2020 Kastle FX 96 HP

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.

Testers

Brad Moskowitz

Age: 50Height: 5'4"Weight: 140 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and fun inspired by mohawks

Michael Carroll-Sherwin

Age: 30Height: 6'1"Weight: 185 lbs.

Ski Style: Quick and nimble with freeride influence

Josh Wolfgang

Age: 23/24Height: 6'1"Weight: 190 lbs.

Ski Style: Fast and carvy with a love for the fall line

Mike Thomas

Age: 50Height: 6'3"Weight: 215 lbs.

Ski Style: Upright, fluid, nimble, and powerful

Justin Perry

Age: 29Height: 5'9"Weight: 167 lbs.

Ski Style: Aggressive all-mountain freeride

8 Comments on the “2020 Kastle FX 96 HP”

    1. Hansjorg,
      The main difference is the use of carbon instead of metal. While lighter and somewhat stiff, the Kastle doesn’t quite have the damping of the Mantra, but is pretty on par with the Ranger. This makes it more playful and floaty in the powder, more of a dancer than a plower in the crud, and more nimble in the moguls, especially versus the Mantra. The Fischer is more of a direct comparison to the Kastle, due to the flex and the weight. The Ranger’s longer tip rocker profile makes it the best floater of the group, and the width is helpful as well. Hope that helps!

      SE

      1. How does the FX96 HP compare to the MX99? There are some comments in the reviews but more detail would be helpful! Thanks

      2. Hi SDS!
        The new FX 96 has no metal in it whereas the MX 99 has two sheets. If you’re a larger or more aggressive skier sticking mainly to the trails, the 99 is the better choice. It’s more stable and damp and heavy. The 96 has a wood core that’s wrapped in a fiberglass and carbon sleeve, creating a responsive ski, but without the weight of the metal. It won’t hold up to high speeds or hard snow as well as the 99, but for a more all-mountain and versatile setup, I think the 96 is a fantastic choice. For how light it is, it’s a remarkably stable ski. Additionally, the 99 does not have tail rocker, and the flatter overall tail shape and profile make for a more precise finish to the turn, whereas the 96’s slightly rockered tail allows the skier to skid and smear with more ease. Hope that helps!
        SE

  1. Have you guys tried a mount point a few cm more towards center? Like -10 or even -8? I have the 180s and love them – but the tail is so freaking short that sometimes it feels like there’s nothing back there.

    I may remount these with shifts and move forward a cm or two.

    Btw these skis totally rock.

    1. Hi Matt!
      I don’t think there’s a whole lot of data out there with mount points on that ski, specifically, but if you do mount forward, you’re likely to feel that tail a whole lot more. I’d say +2 would be on the top end of distance I’d recommend. Have fun!
      SE

    1. Hi Raffi!
      It’s stiffer and heavier for sure. Not quite the slow-speed compliance of the Stormrider, the Kastle requires some velocity to really access all the performance. While both have a strong upper-end performance ceiling, the Kastle is damper and more responsive at speed. Have fun!
      SE

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