The all-new 2020 Kastle FX 86 is a fun, quick-turning, all-mountain ski that is perfect for intermediates and advanced skiers who are looking for a polished product. The high-end materials and diligent design set the FX 86 apart from its competition. With a 15.7-meter turn radius at the 177 cm length, these skis prefer to be on edge carving clean turns. As a member of the FX line, the 86 is a more playful version of the MX and DX skis mainly due to the profile and shape. They’re built a little more forgivingly, thanks to the lack of metal, but they still have the TRI Tech core consisting of a wood core wrapped in fiberglass. This gives the ski a ton of snap and pop, especially in the shorter-radius turns. The low-camber, and hook-free tips and tails make the ski more maneuverable, and that combined with the light weight makes it a supremely versatile ski. At 86 mm underfoot, the skis aren’t really the most “floaty,” but the tip shape and the rocker profile make it punch above its level. Our testers loved the quickness and maneuverability of the FX 86, and found it to be a super-fun ski with a ton of upside.
Dave Carter skied the 177 and found it to be the right size. His top scores of 4 out of 5 were given for quickness, maneuverability, edge hold, versatility, and overall impression. As a light ski, these scores are not shocking, and for a ski that is perfect for both on and off-trail skiing, having that high score for versatility is a great sign, and seems to fall in line with what Kastle set out to do with this new ski. Dave calls the FX 86 “overall a predictable ski. Best for shorter to medium-radius turns.” Thanks to the tip rocker and hook-free shovel, the Kastle has “easy turn initiation and good in a variety of conditions.” These are certainly qualities that we’d expect from a top-end model such as this one.
Mike Thomas could have used the 185 over the 177 that he tested, but we don’t always have access to all the sizes. As such, Mike commented that the skis felt short, but that they were very quick and easy to turn. “Feels like a return to the older FX line that I really loved. Very fun with a versatile shape. They have a smooth, almost rubbery feel.” The top sheet is made with a resistant matte protection varnish, which does have a bed-liner type of feel, so maybe that’s what Mike is feeling here, and that stuff is great for helping reduce vibrations.
Also on the 177, Bob St.Pierre would have been better off on the 185 as well. Bob and Mike are roughly the same size, so if you’re on the bigger side, we’d recommend sizing up. Some pretty consistent scores from Bob, with all 3’s and 4’s down the line. The 4’s for quickness, maneuverability, playfulness, forgiveness, and torsional stiffness are not shocking, since those are right in these ski’s wheelhouse. Conversely, flotation and stability were on the receiving end of the average score of 3, and for an 86 underfoot, non-metal ski, that’s not a surprise, either. “Amazingly light and quick, but the tail still liked to be engaged. Pretty snappy and a bit stiff, but has a high-performance feel to it.” In terms of what it’s best for, Bob notes that it’s a “perfect upper-end cruising ski.”
These skis can make a bunch of different turn shapes at a variety of speeds. They’re great for skiers who don’t really want to think too much about their skis, they just want them to work at any and all conditions and terrain. That’s not too much to ask, is it?