2018-2019 Nordica Promachine 130

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Nordica Promachine 130 for Blister

Nordica Promachine 130

Boot: Nordica Promachine 130 (18/19)

Stated Flex: 130

Available Sizes: 24.0-30.5

Stated Last (size 26.5): 98 mm

Stated Forward Lean: 13°

Size Tested: 26.5

Stated Boot Sole Length: 305 mm

Blister’s Measured Weight (26.5):

  • Shells, no liners: 1428 & 1428 g
  • Liners, no footbeds, no spoilers: 444 & 445 g
  • Removable Spoilers: 18 & 18 g
  • Shells + Liners + Spoilers = 1890 & 1891 g

Buckles: 4 micro-adjustable; removable with standard Phillips screws

Powerstrap: 45 mm Velcro w/ “Power Driver” reinforcement

Shell Material:

  • Cuff: PU
  • Shoe / Clog: PU

Soles: GripWalk + replaceable Alpine ISO 5355 soles in box

Binding Compatibility:

  • With GripWalk soles: GripWalk-compatible bindings
  • With Alpine soles: all standard alpine bindings

MAP: $749

Intro

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past two years, you’ve probably seen the massive influx of lightweight touring boots flooding the market.

But while boots with fancy new walk modes may have received a lot of attention, the overall industry trend of things getting lighter has also spread to dedicated inbounds boots.

First, there was the Atomic Hawx Ultra, then K2 announced that they were making an even lighter alpine boot, the Recon. And now Nordica is entering the lightweight alpine boot category with their brand-new Promachine line.

What Nordica says about the Promachine Series:

“We took the all-day comfort and all-mountain versatility of our award winning Speedmachine, and fused it with the DNA of our world cup winning Dobermann. The result: the power you demand. The comfort you need.”

In sum, the Promachine is supposed to be more comfortable and versatile than a race boot (i.e., not only limited to bashing gates), but it’s also supposed to deliver the precision and power of a race boot.

This sounds exactly like the marketing copy of most ski boots that have a 130-flex rating and a low-volume fit. And furthermore, we still mostly live in a world where you get to pick one: Comfort or Precision. So what’s the real story here: is this new Promachine just a slightly-lighter boot that is either slightly more powerful for a really comfortable boot? Or is it slightly more comfortable than most of the really precise, powerful boots out there? What is this thing?

Spoiler alert: It’s not what I was expecting. And it’s far more interesting than I was expecting.

The Lineup of Promachine Boots

The boot I’ve been reviewing is the Promachine 130, but Nordica will be making several boots in their new Promachine line for 18/19. Men’s boots include the Promachine 130 GW, 120 GW, 120, and 110, with the “GW” signifying boots that come with GripWalk soles attached and traditional alpine soles in the box (the other boots only come with traditional alpine soles).

The women’s boots include the Promachine 115 W GW, 105 W, 95 W, and 85 W. We know our female reviewers are personally very excited about the Promachine 115 W GW, since it looks like a good option for women that want a stiffer boot in a women’s-specific fit.

Weight + Comparisons

As we noted earlier, the Promachine is one of many new alpine boots that are coming in lighter than most traditional inbounds boots.

For reference, here are our measured weights for some other notable boots in this class, as well as some more traditional alpine boots to give an idea of the weight differences. Our measured weights show the mondo size of the boot, then the weight of each shell. Then the weight of each liner. Then the total weight for shells + liners, listed in grams:

Head Nexo LYT 130 (26.5): 1082 & 1089 + 427 & 436 = 1509 & 1525 g
K2 Recon 130 LV (26.5): 1276 & 1277 + 369 & 374 = 1645 & 1651 g
Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 (26.5): 1270 & 1267 + 425 & 426 = 1695 & 1693 g
Salomon S/Max 130 Carbon (26.5): 1291 & 1292 + 445 & 446 = 1736 & 1738 g
Salomon S/Max 130 (26.5): 1389 & 1407 + 433 & 429 = 1822 & 1836 g
Nordica Promachine 130 (26.5): 1428 & 1428 + 444 & 445 = 1890 & 1891 g
Head Raptor 140 RS (26.5): 1892 & 1899 + 547 & 548 = 2439 & 2447 g

So while the Promachine 130 is coming in lighter (or much lighter) than traditional inbounds boots like the Raptor 140 RS, Lange RX LV, and Tecnica Mach 1 LV, it’s on the heavier end compared to very light alpine boots like the Head Nexo 130, Atomic Hawx Ultra 130, and K2 Recon 130.

