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Kastle MX78 and Blizzard Magnum 8.1 MAX

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Skis reviewed: Kastle MX78 176cm; Blizzard Magnum 8.1 MAX 172cm
Conditions: a few inches of crud on the edges of runs, some small bumps, and soft groomers, with boilerplate on steeper pitches.
Review: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 50 days/year, improving level 9 skier, can ski most conditions.

Disclaimer: I sell both of these brands, but try to provide as unbiased reviews as possible. We sell both skis and have them in our demo fleet, and I know them well.

Kastle MX78 176cm, mounted with Look PX12 Lifter binding.  18m radius, fairly stiff flex, vertical sidewall, 78mm underfoot.
Review: this ski has a very well-deserved stellar reputation.  My take; it is a bit inscrutable, as it does so many things well that should be contradictory. First off, this ski feels big: I would say it feels at least 5cm longer than the actual length.  It is fairly stiff in flex, but not overpowering.  It took me a couple of runs to really feel at home on it; it likes parallel shins and to be skied aggressively. The sweet spot is quite large, provided you are balanced on the ski: hard to describe, just that I felt totally locked into the center of the ski. Once up to speed (this ski really isn't a put-around with the kids ride) it is incredibly stable.  Think full-on race GS at speed, but with a huge margin for error. Rough snow isn't going to bother the skier one bit.  I would go as far as saying this is the most stable freeski that I have yet tried, or at least equal to my other fave, the 178cm Stockli XXXL.  Uber-smooth!  Yet, the MX78 packs a race-like punch in the tail. It pops you out of the turn with a controlled, yet powerful rebound.  In crud, this ski is absolutely stable and nothing rattles it.  On the downside, it is pretty stiff and doesn't follow the terrain: it transmits a lot of force up to the skier.  In smaller bumps, it is smooth and predictable, and the relatively large radius and even flex makes skiing it as easy as any stiff ski would be.  It really comes into it's own at bigger speeds, medium to large radius turns, and powerful skiing.  I have skied the 168cm as well, and it is a more thrilling carver, but not quite the heft of the 176.  Someone my size would probably choose the 168, but if you like more of a GS feel, the 176cm is where that feel is.  Edgehold is probably better than any ski in it's class: the Blizzard was giving me trouble on true ice, whereas the Kastle was rock solid.  Smooth, powerful, stable, big sweet spot, good in all conditions.  It skis like a race ski on hardpack and has no real weaknesses, save for perhaps not being the best ski for less than good skiers.  This isn't an everyman's ski; not strictly experts only, but pretty close. I could see this being the racer's day-off ski, the ex-racers ski, and the guy who really needs a powerhouse frontside ski with some versatility. This is the ski also for the guy that says "I don't like to ski groomers": on this ski, ripping a groomer with a high G-force in the belly of the turn at 40mph is as thrilling as any deep snow day, if you are up to it.  What really struck me is the even edge engagement and smooth transition from edge to flat, then to edge again, and the way this ski flexes into the turn, and how it does so evenly.  Most every other ski I have skied, save for true race laminate skis, has somewhat of an uneven flex pattern that is obvious on hard snow; tip too soft or stiff, more of an on/off feel with regards to edgehold, somewhat hooky, maybe the tail is too snappy and predictable.  These weaknesses are readily apparent next to the MX78's overall even flex quality and predictability, which gives it the stellar sweet spot, yet is as stable and powerful as any ski around.  This ski has a race ski quality and performance, but freeski versatility.  And, a ski this stable has no right to be this nimble and unlike the typical 2x4 stiff feeling ski.  Also, I loved the weight: just a laminate ski with a relatively light binding gave it the perfect swing weight, and glued to the snow, yet not overly damp feel.  Weaknesses: price, but in this case, you get what you pay for.  A warning: don't demo unless you can afford to purchase it.  Ski it from 5-10cm under head height, unless you know you want a big feeling, no speed limit ski.

