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2016-2017 Atomic Bent Chetler, 185cm

Will Brown reviews the Atomic Bent Chetler for Blister Gear Review

Atomic Bent Chetler

Ski: 2016-2017 Atomic Bent Chetler, 185cm

Available Lengths: 178, 185, 192 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.8cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 142-120-134

Stated Sidecut Radius: 19 meters

Core Construction: Poplar + Carbon Fiber Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate

Mount Location: Factory Recommended line (-3cm from true center)

Boots / Bindings: Fischer Ranger Pro 13 / Atomic STH2 WTR 13 (DIN at 9)

Days Skied: 4

Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley, NM; Telluride, CO

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Bent Chetler, which remains unchanged for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]

Jonathan Ellsworth wrote an initial review of the 192cm Bent Chetler during our test trip to Canterbury, New Zealand last August, and he’s going to be updating that review shortly.

As Jonathan said in his review, what we were most surprised to find was how much he (a decidedly directional skier) enjoyed the ski, even though it’s marketed and used by Chris Benchetler as a very playful, trick-friendly powder tool.

I’m a less directional, more playful skier that weighs around 160 lbs (~25 lbs less than Jonathan), and though I also found the 192cm Bent Chetler to be surprisingly stable given how playful its shape / design is, the ski also felt quite heavy to me, and seemed to take a lot more work to ski than I had expected. I was excited about the Bent Chetler as a highly playful powder ski, and the 192 just seemed like too much ski for me personally to use in that way.

(For what it’s worth, reviewer Jason Hutchins had a fairly different experience on the 13/14 version of the 192 Bent Chetler, so you may want to check out his review, too.)

I’ve now put four days on the 185cm Bent Chetler, including the deepest day of my season so far, and I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve found. The 185 feels like a different ski to me than the 192, and its performance feels much more in line with how Chris Benchetler (and guys like Tim Durtschi and Richard Permin) use it.

Fresh Powder & a Note on Mount Point

We’ll start with the fun stuff.

The Bent Chetler is made to excel in deep, fresh powder, with a surfy, pivoty, playful feel, and I’ve found all that to be true of the 185.

Will Brown reviews the Atomic Bent Chetler, Blister Gear Review.

Will Brown on the 185cm Atomic Bent Chetler.

In ~20” of fresh snow, the skis tracked and floated really nicely, with a very even and balanced feel from tip to tail. I never felt as though I needed more float out of the skis, and it was very easy to slash them sideways; the Bent Chetler’s tails swung out from behind me quickly and easily, on command, while the shovels were always very willing to pivot accross the fall line.

Our test pair of 185s are mounted with a pair of regular Atomic STH2 WTR 13 bindings with fixed toe pieces. As such, I’ve only been able to ski them from Atomic’s Factory Recommended line: -3cm from true center, where Chris Benchetler mounts his.

Three centimeters behind center is about as far forward as I prefer to stand on any ski, and I thought the Bent Chetlers skied quite well from that point. They were plenty playful and turns were very easy to initiate; I personally never felt inclined to move any farther forward on the ski.

When skied at the factory mount point, the Bent Chetlers definitely prefered a balanced, more centered-up stance. At both slow and high speeds in fresh powder, I have had to be pretty careful not to get too far forward over the skis, otherwise the shovels can get bogged down in the snow, pitching me forward abruptly.

(At my height and weight, the 192cm Bent Chetler might not be as sensitive to stance in this way, but again, it doesn’t have as quick and maneuverable of a feel elsewhere, and that’s what I’m looking to get out of this ski, first and foremost.)

And while I noticed it far more in deep, chopped up conditions, the Bent Chetlers’ heavily rockered tails can wash out quickly if your weight gets pitched too far back on a landing or during a very hard turn.

Having said that, in fresh snow, I didn’t find that the ski’s “sweet spot” was too difficult to stay balanced over. Yes, the Bent is a very playful ski with a forward mount point that requires a more upright stance, but in untouched conditions, if I did ski with a more neutral posture, it wasn’t hard to stay centered over the ski and control it just as I wanted.

Will Brown reviews the Atomic Bent Chetler, Blister Gear Review.

Will Brown on the 185cm Atomic Bent Chetler.

