Cage Match Comparison 2017 Head Supershape Rally vs 2017 K2 Super Charger

Philpug

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Old-world heritage or the new order who hasn't built a true hard-snow ski this century?
Cage Match Rally Vs SuperCharger.png

Here we have traditional skis from the winningest manufacturer in the World Cup and past Olympics, as well as the red-white-and-blue ski builder with more recent experience on the X-Games podium. It is a good thing there are new contenders like the SuperCharger that are keeping Head from resting on its laurels. Choices, choices ....

Starting with the Head, it is the reigning champ in this class, and it has earned its stripes. The iRally is all new for this year, and if you have read anything I have written, you know that I think it has more purpose, aka more precision and accuracy on the snow. Head included Graphene in its halo collection for this year; combining that ingredient with the new shape adds a new level of fun to the 76mm Supershape. Head chose to stay with the proven PRD12 binding system as the interface. If you are between sizes, err on the shorter of the two.

There are always one or two surprises at the ski tests every year. No one expected the Super Charger, no one expected a hard-snow ski this good to come from K2. K2 lately has been taking the middle-of-the-road approach with most of its skis, good skis for everyone, easy and playful bit not precise or serious. No one ever said, "Damn, if I was on an Amp 80XTi, today would be perfect." I received a few PMs and e-mails questioning my review of the Super Charger because it didn't do that well in some magazine tests. I replied, "So what. You know, our reviews are not like magazine reviews; we are going against the norm, like K2 is challenging the system with this new collection." This is a serious ski, all you have to do is pick it up and flex it. Take a look at the sidewalls that extend from tip to tail and the rockerless square tail. The binding option is Marker's X-Cell 12 or 14DIN; the only way it could be better is if K2 used Marker's world-class piston plate, but that might be a bit of overkill for this ski. For the tech geeks concerned with ramp angle, the interface has a 0° ramp so you are neutral on the ski.
  • Why choose the Head iRally? You prefer a shorter- to medium-radius turn and the precision of an Austrian ski. This ski will make you feel like [Fill in Your Head Team Racer of Choice].
  • Why choose the K2 Super Charger? K2 didn't put "charger" in the name for nuthin'. With a 17m radius, the K2 likes be opened up. The Super Charger is a powerful ski that wants to run, and run it will. These are NOT your nephew's Fujatives.
  • Other skis in the class: Rossignol Hero Elite LT Ti, Völkl Code Speedwall L UVO.
 
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Brian Finch

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Brutal call here. Rally was my fav (overall & what most of Head team liked), yet not everyone wants a scalpel. K2 would be better from first to last chair.
 

WheatKing

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No one ever said, "Damn, if I was on an Amp 80XTi, today would be perfect."
Actually... last year I was out and the hill was well screwed compared to normal.. snowed a ton (for where I live about 16" of marshmallow fluff) and it was a busy day.. and they didn't groom anything that day.. and the next day everything was crust over soft, bumped up, random bumps all over the hill, intermixed with scraped off icy spots.. littered with people who never ever skied ungroomed runs.. and my Amp Rictors (82XTi) were frickin MAGIC. That little bit of rocker made a world of difference.. my buddy who usually rips it up on his head rally was having a bitch of a time. That said still intrigued by these superchargers.. hoping to find them on a clearance blowout rack at end of season.. because well.. since when does k2 make a ski people rip groomers on.. big snow days are a rarity and hard pavement like grooomers are my typical terrain.

So.. there.. someone kinda said it.. :)
 

chemist

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Head chose to stay with the proven PRD12 binding system as the interface. If you are between sizes, err on the shorter of the two.
[For the K2] The binding option is Marker's X-Cell 12 or 14DIN...For the tech geeks concerned with ramp angle, the interface has a 0° ramp so you are neutral on the ski.
The PRD12 has 4 mm delta. That by itself is going to create a substantial difference between these two skis for anyone demoing. I.e., to the extent people react differently to these two skis, it's going to be hard to tease out how much of it is due to the the difference in the skis vs. how much is due to the difference in the deltas.

No one expected the SuperCharger, no one expected a hard-snow ski this good to come from K2.​
IMO we really shouldn't call a 76 mm ski a hard-snow ski (this applies even more so for smaller skiers)— just like a high-performance all-weather tire really isn't a dry-weather summer tire. It's more of a narrowish all-mountain ski. IME you need to go <70 mm to truly be in the hard-snow category.
 
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IMO we really shouldn't call a 76 mm ski a hard-snow ski (this applies even more so for smaller skiers)— just like a high-performance all-weather tire really isn't a dry-weather summer tire. It's more of a narrowish all-mountain ski. IME you need to go <70 mm before you can truly call something a hard-snow ski.
Don't let numbers define a ski.
 
