2020-2021 Kastle FX106 HP

Ski: 2020-2021 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm

Test Location: Crested Butte, Colorado

Days Skied: 7

Available Lengths: 168, 176, 184, 192 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 183.9 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 2000 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2079 & 2105 grams

Stated Dimensions: 137-106-125 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 137.6-105.5-124.6 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 20.4 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 59 mm / 20 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2 mm

Core: Poplar/Beech/Paulownia + Carbon & Fiberglass Laminate

Base: Sintered graphite

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -12.15 cm from center; 79.8 cm from tail

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 19/20 FX106 HP, which returns unchanged for 20/21.]

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister
Kastle FX106 HP
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Full Review //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics

Intro

For the 19/20 season, Kastle overhauled their “freeride” skis with the introduction of a revamped “FX” lineup. While the old Kastle BMX and the old (pre-19/20) FX95 HP had previously served as the brand’s freeride skis, the new 19/20 FX skis are quite different. The new FX line consists of the FX86, FX 96 W, FX96 HP, FX106 HP, and the FX116, many of which return unchanged for 20/21, including the FX106 HP.

We’re reviewing the FX106 HP, the mid-fat ski in the group that’s designed to handle a bit of everything, with an emphasis on backcountry and off-piste performance. The entire FX line is an interesting move for Kastle, as they’re going in a very different direction from the old BMX and previous FX skis of the past.

Check out our video First Look for a quick rundown on this ski, and below we’ll dive into more detail.

What Kastle says about the FX106 HP

“The FX106 HP is made for the backcountry and when teamed up with the FREETOUR 12 2.0 binding is also designed to be used as a touring ski. The 3D shape, triple wood core and carbon-fibreglass wrapped core of the lightweight TRI technology results in maximum transfer of power, stability and perfect float. Combined with Hollowtech 3.0 this ski raises the bar in terms of minimised weight and maximised downhill performance.

With the FX106 HP, epic lines and big drops are a breeze for Freeride World Tour Champion Lorraine Huber. This HP (high performance) ski is the weapon of choice for pros like Lorraine, from the first lift right through to the last ride of the day.”

The FX106 HP is designed to excel off-piste, and Kastle’s also making a point to emphasize pairing it with their Freetour 12 2.0 touring binding (equivalent to the ATK Raider 2.0 12 binding). So this ski is supposed to be light enough for human-powered skiing, and yet it’s also supposed to be supportive enough for FWT athletes like Lorraine Huber. That’s not something we hear about many skis, but the FX106 HP definitely has some unique things going on with its construction, so let’s first dive into that.

Construction

The FX106 HP uses a blend of several interesting technologies and techniques in its construction.

First, it uses Kastle’s new “Tri Tech” construction, which consists of three key elements. First, the FX106 HP uses three different types of woods — poplar, beech, and paulownia. The center of the core is a poplar / beech blend, designed to offer power, rigidity, and damping due to the heavier beech wood. Then the outer portions of the core (near the edges) feature a lighter poplar / paulownia blend.

That mixed wood core is implemented in a “3D” construction where the center band of poplar / beech is thicker than the outer poplar / paulownia stringers. So, combined with the different wood types, you get a thicker, stronger core in the middle of the ski and then a lighter core near the edges.

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister
Kastle FX106 HP — Core Construction

The FX106 HP’s center band of poplar / beech is also wrapped in a carbon & fiberglass “sleeve,” designed to increase torsional rigidity and bonding strength between the different woods. For the FX86, FX96 W, & FX116, the middle core is wrapped in a pure fiberglass sleeve, while the FX96 HP and FX106 HP get a carbon & fiberglass sleeve for reportedly more power and rigidity (hence the “HP” moniker). While Kastle used to add the “HP” label to skis that featured titanal layers, none of the 19/20 FX skis feature titanal.

Finally, the FX106 HP uses Kastle’s signature “Hollow Tech 3.0,” which means the ski has core material removed from the tip / shovel and replaced with a synthetic material (the obvious green cutout at the tip) that’s designed to decrease swing weight while actually making the ski’s tips more damp.

