Edit: On-snow review is now fifth post.
Me: Advanced, late middle aged technical skier who is moving toward more of a finesse style, 160 lbs, 6', live in NE but ski several weeks a year out west. Current boots: Salomon Falcon 10 deeply modified, and Salomon Lab plug.
I've been in the market for boots since last year when, having dumped my Solomon Falcon 9's, I discovered that my Falcon 10's were maybe not optimal for western soft snow, bumps, and trees. Let alone increasing amounts of hiking sidebounds terrain both here and out west. Recently I inquired on the boot forum about medium flex boots with Vibram soles, got some sound advice, went a-looking.
Could not love Atomic or Nordica models, but was fairly sold on Lange Blaster, a 100 flex 98 last with a walk mode (nothing suitable for AT, but handy) and Vibram on front and rear, still DIN. I've owned Langes before, and other than that fact they're too narrow for my forefoot, I love them.) Then found a store that sold Dalbello, and out of curiosity, asked to try some on. Namely the Krypton Cross with the standard (Performance/Gold) liner. This is a review of the 27.5, weight 5.8 lbs per boot. (Yep, checked that on a postal scale. Super light compared to most other alpines.)
Had never tried a cabrio (three piece shell) design before. For the uninitiated, three revelations: 1) You feel like you're gonna fall through the fronts. The flex pattern is totally unlike an overlap design. Instead of having a progressive flex, that increases as you press forward, cabrios have a quasi-linear flex. Same at beginning as end. (Actually, I have a hunch it's slightly parabolic, meaning that it's a touch stiffer at the start than at full forward flex.) This produces an unsettling soft sensation, like "where's the beef?" However, I also learned that as they come out of the box, these have a flex insert of 90. (Inserts are little plastic rectangles with tabs that fit into a small niche in the rear spine of the shell.) You can replace with 100's or 120's in the box. I put in the 100, and noticed an immediate improvement. It felt at store temps within ballpark of the Lange Blaster at 100, although the lack of progressive resistance was still disconcerting. They say that it takes about one day to get used to it.
2) You feel like every twitch of your ankles laterally is transmitted to the sole. My Falcons are known for their lateral responsiveness, but these are in another league. The quickness is not accompanied by a typical sense of a beefy side body that requires some muscle commitment to get going, then wow, quick. Rather, the entire rear of the boot feels, weirdly, very light and very stiff at the same time. It just goes as your ankle does. I am told this also reflects the cabrio design, with a comparatively low hinge with more anatomical advantage, and of course, the solid rear that extends forward past the ankle bone.
3) There is no need to worry about heel slipping. First because the cabrio front is flexing separately from the ankle, so there's no pull upward as you lean forward. Second, because the middle buckle fastens onto the actual rear of the boot, so when you buckle down, you are anchoring your heel to the rear spine. As much as I tried, no amount or type of forward flex could make my heel move.
Some additional details: The last runs true to size. I am a 10.5-11 street shoe, wear a 27.5 Falcon, this was also a 27.5. Normal 1.5 fingers behind the heel in the shell. Tried a 26.5, just not long enough. The last shape was very much like the Lange's, also 98 across the ball, low to moderate volume toe box, and in general made for a narrowish foot. The heel, allowing for the different design, felt a bit tighter than the Lange, so call it also low volume. Wider, higher volume feet would not be happy in these, nor would folks with long toes.
I was told, incidentally, that unlike most brands, the difference between the 27.0 and 27.5 (same shell, of course) was not achieved by having a thinner liner, but by having a thicker footbed. So it just pushes your foot up a bit toward a lower volume areas of the shell.
Finally, the standard liner seems very similar to my Falcon 10's, which means it's nicely made and should gradually reform around your foot as you ski. This took about 2 or 3 days in my Falcons. Not comfy along the way, and can be baked and formed in the shop, but factory rep says better to do it the old fashioned way. I don't like the tongues, which can be had in two stiffnesses, and are very thick.
Far more interestingly, the boot can be found with ID liners, which are made by Intuition specifically for Dalbello. They add about $180 to the cost. Hmmm. I checked one out, it's a dead ringer for the power wrap except in orange.
So (drumroll) to my surprise I bought these boots. Have been wearing them around the office, trying to keep them flexed in a decent position, can feel the liners beginning to adapt. Suspect I will eventually end up with the Intuitions, which are warmer, provide the best fit out there in ski boot land, and give more forward stiffness. Meanwhile, I will use the liners that come with the boot, and let them do their thing until I can decide if I need to stretch out the front of the boot (probably, 6th toe issues).
Will update this in a few weeks when the snow shows up and I can see how it feels not to put so much pressure on the fronts of my skis...
Edited by beyond - 1/19/11 at 4:00pm