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Mendieta

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@Philpug : the image in the top of the OP looks broken to me (and if I right click, I get a permissions error). Talking of images, this one is really nice, look at this textbook, smooth, parallel tracks! Cool pic.



BTW. For some reason, that HH jacket and pants review didn't seem to have a link to discussion in the forums?
 
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Philpug

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@Philpug : the image in the top of the OP looks broken to me (and if I right click, I get a permissions error). Talking of images, this one is really nice, look at this textbook, smooth, parallel tracks! Cool pic.



BTW. For some reason, that HH jacket and pants review didn't seem to have a link to discussion in the forums?
Image is linked now as with other Cage Match Comparisons.
 

chemist

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Don't let numbers define a ski.
And let's not overly dismiss their importance either. I advocate for a middle ground in which they are given their proper weight.

I think of hard snow as typical eastern firm conditions -- not necessarily ice, but the kind of snow that makes it challenging for most people to find an edge. Once you've gotten into the 60's, you've made the ski wide enough to slide well and (for recreational skiers) avoid boot-out. To the best of my understanding (tell me if I'm wrong), adding an extra cm beyond this makes it harder to hold an edge on hard snow (for both the ski and the skier, by moving the contact away from the midline of the ski and foot, respectively). The only* benefit of the additional width is found when the snow gets softer and you need more base width to support yourself when you're on edge. And, to my mind, by definition, when you've added width that takes away hard snow performance in order to increase soft snow performance, you no longer have something that should be called a hard snow ski.

*The one exception I can think of would be skied-out slush that has refrozen, which is hard but extremely rough, where the additional width can help smooth out the roughness. But these are conditions are unusual relative to what most hard-snow skiers spend their time on.
 
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And let's not overly dismiss their importance either. I advocate for a middle ground in which they are given their proper weight.

I think of hard snow as typical eastern firm conditions -- not necessarily ice, but the kind of snow that makes it challenging for most people to find an edge. Once you've gotten into the 60's, you've made the ski wide enough to slide well and (for recreational skiers) avoid boot-out. To the best of my understanding (tell me if I'm wrong), adding an extra cm beyond this makes it harder to hold an edge on hard snow (for both the ski and the skier, by moving the contact point away from the midline of the foot and ski, respectively). The only* benefit of the additional width is found when the snow gets softer and you need more base width to support yourself when you're on edge. And, to my mind, by definition, when you've added width that takes away hard snow performance in order to increase soft snow performance, you no longer have something that should be called a hard snow ski.

*The one exception I can think of would be skied-out slush that has refrozen, which is hard but extremely rough, where the additional width can help smooth out the roughness. But these are conditions are unusual relative to what most hard-snow skiers spend their time on.
Is the new Camaro not a sports car because it has a back seat or because it's a little bigger? But it kicked the BMW M3's butt in a comparision test. I think we can get past just putting a product be it skis, boots, bindings, jackets just because of numbers. Everything you say in theory is correct, it is correct when we read the words but if we want to limit ourselves to just that, there is no reason to ever leave the couch and strap on the skis and hit the hill. Is the Supercharger as good as a 66mm SL? No, it is not expecting to be but is is a viable option, hells yeah. If you want to limit your views, have at but it will be your loss. FWIW, there is also the Speedcharger which is 72mm underfoot, granted not in the 60's but still is a blast.
 

chemist

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Everything you say in theory is correct, it is correct when we read the words but if we want to limit ourselves to just that, there is no reason to ever leave the couch and strap on the skis and hit the hill. Is the Supercharger as good as a 66mm SL? No, it is not expecting to be but is is a viable option, hells yeah. If you want to limit your views, have at but it will be your loss.
My point is that it's not just true in theory, it's true in practice. Remember your thread about premium skis? You were adamant in limiting what qualified as a premium brand, to separate those from brands that had good quality offerings but were not truly premium (because you saw that difference as meaningful and didn't want it to be glossed over). Suppose someone insisted that Head, because of its quality, was a premium brand and, when you disagreed, said, "If you want to limit your views, have at but it will be your loss." You'd probably think that person just didn't get it, and you'd be right. Likewise, I don't think you're getting it here. My point is that sure, 76 mm skis can work well on hard snow, but if we really want to distinguish, for skiers, what truly are the hard snow specialists, we should refine our categories in the same way you refined your category for premium skis. In particular, 60-something really does inherently have a real-world advantage over 70-something on hard snow, and if we call 70-somethings hard snow skis that difference is being glossed over.

And please don't paint me as a couch-sitting theorist just because I have a different view from you. You've skied with me, we've talked equipment, and you know I'm serious about real-world performance. Over the past three seasons I've skied 150 days and have probably demoed 30 different models of skis which, while well short of you, is probably more than most non-pros on this forum. So when I discuss the effect of width, I'm basing this on my own real-world experience.
 