Shape / Rocker Profile

While the FX skis use a much lighter construction than the old BMX skis, their shapes haven’t drastically changed over the years. Overall, the FX106 HP looks pretty similar to the old Kastle BMX 105 in terms of shape. The FX106 HP has a pretty tapered shovel and a significantly less tapered tail.

The FX106 HP isn’t as tapered (particularly in the tail) as some skis like the Rossignol Soul 7 HD or Dynastar Legend X106, but the FX106 HP is more tapered (particularly in the shovel) than more traditionally shaped skis in this width like the Liberty Origin 106, Black Crows Corvus, and Icelantic Nomad 105.

The FX106 HP’s rocker profile is pretty different from the old BMX 105. The FX106 HP has a fairly deep, but pretty low-slung tip rocker line and a significantly shallower tail rocker line. The BMX 105 had deeper tip and tail rocker lines that started rising more abruptly.

The FX106 HP’s tip rocker line is similarly deep vs. the Salomon QST 106, but the QST 106’s tip rises much more abruptly and has much more tip splay. Similar story in the tail, but the QST 106 also has a deeper tail rocker line. The Line Sick Day 104 is fairly similar compared to the QST 106 when it comes to rocker profile — deeper rocker lines and rocker lines that rise quicker than the FX106 HP.

Compared to the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, the FX106 HP has a deeper tip rocker line, but the Soul 7 HD’s tip rises much more abruptly. The Soul 7 HD’s tail rocker line is also a bit deeper and it has slightly more tail splay.

All in all, the FX106 HP’s rocker profile is nothing super out of the ordinary for a ~106mm-wide, directional freeride ski. There are lots of skis in this class with deeper rocker lines and more tip and tail splay, but there are also some with even less rocker and splay.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the FX106 HP:

Tips: 5-6
Shovels: 6.5-7.5
In Front of Toe Piece: 8-9
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-9
Tails: 8-7

The FX106 HP has a very directional flex pattern with very soft tips and significantly stiffer tails. The hollowed-out portion of the FX106 HP’s tips is very soft, but it then ramps up pretty quickly as you move to the middle of the ski. The middle is very strong, it stays strong behind the bindings, and then it smoothly softens at the very end.

The FX106 HP’s flex pattern reminds me of the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, but the Soul 7 HD’s tips are a tiny bit softer and its tail stays a bit stiffer. Flexing the Soul 7 HD vs. the FX106 HP, the FX106 HP’s flex-pattern transition in the shovel feels a bit smoother (doesn’t feel very hinge-like).

Mount Point

The recommended mount point on our pair of the FX106 HP comes in around -12 cm from true center, which is very far back.

When I measured the FX106 HP’s mount point, I triple checked it since I had just measured the much heavier, more traditionally shaped & rockered Kastle MX99, which has a recommended mount point that isn’t even that far back (the MX99’s is around -9.5 cm from center).

So, combined with its shape, flex pattern, and rocker profile, the FX106 HP’s very rearward mount point makes it look like a very directional ski that will best reward a forward stance.

Weight

Given the FX106 HP’s lack of metal and use of construction elements that reduce weight, it’s not that surprising that it comes in at a fairly low weight of around 2092 grams per ski for the 184 cm length. That’s not nearly as light as most dedicated touring skis, but it’s also significantly lighter than many other “freeride” skis in this waist width.

What is interesting is that the old Kastle BMX skis and the old FX95 HP were definitely not light skis. The BMX 105 (non-metal version) came in around 2271 grams per ski for the 189 cm length, which is far heavier than the FX106 HP. So, again, Kastle seems to be going in a pretty different direction with their new FX skis.

The FX106 HP’s weight puts it in the same class as many skis we’d classify as “50/50” skis — light enough for touring, but not so light that we wouldn’t want to ski them in the resort. We’ll be interested to see how the FX106 HP stacks up against both heavier and lighter skis in its class.

For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Since Kastle is marketing the FX106 HP for both lift-accessed and human-powered skiing, we’re listing both resort- and touring-oriented skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.

