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2016-2017 Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS for Blister Gear Review.

2015-2016 Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS

Ski: 2016-2017 Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS, 182cm

Available Lengths: 168, 175, 182 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 180.4cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 126-80-111

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 126-80-111

Stated Weight per Ski: 1920 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters

Core Construction: Poplar + Basalt Fiber + Carbon/Polyamide Laminate

Tip / Tail Splay: 55mm / 20mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: 6 mm

Mount Location: Recommended Line (80.1cm from tail; -10.1cm from center)

Boots / Bindings: Salomon X Pro 120 & Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 / Salomon XT (DIN at 11)

Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley

Days Skied: 5

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 X-Drive 8.0 FS, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]

 

 

The 184cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS has become a new favorite of mine, because it is the most powerful sub-90mm-underfoot, truly all-mountain ski I have been on.

So as we were setting up some frontside carver tests, the narrower Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS was at the top of my list, especially since Salomon’s own copy on the 8.0 doesn’t say much to differentiate it from the 8.8. (This is also why I am going to offer a lot of comparisons between the 184cm X-Drive 8.8 and the 182cm X-Drive 8.0.)

And so?

The 8.0 isn’t merely a narrower 8.8, but it is an awfully impressive ski in its own right, and I don’t doubt that a number of skiers will prefer the 182cm X-Drive 8.0 to the 184cm 8.8.

In sum, the X-Drive 8.0 is not as capable as an all-mountain ski as the ridiculously capable X-Drive 8.8 is. I think of the 8.0 as more of a very substantial frontside carver that won’t be out of place around the rest of the mountain—particularly when the snow isn’t deep.

The 182cm 8.0 requires less input and less speed to come alive than the 184cm 8.8 (i.e., it has a better “low end” than the 8.8). But like its wider sibling, the 8.0 is still a powerful ski that can be pushed very hard, and its edge hold is fierce. Yet at the same time, the ski isn’t unwilling to release out of a turn or carve.

Flex Pattern & Shape

The 8.0 is a stout ski. Its tails are not quite as stiff as the 8.8’s, but the 8.0’s shovels are quite comparable, and on a hand flex, the shovels of the 8.0 actually feel a touch stiffer than the 8.8’s.

And just for the sake of a comparison, the tails and shovels of the X-Drive 8.0 are stiffer than the Dynastar Powertrack 89 and the Fischer Motive 86, and the 8.0 is much stiffer than the Fischer Progressor 900 and the DPS Cassiar 85 Hybrid T2.

But for the most part (moguls are the sole exception), I’ll say the same thing about the 8.0 that I said about the 8.8: both skis have a stout flex, but they are not difficult to ski; instead, they just feel very smooth and stable.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS, Taos Ski Valley.

Good technique will be rewarded, of course, but you do not have to ski the 182 8.0 with a lot of power (or as much power as the 184cm 8.8); the 8.0 is happy to be finessed.

Like their flex patterns, the rocker lines and splay amounts of the 8.0 and 8.8 are similar. (The 8.8 has 4 more millimeters of tip splay.)

On-Piste

The 182cm X-Drive 8.0 is much easier to carve short turns at slower speeds than the 184cm 8.8. The 8.8 can be made to work at lower speeds, but you will be smearing your turns rather than truly carving them.

The 8.0s are easier to bend than the 184cm 8.8s, so it takes a bit less input / energy to: (a) hit high edge angles and make tighter slalom turns at slower speeds (though the Fischer Progressor 900 feels even easier to work through tighter turns at slower speeds than the X-Drive 8.0), or (b) get all agro, really load them up, and launch from turn to turn at very high speeds.

In that sense, the 8.0 is a more versatile carver than the X-Drive 8.8.

Smooth vs. Roughed-Up Groomers

On smooth corduroy, the 75mm-underfoot Fischer Progressor 900 has the better low-end performance; it is softer than the 8.0, and it is much more of a pure frontside carver that, while it can still be skied powerfully, is less at home on ungroomed runs.

