Ski Reviews

2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review

2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

Last week we took a dive into 2020 skis with the new Nordica Enforcer 88, and as promised, we're continuing the 2020 trend with another ski, the K2 Mindbender 108Ti. You're going to see a lot of marketing material surrounding this ski and the rest of the line this week as K2 has been waiting until today (January 15th, 2019) to release any information about it. You may have seen some skiers out on the slopes with prototype K2 skis over the past few weeks. While they had a different topsheet graphic and a different name, those were actually part of this new Mindbender collection. This is, in fact, actually a huge collection of skis with a grand total of 12 options spanning men's and women's. We know, you're sitting there wondering what skis these replace. 10 points if you guess it… the Pinnacle collection is, somewhat-unfortunately, going away. The Mindbender skis, however, are quite a bit different, which we'll talk about more. So, pick up a Pinnacle while you can if you like that shape and feel; they're great skis.

Before we jump into construction, shape, and all those nitty gritty details, let's touch quickly on what inspired this collection of skis. K2 claims that this line was driven by feel. There is science and technology behind the designs, but K2 focused more on athlete demands and a skiers mentality as opposed to an engineer spitting specs and technical jargon at a product manager. That, in our opinion, is pretty cool, and also feels like a very "K2" thing to do. K2 as a brand has always been about fun, and this Mindbender collection really is going back to those roots. As they put it in their catalog, they've refocused on fun. High speed skiing is fun, precision, high angle turns are fun, but smearing, slapping, and slashing is also fun. Skiers just want to have fun.

2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

Alright, enough back story, let's get to the skis. This Mindbender 108 Ti is the second widest ski in the collection, and notably the widest that uses metal, but we'll get to construction in a little bit. First, shape. Camber underfoot with rockered tips and tails would accurately describe it, but that would also accurately describe the vast majority of skis in this width/performance category. Tip rocker is relatively long, but doesn't rise super high off the snow. It's more subtle than the rocker we saw in the Pinnacle, which has a noticeable point in the mid-forebody of the ski where the rocker starts. There's much less tail rocker than tip rocker, although is relatively proportionate to how long the tail is compared to the tip (this is a traditional mount ski, not a twin tip with a more forward mount point.) The camber underfoot is substantial, but not super high. Enough to give the ski an energetic, stable feel underfoot, however. There's also some smooth early taper in the ski, seen on both the tip and the tail, but it's much less pronounced than what we've seen in the Pinnacle. Also, instead of coming to a point, the tips and tails are blunt and somewhat-squared-off. The rocker and taper combines to create a longer effective edge in just about every application when compared to the Pinnacle series.

Construction is really cool. K2 has developed what they call Torsion Control Design. The idea is to customize the amount of torsional stiffness in each part of the ski. Going back to their concept that carving turns is fun, but smearing turns is also fun, K2 wants the Mindbender skis to do both. They believe the two performance characteristics aren't mutually exclusive, and we like that idea. In the Mindbender 108Ti, the most important construction technique to accomplish this is their Ti Y-Beam. This is a pretty cool concept and blends some of the construction techniques we've seen in other skis. In the forebody of the ski, the metal is only along the edges, and doesn't meet through the tip. Underfoot, the metal is the full width of the ski, then in the tail there is only metal through the middle of the ski, not along the edges, and again it stops before the tail of the ski. The theory here is that you get precision and edge grip out of the front of the ski, while the tail of the ski allows you to pivot, smear, and release the tail edge at will. A really cool concept to say the least. They also use Power Wall construction underfoot. About ½ a cm of the wood core is milled out and replaced with ABS. You can see it visually, as K2 made it red. This ABS sits in between the metal edge and the titanal layer, which creates a more powerful, stable feel.

