2013-2014 Epic Planks Ripper

2013-2014 Epic Planks Ripper

Nov 29, 2012
13
Epic Planks Ripper, Blister Gear ReviewFirst Look

Ski: 2013-2014 Epic Planks Ripper, 185cm

Dimensions (mm): 139-103-130

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.9cm

BLISTER’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,100 grams & 2,145 grams

Sidecut Radius: 17.2 meters

Boots / Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester Demo (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: Factory Recommended (-7 from center)

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley, Summit County, Colorado.

Days Skied: 6

[Editor's Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Ripper, which is unchanged for 13/14, except for the graphics. It will also be available in additional size options.]

No matter how straightforward a particular ski might seem on paper, there’s always a chance it will handle differently on snow than you’d expect. Every ski seems to have distinctive quirks and particular performance characteristics that product descriptions don’t communicate. There’s simply never a guarantee that what you see (or read) is what you get, even with a pretty typical looking, rockered powder ski.

Take an all-mountain ski that looks rather unique on paper, like the Ripper, from a young manufacturer, like Epic Planks, and the uncertainties and curiosities get ramped up a bit. As I mentioned in our preview of the Epic Planks Ripper, everything about the the ski seemed well thought out, though of course I couldn’t be 100% sure what to expect on snow.

Here’s what Epic Planks has to say about the ski:

“Once in your stable the Ripper will quickly establish itself as your go-to, high energy ski that excels in all types of conditions. Modest early taper, a generous tip rocker and a short turn radius come together to offer a ski that feels nimble and light in tighter spots, while remaining incredibly stable at high speed. Whether its fast turns on the groomers, shredding the trees, or dropping bombs in the steeps, the Ripper is an extremely versatile one-ski quiver that likes to be ridden hard.”

After 7 days of  testing at Taos and in resorts around Colorado, for the most part Epic Planks seems right on the money with the above description. So far I’ve been able to get a good sense of the Ripper’s carving performance, swing weight, its feel through long, fast, surfier turns, tighter low-speed smear-turns, small and large bumps, and its handling in a few inches of soft, chopped powder.

Will Brown, Epic Planks Ripper, Blister Gear Review

Will Brown on the Epic Planks Ripper, Taos Ski Valley.

 

Carving Performance

The first thing I noticed about the Ripper was its relatively short turn radius, which was somewhat expected. For a 185cm, 103mm underfoot ski, the Ripper’s 17.2m arc makes for a quick feel as it pulls across the hill on edge. If you’re looking for legitimate carving ability and edge hold in your one-ski-quiver, consider the Ripper. The standard mount point and traditional, non-rockered tail allowed me to drive the ski on edge as I would any good all-mountain ski, making full and complete arcs back and forth across the hill.  The Ripper’s edge hold is impressive and confidence inspiring, even over especially icy spots (I certainly slipped an edge here and there during early season testing in very firm conditions, but frankly I think any race ski would have, too).

On softer mid-season groomers I was able to really lay the Ripper over hard and carve it through its full, tightest radius. It feels a lot like a serious GS ski in terms of it’s radius and edge hold. Here the stiffness of the ski’s flex profile became obvious. The Ripper is stiffer than any ski I’ve ever been on directly underfoot. It is extremely hard to press the camber flat together with one hand while holding the skis base to base. This stiffness is only slightly lessened through the tail, and a little more so in the shovel (so I’d label the sectioned flex profile from tip to tail as medium/stiff – stiff – very stiff). Get lazy or tired and sit too far back on the ski while on edge, and the Rippers’ tails will hook up and run on you (similar to the Moment Belafonte, or a flat tailed ski like the old Line Influence 115).

The Ripper doesn’t feel unlike the Moment Belafonte on groomers as far as carving stability is concerned. However, the Belafonte definitely has a softer and damper feel underfoot ( it’s not at all a soft ski in its own right), and a noticeably longer turn radius (27.4 meters in the 187cm length). I don’t think the Ripper is too stiff underfoot, but it would likely feel that way to an intermediate or intermediate/advanced skier. (For a ski with very similar carving characteristics that has a generally more forgiving and softer flex, take a look at the Armada TST.) With good technique and a lot of edge pressure, a strong skier will be able to flatten the camber and end the ski through a carve. I actually spent a few groomer laps on the Rossignol Experience 88, a narrower, more dedicated carving ski, and the Rippers edge hold felt just as strong. It’s a great craving ski.

Comments:

  1. Nice review, as usual; the Ripper looks really appealing for a burly everyday ski. you mentioned it vs. the Bela, how does it compare to some of the other directional early rise tip skis you guys have been on recently, e.g. Cham and Watea 106?

