Dimensions (mm): 140-138-139
Sidecut Radius: god only knows
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 190.0 centimeters
BLISTER’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,065 grams & 2,074 grams
Bindings (mounted with binding freedom inserts for both): Marker Duke (DIN 13), Dynafit Radical FT 12 (DIN 12)
Mount Location: Both bindings mounted within a few mms of factory line
Boots: Tecnica Bodacious, Tecnica Cochise Pro 130, Dynafit TLT 5 Performance, Dynafit Vulcan
Test Locations: Alaska Backcountry (Valdez area, Girdwood, Kenai Mountains, Alyeska Resort, Talkeetna Mountains, Tordillo Mountains, Chugach Powder Guides’ Girdwood and Seward terrain); Hakuba area, Japan
Days skied: 100+
[Editor’s Note: This ski is offered in two constructions. The Pure construction, reviewed here, retails for $1,249 and is made, in DPS’ words, with “Pure Prepreg Carbon Laminates and Nanotech Resins.” The Hybrid version retails for $849 and is made with a bamboo core and carbon and glass laminations. Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Lotus 138 Pure, which is was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, 16/17, 17/18, or 18/19, apart from graphics.]
Even by 2013 standards, the DPS Lotus 138 is unique, and deserves a little more backstory than most skis.
DPS does a good job explaining the inspiration for its design, from Stephen Drake’s first experiments with tip rocker, to his collaboration with Peter Turner—who was also involved with the development of the Volant Spatula, the first production ski that employed rocker and reverse sidecut.
The basic idea is that powder snow is a completely different medium than the inbounds / hard snow for which sidecut and traditional camber were designed. “Reversing” the sidecut—bringing the wide point of the ski underfoot—and combining that with tip and tail rocker allows for better floatation, more maneuverability, and a decreased tendency for the ski tips to hook when drifting across the fall line.
It also concentrates mass toward the center of the ski, thereby lowering the swing weight.
(See BLISTER’s Rocker 101 for a more thorough explanation of camber profiles. For more on the concept of reverse sidecut / rocker skis, google Shane McConkey’s “Mental Floss,” which was written to accompany the Volant Spatula.)
Of the Lotus 138, DPS states that “five seasons of Alaskan R+D” has led to “the most evolved and tested powder ski on earth. Riding the Lotus 138 in deep snow is like an entirely new sport.”
I’ve been skiing a lot on reverse sidecut / rocker skis since 2006-2007, and have been on versions of the Lotus 138 since 2009. I wouldn’t say that skiing them is an “entirely new sport,” but there’s almost nothing in the world I enjoy more than riding deep powder on the Lotus 138.
And I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how versatile the 138 has proven to be.
Updates for the 13/14 Lotus 138
The Lotus 138 Pure will be updated for this coming season as the Lotus 138 Spoon. Based on the 13/14 catalog, the profile will change slightly to 143-138-140 versus the current 140-138-139, and there will be a “spooned,” or convex, portion of base at the front of the ski. The “Pure Carbon” version will also be updated with “Pure3” construction. (See Jonathan Ellsworth’s DPS Wailer 112RPC, Pure3 review for more details).
The Hybrid (fiberglass/carbon/bamboo) version of the Lotus 138 will keep the same shape as the current 138. We will be reviewing the Lotus 138 Spoon this coming season, but we wanted to get a review up of the non-spooned version that’s been around in various iterations for quite a while.
This is a ski designed to be an uncompromising powder tool. I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time riding it in its intended conditions, and I think it deserves to have a more nuanced evaluation. I’ve found that the ski behaves differently depending on how steep you’re riding, so I’ll break it down into two broad categories.
Lower-angle powder: I don’t always have the inclinometer out, but I’m talking about skiing slopes around 35 degrees or less. Mellower slopes seem to reward a more neutral stance on these skis. Pushing into the tips on deep, soft snow is sometimes met with tip dive that is a bit surprising for a ski this big. During a day of mellow tree skiing via helicopter after a three-foot dump of higher-density snow, I found that I really needed to lean back a bit and push into that pintail to keep my tips up. (Caveat: other folks on more traditional, 120-plus-mm skis were definitely needing to do the same thing.)
Skied neutrally, however, the Lotus 138 is super loose and fun, and direction change is as easy as I’ve experienced. They don’t have the ability to pop and ollie as easily because of the stiff flex and continuous rocker like some more traditional pow skis I’ve ridden recently (Salomon Rocker2, Rossignol Squad 7), but they are super playful and fun in featured, forested, or pillowed terrain like I found in Japan this past season.
Steep powder: Almost all modern powder skis are super fun in steep, soft snow, but I haven’t been on another ski that equals the Lotus 138 on the best of days. All turn shapes—fast or slow, big and open, or tight and technical—there’s no other ski I’d rather be on.
All of the reverse sidecut-type skis I’ve tried (Praxis Powderboard 185 and 195cm; Praxis Protest 196, and to a lesser degree with Wootest 1.0) enable the skier to drift and slide across the snow in a way that I haven’t found with more conventional-shaped powder skis (DPS Lotus 120, Rossignol Squad 7, Rocker 122, for example). Of these, the Lotus 138 and the Praxis Powderboards give me a significantly looser feeling than the Protest, with the 138 still being better sliding across the fall line. (Though I have not skied the 187cm Praxis Protest, which might be a more fair comparison.)
Aside from the shape, the DPS Lotus 138 differs from these other skis in two ways. The first is the energy you can generate in highly angulated carved turns. Where the Powderboard feels damp, the Lotus 138 feels powerful and reactive. Especially in maritime pow, I could lock into a turn almost like a race ski on a groomer and use the stiff flex to propel me into the next turn.
The second unique aspect of the Lotus 138 is the light weight. When getting into more technical terrain like narrow spines or peppery / cliffy lines, the low swing weight facilitates quick moves and enables the skier to carry more speed with confidence.