2021 Völkl Mantra 102

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Testing skis so you don't have to.
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Philpug: Every year I flex a ski and immediately know, This is going to be a killer ski. The new Mantra 102 is one such ski. Where most brands zigged and produced a soft-snow playful 102, Völkl zagged and made a charger. This is the ski that 96-98 Mantra and Katana lovers have been waiting for.

I took these out at Mammoth during complete whiteout conditions; usually a ski with this type of power will say, "Hang on!" but the new Mantra 102 said (complete with heavy accent), “Come vith me if you vant to live.” And the 102 took me into the white abyss and made sure everything was ok.

Insider tip: It is great to see camber back in Völkl’s designs.​

FairToMiddlin: @Philpug knows I am a fan of the now long-extinct Salomon Q-Lab, which is a fairly strong 104mm ski. With this in mind, he told me that the Mantra 102 was a must for my testing list. It was like telling a 49ers fan to consider choosing someone other than Joe Montana as your favorite quarterback. It’s a tough sell.

But holy crap, the 102 is sublime. Clicking in, it feels like a heavy-ish charger of a ski, leaving one to wonder if this is a "float like a butterfly" Ali of a heavyweight, or a George Foreman-y bull in a china shop. The 102 is all sweet, young Ali. I handed them off to @Drahtguy Kevin; after a go at them for a bit, he asked what length they were, and I could tell he was expecting to hear that I had grabbed the 177. Nope, 184 (Völkl hadn’t even brought a 177 to the test). Far from being a handful, the fatty Mantra is very easy to maneuver, on and off piste; it disguises its bulk incredibly well.

So, what’s the catch? If it’s that nimble, does it have a glass jaw and can’t take a punch? Quite the opposite: apart from the Augment FIS SL and the Atomic X9 twins, I took every ski you see here over to Sierra lift to sample the crud, bumps, lovely chalk, and wind-affected coral lurking within what is available in the wonderful microcosm of Union Peak, Kaboom, and Revenge. Many of the skis did well, but none ironed out the chaos as effectively as the Mantra 102.

But wait, there’s more: I place a high value on 90-somethings and One Oh Somethings that are at least entertaining on the groomed runout from the fun zone back to the lift. Or to put it another way, if I end up at the hill with just one ski, I want to have a fun day, even if the mountain snow totals overreported and underdelivered. The Mantra performed better than its contemporaries in this regard. Spend some more calories on getting on edge and drive into the turn, and you are rewarded with a willing shape, and a flex strong enough to propel you across the fall line. It’s a special ski.

Drahtguy Kevin: Son of a .… This is the Völkl I’ve been longing for. "Strong," "fast," and "intuitive" were the first three words on my voice recording. A superb tip that guides the ski into the turn powerfully and a tail that finishes with pop are traits of the 102. Give this ski more gas, and it rewards with increased performance. Lay off the ski and cruise with a stable ride that offers no surprises for lapses in attention. Off piste and on, the Mantra 102 flat out performs. I had to double check the length because it was so compliant and willing to work with me that I was sure it was shorter than the 184 indicated. A true delight for me at Copper.

Insider tip: Völkl has bottled lightning with this one.​
Review updated from 2020
 
Awards
Who is it for?
Not only those who bleed Völkl. Versatile skiers who want performance all over the mountain.
Who is it not for?
Billy Crystal, this ski’s $hit is bigger than you. The unimaginative will miss out on this ski’s versatility.
Skier ability
Expert
Ski category
All Mountain
Ski attributes
Off Piste, Trees
Segment
Men

Specifications

HighFives
Available sizes
170, 177, 184, 191
Dimensions
140-102-123
Rocker profile
Camber with tip rocker
Construction design
New graphics only
Binding options
Flat
right ad

Ken_R

Living the Dream
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Feb 10, 2016
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Denver, CO
This ski is a true charger that needs a solid pilot with the size and heft and technique to take control of this ski. It loves speed and it will overpower your boots easily if they are not stiff and heavy enough. (at least in the longest 2 of the available lengths)

If you meet all that criteria then this is a great one ski quiver for the big mountains out west. It can do a lot more than you would think.

Needless to say if you are an intermediate or even an advanced-intermediate move along, this ski will spank you in short order and make your day on the hill more difficult than it needs to be.
 

markojp

mtn rep for the gear on my feet
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Nov 12, 2015
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PNW aka SEA
Good strong, solid ski. Völkl sort of lost their way for a bit when they went down the 'camber vs. no camber' rabbit hole, but they're headed well and fast into the right direction of late.
 