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chemist

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BTW, where this is coming from is that I own two non-race 66 mm Head Supershapes (2013 Supershape KERS, and 2014 Mya 7, which is the woman's version of the Supershape Speed), and I've demoed a few mid-70's skis, including the 76 mm Supershape Rally. Now maybe I'm just unusual in this regard, but I found such a striking difference in hard snow performance that I personally can't call the mid-70's models hard snow skis.

More broadly (and I'm not referring to you here, just talking about general trends), the industry has a tendency to market up through the mid-80's for hard snow*, and I think that does skiers that truly want a hard snow ski a disservice. So, as a public service for these skiers, I'm doing my part to be a "vox clamantis in deserto" ;) against this.

*Consider the 2017 Ski Magazine Buyers Guide. Their narrowest category is groomer skis (granted not hard snow, but it's the narrowest grouping they give). They list 13 skis, with widths as follows: {76, 85, 84, 80, 78, 81, 80, 72, 84, 84, 72, 84, 80} (mean width is 80). So basically the entire 60's category is being ignored.
 
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BTW, where this is coming from is that I own two non-race 66 mm Head Supershapes (2013 Supershape KERS, and 2014 Mya 7, which is the woman's version of the Supershape Speed), and I've demoed a few mid-70's skis, including the 76 mm Supershape Rally. Now maybe I'm just unusual in this regard, but I found such a striking difference in hard snow performance that I personally can't call the mid-70's models hard snow skis. More broadly (and I'm not referring to you here, just talking about general trends), the industry has a tendency to market up through the mid-80's for hard snow, and I think that does skiers that truly want a hard snow ski a disservice. So, as a public service for these skiers, I'm doing my part to be a "vox clamantis in deserto" ;) against this.
I think you are answering your own question. ;) What you are talking about is exceptions to the rules and we do address them on a case by case basis. Don't get me wrong, I also love me a good narrow ski like the iSpeed or the Rossi Hero LT as a specialy tool but these new K2's are damn fine hard snow skis. Are they trying to be a iSpeed? Not with a 17M radius. Are they trying to be a Masters GS? Not that either. Do they hold great on hard snow? Yes they do.


BTW, where this is coming from is that I own two non-race 66 mm Head Supershapes (2013 Supershape KERS, and 2014 Mya 7, which is the woman's version of the Supershape Speed), and I've demoed a few mid-70's skis, including the 76 mm Supershape Rally. Now maybe I'm just unusual in this regard, but I found such a striking difference in hard snow performance that I personally can't call the mid-70's models hard snow skis.

More broadly (and I'm not referring to you here, just talking about general trends), the industry has a tendency to market up through the mid-80's for hard snow*, and I think that does skiers that truly want a hard snow ski a disservice. So, as a public service for these skiers, I'm doing my part to be a "vox clamantis in deserto" ;) against this.

*Consider the 2017 Ski/Skiing gear review. Their narrowest category is groomer skis (granted not hard snow, but it's the narrowest grouping they list). They identify 13 skis, with widths as follows: {76, 85, 84, 80, 78, 81, 80, 72, 84, 84, 72, 84, 80}. So basically the entire 60's category is being ignored.
There are only a few 60some waisted skis offered and most are derived from the race collection and I relly consider these as tecnical skis. I don't think they are being ignored but more that the market is so limited that they feel the two dozen skiers who want a ski like this already have their minds made up.
 

chemist

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There are only a few 60some waisted skis offered and most are derived from the race collection and I relly consider these as tecnical skis. I don't think they are being ignored but more that the market is so limited that they feel the two dozen skiers who want a ski like this already have their minds made up.
And I guess that makes me one of the 24.:wave:

Your post got me curious, so I tried to see if I could find any sales data. I don't have access to the latest info. ('15-'16), but I did find total US retail ski sales for Aug '14- May '15, subdivided by ski width (source: SIA Research, 2015 Snowsports Market Overview). I combined the sales volumes for system and flat skis, and divided through by the total, to get the following percentages:

< 70 MM 14.1
70 - 79 MM 30.3
80 - 90 MM 30.0
91 - 100 MM 13.7
101 - 110 MM 7.2
> 110 MM 4.8

We can see that the number of <70 mm skis sold in the US in '14-'15 is a bit more than the number in the 91-100 mm category, and significantly more than all the >100 mm skis combined (note that these are retail sales, so these percentages haven't been artificially distorted by the large number of skis sold for rental fleets). So don't they deserve at least as much ink?;)
 
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Jim McDonald

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I wonder what the % would be if you stripped out the racing skis... :rolleyes:
 

chemist

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I wonder what the % would be if you stripped out the racing skis... :rolleyes:
Don't know, but I think I've already done my fair share of the research here ;). If you're curious, I'd recommend you do some investigation and let us know what you find! And while you're at it, before you recalculate the percentages, don't forget to remove the park skis (mostly 80 – 90 mm) as well :D.
 
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