Ski Reviews

2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review

2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

We've been busy over the past couple months testing a lot of new 2020 skis, and we've got another exciting one to share with you this week: the Volkl Kendo 88. As expected, the changes to this iconic ski follow the changes we saw for the M5 Mantra last season, but there are some differences too. We've had this ski in a lot of different snow conditions and it's been passed around throughout our staff, which gives us a lot of different perspectives. We're going to break down different performance characteristics and how the ski can be different things for different people in the second half of this article, but before we do that, let's take a look as construction, shape, and all those nitty gritty details.

As you've probably guessed, the Kendo 88 now uses Titanal Frame. This was a new concept for this current ski season (2018/19) in the new M5 Mantra. If you haven't seen our review of that ski, definitely check it out, as a lot of the same concepts carry over. The idea behind Titanal Frame is that it's positioning metal where you need it most, instead of just using two full sheets. Along the base, there is still a full sheet of metal, but under the topsheet the metal is sectioned into two horseshoe shaped pieces that run along the edges and do not meet underfoot. By positioning metal along the edges, the ski feels powerful, stable, and has great vibration damping when it's on edge. It also sheds weight, which is a desirable trait in an all mountain ski for most skiers. As we mentioned in the M5 Mantra review, by not connecting the metal underfoot, you get a really big sweet spot. It's undoubtedly easier to ski than the Kendo it's replacing, yet still has the characteristics we expect out of a ski with the Kendo name. The ski flexes more naturally under your feet, but still feels like a Kendo. Volkl also uses their Carbon Tip, which helps boost torsional stiffness when initiating turns and also helps keep the swing weight down.

2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

Now, shape is where we start to see some differences between the M5 Mantra and the Kendo. The new shape concept for 2020 is 3D Radius Sidecut. We see this in the Kendo 88 and Mantra 102 for 2020 (yes we'll have a review of the Mantra 102 this season as well), but we don't see it in the M5 Mantra. It's a cool concept, and something that you can definitely feel in the performance of the Kendo 88. The easiest way to describe this new shape is there's three different turn radii in each length. The tip, underfoot, and the tail all have a different turn radius. Take the 177 cm length, there's a 30 m turn radius in the tip, 17 m radius underfoot, and a 24 m turn radius in the tail. The idea is that this allows for multiple different turn shapes more easily than a ski that uses a single turn radius. Does it work? Yes, yes it does, and we'll talk more about it when we get to performance. The other notable trait in the shape of the Kendo 88 is the rocker profile. The rocker is relatively long, although it doesn't rise too high off the snow. This design retains long edge contact for good edge grip on firm snow, but also helps the ski feel a little more forgiving and maneuverable when you get into softer snow conditions, un-groomed terrain, etc. So, that's the idea behind this new Kendo 88. Titanal Frame and the 3D Radius Sidecut are the two most important concepts to wrap your head around. Okay, let's switch gears and talk performance, after all, that's probably why you're reading this article.

2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review: Full Camber Image

The first thing we want to say is the Kendo 88 definitely feels like a Volkl. Their skis have traditionally had a precise, performance-driven feel, and the Kendo 88 carries that forward. On firm snow, the ski can do a lot of different things. With the long rocker profile, it doesn't feel like it takes you into a turn before you want it to, but it still feels very precise and responds to skier input really well. The construction behind the Kendo 88 gives it a distinctly responsive feel. In fact, it reacts to what you're doing quicker than just about anything else in this width range on the market. Intermediate skiers or more timid skiers may find it's actually too responsive, but realistically this isn't a ski that's geared towards timid intermediate skiers. Titanal frame is a great construction and really has some notable performance benefits. You do get really good stability on edge and good vibration damping, but the ski feels lighter on your feet than the previous Kendo. This is, in my opinion, a big reason why it feels so responsive. There are other skis in this category that feel heavier on your feet and more tank-like. Combine the slightly lighter feel with the torsional stiffness provided by this construction and you get that level of responsiveness I keep coming back to. If you like a precise ski that responds to skier input right away, chances are you'll love the Kendo 88.

