Originally Posted by craigr
As I read through all the Mantra threads, I see some common themes. in particular, there are a lot of comments regarding how stiff they are and that they are hard work, I also see that many comments come from featherweight skiiers. The majority are using 184's (in one case, 191's). could it be that many are skiing this one too long and judging it unfairly??
Just a comment from a lighter skier. First, there are some skiers here, including a much respected reviewer, who see the Mantra as a stiff and narrowly focused ski they cannot love. They tend to be, ah, free about their opinions. While I highly respect these folks expertise, I think their viewpoint in fact represents a small minority, but it tends to shadow discussions of this ski when people come here asking for advice.
For an alternative take, try TGR, where the Mantra is much loved for its versatility and lightness, especially for sidebounds work. Personally, I have seen plenty of Mantras on the feet of superb AT skiers in the east, and I have owned three of them myself, both AT and Alpine, for the same sort of missions. Now these opinions about what the Mantra is good at, and my own, do not jive with a picture of a ski that is narrowly focused on crud and groomers. Personally, I find Mantras to be moderately stiff in the tail but otherwise unremarkable in flex, and remarkably versatile because of their taper. (I hate the weird sounds they make; that's about the extend of my negativity.) My experience may have been colored along ago by (of all things) a review in Skiing that warned little was to be gained, and much lost, by going long with Mantras. Yeah, I know, never believe a magazine review. But I was callow, so I stayed on the short side, 177, and never had issues about overly stiff tails. Or conversely, harshness or chattering on hardpack. Mantras are probably least happy in hard bumps, but then I know of no 90+ ski that gobbles up icy bumps. And if you want hard work, go try a Stockli. Mantras are on a lot of high intermediates and advanced skiers for a reason.
Now, I also think that Volkl is in a long slow decline. So although I've owned a bunch of Volkls, I'm not a big fan anymore overall. But IMO, the Mantra is the best ski they now make, and has been for a few years. There are similar skis, like the Blizzard Atlas or Nordica Enforcer, that may well be as good at the same job, with a different feel, different flex patterns. Some may prefer these feels to the Mantra. (I like the Kastle 98 a lot more, for instance.) So all good. But realistically, unless all the Mantras out there represent delusional behavior on the part of skiers ranging from rank intermediates to Level III PSIA's, maybe we need to accept that it's just a classic ski, usable at a lot of levels for a lot of tasks (and infinitely better than an ARV), and stop ragging on it as deficient in fundamental ways...