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Kastle MX88

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
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Ski: 2010 Kastle MX88 188cm, 128-88-113
Bindings: Tyrolia Peak 15, mounted for 325mm BSL on the line
Snow: Groomed packed powder, hardpack/ice, loose snow
Me: Age 41, 6'1" 200 lbs, Level 8
Other skis compared: Head iM88, Dynastar Sultan 85

In the 188cm length, the MX88 is the most impressive wide GS-style ski I have been on in years.  What's most impressive about the ski is the level of accessible performance it offers.  I got a glimpse of that within the first two turns, which is rare when trying out a new ski -- normally it takes at least one run, or several runs, to get in the groove, but it was pretty much love at first sight with the MX88.

The precision feel of these skis is hard to believe.  In fact, it ends up feeling like there isn't really a ski there, just edges wired directly to muscles that respond to your thoughts and inputs.  I have not experienced this in any ski before -- it's that good.

Carried around, these skis feel about normal in terms of weight, but they seem to vanish underfoot when skiing.  For a 188cm ski (currently my longest) they don't feel long at all.  There is a good amount of damping, but with none of the molasses that characterizes many damp skis (like Head).  I think there is more of a structural damping happening than a material damping.  The MX88 is very smooth and quiet without feeling dead, so the precision feel comes through all the time, even in rough snow.

The overall result is a ski that likes to charge hard, go fast, and reward energetic precision carving, but takes very little effort to do so.  I never had to drive these skis much at all, just get on them and have fun at Mach 10.  I'd say the MX88 offers 100% or more of the performance of the Head iM88, but only takes about 50-60% of the effort.  Skied back to back, the iM88 felt like a real tank, more like the leaf spring off a school bus compared to the light, precision, "surgical tool" feel of the MX88.  The Sultan 85 is more akin to the MX88, but definitely feels less sophisticated and a little rough (even tiring) at times.  Kastle just seems to have put together the magical combination of traits and features in the MX88.

If there is a downside to this ski, it's that the 188cm model definitely likes longer turns at the design 22.5m radius and above.  Short turns don't take effort, but they require skills.  If you think back to the old days when we had to pilot GS skis in tight spaces, you know what I mean.  It's not hard -- just weight forward, pivot around the tips, and sweep the tails.  The light feel of the MX88 makes this easy, though it seems like a shame to throw all that precision away for what amounts to skid turns.  I imagine the shorter MX88 models don't get into this scenario.  Me, well, I'm cool with it because of all the plusses the 188cm model brings to the table for a bigger skier like me.

The overall quality and fit/finish of the MX88 is very good, but not out of the ordinary.  Kastle does use some better materials, however, which should have long term benefits.  I will say this -- it's nice to get a ski that has a perfect factory tune out of the box (I'm looking at you, Dynastar and Head).  Kastles are produced in the Head Factory, but clearly tuned in some different process than Head uses for its own skis.  Maybe Kastles go through the race room or something.  Whatever the case, the MX88's tune was exceptional, and something Head should aspire to for it's own production skis.

The big question I set out to answer is whether the MX88 is worth the price premium; with a MSRP of $1180 flat, these skis are 1.5X to 2X the cost of many other skis in this category.  In the end, it's a tough question, as there are no other skis in this category, or similar categories, at any price point, that can really compare to the MX88 (I've tried most of them over the last couple years).  Comparing to the Sultan 85 or iM88, I'd say the MX88 is worth the extra money for sure, but it might not be apparent unless you have skied all three.  I didn't really know what I was missing until I tried the MX88.
post #2 of 27
 Great review. There has been many great things said about this ski recently.

Where did you ski? I ask wondering if it is a daily ski for the east coast?
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccnway View Post

 Great review. There has been many great things said about this ski recently.

Where did you ski? I ask wondering if it is a daily ski for the east coast?


 


 It is my daily ski for the east. 
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post





 It is my daily ski for the east. 
Thanks Phil. Its hard to believe that an 88mm can now be a daily ski in the east. Things have changed very quickly.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccnway View Post



Thanks Phil. Its hard to believe that an 88mm can now be a daily ski in the east. Things have changed very quickly.
 
Yeah, and this ski is THAT good. 

 
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post





 It is my daily ski for the east. 




Quote:
Originally Posted by ccnway View Post



Thanks Phil. Its hard to believe that an 88mm can now be a daily ski in the east. Things have changed very quickly.
 
