Ski: 2019-2020 Kastle MX99, 184 cm
Available Lengths: 168, 176, 184 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 182.6 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2240 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2324 & 2359 grams
Stated Dimensions: 135-99-120 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 135.5-97.8-120.0 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 22.6 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 67 mm / 5 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm
Core: fir/beech + titanal (2 layers) + carbon sheet + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -9.5 cm from center; 81.8 cm from tail
To all those who have been asking, we can now confirm that we’ll be reviewing some Kastle skis this season!
We recently received the 184 cm FX106 HP, 178 cm TX98, and the ski we’re talking about today: the 184 cm MX99.
In other news, we’re also going to start rolling out video First Looks this year to supplement our written First Looks. So check out the video below for the quick highlights of the MX99 (and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see all of our upcoming videos). Then in this written First Look we’ll go into more detail. Spoiler alert (if you couldn’t guess by the specs): we’re really, really excited about this ski.
What Kastle says about the MX99
“With a new, innovative sidecut, EARLY RISE technology, Hollowtech 2.0 and a race-inspired sandwich construction with carbon layers, the MX99 is the all-mountain ski that excels off-piste. From piste to powder, this all-rounder pumps out maximum performance and stability.”
This description is nothing out of the ordinary in and of itself; lots of brands make similar claims about their ~99mm-wide skis when it comes to versatility. It is interesting to me the things that Kastle chose to highlight (early rise and off-piste performance), based on the design of the MX99. Because compared to most other ~99mm-wide skis on the market, the MX99’s design is pretty different.
The MX99 combines time-tested and more modern technologies in its construction. Its silver fir / beech wood core is made of some pretty heavy hardwoods, and those woods are sandwiched between two layers of titanal in a traditional, full-sandwich construction. But then Kastle also added a full carbon-fiber layer on top, and implemented their “Hollowtech 2.0” design, which removes material from the tips of the ski. The most obvious upside to this would be a lower swing weight, but Kastle makes several other bold claims about the benefits of Hollowtech: “the ski becomes up to 30 % damper, the ski feels more stable, edge-grip is more powerful, steering is more precise and the overall weight is reduced.”
Well, that’s certainly a lot of claimed upsides to removing weight from the tip of the ski, but what about potential downsides?
Shape / Rocker Profile
The MX99 has a very traditional shape. It has very little tip and tail taper; the MX99’s tail shape is pretty similar to the Volkl Mantra 102 and old Head Monster 98’s (two skis we’ll be talking a lot about here). The MX99’s tip is a bit more complicated — it’s “straighter” than the Mantra 102 and Monster 98’s tips, but it doesn’t taper to a point like the Dynastar Legend X96 or Moment Commander 98. The MX99’s tip shape is somewhat similar to the Nordica Enforcer 100 and Folsom Blister Pro 104’s tip shapes, though the MX99’s tips don’t taper as much at the very end.
Bottom line with the MX99’s shape: it looks like it’ll offer a lot of effective edge and if I had to guess, I’d feel pretty confident saying that the MX99 is going to prefer being on edge and not be a particularly loose or surfy ski.
Another reason that I’m pretty confident with that hypothesis is the MX99’s rocker profile. While Kastle is emphasizing its “early rise” design, this ski has almost no rocker. Looking at the current crop of ~100mm-wide all-mountain skis, you could be forgiven for saying the MX99 has no rocker at all. In fact, it has a tiny amount of tip and tail rocker, but we were surprised by how similar the MX99’s rocker profile is to much narrower skis.
I was trying to think of a similarly wide, current ski that has shallower rocker lines than the MX99, but I’m currently drawing a blank (please let me know if you can think of any).
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the MX99:
In Front of Toe Piece: 8.5-9
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-9
This was surprising to me. The MX99 is very strong in the middle and back-half, which is what I expected from this more traditionally shaped and reportedly very stable ski. But its front half is actually pretty accessible. The hollowed-out portion of its tip starts fairly soft, then stiffens quickly, but the front half of the ski is far from unbendable.
Compared to the Mantra 102, the MX99 is notably softer in the tips and shovels, but similar everywhere else. Same story with the old Head Monster 98, except the Monster 98 is even stiffer in the front.
