Individual Review Head Monster 98 (184cm)

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews and Comparisons' started by Alexzn, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. Alexzn

    Alexzn Ski Squaw Skier

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    Monster series is a storied product for Head, it has always been known for being an uncompromising charger ski in the "ski me if you can” mold. The new Monster seems to be a continuation of the lineage, but with fairly significant changes. I skied the 98 mm underfoot model, which at least on specs would be on anyone's list as an everyday Tahoe ski. The current trend favors 85-88mm skis as that daily driver slot, but I still prefer a mid-90 ski in Tahoe. Test conditions: plenty of good groomers, some wintry fluffy snow in the trees, plenty of sun-affected refrozen crud elsewhere.

    Design and construction:
    This ski almost completely eschews the two defining design elements of the last 5 years, rocker and taper. The ski has a smidge of early rise and the tip has no taper whatsoever -- in fact, it even widens a little near the engagement point (see the photos comparing the shape and profile with the unabashedly "modern" rockered and tapered Kastle FX95HP). The tail is rounded and again does not have any significant rise. The ski flexes evenly and is quite stiff; in fact, it flexed stiff to the point that I was worried about skiing it.
    Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 11.56.52 PM.png


    Skiing impressions: Right off the bat there were two surprises:. First, the ski was really damp, not Kastle-level damp, but significantly more than even a high-quality wood-metal laminate like a Bonafide or the Enforcer. Head knows how to make a good damp laminate. You can run the Monster as fast as you want, it will laugh at you. Second, it didn't ski nearly as stiff as it flexed; in fact, it was almost mellow. The tip shape makes itself known on the groomers, the ski engages right off the tip, the carving is competent, but not race-ski level energetic. Couple it with the dampness and you get a very confident fun solid ride. It skis every inch of its 184cm length, and as you can see in the photo, it engages tip to tail. No need to size up on that ski, in fact, I suggest keeping your ego in check on the length.

    Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 11.51.43 PM.png

    Off piste the ski felt damp and unflappable. To get the best out of this ski, it is best to ignore the underlying landscape and maybe get a little speed, then enjoy blasting through anything. It is not as devilishly clever at adapting to the terrain as the Kastle, instead it just shrugs and goes through stuff. It does manage to keep things fairly nimble, even in bumps, the shorter length relative to my normal 189 ski was a welcome antidote to the stiffness. Where that stiffness still manifested itself was in very tight spaces, where the Monster became more of a handful compared to many of the rockered skis in the same class. Overall the ski delivered solid performance that did not necessarily jump out on any particular terrain, just solid confidence everywhere. It is a good ski.

    Further Thoughts: Even though I believe the phrase " wide GS race ski" is overused, it's a fairly accurate description of the Monster, although it is tons more user-friendly than a real race ski. A better comparison would be to the two well-known entries in that category- the old Mantra and the Rossignol Experience 98. Mantra always has that weird flex pattern where the tail was significantly stiffer than the front. To me this Monster has a much better flex pattern, and tip design that is at least as effective and maybe more neutral. Compared to the Rossi, the tail is significantly more forgiving and more versatile. Monster 98 is also significantly more damp than either of those two.

    The ideal audience for this ski is probably the skilled people who feel put off by the feeling of a rockered ski and are willing to trade in some versatility on the extreme ends to enjoy predictable smooth ride in a ski that turns in right from the tip. Old Mantra fans who are turned off by the recent full rocker versions, this Monster may be your ski.

    The demo pair was provided by @Sierrajim and Blue Zone Sports, which (judged by the content of their demo ski rack) carries a full line of Head demos.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2017
    Ken_R, Lorenzzo, skibob and 7 others like this.
  2. Tom K.

    Tom K. HRPufnStf Skier

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    Thanks for the review. Any info on changes from the current version? I thought I heard whispers of a slightly tighter radius and softer flex.
     
  3. Thread Starter
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    Alexzn

    Alexzn Ski Squaw Skier

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    I heard of a bit more early rise and softer flex. Both would be beneficial.
     
  4. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Good question, @Philpug , @Tricia , anything from SIA ?

    Btw, I agree, great review ...
     
  5. Sierrajim

    Sierrajim Blue Zone Sports Industry Insider

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    The next gen. Monsters will in fact have slightly more tip rise and about 10% softer flex. I just skied a new 88 yesterday and will post up a review after a couple more rides today. Watch for "Triple HEADer" coming soon to a blog near you.

    Great review (as always) from Alex.
     
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  6. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    This will make it a more accessable, but not a 'lesser' ski. IMHO, if the tip had just a bit more rise a la the MX 98 and just a bit softer in the tip/tail, I imagine this will be a really nice refinement... I'm guessing it will still be on the burlier side of the 98/100 category for the 11/10th crowd who might be concerned.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  7. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    From an old post, my thoughts on the Monster 98 clipped from a Enforcer comparison:

    The Nordica Enforcer vs. Head Monster 98.

    Lengths skied:

    Enforcer, 185 w/Tyrolia Attack 13, factory recommended mount. 18.5m turn radius in 185. Dims: 133-100-121
    Monster 98, 184 w/Attack 16 mounted +1.5cm. 23m radius in 184. Dims: 136-99-121

    Tester: 6’, #200 lbs. PSIA L3, USSA/FIS race background. Style: Power (when called for) w/finesse.