Phil has used 88's, from Elan and Blizzard, as his eastern daily driver for years and they fit his style of skiing very well as he's an aggressive charger who enjoys ripping. My great learning this year is how much fun the Kastle 88 in 176 is in the east. Turns much closer to a 78 than I ever would have thought. Ice, bumps, soft spring conditions - whatever, bring it on when skiing these machines! If not obvious, I love this ski!

Skier 219, nice write up and the first I've read about the 188 length. I'm about your size and the 176 handles all the speed  I want to do, but, speed is not my passion. Have you used it yet in the east? I can't help but think that for most in the east, the 176 is just much more versatile. Not sure I'd be willing to give up the shorter radius carving, but that's just my view. Did you happen to demo the 176?

Demo the Kastle 88 only if your cash flow has some float.
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccnway View Post

 Great review. There has been many great things said about this ski recently.

Where did you ski? I ask wondering if it is a daily ski for the east coast?

The MX88 will be my new daily driver for the mid-Atlantic and any travels not involving powder/crud or significant park/bumps (I have the Line Mothership and Head Mojo 94 for those categories, respectively).  I agree that it's funny to think an 88mm ski is a daily driver in the east (especially this part of the east), but they are as grippy and nimble as my recent skinny skis (Progressor 9+) and bring all the benefits of a wider ski on top of that.  In fact, once I sell off a couple other skis from the quiver, the MX88 will be the skinniest ski I own.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Living Proof View Post

Phil has used 88's, from Elan and Blizzard, as his eastern daily driver for years and they fit his style of skiing very well as he's an aggressive charger who enjoys ripping. My great learning this year is how much fun the Kastle 88 in 176 is in the east. Turns much closer to a 78 than I ever would have thought. Ice, bumps, soft spring conditions - whatever, bring it on when skiing these machines! If not obvious, I love this ski!

Skier 219, nice write up and the first I've read about the 188 length. I'm about your size and the 176 handles all the speed  I want to do, but, speed is not my passion. Have you used it yet in the east? I can't help but think that for most in the east, the 176 is just much more versatile. Not sure I'd be willing to give up the shorter radius carving, but that's just my view. Did you happen to demo the 176?

Demo the Kastle 88 only if your cash flow has some float.
 


I agree that the MX88 skis a lot skinnier than the 88mm suggests.  I have no idea if that's due to the construction, weight, etc, but I found it to be very fast and smooth from edge to edge, with none of the planky feel I associate with skis wider than 85mm.  They really do feel as nimble as narrower carvers I have owned in the 70-75mm range.  Hard to believe.

At least in my case, I don't posses good enough fore/aft balance to ski anything shorter than about 180cm, and even some of those skis are pushing it.  They start feeling like toothpicks, as though the tips are way too close to my boot, and there's not enough ski to maintain control at high speeds.  I think this is partly due to a lot of time on bigger western skis, which give me a lot of leeway with fore/aft balance (as well as encourage use of aggressive fore/aft variation in the typical style used when blasting through powder and crud).  So I have gradually upsized my whole quiver.  I have no idea if the 178cm MX88 would work for me, but given that the 188cm model doesn't feel long and seems to be all "sweet spot", I don't plan to stray.  Even the factory binding mount line, which puts me about 1.75cm back of a BOF mount, seems perfect.  I wouldn't change a thing.
post #9 of 27
I demoed the 88s at Okemo yesterday.  I was most concerned about its grip in icy conditions because, except for a couple weeks a year, I usually ski in the Poconos.  So I set out to find the iciest trails really early in the morning and the grip was unreal.  Long story short, bought a pair after my demo was done. 
post #10 of 27
The superlatives and reinforcement that the 88 is the best in class continue to come in. There is no doubt that concensus exists regarding how good this ski is. My buddy has them, likes them alot , but he also bought the Atomic Double D vario flex and has commented he thinks they ski similarly. He gave me the Atomics to ski for 5 days in Colorado last month, and I liked the ski, but I wasn't totally "smitten" by it.

Found last year's Ski Press and in its category FreeRide Mid Fat the MX 88 came in slightly below the Monster 82, AC 50, Hot Rod Hellcat .

All that being said, I'd buy the Kastle's if funds permitted . Have to renew next year's passes, locker , and taking a spring trip. Maybe I should just buy the skis and forgo the skiing! Nah, that wouldn't work either.
post #11 of 27
 Along with the MX88, I skied the MX78 w/ KTi plate, that set up, for hard snow is soooo nice. I am tempted to put a KTI plate on the 88. 
post #12 of 27
So, how do these MX88 handle in something deeper 12-18"?
Is this priced as one of those "first born" skis?
How flexible is sizing, can the 178 be a do all for many?
Could Head be rebeefing their 88 in response?
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
 Kastle does use some better materials, however, which should have long term benefits.