Now, let's talk about 3D Radius Sidecut. I'll admit I was slightly skeptical of this idea, and I'll also admit that it look me more than just one test run to really get a feel for it, but it definitely works. If you're initiating your turns laterally and you're not driving the tip of the ski, you can arc what feels like a Super-G turn, and that's an important concept for this ski. If you like a long carving turn, you can do it on the Kendo 88. If you're not flexing the ski a lot, you're never getting into that shorter turn radius underfoot, at least I wasn't. As soon as you start initiating turns in more of a traditional fore/aft style, you find you can gas pedal the ski into shorter turns. Now, we talked about this quite a bit on the M5 Mantra. Even though that doesn't use 3D Radius Sidecut, the fact that the metal doesn't meet underfoot allows you to flex the ski into shorter turns relatively easily. The Kendo 88 makes it even easier. Now, I mentioned at the beginning of this article that the Kendo 88 can be a lot of different things for different people. I'm about 150 lbs, maybe 160 lbs with ski gear on. We had another tester on the Kendo 88 who probably has 70 pounds on me, and he felt the shorter turn radius much more often than I did, and that makes sense. A heavier skier won't have to give the Kendo 88 as much skier input to get it to shorten up a turn as much as a lighter weight skier. In our talks, he had a harder time getting it to make a longer radius turn than I did. Something to keep in mind if you're considering a Kendo 88. Skier weight, level of aggressiveness, and overall technique go a long way in how the ski is going to react.

2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review: Action Image2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review: Action Image

The Kendo 88 is an all mountain ski, so we expect it to perform reasonably well in off-piste scenarios too. In my opinion, this is where the long, but low rise rocker comes into play. When riding a flat ski it's fairly easy to get the Kendo 88 to pivot and smear. It's not as easy as some skis that are lighter, use higher rise rocker, have softer flex patterns, etc, but considering the power it can achieve on firm snow, it's pretty maneuverable off-piste. There are some skis in this width range that feel like wide carving skis more than anything else. I do think the highlighting performance of the Kendo 88 is how it reacts on firm snow, but it has a more even mix of performance characteristics than certain skis in this category. The first time I skied it, in fact, was down some pretty steep un-groomed terrain (the steepest portion of Pico, if you've ever skied there). There was some soft snow, and some firm moguls too thanks to wind. There's definitely a mix of precision, power, and maneuverability in the Kendo 88. On the firm sections the ski did want to catch and carve, especially if I was skiing with a high edge angle, but it only took me a few turns to learn its subtleties. A small amount of skier input can go a long way in un-groomed terrain on this ski. The better your technique, the easier time you're going to have on the Kendo 88 when off-piste. At times you'll need to unweight the tail to get it to swing around, depending on the snow conditions you're in, but it's not too demanding overall.

To summarize, do we think the Kendo 88 is better than the previous version? Simply put, yes. It's slightly more accessible to a wider range of skiers. It feels lighter on your feet, yet still is a powerful ski, as we'd expect from anything that says Volkl Kendo on it. It's more forgiving than it's ever been before, but you're not really giving up any precision or power. In fact, you could argue that this new ski is more precise and responds to skier input better than the previous version. I'd argue that all day if you want to try me. 3D Radius Sidecut is a really cool concept and something that we're going to be talking more about throughout the season (it's also on the Mantra 102, Deacon 84, Deacon 80, and others). Overall, if you're a fan of Volkl skis and the Kendo specifically, you'll be psyched with the new one. If you didn't like the older Kendo, you should at least give this new one a shot, it's worth your attention.

2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Want to Win a Pair Before You Can Buy Them?

Click Here to Enter This Month's Ski Happy Contest!


Written by Jeff Neagle on 02/14/19

69 thoughts on “2020 Volkl Kendo 88 Ski Review

  1. Awesome and informative review (of this and everything you guys review). Seeing that it sounds like you all have had a bunch of time on both the 2020 Kendo 88 and the new 2020 Nordica Enforcer 88, can you summarize the similarities and differences between the two skis - as I am sure these two models will be going head to head for space in shopping carts for a good segment of east coast skiers. Thanks.

  2. Great, insightful review as always. I ski on 2017 Brahma's (purchased from SkiEssentials) and love them. You mentioned Brahma's at then end of your review so I was wondering how the newer version skis. Since I live in Ohio, I'm mostly skiing hard packed machine-made snow; occasionally we'll get 3-4" of fresh powder. My experience is that the Brahma's prefer medium and long radius turns, very damp and stable at speed, great on edge. But it takes a strong effort to make short turns on them and they don't really like to pivot. Sounds like the Kendo 88 adds that versatility. I wonder if the new Brahma's do too. PS - I've found that the Brahma's love a few inches of fresh or chopped up snow. Thanks for your time.

  3. Hi Jeff,

    Really enjoyed the review. You mentioned at the end of the review that there are skis that would work much better in moguls than the Kendo, What should I look at? I'm a smaller guy like you. Thanks.

