Hey guys, I'm new to this forum but def have some questions for you. Thought I'd lead of by giving some reviews before asking you to share some of your wisdom!
Me: 30 years old, 6'4" 185lbs. East coast race background. Ski 30 days a year. Looking for a new "daily driver" to serve duty 65% on piste, 35% off piste. Prefer medium to long, high speed, high edge angle turns. Prefer skiing in wide open terrain to tight trees. Weather doesn't always come through for me on trips, so I absolutely demand solid on piste performance in my "all-mountain" ski. I've got a pair of 115's for the real powder days.
Skis I've spent at least 10 days on over the last two years: Stockli Laser AX 183cm, Laser SX 184cm, Laser SC 177cm, Nordica Enforcer 93 185cm, Blizzard Bonafide 187 (I'm happy to write some more in depth reviews for anyone interested).
The Laser AX: in my mind, this is really the ski to beat. It's a medium-stiff ski with a bit of early rise in the tip and a fairly small turning radius (17.5 I think). On paper, that sounded too small to me, but this ski will really do whatever you ask of it. It flexed and locked in to whatever turn shape I asked of it. Despite its relaxed nature, it can be pushed HARD and can take almost anything you throw at it with ease. It performs at a very high level without demanding that you are at the top of your game every second of the day - which is not something I can say for the Laser SX (which is a scalpel). Only knocks I can put on it are that it's a little narrow for true versatility and if anything it might be over-damped, which takes away some of the pop and liveliness that I think it could otherwise have (like the stiffer skis in the Laser series). Most of the time that ends up being a good thing - like when you want to blast straight through chopped up powder on-piste at speed, this thing will take you straight through or over without getting pushed around. This is a ski that absorbs bumps so well I can pretty much ski GS carves through soft medium sized bumps on it and barely notice. At 78cm waist width, it's got great edge grip on the hard pack, and is fairly quick edge to edge. Obviously, it does not hold a candle to the SX or SC hardpack performance, speed limit, or energy, but of course, you sacrifice a lot of versatility with those skis, which are 68-72mm wide.
Nordica Enforcer 93: honestly, this is a great ski. Very versatile. Easy to ski. Predictable. I understand the hype. I took the 185cm in some very tight, steep, and bumpy places and it was completely at ease. Also skied it in a lot of cruddy, steep, refrozen bowls out West, and it never hooked up on me once. Could really bash away on this thing with confidence. I know some people say it is a stiff ski, but I honestly found it to be very forgiving in challenging conditions. On piste, this ski had a decent amount of energy (for what it is) on piste. When you load them up, they give you a decent amount of rebound out of your carve turns (a hell of a lot more rebound than the Blizzard Bonafides, for example). Obviously nothing close to the energy of the Stocklis mentioned above, but you've got to accept this with a rocker-camber-rocker ski in this width. THAT BEING SAID, I did find myself wanting a little more frontside performance out of these skis. I did not feel I could push these skis in to high speed, high angle carves on hardpack with absolute confidence the way I can push every single one of the Stockli's mentioned above. Whereas the Laser AX could be turned into a wide variety of turn shapes and be completely reliable at high speed on hard pack, the Enforcer was not able to "lock in" to nearly as many turn shapes. That lack of reliability became an issue to me.
SO that brings me to the big question - is the Kastle MX88 the answer to my prayers?
I am hoping that the MX88 is essentially a Laser AX with a little extra energy and and a little extra versatility (due to that extra 10mm in width). In an ideal world, it would have a blend of the Laser's frontside performance and the Enforcer's non-groomer versatility.
My worries about the MX88 (which I'm hoping you will weigh in on):
1. The square tail - I have a hard time believing this thing releases too easily when you need it to in tighter places, bumps, etc.. One of the great features of both the Laser AX and Enforcer 93, for example, was how easily you could turn them in tight spots when needed.
2. The sizing - at 188cm fully cambered, this ski's effective edge must be noticeably longer than the 183cm Lasers, 185cm Enforcers, and 187cm Bonafides that I spent most of my time on this season (all of which at least have tip rocker). I was completely comfortable on those skis, but after reading a couple reviews in which people call the 188cm MX88 "a lot of ski" in an ominous tone, I would love to hear peoples' thoughts on the maneuverability of the MX88 in this length. Of course, I know it will be an absolutely blast on wide-open groomers, but my question is whether or not it will still be maneuverable enough for anything else in this length? How can I expect it to handle in bumps and very steep sections that will require short turns? I would have no intention to take this ski into very tight places or glades of course. But steeps and bumps, yes. The true beauty of the Stockli Laser series, for example, was how easily you could transition from 50MPH long arcing GS carves to shorter turns without the ski bucking like a bronco.