Such as? I can't imagine there is any definitive method to compare the usable life of a ski versus another at an objective level. Assuming better materials equals longer life, anyone care to offer a wild ass guess at what this would be.....(I'm smitten after trying the 98 in a turney and grippy 174 length and am daydreaming of ways to rationalize the 'investment'  ......or the FX94s).

Nice review Craig. I'm jealous!
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
 Rationalize?  Well, I "sold and am in the process of selling" three other pairs that will be replaced by the MX88 in my quiver, and that covers the cost too.  That was easy!
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustOneMoreRun View Post

I demoed the 88s at Okemo yesterday.  I was most concerned about its grip in icy conditions because, except for a couple weeks a year, I usually ski in the Poconos.  So I set out to find the iciest trails really early in the morning and the grip was unreal.  Long story short, bought a pair after my demo was done. 

Isn't it insane?  They grip hard snow better than most of the narrow carvers I have owned in recent years.  Real surprising.
post #16 of 27
 Resistance is futile. 
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post

Quote:


Such as? I can't imagine there is any definitive method to compare the usable life of a ski versus another at an objective level. Assuming better materials equals longer life, anyone care to offer a wild ass guess at what this would be.....(I'm smitten after trying the 98 in a turney and grippy 174 length and am daydreaming of ways to rationalize the 'investment'  ......or the FX94s).

Nice review Craig. I'm jealous!
 

I do not have the information to compare materials used in a ski, but every element of a ski is critical and varies in quality based on the composition and workmanship: edges (thickness and metalurgy), bases (speed and hardness), core (wood species and fabrication), sidewall, top sheet (brilliance and durability), adhesives, damp layers, metalurgy of the metal layers, and so on. I believe, without proof, that some of the finer skis are made with finer elements. Objective testing would be easy enough in a lab, testing each element before it is incorporated into a ski.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post



Isn't it insane?  They grip hard snow better than most of the narrow carvers I have owned in recent years.  Real surprising.
I was skiing my Hart Beats(77 under foot with more shape) to do some drills meant to instill confidence on edge hold when carving hard.
The next day I was on my Kastle FX84's and did the same drill, and WOW!  I could not believe how much they held and instilled confidence.  I wish I'd gotten video, because even I couldn't believe how they handled that drill.
post #19 of 27
Hi Skier219,
Hope you won't mind if I share my thought about MX 108 on your thread but I must say that I'm amazed how well built are these skis. Just bought a pair (yesterday) in 187 cm for the deep fun but they are also good on everything except bumps or tight places (combined with tough terrain), where I prefer Watea 94 (186 cm).  
Mx 108 offers great confidence, very good edge grip, superb stability, they float but they also like speed...Say "charge" and let them go. I was not a "hard charger" before but with these I think I'm going to become one.
Not very forgiving but they don't punish you very hard if you are prepared to put some muscles when required. Put some muscles and you get away only with a warning. Skied them only a day (variable terrain) but I'm impressed. Can't wait to experiment different bindings positions (they came with Marker Griffon).
Premium skis for premium fun. 
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Comparing to the Sultan 85 or iM88, I'd say the MX88 is worth the extra money for sure, but it might not be apparent unless you have skied all three.  I didn't really know what I was missing until I tried the MX88.
 

Can you compare in more detail to the Head Monster 88?
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by D(C) View Post

Can you compare in more detail to the Head Monster 88?

I think the iM88 has more of a beefy, trucky, heavy feel, and definitely takes more energy to drive and flex when compared to the MX88.  Both skis have a fair amount of camber, but I find that the MX88 is a lot easier to bend into a turn than the iM88.  Both skis are rock solid at speed, and if they do have speed limits, they are higher than my own.  The iM88 makes me work to get up to my speed limit, so I am very aware/conscious of it.  The MX88 breezes right up to my speed limit and beyond, and I found I was skiing at Mach 10 almost all the time, with very little work to get there.  In terms of edge feel, the iM88 is strong and somewhat blunted -- with a typical Head "one long edge on the snow" feel, whereas the MX88 is much more surgical and precise feeling, with talon-like tip, mid-section, and tail inputs.

