Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

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Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Sun Feb 28, 2021 3:47 pm

I skied this ski in the 180cm length for 2 days on my last trip to Montana. I own a pair of Kastle MX78 (now vintage skis) and I had demo'd the old MX88, MX84 and the monster MX98. All of these skis were super, GS like skis on groomers and either a little to stiff (MX78) definitely too stiff (MX88) or way to fricking stiff (MX98) for off-piste skiing at least for those that want to make slalom to GS turns off piste. For guys that want to go straight these were great skis. The shop guys at my mountain had told me that Kastle has been softening their skis over the years and then last week told me that this years models were by far the most user friendly. As an aside, Kastle in the past couple of years took their manufacturing in house and left their relationship with Head in Austria (who was making all their skis for them). Before taking the MX88 out I hand flexed it in the shop and I was quite surprised how friendly the flex was. The other thing that is immediately noticeable is that this is still sandwich construction ski but a less expensive design. My view was if it still arcs on the groomed and skis nicely off piste, maybe we have something here. Lastly on design, this is a true full cambered ski, with minimal tip rocker and a true flat tail.

To make a long story short, I absolutely loved this ski and I skied them non stop for two days and then ordered a pair. I own the Head Monster 88 which is a wonderful ski ( and I destroyed my pair early this season on some rocks). The Kastle has an 18.8m TR in the 180 length but it bends into a tighter arc than the 177 Monster 88 (stated TR is 16.8 I think) and the Kastle is less stiff than the Monster. I skied on groomers first for maybe 2 hours and I was continually amazed how tight I could arc the ski. TR felt like 15.5 ish and it wasn't all that much wider than what I can do on my Blossom white outs. Very similar in feel with regard to the flex pattern (between the Kastle 88 and White Out). Edge hold was excellent. But the real test was going to be off piste. I was stunned. these skis just rocked off piste, awesome flex pattern, quite forgiving. Conditions were mainly chop the day after a good sized dump and pow day the day before. I could not imagine a ski any better in these conditions than this one. They also seemed to want to go fast and at times I would notice how fricking fast I was booking and my mind would say "too fast" but I was continually able to navigate the terrain and bumps at this speed. After 2-3 runs like this I just started to ski way faster than I normally do (still making slalom turns but pointing into the fall line sooner and for longer).

So day 2 I did hit some conditions where I had a little trouble at first. We got some serious wind the night before and my first foray into some very heavy windbuff, I was not forward enough on some turns and the tails got stuck. Never fun!! But once I adjusted and made sure my weight was quite forward at the beginning of every arc, I didn't have another issue. Having said that, if I was skiing heavy windbuff all over the mountain, I might choose a different ski that day. This is a true flat tail and if the tail is weighted it will get stuck at times.

For those looking for an 88 waisted ski, that arcs great and is really friendly off piste, this is the best I have skied so far. This is definitely a ski for more advanced PMTS skiers. And as far as east coast goes it seems like it could be a decent east ski for fresh snow and then chop, but I don't ski on the east coast and I am the wrong guy to ask about those conditions. For sure on blue east coast ice, its not the ski of choice.

The obvious drawback on all Kastle skis (and Stockli's as well) is the price tag. These list for $1249 in season but you can usually get deals on Kastle skis at some point. When I look at the ski and the lower cost construction, I do think, damn they should not cost this much. But we do know from Head that the hollow tech in the tips adds about $200 to the cost of each ski, so some of their cost is justified. I was chatting with Heluva recently who owns a new pair of Liberty V82s. He said the construction is quite mediocre ( I will second that) but that for off piste skiing, many people buy and ski way too much ski. Wide GS skis are way too stiff for most mortals off piste. Even Harald hates skis this stiff off piste (and we know he can ski anything).

The skis I was on were mounted with Head Tyrolia Attack 13 demo bindings (which are called K something or other for Kastle). I will mount mine with PRD plates and put some old PRX bindings on it. Should be awesome!
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby dougtee » Sun Feb 28, 2021 8:25 pm

great write up! out of curiosity did you demo these in big sky and if yes where? might be there without skis and this would be a huge relief to have an out of the box pmts friendly all mountain solution.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby Jjmdane » Mon Mar 01, 2021 11:29 am

Can you,or anyone,compare them to the MX 89, the ski it replaced?
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Mon Mar 01, 2021 12:34 pm

I never skied the MX 89 but what I have been told is that the new 2021 MX 88 is less stiff and more user friendly. I have also been told that the MX 89 was a step in the right direction and more user friendly than the original MX line which was quite stiff.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:08 pm

dougtee wrote:great write up! out of curiosity did you demo these in big sky and if yes where? might be there without skis and this would be a huge relief to have an out of the box pmts friendly all mountain solution.