On the other end of the spectrum is the X-Drive 8.8. It is the most stable, damp, “planted” sub-90mm ski that I have ever skied. So much so, that in my review of it, I compared it to the 13/14 Volkl Mantra and the 107mm-underfoot, 187cm Moment Belafonte. (And now that he’s also skied the 8.8, Will Brown seconds both of those comparisons.)

The 8.0 does not inspire that same extreme level of on- and off-piste stability as the 8.8 does, but on smooth groomers and on somewhat roughed-up groomers … I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this much fun carving a ski.

Again, the Fischer Progressor 900 is an excellent carver, but I appreciated 8.0’s greater composure when encountering less-than-perfect groomers—i.e., either somewhat bumped-up groomers or also very soft groomers.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 FS, Taos Ski Valley.

On smooth groomers, I’m not willing to say that the 8.0 is a lot more demanding than the Fischer Progressor 900, because it can easily be finessed—it doesn’t have to be skied fast with a lot of input. But as those groomers get roughed-up in the afternoon, the 8.0 becomes the much more steady, stable, confidence-inspiring choice over the Progressor 900.

Even on less than pristine groomers, the 8.0’s edgehold is outstanding, and the more I skied them, the more I also came to trust them on steep, wind-scoured pitches, without worrying that the edges would wash out.

What was equally impressive is that, while the edgehold and ‘bite’ that these skis offer is impressive, they never felt grabby to me either on very soft or very firm groomers. And I didn’t detune these skis at all. Predictable edgehold, while also allowing me to predictably smear / scrub turns. Smooth.

 

NEXT: Off-Piste Performance

16 Comments

  1. Angus January 13, 2015 Reply

    Hi Jonathan, as usual brilliant review of this and the FS 8.8. Yours really are the best reviews out there. I am looking to partner either the 8.0 FS or the 8.8FS with a pair of Salomon Rocker 2 108’s in 182cm. Either could suit my purposes which is really to have a firm snow ski for groomers and some off piste but as soon as things soften up I will be on the Rocker 2’s. I am 5’10 and 160lbs and I think the 8.8s in 184 could be a bit too much ski, so I would go for the 179. However, if I go for the 8.0’s the choice is between the 182cm and 175cm. I think the 175 might be too little ski (what do you think?) so I am really interested in your gut feel about how the 179cm 8.8s would compare with the 182cm 8.0s for quickness and low speed carving. I think either would be great once up to speed. Any thoughts much appreciated. Cheers.

    • Author

      Thank you, Angus.

      If we’re talking about getting up on the edges and *really* carving at low speeds (as opposed to just making turns at lower speeds and being okay with running a bit more bases-flat), I suspect that both the 175cm and 182cm 8.0 will still beat the 179 X-Drive 8.8. The 8.8 really is an all-mountain GS ski, it’s just that it will permit more bases-flat skiing at slower speeds. And the 8.0 is noticeably quicker edge to edge.

      As for the 175 vs. the 182 8.0 … at your weight, and if you’re primarily concerned about groomers, I believe you could get away with the 175s. They will feel stupid quick, and if you don’t care about flat-out, top speed performance, they will be stable enough.

      Where I am less confident in saying that the 175s will be fine is when it comes to off-piste use. But probably the answer again is that, if you aren’t looking to ski these very fast, the 175s will be very nimble and still sturdy – these are not noodles. But I’ll repeat what I said in the review: the 8.8s feel more at home off-piste than the 8.0s. The 8.0s felt like a ski that I had to adjust my style to a bit – still carving the mountain rather than being happy with the 8.8’s mix of carving + bashing turns a bit more bases flat.

      Hope that makes sense and helps. I really like both skis, let us know what you decide to do and how it works out.

