Most skiers love the improvements to the Mantra from last year, us among them. They made the ski more fun, playful, and quick. The narrower width did leave some skiers a bit sad, even though it was only 4 mm. Maybe they didn’t see Volkl’s grander plans, which included the addition of the Mantra 102 for 2020. This thing is a beast. If anyone thought that the M5 Mantra was too toned down, they’ll most likely really appreciate the 102. It gets the same titanal frame makeup as the M5, but is wider overall. It keeps the same basic dimensions, but the additional material increases the overall stiffness and heft. As a result, any skier who thought the M5 was a slight downgrade from previous Mantras will not feel that way about the 102. Our testers were pretty much enamored with the strength and poise of this burly board.
Brooks Curran skied the 184 and gave it top marks for stability, torsional stiffness, and overall impression. Not surprisingly, playfulness was one of his lower marks. Unless your idea of playfulness is going really fast without any vibrations in your skis, that characteristic was not meant to be a strength of the Mantra 102. Brooks says the 102 “comes with all the Volkl race prowess built right in. Stiff but versatile, loves long arcs and hard snow and holds up through plenty of chop.” Sounds good to us!
Also skiing (and loving) the 184, Bob St.Pierre gave 5’s out of 5 for stability and torsional stiffness. He found the skis to be “total beasts—loves being on edge and going fast. They have amazing stability and edge hold; they do not miss a beat when terrain or conditions vary.” He did note that these qualities come with counter-offers as well, calling them “heavy and not quick.” Everything’s a compromise, right?
Parker Herlihy got on the big 191 and (obviously) loved the stability and torsional stiffness of the 102. For a ski this wide, it’s impressive to have so many testers comment on the quality of the edge hold and torsional stiffness. Forgiveness was not the ski’s strong suit in Parker’s mind, scoring a 2 out of 5, but again, this ski was not meant to forgive. He calls it “tough as nails. They make strong arcs in line with the classic Volkl character.” Parker goes on to classify the 102 as “best for steep, wide, open, and deep.” All great characteristics of high-end expert skis, to be sure.
Annie MacDonald tried her hand at the 184, and noted that a 177 would probably be a better size, but unsurprisingly scored it high for stability, torsional stiffness, and overall impression. She calls them “super-solid tip to tail, but surprisingly turny if you stand right over them. For 102 underfoot, it gets up on rail and is really stable! For a super-aggressive skier that wants a big ski to take anywhere!” Sounds like Annie’s got a pair lined up for next year already.
Michael Carroll-Sherwin skied the 184, and again, scored top marks in stability and torsional stiffness (are we seeing a pattern here?). He notes that “this ski needs speed to perform. If you are a person that can conform to the speed needs of this ski, you’re going to have a good time!”
Overall, it’s impressive to see a new ski that scores so consistently among a pretty diverse group of testers. Both smaller and larger skiers found incredible stability and torsional stiffness. The 102 is poised to make big waves this year on the hill, to be sure.