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Review: Rip'NWud Freeride Carve (FRC) 177cm

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Rip'n Wud Freeride Carve (FRC) - 2010
129-93-119 r=19m @ 177cm (tested)
129-93-119 r=17m @ 167cm
1750/1780 grams weight

Kevan Beane and his FRC 177 in white ash


Manufacturer Info:


Rip'nWud Skis
Societe KC Enterprise SARL Siege Social
38 Rue De Montreal
Zone Industrielle International
74100 Ville La Grand, FRANCE
+33 (0) 679 170 015 Phone
+33 (0) 450 373 136 Fax
http://www.Ripnwud.com
 

Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):

€ - see website
 

Usage Class:

All mountain freeride 60% on-piste, 40% off-piste (manufacturer description)
 

Your Rating (with comments): (1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")

8-9 for variable conditions as one-ski quiver for nearly any intermediate to expert skier.
7-8 for agressive experts who will overpower it and want the "pro" version (see our "pro" version test)
 

Summary:

Great all-mountain, one-quiver ski for all but the heavy, agressive experts. Balanced finesse, sporty performance and confidence-inspiring, fun behavior in nearly all conditions. Very wide performance and comfort envelope for nearly anyone on most surfaces. Capable of good carving on packed surfaces and easy, playful navigation in soft snow and bumps. Very nice multi-surface ski with excellent manners and fun performance. Not for boilerplate or big-mountain pressure. Handsome, high-quality, handmade crowd pleaser that generates a great ride with low effort for a price only somewhat above mass-produced skis.
 

Ski Designer:

Kevan Beane, a transplanted hard-core skier, surfer from the U.S.A. (another American happily captured by a French woman and exported to France for marriage...there seems to be a pattern like this in other ski companies too [Peter from Rabbit On The Roof skis !]...) and former European ski derby competitor comes from a background of previously launching a European ski brand, helping launch "freeride" concepts for Salomon in the E.U., designing skis and producing action-lifestyle freeride sports film specials for Eurosport, MTV and various other media outlets through his "Worldride Productions" company. Having lived in Chamonix for more than ten years, base jumping, parasailing and skiing extreme terrain and big mountain competition, Kevan knows skis and high-performance riding. Rip'nWud skis are assembled by hand in France in a small workshop, which Kevan says will never produce more than 800 pairs per year maximum (to maintain quality and not go into "mass production"). Rip'nWud concentrates on custom production for special corporate events and promotion, outfitting olympic officials, chalet vacation outfitters, competition staffing and one-off custom designs for clients and derby competitors and has only decided to release "stock" models in 2010 for general sale to the public through the website and showroom near Geneva. Kevan prides himself with knowing his clients and supporting them after the sale, saying "no matter what concern the client has after purchasing my skis, I will make it right for them. My reputation is at stake here, and I want my customers to be absolutely happy and thrilled with their purchase and confidence in my products, now and for years to come."
 

Technical Ski Data:

Proprietary, multi-laminate Swiss white ash wood core, triax fiberglass, proprietary dampening layer between base and core, proprietary running base (claimed to be "...between pTex 2000 and 4000") with special structuring for coarse-grain European snow conditions. ABS vertical sidewalls. Kevan has developed a proprietary lamination technique using Swiss white ash cores in which the behavior of the core can be "tuned" by carefully altering the lamination characteristics and density along the core's length and depth, producing a ski with, as Kevan states, "...remarkable torsional and longitudinal behavior tuned to each model's specified purpose, without adding weight or metal layers to get the control and feel I build into each ski...". Rip'nWud's philosophy is that simple, but highest quality white ash carefully laminated in proprietary and specific patterns, mixed with triax fiberglass and one or two "proprietary ingredients" produces a ski with superb flex behavior, vibration control and performance characteristics. Kevan hand-selects his specially-sourced white ash and maintains design and construction control throughout the process with his carefully trained specialists crafting the special vertical and horizontal core laminations to his specifications. As we have found in other skis, the quality of the ingredients does indeed make a difference in the final "feel" of the ski and its ability to retain its behavior over several seasons of usage. Given the same specifications and structural arrangements in construction, the ski with high-quality (i.e. "expensive") materials behaves at a much higher level of performance than another ski having the same geometry built with lower-quality materials. The wood, fiberglass, resins, dampening layers, bases, topsheets and all ingredients simply perform better, longer and under harsher conditions than cheaper versions. Most new skis perform pretty well the first season, but the true test of quality comes after that first season. Kevan Beane aims to have his skis perform at their original level of behavior for many seasons, not just one, and thus builds his skis with the best materials he has found over many years of testing.
 