Overall, the MX99’s flex pattern is pretty similar to the K2 Mindbender 99Ti’s, with the Mindbender having slightly softer shovels.
Now, to be clear, the MX99 is far from a noodle. It’s very strong around the bindings and behind them. But it seems like the flex pattern of the front of the MX99 should make it relatively easy to bend into turns, particularly given how little taper and rocker it has. And then you’ve still got a very supportive midsection and tail that should powerfully finish turns.
If you peeked at the specs of this ski, you probably know what we’re going to say. This thing is heavy.
At an average weight of ~2341 grams per ski for the 184 cm length, the MX99 is the heaviest currently available ski we’ve weighed in the ~100mm-wide category.
And all my talk about the MX99 potentially being really stable on edge … its weight has a lot to do with that. It looks like it’s going to be a straight-up rocketship, at least on paper. If I was a betting man, I’d say the MX99 is going to be one of, if not the best ~100mm-wide ski on the market when it comes to nuking down roughed-up groomers, and maybe for nuking down any sort of conditions? We’ll see, but everything about the MX99 makes us extremely optimistic about its performance at very high speeds.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1629 & 1684 Elan Ripstick 96, 180 cm (17/18–19/20)
1734 & 1750 Renoun Endurance 98, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1758 & 1774 Moment Commander 98, 178 cm (18/19)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
1863 & 1894 Blizzard Rustler 9, 180 cm (18/19–19/20)
1894 & 1980 Black Crows Daemon, 183.6 cm (17/18–19/20)
1896 & 1919 Dynastar Legend X96, 186 cm (18/19–19/20)
1921 & 1968 Head Kore 99, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
1925 & 1937 Liberty Helix 98, 186 cm (18/19–19/20)
1928 & 1933 Moment Commander 98, 178 cm (19/20)
1931 & 1932 DPS Foundation Cassiar 94, 185 cm (18/19–19/20)
1937 & 1945 Fischer Ranger 94 FR, 184 cm (19/20)
1966 & 1973 Liberty Origin 96, 187 cm (18/19–19/20)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–19/20)
1994 & 2011 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, 181 cm (19/20)
1998 & 2044 4FRNT MSP 99, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
2007 & 2029 Armada Invictus 99 Ti, 187 cm (18/19–19/20)
2049 & 2065 Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19–19/20)
2050 & 2080 ON3P Wrenegade 96, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2053 & 2057 Atomic Vantage 97 Ti, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2062 & 2063 Rossignol Experience 94 Ti, 187 cm (18/19–19/20)
2085 & 2096 Dynastar Menace 98, 181 cm (19/20)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2114 & 2133 Nordica Enforcer 93, 185 cm (16/17–19/20)
2115 & 2149 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm (16/17–18/19)
2124 & 2137 Blizzard Bonafide, 180 cm (17/18–19/20)
2131 & 2189 Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20)
2311 & 2342 K2 Mindbender 99Ti, 184 cm (19/20)
2324 & 2359 Kastle MX99, 184 cm (18/19-19/20)
2373 & 2397 Head Monster 98, 184 cm (17/18)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) So many “all-mountain” skis are getting more tapered, more rockered, and lighter — basically the opposite of the MX99’s design. So how will it compare those skis, particularly when it comes to maneuverability and stability?
(2) The MX99’s shape and rocker profile have more in common with many on-piste skis than it does with many all-mountain skis, so just how versatile will the MX99 be? Is it a wider carving ski, an off-piste missile, or something in between?
(3) The MX99 is very heavy and it has a stiff tail, but it also has an accessible flex pattern in its tips and shovels and a potentially lighter swing weight due to Kastle’s Hollowtech, so how demanding will it be?
(4) The MX99 shares a lot in common with one of our favorite and now deceased skis, the Head Monster 98. So how similar will they feel on snow, and is the MX99 the replacement for the Monster 98 for which so many people have been looking? And what about the Volkl Mantra 102 and K2 Mindbender 99Ti?
Bottom Line (For Now)
The Kastle MX99 brings something refreshing to the market. It’s not very tapered, not very rockered, and it’s really, really heavy. We’re extremely excited to get this ski on snow (and particularly, some wide-open terrain where we can let it run), so stay tuned for updates. Crested Butte Mountain Resort opened this week, so we’ll be posting a Flash Review for Blister Members ASAP.