2015-2016 Kastle XX110

Review of the Kastle XX110, Blister Gear Review

15/16 Kastle XX110

Ski: 2015-2016 Kästle xx110, 190cm

Dimensions (mm): 134-110-134

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 186.7cm

Sidecut Radius: 24 meters

BLISTER’s Measured Weight Per Ski (with demo tracks): 2,347 grams & 2,344 grams

Boots / Bindings: Dalbello KRII Pro / Kästle K14 Demo (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: 2cm ahead of AM line

Test Location: Las Leñas Ski Resort

Days Skied: 5

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 XX110 West. The ski’s design was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, or 15/16, but its name was changed to just the “XX110” and the graphics were updated.]

The Kästle XX110 West first came to my attention via text message from Blister’s editor-in-chief, Jonathan Ellsworth. It said something like, “Your new favorite ski might have just arrived.”

Immediately I thought, There is no way a ski designed by Colby James West would ever rule the entire mountain like the Rossignol Sickle.

When I think of Colby, I think of massive terrain park features, half-pipes, and comedic routines. While quality impersonations and hilarious skits are impossible to build into a ski, so too it seems are the components that must come together to make a ski that is intuitive in the air and on snow, and can effortlessly execute a full range of turn shapes in any terrain and snow condition.

Well, it turns out that I have to eat my own thoughts on this one, and give Colby West and Kästle a standing ovation. This ski delivers.

A first glance at the XX110 West actually reveals very little. When flexing the ski by hand, it feels fairly soft at the extremities, and firms up progressively as you work underfoot.

The sidecut runs the full length of the ski, bucking the trend of many current skis.

The dimensions might also catch you by surprise: 134-110-134. That’s right, symmetrical. Also symmetrical is the Rocker/Camber profile, which is very subtle with a little camber and long but low tip and tail splay. (See profile shots.)

Actually, the only thing that is not symmetrical about the Kästle XX110 West is the color of the swing-weight-reducing Hollowtech tips. Depending on your color preference, you can look at blue tips, red tips, or steeze yourself out with a red and blue tip. The choice is yours.

Jason Hutchins, Kastle West 110

Jason Hutchins, Penelope, Las Leñas Ski Resort.

Reluctantly, I skied the first day with my boot center located at the “AM” line. This line is ~7.5cm behind the center mark line, and is apparently the “recommended” mounting location. I say reluctantly because, from experience, most symmetrical skis prefer to be ridden much closer to center, if not at true center.

With moderate snowfall and low visibility, I spent most of the day mixing up turn shapes either on groomed runs or just off trail around the Vulcano Lift.

Although it was snowing, the older snow on the ground had seen a string of warm days, then had refrozen. I was immediately impressed by how stable the XX110 West felt. The skis offered a very calm, reassuring feel carving on the variable snow (for groomers) and frozen conditions at speed.

To my delight, the skis also felt great at slower speeds, working the softer piles of snow on the side of the trail. Here I could easily work short- and medium-radius turns with minimal effort. The skis felt intuitive and predictable, and as the snow continued to fall, I couldn’t wait to get them off-piste and into some of Las Leñas’ famous terrain.

Day 2 brought that opportunity, and we started off again heading to the Vulcano lift. Before heading out, I slid the bindings as far forward as the demo tracks would allow, which was only about 2.5cm ahead of the AM line, still nowhere near center (~5cm back). On my way over to Vulcano on fresh groomers, I immediately felt like I was standing in a better spot on the ski. The 110 Wests felt more balanced, carved turns felt more natural, my stance was more neutral, and nose butters were now at least possible.

Heading straight to Pala de Volcano, we found 3-8” of fresh snow, some portions light and dry, some with a stout little wind crust. The terrain wasn’t overly steep, but the constantly changing snow conditions definitely kept my attention level high.

