The RTM 81 is part of Volkl’s “Ride the Mountain” collection, although is arguably best considered a “versatile frontside carving ski”. While its 81 mm waist width can handle some off-piste terrain, most of its design is focused on performance on firm snow. For those that want to increase ability off-piste there are wider RTM models like the 84 and 86, although even those skis are most intended for use on firm snow. The RTM 81, 84, and 86 all use Volkl’s 3D.Ridge technology which reduces overall weight while retaining torsional stiffness and strength in a centrally located strip. Not only did our testers get to try them on firm, groomed conditions, they also ventured off the piste to test their versatility. All our testers were on the 177 cm length.
Joe Cutts didn’t get to ski the RTM 81 until late in the afternoon on a relatively warm day. He thought they were refreshingly fun to ski for a carving ski with metal in it. “After skiing the heavier, racier models in this category, this one was a welcome relief for sloppy afternoon conditions.” Compared to some other carving skis with similar waist widths Joe thought the RTM 81 was “snappier and easier to ski.” He described them as being very “light and quick” and thought they did quite well in softer snow for a ski with an 81 mm waist width.
Michael Rooney thought the RTM 81 was impressively quiet and was very balanced. He commented, “while you would think this ski would turn on a dime, and you’d be right, the surprise is it stays on the snow even in choppy conditions.” We think the combination of light overall weight and this relatively smooth, damp performance is a perfect choice for advanced intermediate skiers looking to improve their technique and ability. While it never feels overpowering, the RTM 81 still delivers high-end performance. Michael certainly seemed to agree, ending his review by calling the RTM 81 a “good upper intermediate ski.”
Mike Thomas gave the RTM 81 5 out of 5 for quickness, playfulness, and forgiveness. Mike is a big, aggressive skier who is used to skiing very powerful skis. At his size and level of aggressiveness the RTM 81 just wasn’t quite enough ski for high speed, powerful skiing, but very few of us ski like Mike Thomas. Mike also has an incredible ability to accurately describe a ski, even one that’s not particularly right for him: “For a frontside skier who is improving from intermediate to expert or a light weight, less aggressive skier.”
Matt McGinnis, being much lighter and less aggressive than Mike in terms of driving a ski into a carving turn, had a different reaction to the ski. “Yet another RTM ski that does its job effortlessly. Just like the 84 and 86, the 81 is designed to be a versatile frontside ski. Unlike the 84 and 86, the 81 is also intended to be a bit softer and more approachable than its two fatter brothers.” He went on to describe his reaction to the ski: “It was easy to ski, predictable, and perhaps most importantly lively. This ski would make an excellent choice for intermediate to advanced-intermediate skiers who take a more playful approach to skiing groomed slopes.” Matt did comment that at high speeds the RTM 81 can “chatter a bit on fast hardpack,” but that’s why Volkl gives us skis like the RTM 84, 86, and the Code series. If you want the ultimate in high speed carving, there is a different ski.
Overall, however, the RTM 81 delivers excellent performance on groomed slopes and even in some light off-piste terrain. As our testers seemed to agree, we do think the RTM 81 is best suited for intermediate to advanced-intermediate skiers, although even the expert skiers who tested them were quite impressed.