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2017-2018 Armada ARV 116 JJ

Cy Whitling reviews the Armada ARV 116 JJ for Blister Gear Review

Armada ARV 116 JJ

Ski: 2017-2018 Armada ARV 116 JJ, 185 cm

Available Lengths: 175, 185, 192 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 183.5 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (185 cm): 2212 & 2215 grams

Stated Dimensions: 139-116-135 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 138-116-134

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 63 mm / 62 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm

Factory Recommended Mount Points:

  • -2.5 cm from center; 91.75 cm from tail
  • -6 cm from center; 85.75 cm from tail

Days Tested: 5

Test Locations: Sun Valley, ID; Mt Bachelor, OR

Intro

The big news about Armada’s freestyle line is that the iconic JJ line is no more, and in its place Armada has expanded their ARV line. (Last year, the widest ski in the line was the ARV 106.)

However (and this gets a little confusing) a few skis from the old JJ line remain available. Tanner Hall’s Magic J still exists as a fatter option (it’s part of Armada’s “Signature Collection”), and the “Zero” version of the JJ 2.0 (which uses a different layup and is produced in very limited numbers) will still be available at select retailers.

The JJ and all its iterations (JJ 2.0, Magic J, AK JJ, etc.) have played a huge part in defining the category of playful pow ski, so it will be interesting to see how the ARV 116 JJ continues that legacy. Is it right to think of it as a JJ 3.0? And how does it compare to the current class of playful pow skis, like the LINE Mordecai, Atomic Bent Chetler, ON3P Kartel 116, etc. more?

One notable difference between the JJ and the ARV 116 is that the new skis get “3D Base” tech, a boat-hulled shape at the edges of the tip and tails that’s very similar to the Atomic Bent Chetler’s HRZN Tech, but features a full wrap edge.

We’re taking the ARV 116 JJ with us to Mt Bachelor next week, so we’ll have a full review coming soon. But for now, here are some initial impressions.

We’ve also now posted our Deep Dive Comparisons of the ARV 116 to a host of other playful powder skis, so become a Blister member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our comparisons.

Flex

I’d sum up the ARV 116’s flex pattern like this:

Tips: 6-7

Shovels: 7

Underfoot: 8.5

Behind the Heels: 7

Tails: 5-6

The tips of the ARV 116 JJ are a little stiffer than the ARV 106, while the 116’s tails are a little softer. The ARV 116 is a touch softer throughout than the Atomic Bent Chetler. All in all, this flex pattern makes a lot of sense. This is a jibby pow ski with a more centered mount, and the JJ series has never been known for its stiffness The ARV 116 JJ continues this trend.

Shape

The ARV 116’s most obvious departure from the JJ series is its shape. It doesn’t feature the same drastic “Elf Shoe” shape as the previous JJ, and instead has a much more traditional tip and tail taper. The JJ’s were known for being easy to ski loosely — throwing the ski sideways and surfing. It will be interesting to see how the more traditional shape of the ARV 116 (combined with its new 3D Base) affects that surfiness of the ski.

I’m optimistic here. The old dramatically 5-point-shaped skis in the JJ line were very fun to play around on, but I think a more traditional shape should make for a more versatile ski without sacrificing too much playfulness. The ARV 116’s tip and tail taper look right in line with versatile-but-playful skis like the ON3P Kartel 116 and Atomic Bent Chetler. If I didn’t know that the ARV 116 was related to the JJ line, I wouldn’t have guessed that it was the successor to the JJ. just from looking at it.

Rocker Profile

This is another place where the ARV 116 differs from the JJ and JJ 2.0. The rocker profile is much less drastic, it looks more similar to the ARV 106 than the old JJ 2.0. The rocker lines do extend further down the tip and tail of the ski than the ARV 106, but it’s not as drastic as the old JJ 2.0, or skis like the K2 Catamaran. Overall it looks like a versatile rocker profile, it might not be as quick to plane and surf as the JJ 2.0, but it may help the ski stay more composed in variable snow.

Mount Point

The ARV 116 has two mount lines, one at -2.5, and one at -6 cm. That’s reminiscent of Atomic and Line’s playful pow skis which also feature two lines — the more forward point is usually the “team line,” where pros who are spinning and jibbing would mount it, while the -6 mount is recommended for more traditional skiers. We’re going to start our testing with the ARV 116 mounted at the more forward line, and will then experiment with mount points.

A Few Questions

We’ll be posting an on-snow review of the ARV 116 JJ from Mt Bachelor, but here are a few of the questions we’ll be looking to answer:

  • How does the ARV 116 compare to the JJ and JJ 2.0? Is it more versatile? Significantly less playful? Significantly more stable (especially in variable conditions)?
  • How does the ARV 116 fit into the ARV line? Does it feel like a wider ARV 106, or like a totally different ski?
  • How noticeable is the 3D Base technology in the tips and tails?
  • How does the ARV 116 compare to the current crop of playful powder skis?

Bottom Line (For Now)

Armada made a big move by eliminating the JJ line and expanding the ARV line for next season. But the new ARV 116 JJ looks very promising, and we’re excited to get it on snow later this week!

NEXT: Full Review

4 Comments

  1. Nikita June 2, 2017 Reply

    Cy,

    What you described here is 99% what I felt when I was riding original JJ 2.0. Looks like tip and tail splay is a bit less agressive now? Looking forward for the comparison with the original jj’s!

  2. Knizepan June 20, 2017 Reply

    Can you comment on the mount point? You mention it in the preview, but I can’t see it being discussed in the full review. Also, is there any chance to get someone of your more directional guys on the longest version (maybe new AK JJ)?

    • Cy Whitling June 20, 2017 Reply

      Knizepan,

      I started out with it at the -2.5 mount, and really liked it there, it felt balanced without feeling too short. The demo bindings won’t go all the way back to the other -6 cm mount point with my BSL, so I haven’t ridden it there yet, I did take a few laps at -4 cm and didn’t notice too much of a difference though.

      And that’s an interesting note on the longer version, it would probably be a very good comparison ski to skis like the 192 Bent Chetler, which some of our more directional skiers have liked.

      • Knizepan June 20, 2017 Reply

        Thanks for super fast response Cy.

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