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2014-2015 Liberty Helix

Will Brown reviews the Liberty Helix, Blister Gear Review.

14/15 Liberty Helix

Ski: 2014-2015 Liberty Helix, 187cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 135-105-122

Stated Sidecut Radius: 25.5 meters

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,020 & 2,004 grams

Mount Location: “Standard” factory recommended line (-7cm from center)

Boots / Bindings: Fischer Ranger Pro 13 / Marker Griffon Demo (DIN at 10)

Test Location: Telluride, CO

Days Skied: 4

The number of requests we’ve received from readers for reviews of Liberty’s skis has grown over the last couple seasons, and with them, our own curiosity about the Colorado-based company. So this season, we’re testing two skis from Liberty, starting with their best selling ski, the Helix.

At 105 millimeters underfoot, the Helix is essentially Liberty’s do-it-all one-ski-quiver, designed with versatility in mind. “No matter where you live, or what type of snow you encounter, the Helix will handle it with stability and ease,” says Liberty.

I’ve been putting a lot of time lately on a number of ~105mm-underfoot all-mountain skis that have similar claims behind them, and they all cater to slightly different types of skiers / skiing styles.

The Helix has a pretty conventional, directional, all-mountain shape (by today’s standards), so we were curious to see what it brought to the table in such a popular class.

So far, my time on the Helix has been spent on firm groomers and hardpack steeps & bumps, and I’ll need to update this review once I get time on the ski in soft and fresh conditions. However, even now, I’m not at all surprised that this is Liberty’s most popular model. I’ve already found a whole lot to like about the Helix that I think a lot of advanced and expert skiers will also appreciate.

Design & Flex

In general, the Helix’s design is simple, refined, and has a really nice, predictable, no-fuss personality on snow.

The Helix has a pretty conservative amount of tip rocker; the rocker line doesn’t run super deep into the body of the ski, the amount of tip splay isn’t dramatic, and it merges smoothly with the normal curve of the ski’s tip.

The Helix has a little bit of camber under foot (not a lot – maybe 2mm at most), and a twinned-up, but un-rockered tail. (Full rocker pics coming soon.)

Will Brown reviews the Liberty Helix, Blister Gear Review.

Tip rocker profile of the Liberty Helix

Hand flexing the ski and on snow, the flex of the Helix feels even and smooth, and quite snappy / poppy when it rebounds. I’d call the flex of the ski’s tail and midsection a “solid medium” flex, while the shovel is slightly softer – call it a “soft medium,” though the difference is slight. On the whole the Helix’s flex is definitely supportive, it’s no noodle by any means, but there are a few other skis with shapes and dimensions similar to the Helix’s that are considerably stiffer and less responsive / energetic.

Part of this seems to do with the Helix’s core construction. The ski’s laminated core is made up of bamboo and poplar, joined with layers of quadaxial fiberglass. Liberty says this layup is intended to give the ski a “light weight, durability, and liveliness” and they’re not wrong about that. The words “light weight” and “lively” have come to mind several times while skiing the Helix over the past couple of days.

Finally, I was also struck by the Helix’s “extra-thick” sidewalls, which are definitely thicker than average (especially underfoot), and I was glad to see the ski’s wider-than-normal edges, too. I don’t often mention this in reviews unless I really think it’s notable, and all in all, the Helix looks and feels like a very well-constructed, high-quality ski, and I expect that our pair will be quite durable.

Now on to the Helix’s on-snow performance…

Groomers

Liberty says that the 187cm Helix has a 25.5m sidecut radius. With that number in mind, I expected that the ski would need a good amount of speed before its sidecut started to feel very reactive. And when it comes to making clean, arced turns, the Helix’s sidecut radius certainly feels like it’s in the 22+ meter range, and it does take some speed before you can really lean into a turn and carve the ski across the hill on edge.

That said, I’ve still enjoyed how reactive and energetic the Helix feels on groomers. The Moment Belafonte, which is only 1 mm wider underfoot, has an extremely similar camber/rocker profile, also has a 25.5 stated sidecut radius, and (at my weight) feels a little boring on groomers by comparison.

Will Brown reviews the Liberty Helix, Blister Gear Review.

Will Brown on the Liberty Helix.

Much of this seems to be due to the Helix’s flex, which is noticeably softer than the Belafonte’s. It takes far less speed to bend the Helix through a carve, making it easier to work the ski through its tightest radius than the Belafonte. The Helix tends to feel more lively as a result.

