Andy Mink

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I've read several posts that lament the tune out of the box on skis. I've also had the fortune to test a few dozen skis over the last two seasons and have been surprised how many demo and test skis have less than stellar edge tunes. After all, most of the people at the tests are buyers for shops. Wouldn't the company/rep want to remove one of the variables they actually have control over? This got me to pondering, what should an out of the box tune be? I mean, you're dropping hundreds and sometimes in the comma range on some of these skis.

My thoughts are a race ski, whether it be FIS or cheater/beer league, should come with a zero tune so the buyer can do what they want without having to get back to a .5 or .7 from a 1 on base. A ski made for hard conditions such as back east should be a minimum of 1/2, probably 1/3. Most other recreational skis should be 1/2.

If nothing else, the tune has to be consistent across the length of the edge. I've seen some skis come out of the box with anywhere between .5 and 2 along the length of the edge. That makes for some weird results. Should any ski be more than 1 on the base? Or more than 3 on the side?

I suppose my final question is, why are the edges out of box not perfect at whatever bevel they are set to be? Is it a matter of the ski not being completely set up after construction? Is it temp/humidity changes? Worn machines? A little bit of everything?
 

CalG

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Doesn't "New edge geometry" depend on the EXACT machinery that the manufacturer has selected to perform the task?

Certainly we can't expect all manufacturers to have a Wintersteiger, or Montana machine just to "finish" the skis as they are pulled from the aging caves prior to shipment.

From what I've seen, of the manufacturing process, Ski pairs are "hand selected" by flexing them over a table edge, serial numbers are then stamped. All this "matching" is done after a few passes over a belt.

I'm sure some makers are more sophisticated, but hey! They have thousands of skis to process, and the snows are coming!
 

Tricia

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It can be a craps shoot.
How many times do we get a ski direct from the factory and ski it before we take it to @smoothrides?
Sometimes its great out of the box, sometimes its just okay, and sometimes its in bad need of a tune.
 

Noodler

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I've read several posts that lament the tune out of the box on skis. I've also had the fortune to test a few dozen skis over the last two seasons and have been surprised how many demo and test skis have less than stellar edge tunes. After all, most of the people at the tests are buyers for shops. Wouldn't the company/rep want to remove one of the variables they actually have control over? This got me to pondering, what should an out of the box tune be? I mean, you're dropping hundreds and sometimes in the comma range on some of these skis.

My thoughts are a race ski, whether it be FIS or cheater/beer league, should come with a zero tune so the buyer can do what they want without having to get back to a .5 or .7 from a 1 on base. A ski made for hard conditions such as back east should be a minimum of 1/2, probably 1/3. Most other recreational skis should be 1/2.

If nothing else, the tune has to be consistent across the length of the edge. I've seen some skis come out of the box with anywhere between .5 and 2 along the length of the edge. That makes for some weird results. Should any ski be more than 1 on the base? Or more than 3 on the side?

I suppose my final question is, why are the edges out of box not perfect at whatever bevel they are set to be? Is it a matter of the ski not being completely set up after construction? Is it temp/humidity changes? Worn machines? A little bit of everything?
I feel your pain (as do many skiers, many without even realizing it).

Whether the inaccuracy is due to the skis further curing/settling-in or less-than-stellar final finishing is irrelevant. The fact is that most skis are not 100% perfect after manufacturing when it comes to the tune. That's why the prevailing advice from those in the know is to always have a new ski tuned. As you noted, there should be more thought given by the manufacturers as to what specs the bevels should be set at, but most just slap a 1/1 on the skis and call it good. With race skis that makes little to no sense at all.

I have found over the years that the tuning issues are especially common around the widest points at the tips and tails. This must have something to do with the machinery that most manufacturers are using. The side edges at those points are typically "squeezed" and have a depression. Also, the base bevels are almost never consistent through the up-turn of the tips and tails (if they're turned up). So the sage advice is to find a shop that provides excellent ski tuning services or learn to do it yourself.
 