Skiing it gave me as many smiles as I have had this season, even though the day was "average" with little new snow and some pretty hard stuff underneath.  As much as wide skis make skiing certain conditions and certain days fun that were tough to ski previously (heavy snow, shallow pitch deep snow skiing), a ski like the MX78 opens up those groomer days to be

"skip-work and go skiing days" where on a lesser ski, they might be worth taking off.  The better you are, the better this ski is.  Anyone who says "skinny skis are for old people", or "groomers are boring" simply might want to elighten themselves and and ski the MX78.  Try keeping up with me in shallow or firm snow on your Gotamas: not gonna' happen unless you are a superhero on skis, in which case the skis on your feet matter little; you would probably run circles around me on Snowblades.  Ratings (10 is best): Stability: 10, Sweet Spot: 7.5, power and rebound: 8, forgiveness: 5, edgehold: 9, smoothness: 9.5, crud ability: 7.5, bumps: 7

2010 Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Max 172cm: 17m radius ski, new MAX rail width, Jester-style binding with 5-14 DIN range.
Review: I have skied this ski quite a bit, first my personal pair, and then the pair in our demo fleet.  It is a very good ski, with fairly stout edgehold, a big sweet spot, and good stability. It skis pretty true to it's length, so buy it around 5cm under head height for best results would be my recommendation.  This ski is much heavier than the MX78: that is what you get with the much heavier binding and more of a laminate/cap construction combo, with the prodtruding MAX rail.  The flex on this ski is a bit more forgiving than the MX78: relatively soft in the tip (allows you to bend it up easily and get it carving) and stiff underfoot and at the tail. It is above average in stability for a ski of this length: not as beefy at speed as the MX78, but more than acceptable, as it can bounce a bit at speed, but not enough to make you uncomfortable. The softer tip might be to blame, but it also increases the performance range downward, so that non-experts can enjoy it.  Energy out of the tail is around the same as the MX78, but not quite as predictable of a release; more of a slalom-ski feel and pop out of the turn.  This ski is really more of a slalom feel in terms of radius as well: it may be listed as a 17 meter ski, but feels closer to 15m.  Edgehold is quick and very powerful, although not as good as the MX78: it just isn't as laterally stiff, and had trouble on blue ice lurking underneath the fresh power-tilled snow on top. The 8.1 Max is also more forgiving: it has a big sweet spot for such a lively, powerful ski.  Overall feel is Austrian: smooth, damp, fairly muscular, relatively easy to ski, but not excessively damp like a Rossi/K2, or excessively lively like a race stock SL ski is.  Somewhere in the middle, which most skis are settling into these days. This is definitley one of the more powerful mid 80's skis around, and one of the highest performers; it compares very well to the Volkl AC50, and feels quite similar, although I think this ski is more engaging and is more of a skiers' ski with respect to input and energy.  Stiffer and more aggressive than the Head Peak 78, but can be a handful off-piste and nowhere near as good in bumps.  This is more of a firm-snow and groomer ski, IMO.  Definitely one of the top 3 or 4 hard-snow skis out there in terms of power, stability, and forgiveness, and if you like a meaty ski, this one is worth a hard look.  This is an everyman's high performance carver; the 8.1 can make a solid skier look and feel really good on firmer snow, where a softer, wider or flexier ski may be trouble.  Again, the MX78 out-shines it for good skiers, but costs a whole lot more and is not quite as forgiving.   Ratings (10 is best): Stability: 9, Sweet Spot: 8, power and rebound: 7, forgiveness: 6, edgehold: 8, smoothness: 8, crud ability: 6.5, bumps: 6

Summary
: I liked both skis,the MX78 is the true Porsche 911 996 GT3 of the group, and the Blizzard 8.1 is more of a BMW M5: smooth, fast, stable, but not quite at the level of the MX78; also not as expensive or requires quite as much skill to drive.

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

Reply
post #2 of 34
Kastle MX78:  As far as the Kastle's, yeah they are THAT good. I have said for a while that the Mx Series was like a Porsche 911, I will clarify, a new 911. It is a ski that has no speed limit, yet can be skied by mortals too. My wife got on the MX78 and immediately said it was the most fun ski she has ever been on and made me dispose of her 2 day old Blizzard Viva 7.6, a highly rated ski in its own rights. So while a top notch skier like Dawg will will push the MX78 and get the most out of it, a well skilled intermediate can also appreciate the quality. I would suggest trying the MX78 with both your binding of choice and the Kastle KTi system. The KTi is a fantastic plate that enhances the MX78 without deadening it, a rare trait of a plate system. 