2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review: Action Shot Image 12020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review: Action Shot Image 2

So that's the breakdown of this new ski's shape and construction. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask, but let's talk about performance now. Luckily we've been testing this ski, as well as the Mindbender 99Ti, for almost a month now. We've had it in a lot of different snow conditions and are excited to report what we've found. Overall, the Mindbender 108Ti feels more like a freeride ski than anything else, although you could call it an all mountain freeride ski in my opinion. I would give it that title because it performs admirably on firm snow, especially for a ski of this width. You can drive the tips aggressively, and the ski responds really well. This ski has a relatively long turn radius at 22.9 m in the 186 cm length, but it still makes some nice round, responsive turns. There is a noticeable difference between the tip and the tail and you can change how the ski reacts based on how you're weighting, which is basically the theory behind this construction. If you're forward in your boots and giving them a lot of skier input you get some responsive, round turns. In fact, they link carving turns impressively well for a ski this wide. If you want those turns to feel quick and energetic, you need to either be on a steep slope or be comfortable really driving a ski. You can tip them on edge and just go along for the ride, but to generate lateral acceleration you need to give it some skier input.

Alright, this ski is 108 mm underfoot, let's stop talking about groomer performance. In soft snow this ski really comes alive, and the construction starts to make a lot of sense. You can ski it in a more balanced position in soft snow. Want to rifle off some quick turns to shed speed or get through a tight spot in the trees? All you have to do it let your weight sink into the tail of the ski a little bit, and all of a sudden it gets super maneuverable. In my opinion, they achieved what they set out to with this design. You get precision and power when you want it, but a surfy, smeary, and maneuverability when you need it. I skied it on a couple powder days at Stowe, both of which were really windy. One of my favorite things about this ski was how it transitioned from deep, soft snow, to wind-scoured, ultra-firm, icy terrain. If you've ever skied Stowe on a windy powder day, you know what I mean. My test runs down Hayride come to mind specifically. The ski played and bounced around through deep drifts on the sides of the trail, but also had the confidence-inspiring edge grip I was looking for when I got back on an icy, scoured pitch. In fact, edge grip probably surpassed my expectations. They're not as playful as some of K2's Factory Team twin tip skis like the Marksman or Poacher, but the blend of playfulness, power, and precision is going to make a lot of skiers happy.

Let's recap. K2 was focused on fun, and also focused on versatility in turn shapes and styles. Did they achieve it? I think so. I had a lot of fun on the Mindbender 108 Ti. I skied the 179 cm length, and at 5'10 and 150 lbs, that length was more than manageable. In fact, if I was buying this ski, I would probably consider sizing up to 186 cm for a little extra float and stability, although I'm not sure I would need it. The 179 cm was refreshingly easy to ski for me (I tend to put myself on skis that are arguably too long). They were easy to flick around, but I never really felt a lack of stability. The longer length would allow me to open up the speedometer a bit and do a little more straight-lining, but that's not really what this ski is all about. They don't quite have the forgiveness of the Pinnacle collection, and I do think there are skiers out there better off on the Pinnacle (intermediates, less aggressive skiers, etc), but this Mindbender collection is going to be accessible and approachable for a lot of different skiers. We'll look at the Mindbender 99Ti next, but there are also skis within the line that don't use metal, which are going to be more appropriate for those less aggressive, intermediate-level skiers. Overall, after quite a bit of testing, we're digging this new ski. Does the combination of performance out of the different tip and tail construction result in mind-bending performance? Let's just say the name makes more sense after you ski it.

2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review: Buy Now Image


 

Written by Jeff Neagle on 01/15/19

20 thoughts on “2020 K2 Mindbender 108Ti Ski Review

  1. I have Blizzard Black pearl 2016/17 I have the opportunity of buying Head Wild joy 2018 at a very reasonable price. Would I notice much difference. Has the technology changed much?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Pip!

      The construction is a little different, so they feel a little different, but the overall performance is very similar. In our ski tests we've found that skiers who like the Black Pearls typically also like the Wild Joy a lot too. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't enjoy skiing it.

      Hope that helps!

