2018-2019 Renoun Z-Line 90

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Renoun Z-Line 90 for Blister
Renoun Z-Line 90

Ski: 2018-2019 Renoun Z-Line 90, 180 cm

Available Lengths: 157, 165, 174, 180 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 177.7 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1959 & 1985 grams

Stated Dimensions: 136-90-124 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 136.3-89.1-124.0 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 16 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 59 mm / 14 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm

Core: Maple + Titanal (2-layers) + Carbon Fiber + 8 HDT Inlays + Fiberglass Laminate

Base: Durasurf 4001

Factory Recommended Mount Point: 9.45 cm from center; 79.4 cm from tail

Boots: Head Raptor 140 RS, Nordica Strider 120, Dalbello Lupo SP I.D.

Bindings: Marker Griffon Demo

Reviewers:

  • Sam Shaheen: 5’10”, 140 lbs
  • Luke Koppa: 5’8″, 155 lbs
  • Jonathan Ellsworth: 5’10”, 180 lbs

Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley, NM; Telluride, CO

Days Tested:

Intro

Renoun makes some pretty wild skis. Their Endurance 98 and Citadel 106 are both extremely light compared to other skis in their respective classes, and Renoun’s “Hyper Damping Technology” (aka, HDT) results in an on-snow feel that’s unlike anything we’ve ever skied before (especially for skis that are as light as the Endurance 98 and Citadel 106). For more on the origin story of Renoun and HDT, check out our podcast with Renoun founder, Cyrus Schenck.

But Renoun’s narrower shapes, the Z-Line 77 and Z-Line 90, are a bit different than the brand’s other models. And by that we mean that the Z-Line skis actually look pretty traditional on paper.

So what happens when you put HDT into a ski with a more traditional shape and construction?

We spent a lot of time on the Z-Line 90 this past season to find out exactly that. So while we put together our full review, take a look below to see where the Z-Line 90 differs — and doesn’t differ — from the other skis in its class.

What Renoun says about the Z-Line:

“Distinctive for its innovative design, the Z-Line is your performance carving ski in every condition. A stunning meld of classic architecture and modern technology brings you unparalleled stability and control. In the past, the design of an on-piste ski left it landlocked on groomers. But with HDT™ in the core, we freed it up for any slope: early morning corduroy, trees, bumps and late day crud. With the Z-Line, we’ve engineered a carving ski that hyper connects you, your skis, and the snow. Make nimble transitions and effortless turns with incredible stability no matter what the mountain throws at you. This is skiing like never before.”

A couple things about this description stand out:

(1) Renoun says the Z-Line 90 melds “classic architecture and modern technology.” And based on the ski’s construction and shape, that seems pretty accurate, though it depends on how you’re categorizing the Z-Line 90 (see our next two sections).

(2) Renoun claims that the Z-Line 90 isn’t a ski that is “landlocked on groomers,” but performs well all over the mountain, and in a wider variety of conditions than typical carving skis, including “early morning corduroy, trees, bumps and late day crud.”

And that’s not all they say about the Z-Line 90’s all-mountain chops: “If you find yourself on groomers slightly more than trees, bumps or pow, then this is your ski.” And, “the 90mm version handles everything on the mountain — trees, bumps, groomers, crud, light powder, you name it.” Finally, Renoun says that the Z-Line 90 is best for those who, “ski the entire mountain, yet love the heart & soul of a carving ski.”

All of that copy adds up to a pretty interesting description, and a couple of big claims. It’s pretty easy to make a good carver. It’s also pretty easy to build a 90mm-wide ski that works well all over the mountain. But we’ve been on few skis that handle both of these things equally well. So is the Z-Line 90 really the exception? This is something we’ll definitely be weighing in on.

Construction

Renoun has packed a lot of tech into the Z-Line 90. It starts with a maple core, which is a heavier wood than the Aspen used in the Renoun Endurance 98 and Citadel 106. Then they add both carbon fiber and two sheets of titanal the core of the Z-Line 90. And then Renoun finishes it off with eight of their signature HDT inlays.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Renoun Z-Line 90 for Blister
Renoun Z-Line 90 — Core Construction

All those construction elements seem aimed toward providing a damp and stable feel, which makes sense for a ski that’s supposed to offer “incredible stability no matter what the mountain throws at you.” It also means that the Z-Line 90 isn’t as incredibly (ridiculously?) light as the other skis in Renoun’s lineup (more on that later).

Shape / Rocker Profile

Renoun talks about the Z-Line 90’s “classic architecture,” and that’s a good description, though it does depend a bit on how you’re thinking about and categorizing the Z-Line 90.

The Z-Line 90 looks a lot like a wider, traditional carving ski, with very wide tips and tails, almost no taper, and lots of sidecut (16 m for the 180 cm version).