And this immediately raised for me the question of just how powerful this lighter Promachine 130 would actually be — would it:

(a) Be able to compete in terms of power with the best heavier boots (HEAD Raptor, Lange RX, or Tecnica Mach 1)?

(b) Have the nice, progressive flex of the best heavier boots?

Or,

(c) Would it maybe be a nice, lighter, comfortable boot, but nothing that anyone who actually truly values power and precision (e.g., Nordica Dobermann wearers) would actually find acceptable?

More on these questions later.

Heat-Moldable Shell

The Promachine line features what Nordica calls their “Tri Force Matrix Frame Construction.” While that may sound like the name of something the Power Rangers use to defeat space robots, it’s really just what Nordica calls their hybrid shell technology.

The Promachine 130 uses a softer PU material over the instep (shown in white below) to make getting into and out of the boot easier, then a stiffer PU material throughout the front of the cuff and the upper part of the shoe / clog of the boot (shown in black below), and an even stiffer PU in the spine and lower shoe (shown in red below).

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Nordica Promachine 130 for Blister

Nordica Tri Force Matrix Frame Construction

The idea is that you get support from the stiffest material where you need it, and then the slightly softer PU is more malleable and can be molded and modified using Nordica’s “Tri-Fit Customization” process. This process uses infrared heat to specifically heat the problem areas without having to heat (and potentially deform / damage) other parts of the shell.

Nordica says the Promachine’s shell can be expanded from 98 mm to 102 mm, which should make it a more viable option for a broader range of skiers.

Liner

The Promachine 130 features Nordica’s 3D Cork Fit liner. The liner uses cork in the ankle area that’s supposed to mold to your foot without any heat / molding. But the liner can also still be heat-molded for an even quicker and more precise fit.

The Promachine 130’s liner also uses Isotherm and Primaloft insulation, and Nordica is claiming that the liner will keep your feet warmer and drier than traditional liners.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Nordica Promachine 130 for Blister

Nordica Promachine 130 — Liner

In terms of how the liner feels, it’s fairly beefy for being pretty light. Compared to the Salomon S/Max 130 and S/Max 130 Carbon, the Promachine 130’s liner feels a bit more plush and comfortable. In other words, it doesn’t seem like Nordica skimped out on the liner to bring down the weight of the Promachine 130.

Buckles

Nothing crazy here, just 4 traditional, micro-adjustable buckles. But it’s worth noting that all of the buckles on the Promachine 130 are adjustable / removable with a standard Phillips-head screwdriver, which is a nice touch.

Power Strap

The Promachine 130 GW and 120 GW feature a standard 45 mm velcro power strap. But both boots also have Nordica’s “Power Driver,” which is essentially a wider plastic piece that sits between the boot cuff and the power strap. This is designed to distribute shin pressure more evenly and deliver a more powerful flex.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Nordica Promachine 130 for Blister

Nordica Promachine 130 — “Power Driver” Power Strap

Full disclosure: when I first saw this big, plastic piece on the power strap, I thought it looked really dumb, and I couldn’t imagine it would actually do anything.

Another spoiler alert: I’m not prepared to say that it clearly distributes shin pressure more evenly, but I will say that this is definitely a strong, powerful boot. And I believe that this plastic-cage-looking thing is contributing to this stiffness.

Soles

The Promachine 130 comes with GripWalk soles mounted on it, and standard ISO 5355 alpine soles included in the box. The soles are replaceable, and the GripWalk soles use a Michelin rubber that’s nice and firm, but still grippier than traditional plastic soles. When it comes to alpine boots with rubber soles, we really prefer firmer rubber soles, since softer ones tend to very quickly get chewed up on stairs, parking lots, etc.

And while more and more binding companies are making GripWalk-compatible options, we’re glad that Nordica includes standard alpine soles with the Promachine 130 so that you don’t have to immediately go out and buy new soles or bindings.

