Ski: 2014-2015 Liberty Helix, 187cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 135-105-122
Stated Sidecut Radius: 25.5 meters
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,020 & 2,004 grams
Mount Location: “Standard” factory recommended line (-7cm from center)
Boots / Bindings: Fischer Ranger Pro 13 / Marker Griffon Demo (DIN at 10)
Test Location: Telluride, CO
Days Skied: 4
The number of requests we’ve received from readers for reviews of Liberty’s skis has grown over the last couple seasons, and with them, our own curiosity about the Colorado-based company. So this season, we’re testing two skis from Liberty, starting with their best selling ski, the Helix.
At 105 millimeters underfoot, the Helix is essentially Liberty’s do-it-all one-ski-quiver, designed with versatility in mind. “No matter where you live, or what type of snow you encounter, the Helix will handle it with stability and ease,” says Liberty.
I’ve been putting a lot of time lately on a number of ~105mm-underfoot all-mountain skis that have similar claims behind them, and they all cater to slightly different types of skiers / skiing styles.
The Helix has a pretty conventional, directional, all-mountain shape (by today’s standards), so we were curious to see what it brought to the table in such a popular class.
So far, my time on the Helix has been spent on firm groomers and hardpack steeps & bumps, and I’ll need to update this review once I get time on the ski in soft and fresh conditions. However, even now, I’m not at all surprised that this is Liberty’s most popular model. I’ve already found a whole lot to like about the Helix that I think a lot of advanced and expert skiers will also appreciate.
Design & Flex
In general, the Helix’s design is simple, refined, and has a really nice, predictable, no-fuss personality on snow.
The Helix has a pretty conservative amount of tip rocker; the rocker line doesn’t run super deep into the body of the ski, the amount of tip splay isn’t dramatic, and it merges smoothly with the normal curve of the ski’s tip.
The Helix has a little bit of camber under foot (not a lot – maybe 2mm at most), and a twinned-up, but un-rockered tail. (Full rocker pics coming soon.)
Hand flexing the ski and on snow, the flex of the Helix feels even and smooth, and quite snappy / poppy when it rebounds. I’d call the flex of the ski’s tail and midsection a “solid medium” flex, while the shovel is slightly softer – call it a “soft medium,” though the difference is slight. On the whole the Helix’s flex is definitely supportive, it’s no noodle by any means, but there are a few other skis with shapes and dimensions similar to the Helix’s that are considerably stiffer and less responsive / energetic.
Part of this seems to do with the Helix’s core construction. The ski’s laminated core is made up of bamboo and poplar, joined with layers of quadaxial fiberglass. Liberty says this layup is intended to give the ski a “light weight, durability, and liveliness” and they’re not wrong about that. The words “light weight” and “lively” have come to mind several times while skiing the Helix over the past couple of days.
Finally, I was also struck by the Helix’s “extra-thick” sidewalls, which are definitely thicker than average (especially underfoot), and I was glad to see the ski’s wider-than-normal edges, too. I don’t often mention this in reviews unless I really think it’s notable, and all in all, the Helix looks and feels like a very well-constructed, high-quality ski, and I expect that our pair will be quite durable.
Now on to the Helix’s on-snow performance…
Liberty says that the 187cm Helix has a 25.5m sidecut radius. With that number in mind, I expected that the ski would need a good amount of speed before its sidecut started to feel very reactive. And when it comes to making clean, arced turns, the Helix’s sidecut radius certainly feels like it’s in the 22+ meter range, and it does take some speed before you can really lean into a turn and carve the ski across the hill on edge.
That said, I’ve still enjoyed how reactive and energetic the Helix feels on groomers. The Moment Belafonte, which is only 1 mm wider underfoot, has an extremely similar camber/rocker profile, also has a 25.5 stated sidecut radius, and (at my weight) feels a little boring on groomers by comparison.
Much of this seems to be due to the Helix’s flex, which is noticeably softer than the Belafonte’s. It takes far less speed to bend the Helix through a carve, making it easier to work the ski through its tightest radius than the Belafonte. The Helix tends to feel more lively as a result.
So if raging back to the lift as fast as possible is what you’re looking to do, and you’re just looking for great stability out of a ski (and care less about the energy and feedback you’ll get from it), then the Belafonte is preferable over the Helix.
But while both skis provide outstanding edge hold, and both handle high-angle, aggressive carves very well, I personally enjoy carving the Helix more than the Belafonte. The Helix’s softer, snappy flex makes it more forgiving, and gives it more personality on groomers at less-than-very-high speeds. I find the Helix to be more fun, more of the time. And on roughed up, bumpy groomers, I haven’t been able to find the Helix’s speed limit.
I still have to see if it can handle choppy, variable conditions at speed as well as the Belafonte (my guess would be “not quite as well”), but I’m curious to see how close the skis are with respect to high speed, off-piste stability.
The Helix is also markedly easier to work through shorter, scrubbed turns, in part because of it’s more forgiving flex (compared to the decidedly stiff Belafonte), and in part because it’s quite a light ski (just over 2,000 grams / ski). So while the Helix is also happy bombing big, fast carves down groomers, it feels pretty at home making more relaxed, slower turns, too.
The Helix responds best to good technique—get in the back seat in either a carve or during a shorter, slower, skidding turn, and its traditional, unrockered tail will let you know about it (it’s less forgiving than any tail rockered ski of a similar width).
But the ski feels pretty darn light on your feet and its flex is accessible enough that staying forward in a good position through shorter, scrubbed turns is easier than it is on the Belafonte. When you do make a good, athletic turn on the Helix, even at more moderate speeds, you’ll feel the ski respond with some pop from one turn to the next, where (to me, at 160 lbs.) the Belafonte feels a little dead / planky.