I didn't demo these at Big Sky and I have no idea if anyplace there carries them.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:44 am

I skied my new Kastle 88s for 3 days this past week. They are mounted with PRD plates and PRX bindings on the line. I again can't express how much I love these skis and how great they are for western all mountain skiing and as I said before they just rock on groomed terrain. They ski like a thinner Head RNR off piste (the RNR tail had a little rocker so a little more forgiving) but these are quicker edge to edge. On groomed terrain they are just a little more solid than the RNR because the Kasltle's have metal and the RNR did not and of course they are a good bit quicker. The RNRs bent easily and deeply so TR on groomed is only slightly tighter on the Kastles but they are just so solid on harder snow. They were also great in some of the bump runs I skied. Just a great ski and my go to everyday ski for most conditions up to a foot of fresh. I haven't tried them in 18"-2ft of fresh but I'm sure they would be great in that as well.

HH is coming out to ski with me next week. I will get him on these and get his thoughts and comments. I will also get to try his eOriginal SSs which should be fun.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby B.Mulligan » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:49 am

I've skied the original mx83, owned the outgoing mx84 and recently skied the new mx83, and it's the best of the breed. Sounds like the new mx88 is great for all the same reasons. The slightly friendlier tip and tail flex of the current models have gone a long way to making a ski that entered and exited a turn pretty smooth even smoother and a tad more relaxing.

Love to see how the Blossom Crosswind stacks up against these two new Kastles.

Good review, btw.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby ErikCO » Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:24 am

Thanks for the review! I'll probably keep an eye out for them on sale. I currently don't have a great off-piste ski (am generally using my White Outs in that capacity). Are the bindings the Kastle wants to sell with the ski (their K12 line) rebranded Tyrollia PRD/PRW bindings? They look like they are, but I can't find any confirmation.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:31 am

No they are Tyrolia Attack bindings that go on flat vs a plate with the PRDs. I think they ski better with the PRD plate and the added stack height. I also discussed this with Max501 and Heluva, both of whom prefer some sort of plate and the added stack height. The demo skis skied wonderfully with the Kastle Attack bindings but for me the PRDs ski better.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby njdiver85 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:48 am

Did you go with the split plate PRD system or the standard full plate? Also, what size brake?
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Wed Mar 17, 2021 11:54 am

Full, 95mm brake.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby dougtee » Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:07 am

would like to buy a pair of these, but trying to figure out the tyrolia / head equivalence. anyone able to point me to which tyrolia bindings would mirror jbotti's setup?
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby jbotti » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:28 am

They don't make the PRX bindings anymore. But the PRD's are pretty much the same just with a lower delta. Some people prefer the PRD. To be honest I am not sure I can tell the difference but at my height I pretty much always go for maximum Forward lean and delta. The PRD's come with plates and they are fully adjustable. This years models are compatible with Grip walk soles as well. Ebay and LevelNine Sports usually have them for sale.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby Max_501 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:33 pm

jbotti wrote:To be honest I am not sure I can tell the difference but at my height I pretty much always go for maximum Forward lean and delta.


I agree with John. It might make a difference in high speed bumps but I have my doubts.
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Re: Review: 2021 Kastle MX88

Postby ErikCO » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:37 pm

I don't want to disagree with folks who have more knowledge and experience than I do, but my experience has not exactly mirrored that of others when it comes to PRD vs PRX. The difference in delta between those two bindings (4-5mm vs 7-8mm if I remember what Diana has told me correctly) makes a significant difference in my skiing. Diana recommended changing from PRX to PRD bindings on my superahape speeds and it made a significant difference in my ability to bend the skis to different turn shapes and to be able to brush turns instead of just lock and ride. I am sure some of this is a lack of technique development on my part (and was several years ago) but since I am going through similar problems currently in trying to find a backcountry/AT boot and binding combination that work for me, I thought I would post here. It seems that there are at least a few of us who are very sensitive to for/aft balance adjustments (combination of forward lean, ramp angle, and delta), so if you are trying a ski that a good PMTS skier has reviewed positively and are having a bad time with it, you may be one of us unfortunates who needs very specific binding/boot combinations.

For myself, I have given up (at least for now) skiing anything but a PRD/powerrail or a Freeflex/plate binding. The combination of a 4-4.5mm delta with a 16 degree forward lean in my RS130s works well for me and if I deviate much from it, my skiing or my fatigue level suffer. Others may not have the same experience, but that is mine, and my experience is validated by external observation. That was actually the reason for my earlier post in this thread. If the bindings the MX88 wad being sold with were a rebranded PRD, I would get a ski/binding combination. If not, I want a ski with no binding so I can mount something I know works for me and my body proportions.
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