So if raging back to the lift as fast as possible is what you’re looking to do, and you’re just looking for great stability out of a ski (and care less about the energy and feedback you’ll get from it), then the Belafonte is preferable over the Helix.

But while both skis provide outstanding edge hold, and both handle high-angle, aggressive carves very well, I personally enjoy carving the Helix more than the Belafonte. The Helix’s softer, snappy flex makes it more forgiving, and gives it more personality on groomers at less-than-very-high speeds. I find the Helix to be more fun, more of the time. And on roughed up, bumpy groomers, I haven’t been able to find the Helix’s speed limit.

I still have to see if it can handle choppy, variable conditions at speed as well as the Belafonte (my guess would be “not quite as well”), but I’m curious to see how close the skis are with respect to high speed, off-piste stability.

The Helix is also markedly easier to work through shorter, scrubbed turns, in part because of it’s more forgiving flex (compared to the decidedly stiff Belafonte), and in part because it’s quite a light ski (just over 2,000 grams / ski). So while the Helix is also happy bombing big, fast carves down groomers, it feels pretty at home making more relaxed, slower turns, too.

The Helix responds best to good technique—get in the back seat in either a carve or during a shorter, slower, skidding turn, and its traditional, unrockered tail will let you know about it (it’s less forgiving than any tail rockered ski of a similar width).

But the ski feels pretty darn light on your feet and its flex is accessible enough that staying forward in a good position through shorter, scrubbed turns is easier than it is on the Belafonte. When you do make a good, athletic turn on the Helix, even at more moderate speeds, you’ll feel the ski respond with some pop from one turn to the next, where (to me, at 160 lbs.) the Belafonte feels a little dead / planky.

31 Comments

  1. Bert January 28, 2015 Reply

    Sounds somewhat like the old (non-rockered) volkl gotama. care to compare?

  2. RLK January 28, 2015 Reply

    Just picked up the Double Helix, skied them up at WB in some powder/chop and love them. Sounds like the Helix is a slimmed down version (not surprising, huh?) but good to hear, as 190 and 120+ is a lot for everyday w/ my old body. Look forward to more as you spend some time on them.

  3. Wookie January 28, 2015 Reply

    I like mine, but that large radius on the side cut feels strange for a ski this snappy and light. Calling the ski playful on piste isn’t something I would second – trying to lay down an edge makes me pine for my traditional cambered piste skis.
    The long side cut helps the ski in powder, and I guess that’s why they did it. No hookiness at all – but a tighter radius would have made this ski only slightly less good in the fluff, but MUCH better on firm snow.
    It’s pretty good – but not great.

    • Hotmann March 16, 2015 Reply

      I agree with the reviewer, if you stay forward and drive the ski they can do some surprisingly short turns. They are definitely more at home with long fast turns but they’re still quite agile.

  4. Jack January 28, 2015 Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for the review! I was wondering how this ski compares to the Sin 7? (I know its a bit narrower and slightly different styles of skis) but looking at them both for an all mountain one quiver ski
    Thanks
    Jack :)

    • Author
      Will Brown March 7, 2015 Reply

      Hey Jack,

      I haven’t skied the Sin 7, unfortunately, only the wider Soul 7 (and only for a few runs). But my guess would be that the Helix will be considerably more locked in on groomers, offer more stability at speed (on groomers and in variable, bumpy snow), but the Sin might float a tiny bit better in soft snow, or at least would be easier to maneuver at slow speeds.

      WB

  5. Brian January 28, 2015 Reply

    No rocker profile photos?

  6. Blister Member
    JG January 29, 2015 Reply

    I ski the Liberty Sequence as my narrow tele ski and love it. Same build, but shorter sidecut radius and a slightly tapered shape. It’s quick and holds a nice edge on groomers , hard pack. For comparison, it’s way more fun than my prior nordica steadfast, and only gives up a little at high speed carves. Way better in soft snow, but it’s not my powder ski so I cannot comment on that too much.

  7. Blister Member
    Simon February 2, 2015 Reply

    Hi Will!
    How would you compare the following skis:
    – Rossignol Soul 7
    – Line Sick Day 110
    – Liberty Helix
    in terms of:
    – stability?
    – quickness?
    – floatation?
    Thanks for a short comparison.