Blizzard 8.1: Great ski, in the 899 'Street price' range, this is my favorite ski, Blizzard found a way to out Volkl Volkl. The 8.1 is a AC30 with a personality and a bigger sweet spot. The 8.1 will also accept Blizzards clever IQ-Max Slider plate, this gives you the ability to use whatever binding YOU chose, an ability offered by very few companies. 
post #3 of 34
Great, thoughtful review, dawg. Thanks. I will make sure never to try the Kastle.
post #4 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

Great, thoughtful review, dawg. Thanks. I will make sure never to try the Kastle.
Cute, very cute!!
post #5 of 34
 Scott and Phil:

Have either of you been on the MX 88 or MX108's?

Phil, I know you have skied the FX 84.  How does if feel vs the MX series?? Lighter?, Softer?

Kastle has a very interesting line up, and some new models on the horizon too.

Thanks guys.
post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
I have only been on the MX88 out of that list.  Flex seems slightly softer, and the ski is much better in crud, and also as stable as anything I have tried in that length.  Much easier to ski than the Stockli XXXL (which I skied the same day) and only the slightest drop in performance.   It isn't as quick edge to edge as the MX78, and although it holds exceptionally well, it doesn't pull you into the turn like the MX78 and lacks that race-ski like power.  If I was going to buy one Kastle, it would be an MX88 probably, but if I were to own two, I would have to look at the 78 and 98 combo.  The 98 floats better and still holds exceptionally well for a ski of that width: it doesn't feel that wide on the snow: if I didn't know dimensions, I would say it has the nimble feel of a low 90's ski.  Haven't skied the MX108.

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

Reply
post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotama View Post

 Scott and Phil:

Have either of you been on the MX 88 or MX108's?

Phil, I know you have skied the FX 84.  How does if feel vs the MX series?? Lighter?, Softer?

Kastle has a very interesting line up, and some new models on the horizon too.

Thanks guys.


The FX84 is a Cayman to the MX series 911, lighter and more nimble, some Porsche-philes say the Cayman is better. 

I am in VT tonight and brought a pair of 178 MX88's..with what is coming down, I hope I won't need them. If I get on them, I will report back. 
post #8 of 34
Scott,
How much of the performance of the 176 Kastle MX 78 can you expect to get with a 177 Head iM 78?

Just an educated estimate....
post #9 of 34
They are not at all the same thing.

Yes, Kastle is leasing space in Head's Race Dept., but they have their own ski techs, their own molds and their own designs. The skis are not relabeled Head skis. 
post #10 of 34
Looking forward to my own pair of Blizzard 8.1 Max (Thanks, Scott!).  Sadly, won't be back on snow until the 15th or 16th.

Had a blast skiing a demo pair on Vermont snow last week -- ice, moderate crud, packed and even something the locals called powder (but I refer to simply as fresh snow).  The ski was great on cruisers and bumps in all those snow conditions.
post #11 of 34

That's for sure!  The head 78 is not even in the same league as the kastle. I don't know what they are doing to make the ski feel and respond they way they do, but they do and I hope they are selling enough to keep it going. Picking up davenport and Harrison have to be big for them. 

Dawg- I demoed the 168 with grif's, I ended up witht the 176 with the plate. I havent had the chance to get on them yet. In your opinon, what's the difference in terms of quickness and feel? I know you said the 68 was a little more carvy but to me that just means it likes to turn more, is there a difference in overall flex, stiffness, edge-2-edge, dampness?

post #12 of 34
Finn,
I would think the Kastle MX78 is 3 times better than the Head iM 78, no?
That's about the price differential....but of course more $$s is always better ...skier ability be damned!..
post #13 of 34
Well, all I can say is that I didn't tell you what I paid......  All I commented on was the performance of the ski, so if it was about price only then we need to look a lot of skis and re-evalute thier ratings. If you want to discuss the performance of the ski, then I would say it's still worth paying more for the Kastle if you were going to use it a lot and really enjoyed the ski. Undoubtedly a true expert would get more performance out of both skis but to this skier I truly felt the Kaslte is a unique ski. I have stated before that I didn't care for the 78, whether that's due to my lack of skill or not, it's my opinion but being overly damp is something I don't think is skill-based.  Go try one and judge for yourself.  That's the best test.
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
 The Kastle is a better ski, but there is obviously a point of diminishing returns, and what a ski is "worth" is relative to each situation.  Obviously, some people would just as soon buy a pair of $10 Rossi 9XK's at Goodwill and spend the saved money on tickets: others will want the best skiing product on the market, and for that customer, the Kastle is a great bet.  

