Volkl Mantra Demo Review

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Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby riverc0il » Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:29 pm

Ski: Volkl Mantra (177cm)
Me: 6'1" 210 lbs. Athletic Build. Enjoys trees and powder
Conditions: Bit of everything including groomers, wind blown hard pack, bumps, soft natural snow, powder, trees, etc.
Current Quiver: Legend 8000, Intuitiv Big, Volkl P50

I really wanted to like this ski. It is one helluva ski, it really is. And even though it was not the right ski for me, I recognized instantly the skis power and prowess. It is an interesting feeling being both amazed yet disinterested in a ski at the same time.

Essentially, I am seeking a fatter replacement for the Intuitiv Big which essentially has a similar tip and tail to the 8000 with a fatter waist (89mm). Not enough difference and the Intuitiv Big struggles in the trees as a tree powder ski. A great ski but I was hoping to find something a tad fatter with better tree performance.

No shortcoming of praise for the Volkl Mantra, this is one of the hottest skis on the market today. My worst of fears were realized though that this ski seems to aim at being a one ski fits all, one ski quiver. I already have a one ski quiver in the Legend 8000 and have no need for something that excels on the groomed. I find many fat ski reviews tend to focus on hard pack performance and it boggles my mind. I guess fat is the new mid-fat in the ski world, but I am keeping my 8000s, thank you very little.

Initial impressions of the demo began taking the ski down Perry Merrill to Nose Dive. After dialing in the groomer performance, I really opened these skis up. WAY UP. Nearly edge to edge, huge GS turns coming down Nose Dive and they were ripping. I was amazed, been a long time since I have tried a ski that handled the groomers so well. Not quite at the level of say the Volkl Six Star which is truly a formidable weapon on the groomed, but that same damp and beefy feel with that deep sidecut powering the railroad tracks. This was somewhat unexpected but not the aspect of the ski I wanted to be wowed by. It was one dimensional though on the groomed, it wanted big arcs laid on full sidecut edge and it wanted them fast. Certainly a great thing for the person looking for the one ski do it all quiver, but this was points off in my book because ripping groomer power might indicate less finesse and nimble aspects of the groomed. This is definitely a ski for someone looking to power and drive hard. That was me at one point, but I am dialed back into a more subtle style at this point.

Next up was some more hard pack into a bump line. No surprise as all other reports have confirmed this ski is terrible in the bumps. El Sucko. For a ski that would only get taken out on powder days and for tours, this might not be a problem and could be overlooked. But things bump up even on powder days, and I was hoping for at least a more mediocre performance but was truly let down in this performance aspect even though I expected sub-par performance.

Tight tree slots on packed snow was next on the agenda. I did not feel comfortable in tight slots trying to make quick turns. This is of course not the skis specialty, but I had expected better considering the ski is not excessively heavy. It just wasn't swinging around right.

As an aside, I honestly think some of these issues could have been the result of the binding mount. The demo bindings set the boots at the boot center mark and from what I have read, 1-2cm's back is standard for this ski. I found the skis had not enough tip and too much tail so I might have had slightly difference impressions, especially on the tight turns, with a better mounting point. One of my beliefs with ski equipment is mounting position is the most under rated aspect of ski performance and not discussed enough. I will blame the mounting point for some of my issues with the ski. Not all though.

Finally, into the powder. Yum, these skis enjoyed the powder. About boot deep often tracked up but occasional untracked. These skis just wanted to go go go. I couldn't quite dial these things in while skiing in the trees. The ski had different instincts than I did, we were not on the same wave length. I appreciated the really wide tip and the fell of the ski on the soft powder but felt I was working for the turns. I don't want to work for the turns while in the trees. I prefer a slightly more subtle, responsive, and nimble approach. While I was prepared to compromise on my approach somewhat with a fatter and heavier ski, I couldn't quite get what I wanted out of the Mantra even on the powder where it excelled.