I think part of this is due to the fact that (a) the Bent Chetler’s dimensions are pretty symmetrical (the tail isn’t much narrower than the shovel), and (b) the tips and tails don’t have much early taper at all; they have a fat, blunt shape to them that floats well and provides a lot of support in fresh snow.

Deep Chop

After that 20” of fresh snow got really tracked-up, skiing the Bent Chetlers fast and smooth became more of a balancing act.

In general, at slow speeds the skis are not difficult to handle. Again, in an inch (or 20 inches) of fresh snow, they have a nice, smooth, predictable feel, and turns are very easy to initiate. And with that maneuverability in mind, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I found that the deeper the chop was, and the faster I was trying to ski through it, the more work I had to do to stay balanced and stable on them by remaining light on my feet and keeping as much of the ski in contact with the snow as I could.

In that chopped-up, trenched-out powder, in this way I found that the Bent Chetlers felt most at home (and the skiing was generally easier for me to do well) when making more short, quick turns, popping from one soft pile of snow to the next, rather than trying to draw out longer, smearing turns, blasting through lots of piles and trenches.

When I did take that slower, more playful approach, the skis never felt too hooky, were always predictable, and I still had a lot of fun on them.

Will Brown reviews the Atomic Bent Chetler, Blister Gear Review.

Will Brown on the Atomic Bent Chetler.

(The 185cm Bent Chetler is a good tree ski on a pow day, too, for the same reasons.)

I could push the skis faster through longer turns, but again, the bigger the turns were, the more work I had to do to make sure I stayed strong and balanced through the inconsistent snow. Get too far back when you’re skiing fast in chop, and the Bent’s tails don’t provide much support to push you upright again. Get too far over the shovels (which isn’t very hard to do, given the more forward mount), and the ski will hook / overturn if you hit something you’re not ready for.

Running close to bases flat, and when skiing more-or-less straight down the fall line through choppy, bumpy conditions, the Bent Chetler is decently damp, but not impressively so. Of the skis that have a similarly playful side, the 184 (and certainly the 190) Moment Bibby Pro is much more stable at speed in this way. (I’ll talk more about the Bibby vs the Bent below.)

25 Comments

  1. Mark February 25, 2015 Reply

    Don’t know if you’ve skied the 2015 Automatics 117. But would you say if I was looking for something a little more directional but with a playful element I would prefer the Autos over the Chets?

    • mike February 27, 2015 Reply

      I personally love the autos – I am a directional skier, and think they are plenty playful, but have a more stiff, less rockered tail which makes them very competent on the groomers. Great in pow too!

    • Will Brown March 10, 2015 Reply

      Hi Mark,

      Yep, I think you’re thinking about it in the right way. If you wanted something with a playful side, but that feels more directional in general, the Automatic would be a good ski to look at (though for what it’s worth, I haven’t skied it since the 13/14 model, which had a slightly softer tail than the current version.) The Salomon Q-115 is another option, and it has a slightly more directional feel than the Auto (but still has a smeary, loos character, too.)

      Thanks for reading!

      Will

  2. Matt February 26, 2015 Reply

    How does the Bent Chetler compare to Blizzard Spur or the new Blizzard Bodacious (the 2015-16 version with no metal) and will you be reviewing the Spur or new Bodacious?

    • Will Brown March 10, 2015 Reply

      Hey Matt,

      We’ve yet to ski the new Bodacious, but my hunch is that even though (apparently) it’s now a bit more accessible than the 14/15 version, it’s going to sit in a very different class of powder skis than the Bent Chetler. The Bodacious is a very directional, not at all very playful ski that is at home cutting big, fast turns through chop and crud (basically the opposite of what the Bent is designed to do).

      I haven’t skied the Spur yet, but Jonathan Ellsworth has, and my sense is that though it’s probably a bit looser and than the Bodacious, it’s still going to serve directional skiers with an aggressive fall-line style more than the freestyle-oriented Bent Chetler crowd. With that said, know that I’m thinking of the 185cm Bent Chetler here, and the 192cm version may be more appropriate to compare to the Spur. Jonathan will be posting an update on the 192 Bent Chetler soon, and I’m sure he’ll make mention of the Spur there.

      Hope this helps you!