Here, the combination of the rocker and progressive nature of the flex started to really shine. The soft shovels worked well to keep the tips safely on top and help pull the ski through each turn. The firmer forebody and underfoot areas allowed me to stay confidently balanced and aggressive through each turn. As I gained confidence, I allowed myself to pick up speed and lengthen out turns all the way to the bottom. Even with only one run in challenging conditions under my belt, the skis were really starting to impress me.

With a clearing sky and a solid warm-up under our belts, it was time to get big time and head for the Marte lift. If there is one thing to know about Las Leñas Ski Resort, it’s that the Marte chair will bring you to the steepest, gnarliest, big-mountain lines you could ever dream of within a resort’s boundaries.

13 Comments

  1. AL September 11, 2012 Reply

    Looks like a very cool ski, and a fun daily driver here in UT.
    2 seasons back I put some dukes on my 190 bibby’s and due to hole conflicts, I was forced a few cm forward. I liked being more centered on the ski in any consistent conditions but once things got mixed up they were a real handful with all that stiff tail back there. Ended up moving the dukes to a different ski to put my boots back on the line.
    Been thinking about a more centered ski ever since. Like, one that’s designed to be centered.
    So you think these things would do well around -2 or -3 from center?
    Odd that the recommended mount is so far back. 7.5 on a symmetrical ski?!?
    I guess that’s what happens when old school Austrians make a ski like this.
    Symmetrical ski? “Da” Tip rocker? “Da” Tail rocker? “eeerrrrm ok Da” Center mount? “NEIN!!!!”
    Also, when you say relatively soft tips and tails, are we talking like s7 soft or k2 [insert name of flopstick model here] soft?

    • Author
      Jason September 14, 2012 Reply

      Hi Al,
      I do believe they will perform well with a mount further forward. It might take a little bit of time to get the feel of a more centered mount with less tip in front of you and more tail to push around. Personally I would recommend staying in the range you mentioned, so you don’t lose too much of the all-mtn/all-condition performance these skis have.

      As for the flex, no they are not floppy soft, and as I mention they ramp up nicely as you work your way towards the center of the ski or into the flex. With a center mount you won’t be rallying down the deep chop we get here in UT while throwing everything you’ve got into the tips like you can on your Bibby’s. With a balanced stance though, you should be able to conquer anything with a mount around -2/-3.

      • AL September 14, 2012 Reply

        Rad, thanks man. If you see a Sasquatch/Husky Jesus on a pair of these at Alta this season, say hi, It’s probably me.

  2. Jake September 18, 2012 Reply

    I was wondering how well this ski will do dodging tighter trees on both pow days and the times in between those big dumps of snow. Also wondering what you think about mounting a touring binding on them and skinning to some backcountry lines. Is this better for shorter or longer tours?

    • Author
      Jason December 17, 2012 Reply

      In powder you will be fine in tight trees. As conditions firm you will notice they are not the most energetic or quickest turning skis ever, but at slower to medium speeds you will have no trouble navigating tight spots.
      They would be fine as a touring ski, definitely for shorter length tours. Overall, with your areas of concern I think you might prefer the Praxis MVP or Rossignol Sickle. Both perform better in tight trees as well as touring.

  3. Josh December 11, 2012 Reply

    I bought a pair on the strength of your review and because I found a great deal. I mounted them at -5.5 as kind of a compromise between the AM line and your preferred spot. There haven’t really been many resort powder days here in Tahoe but so far so good. They seemed ready to hold their line in very grabby, saturated heavy snow during the last wet storm. That mank wasn’t doing anybody any favors so good news on the stability front.

    Out of curiosity, have you had a chance to compare them to the 190 BMX 108s?

    • Author
      Jason December 24, 2012 Reply

      Josh,
      I haven’t been on the BMX 108’s yet, but hopefully soon!

  4. Matt January 26, 2013 Reply

    Hey guys, just following up on Josh’s comment above – I’m really curious how these stack up against the BMX108. Any insight or first hand experience yet? Thanks!

