2011 Fischer Motive 84 and Motive 80: full-length reviews.
I had a chance to ski both of these today in fairly challenging conditions: perfect for determining how a ski handles varying snow conditions. I loved the Motive 80 and 84 when we tested them last spring (we ordered a bunch for sale and demo as a result) and wanted more time on them (I have been considering making the Motive 84 my firmer snow ski).
Conditions: some scratchy, firm snow, some wind-blown snow a couple of inches deep, some challenging shark fins as a result of wind compaction, with a few bowling balls thrown in for good measure, and some soft, uneven bumps. I don't know what it is with the bumps here; they either resemble a luge run, or tend to get oddly grouped together and out of sync.
Fischer Motive 84, 175cm. New ski for 2011, a laminate layup, with carbon and wood. Hand flexing the ski shows it to be moderate, and quite light in weight. Has the 3-position adjustable flexing plate. All testing was done in the middle section.
1st run was on scratchy groomers. This ski was extremely solid, and obviously a great choice for groomers. It was a bit aggressive to initiate, and really launched once on edge. It liked big GS arcs best, and it was also extremely stable, at least as much as my Elan Apex 177cm. I found it to be much, much more energetic than the Apex, and more exciting. It had some real pop in the tail, a lot of zoom at the top of the turn, and slalom-like energy at times. Overall feel was light on the snow; like a race ski, but like a powerful, yet light and flickable race ski. It was the anti-Head/Nordica/Blizzard/Kastle/Dynastar; that heavy, damp, snow-hugging feel just isn't present in the Motive 84. Instead, it almost seems to hover on top of the snow, ready to explode out of the turn, and has a fun, light feel to it, yet gives up nothing in terms of stability. I would liken it somewhat to the Watea feel, except with much better edge hold, power, excitement, and overall a race-like feel. Yet, it was extremely forgiving. I would say it is more forgiving than the similar Blizzard Magnum 8.1, Kastle MX78, Nordica Jet Fuel HR i-Core, and similar to the Sultan in terms of forgiveness. There aren't many 17m skis that provide a good dose of SL energy in high-speed GS arcs, but this is one of them. There is a lot of energy packed into this ski, and it feel like a “race bred” ski, something you can't say about many skis these days. I think edge hold is comparable to the other skis mentioned above, with the exception of the MX78 from Kastle, which is in a league of it's own.
2nd run: trees and bumps. There was maybe 1 inch of fresh (dust on crust) in the trees, and the bumps were oddly shaped but soft. In the trees, this ski was a breeze. Very forgiving, easy to initiate, smooth, predictable. For the power it had on the hard snow, it was nearly a different ski in the trees; just easygoing and precise. It was just as good in bumps: the tip is fairly soft compared to many skis in this category, and it was a really, really good bump ski. It absorbed all transitions and didn't put me in a bad place if I was late or lazy with my feet. Overall, more than acceptable: one of the best bump skis I have been on in quite awhile.
3rd run: cut-up crud. Again, the ski was fairly easy to pilot, and didn't toss me around. I would rate crud performance as average: it wasn't as forgiving as a Watea, but still a smooth ski that didn't catch and pull me around where I didn't want to go. And, I could carry some speed on it. The Apex was superior in the crud, no doubt: bigger sweet spot, less turn radius, more of a big-turn blaster. But, the Motive, for a fairly aggressive frontside ski, held it's own, and gave back plenty of energy on the groomer. Especially for a fairly light ski, and one that is extremely powerful. I don't think the Apex is particularly fun on groomers; they are OK to ski, but it is more at home off-piste. I would consider it reliable on groomers, but not really something that excels there. On the Motive, I might ski some groomers from time to time, as they really bring the terrain alive and make it exciting.
