Volkl Announces New M6 Mantra & Secret 96

Volkl Announces the 2021-2022 M6 Mantra and Secret 96; Blister discusses the new skis and how they're different compared to the M5 Mantra and 19/20 Secret 96
2021-2022 Volkl M6 Mantra

Intro

Volkl just announced the latest iterations of their do-everything, metal-laminate, 96mm-wide, all-mountain skis: the 2021-2022 M6 Mantra and Secret 96.

We should be getting on the new skis in the near future, but for now, let’s discuss what Volkl is claiming about these new skis.

For a bit of background, it was three years ago when Volkl announced the M5 Mantra and Secret. The “M5” signified that it was the fifth variation of the Mantra ski, and it was the first to introduce what Volkl calls their “Titanal Frame.” That frame is essentially a few different sheets of titanal metal that were segmented and milled in a way that Volkl says lets them more precisely fine-tune the longitudinal flex pattern, damping, and torsional rigidity in a way that wouldn’t be possible with more traditional sheets of titanal, which often run edge-to-edge and / or tip-to-tail on most other skis.

If you want to learn about the M5 Mantra, I’d recommend going all the way back to Episode #4 (!) of our GEAR:30 podcast, where we discussed it and the 18/19 Secret with some of Volkl’s engineers.

Since that initial release, Volkl has used a similar Titanal Frame across numerous other models, including the Mantra 102, Katana 108, and Kendo 88.

We’ve been able to ski the M5 Mantra, Mantra 102, and Katana 108, and our reviewers have had very positive impressions across the board. So, how is Volkl going about improving upon their seemingly winning recipe?

There are a few key construction updates for the 21/22 M6 Mantra and Secret 96. (The two models share the same construction, just different top sheets, available lengths, and length-to-length differences that we’re about to discuss).

Volkl Announces the 2021-2022 M6 Mantra and Secret 96; Blister discusses the new skis and how they're different compared to the M5 Mantra and 19/20 Secret 96
2021-2022 Volkl Secret 96 & M6 Mantra

Change #1: 3D Radius

If you have been staying on top of Volkl’s ski lineup during the past few years, this will not come as much of a surprise. Volkl has been using their “3D Radius” approach on nearly all of the new freeride skis they’ve recently released, but the M5 Mantra and Secret 96 were two of the notable exceptions.

That changes with the 21/22 models. Basically, the 3D Radius design means that the skis feature a blend of three different sidecut radii, with a long radius around the tip / shovel, a shorter radius around the middle of the ski, and a long radius around the tail. The end goal of this is the ability to make a wider variety of turn shapes, without losing the precision and engagement needed for tighter turns on piste, or the ability to slarve / feather turns off piste. While there are a lot of factors that go into a ski’s overall performance, we will say that the Volkl Mantra 102, Katana 108, and Blaze 106 (all of which feature a variation of Volkl’s 3D Radius) carve very well without feeling hooky or unpredictable during longer turns or in softer snow.

For reference, here’s how Volkl describes the sidecut radii of the M6 Mantra and Secret 96. The R1 number refers to the tip radius, the R2 number refers to the radius around the midsection of the ski, and the R3 number refers to the radius at the tail.

Sidecut Radii: 2021-2022 Volkl M6 Mantra

  • 163 cm: R1(24.1 m), R2(14.2 m), R3(20 m)
  • 170 cm: R1(26.9 m), R2(15.8 m), R3(22.1 m)
  • 177 cm: R1(29.8 m), R2(17.5 m), R3(24.3 m)
  • 184 cm: R1(31.8 m), R2(18.7 m), R3(25.9 m)
  • 191 cm: R1(35 m), R2(20.5 m), R3(28.3 m)

Sidecut Radii: 2021-2022 Volkl Secret 96

  • 149 cm: R1(19 m), R2(11.2 m), R3(16.1 m)
  • 156 cm: R1(21.4 m), R2(12.7 m), R3(18 m)
  • 163 cm: R1(24.1 m), R2(14.2 m), R3(20 m)
  • 170 cm: R1(26.9 m), R2(15.8 m), R3(22.1 m)

[Fun Fact: When we were talking with the folks at Volkl about the new M6 and Secret 96, they said that they tested dozens and dozens of different radii combinations to arrive at the ideal blend when they were first developing the 3D Radius design. The one that ended up being the best during their testing? The very first version they pressed.]

Change #2: Tailored Titanal Frame

We just discussed the original Titanal Frame design, but Volkl is tweaking — or, rather, “tailoring” — it in the 21/22 M6 Mantra and Secret 96.

The frame still includes a 0.7mm-thick layer of titanal above the edges of the ski. It also includes a 0.3mm-thick sheet of titanal above the binding area. And then there’s a full sheet of titanal below the wood core.

