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2017-2018 Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon

Paul Forward reviews the Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon for Blister

Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon

Ski: 2017-2018 Black Diamond Helio 116 Carbon, 186 cm

Available Lengths: 166, 176, 186 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.4 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 1650 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1654 & 1682 grams

Stated Dimensions: 145-116-126 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 145.0-115.9-125.1 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius: 25 meters

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 67 mm / 16 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3.0-3.5 mm

Core: Balsa/Flax + Pre-Preg Carbon Fiber Laminate

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -9.2 cm from center; 84.0 cm from tail

Intro

Welcome to 2018, everybody. To kick the year off on a hopeful, optimistic note, we thought we’d present this First Look of the Black Diamond Helio 116, a big, fat touring ski, in the hopes that we’ll all find a few deep pow stashes this year.

Black Diamond calls the Helio 116, “an ultralight powder ski with the chops for serious technical lines.”

And “ultralight” is a fair description…

Weight

For comparison, here are a few of our measured weights (in grams) for some similar skis:

1424 & 1438 DPS Wailer 112 Tour1, 178 cm
1622 (avg) DPS Lotus 124 Tour1, 185 cm
1654 & 1682 Black Diamond Helio 116, 186 cm
1816 & 1872 G3 SENDr 112, 188 cm
1862 & 1873 Faction Prime 4.0, 185 cm
1903 & 1929 Moment Bibby Tour, 184 cm
1910 & 1941 Scott Scrapper 115, 189 cm
1922 & 1958 Volkl BMT 122, 186 cm
1959 & 1975 Volkl V-Werks Katana, 184 cm
2161 & 2163 Faction Dictator 4.0, 186 cm

So yeah, those DPS Tour1 construction skis are ridiculously light, but aside from those two skis, nothing else we’ve reviewed is really in the same ballpark.

The Helio 116 is definitely light, but what about the rest of Black Diamond’s claim, that the ski has “the chops for serious technical lines”?

Flex Pattern

BD says that the Helio 116 has an “ultralight, engineered, balsa flax wood core with a pre-preg carbon fiber layup for torsional stiffness and balanced flex.” They also say that the ski is intended for 90% soft snow use, 10% firm snow.

In terms of how that translates to a hand flex of the ski, we’d describe the flex pattern like this:

Tips: 5.5-6
Shovels: 6-7
In front of Toe Piece: 8-9
Underfoot: 10
Behind Heel piece: 9
Tails: 8.5-9

The shovels of the Helio 116 are pretty soft, and the ski — with its 145mm-wide-shovels — should easily plane up in deep snow. But all of the skis listed above that are heavier than the Helio 116 all have stiffer shovels, though not necessarily stiffer tails.

Point is, while the Helio 116 might do fine on “serious technical lines,” our hunch is that those serious lines better have pretty soft, forgiving snow. For less-good snow, we’d probably be inclined to go with one of the stiffer, heavier skis listed above … but once we get out on these, we’ll be able to address this.

The other thing to note here is that the flex pattern of the narrower Black Diamond Helio 105 is very similar. Both skis have about 3 mm of traditional camber underfoot, and the Helio 116 has a bit more tip & tail splay than the Helio 105.

Questions

While the Helio 105 didn’t blow us away by its performance in any single category, we thought it fared pretty well in a range of conditions. So will the Helio 116 be a similarly good all-arounder? Or will it be best reserved for touring in deep, good snow?

Bottom Line

By the specs, the Black Diamond Helio 116 should be an excellent tool for longer tours or fast laps on deep days — it would be quite surprising if that isn’t true. So really, our two biggest questions are (a) how well the ski holds up to serious, technical lines, and how well the ski holds up to more dense, variable snow.

These skis are on there way to Alaska, where reviewer Paul Forward will be able to answer both of those questions. Stay tuned.

NEXT: Rocker Profile Pictures

5 Comments

  1. Vale January 2, 2018 Reply

    About flex pattern part in your reviews. What do you mean by “Underfoot”? I always thought that it’s somewhere near boot mid-mark. But order of #3 and #4 a bit confusing

    #1 Tips: 5.5-6
    #2 Shovels: 6-7
    #3 In front of Heel Piece: 8-9
    #4 Underfoot: 10
    #5 Behind Heel piece: 9
    #6 Tails: 8.5-9

    • Author

      Hi, Vale – apologies, there was a typo in the review, which has now been fixed.

      By underfoot I mean (broadly speaking) the center of the ski — or roughly, between the bindings. So that would include the midsole mark.

      So from #1 – #6, I mean to identify the flex pattern as it moves from the very tip of the ski on back to the end of the tail. Tips -> Shovels -> Front of Toe Piece -> Underfoot -> Behind Heel Piece -> Tails

      • Vale January 3, 2018 Reply

        Thanks, now it is clear! It would be useful if you describe (or even better – show) someday the procedure how you check the flex, cause everybody do it in his own way

  2. Carl January 2, 2018 Reply

    I wish these came in a 192 as they sound like fun. Looking forward to the review anyway.

  3. Cody January 7, 2018 Reply

    Got to demo these guys at Alpine Meadows on Saturday in some seriously saturated snow (hot pow) and REALLY dug them. I have some BD Amperages (now the Boundary), and it felt just familiar enough to what I liked in that model while improving on it in every way I would have liked. Their on piste/ harder snow performance seemed much better even with dropping a ton of weight. The tails felt better, couldn’t really tell you exactly what made it better though. Loved the light weight for jump turning in some of the narrow short couloirs at Alpine.

    Didn’t really test any “top end” abilities of it.

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