Overall, I really liked this ski. It has a rare blend of bump performance, crud skiing ability, ease in tight spots, and plenty of power on hard snow. It is probably for people looking for a versatile ski that really gives up very little on hard snow and groomers, and can go anywhere. Somewhat similar to the Sultan 85 from Dynastar, but completely different in feel (heavy and damp vs. light and lively). I would take a Watea if my primary focus was off-piste, but if I spent at least 25-30% of my time on groomers and didn't want to skimp on performance there, but wanted something way more versatile than, say an AC50, the Motive 84 is a home run. I would seriously consider buying it if I didn't have too many skis already. Plus, I already have a couple of 88mm skis, so if I were to get a frontside ski, it would probably be sub 80mm. Still though, this would be an excellent narrow ½ of a 2-ski Western quiver, or a great every day Eastern ski. It has such awesome edge hold and does so well in tight spaces, it could really rip back East.
Motive 80 from Fischer: also a new ski: softer than the 84, and one step down in performance. It could be compared to Dynastar's Sultan 80, where as the Motive 84 is similar to the Sultan 85. Has the Railflex replacement (Powerrail) binding system, and vertical sidewalls, but is not as stiff as the 84. Skied in 175cm.
1st run: scratchy groomer: again a zippy ski. Very fun, more energy even than the Motive 84. Edge hold wasn't quite there like it was on the 84, but still adequate: this is a softer ski, with a bigger sweet spot. It ripped around, but I did feel it didn't want to constantly accelerate like the 84: that ski just wants to go faster, whereas the 80 wants to chill a bit more and relax. Maybe a 30-35mph upper ceiling? Extremely smooth yet light on the snow; this is a unique feeling ski, similar to a Watea series. VERY forgiving: it is hard to make a mistake on this ski, and it responds instantly to input. A great ski for a skier taking clinics, which often involve slow-speed, balanced drills to improve skills. As it responds instantly to input, it makes a great “skill-building” tool. Also, very fun for those not burning up the mountain at 45mph+. It really did have quite a bit of spring in the tail, similar to the 84, but I felt like I couldn't make a mistake on it. It was mellower at the top of the turn: the 84 pulls you in and tosses you across the fall line: the 80 is less aggressive, and takes more time to set up onto edge.
2nd run: bumps and trees: This ski is extremely easy to pilot around any obstacle. It practically turns itself. Great for off-piste adventures. Bumps were as good, if not better than the 84. Smooth, huge sweet spot, easy to maneuver, good with pivoting as well as moving the feet. A great tool for any sort of bump field.
3rd run: challenging crud; The 80 was a bit more forgiving than the 84 here: larger sweet spot, ease of release in softer snow. It did get bounced just a bit more at speed. Great at slower speeds, more at home for less aggressive skiing and skiers, no doubt. Again, light yet smooth, a joy to ski. It didn't really want to charge; I felt a bit tossed around in rough snow once skiing above the skis' comfort level. But, at the speeds most people ski, this was a performance-oriented, relaxing ride. I never felt tossed around at lower speeds, and thought it again would be a great tool for learning how to properly ski crud and really work the ski from tip to tail, which comes into handy on steeper, dicier terrain.
Overall, this was a very impressive ski. More suited to mid-energy or mid-speed skiers with performance in mind; the person who doesn't want some dead K2, but also want somewhat of a race-bred feel with some horsepower under the hood. Quite suited to off-piste adventures, but totally at home on the groomed, at any sub-mach speed. Lots of energy, an incredible light, lively snow feel, and very forgiving for what it is. Matches up well with the Sultan 80. Great ski for many skiers, and a ski that could take you up to the solid expert level, on and off-piste.
A note about the tune: the Motive 84 was a bit railed out of the box; it was a touch aggressive edge to edge. Not too bad, and certainly worth skiing, but the demo pairs I have been on had full grinds on them and had zero grabbiness. The out of the wrapper Motive 84 had a bit, this pair was a bit railed at the contact point and to about 5cm toward the binding. The 80 was about like I remember it being tune-wise at the demo shows last spring, it comes accurate with regards to the tune. SJ can correct me if I am wrong, but I think the tune on this is 1/3.