After spending a lot of time on these in the past few days I thought I would write a few things on them.
I recently injured my meniscus, so have been told by my physio that I am allowed to ski if I take it easy. At least I can still ski though. Anyway, I normally ski on 191 ON3P Wrenegades, and found those were a bit much for my knee so I went and got some 178 Gotama demos for the day (As well as the 186 for a bit).
21 years old
Mountain: Treble Cone, Wanaka, New Zealand
Same ski as last year. Zero camber, long, low, gradual rocker throughout most of the ski.
Groomers: I thought groomer performance was very good. I actually prefered them on groomed runs than the mantra. Easy turn initiation, as well as having the ability to hold an edge. They are no slalom ski, but performance here was as good as I would ever need. I also found it super easy to smear a turn and release the tails quickly and smoothly. This is the first time I have been on such a small ski of this type in a long time, and none of the unstable, wobby feelings which i generally associate with short skis were present. Nice and stable at speed.
Bumps: Pretty decent in the bumps. It hasn't snowed here in a while so there is a lot of small/medium bumps around. The snow is pretty chalky too. They have lots of pop and are really responsive. I found the skis bounced me out of turns nicely.
Crud: Not as good as the Wrenegades, but still pretty good. The tips don't seem to get knocked around very much and you can generally blow through most variable snow I managed to find. You can drive the ski pretty hard and not have any issues.
Ice: Not ideal but manageable, but how many rockered skis are? Keep in mind these were demos so they were not that well tuned.
I know a lot of people hated volkl for changing the gotama to a rockered ski, but to be honest, i found them better in all conditions to the older cambered models. I don't really care for those stupid low profile tips, as considering the low rocker height I could see tip dive issues in deeper snow- but I never got to ski any to test that theory.
They are definitely a fair amount softer than 191 Wrenegades, but that translates to easier to ski, which was good today both because of the conditions and my knee.
The 186 was the same sort of feel, but just a bit more stable and better when you can open it up (which you can't in the conditions currently)
I also rode the 177 Mantra and 177 AC30 for a while. I liked both, but nothing about them really stuck out about them. Similar feel to Goats, which is kind of similar to most volkls, powerful skiing is rewarded, and you can drive the ski. The Gotama felt like it had more pop and was more responsive.
The AC30 was hands down much better on groomers. Bumps were comparable, and Mantras were better for crud/variable snow. But to be honest, I felt the Gotama did almost everything better than both the AC30 and the Mantra.