      • Angus January 23, 2015 Reply

        Hi Jonathan, thanks for the comments. I have been trying to demo the Salomons but not managed it so far. However, I have just spent the day riding the Blizzard Brahma’s in a 180 length at Val d’Isere where there isn’t a ton of snow at the moment. The Brahma feels like pretty much what I am after, it was happy noodling around on piste with a group of intermediates but was a ton of fun on piste when wound up to a good speed. There is quite a bit of hard (almost ice) piste around and I found it had a decent edge hold on the steeper black runs. Perhaps either of the Salomons would have been better but I would give the Brahma 8 out of 10. I also found it to be surprisingly and playful off piste on well tracked firmer areas and was able to deal with deeper chopped up snow as long as I kept balanced and light on my feet. By the way, I tried moving the mounting +1.5cm (spent most of the day on the line) and found this unbalanced the ski for me. It felt like too much tail for the amount of ski out front. Maybe I will get to try the Salomons while I am out here but for now the Brahma 180 gets my vote. Cheers.

  2. rob g February 12, 2015 Reply

    Hi Jonathan:

    I really appreciate your reviews. I live in Durango CO and am looking for a ski for hard snow but fun on a shorter hill like Purgatory ie: shorter radius turns. I was at Taos last weekend (2/7) and thought of this review. Generally, in lack of new snow conditions and the small mountain I frequently ski, i choose a slalom fis race skis however, I am looking for a bit more forgiving ride and with a bit more tail to go into the bumps and off rollers My quiver includes fis slalom and gs skis, older pair of mantras, rmu apostles that I love and momnet bibby pros also love when deep. Would this ski almost retire my race skis? Also what is the factory tune side and edge bevel? Did you change the tune or what tune did you set up when reviewing this ski? Thanks again for reviews and keep up the good work!

  3. john webb April 7, 2015 Reply

    I’m looking for a narrow, quick turning ski, with a soft enough tip and forebody for easy bump skiing. The X Drive 80 has very similar geometry to my old K2 Rictors, which are due to be retired, but your review suggests that stiffness could be a problem for other than expert bump skiers, which I am not. (1) Could you recommend a ski that would better meet my needs? (2) Can you compare the X drive 80 to this year’s Rictor 82 mm, which is now deeply discounted due to K2’s anticipated changes for 2015-16? Thank you

  4. Adam September 19, 2015 Reply

    I am looking for a ski of about 180cm I am 14 years old and have been skiing since I was 2. I would like a ski which is quite wide will allow me to dart on and off piece, without losing speed, not to stiff without having to push to hard and able to to short turns at speed with not a massive turn radius. Please help me. Thank you

  5. Stephan November 16, 2015 Reply

    Hi Guys, Nice review! You wrote: [Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 X-Drive 8.0 FS, which was not changed for 15/16, except for the graphics.] Is this really the case, since here in germany there is a price difference of over 200 euros..?! Quite a lot of money for just a new graphic design ;) would appreciate it if someone could comment on this :) thanks a lot in advance!