So my conclusion on the Mantra is the ski is amazing when it has the right pilot. Excels on groomers and loves powder. Terrible in the bumps and not impressive when tight turns are required. Really loved skiing steep natural snow chutes as it tended towards bigger turns. Would probably love this skiing in Tuckerman Ravine, Hillmans, Gulf of Slides, etc. But in that aspect, it was on par with my Intuitiv Bigs which are softer and easier to ski in the woods and powder. Mounting point may have been a substantial issue as I really didn't like the tail and wanted to have more ski in front of my boots. Mounting backward from center point seems like it should be standard for this ski. A damp ski that wants to be driven with power and authority that tries to be a one ski quiver for a powder lover that doesn't fit in well while not doing powder or groomers. Great ski for the right skier, but that skier is not me.

Given all that and my well known love for the Legend 8000s, I am open to other suggestions for a great powder board that works in tight trees in the 93-96ish range. BD's Kilowatt is currently a consideration, reviews on this ski have been completely all over the map from "mantra-lite" to "quick, snappy, and nimble." Rapid Transits from G3 are the direct competitor but YeGads, the graphics on that ski are the worst ever. Others?
Last edited by riverc0il on Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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re: Volk Mantra Demo Review

Postby awf170 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:14 pm

My opinion is that it is basically impossible to find a ski that will cover an east coast powder day + the day after. Even if you are only skiing the woods. Basically for me I want a ski with a very small turn radius for the first few runs because I want to carve quick turns in the powder. Once it turns to crud I do more of the same. But once stuff starts to mogul it gets completely different. I want a ski with basically no sidecut that is super easy to skid. This fact drives me absolutely nuts because I never have seem to have the right ski since conditions can change in between runs depending on how tracked out what you are skiing is. An excellent glades ski seems basically impossible to me since my needs are so different in powder than moguls.

From what you said about the 8000 it seems like the best combination of turn quickness (for moguls) and carving (for powder).


Also, how about the woman version of the mantra? 20% lighter and 20% softer. Embarrassing but it might be a lot better in the woods. Personally I would just paint them black, or just write right on the tip "I ski on a woman's ski and I'm damn proud of it."
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Re: Volk Mantra Demo Review

Postby Admin » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:52 pm

riverc0il wrote:Rapid Transits from G3 are the direct competitor but YeGads, the graphics on that ski are the worst ever.


You apparently haven't yet seen the 2007-08 G3 El Hombre, have you?

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re: Volk Mantra Demo Review

Postby riverc0il » Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:46 am

heh! i actually have seen those in person two weeks ago at jay. while that tip is terrible, the overall color scheme isn't quite as bad as the rapid transit. G3 has the worst top sheet theme going, there really isn't a single G3 ski top sheet i like and most of them i really dislike to the point that i would prefer not to buy a G3 ski because they are so ugly. top sheet design is normally the last thing that influences me.

G3 should follow BD's lead with their revamped image and new low key, high tech, sleek look. the new BD line up may have one of the coolest color schemes and themes going. didn't much care for many of the previous BD top sheets but at least they were not ugly. the new BD top sheet theme is teh sex.
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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby salida » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:30 am

Interesting Review Steve...

I know you want quick tree performance, and maybe just couldn't get into it on these skis, but possibly it is the length...

I know going longer does not speed up reaction time, and my suggestion will seem counter-intuitive. However, after skiing 190 BD Verdicts for 30 or so days, I could never go back to shorter lengths. I just find the stability so nice and with that much base material under me, I can muscle these skis almost anywhere (not to mention they are incredibly light for so much ski). I would suggest trying these bad boys out. Or maybe the seths which are nearly the same dimensions but a tad heavier with vertical sidewalls. I honestly would think getting on mantras in a 183 or 190 might give you a different impression (I know it seems foolish because you want quickness in the trees....) There are even some storied 203 mantras out there... :) but I'm not suggesting that.


Anyways the moral of my story, is go a little fatter and longer, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

PS You're right, big skis get a little unyieldy in tight icy moguls...
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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby Admin » Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:41 am

Well, I don't care what length it is, the Mantra has never been anyone's idea of a mogul ski. I have the CMH-edition Volkl Explosivs (not a true Explosiv, really, this limited production ski for Canadian Mountain Holidays was the protege of the current Mantra) in a 173 and they're anything but mogul mashers. Just too much darned metal in that ski.