1605 & 1630 Line Vision 108, 183 cm (19/20)
1606 & 1641 Blizzard Zero G 105, 188 cm (19/20)
1642 & 1651 Renoun Citadel 106, 185 cm, (18/19)
1642 & 1662 Atomic Backland 107, 182 cm (18/19–19/20)
1660 & 1680 Moment Deathwish Tour, 184 cm (19/20)
1692 & 1715 Moment Wildcat Tour 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1706 & 1715 Volkl BMT 109, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
1733 & 1735 Blizzard Zero G 108, 185 cm (17/18–18/19)
1745 & 1747 4FRNT Raven, 184 cm (16/17–18/19)
1752 & 1771 Amplid Facelift 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
1755 & 1792 Line Sick Day 104, 179 cm (17/18–19/20)
1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20)
1787 & 1806 WNDR Alpine Intention 110 (cambered), 185 cm (19/20)
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20)
1814 & 1845 Elan Ripstick 106, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1825 & 1904 Black Crows Corvus Freebird, 183.3 cm (17/18–19/20)
1843 & 1847 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (17/18)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–19/20)
1849 & 1922 Elan Ripstick 106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
1853 & 1873 WNDR Alpine Intention 110 (reverse camber), 185 cm (19/20)
1923 & 1956 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106, 189 cm (17/18–18/19)
1950 & 1977 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (17/18–18/19)
1970 & 1979 Atomic Backland FR 109, 189 cm (17/18)
1996 & 2012 Dynastar Legend X106, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2079 & 2105 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm (19/20)
2097 & 2113 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106, 189 cm (19/20)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2110 & 2119 Moment Wildcat 108, 190 cm (19/20)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–19/20)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20)
2177 & 2180 Moment Commander 108, 188 cm (19/20)
2182 & 2218 Nordica Enforcer 110, 185 cm (17/18–19/20)
2188 & 2190 Prior Northwest 110, 190 cm (19/20)
2190 & 2268 Armada ARV 106Ti LTD, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2202 & 2209 Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, 186 cm (19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20)
2232 & 2244 ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20)
2241 & 2295 4FRNT Devastator, 184 cm (14/15–18/19)
2250 & 2307 Argent Badger, 184 cm (19/20)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2312 & 2386 Prior Husume, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2318 & 2341 J Skis The Metal, 186 cm (16/17–18/19)
2321 & 2335 Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm (19/20)
2376 & 2393 Blizzard Cochise, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The FX106 HP is a fairly light ski, but it’s also a uniquely constructed ski. So will the FX106 HP’s construction make it notably more stable than similarly light skis, or even heavier ones?

(2) The FX106 HP has more taper and rocker than many of Kastle’s other skis, so how loose and easy to pivot will it be, and how solid will it feel on edge?

(3) The tips and shovels of the FX106 HP are quite soft, but it has a stiff midsection and a stiffer tail, so how forgiving vs. demanding will it feel?

(4) Given its very rearward mount point, we expect the FX106 HP to reward a very forward, driving stance. But how will it feel with the bindings mounted in front of its recommended line?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The new Kastle FX106 HP seems like a new step for the brand — it’s a fairly light ski with a modern shape, rocker profile, and construction. But Kastle is claiming that the FX106 HP can hold up to aggressive, freeride-style skiing, so we’ll be getting the ski on snow ASAP to see how it compares to the other options in this category.

FULL REVIEW

Sam Shaheen and I both spent time on the FX106 HP this past season at Crested Butte, and we came away with similar impressions. We were able to get it in both very soft and quite firm conditions to get a good idea of the versatility of this wider all-mountain ski, so let’s get to it.

Soft Chop / Powder

We didn’t get the FX 106 HP into a bunch of truly untracked runs, but I do think this ski will float very well for its width. It doesn’t have a super deep tip rocker line or a dramatic amount of tip splay, but the FX106 HP’s very rearward mount point (-12 cm from true center) and super soft tips never had me feeling any tip dive, even when driving its shovels hard into deep patches of soft chop.

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Luke Koppa on the Kastle FX106 HP, Crested Butte, Colorado.

I was a bit worried that the FX106 HP’s hollowed-out, soft tips might fold up during high-speed impacts, but I never experienced that. Even when skiing quite fast and aggressively in soft chop, the majority of the FX106 HP feels quite strong, and encourages pushing it hard through soft, choppy snow. Due to its mount point, I was far enough back on the ski that I never felt like I was really leaning on the soft ends of the tips, but rather, its supportive midsection. This is kind of a cool combination, as I seemed to get the flotation benefits of the soft tips without much of any downside.