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Very clean, simple, handsome design using sandwich/sidewall construction, thin vertical profile from tip to tail showing very nice fit-and-finish. Excellent transluscent, non-stick topsheet sealing surface. Very nice quality white ash topsheet grain on this model tested. Lightweight, with even, progressive flex and moderate rebound dampening response using "hand-gong" test. Moderate but definitive rebound feel. It gives the initial impression of a ski with the ability to go anywhere without demanding hard core input from the skier. Geometry appears gradual with moderate sidecut and relatively wide tip and tail flotation surfaces. Very nice quality, but not polished to the kind of gloss finish you want white gloves to handle like some artisinal-finished skis. Impressively understated graphic appeal..."handsome", not "flashy".
 

Test Conditions:

2cm to boot-deep, fresh, dry powder on regroomed, packed powder surfaces, some with gentle, rolling underbumps on the boot-deep sections. Packed groomers and semi-fluff trail edges. Cold, dry conditions. No ice or boilerplate. No steeps, crud or crust.
 

Test Results:

First turns impressions were "easy handling", "no learning curve", "super friendly do-it-all ski for everyone except beginners and hard-pros". The Rip'nWud Freeride Carve goes from piste to fluff with no transition anxiety....it just goes where you point it and doesn't flinch as it goes from groomed surfaces to soft, fluffy side trail sections. The more you turn it, it responds and holds. Large radius - no problem. Tighten the turn - no problem. Vibrations on harder surfaces - minimal. Navigation in fluffy surfaces - No effort. Response at the helm - no hesitation, no special routine. Gentle movements result in directional changes on command with no protest. Forcing the FRC into a stressed turn ("Whoa - where did THAT guy come from on my blindside? Change direction NOW!") is no problem. The FRC is capable of higher-speed cruising without becoming nervous, but you can induce a little forebody-flap if the surface is choppy at above-average speeds for this ski. (see the FRC "Pro" "Addiction Edition" version to solve that problem hands-down...read about it later). Turn initiation and turn finish is easy and smooth, never ruffled by surface changes or edge angle unless you try to push it into race-carve or race-ski pressure territory for extended periods or warp-speeds reserved for a different category of skis. The "Freeride" FRC ski from Rip'nWud is for freeriding...not hypercarving or hard-charging, big terrain attacks. After experimenting with the FRC for a short time, it immediately hit me how undemanding this ski is all over the mountain, but yields a high-precision, highly responsive ride with a feeling of secure control throughout the spectrum of turns between the extremes. It would make an intermediate feel confident and confortable, and experts superbly content and feel like they're cheating somehow for recreational riding in nearly any terrain. I immediately had visions of handing this ski to instructors, vacationing enthusiasts with a sporty tendency, experts looking to relax and a one-quiver ski for nearly anyone. The ease of handling belies its 93mm waist, but the flotation is balanced and friendly as soon as it finds three-dimensional snow. If you wanted to design a ski for hitting high-marks in nearly any situation at modern ski resorts for nearly any skier, the Rip'nWud FRC would be a good starting point. "Balanced" performance in nearly all conditions is a good way to describe its behavior envelope. A narrow waisted carver will be better on the hardpack, and a pure powder ski will be better in 3D snow, but neither specialty ski will provide the smiles all over the mountain during more conditions than the FRC. The Rip'nWud FRC appears to have hit the sweet spot in all-terrain performance for a huge majority of skiers without a bias toward hardpack or deep snow like some "all mountain skis". It carves a great line on hardpack without requiring athletic prowess (just don't expect a vice-grip hold on glossy surfaces), and it navigates without effort in the soft snow without special techniques (just don't expect magic dial-a-depth flotation behavior and high-speed charging support in bottomless or cruddy conditions). Nimble and smooth, friendly and sporty without draining your energy reserves. This ski will make vast populations of people very satisfied. That is the target Kevan Beane was aiming for in this model, and I think he hit it dead-on. If the ski displays the longetivity and maintains it's performance for season after season as Kevan claims, he has a great product at a very reasonable price for a handmade, artisinal ski. Analogies: (this ski is like...) A friendly, obedient, young, strong, competent hunting dog you can take anywhere as your partner and always have a great time in fields or forest. Always willing, always able.
 