I'll concur with Porter's love of the BD Verdict. I spent a day on them in December in powder, chowder, etc. and loved them. I find them to be extremely similar in character, weight, flex and sidecut to the G3 Reverends that are serving as my everyday ski now. And Steepandcheap.com has been featuring them off and on now over the past couple of weeks at sub-$300 (2006 model).
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Re: re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby riverc0il » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:45 pm

salida wrote:I know you want quick tree performance, and maybe just couldn't get into it on these skis, but possibly it is the length...

The length would have been the last aspect of the ski I disagreed with. Actually, I think the 177cm was about the best thing about the ski.

I am so completely done with anything bigger than 180cm. Now I am not some short ski freak. In a matter of fact, I still hold a grudge against Atomic due to their rep trying to stick me onto something in the 165cm range and insulting me that I would want something bigger. But the longer ski does not fit my MO. I have absolutely no issues with stability, none. I have yet to ski anything I like more than my Legend 8000s because they are so damn light, nimble, and quick. My quest right now is to find a pow ski about 1.5cms wider at the waist with more tip and tail for the powder but with a similar feel and quickness. Perhaps I am asking too much and I should stick to the mid-fats even in the trees on big powder days so I can feel comfortable and quick. I just don't see how a longer ski would help with the issues I have with fat skis: swing weight, nimbleness, weight, etc. A longer ski would only exacerbate all the issues I had with the Mantra.

I know going longer does not speed up reaction time, and my suggestion will seem counter-intuitive. However, after skiing 190 BD Verdicts for 30 or so days, I could never go back to shorter lengths. I just find the stability so nice and with that much base material under me, I can muscle these skis almost anywhere

That is cool for your style, not mine. I am not looking for a ski I need to "muscle." That was an issue with the Mantra, it needed a firm hand. My skiing style has changed a lot over the years and I am much more into finesse than powder, quite different than when I first started getting off the groomed with my racing background.

I am looking at the Kilowatt right now which is the mid-point between the Verdict and the Havoc. Slightly less width than the Verdict with a side cut similar to the Havoc. Supposedly billed as an easy ski to work with. I think that is a good compromise. FWIW, the Verdict is getting fatter and burlier next year, especially with the wood core. I should probably consider the Salomon Teneighty Guns as well, but I am concerned about the lack of wood core and reports of heavy guys wrecking that ski. I just wish I could get on those damn Kilowatts! Or at least wish there was more beta out there, lots of contradictions posted about that ski right now.

But that is also an issue here... what works for one skier may not work for the other. Even if those two skis are into the same type of skiing and have a similar body mass, so much comes down to personal style and preference.
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re: Volkl Mantra advice/questions

Postby Vaportrails » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:05 pm

Hi guys... I need some advice on the Volkl Mantra and if it is right for me.

Here is my current setup:

Salomon 1080 All Mountain Spaceframe Skis
Length: 171CM
Radius: 16
SC: 114 80 108
Bindings: Salomon Poweraxe S912 Titanium

I am Seriously looking into the:

Volkl Mantra in a 170cm length
Radius: 18.2
SC: 133 96 116

for purposes of powder skiing. I will occasionally ski in glades when possible, but mostly in powder or groomed trails with my next ski purchase.

I am 5 feet 8 inches tall with a stocky build at 185-190 lbs. Since I consider myself "heavy" for my short height, I feel that I tend to hammer or pound on my skis and from what I read here on the Volkl Mantra these skis might respond well to this.

I also think that setting the bindings properly for your height/weight is important. When I first started to pounce on my Salomon 1080 All-Mountain skis, I found that by setting the bindings a bit towards the back (1-2 cm back)of the center mark this "trained" me to lean forward into my boots more and helped with added confidence. Basically this trained me to trust the boots and the skis to to what they were designed for.

