Comparison Review In Depth Review: Kastle FX95 vs FX95HP

dawgcatching

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In depth review: Kastle FX95 vs. FX95HP



The skis reviewed: Kastle FX95 in 181cm, and the FX95HP in 181cm. The FX95 is an early rise tip and tail, skis around 5cm shorter than the listed length (when compared to a full camber/zero early rise ski) and features a wood core construction. The HP adds 2 sheets of metal.



Skier: 5 foot 9, 155-160lbs. Skis 10-30 days a year. See video for skill level and skiing style



The terrain: Mt Bachelor choppy crud conditions: high 20's snow, 8-12” of new in spots, crud powder bumps as well. Copper Mountain light and dry smoke; up to 14” of new, big soft powder bumps, and some tight trees (Spaulding Bowl, Resolution Bowl bumps, and trees just west of the Super Bee lift).



First off, a disclaimer and a little bit about me: we sell Kastle (and would love your business if you are in the market!) and were one of the original Kastle dealers in the US. We have most every model in stock, and I personally have owned around 80% of the skis that Kastle has produced since their re-introduction to the market in 2007. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the brand or would like to take advantage of special PUG pricing.



I had been on both of these skis recently, at Mt. Bachelor first, and then again in Colorado at the SIA show. FWIW, Kastle is utilizing a 2-year product cycle on the FX and BMX series. As a consumer, what that means for you is there won't be any end of season “deals”, because the ski is unchanged for 2016-2017. Which is a great thing, as you won't feel you are buying a soon to be obsolete ski Many brands are now doing this going forward.



To relate my speeds; I signed up for this Copper Mtn. app called Sherpa. It was giving me updates “you are the fastest on xxx run”; on Mine Shaft (I think that was the name, frontside steeper bump run) I was hitting mid 20's when skiing well. On groomers, high 40's mostly (unless demoing carvers, then faster). Can't say for sure if those numbers are accurate or not, but I would assume the groomer numbers are at least. Would have been skiing the same speeds in a GS course with race skis on.



Overall, my impressions for both skis were similar at both demo venues. The snow was heavier at Bachelor (the 105 was a more fun ski that day) and the snow was blower at Copper (I would have gladly traded down for an 85 as there was no need for extra float).



Also, when talking to Kastle reps, it did seem that the non-HP version is very well received and preferred by many of them. It might be overlooked because it isn't “top of the line” but that really isn't the case. A stiffer ski isn't always a better ski; sometimes the softer ski performs better for either the skier or the preferred terrain of that skier. Anyone who skied the old Progressor series remembers how the 9+ was the ski for arcing firm groomers and GS speeds, and the 8+ was for rippping up front side bumps and shorter turns with lots of energy.



FX95 181cm: the FX95 is very similar to the old BMX construction, with no metal laminate layers. Anyone who has skied the old BMX98/108/118/128 can attest that these are quite strong skis, yet as lacking metal, they do come across as lighter, more nimble, and more suited to lighter skiers. I absolutely loved the 95 at Copper, and felt it was very good at Bachelor too. Not having metal made the tip extremely forgiving, the tail nice and springy, and the ski was poppy from turn to turn, finishing the turn with a lot of energy. Snow feel was exceptional. In bumps, the lack of metal made this a superb ski; it was simply enough to pull back the new inside foot and tip to get the ski working in bumps. It really melded to the trough and backside of the bump. In the instances I did get into the backseat, I found this amongst the easiest of all of the skis we tested to recover on. Another place the ski absolutely shone was on steep, big style drift bumps. So confident in that long edge drift turn, before hitting the backside of the bump, unweighting, and planting steeply down the fall line for the release. Granted, that was soft snow, but I feel as if the ski could have held it's own on steep scratchy snow too. At bigger speeds above tree line, I did begin to find a top end for the ski, but it wasn't outrageous, and I tend to ski very fast. The float and release in powder, the energy, made the FX95 a joy. It was so playful at my weight, and held up well. If I were charging instead of loving to turn (I find the most joy in skiing when I am weightless between turns or generating big-G forces at the belly of an arc) then perhaps I wouldn't mind more ski. For my skiing style, in this terrain, it was simply a joy.



FX95 HP 181cm: as noted, the only changes between these 2 skis is the addition of 2 sheets of metal. The skis, although not the same, were quite similar. The changes I noted were:



  1. in bumps, the FX95HP had to be driven more. I had to ski it cleaner to stay in the zipper line: really working the feet fore and aft, trying to release over the bump and not just tip and rip. Of course, if you are not skiing straight zipper line bumps, the differences vanish. I found the HP to be just a bit stronger and more demanding ski here, although with that said, it was still VERY easy to ski for a ski with metal. Tried taking the Volkl Mantra in zipper line bumps....the worst idea since Jar Jar Binks.