      Will B

  3. Bakkies February 27, 2015 Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for the review.
    Have you had a chance to get on the Salomon Rocker2 122, and if so how does it compare to the Bent Chetler?

    • Will Brown March 10, 2015 Reply

      Not yet, Bakkies, though I’d like to; it’s definitely a ski that fits in this same class.

      Will B

  4. willie February 27, 2015 Reply

    Hey Will you did a great job of saying the Bentchetlers pretty much suck, unless your skiing perfect powder, which any rockered 120mm ski will do quite well.

    • Will Brown March 10, 2015 Reply

      Hi Willie,

      It seems fair to say the review’s a little more nuanced than that. As I’ve said in the Bottom Line, “For those looking for a surfy, trickable pow ski, the 185cm Atomic Bent Chetler still very much fits the bill.” So yes, if you’re looking to rage big turns through deep chop, you might think the Bent Chetler’s suck, but that’s not what Chris Benchetler spends his time doing, and that’s not what his ski is designed to do well.

      WB

  5. Scott March 12, 2015 Reply

    In the article you compare them to the Moment Blister/Bibby. Those are two different models now…was the comparison between the Bent and the Blister, or the Bent and the new Bibby? I have the 192 Bents, and while they float like canoes, they are heavy as lead. I may replace with something lighter next year and trying to narrow it down.

    • Will Brown March 12, 2015 Reply

      Hi Scott,

      Apologies for the lack of clarity there. I’m comparing the Bent Chetler to the 2014-2015 Blister Pro, which is the same ski as the “Bibby Pro” from the 10/11, 11/12, and 12/13 seasons. The current (14/15) Josh Bibby pro-model (same from last season – 13/14) is actually just called the “Bibby” (no “Pro” in the name).

      And, thankfully, as you may know, Moment is changing back the design of the ski to the older version (the one we got brought back with the Blister Pro this season).

      Hope that clears things up. And as for switching up your 192cm Bents, Jonathan will be posting his Update on the 192cm Bent Chetler soon, and he’ll definitely draw some comparisons between it and the Blister Pro.

      Cheers,

      Will

  6. Scott March 12, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Will! So Moment is changing the new Bibby back to the old Bibby? Can you tell me if its a lighter ski than the Bent? The Bent is great, but its weight is a real detriment to its maneuverability in my opinion. I love my Moment Deathwish 184’s (like they might be my favorite all around ski that Ive skied) so another Moment would be a welcome addition!

    • Will Brown March 18, 2015 Reply

      Hey Scott,

      Yes, that’s correct.

      As for weights, we’ve measured as follows:

      Our pair of 190cm Bibby/Blister Pros: 2,393 & 2,372 grams
      192cm Bent Chetlers: 2,509 & 2,455 grams

      So yes, on a scale, the Bibby Pro is a little lighter, but that’s not a huge difference. I haven’t put enough time on the 192cm Bent Chetler to say if the Bibby feels considerably lighter on your feet. Again, I’d wait for Jonathan’s Update on the 192cm Bent Chetler, where he’ll discuss that directly.

      Best,

      Will B

  7. Joel April 7, 2016 Reply

    How tall are you?

  8. Christopher April 24, 2016 Reply

    Yes, please. How tall are you?
    And have you had an opportunity to test drive the 178cm model?

    • Hey, Joel and Christopher – Will is 6’2″, 160 lbs. You can find height, weight, and a full bio on all of our reviewers — click on the author name of each review, or go to the “About Us” drop down menu at the top of the nav bar.

  9. Artur May 24, 2016 Reply

    How do the Benchetlers compare to the 2012 K2 Obsethed? I currently have a pair of 2014 Blizzard Bonafides and Im looking for a pair of fatter skis that I’ll mainly be skiing in the trees.