Let me put it this way: I can ski more aggressively and with more confidence on the Kastle, but can ski nearly as well on the Peak 78, and if I was short on cash, the price difference is 2 weeks' worth of tickets at Alta.  A good ski such as the Peak 78 isn't going to hold me back, but a standout such as the Kastle just raises your game a bit more.  A good analogy is with road bikes: a racer can win a race on modern production bike, whether it is a Trek, Cannondale, Giant, Jamis, Specialized, and Scott; you get the picture. But, when you throw your leg over the Colnago EPS with Super Record, and you have that semi-custom program of 19 sizes (instead of just 4-6 from the big guys), and feel the incredibly refined ride quality (instead of the common jackhammer carbon ride on race bikes these days), just the spot-on handling, stable at any speed, yet comfortable and aggressive feel that is damp yet not dead.  At the end of the test ride, you are fresh and not beat up, and want to get another 50 miles in; hopefully your wife doesn't notice that your bike purchasing budget just jumped from $6,000 to $11,000.

The Kastle is that kind of ski.  

Full selection of 2014 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

Reply
post #15 of 34
Dawg, I don't understand about 98% of your analogy but I agree 100% - well-done!  Yes, Ski it to beleive it......
post #16 of 34
Dawg, You use your tongue prettier'n a twenty dollar whore.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

 The Kastle is a better ski, but there is obviously a point of diminishing returns, and what a ski is "worth" is relative to each situation.  Obviously, some people would just as soon buy a pair of $10 Rossi 9XK's at Goodwill and spend the saved money on tickets: others will want the best skiing product on the market, and for that customer, the Kastle is a great bet.  

Let me put it this way: I can ski more aggressively and with more confidence on the Kastle, but can ski nearly as well on the Peak 78, and if I was short on cash, the price difference is 2 weeks' worth of tickets at Alta.  A good ski such as the Peak 78 isn't going to hold me back, but a standout such as the Kastle just raises your game a bit more.  A good analogy is with road bikes: a racer can win a race on modern production bike, whether it is a Trek, Cannondale, Giant, Jamis, Specialized, and Scott; you get the picture. But, when you throw your leg over the Colnago EPS with Super Record, and you have that semi-custom program of 19 sizes (instead of just 4-6 from the big guys), and feel the incredibly refined ride quality (instead of the common jackhammer carbon ride on race bikes these days), just the spot-on handling, stable at any speed, yet comfortable and aggressive feel that is damp yet not dead.  At the end of the test ride, you are fresh and not beat up, and want to get another 50 miles in; hopefully your wife doesn't notice that your bike purchasing budget just jumped from $6,000 to $11,000
post #17 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel View Post

Dawg, You use your tongue prettier'n a twenty dollar whore.


But the Kastles are at Heidi Fleiss level quality. 
 
post #18 of 34
yeah, I was thinking you need to Tiger up that amount..... I'm thinking more like a $1,200 escort ........ :) 
post #19 of 34
Solid intermediate skier.  5'11" 175lbs.  Ski mostly PA - demoed a pair of Stockli Stormrider L and XLs the other day.  Really liked both skis, but would like to know if anybody has skied the Stocklis and Blizzard magnums and could offer a comparison.
post #20 of 34
I bought an ex-rental pair of MX78s to save my MX88s from an Australian 'winter'. But I've fallen in love with them. They're short (160cm), as am I (170cm), but steady, and I skied them all over our 'mountains' down here last season.

They were great in the little bit of fresh I skied, rock solid on ice (and rock), easy enough in the bumps, quick through crud, and just soft fun in the corn and even the last day of season slurpee.

Quality skis, and it won't be long before you forget whatever you paid for them.

