2019-2020 Volkl Mantra 102

Ski: 2019-2020 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm

Available Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 183.2 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2218 & 2244 grams

Stated Dimensions: 140-102-123 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 139.7-101.7-122.8 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (184 cm): 21.4 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 54 mm / 20 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Core: poplar/beech + “titanal “frame” + carbon tips + fiberglass laminate

Base: P-Tex 2100

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -11.6 cm from center; 80.0 cm from tail (also marks for +1 cm and +2 cm in front of the line)

Blister reviews the Volkl Mantra 102
Volkl Mantra 102
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics

Intro

The Volkl Mantra has a long history and a ton of passionate fans. For the 18/19 season, Volkl introduced the 5th generation of the ski, dubbed the “Mantra M5.”

While we’re always wary of companies updating products we like, we ended up getting along really well with the new Mantra M5 and gave it a “Best Of” award in our 18/19 Winter Buyer’s Guide.

For 19/20, Volkl is taking the construction and shape of the Mantra M5 and applying it to some new skis, including the brand-new Mantra 102. Before we get to the details on the new Mantra 102, let’s quickly touch on Volkl’s 19/20 Freeride lineup:

Volkl’s 2019-2020 Freeride Lineup

The 117mm-wide Confession, 96mm-wide Mantra M5, and 84mm-wide Kanjo are the three skis in Volkl’s 18/19 men’s Freeride lineup that come back unchanged for 19/20.

The three new skis in the lineup are the Mantra 102, Kendo 92, and Kendo 88. All three skis feature the “Titanal Frame” construction of the Mantra M5, which you can learn more about on our GEAR:30 podcast with some of Volkl’s engineers.

On the women’s side, the Secret 92 (women’s equivalent to the Mantra M5) and 84mm-wide Yumi return unchanged. Then Volkl is adding the Secret 102 and Kenja 88, both of which feature the Titanal Frame construction. We have the new Secret 102 in hand, and will be talking about it soon.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Mantra 102.

Shape / Rocker Profile

The Mantra 102’s shape is extremely similar to the Mantra M5’s. Apart from the Mantra 102 being wider, the two skis look basically identical. They both have very minimal tip and tail taper and fall in line with other traditionally shaped skis like the Blizzard Bonafide, Armada Invictus 99 Ti, Nordica Enforcer 100, and Parlor Cardinal 100 when it comes to shape.

The Mantra 102 and Mantra M5 are also nearly identical in regard to their rocker profiles. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that both skis use the same press. Both have fairly deep tip and tail rocker lines for how narrow they are, but their tips and tails don’t splay out much till the ends of the skis.

Compared to the Blizzard Bonafide, the Mantra 102 has a very similar tip rocker line, but a deeper and more splayed out tail rocker line. Compared to the new K2 Mindbender 99Ti, the Mantra 102 has a bit less tip rocker and a similar tail rocker line. Compared to the Enforcer 100, the Mantra 102 has a more subtle tip rocker line and a pretty similar tail rocker line, with the Mantra 102’s tail rocker rising a bit slower / less abruptly.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Mantra 102:

Tips: 8.5
Shovels: 8.5-9
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-9.5
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-9
Tails: 9 or 8.5

I feel like I sound like a broken record at this point, but after hand-flexing the Mantra 102 against the Mantra M5, the skis’ flex patterns feel nearly identical. If anything, the Mantra 102 might be a touch stiffer in the tail, but the difference is extremely subtle.

The Mantra 102 is a strong ski with a pretty even, round flex pattern. It’s stiffer than the Bonafide in the front, but the two skis feel similar in their back halves. The Mantra 102 is significantly stiffer than the Mindbender 99Ti in the front, but the Mindbender 99Ti is a bit stronger in the back half. The Mantra 102 is notably stiffer throughout compared to the Enforcer 100.

All in all, the Mantra 102 is a very strong ski and stands out from some other directional skis in that the Mantra 102’s flex pattern is pretty round, rather than having soft tips and much stiffer tails.