    • Author
      Will Brown March 7, 2015 Reply

      Hi Simon,

      Unfortunately I’ve only skied the Soul 7 for a few runs, and I haven’t been able to ski the Sick Day 110. With that said, I can make some rough guesses as to how the skis compare. Of the three, I think the Helix will offer the best edge hold and high-speed stability on groomers, that I’m pretty certain of. However, the Soul 7 will be the easiest to skid around at low speeds, especially in soft snow (not that the Helix is a bear by any means). The Soul and Sick Day should float a little better in powder as well compared to the Helix, but I can’t say which would be best (maybe the Soul, as it has more pronounced tip rocker, I think). When it comes to variable / crud performance, I’m not so sure. I would think the Helix’s longer effective edge would make it more stable than the Soul 7, but the extra width of the Sick Day 110 might give it the upper hand over the Helix, despite having a touch of tail rocker; I’m really not sure.

      Hope this helps you!

      Will

      • Blister Member
        Simon March 10, 2015 Reply

        Thank you very much, Will!

  8. Blister Member
    george March 4, 2015 Reply

    i demoed this years helix in the 182 and really liked it. i saw that liberty is changing the construction of next years helix by adding carbon fiber which in their words “increases energy return and reinforces core while reducing weight”. i was wondering what you thought about these changes and if you will have a chance to try the 15/16 version. is the construction the only change to the liberty helix?

    • Author
      Will Brown March 7, 2015 Reply

      Hi George,

      You’re correct. The core construction of the 15/16 Helix will be slightly different – a narrow strip of carbon fiber (something like 3cm wide, I think) will be added to the layup. Otherwise next year’s version is the same. I had a chance to put a couple runs on the 15/16 version, back-to-back with our 14/15 test pair, and I honestly can’t say the skis felt very different, if at all. If anything (and I might have been imagining this, simply by knowing that strip of carbon was in there), the 15/16 model might have felt a tiny bit stiffer through the tail, but the difference was very slight. I’d say the skis are effectively the same, and what I’ve said above about the 14/15 version could also be said of the 15/16 version. I’ll try to put more time on next year’s to make sure, but that’s how I’m leaning at the moment.

      Best,

      Will

  9. Hotmann March 16, 2015 Reply

    Great review and I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said! I’ve been skiing the Helix 90% of my ski days for the past 4 seasons (I got mine before they added the slight tip rocker) and they have been my favorite pair of skis I’ve ever tried. I’m 6′, 170 lbs and the 187 is a perfect size for me. I really love how versatile these skis are and I have skied them in every type of conditions and terrain and they handle it all really well except for the iciest of conditions. I would definitely recommend them for anyone looking for a single ski out West. Even though they may not be the stiffest skis around, they can still charge super hard through chopped up snow, yet can be skied quickly through tight bumps by a good skier. And if you’re the type of skier who likes to get airborne these skis are great for that too. They have tons of pop so you can boost off even the smallest bump and they are solid enough to make most landings feel like nothing.

    Long story short, I’ve been looking around for a pair to replace my Helix’s when they wear out (I have probably 120 days on mine. They don’t have any camber anymore but still decent pop left) and haven’t found a ski that I like more so I’ll probably just get another pair.

  10. Dan March 31, 2015 Reply

    Awesome review. Looking at the Liberty Helix vs the Icelantic Nomad RKR. Any thoughts? Both seem similar, but wondering which ones might be a tad quicker on bumps and in the trees since I do a lot out East.

  11. Jason June 20, 2015 Reply

    Curious as to how you think someone say 6’2″ and 215lbs would compare these. I like to ski fast on groomers, but mix the turns up a bit here and there. Ski a bunch of crud and chop(think Squaw/Alpine), and technical lines at more medium speeds. S/A gets bumped up quick, as I’m sure you know, so a ski to handle that as well would be great. Gonna tour on either, but the weight difference seems minimal if these two are my choices over a raw touring ski. At my weight, would the Helix seem too much of a noodle? Thanks for always rocking out great reviews!!

  12. Blister Member
    Bob Daniele August 24, 2015 Reply

    Awesome review ! I ski east coast and im just wondering if this ski is a bit wide underfoot for that region. With that in mind have you guys skied the Liberty Sequence yet ? It seems to be roughly the same ski but 10m narrower underfoot. Perhaps this might be the better choice?

    thanks !!