Overall, I’d say that the FX106 HP feels slightly above average in terms of its stability-to-weight ratio. The 184 cm version’s average weight per ski is just under 2100 grams, which is neither super light nor very heavy by today’s standards. It’s definitely not a ski that feels like it has enough mass / momentum to just plow through patches of soft snow with little effort on your end. But if I stay over the shovels and take advantage of its stronger-flexing midsection, I can ski the FX106 HP very hard in soft chop.

As will be a theme, I also liked how much energy the FX106 HP returned back when I was pushing it hard. Even in soft chop, I could load up the ski and get launched from turn to turn.

Firm Chop / Crud

For those who loved the old Kastle BMX skis, you will not find the same suspension and smooth feel in the FX106 HP — the FX106 HP is far lighter than those skis, so this isn’t a surprise.

But if you found the old BMX skis to feel sluggish rather than smooth and damp — or you just aren’t that interested in skiing super fast when the conditions aren’t prime for doing so — the FX106 HP makes more sense.

Given how light it is, I think the FX106 HP does an admirable job of smoothing out rough snow. You’re certainly still gonna have a pretty good idea how rough the snow is underneath these skis (it does not make it disappear like heavier skis can), but the FX106 HP does not feel as harsh as some of the slightly lighter options out there.

Suspension / damping aside, the FX106 HP’s other potential upside (depending on your skiing style) is how hard you can drive its shovels and how precise it feels on edge. In very rough snow, being able to put a lot of pressure on a ski’s shovels can help make it feel more composed — especially with lighter skis. With light skis with more forward mount points, you’re sometimes forced to ski them very neutral / centered and therefore don’t have as much leverage over the tips as they get knocked around. Not so with the FX106 HP — that -12 mount point let me try to emulate my racing friends’ techniques as much as I could muster.

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Sam Shaheen on the Kastle FX106 HP, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Of course, many people get along just fine with skis that let them casually pivot and slide through rough snow from a centered stance — not everyone wants to ski hard through these more challenging conditions. And for those people, I don’t think the FX106 HP makes as much sense, since (1) you won’t be taking advantage of its directional design and (2) it’s more difficult than more centered-stance skis when you decide to ski from a more centered stance.

The FX106 HP also carves really well, which can help in wide-open terrain with fairly shallow, firm chop. We’ve talked about skis being “too loose” to the point that it’s difficult to keep them tracking down the fall line in rough snow. The FX106 HP is certainly not one of those skis — while I could release its tails when I wanted to, it’s a ski that prefers to be on edge and headed downhill.

Groomers

Sam and I were both really impressed by the FX106 HP’s carving capabilities. The ski came with a factory tune that was definitely sharper than average, and with the factory tune, it was one of the best ~106mm-wide skis we’ve used in terms of edge hold. (We’re asking Kastle about the details on the factory tune and will update this when we get that info.)

However, we both had a hard time feathering turns on the FX106 HP with its factory tune, so we lightly detuned the rockered portion of its tails and much preferred the ski with that slight tail detune. We could break it free from a carved turn much easier (whether on or off piste) without feeling like we lost very much edge hold.

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Sam Shaheen on the Kastle FX106 HP, Crested Butte, Colorado.

While the FX106 HP holds an edge really well, its turn initiation isn’t as instant as skis that have less tapered tips. The FX106 HP doesn’t immediately pull you across the fall line on groomers, but once you get some speed going, it is pretty easy to lay it over on edge. The 184 cm’s 20.4-meter stated sidecut radius feels accurate on snow — slalom turns are difficult, but it felt comfortable making just about any turn shape larger than that.

And again, if you’re pushing this ski pretty hard, it produces lots of energy / rebound / pop / whatever you want to call it when a ski launches you out of the exit of a turn.

Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain

How easy or difficult (and just generally “fun”) the FX106 HP feels to you in tighter terrain will definitely come down to your skiing style and ability level.

I would not recommend this ski to beginners, and I think many intermediates may still have a hard time on it. Mostly because of two things:

First, this is not a super loose ski. Skiers with good technique who stay over the shovels of their skis will find it pretty easy to release its tail (especially after a light detune). But if you’re prone to skiing backseat or even centered in tight spots, the FX106 HP is not going to be very easy to pivot, and it may send you going downhill faster than you’d like.