Sidecut Radius

We typically don’t place a huge emphasis on stated sidecut radii numbers because there are a ton of other factors that go into how a ski feels on snow, apart from its stated sidecut radius. And nowadays, many skis use a combination of sidecut radii, rather than one single radius. This makes stated sidecut numbers a bit less straightforward than they were when pretty much all skis used a single radius along the entire ski.

The Mantra 102, unlike the Mantra M5, reportedly uses three different radii throughout the sidecut of the ski. The radius in the middle of the 184 cm Mantra 102 is supposedly 20 meters, while the tip has a stated radius of 27 meters, and the tail, 25 meters. Volkl averages the sidecut throughout the ski to come up with an average stated sidecut radius of 21.4 meters for the 184 cm Mantra 102.

This “3-Radius Sidecut” is designed to make the ski responsive in the middle for making quick turns, while the longer radii in the front and back of the ski are meant to increase stability when making bigger turns. This is not a new concept (it’s used on a lot of skis these days) but is worth noting as the Mantra M5 uses a single-radius sidecut. For reference, the 184 cm Mantra M5 has a stated sidecut radius of 21.2 meters, which is very close to the average stated sidecut radius of the 184 cm Mantra 102.

Weight

The Mantra 102 is a pretty heavy ski. At around 2230 grams per ski for the 184 cm length, it’s one of the heaviest skis in this width that we’ve tested. It’s not that much heavier than the 180 cm Blizzard Bonafide or 185 cm Nordica Enforcer 100, but the Mantra 102 is by no means a light ski.

We beat the “weight is good for inbounds skis” drum pretty loudly here at Blister, so we’re excited about the heft of the Mantra 102. We tend to break out ~100mm-wide skis in a very wide range of conditions, including firm, rough snow. Heavier skis tend to better mute out / blast through rough snow compared to lighter skis, and the Mantra 102 looks like it has the potential to do exactly that. We’ll see…

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)
1758 & 1774 Moment Commander 98, 178 cm (18/19)
1800 & 1824 Luke Koppa’s Romp Skis 100, 183 cm (18/19)
1807 & 1833 Fischer Ranger 98Ti, 180 cm (16/17–18/19)
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)
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 (16/17–18/19)
1994 & 2011 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, 181 cm (19/20)
1998 & 2044 4FRNT MSP 99, 181 cm (17/18–18/19)
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)
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)

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The Mantra 102 and Mantra M5 are extremely similar, apart from their width, weight, and sidecut radii. So how different will the Mantra 102 feel, and where does it make sense to choose the Mantra 102 over the Mantra M5, or vice-versa?

(2) We love how well the Mantra M5 carves on groomers, so will the Mantra 102’s wider waist and multi-radius sidecut impact how well it carves? If so, will it be a positive or negative impact?

(3) On the other hand, will the Mantra 102’s width and radius translate to notably better off-piste performance vs. the Mantra M5?

(4) The Mantra 102 is a heavy ski with a strong flex pattern, so we’re eager to compare it to some of the other skis in its class like the Enforcer 100, Bonafide, and Mindbender 99Ti.

Bottom Line (For Now)

Volkl seems to have recognized that they have a good recipe with the Mantra M5, and therefore didn’t stray very far from its design when creating the Mantra 102. The Mantra 102 shares many of the things that we think make the Mantra M5 great: a more traditional shape and rocker profile, a strong, round flex pattern, and a pretty heavy weight. Now it’s time to see how that translates to a wider ski. Stay tuned for updates…

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Rocker Pics:

Full Profile
Tip Profile
Tail Profile
Top Sheet
Base

6 comments on “2019-2020 Volkl Mantra 102”

  1. looking foward to yall getting time on these. the built in nudge of the bcl is interesting.

    i have a pair of dynafit huascaran 186 that use the triple radius sidecut. 35m/20m/30m. so versatile. no, they do not pack the density of the mantra102, but they do everything. and gladly.

    my suspiscion with these dynafits has always been that they nailed the rocker/radius/stiffness relationship. a little bit like J Skis talks about.

    that big radius up front keeps the ski from over indulging on turn initiation in deep snow. it is very easy to tip onto that shorter radius center section. this allows for raucus good times in pow and groomers, and mixed bc conditions.

    the other part of this engineering trick is the layup of the ski. which wood(s) and composites give the right vibration absorbtion/power/flex/strength for THIS ski ?

    if you ever bump into a ski designer, buy them a beer !