  6. Joe February 11, 2016 Reply

    Hey Jonathan,
    I’m a new member here and I’m blown away by your reviews. So let me start with thank you.
    My question has to do with this X-drive series, one of which I did demo. I am 42 yrs old, 5’7″ & 160 lbs. I ski primary in Vermont. I am an advanced frontside, on piste skier, intermediate in the moguls, and little exprience in trees or backside. I have a minor race experience on a college club team. I’m getting back into skiing due to my kids starting to enjoy it and I’m psyched! The new technology in these skis is making my decision difficult due to the fact the skis seem specific to a style/condition and the fact that it’s a 4 hr drive for me to demo.
    Half the day I need the ski to be easy to ski on a green trail and half the day I like to push the ski hard. On the east coast when it is crowded I like to ski the edge with old school, feet together turns, short curves on the steeps and charge gs style when the trail opens up. Basically I ski what the terrain offers.
    I did get a chance to demo the X-drive 8.0 FS and liked them the best out of the 8.0 ish mm skis I tried. What i liked was the light under foot feeling, easy to ski slow, and it handled anything i could through at them. I found the ski a little difficult in the moguls, as mentioned not my strong point. I only ski them if they present themselves, however, I won’t shy away. At the end of the day i skied on a Roosi experience 88. Pretty manuverable, not as much as the X-drive 8.0 but I did notice how well it handled the bunched up machine snow at the end of the day. So that got my wheels turning, should I try a wider ski? So one of my questions is, what about the 8.3? It’s a little wider, I believe the tips and tail are slightly softer due to participle sidewall. Maybe it will ski a wider spectrum of conditions, and be more forgiving in the bumps yet still be able to charge and curve? Or does the performance of the 8.0 FS outweigh the width of 8.3? The reviews on the 8.3 are not great and geared towards an intermediate level. Im not sure if that is because of the success of the 8.0 FS? If it were alone would it get better reviews? Will I out ski the 8.3? Your review of the 8.8 scared me away because of my weight and need to ski slow with my son half the day. Should I consider them?
    I need to be able to slide turns on greens with my son, be light and manuvarable, be able to charge and carve for part of the day, and handle the conditions (basically hard pack) VT skiing has. Keep in mind I can pick up a pair of X-drive 8.0 FS for sub $360/with bindings. I’m also willing to have a 2 ski quiver for the east coast with that price of the 8.0 FS and maybe add an 88 mm. Or is that to close in size? Or comprise in the middle with the 8.3 to cover the east coast spectrum?
    These are the skis I demoed:
    Volkl rtm 81 – exactly what I DON’T want. I could only get them to work on a black diamond. I can’t ski them slow and all they want to do is carve.
    Atomic blackeye ti – liked them, friendly, a little heavy and not very lively.
    Head super shape 80 mm. – good carve, that’s it.
    Armada 89 mm invictus, I think – didn’t like at all, felt directionless.
    Blizzard Brahma – I liked them, sure footed, fast, a little to much effort to ski all day. A little to GS for me.
    Rossi 88 – I really liked them, light underfoot, easy to ski, can do it all. I know the reviews say they’re stiff but I didn’t notice that and found them easier in the bumps than 8.0. Not as nimble as the X-drive 8.0 fs.

    Thank you for you time and keep up the incredible job you’re doing!!

    Joe

    • Author

      Thanks for all the kind words, Joe!

      A few thoughts:

      (1) I don’t find the 8.0 to be a particularly easy ski in bumps, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Then again, if you don’t intend to be skiing many bumps and like the 8.0 everywhere else … then I wouldn’t rule out the 8.0 on those grounds.

      (2) I haven’t skied the 8.3, but my understanding is that you have it right: the 8.3 is more of an intermediate ski than the 8.0 or 8.8. And given that you’ve liked the 8.0 … I’m not inclined to tell you that the 8.3 clearly makes a lot of sense.

      (3) I think you could consider the 8.8 — I would just recommend getting it in either a 179 or even a 172 — it is such a stable ski that you can afford to go shorter without giving up stability. But I would still say that the 8.8 is more of a GS ski than the 8.0 — I personally like that about the 8.8, but you may not. And actually, the 8.8 and the Brahma are *fairly* similar skis … so if you didn’t click with the Brahma, that is a signal that the 8.0 is more up your alley than the 8.8.

      (4) People who call the Rossi E88 “stiff” are just wrong. It is definitely *less* ski than the Brahma, the 8.8, or the 8.0. So it is not at all surprising to me that you found the E88 to be easier in bumps than the X-Drive 8.0 — it IS easier in bumps.

      No question that the 8.0 is the more powerful ski, and will be the better carver (than the Experience 88) when conditions are very firm.

      Here’s a thought: if you’re looking for 1 ski to do everything, see my review of the Fischer Motive 86. It will not be as good on ice as the 8.0, but it will be the better 1 ski quiver.

      Or, get an 8.0 and a Motive 86 – break the Motive 86 out if / when you’ll be skiing a lot of bumps & trees, use the 8.0 when you’ll be mostly on groomers. With these two skis on the East Coast, I think you would be very, very happy.