      SE

  2. Hi SE,

    5'9 190 47-year-old ex-kid racer and teen/college competitive mogul skier who skis mostly Squaw Valley/ Alpine with a few planned trips out to Utah. I took a 25-year break from skiing living in the Asian tropics and am now back to skiing and its like I never left only easier. I used to do everything on 197 atomic slaloms or 217 red sleds when the resort was empty enough to give me time to slow down and now every ski I get on amazes me in some new way which gets me into contortions when It comes time to pull the purchase trigger which I was just about to do.

    This new design especially raises some questions.

    Here is a quick rundown of my recent ski experience if it will help . First day after 25 years on the beach last spring they gave me a Brahma which was fantastic. It was like riding the proverbial bicycle but I had grown up with unicycles, then I demo'ed some rustler 10's at 180cm which were so fun to ski especially when I was with my 7-year-old and had to slow things down. I tried the M5 mantra this year and they were amazing and knocked the Ruslter out of the running.

    I didn't completely love the M5 on a 3 foot powder day but I was still smiling even mid first tomahawk after diving a tip, it was still exponentially more fun than hopping skinny skis and you could never get up to the speed required for a good powder tomahawk in the first place. Still compared to many other skis, Walier 106 , Qst 106 , Atomic backland 107, V-werks, Enforcer 100, Rustler 9, Rustler 11 and a few others the M5 performed exactly as I wanted for the conditions I ski 95% of the time. Edge hold was inspiring which is something I value since I am almost coming directly from straight skis(that was the one thing they did well) into this new era. Bonafides were great but bucked my old legs on the last day of a long weekend when I got tired. M5's were way more forgiving at my weight in a 177 for sure vs the 180 or 172 bonafide, . I could flex enough to bounce out of any late day mistakes. It was thoughtless and intuitive at all times and once again they outpaced in anything icy but they do need to go fast and I can only do that for about half of a good day on the slopes when I am alone but what fun it is to rail them without feeling a speed limit.

    Right now I am ready to pull the trigger for the m5 package you have on your site knowing I will make a few small concessions to own an excellent ski, roof rack space and budget preclude a quiver. I would love a Brahma or m5 + Rustler 11 duo, but this new K2, especially in the 99 ti which will soon be available, seems to be a combination of what I liked about the Rustler and the M5. The construction is as you alluded to inspired by other recent designs

    I would demo this ski and not take up your time if I could but I am looking to buy before the m5's sell out and the Mindbender probably won't be available until next year for demo also its time to pick a ski and get familiar with it and regain some form. If the 99ti has close to the stability of the Mantra, close to its edge hold, with better performance in soft snow and a forgiving tail that still has some rebound from some solid skier input carves then its the perfect ski for me and many others.

    Am I close to reality here, has this mash-up of tech succeeded at actually combining or approaching the virtues of those in some new way. It does seem to be their goal. I would love to support k2 as well.

    Thanks for all the great reviews !

  3. How do you think these compare to the Rustler line? Specifically, Rustler 10 to the 99ti.
    Thanks! Loving the reviews and videos.

    1. Hi Jordan!

      It's amazing how much easier skiing is now, isn't it? Welcome back!

      You've clearly done your research and sounds like you've experienced a lot of different skis. So, would the Mindbender 99 Ti give you the performance you're looking for? I think it could. Does it have stability close to the Mantra? Yes, very close. Edge grip? Similar, although the M5 is slightly better just because you get a longer edge contact in most snow conditions. It is, however, more forgiving in soft snow. If you look at the construction, you're getting a pretty similar design in the tip with the metal along the edges, but then more forgiveness out of the tail with the metal in the middle. My first reaction when I saw the ski was something like "hey, it's a Mantra in the front and a Rustler in the back!" Is that completely accurate? No, but i think it's a pretty good way to think about it. Would an M5 and a Rustler 11 give you a wider range of performance? Yes, of course, but if you're considering buying one ski to do it all, I think the Mindbender 99 Ti would be a great choice.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you want to chat more about it.

      SE

      1. Hi Austin!

        You get more stability out of the Mindbender than the Rustlers. They're relatively similar skis, but the Mindbender feels a little more powerful and more precise, while the Rustler 10 is surfier, smears a turn a little easier, and feels a little more playful.