Tricia

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I suppose my final question is, why are the edges out of box not perfect at whatever bevel they are set to be? Is it a matter of the ski not being completely set up after construction? Is it temp/humidity changes? Worn machines? A little bit of everything?
....and related to that; why do people post here asking what the factory tune is?
 
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Andy Mink

Andy Mink

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....and related to that; why do people post here asking what the factory tune is?
Like length and width dimensions I think factory tune specs should be easily accessible. Not necessarily printed on the top sheet but easily found.
 

Noodler

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....and related to that; why do people post here asking what the factory tune is?
I think there's an assumption on the part of some skiers that the factory tune bevel angles are "recommended" for a particular ski by the manufacturer. What is missing is that edge bevel angles should be matched to the skier's preferences/skills, not specifically to the ski. At least that's my belief.
 

cantunamunch

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I just find it unfortunate that a consumer may have to drop another $50-$100 to make a pair of skis "right".:huh:
They have to get bindings on 'em, no?

Like length and width dimensions I think factory tune specs should be easily accessible. Not necessarily printed on the top sheet but easily found.
Both Elan and Atomic have done this until they were blue in the face; didn't help because a) skiers want exact numbers so specs like 1.5+/-0.5 were disregarded and b) absolute numbers like 1 base and 3 side were disbelieved.
 

cantunamunch

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Like length and width dimensions I think factory tune specs should be easily accessible. Not necessarily printed on the top sheet but easily found.
Both Elan and Atomic did this until they were blue in the topsheet. Atomic's was so specific that everyone knew better (read: different) and Elan's was so general that nobody knew what it meant.

I
I suppose my final question is, why are the edges out of box not perfect at whatever bevel they are set to be? Is it a matter of the ski not being completely set up after construction? Is it temp/humidity changes? Worn machines? A little bit of everything?
Because getting edges perfect out of the box is like winning a circular argument. A bevel is defined from a flat base - but on a new ski "flat" bases are defined by a straight line between edge high points. You can't use the topsheet or the ski thickness as a reference - that accuracy is completely unknown.

There is no "correct" datum plane physically observable on the ski. It is only later, when there are large averages (average straight lines between edge high points and average planes of ski base) ground into the ski, that we assume those averages are a reference. Those large scale averages are only "correct" in a "future cost minimum" sense, there is no saying how much it cost in grinding or alignment to get there.

My point here is - current factory tunes are to "perfect" factory tunes like flat skis are to system skis. Yes, there is extra expenditure after the purchase, but letting everyone find their own optima keeps them happier.
 
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Wilhelmson

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Mine had jagged file marks at the tips and tail; once I filed those down they were great. Light stoning on the base edges indicates they're a pretty consistent 1 degree. Seems that b&m shops could add some value by tuning new skis for a discount - wishful thinking?
 

Doug Briggs

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Most skis from major manufacturers come in with a machine tune. The aberrations in the tunes can be from wear in the machine, operator, skis still not fully cured or a combination of these things. The tunes are generally not bad but can't be relied on.

Skis from indie manufacturers are all over the board. Some just belt sand the bases which is a poor finish but also doen't really flatten a ski from tip to tail reliably. Those skis require an excessive amount of preparation to ski well. Others are bettter and some are excellent. I won't discuss brands specifically.

Race skis can come with nice tunes or none at all. Head puts labels on their skis that haven't been tuned indicating that they require tuning. This is akin to plug boots that come with non-DIN soles.

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I received 18 pairs of Fischer skis to mount and tune for demos a few weeks ago. The higher end ones came with .5 and 3. The junior models came with 1 and 3. We wanted .75 and 3 so did all of the high end skis with the Scout. We did some touch up on the junior models, but mostly just waxing as their edges checked out.
 

Sibhusky

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Really, this thread should be a sticky somewhere so that the "factory tune" members (I used to be one years ago) can see it. 99% of my ski friends think they got a factory tune and that when they took it in to the shop, the shop used those specs when they tuned the ski. They don't believe me when I tell them there isn't one.
 

James

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The good ones already do this.
Maybe on race skis?
I know few shops that grind a new ski without asking.

The fact is, few people want to pay for a new ski, then pay for it to be ground. They think it's unnecessary, or they think the shop is ripping them off. Like when the shop tells people they can't touch their non indemnified binding.