What’s new with the 21/22 models mostly comes down to how Volkl changes the Titanal Frame between different lengths of the skis. On the longer lengths, the wider section of the Titanal Frame between the bindings and the shovel is longer, while that same section on the shorter lengths is shorter. I.e., more titanal for longer lengths, less titanal for shorter lengths. It’s a bit tough to explain in words, but you can see the “wider section” of the Titanal Frame that I’m referring to in the image below of the Secret 96:

Volkl Announces the 2021-2022 M6 Mantra and Secret 96; Blister discusses the new skis and how they're different compared to the M5 Mantra and 19/20 Secret 96
2021-2022 Volkl Secret 96 during layup (photo by Dario Suppan)

The end goal of all this is to make these skis perform similarly for skiers of different sizes. On the previous M5 Mantra and Secret 96, the ratio of titanal-to-ski-length would have been higher in, say, a 149 cm length compared to a 191 cm length, since the shape of the Titanal Frame didn’t really change between lengths. In theory, this meant that smaller skiers may have found the shorter lengths more challenging to ski, while larger skiers may have found the longer lengths not as supportive or stable as they wanted. Volkl is aiming to eliminate that potential issue with the new skis by tweaking the relative amount of titanal between lengths.

The new M6 Mantra and Secret 96 also have a slightly different titanal plate under the binding area. That piece of metal now includes a small slit (see below) in front of the bindings, with the goal of subtly reducing torsional rigidity in that area to make for a more responsive feel when initiating carved turns.

Volkl Announces the 2021-2022 M6 Mantra and Secret 96; Blister discusses the new skis and how they're different compared to the M5 Mantra and 19/20 Secret 96
2021-2022 Volkl Secret 96 — Titanal Frame

Change #3: Tailored Carbon Tip

Rounding out the updates is a new way that Volkl is using carbon fiber. The previous M5 Mantra and 19/20 Secret 96 had a traditional sheet of carbon fiber in the tips, for added torsional rigidity at minimal weight gain.

The 21/22 M6 Mantra and Secret 96 use carbon fiber strands in an interesting new manner. This approach first appeared on Volkl’s carving-oriented V-Werks skis, and essentially consists of individual carbon-fiber strands that are embroidered onto a “fleece” sheet in any design / orientation that Volkl wants.

Volkl Announces the 2021-2022 M6 Mantra and Secret 96; Blister discusses the new skis and how they're different compared to the M5 Mantra and 19/20 Secret 96
2021-2022 Volkl M6 Mantra — Tailored Carbon Tip

By manipulating the orientation of the individual carbon strands, Volkl says they can better fine-tune the longitudinal and torsional stiffness of the skis, compared to more traditional carbon stringers or carbon sheets, which typically maintain the same orientation (and effects on flex) across their entire surface area. In theory, this is fairly similar to K2’s “Spectral Braid,” though Volkl’s “Tailored Carbon Tip” looks to be more complex with more customizability, and is currently only used in the shovel and tip of the ski, rather than along the whole length of the ski.

What Has Not Changed?

Same as the previous M5 Mantra and Secret 96, these new skis are still designed to perform well all over the mountain, and are designed for directional skiers who appreciate a stable platform.

Their dimensions also reportedly haven’t changed very much at all, and neither have their rocker profiles. We were big fans of the M5 Mantra, so we’re not at all upset about that.

As for weight? That’s still listed as “TBD” by Volkl, but we suspect any differences to be relatively minor.

It’s also worth noting that the other skis in Volkl’s “Freeride” collection (e.g., Kendo 88, Kenja 88, Kanjo 84, Yumi 84, Secret 102, Mantra 102, & Katana 108) are not being changed for 21/22, just the M6 Mantra and Secret 96.

The new M6 Mantra and Secret 96 will be available at select retailers during the 20/21 season, with full availability for the 21/22 season. We’re extremely excited to get on the M6 Mantra and Secret 96, so stay tuned for more on our site in the future. 

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23 comments on “Volkl Announces New M6 Mantra & Secret 96”

  1. Very cool. Can’t wait to get on one.

    Very interested to know if this will change the decision between 177 and 184. Meaning – which size will have the same amount of titanal as the m5 and perform similarly as the existing m5. If the 177 has less titanal than the current m5 then I’d likely size up to the 184.

    My local shop says they’ll reserve a pair for me – hopefully for next week. So if you guys have any insight I’d love to hear so can pick the right size. Thanks for the great helpful info – much better than the other sites that just say “this will be the best ski on the mountain for all skiers”

    • It’s our understanding that the 177 cm length is the reference point for the other lengths of the M5 and M6, so we suspect that the 177 cm M6 will feel quite similar to the 177 cm M5. So while this is total guesswork on my end, I think if you were leaning toward the 177 cm M5, the 177 cm M6 would probably make the most sense. Hopefully we can say for sure in the near future.

