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2nd Look: 2014-2015 Volkl Bridge, 179cm

Review of the Vokl Bridge, Blister Gear Review

14/15 Volkl Bridge

Ski: Volkl Bridge, 179cm

Dimensions (mm): 128-95-115

Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 176.5cm

Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Dragon  120 / Marker Jester (DIN at 9)

Mount Location: factory recommended

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley

Days Skied: 8

(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Bridge, which is unchanged for 13/14, and 14/15, except for the graphics.)

These days, there are two things that deserve the preoccupation of skiers: the search for the Higgs Boson in particle physics, and the quest for that mythical, One ski that can perform well in all conditions.

Why? Well, the Higgs gives the universe mass, which makes gravity—and thus skiing—possible. But why the other? Why do we need to limit ourselves to a single, all purpose ski?

We’re all familiar with the trade-offs that such a one-ski solution must overcome: fatness and float versus edge-to-edge quickness and rotational turning radius. So why don’t we just grab from the quiver the right ski for the day at hand? It’s simple: snow conditions change relentlessly, from run to run and from hour to hour throughout the day. So while we can never make the same turn twice (which sounds more philosophical than it should), it’s equally true that the same pair of skis must often carry us through an ever-changing snowscape.

You might start out on a fresh eight inches, but the reason you don’t just bring out the big boys is because you know that within a few hours you’ll be skiing packed out powder bumps, perhaps with an icy lining, and of course they’ve already groomed the run-outs for high-speed motoring.

Then there’s the “day after,” or powder hangover, when you come back for more the following day and find your favorite side stash guarded by a southeast facing mine field of crud ruts (probably your own). Now you need a ski that’s stiff enough and has enough contact on the snow to save your ass.

Obviously, then, the search for a multi-talented, “all mountain” ski is more than an interesting engineering problem, or a product in search of a market. It’s real-world driven.

The folks at Volkl have addressed this need with their most popular free-skiing model, the Bridge. My current thinking is that the narrowest underfoot waist for a ski providing comfort and flotation in powder (not to mention exhilaration) is 95 to 100 mm. Conversely, the widest ski that can still allow credible bump skiing without a deformation of style is around 105. (To establish that limit, I went out and tried some 105 K2 Kung Fujas on hard bumps. They felt bloated.)

The Bridge, at 128-95-115, is at the narrower end of this all-mountain, all-condition sweet spot. Its turning radius, at 20.7 for the 179s, is not unusual. This is no frontside carver. What is different for a ski of such modest dimensions is that it is fully, although very gradually, rockered tip and tail, with no camber underfoot. That’s a powder configuration usually (though not exclusively—c.f. Will Brown’s review of the Rossignol’s Scimitar)—reserved for skis at least ~110mm and up.

My first day on the Bridge was a scenario much like the one described above, with a beautiful but by no means bottomless powder coating (I’d say eight inches, max). The remarkable thing is that on the first few runs down Taos’ famous Longhorn, I never felt bottom. The ski floated free and fast and encouraged that release from all inhibitions that makes powder skiers act like snowboarders.

Better yet, I smoked my friend “HD” (He who works at a certain big orange building supply store.) “Wow, what’s gotten into you? What are you on?” (Rest assured: no drugs were involved in this or any other test.)

Now I can’t say that I wouldn’t have had even more fun riding on something fatter than the Bridge, but on that powder morning, I didn’t happen to see anyone fly by me on the fun scale (certainly not HD).

An added bonus of a powder ski this small and light is that it remains fairly maneuverable in tight quarters; turns are natural and stressless, but also precise if need be. This confidence translates into bagging narrow, tight-tree powder shots once the obvious first-track lines are exhausted.

5 Comments

  1. Angus Grizzly January 5, 2012 Reply

    Hi John, thanks for a great review. I am thinking of picking up a pair of 179 Bridges and it would be great to get your thoughts on mounting position, I see you say at factory recommended for your test while Will had his mounted at +3. I assume for your test it was set at the freeride setting rather than the freestyle setting? I am 5’10”, 165lbs and don’t plan to do much in the park. I need to deal with some hard bumps and tight trees as well as more open faces and although I will do a bit of switch and jibbing around, that is not really my thing. What do you reckon?

    Cheers.

    AG

  2. Grant April 20, 2014 Reply

    I demoed four pair of skis at Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon last Friday, including the Bridges. I loved them so much I’m buying the last pair they have, which are the demos. They just ski everything effortlessly. One thing I noticed is that the previous week when I skied, I left at 2:00 PM because the snow had gotten so wet and heavy. WIth the Bridges, I skied until closing (at 4:00 PM), and loved every minute of it.

    I’m 5’11’, 165 lbs., and am getting the 187 cm length Bridge. I had absolutely no trouble turning or maneuvering, and loved the stability at the faster speeds. The pair of Rossignols I’ve been skiing on until now are about 165 cm, and I don’t notice any difference in maneuverability. I would strongly recommend this length for anyone 5″9″ or taller. Of course the best thing you can do is demo them first. Different strokes for different folks, but for me the 187 length was golden. I have NEVER had so much fun on a pair of skis. So much control on every type of snow. Smooth and almost effortless to ski on. They felt like magic! Don’t be scared of going with a longer length unless, perhaps, you’re a big mogul skier. The Vlokl Mantras get a good review, too, so that’s another option. But for me, I’ve found my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

  3. Rick October 18, 2014 Reply

    Looking for recommendations on length. I am 6′ tall, 210-220 depending on how many margaritas I’ve been drinking. I live on a small mountain in Northern Idaho far far from any demo skis. Have a set of Volkl 170cm AC-3 Unlimiteds as my primaries. These are really stiff titanium layered skis and I love the ability to grab an edge and hold it on ice, hard pack, fresh groomed or whatever. I love to switch, and play in the half pipe. I absolutely hate powder on these – feels like a couple of knife edges under me and submarine are us is the motto.

    The Bridge seems like the perfect ski for me to go play in the fresh powder, crud and park. I’m an old guy at 57 going on 14, well, at least have old knees, but ski lots as a ski patroller and need something else for soft days. If I want to go fast I’ll do it on the AC-3s. I want to go less fast and play in the soft stuff. Lots of switching, lots of trees, lots of powder. Question is, 179s or 187s? 179s are not actually longer than my current skis, what with the twins. 187 seems LONG though.

    Thanks!

  4. Aleix April 15, 2015 Reply

    Hey dudes! I’m interested in buying Volkl Bride, but I have a big question in my mind… I want an allmountain skis, freeriding, powder but I also want a ski for freestyling, low weight, ripping at the park, some rails and throw tricks in natural jumps (360, 540, shifty, back front….)
    Would you recommend this skis to me?
    Tnhks!

    • Rick April 15, 2015 Reply

      I ended up getting Armada JJs after driving around in a set of Bridges. The Bridge is fine, but a heavy ski. The JJs are a lot lighter, more playful and LOTS easier to horse around on. I couldn’t be happier. The Bridge feeling was very solid at higher speeds, but heavier and not nearly as playful.

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