2016 Volkl Kendo Ski Review // Ski Reviews
Between the Blizzard Bonafide, Nordica Enforcer, and the Volkl Kendo (just to name a few) it seems as though 2016, at least for many companies, is a year of change. It can often be a little scary from a skier’s perspective when our favorite skis go under the knife and come out a different animal, but despite our reservations, it’s usually for the best.
You may be worried that in changing the Kendo, Volkl has taken away from its high performance feel. What many of us loved about the Kendo was its ability to hold an edge through a very aggressive carving turn, yet was still versatile enough to ski the whole mountain. Does the 2016 version have the same ability? Is it better? Will it hold an edge as well? These were the questions we set out to answer.
First of all, let’s take a look at the differences. As far as core construction goes, there aren’t any significant differences. The ski still boasts a full wood core, vertical sidewalls, and a metal top sheet. In looking at the sidecut and rocker profile, however, we start to see some differences. The 2015 Kendo has dimensions of 126/89/110. The 2016 Kendo has sidecut dimensions of 127/90/110. Not a huge difference, but when combined with the other changes to the ski, we start to see a subtle difference in performance. The most visually noticeable difference to the 2016 Kendo is the addition of early taper in the tip of the ski. This moves the widest point of the ski back towards its waist. Doing so while also increasing tip and waist dimensions means we end up with a smaller turn radius on the 2016 version than previous years. At the 177cm length the 2015 Kendo had a 22.6m turn radius, while the 2016 has decreased to 20.8m.
What this means is a quicker turn overall, even if only slightly. It is, however, noticeable. We enjoyed the shorter, quicker turn radius of the 2016 Kendo and think that it changes on piste performance for the better. The shorter turn radius combined with early taper and tip rocker means not only are turns slightly shorter and quicker, but turn initiation is also much easier. Combine that with the addition of tail rocker and you’ve got a high performing ski that’s as forgiving as you can ask for.
In past seasons the Kendo, even though it had a rockered tip profile, required a fair amount of forward turn initiation, which made it feel almost like a wide GS ski. With the new tip shape and addition of tail rocker, turn initiation can be made much more laterally than previous models. Skiers will find that simply rolling over their ankles and shifting weight laterally will initiate a beautiful carving turn. Not all of us, however, are worried about the ease of turn initiation. What about those of us worried the new Kendo won’t be as powerful?
Well, you can throw those concerns right out the window. Despite being “easier” to ski, the 2016 Kendo still absolutely rips. If you want to make a hard charging, carving turn, the ski will respond accordingly. Edge grip and the amount of power in the ski seem to be just as good as previous versions. If anything it’s a more rewarding ski as you don’t have to put quite as much effort into it to get the same result as the older model Kendo.
What about off piste you might ask? On paper the 2016 Kendo should have improved performance in soft and variable snow conditions, and it most certainly does. The ski has a much more playful feeling than previous years, inspiring confidence in bowls, moguls, and especially tight trees. If the old Kendo had a downside, it was the amount of effort you had to put into the ski to get it to make quick, pivoting turns. The addition of tail rocker and early taper on the makes it much easier to release the ski from its edge, giving it a much more nimble feel. In soft snow, where the old Kendo was fighting you, the new Kendo knows just want you want to do and is one step ahead of you.
We were pleasantly surprised how well it performed in every condition we pointed it towards; it’s definitely a ski that inspires confidence.
All skiers (intermediate to expert) will enjoy the new feel of the Kendo. For anyone who was worried that the ski wouldn’t be as powerful as previous versions, rest assured you can still ski the Kendo just as hard as you could before. For those who felt the older Kendo was a little too much ski, and perhaps somewhat overpowering at times, give it another try. You’ll be happy to find it’s easier to ski, while still retaining the benefits of a relatively stiff ski with metal in its construction. Most notably, perhaps, is the increased performance in soft snow. Its ability in moguls, tight trees, soft snow, and other variable conditions is vastly improved upon over previous models. Could it be a one ski quiver? For those of us on the east coast, the new 2016 Kendo can handle all put the deepest of powder days. If you’re a western skier, chances are you’ll want sometime wider if you’re after the one ski quiver, but the Kendo would make an excellent daily driver for those with specific powder boards.