  2. In deeper snow, the skis were identical. Whereas the non-HP liked to “come up for air” with a bit of spring at the end of each turn, the HP was more serious, damp, less energy. It made up for this with less decambering when seriously loaded: the turn where I am finishing with the skis across the fall line fully; big counter and release with a lot of power. There is a lot of force being applied to the ski on a 40 degree pitch, and the non-HP could decamber a little too much; whereas the HP held up. Of course not many people get that kind of whip-release at the end of a turn. Also, when letting it run through tracked out snow, bigger turns, I would also choose the HP.

  3. In trees, the HP and non-HP were close. The edge goes to the non-HP for quickness; I needed more precision to ski the HP here, but still well within acceptable. Still, if skiing tight trees, I don't see the need for the HP unless you are a big guy.

  4. As a groomer ski, there was more top end of the HP in rough snow. I wouldn't buy the FX series as a groomer ski, but if I were going to ski groomers and were hitting big arcs, the HP is better. Non-HP for slower skiing or more energy


I didn't get to ski either on true ice. I assume the HP would have the advantage here, but my BMX98 got early morning freeze conditions and didn't complain. As did my old Blizzard The One skis. If you need an absolute ice skate, the HP likely is better, but most skiers are lacking angulation and edge pressure before they run into the limits of a modern ski for holding an edge.



Overall, I really think it comes down to the following: if you are skiing tighter spaces, slower speeds, keeping it under 30mph for the most part, like energy, ski new snow, don't weigh a ton: check out the 95 (or 85, or 105: they are all identical). If you are a big person (I would say over 200lbs), ski choppy snow, fast speeds in that choppy snow, like stability over all else, are often on pure ice, and want that power feel, I would look at the HP. Me personally, I could go either way. Probably the HP for Bachelor, as it is a wide open mountain. Colorado resort-style conditions, I think the non-HP gets my vote. East Coast also the non-HP. Or, I could personally go with the non-HP 189 and split the difference. It skis fairly short, essentially a 184, and it would give me the extra float of a longer ski while still being nimble. I am seeing a lot of customers size up or size down with that in mind: either grabbing a bigger ski without metal, or going smaller as they want metal, yet a nimble ski.
 
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dawgcatching

dawgcatching

Snow? What is that?
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Great review as always and remarkably similar to the 85 in that you could pretty much substitute the 85HP and 85 in place of the 95HP and 95.
No kidding. Just got my 85HP mounted up to ski this spring in corn, when it starts thawing out!
 
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ChrisJ

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Thanks Dawg for another great set of reviews on the new Kastle FX & BMX lines.
I've skied the FX95 HP twice now first in 181 more recently in 189. I own a BMX115 193, MX98, MX83, 2 SL skis.
Still cannot say I have it quite figured out. It doesn't respond to input the same way my other skis do. Wade talks about a ski from the arch approach did you find yourself making any adjustments? BMX105 is click in an go and to me seems more natural and a better execution of the new design. Kinda seems like they over did the tapper on the FX and neutered the engagement. I'm looking for a off piste weapon replacement for my MX98 - love em but they belong to someone who skis Whistler or similar mtn day in and out. I'm on a 1000 vertical mountain and looking to ski more trees and crappy snow and maybe to slim my quiver (heaven forbid or at least add something different to my traditional chargers). If I do go FX95HP it would be in 181. Any words of wisdom or experience welcome.
 

ChrisJ

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Just to follow up on my last post. I bought the FX95HP in a 181 and it is fantastic no issues with initiation and I dont have to drive it like its a 10/10ths ski like the 189. Easily the most versatile Kastle I have owned and ski in my quiver. The 181 skis true to length in terms of stability so I have a quicker more flick-able ski for tight place and off piste but can still haul when needed. Would I perfer a 184/185 probably but the 189 is too big a jump and way more ski than the 181.
 

beerleagueracer

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Just finished 3 days on the FX 95 (non HP) version. I am similar size to the reviewer and a customer of the shop. I had the FX 94 prior, just went to a longer length on this version (173). I got to ride through a wide variety of conditions in 3 ski days ranging from a small amount of new snow to cut up off piste to bumps and groomers. While I don't have the HP experience to compare I found no flaws in the 95. Predictable and versatile are my two best adjectives here. In true Kastle fashion the ski holds and edge with confidence, easy to initiate, comfortable at speed, agile in the bumps. You can swing it easily through tight situations but the ski will also ride long radius GS turns on the groomers and the steeps.
 