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Personally I haven’t had the chance to ski either of those skis yet, but you’re definitely right that they’re in the same class as the Ripper. I can speculate that the Ripper might have the slight upper hand on the Watea in soft conditions, simply due to the tapered shape of the tip and tail. While the Watea is rockered, its tip shape is largely traditional, and could feel slightly hookier when things get choppy. Again, that’s only a tentative guess. The Update to this review will be filled with as many comparisons as I can make, including, hopefully, the Cham. Thanks for reading!

      Will

  2. Nice preliminary review! I’ve been keeping a close eye on this ski since hearing some rumors last year. Based on your comments it sounds like a beefed up bonafide or katana. Any comparison to the blizzard or volkl all mtn models, or maybe the garbone?

    • Hi Reg,

      The Ripper is certainly a beefed up Cochise, which I am more familiar with than the Bonafide, and seems the more direct comparison. The Cochise (which is practically identical in design to the Volkl Gotama) has a great, snappy flex profile, but isn’t at all as super stiff underfoot and through the tail like the Ripper and is a little softer in that respect than the Belafonte. The Cochise does feel sufficiently locked down on groomers and hardpack, but the Ripper more so. The Ripper has a livelier feel on edge with what feels like a shorter turn radius that the Cochise. However, the Cochise, with less sidecut and a flat underfoot profile, is more willing to make a huge variety of scrubbed turn shapes. I’m going to see if a little more detune on the Ripper can make it handle more of this way in the steeps, though I don’t think it’ll fully match the smeary, snappy feel of the Cochise. If you’re prioritizing groomer/carving performance and edge hold, lean toward the Ripper. If you’re looking for more of a wider bump ski that’s also going to put up very well with variable conditions in steep, tight terrain, I’d lean toward the Cochise.

      As for the Katana, I consider that ski in a bit of a different class. With it’s weight and dampness at 112mm underfoot, it absolutely destroys crud and chop, plus has a good amount of float in soft snow. For it’s straightline speed (which is insane), the Katana is surprisingly nimble in trees in bumps, but on the whole will feel like more ski than either the Ripper or Cochise. It’s really more of a big-mountain/light powder ski than an all-mountain ski in my mind. Sadly I haven’t had the chance to ski the Garbone.

      Hope this helps,

      Will

  3. Looks like a really interesting ski that I would like to try. When I first saw this, it reminded me of the Armada TST. Have you ridden the TST? Curious how they stack up?

    • That’s a good call, Andre. We’ll be getting on the the 192cm TST fairly soon, so we’ll let you know asap. Right now I can say that the TST is certainly softer across the board than the Ripper. Maybe it will end up being a bit of a hybrid of the Belafonte an Ripper; more of a “5-dimension” tapered shape, but with a rounder, generally softer flex profile that the Ripper. Stay tuned!

      Will

  4. We just received our review pair of Rippers for an East Coast test (175cm size) and will get a review out as ASAP. Our graphics are slightly different than those Will reviewed, but the rest of the description is right-on. I agree with Will on all his observations about the stout flex and resistance to pressing the waists together by hand. The skis appear to be very well built, and definitely sturdy feeling. It has a mid-to-tail flex reminiscent of some race-stock GS skis we’ve run across in years past, and with its geometry and flex pattern, definitely falls into the exotic ski category. We will let you know how they handle in our extended testing through December and January! For those who don’t know, Bill Wanrooy, founder of EpicPlanks, has written some powder guide books covering various heli and cat powder skiing operations around the World.

  5. Scot said:

    February 4, 2013 at 11:18 am
    Guys,
    Great reviews. I’m 5’9 170lbs, aggressive skier. Looking for a northeast and UT one ski quiver. I’m looking at the PBJ 182cm, Epic ripper 185cm (or 175cm opinion?), and Lib tech NAS Magic Horsepower 178cm. I want something I can slide around with my kids, but also go after the trees and bumps when I’m out with buddies. I appreciate your thoughts on my choices and sizes. (Also posted in the PB&J review)

    Scot

    • Hi Scot,

      I haven’t skied anything from the Lib tech NAS line yet (which should change this spring) but it looks like Eric has. (His comment came in as I was responding to yours). I can speak to the Ripper vs. PB&J. My thoughts are consistent with what Eric has already said about the Ripper below. If you were primarily looking for a serious all-mountain carver with a tight radius that can handle soft chop and crud, the Ripper is it. But, if you know you’re going to be skiing a good amount of bumps, I’d probably suggest going with the PB&J over the Ripper. The PB&J is on the stiffer side of things, but isn’t as stiff and unforgiving thanks to a softer flex underfoot and some tail rocker. I can ski bumps on the Ripper, but I need to be precise and powerful with my turns – the ski won’t let you get lazy or relaxed at all in big bumps. The PB&J is more forgiving in that respect.

