FX106 Ti

Any clear-eyed assessment of what transpires on a powder day at any popular resort would conclude that the “powder” part of the day begins around 9:00 and ends around 10:00. For the rest of the day, all accessible terrain devolves into something considerably less idyllic. The Kästle FX106 Ti is built to cope with this reality, for it wields its smear-ability like a weapon when deep snow switches from a fluffy texture to something closer to tapioca.

During the “powder hour,” any ski with approximately the FX106 Ti’s dimensions will spool out mid-radius turns with unconscious ease; once perfect conditions are in the past, the real work begins. It’s in the slop that the FX106 Ti’s stout, wood-and-Titanal construction proves its mettle, planing over afternoon porridge that would kick a lesser ski off course. With two full sheets of Titanal in its guts, the FX106 Ti isn’t one of those fat skis where the width isn’t noticeable; rather, its heft imparts confidence that in the battle against crud, its pilot is well armed.

Left to its own devices on firmer snow, the FX106 Ti likes its turns long and laid over. Not that its probable owner is likely to be a big fan of groomers, but they’re an unavoidable aspect of resort skiing, so you might as well make them fast and fun.

FX96 Ti

Kastle fans everywhere can rejoice now that the latest FX series has been restored to something like its original self, with twin Titanal laminates around a poplar, beech and Paulownia core. Compared to the last FX flagship, the new FX96 Ti is a slightly heavier ski, but the added stability in all conditions has doubled its performance ceiling, well worth the roughly 50 extra grams.

With the FX96 Ti returned to something closer to its original self, its performance ceiling has doubled, leaving little doubt that, within the new FX family, the FX96 Ti is the star product. Not surprisingly, it’s quicker on and off the edge than the plumper FX106 Ti, but what is eyebrow-raising is it feels more tenacious on edge and responsive off it than its narrower sibling, the FX86 Ti. A peek at its test results confirms its off-piste predilections, as its score for Drift out-points its edging accuracy in every phase of the turn.

An aggressive expert may tear directly downhill on the FX96 Ti to test its limits, but it doesn’t need to be driven in overdrive to be appreciated. It performs perfectly predictably at medium speeds when fed a steady diet of medium-radius turns. Because its lower camber line makes it easier to bow and its well-rockered baseline is simplicity to steer, we confer upon the new FX96 Ti a Silver Skier Selection.

Kästle Brand Profile

Kästle Brand Profile

Overview Kästle isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing. Not to dis the current Kästle’s ancestry, but Kästles of yore could be clumped in two camps: race skis it took a god like Zurbriggen to bend, and kooky creations that should have been euthanized in...

FX96 W

This year, Kästle completely redesigned its off-trail FX series, returning to a metal laminate construction. Kästle’s FX96 Women, however, wasn’t part of this transformation, returning to the line where it first debuted in the 2019/20 season.

The cornerstone of the FX96 W design is a poplar and beech wood core inside a fiberglass torsion box that is itself encased in a laminate, with poplar and Paulownia bookending the central core. The torsion box rides higher than the outer sections, creating a 3D top surface, which is the first weight-saver. Second is the concentration of hard woods in the center, so lighter woods can be used in the remaining 2/3 of the core. Third is using a thicker core profile in the central torsion box, which gives it more power without adding more materials.

The proof of the FX96 W’s terrain proclivities is found in its double-rockered baseline. Its shallow camber pocket transitions to a long, gradual front rocker – Kästle refers to it as Progressive Rise – that starts 310cm from the tip. The tail rocker picks up and a similarly slight slope 150cm from the tail.  This creates a relatively short contact length that works in concert with its slalomesque sidecut (14m @ 164cm) to create a fat ski that skis skinny.

MX83

Kästle’s current MX83, reprised from last season, is both typical of a current trend and atypical in a way all its own. The trend it’s party to is how a series of modest modifications amount to a significant change, especially in Finesse qualities. It’s unique among such upgraded models in that the name it’s re-assuming happens to be the legendary MX83, inarguably one of the greatest Frontside models ever made.

The reason the revival of the MX83 ought to interest experts everywhere is because it responds so intuitively to technical commands. Its fully cambered baseline feels super-glued to the snow, inviting speeds that would cause lesser lights to shake loose. Most skis this torsionally rigid don’t flow over and around moguls too well, but the MX83 has an almost liquid flow bred into its bones.

One of the best indicators of a great ski is how well it performs in conditions for which it wasn’t made. Of course the MX83 is a hoot trenching corduroy at speeds that on another ski would be terrifying, but the MX83 adopts the same attitude towards all terrain. It doesn’t care where you point it because it’s confident in its abilities, a self-assurance that invariably rubs off on its pilot. The MX83’s size range is skewed short so that lighter or less talented skiers can experience perfection without necessarily being able to exemplify it.