    Bob

    • Will Brown November 29, 2015 Reply

      Hi Bob,

      I’m extremely sorry we seem to have missed your comment until now. We have not yet skied the Sequence, unfortunately. But the Helix isn’t necessarily too wide for the East – for how wide it is it has quite a lot of effective edge and offers good grip. If you’re going for a highly reactive, very damp ski, then something narrower with metal in it will be better than the Helix, but again, it’s rather capable on firm snow for its width so long as things don’t get very choppy and bumped up.

      Cheers,

      Will B

      • Blister Member
        bobby3311 November 30, 2015 Reply

        No worries Will ! Actually after doing alot more reading and a little “field testing” I got myself a pair of 182 Moment PBJ’s ! I’m not sure how the Helix would be for me…..but I LOVE the PBJ !!! ….. and I mean LOVE !!!!

  13. Greg August 27, 2015 Reply

    Will, can you compare the Helix with the Line Supernatural 108? I’ve been skiing the Double Helix as my one ski quiver for a few years — first tele with NTN, and now with alpine bindings and Tecnica Cochise Pro boots (I didn’t necessarily want the stiffness but they fit so I went with them and like them). I love the Double Helix, but always felt it’s biggest weakness was on steep very firm snow, whether groomers or off-piste. I have two little kids and so do a lot more groomer skiing now than ever before, plus I don’t pick my days based on snow conditions like I used to as now I ski weekends with the family no matter the snow. So, I’m looking for a new daily driver/quiver of one and I love the sound of the Supernatural 108 in your review. The Helix seems similar to the Double, only narrower, so it seems I could understand the differences with my Double based on your comparison of the Liberty and Line. My biggest questions about the Line are how fun it would be skiing more slowly, or on mellower terrain, with the kids, and if it is easy and quick to turn in tight chutes and narrow steep lines? I am 5’11, 185-190, and have bad knees. I prefer steep lines and ungroomed snow (mostly at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky), but can have fun carving on groomers too. As I transition out of tele I’m finding I like to ski faster and faster, although sometimes the bad knees tell me to slow down. I also have always loved technical steep skiing making tight turns down narrow slots. Does the Supernatural 108 sound like a good fit?

  14. Blister Member
    Mike October 14, 2015 Reply

    Any plans to put time in on the 15/16 Helix?

    • Will Brown November 29, 2015 Reply

      Hi Mike,

      Know that the only difference between the 14/15 model and this season’s is that Liberty has added one narrow strip of carbon fiber to the ski’s core layup. That’s it; other than that the 15/16 ski is no different from the one I reviewed.

      I spent a morning on the 15/16 Helix last Spring, and I honestly couldn’t pick up on any big, major difference from how the 14/15 version skied. If anything, the 15/16 might have felt a tiny bit stiffer, but the difference was so slight, I wondered if it was just my imagination (a kind of placebo, given that I knew that strip of carbon in there could, potentially, give the ski a little more rigidity.)

      I’m hoping to get more time on the 15/16 version to confirm this (that’s why we haven’t yet moved to update the review to read “205-2016 quite yet”), but even now I feel quite confident in saying that everything said in this review of the 14/15 can stand for the 15/16.

      Best,

      Will B

  15. Blister Member
    Mike November 30, 2015 Reply

    Can you please give your thoughts on this ski vs. the Nordica Enforcer? I’m looking for a resort ski for when there is no new snow…something that will be stable on hardpack at speed, but also easy to ski/maneuver in steep, uneven bumps. Basically, a ski that performs very well, but is forgiving/easy for making laps underneath Pali at A-Basin. For a bit more info, I currently have Moment Belafontes, and while I love them at high speeds, they are quite a chore when skiing bumps, uneven terrain…I’m looking at the Helix vs. Enforcer to replace these as my everyday resort ski.

    Thanks so much for your insights.