  5. Chris January 30, 2013 Reply

    Hey Matt,
    Great question and one I was asking myself late last season. First off I think Jason feedback was spot on on this ski and largely echo’s my own experience. Oddly enough I also skied the FX104 around the same time and again came to similar conclusions. Both the FX104 and XX110 are skis that I would buy but it came down to the quiver and what would give me the most usable quiver of 2 (for the time being).
    My other ski is a Kastle MX78 in 176. I bought the BMX 108 in 188 (I’m 6’1″ 185lbs, level 7) and have almost zero regrets. My take on it vs the XX110 is it is a more traditional feel and is a bit beefier more stable ski for hauling butt. That said it is remarkable quick in any 3d snow and is the best of the more traditional 105-110 skis I have owned or skied (eg Gotama, Katana, Elan Olympus..). It’s one of the most well rounded skis I have ever skied and would encourage you to check comments o EpicSki and ignore most mag reviews. It is not just an big mtn bruiser. It does lose out to the XX110 in tight trees and slarving and is slightly more demanding of the skier though. If you want to ski a lot of trees, ski the park or switch from time to time the XX110 is a great choice. If you don’t then I would say the BMX108 is a better choice.
    FX104 vs BMX108 – FX is a wide side bounds big mountain ski and would be an awesome mid quiver option if you had a carver/crud buster and a pow day ski. The FX takes more skill and input to ski well than any other Kastle I have skied and would offer up that its meant for Level 8 and up skiers who will really get the most from it and not fight it. The BMX 108 is more damp, more playful and forgiving and the XX110 more forgiving again.

    Jason I really like your reviews and I think a lot of folks would appreciate your take on the BMX108. Hope you can get some time on a pair soon.
    Cheers,
    CG

  6. Stephan February 13, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for this and all of your other great reviews – you really rock! Now to the West. I just ordered the West and the James (XX90) and am not entirely sure which one to keep or keep both. Here in Bavaria we have 5-20″ inches of deep snow conditions on not too steep hills. For this I think the James would be perfect. Also as I am starting out as a freestyler (ex-racer), I think the James would be easier to learn tricks on.

    Now the West (XX110) would be perfect for Austrian alps conditions where there are lots of untracked snow resorts (they specialise in depp pow, they claim). However a trip to the alps does also cost ressources, so I think I might ski the more smaller resorts in Bavaria more often for the time beeing. I ordered the West in 190cm (I am 6″, 190 lbs) and wonder if it wouldn’t be overkill for these smaller resorts with max. 5-10″ fresh and if it wouldn’t be a harder ski to learn tricks on in the park.

    Then a totally different question, I wonder if the Colby XX80 with its 80mm underfoot and no rocker would handle well in 5-10″ of fresh. I fear as an ex-racer I would overpower the XX90 or the West on-piste and the full-camber of the Colby might offer better stability. Best regards, Stephan.

  7. Stephan February 13, 2013 Reply

    I forgot to mention, I also wonder if 190cm (187 straight) of the West wouldn’t be too long for a beginner freestyler with 6″/190lb. Cheers.

  8. Jason October 17, 2013 Reply

    I am 6’4″ and 240 pounds and looking for a ski for bumps, trees, powder, and groomed.
    Any suggestions for a big guy? I ski some old Gotama’s currently with no rocker and 103 under foot. I Need something better in the powder.
    I ski Colorado ABasin, Breck, Keystone, and Vail. Is this the ski for me? Any suggestions?
    Need a ski that works for leading and chasing my freerider kids to hell and back.

  9. Duffy January 8, 2014 Reply

    I have the 2013 Colby and what is not to like about them. I’m now 46 and a former racer. I still love to make quick turns and let them run out. These skis are stable and a blast on all types of terrain and snow. I have them center mounted which changes the feel on the edges but don’t go back even a CM. Ride well! Cheers from the Old Guy that doesn’t want to give it up!!!

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