Some skis are unskiable, some are bad, some ok, some are very good.

People might want to read this post about an expensive ski series, Volkl V werks, that often arrives in horrible shape.
It's kind of shocking that at the annual, national SIA convention and demo in February, many of the ski brands were poorly tuned, or at least mis-tuned in ways that were hopefully obvious. This year, not Volkl. Their tuning was tops, and not by accident.

At Copper Mtn. recently, the Volkl rep in charge of ski prep for SIA told me that first, their demo skis were run through a Montana, not a Wintersteiger, at a local Colorado shop with two top operators they knew personally - guys who really knew their stuff. He named them, but I don't recall that detail. (I remember the location, if interested.) He made clear that most operators, of even the Montana, don't know beans, and he wouldn't trust them with his skis; and also, that the Montana is a better machine, for his purposes, than the Wintersteiger, whoever the operator; even though back at Volkl headquarters, most of the skis are prepped on a Wintersteiger, albeit by experts on that.

If done right, and not at a time when the operators are overburdened with an assembly line of skis to do, the right machine base-flattening actually succeeds or comes close to getting the skis flat, whereas normally, a machine base flattening tends to leave all but the narrowest of skis at least a bit rail high, if lucky. This is understatement on my part, based on my own experiences over the years. At least here in Colorado.

(In place of this machine work, I'd hand-flattened the base in from the rails over an inch the entire edge length, and for most of it, almost perfectly flat, in my desperation: more exact than I'd have to do except for race skis, normally.)

Second, the Volkl rep then went over each ski by hand, in a full on tune routine, with a double check on the Montana machine results included. He showed me his tool box with a full assortment of tools I was familiar with (and also own), there on hand at the ski slope. The V-W Mantras in particular, he said, required extra effort to set the edge bevels @ 1°/2°. By the way he said this, he meant an unusual amount of extra effort, for whatever reasons.

Last, he said that the V-W skis, presumably especially the Mantras, often required cutting back on the thin sidewall material above the edges, quite a bit. Otherwise, that sidewall is so thin and sharp that if the manufacturing is off, it can act like a second, hanging edge above the real edge. This is especially the case when you carve by laying the ski over properly, as he could see I did (me being on Rossi FIS 165 slalom skis at the time). Yikes!

I can attest that trying to unknowingly carve such a parallel double edge is an unpleasant surprise, kinda hard.

(I usually only do such extra sidewall removal when the sidewall is likely to interfere with cutting the side edge bevel, which in this case hadn't happened. Also, these days lots of folks like the sidewall to be beveled flush with the edge, presumably at the same bevel angle - not what is needed, in this case.)

I can confirm what the rep said by the results.

I'd anticipated the first and second tips, mostly, almost - after base flattening, I'd already spent much more than twice the normal time setting the edge bevels (because of the skis being so rail high initially, and because of the unusual arch to the skis). After taking the rep's advice, I ended up spending even more time on the 1°/2° bevels, with extra care as well. Also, I used a standard 7° bevel edge tool to take back the thin sidewall material, such as it was. This too proved necessary, probably decisive. Thanks, Volkl rep!

Now the skis are fun and better than normal.


Notes & background:

I can sympathize with the ski brand guys at SIA - it ain't easy to tune so many skis well in such a short time. A real challenge.

I can sure agree with the shop folk you talked to, @James , as far as quality and ski prep of the V-Werks skis most recently. But I've had good luck with the durability of our three V-Werks Katanas so far (two 184s, one 191), shared between me and my son, etc., over 2-5 seasons, variously. None of these skis had manufacturing/prep problems when I first got them: they skied great out of the wrap.

Admittedly, I'm not hard on my skis, and generally have two to five year old skis look almost new routinely, even though they've seen lots of days on snow. (In the case of my first Katanas, roughly 200 days of use, more or less, so far.)
 

Wilhelmson

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I'm not even talking about a grind, if the bases are ok just hit the edges so they are skiable. If you pay $800 for new skis and they're so railed they need a $100 grind and tune, well that's life.
 
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