Kastle MX78 video review:
Skis: Kastle MX78, 176cm, 18m radius, 78mm underfoot. Dual ti construction, wood core, rubber dampening layer, race stock base, race-stock (phenol) sidewalls, not the softer ABS sidewalls found on all-mountain skis. Quite stiff flex underfoot and toward the tail, but fairly moderate tip flex. Binding: Look PX12 lifter.
Skier: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, skis 30+ days per year.
Terrain: Mt. Bachelor, mostly backside. Windblown punchy snow, some fresh stuff, some groomers. Typically 28-36 degree pitches.
Review: not much to say that hasn’t been said before, but this is an OUTSTANDING ski. If you haven’t skied it, you are missing out. Don’t diss it because it isn’t wide enough or long enough; there isn’t much this ski can’t do, save for it’s likely limitations in deeper snow, but so what? Simply a superb carver, frontside ski, backside ski, moderate depth crud ski, moderate depth new snow: you name it, this ski rips. First clip is of a sustained windblown section that is fairly steep (same pitch as Face on Headwall at Squaw, about the same length too) and the MX78 was absolutely rock solid in some fairly interesting snow, which was heavily wind-blown and around 8 inches deep, quite hollow underneath. Due to the nature of a zoom lens, it appears I am not moving much, but in fact I was skiing pretty darn fast through that section. The MX78 made mincemeat of that snow and was extremely stable; you would think it was 180cm plus. Down lower, in tight trees and steeper pitches, it is extremely quick with tons of feedback. It does everything you ask of it, and lets you be the driver, but isn’t boring in any way. More than enough width for that day’s skiing, and so much more FUN than the wider skis were. You can work the ski and get a ton of energy in the soft stuff; at speed in the crud, I was really enjoying bending of the ski and the near explosion out of the turn as I floated down the hill and into the next turn. It has a large sweet spot, but never, ever feels dead: the feedback you get from this ski is on par to a race-room ski. Just a whole lot more versatile. Not the most forgiving ski in the world: it doesn’t like back-seat driving, but it does give you enough feedback to push you a bit without wearing you down, and makes you a better skier. I have footage of me skiing the Pro Rider the same day, and I am clearly not skiing as well on that ski, nor having as much fun. On groomers, this is as good of a 78mm ski that exists today. Not much to be said there: it is basically a race-room ski, only wider, and makes most mid-70’s skis feel like kids toys. Bumps are solid: the ski is fairly stiff and doesn’t offer a lot of room for mistakes, but I can ski bumps well on it. It does like speed, and skis fast if you push it. The base quality is as good as it gets: get a whole lot of hot-scrapes in these, and they will be the fastest skis on the hill. I can see many my size skiing the 168, but the 176 is a more all-mountain length. These feel quite similar to Head, but with more energy, or perhaps Elan, with a bit more dampness, and a large step up in performance and stability. A little softer than the traditional Stormrider series Stockli. I would put this in the hands of anyone who is a good skier, appreciates the feel of a true handmade race-room ski, and is looking for a good ski for everything from Eastern ice to moderate new snow and crud. Especially useful if you are a perfectionist that wants to constantly improve: the MX78 will give you the feedback to let you know when you nailed a turn, and when you goofed. A truly rewarding ski in all aspects. If I could have only one ski, this would be a serious contender, lack of width be damned.
Complaints and comparisons: the only other ski I tried that day was the Legend Pro Rider 184cm. I spent the first 3 hours on the LPR, and honestly though the MX78 wouldn’t be the best choice in those conditions when I grudgingly went back to the car to swap mid-day. Oh, was I wrong. In the tight trees, the LPR was harder to turn. The sweet spot was a tad larger, but it lacked responsiveness, which allowed me to ski more in the backseat and oddly enough, get into more trouble due to sloppy skiing. The 78 didn’t let me do that; once I started to drift and get lazy, the ski sent up a red flag. If I were a better skier and totally solid all of the time, then perhaps that isn’t an issue, but I am still working on being more consistent in every turn and appreciate the feedback. Float was more than adequate on the MX78: I never wanted for more at any time. In the shallow new snow, I would hit bottom and bounce right up for another turn. On the LPR, I was basically just surfing the snow, which was quite a bit more boring than getting that load-up and de-camber release feeling. No contest on the groomers: sporty and fun on the MX78, “get back to the lift” on the Pro Rider. The only slight advantage the Pro Rider had was on that first long sustained pitch: the extra length was appreciated in the punchy windpack snow. Not that the MX78 wasn’t stable enough (it actually felt more stable than the LPR), it was the longer length gave me more contact surface area and less risk of punching through the snow and hooking a tip, or at least it felt that way. When you look at the comparison video though, I get better edge angles, more confident releases, and ski better on the MX78. 176cm can be a little short in dodgy snow, though, at least at high speeds. That would be my only issue, but it really isn’t an issue; a 180cm+ MX78 would be a ton of ski and nowhere near as much fun, and when needed, I have bigger skis. Perhaps a MX88 in 178cm is in my future? I would not mind an MX98 in 184cm either. Since it will come up, I am not sure where the break-even point with width and float is on this ski. I am thinking at around 6-8 inches of heavier new snow and crud you could use something wider, and probably 12 inches of lighter snow, at my weight. If I had only this ski and my 1010, I would probably pull out the 1010 if the snow was 8 inches or more new, but if it was primarily cut-up crud, the MX78 is going to be the more stable ride when the snow gets firmer and you need a bulldozer on your size. Probably the MX88 or MX98 is ideal in those conditions, but the MX78 would do just fine too.
Bottom line: This has to be a contender if you live in the East and need a daily driver. One of the best skis available for a narrower ½ of a 2 ski quiver out West.