  16. Aaron December 25, 2015 Reply

    Would it be possible for you to loan me some good advice? I live in the PNW, so I ski Schweitzer, Lookout, Mt. Spokane, and 49 Degrees North. I’m looking to buy my first pair of skis. I’ve rented for years, and am proficient on blue squares, and hoping to move up to blacks by the end of this season. I ski powder and groomed, hit small jumps (no tricks or anything, just straight simple air,) and turn and play more than straight downhill speed runs. I only have the money for one pair of skis, and these seem to be a lot of peoples favorite “do it all,” skis.
    My first question is this. Based on what I’ve told you, do you think these skis would be a good daily driver, do it all ski for me?
    My second question is this. I am 6’1″ and 145 pounds. I have gotten conflicting info on what size ski I should look at. I have played with and looked at the numerous ski length calculators and charts. Based on that, I think I should look at skis roughly 175ish cm long. However, my friend is 6’1, a far better skier, and on 165’s. Am I missing something?

    • Will Brown December 26, 2015 Reply

      Hi Aaron,

      Given what you’ve said, I hesitate a little to recommend the Helix outright because of its sidecut radius. While it’s on the lighter side, there are some other skis out there with more side-cut that are going to turn more quickly and more easily for you when you’re going a little slower on groomers, or when you’re in the bumps / steeps. This isn’t to say you’d be way out of your element on the Helix, I just think it could take a little growing into as you move from skiing blue runs to blacks – you might feel like the ski isn’t being very responsive at times. So with that said, some other skis to consider are: the Armada TST, Salomon Q-105, and K2 Pinnacle 95.

      As for length, it’s going to depend on the effective edge of the ski (how much tip / tail rocker it has), as well as some other factors. Those length “calculators” generally aren’t that useful, as there are just too many factors that influence the length of a given ski that suits you. You can read our own “How to Think about Ski Length” article to learn more about the thought process for choosing the right length: http://blistergearreview.com/recommended/how-to-think-about-ski-length

      But in general, based on your height, I’d say you could go with a ski as short as ~ 175cm if that skis didn’t have much rocker at all, but also longer lengths (closer to 182-185cm), depending on the design of the ski. (Again, see the article linked to above). A 165 cm ski sounds too short for you by pretty much any metric, unless you’re talking about a stiff, fully cambered, race slalom ski, which I don’t imagine you’re interested in.

      Hope this helps!

      Will B

      • Aaron December 26, 2015 Reply

        Will, this is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you! I’ve taken a look at the Salomon Q-105 first, because I can get heavily discounted pricing on it, (as well as the Helix,) and I like what I see. I read the Blister review on it, and the one thing that I am concerned about is the “long tail-short front” that was described. Is this something that I should be worrying about?

        I also read the sizing article. So looking at the Salomon, because it is not the full camber style of old, but rather the newer, partially rockered ski, I should look a bit longer than the 170’s I was looking at earlier? The Q-105 comes in a 174 and a 181. based on the article I should look at the 181?

        Thank you so much, I truly appreciate this.

        • Will Brown January 4, 2016 Reply

          Hey Aaron,

          As for the Q-105, I don’t see the “long-tail short front” feel as a downside to that ski, it just as a less “traditional” feel that a ski with more effective edge in the forebody; it’s going to initiate turns more easily (which will be something you’ll like as you get into the steeps more, I think), but might not be able to be driven quite as hard through fast turns in really rough conditions (but I don’t think that’s a limitation you’re going to take issue with.)

          And yes, given that ski and your height, I think the 181cm length would be a much better fit than the 174.

          Hope this helps!

          Will B

          • Eric January 18, 2016 Reply

            How would you compare the Helix to the Q-105. On paper they seem pretty similar.

  17. Stephen February 14, 2016 Reply

    Hi Will,

    Could you comment on the effective edge length on the Helix? I’m 6′ 1″, riding the TST’s in a 183 right now, and there just isn’t enough ski on the snow for me. I was looking at the Helix for a replacement, and deliberating between 182 and 187. I ski Snowmass CO, mostly trees, steeps, and bumps, so I want to be able to throw the ski around, but I also want enough wood under my foot so I don’t feel like I’m on 160s when I’m taking a speed lap on a groomer. Any thoughts on which length would be preferable?

    Thanks!

  18. Haj Khalsa January 7, 2017 Reply

    Any thought on the Helix vs the Sir Francis Bacon? Thanks!

  19. GuyAnderson February 14, 2017 Reply

    Too bad they have DC’d the Helix..To me it’s a more playful accessible baby Belafonte…The twin tip with conservative front rocker and no tail rocker is really nice. I love my Belafonte’s for going fast but when hungover or skiing trees,bumps etc the Helix is a nice tool. And the price for the last remaining pairs is uber cheap.

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