    1. Hi Pete!

      I figured that would be one that lots of people would want to compare. This was my response to a similar question on YouTube:

      "The Enforcer 88 feels damper and a little smoother, not quite as responsive as the Kendo 88. I think the Enforcer 88 also makes a nice round turn, really fun and pretty easy to link carving turns on it. The Kendo 88, with the 3D Radius, wants to be driven more if you want to get it into similar turns, but on the other hand it'll make longer turns than the Enforcer 88 more easily with the 30 m tip and 24 m tail. Very similar comparison as Enforcer 100 to M5 Mantra, although the 3D Radius changes the conversation a bit. Smoothness vs responsiveness is the easiest way I can describe the difference. Not that the Enforcer 88 is un-responsive, but in my opinion that's the biggest difference."

      The Enforcer 88 (and the whole Enforcer series) is exceptionally smooth. Powerful, stable, and smooth, but actually somewhat forgiving as well. I don't think the Kendo is as forgiving, and the torsional stiffness in the tip and the way is quickly responds to movements is the most notable difference, in my opinion.


      1. Hi Tony!

        The new version of the Brahma is very similar to the skis you have, but it's a tighter turn radius by a small margin. Some changes to the top profile too, but the biggest change is just dropping about 1 m out of the turn radius. Kendo 88 is a little more versatile, but it still requires a lot of skier input. Keep in mind that the Kendo 88 is going to naturally make a longer turn than the Brahma for most skiers, and the skier needs to really give the ski some power to shorten up that turn. The Brahma, especially the new one, naturally makes a shorter turn. So, kind of depends whether you want the ability to make that longer turn. I do think the Kendo 88 is a little easier in soft snow and un-groomed terrain than the Brahma too, although they're fairly close. Just longer rocker in the Kendo 88 so it's a little easier to pivot. Much easier to pivot on firm snow, so if you're talking skidding/pivoting short turns, it's definitely easier.

        Hope that helps!


        1. Hi Alan!

          Check out the K2 Pinnacle 88, Salomon XDR 88, and Rossignol Experience 88 Ti. All three of those skis are definitely much easier in the bumps than the Kendo 88. Lighter swing weight, more rocker and early taper, less metal. They're all great all mountain skis too. Some variation between them (Pinnacle 88 uses a lot of rocker and early taper, XDR much less, Experience 88 somewhere in between) and they have slightly different construction than each other, but all fantastic skis.


  4. Any of these changes coming to the 2020 Kanjo? As an intermediate skier who wants to progress, but also wants forgiveness in the ski, which Völkl do you recommend?

    1. Hi Burt!
      They're not changing the Kanjo like the Kendo for 2020. Still will have titanal band instead of titanal frame--better for intermediate skiers. The Kanjo is a great ski for progressing, and I've always felt like it has a high-performance ceiling, so will accommodate a wide range of skier abilities, whereas the Kendo is more accessible to advanced and expert level skiers. I'd go with the Kanjo, it's a great ski!

  5. Anyone here who have side by side tested 19/20 Kendo 88 against the new Deacon 84?
    I've only had the chance to ride the Kendo so far, and only in softer pist conditions due to lack of snow offpist.

  6. Dear SE
    I am a huge fan of they way you guys represent a serious actor in this industry and go to such great length to explain skis for us dumb people 😉 Thanks for that!

    Now, I have followed the development of Volkl skis for some time and I admit, am a Volkl nerd just because I like they way their skis behave. I followed your advice on buying Mantra jr and Mantra Secret for my kids (and they cant get enough of them really, only problem they grows to fast and need new ones already..)

    Myself, I bought RTM 81 carbon and love those too, but I think I made a mistake... You see I think constantly underestimate my own skiing and considered the RTM 84 with 2 layers of steel as simply to "tough" for me theses days, and Mantra to wide/fat. Turns out I was wrong. I just tested both the RTM 84 uvo 18/19 and the Mantra M5. OMG what skis they really are, and wow I can really make them bend and work well! I was about to get ready to dish up the cash for either the RTMs or the Mantra but now you guys introduced me to this new Kendo that looks and sounds even more like something I want, or?

    So here it is: I am 6.4 and around 190 pounds with gear on, and not a super fit 43 year old. I really like the RTM train locomotive like ability to just destroy anything a front side can offer, however I will seek any lose snow there is when moment is presented. Considering that the Mantra almost behaves just as train-like as the RTM 84, but seem to keep the more off piste ability, I am leaning towards Mantra. But is perhaps the Kendo even more like the RTM but still has the "all mountain" feel and ability.

    Perhaps my real question is, how does really the RTMs, Mantra and Kando stack up against each other for someone that mostly enjoys front side groomers but like powder as much as most of us do but rarely find it...if I love the Mantra but think its a bit tough to get into shorter turns and sustain bit of sloppy skiing mode sometimes, will the Kendo be better?

