2016-2017 Kitten Factory Razor 95, 183 cm
Available Lengths: 165, 172, 177, 183 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 117-95-117
Stated weight: 1900 g
Stated Sidecut Radius: 23 meters
Core Construction: Maple/Poplar + Carbon Fiber Stringers + Fiberglass Laminate
Mount Location: -1 cm from true center
Boots / Bindings: Dalbello Il Moro T I.D. / Rossignol FKS 140
Test Locations: Keystone, Breckenridge, and Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
Days Skied: 10
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Razor 95, which returns unchanged for 16/17, except for graphics.]
Given that Salt Lake City-based Kitten Factory is a relatively young brand, it makes sense that their flagship park ski, the Razor 95, largely adheres to what one might call the current standard design of a park ski: 95-100 mm underfoot, with rockered and tapered tips and tails.
That this is becoming the new standard is quite alright with me: the rockered tips and tails almost always lend a surfier feel than their more traditional counterparts, and a slightly beefed-up waist width often adds enough stability to counteract the negative effects of a shortened effective edge.
In fact, this 95-100mm width for park / all-mountain freestyle skis has quickly become the category of skis that I’m most excited about. While I personally wouldn’t want to compete in a slopestyle contest on anything this wide or rockered, I’ve come to find that for day-to-day skiing, a ~98mm-wide ski with a healthy dose of rocker is simply more fun than a 88mm-wide 2×4.
The KF Razor 95 is on the narrower end of this category, but in terms of playfulness, it easily ranks among its competitors while outshining them in terms of stability on jumps and general responsiveness.
From a theoretical standpoint, the Razor’s significantly rockered tips and tails put it in an uphill battle as far as stability on big jumps goes. Any ski with this much rocker will have more of a tendency to wash out on backseat landings, or switch, tip-heavy landings – it’s the price you pay for the amount of playfulness gained.
Armada tried to mitigate this issue on the Al Dente by axing tail rocker to make forward landings a little more forgiving. While I generally support such tip-rocker-only designs, KF has done a really nice job retaining as much stability as possible considering the tail-rocker handicap.
The Razor’s core is pretty substantial and stiff, giving you a solid platform on which to land, so long as you land well. And the core remains stiff enough through the contact points that, while the Razor 95 does sacrifice some ‘butter’ factor, it pays off in spades when you land a little bit squirrelly on a big jump and the ski doesn’t give out. By comparison, I found the J Skis Whipit and AllPlay to be just slightly too soft in these areas, and so performed worse on big jump landings.
When considering the sheer amount of rocker in both the tips and tails, the Razor 95 performed far beyond my expectations. I’ll qualify that by saying that the Razor doesn’t touch the absolute stability of a stiff, unrockered ski like the Salomon NFX, but as far as rockered park skis go, the Razor is the most stable jumping ski that I’ve been on — it’s more stable than the Al Dente, the J Skis AllPlay or Whipit, or the Moment Vice. I’m excited to see where it stacks up against the Faction Candide 2.0, which I’ll get to test out on jumps this coming season.
Rails and Jibs
I’m very impressed by how stable the Razor is on big jumps when it is also such a playful, surfy, buttery jib ski. Its rockered tips and tails, while stiffer than the J Skis AllPlay, are forgiving enough that they can easily be coaxed into nose and tail butters and nose and tail slides on rails. As expected, they are also incredibly fun to throw slashes and quarterpipe hits.
Generally speaking, the Razor 95 is an exceptionally fun ski to ride as an everyday park ski. It is stable when landing and cruising at high speeds between features while hardly sacrificing playfulness and responsiveness.
All Mountain Performance
I was fortunate enough to get a couple of excellent days at A-Basin this spring on the Razor 95, skiing a nice mix of trees, moguls, and steeps. Again, all of the qualities that make it a really fun jib and jump ski were in play around the Pali Lift: the Razor 95 was fairly nimble in tight trees, I could quickly get onto the downhill ski at high speeds on groomers and in slushy moguls, and was stable at high speeds and when jumping off the variety of mini-golf features that A-Basin has to offer.
As always, I need to mention that I’m unusually hard on my equipment, and this test period was no different. After 10 days, I found a few edge cracks on the Razor 95’s, but that didn’t surprise me in the slightest — I did a lot of high-impact rail tricks throughout the test period, such as gapping to the flat of down-flat-down rails and other similar tricks that would have likely cracked even the most durable edges on the market. So, no, these edges aren’t made of diamonds, but I’d still say they held up reasonably well compared to a lot of brands that I’ve skied recently.
I will say that the Razor 95’s top sheets chipped an unusual amount for such a short test period. I’d highly recommend beveling where the topsheet meets the sidewall along each edge of the ski before skiing the Razor, to help reduce topsheet chipping.
But apart from the edge cracks and topsheet chipping, I saw no signs of major damage, impending or otherwise, including delamination or core failure.
The Kitten Factory Razor 95 occupies a really interesting niche: it’s not as wide or soft as skis like the Armada Al Dente, J Skis AllPlay, or Nordica Soul Rider 98, so it’s significantly more stable and responsive. But it’s still wide enough and rockered enough that it retains a highly playful feel.
I’d also call the Razor 95 “versatile,” but not in the way that I’ve called the Armada AR7 (now the ARV 86) versatile. The AR7 / ARV 86 offers competition-ready, big-jump performance, while also being a nimble rail ski. The Razor 95 is an excellent ski that can blast through slush and surf around the mountain like the AR7 never could, but you can still take the Razor 95 off a 70-foot jump and feel good about what’s under your feet.