Ski: 2016-2017 Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS, 182cm
Available Lengths: 168, 175, 182 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 180.4cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 126-80-111
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 126-80-111
Stated Weight per Ski: 1920 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters
Core Construction: Poplar + Basalt Fiber + Carbon/Polyamide Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay: 55mm / 20mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 6 mm
Mount Location: Recommended Line (80.1cm from tail; -10.1cm from center)
Boots / Bindings: Salomon X Pro 120 & Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 / Salomon XT (DIN at 11)
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 5
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 X-Drive 8.0 FS, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
The 184cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS has become a new favorite of mine, because it is the most powerful sub-90mm-underfoot, truly all-mountain ski I have been on.
So as we were setting up some frontside carver tests, the narrower Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS was at the top of my list, especially since Salomon’s own copy on the 8.0 doesn’t say much to differentiate it from the 8.8. (This is also why I am going to offer a lot of comparisons between the 184cm X-Drive 8.8 and the 182cm X-Drive 8.0.)
The 8.0 isn’t merely a narrower 8.8, but it is an awfully impressive ski in its own right, and I don’t doubt that a number of skiers will prefer the 182cm X-Drive 8.0 to the 184cm 8.8.
In sum, the X-Drive 8.0 is not as capable as an all-mountain ski as the ridiculously capable X-Drive 8.8 is. I think of the 8.0 as more of a very substantial frontside carver that won’t be out of place around the rest of the mountain—particularly when the snow isn’t deep.
The 182cm 8.0 requires less input and less speed to come alive than the 184cm 8.8 (i.e., it has a better “low end” than the 8.8). But like its wider sibling, the 8.0 is still a powerful ski that can be pushed very hard, and its edge hold is fierce. Yet at the same time, the ski isn’t unwilling to release out of a turn or carve.
Flex Pattern & Shape
The 8.0 is a stout ski. Its tails are not quite as stiff as the 8.8’s, but the 8.0’s shovels are quite comparable, and on a hand flex, the shovels of the 8.0 actually feel a touch stiffer than the 8.8’s.
And just for the sake of a comparison, the tails and shovels of the X-Drive 8.0 are stiffer than the Dynastar Powertrack 89 and the Fischer Motive 86, and the 8.0 is much stiffer than the Fischer Progressor 900 and the DPS Cassiar 85 Hybrid T2.
But for the most part (moguls are the sole exception), I’ll say the same thing about the 8.0 that I said about the 8.8: both skis have a stout flex, but they are not difficult to ski; instead, they just feel very smooth and stable.
Good technique will be rewarded, of course, but you do not have to ski the 182 8.0 with a lot of power (or as much power as the 184cm 8.8); the 8.0 is happy to be finessed.
Like their flex patterns, the rocker lines and splay amounts of the 8.0 and 8.8 are similar. (The 8.8 has 4 more millimeters of tip splay.)
The 182cm X-Drive 8.0 is much easier to carve short turns at slower speeds than the 184cm 8.8. The 8.8 can be made to work at lower speeds, but you will be smearing your turns rather than truly carving them.
The 8.0s are easier to bend than the 184cm 8.8s, so it takes a bit less input / energy to: (a) hit high edge angles and make tighter slalom turns at slower speeds (though the Fischer Progressor 900 feels even easier to work through tighter turns at slower speeds than the X-Drive 8.0), or (b) get all agro, really load them up, and launch from turn to turn at very high speeds.
In that sense, the 8.0 is a more versatile carver than the X-Drive 8.8.
Smooth vs. Roughed-Up Groomers
On smooth corduroy, the 75mm-underfoot Fischer Progressor 900 has the better low-end performance; it is softer than the 8.0, and it is much more of a pure frontside carver that, while it can still be skied powerfully, is less at home on ungroomed runs.
On the other end of the spectrum is the X-Drive 8.8. It is the most stable, damp, “planted” sub-90mm ski that I have ever skied. So much so, that in my review of it, I compared it to the 13/14 Volkl Mantra and the 107mm-underfoot, 187cm Moment Belafonte. (And now that he’s also skied the 8.8, Will Brown seconds both of those comparisons.)
The 8.0 does not inspire that same extreme level of on- and off-piste stability as the 8.8 does, but on smooth groomers and on somewhat roughed-up groomers … I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this much fun carving a ski.
Again, the Fischer Progressor 900 is an excellent carver, but I appreciated 8.0’s greater composure when encountering less-than-perfect groomers—i.e., either somewhat bumped-up groomers or also very soft groomers.
On smooth groomers, I’m not willing to say that the 8.0 is a lot more demanding than the Fischer Progressor 900, because it can easily be finessed—it doesn’t have to be skied fast with a lot of input. But as those groomers get roughed-up in the afternoon, the 8.0 becomes the much more steady, stable, confidence-inspiring choice over the Progressor 900.
Even on less than pristine groomers, the 8.0’s edgehold is outstanding, and the more I skied them, the more I also came to trust them on steep, wind-scoured pitches, without worrying that the edges would wash out.
What was equally impressive is that, while the edgehold and ‘bite’ that these skis offer is impressive, they never felt grabby to me either on very soft or very firm groomers. And I didn’t detune these skis at all. Predictable edgehold, while also allowing me to predictably smear / scrub turns. Smooth.
NEXT: Off-Piste Performance