Josh Matta

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there is no video?
 

Gayle

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Do you have any Kastle FX 95's for sale in a 165 length?
If so, please let me know. Thanks



In depth review: Kastle FX95 vs. FX95HP



The skis reviewed: Kastle FX95 in 181cm, and the FX95HP in 181cm. The FX95 is an early rise tip and tail, skis around 5cm shorter than the listed length (when compared to a full camber/zero early rise ski) and features a wood core construction. The HP adds 2 sheets of metal.



Skier: 5 foot 9, 155-160lbs. Skis 10-30 days a year. See video for skill level and skiing style



The terrain: Mt Bachelor choppy crud conditions: high 20's snow, 8-12” of new in spots, crud powder bumps as well. Copper Mountain light and dry smoke; up to 14” of new, big soft powder bumps, and some tight trees (Spaulding Bowl, Resolution Bowl bumps, and trees just west of the Super Bee lift).



First off, a disclaimer and a little bit about me: we sell Kastle (and would love your business if you are in the market!) and were one of the original Kastle dealers in the US. We have most every model in stock, and I personally have owned around 80% of the skis that Kastle has produced since their re-introduction to the market in 2007. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the brand or would like to take advantage of special PUG pricing.



I had been on both of these skis recently, at Mt. Bachelor first, and then again in Colorado at the SIA show. FWIW, Kastle is utilizing a 2-year product cycle on the FX and BMX series. As a consumer, what that means for you is there won't be any end of season “deals”, because the ski is unchanged for 2016-2017. Which is a great thing, as you won't feel you are buying a soon to be obsolete ski Many brands are now doing this going forward.



To relate my speeds; I signed up for this Copper Mtn. app called Sherpa. It was giving me updates “you are the fastest on xxx run”; on Mine Shaft (I think that was the name, frontside steeper bump run) I was hitting mid 20's when skiing well. On groomers, high 40's mostly (unless demoing carvers, then faster). Can't say for sure if those numbers are accurate or not, but I would assume the groomer numbers are at least. Would have been skiing the same speeds in a GS course with race skis on.



Overall, my impressions for both skis were similar at both demo venues. The snow was heavier at Bachelor (the 105 was a more fun ski that day) and the snow was blower at Copper (I would have gladly traded down for an 85 as there was no need for extra float).



Also, when talking to Kastle reps, it did seem that the non-HP version is very well received and preferred by many of them. It might be overlooked because it isn't “top of the line” but that really isn't the case. A stiffer ski isn't always a better ski; sometimes the softer ski performs better for either the skier or the preferred terrain of that skier. Anyone who skied the old Progressor series remembers how the 9+ was the ski for arcing firm groomers and GS speeds, and the 8+ was for rippping up front side bumps and shorter turns with lots of energy.



FX95 181cm: the FX95 is very similar to the old BMX construction, with no metal laminate layers. Anyone who has skied the old BMX98/108/118/128 can attest that these are quite strong skis, yet as lacking metal, they do come across as lighter, more nimble, and more suited to lighter skiers. I absolutely loved the 95 at Copper, and felt it was very good at Bachelor too. Not having metal made the tip extremely forgiving, the tail nice and springy, and the ski was poppy from turn to turn, finishing the turn with a lot of energy. Snow feel was exceptional. In bumps, the lack of metal made this a superb ski; it was simply enough to pull back the new inside foot and tip to get the ski working in bumps. It really melded to the trough and backside of the bump. In the instances I did get into the backseat, I found this amongst the easiest of all of the skis we tested to recover on. Another place the ski absolutely shone was on steep, big style drift bumps. So confident in that long edge drift turn, before hitting the backside of the bump, unweighting, and planting steeply down the fall line for the release. Granted, that was soft snow, but I feel as if the ski could have held it's own on steep scratchy snow too. At bigger speeds above tree line, I did begin to find a top end for the ski, but it wasn't outrageous, and I tend to ski very fast. The float and release in powder, the energy, made the FX95 a joy. It was so playful at my weight, and held up well. If I were charging instead of loving to turn (I find the most joy in skiing when I am weightless between turns or generating big-G forces at the belly of an arc) then perhaps I wouldn't mind more ski. For my skiing style, in this terrain, it was simply a joy.



FX95 HP 181cm: as noted, the only changes between these 2 skis is the addition of 2 sheets of metal. The skis, although not the same, were quite similar. The changes I noted were:



  1. in bumps, the FX95HP had to be driven more. I had to ski it cleaner to stay in the zipper line: really working the feet fore and aft, trying to release over the bump and not just tip and rip. Of course, if you are not skiing straight zipper line bumps, the differences vanish. I found the HP to be just a bit stronger and more demanding ski here, although with that said, it was still VERY easy to ski for a ski with metal. Tried taking the Volkl Mantra in zipper line bumps....the worst idea since Jar Jar Binks.

