Ski: 2020-2021 Faction La Machine, 186 cm
Available Lengths: 178, 186 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 184.2 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1950 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1870 & 1895 grams
Stated Dimensions: 148-126-139 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 147.3-125.5-138.7 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (186 cm): 26 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 64 mm / 31 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 0 mm
Core: Paulownia/Poplar + Titanal Binding Reinforcement + Carbon & Fiberglass Laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -13.1 cm from center; 79.0 cm from tail
A few months ago on our GEAR:30 podcast, we discussed with the folks at Faction their 20/21 lineup. It encompasses everything from metal-laminate directional skis (we should be getting on some of the new Dictators soon), to Candide Thovex’s signature freestyle skis, to some very solid touring skis (Agent series).
But then there’s also Faction’s “Outcast” collection — three skis that aren’t really related to each other, apart from being unique models that are designed for very specific end goals. There’s the mogul-specific Le Mogul, the pretty self-explanatory Le Mono, and the ski we’re discussing here, La Machine.
La Machine is a very wide, powder-specific ski that Faction says they designed with the help of guides and athletes who spend a lot of time skiing very deep snow. We’re seeing fewer and fewer unapologetic, pow-specific skis on the market these days, so we’re pretty psyched about La Machine.
We’re sending it up to Alaska so our reviewer, Paul Forward, can get it in some deep snow soon. In the meantime, let’s dive into the design of this unique ski.
What Faction says about La Machine
“We went deep, very literally, with this project. We interviewed the foremost experts on powder skiing; we filmed athletes ripping the dreamiest snow; we skied lots and lots of the fluffy white stuff ourselves; we analyzed, toiled, and tinkered; and after lots of heavy breathing, La Machine was born. La Machine is made to ski the deepest powder, whether it be in the breathtaking Japanese valleys or the remote mountains of western Canada. This ski allows for effortless flotation and intuitive handling, allowing you to go up for another run even when your legs are screaming mercy.”
Pretty straightforward — La Machine is supposed to make skiing deep pow easier and more fun. It’s also supposed to do that in a variety of terrain. While this description is about what we’d expect of a big pow ski, the way Faction went about achieving their goals is very interesting:
Shape / Rocker Profile
Overall, La Machine looks a bit like a really wide version of the Faction Dictator 4.0 or Agent 4.0. Unlike some super-fat skis like DPS Lotus 138 and Armada ARG II, La Machine is not that drastically tapered through its tips and tails. It definitely has a shorter effective edge than Faction’s narrower Dictator and Agent skis, but I suspect that La Machine’s fairly long (relative to many similarly wide skis) effective edge will make for a more predictable ride if / when you encounter some firmer conditions. On the flip side, we’re curious to see just how surfy / loose / drift-y La Machine feels in deep pow.
La Machine’s rocker profile is less traditional. It is a full reverse-camber ski, with no camber underfoot and a fairly short “flat” section around the middle of the ski.
Its tip and tail rocker lines are both quite deep, though they don’t rise up as abruptly / quickly as skis like 4FRNT Renegade. And on that note, the Renegade does seem like a pretty good comparison to La Machine in terms of shape and rocker profile.
So, this is a ski with fairly tapered tips and tails and very deep rocker lines. But given its girthy dimensions, it doesn’t have as radical a shape or rocker profile as some might expect, and we’re really curious to see how that plays out both in terms of maneuverability in deep pow and versatility in less ideal conditions.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of La Machine:
In Front of Toe Piece: 8.5-9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 10-9.5
La Machine is not a super burly ski nor a particularly soft one, though it does have a pretty directional flex pattern — the front half of the ski is notably softer than the back half of the ski.
Softer shovels + stiff tails tend to help skis plane up in deep snow, since the softer front will bend and help the ski rise up through the snow, while the stiffer tail is more prone to sinking a bit lower. With that in mind — and this ski’s mount point (see below) — we’re very curious about what sort of skier stances La Machine will cater to.
Overall, La Machine’s flex pattern isn’t super far off from the 4FRNT Renegade, though La Machine is notably stiffer behind the bindings and stays a bit stiffer through the tail.
Our pair of the 186 cm La Machine is 125.5 mm wide at the waist, with a big ~147 mm shovel and ~139 mm tail. It also has a fairly long stated sidecut radius, at 26 meters.
While it’s very wide underfoot, La Machine’s tips and tails are pretty narrow compared to skis with much less tapered tips and tails and / or shorter sidecut radii, like the Liberty Genome, Line Outline, and Faction Candide 5.0. And given its overall directional design, it’s interesting to see that La Machine’s tips are not drastically wider than its tails (typically, more directional skis have tips that are more significantly wider than their tails).