Wasatchman

over the hill
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Wasatch and NZ
Wow! Sounds like the reviewers found this ski absolutely sublime. It seems it flew under the radar last year given how much you liked this ski.
 

anders_nor

Getting off the lift
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Jan 18, 2020
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292
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Norway
This ski is a BEAST, but yet you can shutdown speed when you want to. I even take it to the frontside on groomer runs when we have no speed limit days and I could just use GS skis. It doesnt really care what it goes through, but it will go through. Nimble train, the 3d radius on this ski just works.
 

Philpug

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Nimble train, the 3d radius on this ski just works.
I agree, the 3D sidecut is what makes this ski stand out. The same can be said about the Kendo 88
Seems to have flown under the radar for how much the test team loved that ski and especially given how popular the M5 in the lineup is.
The M5 was a miss for me...it was a very good ski, but it didn't work for me...IMHO what was missing was the 3D sidecut that the 102 has.
M5 will probably be more peoples "cup of tea". most people dont like 60-70mph skiiing. and going slow on the mantra 102 makes no sense.
I don't disagree, the M5 more a masses ski...but thats even more reason for the Mantra 102, we need that specialty ski.
 

Dougb

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Alameda, California
I'm sensing a cage match here between the Mantra 102 and the Fischer Ranger 102 FR. Blister gave both skis their "Best Of" designation in this year's buyers guide. If I remember their deep dive on the Mantra gave it the edge in stability under all conditions with the Ranger being more quick. I know my local shop (California Ski Company in Berkeley) loves the Fischer.
 

James

Out There
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Dec 2, 2015
Posts
11,640
A superb tip that guides the ski into the turn powerfully and a tail that finishes with pop are traits of the 102.
Now that sounds much better than the M5, which I thought was really good like mid to tail. The front, not so much. 184cm.

My P40’s of 2001 had “3-D” sidecut.
 

anders_nor

Getting off the lift
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Norway
I'm sensing a cage match here between the Mantra 102 and the Fischer Ranger 102 FR. Blister gave both skis their "Best Of" designation in this year's buyers guide. If I remember their deep dive on the Mantra gave it the edge in stability under all conditions with the Ranger being more quick. I know my local shop (California Ski Company in Berkeley) loves the Fischer.
I have both, and they are the skis I probably ski the most, both in 191cm. They are very different, but both love to go fast, but design and feel are very different. mantra is no doubt more chargy, and its a 70mph+ ski that there is no way to make deflect/fold. the 102 FR has no metal, carbin tips, can be landed switch/ski switch and even a few park laps. but its a 60-65, maaaaaybe high 60s ski, also they will go over stuff the mantra 102 goes through. The 102 FR is probably the best non metal chargy ski I ever tried.
 

anders_nor

Getting off the lift
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Norway
I agree, the 3D sidecut is what makes this ski stand out. The same can be said about the Kendo 88

The M5 was a miss for me...it was a very good ski, but it didn't work for me...IMHO what was missing was the 3D sidecut that the 102 has.

I don't disagree, the M5 more a masses ski...but thats even more reason for the Mantra 102, we need that specialty ski.
I never skied the kendo 88.... kinda weird since I own a lot of volkls , but I tend to bring the mantra 102 and deacon 84, and then the kendo kinda sits inbetween... might need to get one? new car can transport even more skis! I did sell all but my enforcer 110 recently... so there might be room for an 88, enforcer 88 never really clicked for me, super fun, super everyhting, just missed a spine to it, and not knowing when the ski would fold shovels/center never sold me on it.

new katana has me intrigued, but... 108 :eek:
 

Wasatchman

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Wasatch and NZ
@Philpug

This seems like a fun ski to try. While I love the Kästle MX89, I have never tried the old Kästle MX99 for fear of it being too burly for me. But this ski seems super stout but with perhaps just enough rocker for some versatility. Is this ski worth a try if someone already has a Kästle MX89 in the quiver?
 

Philpug

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@Philpug

This seems like a fun ski to try. While I love the Kästle MX89, I have never tried the old Kästle MX99 for fear of it being too burly for me. But this ski seems super stout but with perhaps just enough rocker for some versatility. Is this ski worth a try if someone already has a Kästle MX89 in the quiver?
Depends what you want that bigger ski to do? If I had a MX89...and I wanted a One-Oh-Something that leaned on the charger side to go with it...I would get the Rossi Black Ops Sender Ti. But thats me.
 

Philpug

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I'm between the Mantra 102 and the Katana as my One-oh-something compliment to my MX89. Tough choices.
Knowing that the MX89 has the innate ability to ski wider, between these two, I would step up to the Katana.
 

anders_nor

Getting off the lift
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Jan 18, 2020
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Norway
for the katana? Id say its a toss up, the colors should match all of them. if they have them at the store, lay them out on the ski, it usually helps me decide. This are the important things in life, its so stupid, but the satisfaction.....

Or jester 18 pros... :D :D
 

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