  2. In deeper snow, the skis were identical. Whereas the non-HP liked to “come up for air” with a bit of spring at the end of each turn, the HP was more serious, damp, less energy. It made up for this with less decambering when seriously loaded: the turn where I am finishing with the skis across the fall line fully; big counter and release with a lot of power. There is a lot of force being applied to the ski on a 40 degree pitch, and the non-HP could decamber a little too much; whereas the HP held up. Of course not many people get that kind of whip-release at the end of a turn. Also, when letting it run through tracked out snow, bigger turns, I would also choose the HP.

  3. In trees, the HP and non-HP were close. The edge goes to the non-HP for quickness; I needed more precision to ski the HP here, but still well within acceptable. Still, if skiing tight trees, I don't see the need for the HP unless you are a big guy.

  4. As a groomer ski, there was more top end of the HP in rough snow. I wouldn't buy the FX series as a groomer ski, but if I were going to ski groomers and were hitting big arcs, the HP is better. Non-HP for slower skiing or more energy


I didn't get to ski either on true ice. I assume the HP would have the advantage here, but my BMX98 got early morning freeze conditions and didn't complain. As did my old Blizzard The One skis. If you need an absolute ice skate, the HP likely is better, but most skiers are lacking angulation and edge pressure before they run into the limits of a modern ski for holding an edge.



Overall, I really think it comes down to the following: if you are skiing tighter spaces, slower speeds, keeping it under 30mph for the most part, like energy, ski new snow, don't weigh a ton: check out the 95 (or 85, or 105: they are all identical). If you are a big person (I would say over 200lbs), ski choppy snow, fast speeds in that choppy snow, like stability over all else, are often on pure ice, and want that power feel, I would look at the HP. Me personally, I could go either way. Probably the HP for Bachelor, as it is a wide open mountain. Colorado resort-style conditions, I think the non-HP gets my vote. East Coast also the non-HP. Or, I could personally go with the non-HP 189 and split the difference. It skis fairly short, essentially a 184, and it would give me the extra float of a longer ski while still being nimble. I am seeing a lot of customers size up or size down with that in mind: either grabbing a bigger ski without metal, or going smaller as they want metal, yet a nimble ski.
 

Gayle

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Do you have any Kastle FX 95's for sale in a 165 length? If so, please let me know.
I would consider a lightly used pair, also.
 

1000-Oaks

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Anyone try mounting the FX95HP behind the line a bit?

Just put in two days on the 181 length and can see why it's a polarizing ski. Haven't tried it on soft snow yet, but on hard snow you have to be very well-balanced. If you get a bit too forward or too far back, the ski will break out a carve and skid due to the extremely short running length. I found the sweet spot for high-angle, high speed carving to be driving from the heel. If you shift weight toward the ball of your foot a bit, it'll instantly break out of the carve. But if you stay on the heel, the ski hooks up amazingly well and delivers a ton of energy into the next turn. A shocking amount of explosive pop for such a rockered ski. (Very different than the planky 2017 180 Bonafide, which wasn't my cup of tea.)

Think mounting the FX95HP at -5mm or -1cm would allow a more forward, aggressive stance with your weight on the sweet spot? Stay off hard snow so it's not an issue, lol?
 
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pause

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This is my second season on my 95HPs. I maybe able to answer your question indirectly. I use this primarily as an all mountain or soft-ish snow ski. If the snow is really firm, I ride a different ski. I don’t expect it to hold a carve on ice, but I do expect it to have good edge grip in steep, technical terrain, which I find it does. That said, I have fun on soft groomers with this ski when there is room to really let them run.
It does wash out for me on ice, but I haven’t thought much about it because that is what I expect from an all-around 95mm ski. At mellow speeds it’s meh for carving.
I ski it on the line and it feels balanced overall. So any tweak to dial it in for firm snow may compromise its feel in its more natural element.
I think you’ll find it a pretty versatile ski as you get into different snow and terrain. But clean arcs on really firm snow are not its strength.
 

1000-Oaks

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After getting in several more enjoyable days on these, I'm definitely going to try mounting at least 1cm back. Even in soft snow, if you drive the tips the tails will break out of the carve and the tips will hook (due to the substantial rocker). If you stay on your heels, they carve amazingly well. I don't like skiing in that position though, hopefully mounting back a bit will allow a more aggressive forward stance without the hooking. They are like a hot knife through butter though, love the low-slung rocker that greatly smooths fluctuating resistance through chop.
 
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