      • Great news. I’m a bigger guy but generally like strong skis in shorter lengths – more maneuverable with nice suspension and easier in bumps. Don’t need to go 50-60 mph anymore.

  2. The carbon at the tip is interesting. I wonder if it’ll have a noticeable impact on performance vs. “It just looks cool”

  3. Sounds like some sensible and subtle changes to a great ski, excited to hear how they feel on snow. I just hope they land on a different top sheet for M6 production…

  4. Once again Volkl have made the women’s version look fantastic and the men’s version… not. Maybe they’ll look better in person. At least they should ski well, really like my M5s

  5. Looks like a ski for spiderman. Maybe if enough people on here say the topsheet (for the male version) is awful, they will change it.

      • This had better happen for the Deep Dive! Do you guys know what comparisons will be in it and/or when it will come out? (Mindbender 99, M5, Bonafide and Enforcer please!)

        • We’re not sure when that will be happening since we don’t have the M6 yet, but those skis would definitely be included in the Deep Dive.

          • Hey Luke,

            I’ll be on a pair of 177 M6’s in a few days. Had the M5’s which really came alive with some fresh snow on the base but kicked back pretty hard on skied out off-piste runs.

            So looking forward to trying these as they’ve evidently ‘softened’ them for the off run drops which call for compliance, playfulness & dampness.

      • Where can I buy a pair?
        I loved my old Mantras but blew out the side wall and have resisted buying a new pair because the aesthetic recently has been boring. The M6 is a little better but still pretty meh.

  6. Topsheet looks better than the 2021 topsheet imo. But that’s not really saying much other than it’s better than really ugly. But nothing is worse than what they did to the 102 for 2021. 2020 102 was understated, kind of unique and classic – 2021 just plain ugly as hell and doesn’t come close to matching the soul of the 102.

    Now that I’m fired up about how a ski looks, the enforcer series graphics are tired and old and I wouldn’t be caught dead on one anymore, the stance 102 looks cool, bonafide is sick and classy, and I wish they made the moment topsheets available for every ski in the world. Btw can we please get a review of the new commanders even a flash review. I’d even split the cost of a C98 with you if you ship it to me when you’re done. Or are they punishing you guys for Jonathan’s irreverence on your last podcast with them .

  7. So….. can you be more clear and definitive?1.something layers of titanal right? A full layer under the wood core and the frame up top? I am very excited about the 3.D side cut being added to the Mantra finally. The only reason I haven’t updated my M3 Mantras to the M5 is because I was waiting for the 3.D sidecut.

    Now I just have to get on the Bonafide 97 and M6 back to back and see which one I’m buying

    • Given what I’ve seen, the titanal frame on the M6 looks very similar to the M5’s, which is basically what you described — full sheet below the wood core, segmented or “partial” layer above the wood core.

  8. I have both the old full-rockered Mantra and the Mantra 102 and I have loved both of these skis, but the 3-D sidecut is a difference maker and I’m very excited that Volkl is finally incorporating this technology in the new Mantra M6. I feel this new Mantra will be an amazing ski and I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair!

  9. All you guys complaining about the topsheets are bloody wankers. Go buy a pair of Black Crows with color matched bindings like every other nub who likes to look at their skies on the rack more than skiing them. WhoTF cares what their skis look like? Seriously. Are you skiing them or hanging them on the wall?

    /rant.

    Holy crap.

  10. Just got a pair of the new M6 Mantras… WOW! Lighter, quicker and more responsive with the same great carving ability Mantras have always been known for. This ski will be more accessable for the intermediate skier, but experts will still love it. I’ve skied it (177cm) in tight bumps, trees and both on and off piste and it didn’t blink. With all the newest technology, Volkl hit a home-run with this ski!

  11. How much variance was there between the 92 vs. the 96 Secret? Are the changes drastic enough a side by side comparison would be very noticeable?

    Any further explanation on the 3D radius? It sounds cool but isn’t side cut, side cut? Not sure how this cut changes radius or is any different than the current function.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • We didn’t have any reviewers on the Secret 92, but based on our time on the M5 and M6 Mantras, we didn’t notice some massive difference. They share a lot in common, and our take is that the M6 feels like it’s a bit easier off piste, mostly in terms of being able to release and slide it in tight spots: https://blisterreview.com/gear-reviews/2021-2022-volkl-m6-mantra

      Regarding their 3D radius sidecut design, I’m not sure I can offer any more explanation than what I wrote above. The main goal is to basically make the skis more versatile in terms of turn shapes, particularly compared to skis that have a single sidecut radius.

  12. HAHa couldnt agree more with the “bloody wanker” identifier. Who gives a crap what a ski looks like? Stoked to ski this M6 Mantra. Never even thought about what I’d look like. I will be a blur!!

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