    " On to our linebacker, the Head Monster 98. This is a tip to tail skier’s ski. This is a powerful tool that rewards the physically capable skier with a skill set. Work the forebody, or it’s likely to hit after the whistle. This is a no nonsense ‘old-new school’ all mountain tool for those who pine for their original Monsters, cambered Mantras, and lightning bolt Enforcer of years past. (The question is, are we still as lithe and fit as we were a decade ago?) Cambered. Check. A bunch of it compared to current market offerings, and only a wee smidge of tip rise that Head works hard at modulating with changes to side cut at the ends of the Monster series skis to make a modern, predictable ski with a smooth turn entry and exit without giving up the power and precision of past classics. The Monster 98 and 108 differ from the 88 and 83 in placing graphene in the ends of the ski rather than in the middle. The result is a stiff, damp, but not ‘planky’ ski.

    The Monster 98 knows no speed limited either on edge or flattened to straight line. This is a 184 with a long running surface. Edge grip? Yup. Crud? For breakfast, lunch, dinner, and between meal snacks. It isn’t as forgiving as the Enforcer, but Head seems quite content to remain true to its’ race performance roots with the Monster series skis. They make the skis they make, and you either like them, or you shop elsewhere. Our Monster needs a coach it can respect and that will tease out the best of its capabilities. Like the Enforcer, care should be taken with the mounting point. In the case of the Monster, 2cm forward* will amp up the performance and help ease initiation in shorter radius turns. The guy or gal who wants the feeling of a 23-27m FIS race ski in an all mountain capable package, this is your ride.

    The take away? Don’t be lulled into thinking that all skis within a given category should be similar in handling, snow feel, and design intent. These two skis may share some titanal, wood, country of origin, and similar overall dimensions, but the commonalities stop there. These are both excellent skis that prove it is indeed a great time to be a ski design enthusiast! Be careful of what you wish for... you just might get everything, but in different packages."


    (* 2015-16 mount point... 2016-17 is one cm forward of the previous model year)
     
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  8. Tom K.

    Tom K. HRPufnStf Skier

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    Thanks. One bit of confusion on my part:

    Did @Alexzn ski the 16/17 or 17/18 for this review?
     
  9. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    The one he pictures is this years. My review was last years. Only difference was the factory mount point and new graphic technology.
     
  10. Tom K.

    Tom K. HRPufnStf Skier

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    Sorry, I remain confused. I thought the Monster line was being softened up, and having its early rise increased for the 17/18 version. Not so for the 98?
     
  11. Thread Starter
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    Alexzn

    Alexzn Ski Squaw Skier

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    I skied the current year ski from the Blue Zone demo fleet. I'm not sure you can get the 17-18 yet.
     
  12. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    No, just the 83 and 88 were changed. I skied them and from what i remember comparing them to the gen 1 skis, I liked them better but I am going from memory. It is still the reference ski in the hard snow biased 98 not including the premiums.
     
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  13. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    I reviewed the 15-16, Alex the 16-17. Id heard from our rep that the 17-18 M98 will be 10% be softer and have some more tip rise. Hope to ski on them fairly soon. IMHO, a bit of softening for the 98 and 108 will be a good thing for most. Not so sure about the 17-18 M88, but we'll see. If it skis like a Rev 85 pro, it'll be great... IMHO of course.
     
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  14. Sierrajim

    Sierrajim Blue Zone Sports Industry Insider

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    The pair that Alex so accurately reviewed is the 16-17 version. At this time, that is what we have available. We are told that the17-18 versions will be very slightly modified as mentioned in several other threads, We will have a few 17-18 demos available for Pugski members within the next 30 days or so, In the case of HEAD, we will likely be concentrating on "KORE" models. Pugski members are privileged to ski any of these that we have either currently or in near future at N/C providing they don't ski 'em through the parking lot and they provide and publish a review such as Alex has for this one.

    Pre-orders will receive very notable appreciation..........:D

    SJ
     
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  15. Tom K.

    Tom K. HRPufnStf Skier

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    Thanks, guys. Currently leaning towards a Monster 88 and Kore 10X next season.

    @Sierrajim, you'd be my second call. The first is to the good, small dealer 10 miles down the road from me, which I'm sure you understand.
     
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  16. TahoeCharlie

    TahoeCharlie RetroMan Skier

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    Thanks, @Sierrajim, looking forward to demoing the Kore series, as I want to replace my Soul 7's with something more versatile, as they are only good in fresh powder for me, poor in crud and groomers.
     
  17. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    A great replacement for the Soul 7...as is the new Soul 7.
     
  18. TahoeCharlie

    TahoeCharlie RetroMan Skier

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    @Philpug I'm going to try them both. Have you skied the Kore? Which size? Didn't see anything mentioned in your SIA reports.
     
  19. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I skied the 93 in the 180 and the 117 in the 187. Hope to get on the 106 here in Snowbasin.
     
  20. TahoeCharlie

    TahoeCharlie RetroMan Skier

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    OK, come on, say something about how they skied!! Don't keep it a secret.
     

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