Alternative to the MX88 - the FX95HP:
I'd be going after the 189cm here. Very comfortable with that length given the rocker. I imagine the FX is a slightly less demanding ski that will clearly upstage the MX in terms of versatility. But given my background and preferences/need for good on-piste performance, I've gotta ask you guys how does the FX95HP compare to the MX88, Enforcer, and Bonafide in hard pack performance? If it were 15-20% better than the Enforcer 93 on hardpack, I think this would literally be the holy combination of qualities I am looking for in an "all mountain ski" that would entice me away from the obvious frontside prowess of the MX series. I've also seen a couple pairs of the latest version of the FX94, which is apparently a little bit more similar to the MX line than the current FX's because it has far less rocker and a stiffer tail, so that might also be a solution. Would need to gather more info on that one though.
Ok, that's close to book in length. Time to shut up. Would really appreciate to hear your guys' thoughts and experiences!!
Comparison Review Stockli Laser AX to Nordica Enforcer to Kastle?
I would recommend you check out the Head Monster 88 and 98. I loved the 88 and purchased it. Never could find a 98 to demo but it was on my list. Loved the 187cm Bonafide but also was looking for a bit more front side performance since my other ski is a 112mm wide ski that serves as my soft snow and powder all mountain ride.
I am 6-2, 185 and an advanced skier with not a whole lot of formal training. I ski mostly off trail but like versatile skis since I ski on groomers with family on holidays. So any ski I own must work in bumps and variable snow conditions in steep terrain. I mostly ski in CO and now NM.
Regarding the Monster 88 I did a short review HERE
Long time lurker, 1st time poster. I'm writing to express support for the FX94, it's a great ski. For reference i also have a pair of brahmas and a pair of pinnacle 95s. For me Brahmas have been too narrow for tahoe so they don't get used. I really like the pinnacle 95 it's a fun, easy to ski ski, especially on soft snow days, but it's hard pack performance isn't great -- don't stay locked in the turns in morning snow, plus i wanted a more carve oriented ski. So purchased the 94. More camber than the other skis, you do get some rebound but it's got 2 sheets of metal. Not as quick edge to edge as the pinnacle but it's 10x more locked into turns. you can fly down the mountain and feel like you're going in slow motion.
The ski skis fast so I was nervous about taking them into moguls (pinnacles in moguls are super easy; my first time in big bumps on the FX was rough), similar shorter turns in the glades were tougher in comparison as well. But after a few days you get used to the speed and I now think it's a pretty great groomer ski, bulldozes soft snow, great in variable snow, it's got the Kastle smoothness at speed. It's way more precise than the pinnacles and gives you better feedback - you're really rewarded if you're on your game. My friends who both own variations of the bonafides remark how fast the FX is and that it doesn't get deflected in funky snow - they're looking for a pair too.
About me 3 seasons, can ski the whole mountain, on groomers and reasonable bumps i'm faster than 85% of people at the resorts (EPIC pass mountains) (it's the skis). Have 15 days on the Kastle, same on the Pinnacles, only 5 days on the Brahma.
The fx95hp is nowhere near the hard snow performance of the Laser AX. The mx series may be what you are looking for so you are just going to have to try them out. I think the fx95hp and it's sibling the 85hp are both better hard snow skis than the enforcer but it's not by much.
@VON, welcome to the site, great first post. Sounds like you struck oil with the Laser AX especially after all of the skis that you tried. The Laser AX? Yes there are worse choices you could make. You ask about the MX88...Well other than the MX88 Classic that is getting re relased from Kastle, you would be looking to the MX89. Don't be afraid of the square tail, it can be released pretty easy through the turn. I will agree with @UGASkiDawg's comment on your alternative option the FX, it does not have the hard snow performance of the MX's. @Ken_R mentions the Monster 88, yes another viable option along with it's little brother, the Monster 83..speaking of going to little bothers, the MX84 should be added to your short list since it comes in a sweet 184cm length. If these skis,all are dman good and I think you would be enjoying all of them.
If you want to go two ski quiver, go with the Kastle MX89 or a Monster 88. If you want to go three ski, The Stockli AX and maybe a Enforcer 93 or such in the middle. Choices, choices and none are wrong.Ken_R likes this.
vanhoskier likes this.
FX95HP is a terrific ski, but its a ski for someone who primarily lives off-piste. MX89 seems like the answer for your needs. It will never be as versatile off-trail as a rockered design, but it is more than confident (at least based on my experience with the MX88). If you can afford the MX, go for it, MX88 is literally the best ski made in the last 10 years. I heard different things about the MX89, but its not too far from its predecessor. For another reference point, my friend was recently looking for a versatile carver, he probably spends 75% on-piste, so a bit more narrow-focused than you. He tried a bunch of skis, including Nordica and Head, and ended up with the MX89. Loves it.
Another ski that I loved was the Strormrider, great edge grip, but not nearly as much energy as the Kastle. Stockli is incredibly smooth and refined, but Kastle is just higher octane overall.
P.S. 188 MX88 may be long even for you. I skied a 180 and really was completely comfortable on it. My daily driver(s) is the 189 FX95HP and 187 Bonafides. Ideally, I would like to have an MX88 in a 184-ish length, but alas it was not available.