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Sam Shaheen on the Kastle FX106 HP, Crested Butte, Colorado.

The second, slightly less important thing is that the FX106 HP’s tail feels pretty strong on snow. It’s not extremely punishing, and I think its minimal tail rocker line also plays into this (since you’re engaging a lot of tail). But the main point is that this isn’t a ski for tail-gunning through bumps and trees.

But for advanced and expert skiers with a directional skiing style, there’s a lot to like about the FX106 HP in tight — and especially tight and steep — terrain.

Despite its very rearward mount point, I never felt like the FX106 HP’s swing weight was notably heavier than similarly light skis with more forward mount points (which I’d assume is mostly due to Kastle’s “Hollowtech” tips). This, combined with the energetic feel of the ski, makes it feel quick and nimble in tight spots.

As in other terrain, the FX106 HP feels better the harder you ski it. If you’ve got good technique, it’s still pretty easy to slowly pick your way through tight spots on this ski, but I definitely had the most fun on this ski when I was trying to hack my way down steep bumps and trees as fast as possible.

Throughout my time on this ski, it kept making me think of the OG Hot Doggers. Yes, it’s a directional ski, but it’s one that’s a ton of fun to ski with an aggressive, yet active skiing style — drive its shovels hard into a trough, load up the tails, do a big airplane turn over the top of a bump, repeat. If that sounds like your style, the FX106 HP definitely stands out in the current market.

Mount Point

We spent most of our time on the FX106 HP with it mounted on its recommended line (-12 cm from true center). I tend to get along best with skis that have mount points closer to center, so I also tried it with the bindings at +2 cm in front of the line (around -10 cm from true center).

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Luke Koppa on the Kastle FX106 HP, Crested Butte, Colorado.

Overall, I didn’t notice a big difference between those two mount points. The FX106 HP is a very directional ski overall and I think directional skiers will be just fine with it mounted on the recommended line. If you want more tail behind you for landings or it just feels weird to you to have so much ski in front of you, bumping 2 cm in front of that line is a safe bet. I didn’t notice much of a downside apart from the tail being slightly more punishing if I got backseat.

Who’s It For?

Advanced and expert skiers who prefer a directional, driving-the-shovels stance and who prioritize quickness and energy over flat-out stability and an ultra-smooth, damp feel.

I wouldn’t recommend the FX106 HP to skiers who often find themselves in the backseat, or who prefer to ski with a very neutral, centered stance. And if you’re a directional skier who wants a ski that’s super loose and easy to pivot, this isn’t your ski. Finally, if you mostly want a ski that will blast through any sort of snow with little feedback, you should look to much heavier options.

Luke Koppa reviews the Kastle FX106 HP for Blister in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Luke Koppa on the Kastle FX106 HP, Crested Butte, Colorado.

But if you prefer a slightly lighter, quicker ski over a super stable one, the FX106 HP is a strong contender. It’s very versatile across a wide range of conditions, carving really well for its width while also offering very good flotation in deeper snow. It lets you drive it very hard through the shovels (and often demands that you do that), which can help it feel more stable in rough snow vs. similarly lightweight skis. And if you’re a directional skier who also likes to get your skis airborne between turns, the FX106 HP is a great choice.

Bottom Line

The Kastle FX106 HP is a ski that bridges the gap between many of the lighter, easier all-mountain skis and the much heavier, more sluggish ones. Under the feet of a skier with good technique, the FX106 HP is quick and lively, yet can be skied quite hard for how light it is.

Deep Dive Comparisons

Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the FX106 HP to see how it compares to the Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Head Kore 105, DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 C2, Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender & Sender Ti, Black Crows Corvus, Black Crows Atris, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, Line Sick Day 104, Moment Wildcat 108, 4FRNT MSP 107, Blizzard Rustler 10, Liberty Origin 106, Salomon QST 106, Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, & K2 Mindbender 108Ti.

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16 comments on “2020-2021 Kastle FX106 HP”

  1. Hey guys. Have you tried this ski with the mount point a few cm forward? I have the fx96 in 180 and thinking about moving my bindings forward a few cms – just feels like not quite enough tail back there (have big boots). Maybe I should have gotten the 188.