Bottom line to me is that both skis are good and very capable, but the Kastle offers the same performance with less input, and gives back more snow feel and more precision.  They end up feeling much more refined and racy than the Heads, and more fun to me.  I also think the MX88s are better all-day skis for me than the Heads.  
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post




The MX88 will be my new daily driver for the mid-Atlantic and any travels not involving powder/crud or significant park/bumps (I have the Line Mothership and Head Mojo 94 for those categories, respectively).  I agree that it's funny to think an 88mm ski is a daily driver in the east (especially this part of the east), but they are as grippy and nimble as my recent skinny skis (Progressor 9+) and bring all the benefits of a wider ski on top of that.  In fact, once I sell off a couple other skis from the quiver, the MX88 will be the skinniest ski I own.

Glad you like them!  I was happy we could get you a pair!  I would think you are enjoying the MX88 more than either the Mojo 94 or iM88, correct?

My 78's are killer, I still can't say enough good things about them.  Sure, they are a little narrow for more than 6-8" of heavier new snow, but we haven't had much this season anyways.  I would love to have a pair of 98's for those mid-deep days too, or a pair of 88's if I could only have 1 pair of skis, but the 78's easily best the 88's if the snow is firm, or I am skiing bumps, or skiing fast. The 78's are a bit more stable than the 88's (stiffer ski) and have close to the feel of a real race GS ski in terms of stiffness and power.  There isn't a better all-mountain/hard-snow/carver made, at least not that I have tried.  If you think the MX88 has good edgehold, try the 78. When skiing them back to back on manmade snow, there is no question that the 78 steps it up a notch or 3. I think the only ski I skied at the WP demo (on really hard snow) that bested the MX78 in terms of edgehold were the narrower pure race-bred carvers (Blizzard SLR IQ, GSR IQ, Stockli Cross CX were all marginally better, as they should be).  

At my weight, the ideal 2-ski quiver from Kastle is probably the MX78/MX98, then something wider like a 108 if I needed a 3rd pair.  But, this season, the 108's would have gotten nearly zero use.  
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post





At my weight, the ideal 2-ski quiver from Kastle is probably the MX78/MX98, then something wider like a 108 if I needed a 3rd pair.  But, this season, the 108's would have gotten nearly zero use.  
 

Funny you should say that.  I have the MX78/FX84 (with the 09 Volkl Kiku on my ridiculous side).  On my recent trip to Utah, I took the FX84 and Kiku, but the Kiku was left fairly ignored.  The FX84 Rocked nearly everywhere I asked it to.
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

Glad you like them!  I was happy we could get you a pair!  I would think you are enjoying the MX88 more than either the Mojo 94 or iM88, correct?
 

Yeah, that worked out great, and I got them in time to enjoy the last couple packed powder days here in the mid-Atlantic, where they are just superb skis.  The Head iM88s have been sold (to a tall, heavy friend who can drive them no problem) but the Mojo 94s will stick around for spring snow and general banging around (I usually throw them in the car as a backup ski, and they end up getting a lot of unintended use that way -- they are a perfect "jack of all trades, master of none" ski to fallback on over a wide range of conditions).  Once I sell off two more pairs, my quiver will be down to MX88, Mojo 94, Mothership and I hope it stays that way for a while.  I don't see the need for anything narrower than the MX88 anymore, not with the way it performs on hard snow, unless I suddenly need to make a lot of short turns.  That's the one weaknesss of the 188cm MX88, but a minor one.
post #25 of 27

Anyone have feedback on how the 88 performs in the trees and bumps? 

post #26 of 27

^^^ I posted a review of the MX88 a while back that deals with this. Summary: Surprisingly supple and quick in softer bumps, even small ones; decent in harder, but not really built like a bump ski; not enough width relative to length to really ace trees but very doable. I wouldn't buy it if I were thinking mainly about trees and bumps, a waste of its design. 

post #27 of 27

I think your advice is wise. My ski buddy bought MX88s last season. He likes them very much, but admits their limitations--not great in trees and bumps, a little slow edge to edge. He's a big guy 6'2" and about 240lbs, but he skis with great technique and finesse. He's a former instructor at Alta. If anyone can ski 88s in bumps he can. He does, but there are definitely days when he chooses a turnier ski.  

 

We skied big bumps at Jackson and Snowbird when he was on his MX88s and they weren't the best ski for the conditions--not even the best skis we had with us. As you indicate, skiing 88s in bumps is a misapplication, if not a waste, of their design. This doesn't diminish the fact that they are great skis. But what do I know, I've never even skied them.

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