 2 bigger skis already) for an everyday ski.

post #8 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by squawbomber View Post

Funny, how we get used to bigger skis. That's the one thing about the 78's, despite how impressed I am with their performance, they just feel and look so small. I can't say they ever felt small when I was skiing them, in other words in a detrimental way, but they feel/look small on the lifts.

Agree.  I’m not noticing anything in lift gates now that is less than 130mm dead center.  Of course for grins I’ll envision them with a propeller on their chest, arms outstreched with a bigger back pack landing on those gigantic pontoons in the AK outback delivering supplies to Dick Proenneke’s log cabin  

 

The [skinny ] IM78 is not for everybody, but it’s a well balanced ski that hits 90% of my everyday skiing [summit and eagle counties] including crossing over and managing the occasional ice fused birds of prey downhill or an off piste frankensnow encounter.   

 

I have yet to find an average day condition where I felt lacking, underpowered or outgunned by a posse mate insofar as what I had under my boot…and that’s my take; the ski rewards top effort and won’t bail on you.  It’s also the first ski that actually had me looking at how folks were skiing not what they are skiing on.  In other words, I was not worried about finding a better ski but rather becoming a better skier.  Setup: 08/09 IM78 183cm 125-79-111 r. 16.8 with a no garbage 07/08 Rossi Axial2 140 TI Pro binder. 

 

[side] I sure hope that the 09/10 Head ‘Peak’ replacement does not disappoint ‘Monster’ fanatics. 



 

post #9 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post

 

Agree.  I’m not noticing anything in lift gates now that is less than 130mm dead center.  Of course for grins I’ll envision them with a propeller on their chest, arms outstreched with a bigger back pack landing on those gigantic pontoons in the AK outback delivering supplies to Dick Proenneke’s log cabin  

 

The [skinny ] IM78 is not for everybody, but it’s a well balanced ski that hits 90% of my everyday skiing [summit and eagle counties] including crossing over and managing the occasional ice fused birds of prey downhill or an off piste frankensnow encounter.   

 

I have yet to find an average day condition where I felt lacking, underpowered or outgunned by a posse mate insofar as what I had under my boot…and that’s my take; the ski rewards top effort and won’t bail on you.  It’s also the first ski that actually had me looking at how folks were skiing not what they are skiing on.  In other words, I was not worried about finding a better ski but rather becoming a better skier.  Setup: 08/09 IM78 183cm 125-79-111 r. 16.8 with a no garbage 07/08 Rossi Axial2 140 TI Pro binder. 

 

[side] I sure hope that the 09/10 Head ‘Peak’ replacement does not disappoint ‘Monster’ fanatics. 



 

I skied the new Peak 78 two different times this year - once at Snowbasin in early February and once at Jackson Hole in mid March.  Both times, I really, really liked them.  I never asked if there's a structural change versus the 08/09 model so I don't know if there is any, but something about the Peak 78 and the way I ski really meshed.

 

I'm seriously considering going with the 78 next season as my "everyday" ski rather than the SuperShape Magnum.  Not because I dislike the Magnum in any way, only because I've skied the Magnum for the last two seasons and I might decide it's just time for a change.  I just loved the way the Peak 78 skied, and I tried it in both the 171 and the 177.

 

disclaimer:  I'm a rep for Head

post #10 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post

 

Agree.  I’m not noticing anything in lift gates now that is less than 130mm dead center.  Of course for grins I’ll envision them with a propeller on their chest, arms outstreched with a bigger back pack landing on those gigantic pontoons in the AK outback delivering supplies to Dick Proenneke’s log cabin  

 

The [skinny ] IM78 is not for everybody, but it’s a well balanced ski that hits 90% of my everyday skiing [summit and eagle counties] including crossing over and managing the occasional ice fused birds of prey downhill or an off piste frankensnow encounter.   

 

I have yet to find an average day condition where I felt lacking, underpowered or outgunned by a posse mate insofar as what I had under my boot…and that’s my take; the ski rewards top effort and won’t bail on you.  It’s also the first ski that actually had me looking at how folks were skiing not what they are skiing on.  In other words, I was not worried about finding a better ski but rather becoming a better skier.  Setup: 08/09 IM78 183cm 125-79-111 r. 16.8 with a no garbage 07/08 Rossi Axial2 140 TI Pro binder. 