What I would like to know is if any of you who regularly ski in powder who recommend this ski for someone like me in a 170cm length? Should someone as short as me even be looking at something in a longer length for powder, or would it be too tough to control? I agree with riverc0il that binding placement is a very important factor in getting to "like or hate" the feel of a new ski. What are some good binding choices for a ski of this type or the other ones listed below?

I was also looking at these other possibilites but am leaning more towards trying the Volkl Mantra in a 170cm length:


Rossignol Bandit B94 Respect -
BC/Powder Skis
Length: 168 or 170cm
Radius: 23m
SC: 122 94 112

or

Black Diamond Verdict - BC/Powder Skis
Length: 170cm
Radius: 25m
SC: 132 102 118


I welcome your suggestions, thoughts and comments.

Thanks in advance for any help/recommendations you can send my way.

Vaportrails
a.k.a. Anthony
Wayne, NJ


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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby Admin » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:16 pm

I've got a pair of CMH Explosivs, which were really the Mantra with a different topskin ca. 2004 or so. They're indestructible -- I put about 250 days on them before loaning them to a friend for a while and he can't get over how much life they have left.

However, I think you're considering way too short a ski, and lest you think I'm speaking in western terms, understand that I bought them when I still lived in the East. I tip the scales at a whopping 140 lbs, soaking wet, and have the 173s. If I could've gotten them in a 180 I would've bought those. You're considerably heavier than me -- I don't know what lengths are available but I wouldn't even think of anything shorter than 180.

Oh, and BTW those are the CMHs in my avatar photo.
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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby riverc0il » Tue Feb 12, 2008 6:08 am

If you are looking for a "one ski" solution to both rip groomers and ski powder, Volkl Mantra is a good selection. I was not fond of its quick, tight turning but I certainly made them work in the trees. Definitely not a bump ski. From your description, it sounds like this would be a good one ski solution for you. They offer this ski in a 177 last time I checked though I think you could go either way. If you can demo both sizes, you should probably do so. If not, I would err on the side of the 177. Will be much stiffer and tons better on the groomed than your PR's. Not sure how it compares to the other two skis you are looking at.
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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby Vaportrails » Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:34 pm

Admin & riverc0il... thanks for the quick feedback! You both have given me much to think about and I will definitely test the Volkl Mantras in 170cm and either 177cm or 180cm... which ever is available for me to test/demo. I think once I am on these I may see that the 170cm ski is too short for me because of my 185-190lb frame like Admin suggested.

Plus, I may find that the longer ski will be to my liking due to the fact that I have more hardware in contact with the frozen goodness we all have come to know and love:-)

Thanks,

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Re: re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby lookn4powder » Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:13 am

Admin wrote:I've got a pair of CMH Explosivs, which were really the Mantra with a different topskin ca. 2004 or so. They're indestructible -- I put about 250 days on them before loaning them to a friend for a while and he can't get over how much life they have left.

However, I think you're considering way too short a ski, and lest you think I'm speaking in western terms, understand that I bought them when I still lived in the East. I tip the scales at a whopping 140 lbs, soaking wet, and have the 173s. If I could've gotten them in a 180 I would've bought those.


I have the CMH Explosivs in a 190 and they handle nimbly, but then, I weigh 195-200 lb. I had a pair of (circa 1995) 190 K2 Big Kahuna's (also manufactured by Volkl) which have about the same construction as the Explosivs. After 120 days, including many days of beating them up in the dips along the high traverse, I finally bent a ski. Volkl skis are tough!

I also agree with riverc0il that binding placement is very important--perhaps even more so for women. For years, we used the ESS (now Atomic) bindings that allowed 3 cm adjustment. My wife and I found that the skis performed better when adjusted off the factory recommendation--one setting does not fit all.

I also agree with riverc0il that the 8000's are the most versatile ski today--and I previously hated every Dynastar I ever demoed. But the 8000 is sweet! BTW, my wife loves the Dynastar Womens Powder (which is 85 underfoot and about equivalent to the men's 8800). She did not particularly care for the women's version of the Mantra.

Good luck finding what you want.