Things You Would Change About This Ski:

Perhaps an ever-so-slightly higher dampening in the forebody for higher-speeds. Produce a "Pro" version in this length for rowdy skiers requiring something shorter than its 188cm big-brother.
 

Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":

Great all-around, high-quality, handsome ski for nearly any condition. Probably a great first-choice for a one-quiver ski unless you are a hard-charging expert. Advice To People Considering This Ski: If you are an aggressive expert or looking for a charging ski, this may be too compliant, short and forgiving for you. After Skiing These, I Want To... Keep a pair for a few weeks and try them in many different conditions. I want to give them to many skiers I know and get their opinions in different conditions. I would also want to have Kevan make this 177cm version in a "pro" construction for lighter-weight skiers or aggressive women skiers who would find the 188cm Pro version too long.
 

Self-Description of Skiing Style, Ability, Experience, Preferences:

5' 11", 190 lbs. Expert groomed-surface carver, "old-style" race inspired, "foot steerer" with fairly sensitive edging feel. Loves to hold long arcs with lots of pressure on the downhill ski (you know the type), but also loves the feel of both skis on-edge leaving tiny railroad track edge tracks. Loves powder when it's not tracked out. 10 year coach for youth race team in New England (bulletproof is the norm).
 



FRC 188 "Pro Series" on left in Black Walnut, FRC 177 in White Ash on right.


Tails of FRC 177cm (white ash) and FRC "Pro Series" 188cm (black walnut)

Tips of FRC 177cm (white ash) and FRC "Pro Series" 188cm (black walnut)


More Rip'nWud models...different finishes and designs (note the square tails on "Addiction Edition"
Pro-series skis with pinstripes)


Kevan Beane with his "Powder Big Fat" model.


Edited by ExoticSkis - 3/21/10 at 4:42am
post #2 of 3
 Man those are beautiful skis!
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

I visited Kevan Beane at his Rip'nWud Skis showroom in Ville La Grand, France to see some of his custom skis, which make up the bulk of his workload.  Below are some photos.  What I found particularly interesting was Kevan's depth of superb-quality custom work from "luxury" resort-type skis for infrequent skiers of posh resorts who want easy-carving frontside groomer skis to the hard-core, derby-type skis and everthing in between.  Most ski builders don't have this breadth of design variation, and Kevan definitely knows the behavior of skis very well and knows how to mix materials and design to achieve the customer's goals.  I was very impressed with the Rip'nWud skis and the consistent high-quality construction and finish of each pair in the showroom.  If you are ever near Geneva, drop in and see Kevan's showroom and see the quality of the skis.  You can even get a hand-built coffin-box with hand-made iron hinges for your custom skis if you get the urge! (and have €3,200)....Custom orders are accepted from March through June only and delivered at the end of September each year.  You can also buy "off-the-rack" for between €720 - €890 plus bindings.

 

Pics below:


The showroom at the foot of the French Alps. Chamonix is a short ride up the Autoroute....

Custom Sochi Skis for the 2014 Olympic Officials

 

 

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