 

[side] I sure hope that the 09/10 Head ‘Peak’ replacement does not disappoint ‘Monster’ fanatics. 



 

 

 

Don, I am curious -- did you consider the iM82 at all?  At one point, I had both in my quiver.  The 82 definitely went in the soft snow direction while the 78 went in the hard snow direction, but they both overlapped in the meaty part of the "all-mountain" envelope quite a bit.  I think the particular choice could come down to what else was in your quiver or what part of the all-mountain spectrum you wanted to focus on.  I'm down to just the 82 at this point, with Progressor 9+ on the hard end of my quiver and then 94mm and wider skis on the other end.  The iM82 makes a great do-it-all ski in the middle of my quiver.

 

From what I have heard here and elsewhere, the real underwhelmer in the Peak series is the 88, which is a fraction of the ski the Monster 88 was.  I would have preferred an intermediate length in the Monster, say 182cm, but otherwise I love the ski.  It's a pity Head took some starch out of it for 2010.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post

 

Agree.  I’m not noticing anything in lift gates now that is less than 130mm dead center.  Of course for grins I’ll envision them with a propeller on their chest, arms outstreched with a bigger back pack landing on those gigantic pontoons in the AK outback delivering supplies to Dick Proenneke’s log cabin  

 

The [skinny ] IM78 is not for everybody, but it’s a well balanced ski that hits 90% of my everyday skiing [summit and eagle counties] including crossing over and managing the occasional ice fused birds of prey downhill or an off piste frankensnow encounter.   

 

I have yet to find an average day condition where I felt lacking, underpowered or outgunned by a posse mate insofar as what I had under my boot…and that’s my take; the ski rewards top effort and won’t bail on you.  It’s also the first ski that actually had me looking at how folks were skiing not what they are skiing on.  In other words, I was not worried about finding a better ski but rather becoming a better skier.  Setup: 08/09 IM78 183cm 125-79-111 r. 16.8 with a no garbage 07/08 Rossi Axial2 140 TI Pro binder. 

 

[side] I sure hope that the 09/10 Head ‘Peak’ replacement does not disappoint ‘Monster’ fanatics. 



 

That's a long Monster! how big are you?

 

post #12 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by squawbomber View Post

Funny, how we get used to bigger skis. 


It cuts both ways. I go out west with nothing narrower than 88 mm, come back to my 165 Supershapes and they feel like toys. But toys that can get way up on edge RIGHT NOW, compared to my fatter stuff. You can get used to that too. Sometimes I miss those easy high angles when I'm motoring along on fat ski. Go try a good SL carver at Squaw sometime when it's hard and see if I'm not right. 

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

 


It cuts both ways. I go out west with nothing narrower than 88 mm, come back to my 165 Supershapes and they feel like toys. But toys that can get way up on edge RIGHT NOW, compared to my fatter stuff. You can get used to that too. Sometimes I miss those easy high angles when I'm motoring along on fat ski. Go try a good SL carver at Squaw sometime when it's hard and see if I'm not right. 

I agree, my 68mm skis were fun. Instant edging. But I've only had 2 or 3 days at Squaw in the last few years where you didn't have to deal with some junk, or a monster mogul run off KT in variable conditions. I feel a lot more confident in these conditions with a larger ski. The whole point of the 78 for me was to strike a good balance: have fun on the hard groomers, but still be able to handle the whole mountain. I think the 78mm size is a good compromise: quick enough, yet still a solid enough platform for some crud and slush. Now if you want to give me some SL carvers...

 


Edited by squawbomber - 4/22/2009 at 04:57 am GMT
post #14 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

 

I skied the new Peak 78 two different times this year - once at Snowbasin in early February and once at Jackson Hole in mid March.  Both times, I really, really liked them.  I never asked if there's a structural change versus the 08/09 model so I don't know if there is any, but something about the Peak 78 and the way I ski really meshed.

 

I'm seriously considering going with the 78 next season as my "everyday" ski rather than the SuperShape Magnum.  Not because I dislike the Magnum in any way, only because I've skied the Magnum for the last two seasons and I might decide it's just time for a change.  I just loved the way the Peak 78 skied, and I tried it in both the 171 and the 177.