        Hope that helps!

        SE

    1. Hi Henry!
      Certainly moving the mount forward makes a difference in how the ski hooks up into a turn. Unless you have a very specific preference over mount point, we are pretty much sticking to the factory recommended spot. Hope that helps!
      SE

  4. So that sidewall, it's trad sidewall underfoot (as you say milled out and then ABS'd) and then fore and aft of that section is cap? Or semi cap and still a vertical sidewall?

  5. Is a ~108-112mm ski just a ski to get because you can't afford BOTH a ~100 and a 115+ ? Or what skier/use case is a 108 better than those widths at?
    After a great back to back between 170cm ranger 102 and 177cm K2 catamarans in 6-12" this weekend at big sky I was surprised how much more fun I had on Catamarans even with not a ton of new snow: especially slashing the soft tails, jumping/landing pleasantly everywhere, and plowing chop. Only downside was fatigue over long weekend of long tree runs on catamarans. Now I'm very interested in skis like Bentchetler 120 (thought being I'm very light and the allegedly bad-in-chop catamarans were fine in chop for me) and the mindbender 108/116 with their tip vs tail stiffness difference - given that - any guidance on which mindbender /mindbender vs playful pow ski, or other skis to consider given those 3 factors I listed is much appreciated. (For the record I like the rangers a lot everywhere, just like catamarans a lot more when there's 5"+ new snow)

    1. Hi Quentem!

      The Enforcer uses more pronounced rocker. That makes it feel a little surfier. A little easier to release the tail edge. The Mindbender is more precise. Less preference to smear or slarve a turn. Also feels a little lighter on your feet as it uses less overall metal than the Enforcer. So, Mindbender is precise and nimble, and still pretty darn stable. The Enforcer is super smooth, loves to smear and slarve, but doesn't feel as precise or responsive.

      SE

      1. Hi JT!
        Underfoot, it's full sidewall, but angled, not vertical. In the forebody and tail of the ski, it's half cap, half sidewall. Hope that helps!
        SE

        1. Hi Jeff!
          I think that except for the deepest of days, the 108-110 range is all you really need. You could also check out the Ranger 108 for comparison. The soft tails are nice for when its soft, but it's not always soft, so the more all-mountain style skis like the Mindbender and the Ranger come in handy for most conditions. I have an 87mm underfoot ski and a 105, and they can pretty much handle anything. If it snows a ton and my 105's feel narrow for a few runs, I'm okay with that. Hope that helps!

          SE

  6. Hey SE,

    So I had the chance to try both the mindbender 90ti and 99ti. I really liked the 90ti but ultimately the 99ti was my favorite. I felt like it was more reactive to skier input and really let you smear when you wanted or needed. I didn't get a chance to try the 108ti unfortunately and wonder if they might be even better for me. I live in Utah and do a lot of trees and pow but when stuff is all tracked out then ripping is a fun time. How would you compare the two and what type of skier is each best for? Thanks.

    1. Hi Steven!

      Fairly similar overall, but the 108 basically enhances the differences you were feeling between the 90 and 99 even more, at least in terms of smearing. It doesn't feel quite as reactive, but handles softer snow and deeper snow noticeably better than the 99 in my opinion. I think it would be a perfectly reasonable daily driver for Utah. Even in tracked out conditions, it's still a whole lot of fun.

      Hope that helps,

      SE

  7. How would you compare it to a pinnacle 105?. I've been debating on if I should get a pair of Pinnacle 105s or Mindbender 108 Tis. I own a pair of Pinnacle 95s and I love them but i want a wider ski for the deeper days. Ski at Crystal Mountain and Sun valley.

    1. Hi Erik!
      Even though it's a bit wider, I'd say the 105 is a better pure floater thanks to the longer rocker and taper. The 108 is a superior all-mountain ski with more versatility, and even though it's wider, it carves a mean turn. Have fun!
      SE

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