And the “hammerhead” tip shape of the Z-Line 90 is a shape that usually does a great job of pulling you into a turn and providing solid edgehold.

But again, Renoun also emphasizes the Z-Line 90’s all-mountain performance, and we’ve often found that “hammerhead” tips like those on the Z-Line 90 can feel cumbersome when skiing off-piste in tight moguls, steeper chutes, etc.

The Z-Line 90 also has lots of camber, almost no tail rocker / tail splay, and a tip that has plenty of tip splay but a very shallow tip rocker line.

Flex Pattern

Hand flexing the Z-Line 90, here’s how we’d characterize its flex pattern:

Tips: 7.5-8
Shovels: 8.5-9
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-9.5
Underfoot: 9
Behind Heel Piece: 9-8.5
Tails: 8.5-9.5

This is a pretty strong, solid flex pattern, and it’s pretty in line with a number of the skis in this category. The 18/19 HEAD Monster 88 is stiffer throughout (it’s still one of the stiffest ~88 mm skis out there), but the overall differences in flex pattern are pretty subtle between the Z-Line 90 and skis like the HEAD Kore 93, Atomic Vantage 90 Ti, and Volkl Kendo.

Dimensions

At 90 mm underfoot, the Z-Line 90 fits into an interesting slot — it’s wider than most dedicated carvers, and in the ballpark of narrower all-mountain skis. So while the Z-Line 90’s shape looks like that of a carving ski, its width puts it into the same category as some pretty versatile all-mountain skis like the Blizzard Brahma, Folsom Spar 88, Volkl Kendo, and DPS Foundation Cassiar 94.

And this raises the question: what do you really gain or lose by going with a wider ski that has a shape that’s similar to many narrower, piste-oriented carving skis?

Weight

The Renoun Endurance 98 and Citadel 106 are extremely light compared to other skis in their respective classes.

But the Z-Line 90 isn’t as crazy light as the other skis in Renoun’s lineup. At around 1970 grams per ski for the 180 cm version, the Z-Line 90 falls right around the middle of the pack in terms of weight when compared to other ~90mm-underfoot skis.

And we think this weight makes good sense. The Z-Line 90 is a dedicated resort ski, not a ski that you’ll use to set backcountry skin tracks. So we think keeping a bit of weight is a very good idea as it helps skis handle the rough conditions often encountered inbounds.

For reference, here are a few of our measured weights (per ski, in grams) for some notable skis. As always, keep in mind the length differences to keep things apples-to-apples.

1585 & 1586 Head Kore 93, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1790 & 1831 Salomon XDR 88, 186 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1839 & 1842 Black Crows Orb, 178.3 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1864 & 1882 Armada Invictus 89Ti, 187 cm (18/19)
1869 & 1894 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti, 184 cm (18/19)
1920 & 1940 Volkl Kendo, 177 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1931 & 1932 DPS Foundation Cassiar 94, 185 cm (18/19)
1936 & 1954 Fischer Pro Mtn 86 Ti, 182 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1943 & 1968 Liberty VMT 92, 186 cm (18/19)
1959 & 1985 Renoun Z-Line 90, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1996 & 2048 Head Monster 88, 177 cm (17/18)
1997 & 2001 Blizzard Brahma, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
2008 & 2015 Folsom Skis Spar 88, 182 cm (18/19)
2049 & 2065 Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19)
2062 & 2063 Rossignol Experience 94 Ti, 187 cm (18/19)
2077 & 2092 K2 Ikonic 84 Ti, 177 cm – weight includes binding plates (17/18, 18/19)
2114 & 2133 Nordica Enforcer 93, 185 cm (17/18, 18/19)
2171 & 2176 Head Monster 88, 184 cm (18/19)

Questions

(1) While the Z-Line 90’s shape and rocker profile are similar to a lot of dedicated carvers, Renoun is claiming that the Z-Line 90 can also handle off-piste conditions. So is the Z-Line 90 more versatile than its shape might suggest?

(2) Lots of 90mm-underfoot skis have dual-metal-laminate constructions like the Z-Line 90, but none of them share the Z-Line 90’s HDT tech. So does the Z-Line 90 feel significantly more stable than other skis with similar constructions and weights?

Bottom Line (For Now)

Renoun calls the Z-Line 90 an all-mountain ski with the “heart and soul” of a carving ski. So while it initially looks pretty straightforward, it also features Renoun’s unique HDT, and Renoun is claiming that the Z-Line 90 can handle conditions all over the mountain, not just on-piste. So what’s the real result?

Blister members can check out our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review, but while we put together our full review, please feel free to add in the comments section below any questions or things you’d like us to address.

Flash Review: Renoun Z-Line 90

Blister members can now read our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review of the Z-Line 90.

(Learn more about Blister Member benefits, and Become a Blister member)

NEXT: The Full Review

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