Ski: 2014-2015 Kastle BMX108, 188cm
Dimensions (mm): 132-108-122
Turn Radius: 32 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 185.5cm
Boots / Bindings: SCARPA T-Race / 22 Design Axls
Mount Location: Factory line
Test Locations: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and side country
Days Skied: 20+
[Editor’s Note: Our test was conducted on the 12/13 BMX 108, which is unchanged for 13/14 & 14/15.]
About a month and a half into this season, I purchased the Kastle BMX108 to round out my quiver. I already owned the 2010 188cm Black Diamond Megawatt for deep days and backcountry powder riding, and a great everyday resort ski (the Kastle FX104) that performs well on groomers and in chalk, chop, bumps, variable snow, and inbounds powder.
But I was looking for a hard-charging, big-mountain ski that could provide stability on bigger lines in the backcountry, and, with a smaller waist, serve as a more versatile tool than the Megawatt on the less-than-epic powder days.
With a subtle amount of early rise in the tip, a traditional camber profile underfoot, and a slightly up-turned tail, the BMX108 appeared to be a good choice for a ski that could handle the wide variety of conditions and terrain that Jackson Hole serves up.
In the 188 length, the BMX108 has a fairly long turning radius at 32 meters. This long radius combined with the 108mm waist really prevents the BMX108 from performing like a true carving ski. This is not to say that the BMX108 can’t handle a groomer, as the camber underfoot and the lack of any rocker in the tail ensures that it can hold an edge on hard pack. Ultimately, it’s a ski that definitely carves more than it slarves.
Compared to the Kastle FX104 on groomed snow, the BMX108 feels much damper and does not provide as much rebound out of each turn. Instead, the BMX108 feels glued to the snow and more at home going straight, making large GS turns with the fall line than really carving turns across it.
The lack of rocker in the tails is also an important attribute for me as a tele-skier, as it ensures that I do not feel my lead ski running out from under me. Ultimately, however, they are clearly designed more for off-piste charging and making much-longer-radius turns than ripping up a groomer.
Chalk / Moguls
I’ve had the BMX108 on a lot of smooth chalk this season, and during a recent chalky run through Jackson Hole’s Tower 3 Chute, the wind had completely buffed out the run, making it smooth and fast. The BMX108 shone in these conditions. I was able to stay on top of the ski and drive it through turns.
Additionally, their length and stiffness kept them very stable at high speeds once I had made it through the choke and was able to open it up on the apron.
When skiing the BMX108 in chalky moguls on runs like Cheyenne Bowl, however, the added length, width, and larger sidecut radius (compared to the Kastle FX104, which has a 26m radius) made them feel fairly slow edge to edge, and this lack of maneuverability and quickness in moguls would often kick me into the backseat.
When I am really feeling on it and am able to stay centered over the skis and drive them, I am able to ski the BMX108s in chalky and even firm bumps, but they require making rounded, directional turns and are not open to be being slarved around. Ultimately, on days where I know that’s what I will be skiing, I always opt for the FX104 instead.
The BMX108 absolutely dominates in chop and crud. Their stiffness and early rise profile allow me to power through variable conditions. Ultimately, this ski is a big-mountain charger designed to crush variable conditions. Where more powder-specific skis like the Megawatt often deflect and get knocked around, the BMX108 is not fazed and is capable of blowing through chop even when the snow becomes heavier and more set up. In this respect, the BMX108 is comparable to skis like the 193 Blizzard Cochise, as they are designed for busting through variable conditions and do so with ease so long as you stay on top of and drive the ski.
Additionally, while the Kastle FX104 (which has sheets of metal that the BMX108 does not) is also able to power through crud, the early rise tips of the BMX108 makes doing so from a balanced stance far easier. However, this is not to say that the BMX108 is easier to ski than the FX104. It isn’t.
While the Kastle FX104 is actually stiffer throughout, they are far more nimble than the BMX108. As Ryan Caspar notes in his review of the Kastle FX104, the FX104 is manageable because of its short length and light swing weight. The BMX108, on the other hand, is heavy, demanding, and always requires you to be on top of your game to drive the ski. Ultimately, the 188 BMX108 does not let you get away with slarving your turns or skiing lazily. However, they do deliver the performance of a hard-charging ski in variable conditions as long as you stay on top of them and power them through your turns.