At -13 cm from true center, La Machine’s mount point is set back quite far. That’s much farther back from center than skis like the Renegade, ARG II, Kye Shapes Numinous, and Candide 5.0.
Weight (and Comparisons)
This was a big surprise when I weighed La Machine. Despite looking quite hefty due to its size, La Machine is not a heavy ski. Our pair of the 186 cm length came in around 1882 g per ski — that’s extremely light for its size.
So while we initially suspected that La Machine would be ideal for things like cat skiing and heli skiing (and still think it will be), we’re now super curious about using it as a human-powered, powder-touring ski. And while Faction is clear in that La Machine is designed for deep snow, we’re also curious to see how its low weight impacts its performance when you inevitably need to ski over some cut-up or variable snow conditions.
For reference, here are our measured weights for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples to apples.
1710 & 1744 Atomic Bent Chetler 120, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
1808 & 1809 Line Pescado, 180 cm (16/17–20/21)
1873 & 1878 Line Vision 118, 183 cm (20/21)
1870 & 1895 Faction La Machine, 186 cm (20/21)
1895 & 1906 Folsom Trophy Carbon, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1897 & 1913 Majesty Vanguard, 188 cm (20/21)
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm (17/18–20/21)
2006 & 2063 Elan Ripstick 116, 193 cm (20/21)
2013 & 2099 Moment Wildcat, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2019 & 2051 K2 Mindbender 116C, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2024 & 2031 Line Outline, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2027 & 2052 K2 Reckoner 112, 184 cm (20/21)
2034 & 2052 Blizzard Rustler 11, 188 cm (17/18–20/21)
2043 & 2046 4FRNT Inthayne, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
2062 & 2080 Whitedot Ragnarok ASYM, 190 cm (19/20–20/21)
2081 & 2115 Faction Candide 5.0, 183 cm (18/19–20/21)
2105 & 2185 Head Kore 117, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2125 & 2134 Kye Shapes Metamorph, 185 cm (19/20–20/21)
2136 & 2174 K2 Reckoner 122, 184 cm (20/21)
2149 & 2158 DPS Alchemist Lotus 124, 191 cm (17/18–20/21)
2173 & 2204 4FRNT Renegade, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2174 & 2187 Moment Wildcat, 190 cm (18/19–19/20)
2181 & 2190 Parlor McFellon Pro, 185 cm (19/20–20/21)
2212 & 2215 Armada ARV 116 JJ, 185 cm (17/18–20/21)
2222 & 2278 Prior CBC, 184 cm (17/18–20/21)
2237 & 2315 Salomon QST 118, 192 cm (19/20–20/21)
2240 & 2250 Volkl Revolt 121, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2250 & 2280 Movement Fly Two 115, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2259 & 2279 Black Crows Anima, 189.2 cm (20/21)
2280 & 2286 Icelantic Nomad 115, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2341 & 2357 Dynastar M-Free 118, 189 cm (18/19–20/21)
2343 & 2360 J Skis Friend, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2346 & 2351 Nordica Enforcer 115 Free, 191 cm (17/18–20/21)
2416 & 2468 Liberty Genome, 187 cm (17/18–20/21)
2438 & 2480 DPS Foundation Koala 119, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2438 & 2492 Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer, 186 cm (16/17–20/21)
2561 & 2585 Kye Shapes Numinous, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2700 & 2703 Armada ARG II, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) There are a lot of very good pow skis out there that are also designed to handle more challenging conditions like chop, crud, and even some firm snow. So, with its more specific focus on pure powder, how different will La Machine feel vs. narrower options?
(2) On the other hand, many folks’ pow days still include skiing at least some cut-up snow, and often some firmer conditions. So how will La Machine perform when outside of its intended ideal conditions?
(3) With a very rearward -13 cm mount point and a very directional overall design, we suspect that La Machine will prefer a pretty traditional, forward stance. Will that always be true, or will skiers also be able to ski it more centered / neutral?
(4) La Machine is extremely light for its size, so what sort of people should be considering this ski as an option to skin uphill for backcountry pow laps? And will it feel equally capable and sensible when using lifts, cats, helicopters, etc. to get to the top of each run?
Bottom Line (For Now)
In reality, most of us do not spend that much time skiing perfect powder. But regardless of that, we still get really excited about really fat, purpose-built skis that are designed to make the turns we dream of even more fun.
Faction’s La Machine is one of the few new skis we’ve seen that was made with that goal in mind, and we’re really excited to hear what reviewer Paul Forward thinks of it. Stay tuned for more info later this season.