  2. Uh oh, another one bites the (multi-radius) dust.

    I can’t say I buy the argument that this sort of multi-radius sidecut “make[s] the ski responsive in the middle for making quick turns, while the longer radii in the front and back of the ski … increase stability when making bigger turns”.

    The theory here appears to be that the tighter center sidecut in the middle acts somewhat like an XC ski’s kick pocket, engaging when the ski is driven into a tighter turn. Aside from the very obvious issue of weight/flex matching (traditional XC skis have to be matched to the rider so that the kick pocket only engages in the kick phase) there seem to be a couple problems here:

    First, tighter turns don’t necessarily imply higher turning forces than longer ones. Turning acceleration is speed squared divided by radius, so a relatively small increase in speed will outweigh the difference made by longer turn radius. In my experience most skiers use longer turns to go faster, so I don’t see any way you would avoid engaging the tighter-radius center of this ski when you do that.

    Second, tighter turns are typically initiated by driving through the shovel, for a number of reasons. While I realize that many folks ride more neutral on softer snow (good luck with that on ice), those aren’t the sort of people who are going to be buying a 2200+ g metal sled with a -11.6 cm mount point.

    There is an existing word that perfectly describes this sort of deviation of a ski’s sidecut profile from its radius: Taper.

    OK, done ranting.

    • Isn’t the point of the longer radii in front/back that, when not flexed, the ski is less prone to initiating a tight turn on its own? And then, as you flex it more, you access more and more of the tighter radius?

      If all you’re doing is big turns or tight turns then this won’t be as good at either (to your point about high forces on fast, wide-radius turns), but on my multi-radii skis I like that I can, with some effort, do either kind of turn, even though it isn’t as locked into a wide turn (feels a *bit* more squirrely) and it fights me a little on a tight turn in the wider-radius tip and tail. But what I get is that I can take it up to higher speeds than I would take a tight radius ski to (as long as I’m careful and deliberate about how much I flex or lean it over), and I don’t have to fight it anywhere near as hard to do a tight turn vs. my wider radius skis. Overall it takes a bit more effort and attention to do either kind of turn but the ski ultimately provides more versatility, which is the point, I think.

      • Skis with a single sidecut radius can make turns with a wide variety of radii by varying edge angle. As you tip the ski on edge you can push it further into reverse-camber, and that causes the ski to make a tighter arc in the snow.

        For example, a ski with a 20 meter sidecut radius scribes a 20 m arc when just barely angled, 17 m at 30 deg edge angle, 14 m at 45 deg, 10 m at 60 deg, and 5 m at 75 deg. Admittedly these calculations assume perfect torsional rigidity, and real skis wash out a bit in the tip/tail, but even so edge angle enables a much wider variety of turn radii than the sorts of sidecut shenanigans we’re discussing here.

        Also it’s always been possible to make tight-radius skis follow longer arcs than their sidecut. As an example I’ve taken 19 meter skis up to >60 mph (confirmed by speed trap). Carving a 19 meter arc at that speed would cause a lateral acceleration of >4 G (i.e. more than my legs can handle) and yet I can make comfortable long turns in that situation. The reason why is of course that we can induce the ski to “skid out” of its native arc a bit.

        • Cool! Thanks for the write-up. Agrees with my experience. I like that when barely angled, I’m getting a wider radius at the ends, and when I angle the skis more (and the tip/tail splay, taking some of the longer-radius edge out of play) I get a tighter radius at the center — it’s consistent with how I want to ski. Sounds like multi-radius should actually help that unless I’m not understanding it. Others probably prefer different.

  3. I would like to see a comparison between these Manta 102’s and the Bonafides! I felt the M5 was a little too glassy while the Bonafides still had a little more dampness with the right amount of twang. Feedback please….. I left the Bonafides when they lightened up but then went too far and onto a pair of Stockli SR 107’s. Great ski a lot of fun but I just don’t what to ski over 35 MPH for a ski to react anymore….. …I liked the Salomon Q106 at lower speeds but did’t get to really get to pounce on them on steeper terrain.

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