      Final option: pair some 8.0s with a 185 (or 177 even) Nordica Enforcer. I’d only recommend doing this if you are fortunate to get out on storm days. If you don’t tend to, then from everything you’ve said, I think the Motive 86 would be the better 2nd ski in your quiver.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Joe February 12, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Johnathan,
    I agree with that thought process. In two weeks I will have the chance to demo the entire X-drive series, the Motive 86 and the Enforcer in one day. I will update you with my experience and hopefully my decision.
    In your review of the Motive 86 Ti, you mentioned there was no structural changes from 14/15 to 15/16. I believe the ski they have for demo is a 13/14. Is this the same ski? And if not, what can I expect that’s different from the current model?

    Thanks again,
    Joe

  8. Marty March 23, 2016 Reply

    Can you help me understand the difference between the 8.0 Ti and 8.0 FS?

    PROS AND CONS OF EACH?
    What type skier is each aimed at?

    Thanks,
    Marty

  9. Guy Anderson April 18, 2016 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    How would you compare the 178 Kendo to the Salomon 8.0 FS 182 cm…looking for frontside carver….I see that you give each high marks….thinking the Kendo with a stated 20.5 R will be more GS like the 8.8 but your review states that it is more of short to medium turn ski.

    Thanks for responding if you have time.

    Guy PNW skier age 50…large quiver…looking for carver

  10. Ryan August 22, 2016 Reply

    Jonathan –

    Killer review and these sounds like almost exactly what I’m looking for as a carver for predominantly skiing in the mid-Atlantic area. I’ve come across an awesome deal for a 168cm pair, but I’m wondering if they’ll be too short or not. I’m about 140lbs and an advanced skier, but not quite a true expert (probably level 7-8). Most of my skiing with these will be on groomers, but there will be some moguls and ungroomed mixed in here and there I’m sure. I have a pair of 179cm Line Influence 105’s that I used as a western daily driver when I lived out there, but I know those aren’t going to cut it in Pennsylvania!

    Thanks in Advance!

  11. Blister Member
    Dane February 6, 2017 Reply

    I definitely connect with your reviews Jonathan, thanks! I just got back into skiing this year after a 15 year hiatus and got a too good to pass up pair of x-drive 8.0 but in a 175cm. I really like them but am guessing I should be on the 179cm given that I’m both taller (6′) and heavier (192). I’ll only get in a few more days this year since I live in Florida but we are spending next winter in Summit County, CO so I’m planning for next year and could use your help.

    1. Is the 175cm too small for me? If so I’ll sell them and get something like the X-drive 8.8 in a 184cm and use it for everything in Colorado or maybe the Volkl Mantra 177 or 184.

    2. If the 175cm x-drive 8.0 is fine for me to keep for groomers, what would be an ideal 2nd ski to compliment it in a 2 ski quiver?

    3. WOuld the Volkl Mantra be different enough ski for a 2 ski quiver or would I want something more like a Moment Blister Pro in a 184 or 190 to compliment the x-drive?

    On blue bird days a lot of my skiing will be teaching my 8 and 12 y/o so a lot of blue and black groomers where I enjoy high speed medium to GS turns and then while momma bear is doing home school in the lodge I’ll head out exploring beyond the corduroy. Due to a MX accident 2 years ago which left me with 17 screws in my right ankle I’ll be doing almost no bump skiing. I hope to get into some decent powder once out in Colorado (though I don’t have a lot of experience skiing powder because I skied in the 90’s on skinny skies and then started boarding on powder days but I could see how I could get into pow skiing on some decent skis). However, I don’t know that we’ll get out west every winter so more dedicated powder skis may not get fully utilized since our 2nd home is in NC where powder is extremely rare. Thanks for your help!

  12. Blister Member
    Dane February 6, 2017 Reply

    I didn’t realize the Moment’s were a limited run but I guess they are no longer available so back to question 2 above.

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