 

disclaimer:  I'm a rep for Head

Good news with your Peak performance.  I actually have held my hands over my eyes and ears [really fast hand motions that] to avoid learning about the construction or metal or whatever with the new Peak.  I don't want to have any bias before I take a demo opportunity our Head rep has offered over at Loveland

 

BTW...I would think a move from the Magnum to the 78 [IM in my experience] would be a good one for JH skiing.  I've skied the Magnum but found it dropped out when the snow climbed to boot cuff.  Rather I found the 78 has broad performance in all terrain with snow hard, chopped as well as the 6 to 18 falling suddenly on a day when you're back in BSB at Vail where getting to your parked Jeep for a ski swap is a 1000 mile journey.  Not missing a lick of performance and/or losing the wheel of your posse makes the 78 a great all purpose ski in my neck of the woods.  Perhaps yours?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post

 

 

 

Don, I am curious -- did you consider the iM82 at all?  At one point, I had both in my quiver.  The 82 definitely went in the soft snow direction while the 78 went in the hard snow direction, but they both overlapped in the meaty part of the "all-mountain" envelope quite a bit...

   

...From what I have heard here and elsewhere, the real underwhelmer in the Peak series is the 88, which is a fraction of the ski the Monster 88 was.  I would have preferred an intermediate length in the Monster, say 182cm, but otherwise I love the ski.  It's a pity Head took some starch out of it for 2010.

I really like the IM82 tested at 177cm length and found that ski could really move down a hill...real quick.  Solid as heck, no deflection in crap and really connects with that Head "feel".  Both skis stiffen remarkably at speed leveraging that intelligent technology although I did not like the chip version [another story]. 

 

I did find the loss of width in tip and tail even while picking up a bit at the waist with the IM82 over that of the IM78.  For me the more compliant front end of the IM78 lifted better off piste and ran about tree wells in Champagne Glade quickly using a fast tempo to hold me up rather than a slightly bigger waist and overall surface area of the IM82.  Also, the 78 takes the sting out of a top to bottom end-of-day run down a bullet proof Pali...and I like that.  Finally I prefer the smaller radius of the IM78 [even at 183 cm] than that of the 177 cm IM82.  Sum:  Both excellent skis...both benefit from the Head technology...boils down to personal preference.  And upon reading the early comments from Bob above; the Peak replacement sounds promising.  Oh...FWIW…I found both the 78 and 82 skied circles around the 88 as an all mountain ski on an average day out here.  I spent time on the 88 in every condition and found that ski is in a purgatory size/performance for me whereas I’d be better off going 100 or so without a concern about snap or radius on really deep days.  So, if the Peak poops in an 88, no tears here.


 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by squawbomber View Post

 

That's a long Monster! how big are you?

 

Geesh… wow...I only shared those figures with Betsy after a few dates.  I will however tell you that I'm 6’ 3.5” @ 198lbs  

 

I find the 183 cm shy’s from nothing steep, deep or crappy out here and is a nice trade-off with the added 1.1m turn radius over that of the 177cm model. 



 

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post

 

 

 

Geesh… wow...I only shared those figures with Betsy after a few dates.  I will however tell you that I'm 6’ 3.5” @ 198lbs  

 

I find the 183 cm shy’s from nothing steep, deep or crappy out here and is a nice trade-off with the added 1.1m turn radius over that of the 177cm model. 



 


I think the 177 would probably give me more "big mountain" stability than the 171 does, but it would be a less quick, dice it up ski. I only got to demo the 177 on hard groomers, which is too bad. It felt a little long and stiff (here we go again), and I was worried they might be a handful in the bumps. Like I said in my review, the ski in a 171 sort of looks and feels small, but it doesn't ski small, at least so far. I haven't tried to straightline a mashed potatoes crud field yet though.
 

post #16 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by squawbomber View Post

 


I think the 177 would probably give me more "big mountain" stability than the 171 does, but it would be a less quick, dice it up ski. I only got to demo the 177 on hard groomers, which is too bad. It felt a little long and stiff (here we go again), and I was worried they might be a handful in the bumps. Like I said in my review, the ski in a 171 sort of looks and feels small, but it doesn't ski small, at least so far. I haven't tried to straightline a mashed potatoes crud field yet though.
 


If it adds any data (albeit, scaled up to the next two sizes for my 6'1 195lb frame), I skied the iM78 in 177cm and found it was great in bumps and was a zippy carver.  But it was too short for me at speed or in variable snow, and I would have preferred the 183cm in those cases (and thus, probably preferred 183cm overall).  I did go 183cm on the iM82 and have been happy with it.

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