Jeff
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Re: re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby Vaportrails » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:29 pm

[quote="Admin"]
However, I think you're considering way too short a ski, and lest you think I'm speaking in western terms, understand that I bought them when I still lived in the East. I tip the scales at a whopping 140 lbs, soaking wet, and have the 173s. If I could've gotten them in a 180 I would've bought those. You're considerably heavier than me -- I don't know what lengths are available but I wouldn't even think of anything shorter than 180.
quote]

Admin & riverc0il -

Just got back from Killington, VT (Presidents' Week 2008). here's the skinny:

NEW Powder Ski I demoed -
Volkl Mantra Skis BC/Powder
Length: 170CM (nothing longer was available for me to try!)
Radius: 18.2
SC: 133 96 116
Weight: 8.8lbs.
Bindings: Salomon Z12 Titanium B100 Brakes


Tuesday - Blowing natural snow all day on the mountain, 1st day of skiing. Cold with a high of about 13 that day , Great powder day to try out the Volkl Mantra's. Sure it was a bit icy as to be expected with the deep freeze the evening after the rain, but with all the new snow both natural and man-made it wasn't really a bad day to try the new powder skis. They handeled great and even though it was suggested in the equipment forum for me to "go longer" I was not disappointed with the Mantra's performance. They held their edges in powder and in the ice just fine to my pleasant suprise. Tuesday was a good test for these new skis. Quick turns were made with ease.

Wednesday - They blew man-made all night to fill in the icy spots, (Skyeburst,Dreammaker, Cruise Control, Skyelark, & Bittersweet needed some more powder for a more solid base.) It was really COLD, a high about 8 degrees all day, windy as all-HELL but more natural snow fell all day. At this point about a foot of new natural snow fell in two days to make up for the lost snow during Monday's wash-out. The Volkl Mantra's were even better on this day as there was more of a powderbase to work on my turns. The skis seem to turn really easy and break through crud and choppy snow with minimal effort. I'm starting to believe in the Mantra's now on day 2 of skiing them.

Thursday - COLD again 8-13 degrees during the day. Sunny though with a Blue-Bird Day as you will see in the pictures I attached. Good conditions and really worked the Mantra's through their paces today. I was impressed how well the skis held their edges in icy spots on some of the trails. I tried to ski along the edges of the trails where most of the powder was blowing during the evening to work my turns. NO bump lines were really set up until Friday when we got more snow (about 4-6 inches fell on thursday evening.)

Friday - Best day of skiing, temps in the teens to low 20's. Powder everywhere!!! The bumps on trails like Vagabond, Wildfire, and Outer limites were in the best shape by Friday. I had my best day practicing my turns on the Volkl Mantra's on the following trails: Pipe Dream, Crusie Control, Bittersweet, 4-Way, Skyeway, Rime, Reason, Chute, Bunny Buster, and East Fall.)

All in all, a great trip and I'm going to keep the 170 length Volkl Mantra's. They simply exceeded my expectations even though it was suggested I go longer, like 180 length or more. If I was able to try the Mantra's in a longer length I am not sure if I would have picked those over the 170's. They just "feel right" to me.

Thanks again,

Vaportrails
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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby Admin » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:21 pm

If you're happy that's what counts!
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re: Volkl Mantra Demo Review

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Feb 24, 2008 11:55 pm

I demoed the 170cm Mantras skiing with admin and his crew at Alta Feb. 17, then bought them from the Alta shop for $442 with 24 days of use on them. It was somewhat of an emergency purchase, as my 11+ year old Chubbs have internal damage and are really good only for pure powder at this point. And more versatility is called for on my upcoming Extremely Canadian week at La Grave.

We didn't have much real powder at Alta, but most snow was fairly soft. The most surprising feature was the good and stable performance on groomers. On the steeps they were great in Keyhole, which was mostly loose snow, and decent enough on more packed snow on High Rustler, though my K2 Recons would probably have been easier there.

With regard to length I'm in the opposite camp from admin. The 170's seemed fine, and speed burner Bob Dangerous thought that was reasonable for me though it would not be for him.
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