  10. Blister Member
    Jim May 24, 2016 Reply

    Hi Will,
    I’m reading through all the reviews of skis you guys list as playful pow skis. I’ve been skiing the 185 Opus and the Blister Pro 184 for me they are two totally different skis. The Opus is the most playful ski I have ever been on, in fresh. It makes me try stupid things for an old guy. Get a too far forward in the steep and deep and it will hook and toss you. The Blister Pro is the absolute best in chopped up skied out pow. Perfect for resort day leftovers. Great control, but by lunch i am worked and get in the back seat and I’m off for a wild ride.
    Most of my days now are in a snow cat or touring (my touring set up is a 187 Moment Underworld w/ king pins). I use the Underworlds for most conditions (you guys need to review these things, nice even flex, great balance). I Ski Tahoe mostly and am looking for a playful ski that can handle the Cream cheese we call powder. I am looking at the Bent, the Salomon 122, Volkl one, Kastle XX110. I do not consider myself a charger in any way, I’m almost 60 and I want 20 more years out of my knees. I am looking for the most fun, playful, surfy, slasher ski. I think a powder 8 competition is more fun to watch, than a guy skiing an insane line with 2 turns, 100′ drop and a straight run out.
    Any insight would help, Thanks.

    • Hi, Jim – I’ll field this one.

      (1) The Opus & Blister Pro are definitely different skis, so I’d hope there was never any confusion about that.

      (2) I’d rule out the Kastle XX110 — I don’t think it best fits the criteria you’re looking for.

      (3) For fun, play, surfy (and pretty easy), I think the 185 Bent Chetler and the Salomon 122 are your best bets. Neither Will nor I have skied the 122, but you can read Paul Forward’s take on that ski in his ‘Deep Dive: Powder Skis’ article.

      But the Bent Chetler is certainly playful, surfy, and slashy — really, the only place I didn’t love it was in steep, moguled terrain, where I wanted less tail rocker. But that’s not the terrain you’re talking about, so I think you’ll really enjoy the ski. My only caveat is not to mount too far forward — I don’t know where you’ve mounted the Opus, but on the Bent Chetler I’d suggest getting something like at least -4 to and at most -6 cm back of true center. Mount more forward than that, and tip dive becomes more of an issue.

      Hope that helps a bit.

      • Scott May 25, 2016 Reply

        The 190 Moment Bibby is the best ski I’ve ever skied, and I also have the 192 Bent, which is too big and heavy for me. The 190 Bibby is really manageable and allows me to ski anything really confidently. Round out your quiver with the 186 Belafonte and you’re pretty well equipped!

  11. Blister Member
    Jim May 25, 2016 Reply

    Thanks guys,
    So I’m narrowing down the list, the Salomon 122 stays on the list but the BC consistently gets a heavy comment any insight / comparison between the Volkl One and the BMT 122?

    • FWIW, the comments re: the weight of the Bent Chetler were specific to the 192 cm length, not the 185. And we don’t have specific comparisons between the One and the BMT 122, but our initial review of the BMT 122 will be posting Paul Forward’s review in the coming weeks. (I can’t say for certain, of course, but the One doesn’t sound to me like the ski you’re looking for – given all that you’ve said. The BMT 122? Maybe. Stay tuned…)

  12. Blister Member
    Jim May 25, 2016 Reply

    Jonathan,
    Thanks for the reply,
    I have read Paul’s deep dive and most everything else related to pow ski’s you guys have written.
    Best site on the planet. Thanks.
    What’s your take on the Volkl One vs the BMT 122?
    I loved how playful the Opus was in fresh but Backcountry days always involve some “Variable” conditions. The Opus was not so good.
    These skis will be for Cat, Heli and sidecountry only.
    Any recommendations from the experts will help.
    5’11” 175 57 years young
    Thanks again

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jim. And see my comment above. I think the One will be heavier, have less sidecut, and less width than you might be looking for. Again, if the 184 cm Blister Pro is feeling like a bit more ski than you want, then I’m leaning toward the 185 cm Bent Chetler, and possibly the BMT 122. We’ll see what Paul has to say about the BMT 122 — and he is, BTW, in a position to say something about it vs. the Rocker2 122…

  13. Blister Member
    Jim May 25, 2016 Reply

    The Blister Pro is the absolute best ski I have ever been on in leftovers, it’s just not nearly as much fun in 30″ of fresh as the Opus and it does work my old weak legs (but it’s skis great while kicking my Butt). I know, I just need to get in better shape and all would be good. It’s get skied 2 days for every one of the Opus.
    I look forward to reading Paul’s review of the BMT 122 and his comparisons to other skis.
    Thanks again for your help, You guys Rock.

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