    • Yep, I tried it at +2 cm from recommended and have been liking it there. More support in the tail without really losing out on anything IMO. If you already have the FX96, I think it’d be worth trying it with the bindings bumped a couple cm in front of the line.

  2. A serious remark/reply about the tune: Kastle specifies a very standard 1 degree base, 2 degree side tune for all of their all-mountain skis.

    With that said there is a lot of room for variation within those parameters, mostly related to the acuity and smoothness of the very tip of the edge (whereas the angles measure the orientations of the 2 flat faces that meet at the tip). On harder snow I can easily tell the difference between a typical “shop tune” and what I can do with a Trione by finishing with a fine disk like the CBN8RS and then some hand-finishing of the base edges, tips, and tails (the Trione is a machine of the sort used for high-level racing, not to be confused with little handheld ones like the Swix EVO Pro).

    My guess would be that Kastle took the time and expense to make multiple passes through the machine ending with a very fine disk, and maybe hand-finished the ends.

    The all-mountain ski that I’ve recently been most impressed with in terms of initial tune is the 19-20 Dynastar F-Team Pro Rider. The bases were dead flat (which indicates that they “aged” the skis between pressing and grinding), edge angles were spot on, and the edge quality was right up there with a good racing tune. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised as it’s a limited-run ski out of Dynastar’s “race room” in Chamonix, but it’s still a rare thing. My Head racing skis have all had pretty good initial tunes, too.

  3. Couldn’t agree more, I demoed these with a whole bunch of skis over 2 days at Deer Valley and was really surprised at how easy and capable they were, not overly punishing me if I got a bit centered or backseat but also really rewarding staying properly forward and driving them.

    I got on the FX106 expecting them to terrify me and force me to slow down, since I’d just come off the MX84 and didn’t realize the FX106 wasn’t just a fatter version of those skis, and so I was really surprised with how manageable the FX106 was. It was actually the most fun I had that entire trip on medium-deep snow (~8-10″) on spaced out bumps or tight trees, while also being fun on groomers (this being Deer Valley, there were lots of those). Instead of being scared into going slower like I was expecting, I was encouraged to go faster and drive them harder, because I felt better with how much ski was in front of me vs. a similar length J Skis Metal, and more confident in being able to shut it down quickly vs. the old Bibby even if a bit tired or not able to summon 100% of my strength (I love the Bibby when I’m fully on my game but when I get tired I find them a bit much). I really enjoyed the contrast vs. the Meridian Tour that I’d brought with me — the Meridian encouraged a light, centered, agile approach dancing around bumps while the FX106 was more fun to carve through/around or just occasionally plow through a bump (which I did by accident once not seeing a bump, and came out of it with a big shit-eating grin, then just kept doing it). It’s just like you said, the FX106 is capable enough to carve or blow through things while staying communicative of what you just blew through, while being easy to release or lay sideways to lose speed.

    On the amazing days with deeper/softer snow (like 10-16″) I’d still opt for the Metal if I was feeling turnier or the Bibby if I was feeling chargier, but on all the days in between when I’m still aiming for the deeper (6-10″) stuff but really want to drive my shovels, the FX106 would be my pick.

  4. These are one of the worst skis I’ve ever been on and I can’t disagree with the review more. For a point of reference I love the 194 Kastle MX 98 (bought the spare pairs available in the US for back ups) and the 192 BMX 115, but the 192 FX 105 HP was unskiable and scary. The day I skied them I was in Head Raptor 140rs with the 130 screw in to soften them a tad, and was skiing in and out of bounds at JHMR.

    I tried the Kastle reps pair, that had been tuned the night before in 6-18 inches of starting to set up cut up powder. It was suggested I try to keep my weight slightly forward because that’s what the ski liked. There is a very small sweet spot on these between a balanced stance and too far forward stance where either the tips fold up or the tails load out and kick. The tips would fold up when going fast in packed Pow or on hard pack at the sight of the first bump, not a good feeling of getting tossed over the bars. The tails, they don’t flex, if you get back, good luck because they will lock into a turn, not release and kick hard, as hard as a GS ski, and not in that good accelerate you forward way either.