Cuff / Ramp Adjustment

The Promachine 130 has standard cuff-alignment adjustment points at the ankle rivets. We’re still working on confirming exactly how much adjustment you can achieve with just the ankle rivets, but we know that you will be able to get a bit of leeway on either side.

The Promachine 130’s boot board features 1 mm increment markings to make it easier for your bootfitter to adjust the ramp angle (the Promachine 130’s standard ramp angle is 5°) and adjust the instep volume.

Fit

As always, we encourage you (read: insist) that you go to a trusted bootfitter to decide what boot will work best for your foot. But with that said I will offer a quick take on how the Promachine 130 feels on my feet.

My Feet:

  • Length (Left & Right): 271 & 274 mm
  • Width (Left & Right): 100 & 99 mm
  • Instep Height (L & R): 79 mm & 75 mm (The Boot Doctor’s Charlie Bradley describes this as a “high arch / high instep” — on a scale of 1-10, he calls my arch / instep a 8 or 9).
  • Charlie also notes about my feet: Fairly stable, solid platform. A bit of pronation. A good amount of ankle range of motion (aka, “dorsiflexion”).

While Nordica talks up the comfort of this boot, know that the Promachine 130 has a legitimately-low-volume fit. It feels quite narrow through the mid-section / instep / arch area, noticeably more so than the Lange RX 130. The Promachine 130 feels similarly low-volume to the Salomon S/Max 130 and Salomon S/Max 130 Carbon before heat molding, though the Promachine 130 feels a bit narrower in the toe box.

When it comes to instep height, the Nordica Pro Machine is roomier than the S/Max 130 and S/Max 130 Carbon (though, to be clear, these new S/Max boots are two of the lowest instep heights of any boots I’ve used in the past couple of years, so it’s safe to say that the Promachine 130 has a low-volume instep height).

Point is, if you’re looking for a truly legit “LV” fit in your lighterweight inbounds boot, the Promachine could be a good option. Normally when I hear a company talk about how comfortable a boot is, I tend to lose interest, because “comfortable” is increasingly a code word for, “fits like a bucket.” And while there is absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever with choosing a roomier, truly comfortable boot, that comfort is usually going to come at the cost of some power and precision. Point is, skiers who prefer a “performance fit” should definitely not dismiss this boot. It’s a very legit LV.

Bottom Line (For Now)

We wanted to get some initial information out on this boot, and I’ll be saying more about it — and a number of 130-flex boots that are new for the 18/19 season — soon.

But while Nordica has shaved off some weight on this Pro Machine, this is not — in any sense — some dumbed-down boot. This is a true low-volume fit. And this is a legit “130” flex. So while I will be saying more about the flex pattern in my full review, for now, know that if you are someone who doesn’t really need a 130 boot but tends to buy them for ego-stroking reasons, you will likely be getting more boot than you bargained for.

We’ll be saying a whole lot more in our full review, so while we put that together feel free to drop in any questions or things you’d like us to address in the Comment section below.

4 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    John July 16, 2018 Reply

    I would very much like to know how this new boot compares to the Nordica Dobermann GP (Grand Prix) 130, aside from weight. It seems like it may almost take that boot’s place at a lighter weight (98mm last, cork moldable fit and all), but not sure. Look forward to hearing more about these boots. Thanks.

  2. Fabrizio August 2, 2018 Reply

    How would you compare the instep height to the Atomic Hawx Ultra ? I already know the ultra is a bit more forgiving than the smax but still a bit tight for me

  3. mark September 11, 2018 Reply

    How do these boots compare overall to last years Nordica GPX? It seems that is the model they are replacing.
    Would you buy the GPX at a clearance price or are these worth the extra cost?

  4. Andy September 22, 2018 Reply

    Just bought these today. Coming out of Rx130. Tried on Mach 1 130 and Rx130 as well all with my custom graphite low volume orthotics. Those last two felt almost too comfortable out of the box and would definitely need to be shimmed when they pack out in 3-5 days. The pro machine was definitely more snug but more comfortable in a strange way. They will pack out nicely I hope and I might need my 5th met styloid and navicular punched out but the heat molding helped. The tongues were very comfortable. The pro machine has a noticeable stiffer flex and yes I know the PE Lange shell will stiffen in the cold. Very happy with my purchase. Time will tell

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