Ski: 2014-2015 Blizzard Bonafide, 180cm
Dimensions (mm): 133-98-118
Sidecut Radius: 21 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 178.1cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2088 & 2085 grams
Mount Location: Factory Line
Boots / Bindings: Salomon X-Pro 120 / Marker Jester
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 8
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Bonafide, which is unchanged for 14/15, except for the graphics.]
Blizzard doesn’t say a whole lot about the Bonafide on their European website (www.blizzard-ski.com), but on their US website (www.blizzardsportusa.com) they state:
“The Bonafide is the most versatile ski in Blizzard’s Free Moutain line. This ski really is the ultimate “every-day” ski regardless if you prefer to SEND IT from the East Coast or the West Coast. Make this ski your 1 ski quiver & experience the success of Flipcore Technology.”
Ok, so they’re calling it a versatile, every-day, one-ski quiver. Got it. (As for the Flip Core thing, we still don’t get that—especially in the Bonafide, a ski that has traditional camber underfoot…. But you can check out our article, What is Flip Core?, if you feel like it.)
And since it’s probably the case that most conversations about the Bonafide eventually get to questions about how it stacks up against the Volkl Mantra (another 98mm underfoot, all-mountain ski with metal), I spent the past couple of weeks at Taos Ski Valley alternating between the 180cm Bonafide and the 184cm Mantra. I’m going to reference the Mantra a lot, and you might want to read my review of the 13/14 Mantra, too.
Rocker Profile & Flex Pattern
First, a few stats:
13/14 & 14/15 Bonafide, 180cm: 133-98-118mm; Weight: 2088 & 2085 grams; Actual Length: 178.0cm; Sidecut Radius: 21.0 meters
13/14 Mantra, 184cm: 132-98-118mm; Weight: 2071 & 2058 grams; Actual Length: 182.9cm; Sidecut Radius: 25.8 meters
See why people tend to compare these two skis? Lots of similarities, but there are some distinct differences, too.
Both skis have traditional camber underfoot, but the Mantra has more. The tip rocker lines of the two skis are pretty similar, but the Bonafide has much more splay, and the shovels of the Bonafide are noticeably softer than the Mantra’s. I’d call the Mantra’s tips “very stiff,” and the forebody of the Mantra “stiff.” The tips of the Bonafide are “stiff,” while the forebody is “medium.” (And if you’re thinking that this probably means that the Bonafide will work better in deep snow than the Mantra, give yourself a gold star.)
The Bonafide’s tails are also less stiff than the Mantra’s, but the difference in stiffness in the tails is less pronounced than the difference in stiffness in their shovels. If the Mantra’s tails = “stiff,” the Bonafide’s = “medium/stiff.”
Finally, while the Mantra has no tail rocker and just a subtly upturned tail, the Bonafide’s tail is twinned up even less than the Mantra’s, but it does have a very subtle amount of tail rocker—when decambered, its rocker line starts about 19cms from the end of the ski, and there is only about 2cms of splay at the tail.
The Bonafide is also tapered more at the tail than the Mantra, so the widest portion of the Bonafide’s tail is a little farther forward than the Mantra’s. If this all sounds too subtle to matter, you’re wrong. The Bonafide definitely has a looser tail than the Mantra, and that difference is quite noticeable in certain types of terrain and snow conditions.
Speaking of various terrain and conditions…
Soft Groomers / Carving
The Bonafides are a lot of fun here. Their traditional camber underfoot produces more rebound out of turns than the Bonafide’s bigger brother, the Cochise. And its softer flex pattern makes the ski easier to bend than the Mantra, which, in combination with the Bonafide’s smaller sidecut radius, made it easier than the Mantra to carve short, tight turns. (On groomers, I personally prefer very fast, big GS turns to slalom turns at moderate speeds, but you may not.)
But just to be clear, the Bonafides did big, fast turns on soft groomers very well, too. And skiers who are lighter than me (less than 180 lbs.) might prefer the Bonafide over the Mantra even for big and fast—Will Brown, who is about 25 lbs. lighter than me, felt like the 184cm Mantra was a little tough to bend.
Finally, I will say that it was easier to lose the tail of the Bonafide than the Mantra when finishing turns. Those looser tails and softer shovels make the ski more susceptible to over-pressuring the shovels through the apex of a turn, and unweighting / releasing the tails a little bit; or, on firmer snow, over-pressuring the rockered tails and having them slide rather than bite. In sum, it mostly just means that, the firmer the snow gets, the more important it was when carving to keep my weight evenly distributed over the Bonafide. That seemed to matter a lot less on the Mantra.
Steep, Icy Groomers & End-of-the-Day, Roughed-Up Groomers
In both cases, the 184cm Mantra outperformed the 180cm Bonafide. While the tail profiles of the Bonafide and the Cochise are one of the very interesting things about those skis, on icy steeps, it is easy to wash out the tails when carving across the fall line (think Taos’ Zagava). Then again, the softer shovels and more significant tip splay of the Bonafide don’t help the cause, either.
Furthermore, on groomers like Powderhorn that had been bumped up (“de-groomed”) a bit by the end of the day, the Mantras were far better at handling those big turns at high speeds over bumpy terrain. (I’m not talking about actual mogul runs here, just roughed up groomers.) The softer shovels of the Bonafide were folding up on me a bit, and the Mantra simply offered a stabler, damper ride. No contest here. (Then again, the more you are inclined to slow things down in such circumstances, the less you’ll need the top end of the Mantra anyway…)
I’ve skied a ton of bumps on the Bonafide, and really enjoyed them.
As a caveat, I never break out dedicated bumps skis, because I’ll almost always be hiking Kachina Peak or West Basin in addition to bumping Al’s Run, or Longhorn, or Spencer’s. All that to say, I’m comfortable skiing bumps on 98mm-underfoot skis, and I don’t tend to mind whether the skis are stiff (Volkl Mantra) or soft (Rossignol S3).
The Bonafides are still probably on the stiffer side for skiing bumps, but the relatively short length, the easy-to-pivot tails, and the not-super-stiff shovels made bumps fun. Though if you’re newer to moguls, the Bonafide’s tails might still be too stiff to make these a great choice for you, and skis with more tapered tips will feel quicker.
If you tend to pivot rather than carve your way through trees, you’ll probably prefer the Bonafide to skis that don’t have any tail rocker. But most of all, there were no surprises here. Lighter skis with more tail rocker and more tapered tips than the Bonafide will be easier in very tight trees at slow speeds (e.g., DPS Wailer 99, Rossignol S3, etc.), but the 180cm Bonafides never felt like a chore to me in bumps or trees. Quite the opposite.