    Kastle is known for making skis that flex consistently, but these are all over the place. They don’t flex evenly or even have the same flex turn to turn. Once I returned them the rep, he agreed with what I thought, and said the Kastle team had the same opinions, hence the FX 106 HP being replaced so quickly by the ZC 108. It sounds like you reviewed the new 108, not the 106.

    I get the hand flex comparison to the Soul 7 HD until you actually ski the Fx 106 HP. You can go out and ski in side the box of what the Soul 7 can do. It’s a softish ski with a lot of taper to make skiing pow easier. You can’t with the FX 106 HP because it never skis the same.

    Twice in Blisters history I’ve disagreed with reviews, once I believe was due to you guys being on the wrong length ski, and this. I am absolutely floored this is what you published because this is not the general consensus of the ski from anyone who has been on it. If I didn’t believe in the Blister ethos so strongly, I’d ask what Kastle paid you for this review.

    • There’s a whole lot going on in this post, Matt. (And some of it, such as your claim, “This is not the general consensus of the ski from anyone who has been on it,” is a bit head-scratching; I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you’ve talked to much fewer than 1% of people who have been on this ski, so that statement might be a bit of an exaggeration?)

      Also, if over the course of the past 10 years, you’ve disagreed with a total of 2 reviews of ours — and really only 1 review (since you seem to think we reviewed something in the wrong length?), I think I’d call that a pretty phenomenal track record.

      Question: what is your height and weight? I have a suspicion that you are not a small guy? I personally didn’t have the chance to spend time on this ski given that the season got cut short abruptly, but given its weight and flex pattern, I can imagine that the heavier and taller you are, the less of a good fit this ski could be.

      So it might turn out that I personally hate this ski, I don’t know. I’ll get on it early next season. But I’ll stand by the fact that Luke and Sam reported exactly what they found to be the case. If *you* had a different experience, we’re definitely interested in hearing about it. But feel free to tone down the indignation next time.

      • You guys are awesome and I am sorry for being so harsh, but give me a min to explain.

        For starters, I still remember find the Nordica Patron/Helldorado review 6/7 years ago and having an epiphany of why I felt the tip of my Patrons kept trying to kill me when the density of snow changed. Blister has helped me put into words what I feel about a ski when I’m skiing, and also be able to read into what each reviewer is saying, pick out what they do and don’t like, then apply it to me.

        I am a large guy, 6-4 205lbs without ski and Avi gear, probably closer to 240lbs fully ready to go. Race boots and airbags aren’t light, those are why I’m fat. Yes, I do like the feel of a damp ski, hence my love for the 194 Mx 98, 187 Brahmas, 193 Kastle BMX 115, or 103 Volkl Shiros. Side note, if you catch me in the JHMR tram line with my Mx 98s, feel up for a challenge, have a bsl close to 301mm, and want to take them for a rip, just ask, seriously, just ask. But at the same time, I love skiing the 188 Blizzard Rustler 9, and the Armada ARV JJ 116, neither Id described as damp chargers. Both are skis that make you ski very differently then a damp charger, but being a jibby skier is as much fun as a big damp ski. And being able to get out and enjoy what a ski offers with out forcing it to be something it isn’t, is one of the things Blister has taught me. I can read a review, figure out if ski X might offer something I’m looking for, go demo that ski, and if I like it, buy it.

        I got unreasonable heated (and I should of pumped the brakes) over this review because for the first time since I’ve become an avid Blister reader, I didn’t find a single redeeming quality of a ski that two reviewers liked. Johnathan is probably also correct that of all the people who have skied the FX 105 Hp, I’ve maybe come across 1% of them, but I will stand by that I haven’t heard a single good thing. Not from a single shop employee, not the rep, not the pros, not the average joes.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. I have been for 8 years an avid Blister reader and will continue to be. I’m also going to put my money where my mouth is and become a member, because I believe in what you guys do.

        100% side note: I will go to my grave that Blister would of written a much different review of the Volkl Shiro (rip) had you been on the 193, but it’s a mute point because that skis gone now. Volkl, please bring the Shiro back so I can buy 10 pairs and never have to look for a pow ski again.