      Now, the PB&J does have less effective edge though the tail and a more centered mount. You’ll definitely notice that carving on hardpack. it’s more playful in the bumps and trees, but not as stable on groomers. So, what’s something with a traditional tail that carves very well but isn’t as demanding as the Ripper? Maybe the Magic HP, as Eric has said, but I also think the Armada TST is something worth considering. It’s shaped similarly to the Ripper – you can rail the crap out of it thanks to awesome edge hold – but is lighter, softer and more forgiving in the tail. As long as you’re not looking to mach through chop and can be a little lighter on your skis, that seems like something you really ought to consider as an alternative to the Ripper (that has more tail than the PB&J). Hope this helps!

      Will

  6. Scot, I have ridden the Epic Ripper and the Lib Tech NAS Magic Horsepower (not the PBJ yet), and the ripper is definitely stiffer, stronger and less compliant than the Magic HP. The Magic HP is more easy-going, but still wicked fun and plenty sporty for a one-ski quive (although you mention you want a one-ski-quiver for BOTH the NorthEast AND Utah ? hard to pin that one down…very different terrain and snow conditions… )probably less calories per turn and less likely to push back at you in the bumps, while being more loose-feeling at speed than the Rippers. Out of the Magic HP and Ripper, I would choose the Magic HP for more one-ski quiver, but be aware the Ripper will out-hold and out-carve the Magic HP hands-down, but be stiffer and has a narrower comfort-range than the Magic HP. I think the Magic has a wider range of snow conditions it will perform well in, but cannot match the Ripper for uber-solid beefy feel underfoot and in the tail…it’s a tradeoff…very different feeling skis.

    From my Ripper review:

    The Ripper is a strong, stiff, athletic ski ideally suited to strong, athletic skiers who want a rock-solid, race-like platform underfoot with a slightly softened, rockered forebody to absorb softer terrain and crud without diving or deflecting. No real limit to the pressure it can take and the edgehold it delivers. The harder you ski it, the more it delivers grip and power. The ride can be a bit stiff in bumps and can buck the driver (it likes to be driven, not ridden) if you don’t keep the power on in rough terrain. The Ripper feels like a freeride competition ski for tracked-out and hardpack terrain more than a soft-snow ski due to its stiff chassis, but will cut highly-directional tracks through soft snow as long as you don’t want a surfy-smeary ski. GS-like carving and holding ability with a bit of tip flap at high speeds, but can’t really be overpowered by mortal skiers. Powerful, stable, strong and agile, but not for the faint of heart or lazy skiers looking for a comfy couch…more details of this review at the EpicPlanks test section of ExoticSkis.com… (http://www.exoticskis.com/forum/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=274). I have not skied the PBJ, but tons of people love that ski…definitely worth getting demo rides if possible…

  7. Thank you both for the quick replies. It’s tough to find a review on the lib tech’s. After both comments I think I’ll drop the Ripper from my search. Great reviews. Thanks again.

  8. Nice review. Just wanted to chime in that I totally agreed with your verdict until I tried detuning the skis. I had intended them to be my competition skis and was a little sketched out by what felt like a solidly hooky feeling, making me constantly nervous about high siding and eating massive crap. After maybe a week or so on them I massively detuned everything to an inch or two past contact at the tip and tried a gradual increase in detune beginning about 4-5 inches from the tail and ending with essentially round edges past the contact point.

    It definitely traded away a lot of that super awesome GS feel on groomers, but they instantly started feeling like a bigger meaner ski in the soft stuff. With that detune, they absolutely smash comp conditions and feel awesome sending into pow. GS style carves through moguls at outrageous speed are still totally an option because they’re so stiff and still sharp underfoot but now they slarve and shut down speed too. Super scary before, super fun now. Maybe try doing a bit more detuning yourselves and see if anything changes? Full disclosure: I do ski for Epic Planks, but I honestly love the skis now, and out of the box I kind of hated them.

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the input. The Ripper is an interesting ski, I can’t say I know of many like it. It’s definitely not a comp ski – or at least I don’t see it as one. I wouldn’t recommend it for that purpose. As you know it has a much tighter turn radius than what you’ll find on something like the Moment Belafonte or Blizzard Cochise, so really I think anyone who is considering the Ripper should want that tighter radius and expect the tradeoffs that come with it. Part of me doesn’t want to try and dull the edges simply to turn the ski into a Belafonte, if you know what I mean. If someone wants a long, more slarvy feel, I’d say look into a ski with a longer turn radius in the first place. The great carving performance is part of what makes the Ripper interesting, though it also means it’s not suited for everyone out there. Still, it is helpful to know you can, with the help of a gummi stone, give away some of that GS feel and make the Ripper ski longer than it’s shape would otherwise comfortably permit.

      Cheers,

      Will

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