All-new for 2020, the Kastle FX 96 HP takes on a new shape and build from the skis that it has surpassed. The old FX 95 had a wood core with two sheets of metal. The 2020 version of the HP involves a TRI-Tech core that consists of a triple-layer wood core that’s wrapped in fiberglass and carbon stringers. So no metal in the 2020 FX 96 HP, but a super-strong core with glass and carbon. This achieves the same high-quality and high-performance characteristics of the older version, but with less weight and more fun. The profile is better suited for off-piste activities, while the construction keeps the skis solid and stable. The Hollowtech 3.0 is a bigger area for absorbing vibrations, so advanced and expert level skiers who are looking to push this thing to its extremes in terms of speed will be pleasantly surprised. For an all-mountain freeride type of ski, it’s fairly turny, with an 18.1-meter turn radius at the 180 cm length, but the hook-free tail and shovel plus the dual-rise and low camber make them fun and surfy. Testers loved the stability of these new skis, and all had some pretty positive things to say about this new design and build.
Justin Perry skied the 180 and found it to be just right. His top score was a 5 out of 5 for quickness and maneuverability, with his low score a 3 for forgiveness. As such, it’s appropriate to assume Justin found this to be a stiff and responsive ski. All other scores were 4’s and this is a good indication that the FX 96 HP is a strong all-around performer. Justin notes that “this was a little stiffer than the MX 99, but skied very well.” He goes on to indicate that the FX 96 HP is “quick and stable at all speeds.” This is what Kastle is going for, and in Justin’s mind, they’ve hit it on the head.
Mike Thomas also skied the 180, but he found it to be on the short side for him. The next size up, the 188, probably would serve Mike well. His top scores of 4.5 out of 5 were for stability and overall impression, with the rest of his scores hovering in the 4 range. His low score was a 2.5 for forgiveness, meaning that, like Justin, Mike found the FX 96 HP to be on the stiff side. He calls it “a return to the feel of the first FX series. Much more ski than the outgoing FX series with more powerful, better edge engagement. Still nimble, but I now can access more effective edge control.” As far as the changes go, Mike seems impressed. He ends with a “well done, Kastle.”
Josh Wolfgang sized down to the 172, and thought that was the right move for him. His top scores were 4.5’s out of 5 for versatility and overall impression, while his low score for forgiveness echoes some of our other tester’s sentiments that this is a fairly stiff ski. He also thought it was a “fun ski” and that statement is backed up by his score of 4 out of 5 for playfulness. “Very versatile as it likes to be both on and off-piste. Very stable but definitely has a speed limit as it will begin to chatter.” That could be due to the shorter length, we’d probably guess Josh would be a 180 skier, but we all have our personal preferences, and if he wants to sacrifice some stability at speed for playfulness and versatility, then who’s to say he can’t? In terms of the relationship to the MX 99 (which a lot of our testers took the liberty to do), “you basically take away a bit of the dampness of the MX 99 and add more off-piste versatility.”
It’s definitely an interesting new ski for this year, and we hope that Kastle is building on the success of the FX 95 HP from years prior, as that was a pretty sick ski. From all accounts, it sounds like Kastle is on the right track.