Eight years ago, Tecnica was at a point in its evolution where it had to change. The brand still had market mojo, but the line was due for an upgrade. Once a brand decides it needs new molds, all ideas are on the table until eliminated in the R&D cage match that is product development. The usual approach is to find some nugget that was previously shelved, make some prototypes and pass them around to cognoscenti for their comments.
Tecnica took a different tack. It assembled the cognoscenti, but instead of displaying an array of half-baked possibilities, its marketing team displayed only curiosity: what should the next performance boot look like? What features should it have? How can we make it easier for bootfitters to modify it?
The result was the Mach1 series, boots made for high performance recreational skiing and the technicians who fit them. If there’s one feature that defines the new Tecnica, it’s Custom Adaptive Shape (C.A.S.), the primordial link between ski, shell, liner and skier that determines the success of any ski experience. C.A.S. isn’t just an anatomical shape, but a fit methodology and a means of modifying the liner and/or shell without impinging on its structural integrity.
In a market besotted by heat molding, Tecnica has by and large stuck to its own customization methods for a very simple, yet compelling reason: their boots ski brilliantly just as they are. The fit process may not involve an oven, but the results are hard to ignore: the Mach1 and Cochise are undeniably among the best boots in their respective categories.
For 2020, Tecnica concocted a means of distorting the carbon fiber in the upper cuff of a new C.A.S. design made specifically for women. By bringing adaptability to the one feature that defines a women’s boot, cuff height, Tecnica is able to raise the rear spoiler height and increase its forward lean on its top Mach1 W models. This brilliant, contrarian move instantly elevated Tecnica’s entries in the women’s high performance market.
Headlining the current women’s collection is a model that is not only women-specific, it’s country-specific. Ever since instituting Project 165 – the R&D initiative that brought top bootfitters into the process – and W2W, a similar, grassroots program integrating women into the loop, Tecnica has become a more market-focused brand. The 120-flex Mach1 LV Pro W is emblematic of the brand’s ability to adapt specific solutions to different markets’ needs.
The newest Tecnica is an updated Mach1 MV with a signature feature all its own: TDrive, a link attached to the spine that connects the lower shell and cuff. In the new Mach1 MV 130, TDrive is made from carbon, adding extra rigidity and responsiveness while regulating both flex and the distortion it can cause. (On the Mach1 MV 120, the insert is made from fiberglass.) The 2021 Mach1 MV 130 has a new, more anatomical shape so it’s initial fit is much improved. If any tweaking is still required, the C.A.S. fit system lends itself to fast, effective modification. Because the new last is more accurate, shell walls can be thinned where possible to cut weight by 12% (2250g to 1900g). As a bonus, the toe box is higher to create more wiggle room.
For most experts who prefer a race-quality fit, the Mach1 LV 130 is more than enough boot. But if you were raised in race boots, there’s something they deliver no other boots quite manage to. Maybe I suggest a Firebird R, a series that fits in between the race department Firebird WC series and the Mach1 LV. In a word, they’re immaculate. The Firebird R 140 has all the goodies you get with a true race boot, without the discomforts. It has a solid sole (that you don’t have to grind to fit in a binding), lace-up liner, 96mm last, polyester shell and cuff and, of course, that 140 flex index. Even if you’re a really good skier, this may sound like more boot than you need. Trust me, it’s not.
While my personal predilections ought not be accepted as Gospel, I found the Firebird R 140 to possess the best bundle of properties for the performance skier of any boot we rated at the Masterfit Boot Test in 2019, and the Mach1 LV 130 wasn’t far behind.