2020 Black Crows Orb

The Black Crows Orb has been totally redesigned for the 2020 ski season. It’s designed more for all-mountain versatility than ever before, and is intended to be accessible to a wider ranger of skier styles and ability levels. The Orb uses an 88 mm waist width, long classic camber underfoot, and tip rocker. The 21 m turn radius is a versatile turn shape that should satisfy lots of different skiers. The Orb has always been more frontside-focused than a lot of Black Crows’ skis, and to retain that nature Black Crows has integrated an “H-shaped” double titanal layer. That means you get full-width metal underfoot, and then that metal extends along the edges of the ski. This construction is designed to maintain stability and vibration-damping when you have the ski on edge, but also allows the ski to be lighter weight than it would be with full sheets of metal.

Dave Carter tested the 174.3 cm length and was impressed by performance of the Orb. High scores for the Orb from Dave for stability, quickness/maneuverability, playfulness, torsional stiffness/edge grip, versatility, and overall impression. Flotation and forgiveness were the only scores to drop below 4 out of 5. “Good high-speed cruiser. Stable and predictable at speed.” It’s nice to know that despite not using full sheets of metal, Dave still found plenty of stability at higher speeds. He also thought it felt “fairly versatile,” and that it felt “agile enough for trees.”

Brad Schauerman hopped on the 179.1 cm length during our Ski Test. He was more impressed by the ski’s maneuverability than its stability at speed, which is a performance characteristic Black Crows was focused on achieving with this new version of the Orb. “This seemed super versatile. Makes lots of turn shapes easily. Just doesn’t quite have the guts to ski too aggressively.” We know from Dave’s feedback that some skiers will find plenty of stability in the Orb. It basically comes down to how aggressively you want to ski it. If you’re a real speed demon and you’re looking for endless stability at speed, you may want a slightly heavier ski with full sheets of metal, but this is going to satisfy the majority of skiers in terms of stability and vibration damping.

Phil McGrory was another tester who found tons of maneuverability in the Orb and had a really good time testing it. Like Brad, Phil skied the 179.1 cm length, which he did mention felt a little bit short. Phil’s relatively tall, and we know he was on some longer lengths throughout our test, so perhaps he would have preferred skiing the 184.6 cm Orb. Phil thought it felt “lightweight” and that it had “easy turn initiation.” The tip rocker on the Orb and the fact that the “H” shaped metal allows for some flexibility in the tip and tail combine to give it a very smooth feel when initiating turns. Phil did add an interesting note that he preferred it in softer snow conditions. Black Crows’ skis in general feel like they prefer soft snow over boilerplate groomers, so that’s not too surprising, especially considering Phil had tested some much narrower frontside carving skis during our test.

Skiers looking for a fun, versatile all mountain ski should definitely check out the Orb. It has the power and stability to satisfy all but the most aggressive skiers, and good versatility too. A great resort ski for the type of skier who spends most of their time on groomers, but likes to explore the woods, moguls, and other off-piste terrain from time to time too. It’s also quite aesthetically pleasing with its sleek black and yellow graphics and distinctly Black Crows design.

Testers

Brad Schauerman

Age: 28Height: 5'9"Weight: 160 lbs.

Ski Style: Trees, trees, and more trees just like a squirrel

Evan Caha

Age: 30Height: 5'10"Weight: 140 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and adventurous with a love for high edge angles

Mar Kuhnel

Age: 37Height: 5'9"Weight: 150 lbs.

Ski Style: Smooth and strong with a focus on proper technique

Phil McGrory

Age: 31Height: 6'0"Weight: 160 lbs.

Ski Style: Adventurous spirit in search of pow

Dave Carter

Age: 61Height: 5'9"Weight: 155 lbs.

Ski Style: They don't call me "carving" Dave Carter for nothin'

10 Comments on the “2020 Black Crows Orb”

    1. Hi Pat!
      It’s tough to beat that Enforcer 88 in terms of high-performance, all-mountain capability. That said, the Orb was a pretty nice ski, and surprised me quite a bit. It’s got a funky look to it in terms of shape, but when you get beyond that, it’s a fun ski. The biggest two differences are the build and the shape. The Orb has H-Shaped metal to put emphasis on the edges while the Enforcer has two full sheets of metal giving it a more burly and consistent personality. In terms of shape, the Orb has longer radius so it’s not quite as carvy. This gives it a more versatile and playful character, while the Enforcer is a bit more business-like. Hope that helps!
      SE

    1. Hi James!
      The Orb is very quick edge to edge, but doesn’t quite have the overall power and control of the Mantra. It’s a bit narrower, so there’s a lot of good grip in a lighter and easier to use ski versus the Mantra. It’s a better comparison to the Kendo 88 these days, just with a bit less metal. Hope that helps!
      SE

  1. Hi ,
    Looking at either the orb or the captis .
    I would say I’m 70% groomers but am starting to venture more off the side of the pistes And would like to do this more
    I ski in the french alps mainly at Tignes so the conditions can often be variable
    MH

    1. Hi Mike!
      If you’re headed to a more even split, I think the Captis is the way to go. You’ll lack a bit of stability at speed on firm snow, but that’s really the only disadvantage, especially if you’re making the move to more off-piste skiing with variable conditions. Have fun!
      SE

  2. Hi,
    Have you guys tried the Black Crows Vertis? and if you have how does it compare to the Brahma 82 or the DPS Cassiar 79.

    Would you take it into the moguls and trees at Stowe?

    Thanks,

    Jan

    1. HI Jan!
      Certainly lighter and easier to turn than the Brahma, and more in line with the DPS. I’d certainly use it in the bumps, and it’d be great in the trees once they get skied in, but not a great choice for fresh or deep snow. Have fun!
      SE

  3. Hello SE!
    I’m looking for dedicated all resort hard-snow/ bump ski, not a world cup mogul skier but would like to grow up in more “sportive” mogul technique. So what ski from your experience will fit the best?

    Have pretty sweet end-of-the-season price tags now, so deciding between Black Crows Orb (174), Blizzard Bushwacker (173), Nordica Enforcer 88 (179) and Elan RipStick 88 (172,179). A bit concerned that Enforcer 88 (179) will be too much and overly stiff, RipSticks looks scary light and soft. Never had a chance to touch Black Crows Orb but it looks really interesting on paper.

    I’m 5’8/154 lbs and generally ski 186 PMGear Lhasas, and my thoughts was to go with the skis around my height for this purpose, so more of ~172 cm than ~180.

    Thanks!

    By the way, thanks SE, Jeff and Bob for youtube extended video reviews, I think I watched all of them))

    1. Hi Mark!
      You’ll see the same type of experience out of the Ripstick as the Bushwacker. You’re right as well that the Enforcer 88 is a bit much for the bumps–I skied one for the second half of the year and loved it, but did have to work pretty hard when the lines got tight. The Orb is a good middle-ground–still a bit stiffer than the Ripstick/Bushwacker, but will give better overall performance, just a bit more demand. I don’t think the Ripstick is too soft–you’re also not that heavy, so I think those/that would be your best bet. Also, the 2021 version of the Ripstick 88 gets more carbon, so while the weight doesn’t increase, the performance value does. I’d say 172 is the way to go. Take care!
      SE

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