Cheers,
Anthony
post #21 of 34
I skied the 176 yesterday with the plate. I was at a small PA mountain, Blue.  I was again amazed at these skis. I played around on slow terrain (only thing that had decent snow) and found them willing to ski slowly, and then took them on some steeper (note: steep is relative in PA, more like a western gentle Blue cruiser) and found them to have excellent edge-hold and was very energetic. I was playing around with loading them and they really kicked you out of turns. Also, piled loose granular (like small BB's) did not deflect the tips, Again, very stable and supple, a smooth ski that is very happy with whatever input you give them. I skied the mountains Double Black ( a steep blue) and made some short radius turns along the edge in pushed loose snow with scaped off sections, the ski transitioned from loose to hard very well, quick underfoot, the tail released well. Something I wasn't so sure it would do. I am anxious to get them into some fresh stuff to see how they feel. I didn't ski them really fast but at 25-30mph (ish) it was very stable. Obviously, this is not fast. 

Dawg is correct when he says the 168 is a bit more carvy, a little more on the hyper pup-side, the 176 is still very happy on all turns but just not as turny. At 6' 168, I prefer the 176. I don't normally like thin skis but this ski is just fun and did i say it was Smooth?  :)  It made hard packed groomers fun.  If you are a finesse skier and like to work the ski, this is one to try for sure.
post #22 of 34
SkiPressWorld didn't think much of the Kastle MX78, altho they did rave about the MX88....Overall I feel that SkiPressWorld's reviews are more believable than those from Ski or Skiing....

I guess in Canada the skiers are not nearly as astute as the ones in the US of A...

It's like the senator who was down-playing the universal health care that citizens in Canada and the United Kingdom have, and ...he said, and I quote, "People in Canada and the United Kingdom do not value life as much as we do here in the US"...
This is from a man that writes rules and regulations for us to abide by...wawawa!

However life goes on....in Jamaica we just say Irie, mon!...
post #23 of 34

Can't comment on what a ski magazine or even Ski Press says, I can just tell you what I think, and if you read Dawg, Phil and others, you see common thread.  Skiig next week in JHole, of the gang going, we are now up to 6 skiers with kastles.....

post #24 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by nfp158 View Post

SkiPressWorld didn't think much of the Kastle MX78, altho they did rave about the MX88....Overall I feel that SkiPressWorld's reviews are more believable than those from Ski or Skiing....

I guess in Canada the skiers are not nearly as astute as the ones in the US of A...

It's like the senator who was down-playing the universal health care that citizens in Canada and the United Kingdom have, and ...he said, and I quote, "People in Canada and the United Kingdom do not value life as much as we do here in the US"...
This is from a man that writes rules and regulations for us to abide by...wawawa!

However life goes on....in Jamaica we just say Irie, mon!...

 

Since the 78 and 88 are the same construction, I can only think that the tunes were different. These testers are skiing the tune as much as the ski. 
 
post #25 of 34
Finn,

Does that include me .... lemme just say oops! The elans that have been sitting on my living room floor since their one outing this year are going the way of the old trade up... Cant wait to see what the 78s do in Jackson!
post #26 of 34
we'll have to compare notes then. Are you coming next week?  If so, are you on the phone routing list?  Phil, do you have her on "Team Kastle"?
post #27 of 34

Finn -

I'll be there!! :) I'm working all this week and trying not to dream of snow on work time -- makes the day seem waaaaay too long. My phone number isnt on the list here on epic however living proof has it in his email. I couldnt get the post to work from Elk this weekend. Posting on the iPhone is still a bit flakey and on Edge network near impossible!

Can't wait!!

post #28 of 34
I demo'd the MX 78 with Philpug at Elk last week.

First of all, I think dawg's review is spot on. Dawg has a lot of credibility with me from his write-ups. A great blend of being able to test a ski and then write about it clearly. Just because I, or other internt reviews, like or do not like a ski is not a valid reason for anyone else to purchase it. I trust both Dawg and Phil. This is the second demo day I did with him and he called every ski I tried correctly.

I know I can't push the MX 78 into all that it can do, but, I was smiling all the time I was on it. Demo'ing a couple of runs on some eastern hardpack is not an exhaustive test. Finndog and I will have the opportunity to swap Kastles next week, his 78 and my new 88. That is known as a win-win situation.

To be clear (where have I heard that phrase), I like the Kastle MX 78. Try it if you can.

Fixed it - Dyslexia or something like that and now I own one.
Edited by Living Proof - 1/12/10 at 1:54pm
post #29 of 34
MX mike!
post #30 of 34
Finn,
I'll take them off your hands after JH when you find a better mousetrap...

Guaranteed to make me a better skier, right
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