        • Thanks for the follow up, Matt. All very kind of you, and much appreciated.

          And regarding that Shiro… I definitely think you’re right. I remember being in Japan during the deepest storm cycle of my life… and feeling like I was on a pair of snow blades on the 183. (Volkl had sent us the wrong size on that one — we had called in the 193.) Our reviewer, Andrew Gregovich, was able to get along with the 183. I definitely did not. And I never did get on the 193, which is a sad ending to this particular story.

    • Agreeing with what Jonathan said, this sounds to me like the difference between how a light/playful skier (Luke is like 155# IIRC) experiences a ski like this and how a bigger/chargier person would.

      I’m >200 lb and an ex-racer, and when I ready Blister I always keep the reviewer in mind. If Jonathan, Paul, or (especially) Eric rave about something then I generally won’t hate it. If it’s Sam or Luke then I read what they say carefully and consider whether the ski seemed to be “just enough” for them. FWIW I read this review and thought “sounds fun, but not for me”.

  5. Wow– reading over this it sounds so much like my recent experiences with the Blizzard Zero G 105 (188 cm). At 185~ 190 lbs, the ZG105 seems to ski traditionally– in the sense “if in doubt” lean into the tips (while on occasion it will be OK to ski otherwise). Flicking, carving and staying forward just sooo fun on a wide range of snow types.

    Buuuuut there’s the differences of course: the ZG 105s have a less traditional mount point and are much lighter…., which means, not so much this time around (?)

    Anyhow, at my weight and the ski length difference, it’s so interesting to read a similar set of adjectives and descriptors for the Kastle. Makes me want to try the Kastle in the 192 length next year on the lifts.

    but for touring though, ahhhhh, not so much.

    SYOTG (see you on the glacier) !

  6. I’ve skied the kastle FX line over the past few years along with a lot of other skis. I’ve always bought my Kastles on craigslist, ski forums or eBay at heavy discounts so maybe I don’t expect too much from them to begin with. I expect they’ll be a fun “change it up” type of ski but not a daily driver. The FX96HP (slimmer version of this ski) changed my mind and although its not perfect for every condition – I end up having a lot of fun in just about anything I do on the mountain. True – when I’m feeling super aggressive and skiing as fast as I can I would prefer a heavier ski with metal. Then there are times I’d be better off on something less directional. But for doing it all this ski is pretty much ideal for me and can handle anything I throw at it. I wish it came in a 185 length and may pick up the 188s if I can.

    I haven’t tried the 106HP yet but will probably pick up a pair when I find one cheap enough. I’m curious about the trees and moguls though – I find the 96 to be awesome in trees and moguls – probably because its light enough (swing weight, overall weight, whatever it is) that if I want to chill out I can be light on my feet and a little hoppy and pivot the skis super easy – don’t need to drive them at all. Would I lose that with the 106HP given increase in width and a little heavier? I assumed it would be similar. It may just be that I’m 6’2 and 190-200 on 180 cm 1900 gram skis and so can manipulate them despite having shitty technique when I’m tired and in tough spots.

    Matt F, do you think maybe you were just in a bad mood that day or that you expect the ski to be in some super-ski category because of its price? I know kastle gets a bad rep by the cool kids for being too expensive, only for older dads wearing matching kjus kits, etc. But I just can’t understand hating a ski as much as you do – you could give me a 2×4 with sneakers and some heavy duty rubber bands and I wouldn’t hate it as much as you hated the kastles. Also I know you addressed this, but pretty un-cool to accuse blister of being paid by kastle because you disagree with their view. Cmon man, these guys crap on kastle when appropriate. But they’re clearly being paid by j skis and moment – that’s just obvious.

    • Ha.

      And just for what it’s worth – I personally can definitely related to hating a ski as much as Matt hated this particular one. As any of our poor reviewers who get stuck with me on chairlift rides when testing certain skis can attest. But then my job is to try to articulate why, and what’s going on, and who will likely agree with me, and what types of skiers might not.

  7. FWIW as someone who is way less knowledgeable about skis and skiing than many who post on Blister (as well as the Blister team themselves obviously), I have to say this series of comments and replies is one of the most useful I have read. Really helpful to get counter views and the reasons why. No learning without debate. Thanks

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