  7. I'm torn between this and the Head KORE 99; I'm 5'10" and 210 lbs, and an advanced skier who likes playing in the bumps, trees, and choppy terrain. I don't get much personal satisfaction out of blasting down a groomed run. The Kendo's aggressiveness seems appropriate to my weight and ski level, but if I want something that is best in challenging terrain, should I be choosing something lighter and more flexible?

    Thanks in advance, and I have enjoyed your site immensely for years.


    1. Hi Gunnar!

      I actually got to do them literally back to back a few weeks ago. Going from the Kendo to the Deacon 84, the Deacon wanted to pull me around the turn a lot more than the Kendo, which required more input on my behalf. The Deacon is lighter, turnier, and better suited for on-piste specific skiing. You can take it all over the mountain, but it excels on groomed or flat slopes. I liked the Kendo more in a softer snow application, while the Deacon ripped some great turns on the firmer groomers. Hope that helps!


      1. Thanks so much, Nils!

        You really have three great options, here, so you can't really go wrong. But at the end of the day, if you have an RTM 84, a Kendo 88, and a Mantra (96 underfoot), and are looking for one ski to do it all, you're a Kendo guy. Now that the 2020 has the Titanal frame like the M5, it's a bit more accessible than the older Kendo, which I found to be a bit planky. I really liked the overall versatility of the Kendo 88, and surprisingly, I liked it more in short turns and mixed snow than I thought. My original impression was that it was going to be a wider front side ski, but it's really a perfectly shaped all-mountain ripper.

        Another option is getting both the RTM 84 and the Mantra, then all your bases are covered! But really, for a one ski quiver, the Kendo 88 is pretty tough to beat. Hope that helps!

  8. Hello SE,

    Very well done ski review, nice work. Your review of the Kendo 88 has me very eager to buy a brand new pair.

    Today, I participated in a demo ski event of 2020 skis at Mount Sunapee, NH. The most notbale 2020 model year skis that I tried that fit my style were the Kendo 88, Enforcer 88, and the Experience 88 TI. I'm looking for a ski that will help me reach the expert level, something that will give me confidence, stability, and control with speed, and ultimately, is a fun ski. Could you provide any feedback about any of those 3 skis that fits the bill?

    During the demo event, I unfortunately did not spend as much with the Kendo 88 as I would have liked. I did spend the most time on Experience 88 TI, and I spent a moderate amount of time on the Enforcer 88. I'm probably leaning towards the Kendo 88 or Experience 88 TI.

    I''m about 6' 3" and 250 pounds, and I ski in the Northeast.

    Thank you SE, I really appreciate it.


    1. Hi Alexander!

      Both have their merits for a skier like you. Yes, given your size, I'd initially say Kendo, but given how and what you like to ski, the Kore sounds a bit more up your alley. At slower speeds, I did like the Kendo, but if you're not going fast on the groomers, I'd say the Kore is a better choice. Even then, the Kore 99 is a fairly adept carver that a lot of skiers like at high speeds, so there's no need to cross that attribute off your list. Hope that helps!


      1. Hi Evan!
        They're pretty sweet! I'd put the Kendo at the top end in terms of performance of the skis on your list, while the Experience is at the bottom. That's not to say it's a low-performing ski by any stretch of the imagination, and your size dictates that you do need something with some substance to it. The Enforcer 88 sits in the middle, with the high-performance ceiling of the Kendo and the maneuverability of the Experience. That's a great middle-option. I'm about 6/2 215 and I love all three as a eastern all-mountain ski, so you can't really go wrong. Hope that helps!

  9. Jeff,
    Thank you for another informed & insightful ski review!
    The 2020 Kendo sounds great. Looking forward to getting my husband on a demo pair. I think he will love them!
    I have a question regarding the 2020 Volkl Kenja vs 2020 Secret.
    I ski 2018 Kenja in a 170. Love the rock solid, smooth fast ride on groomers, great edge hold, and yet it is still responsive in
    mixed conditions. Certainly not for deep powder though.
    This season I tried 2019 Secret (but they only had demo left in 156), a bit short. However I found it to be lots of fun. Easy turns, poppy, and still maintained a good edge which is very important for our area.
    I live in the Northwest but our mountain tends toward hardpack & icy conditions. A few days a season we will get pow.

    The Kenja sounds very interesting with the new 3-D radius, and is just a bit narrower under foot. How does it ski compared to a the Secret?

    Appreciate your thoughts..
    Thank you, Coni

    1. Hi Coni!

      Kendo 88 (or Kenja 88) and the Secret feel pretty darn similar. Basically the same construction. The big difference is that new sidecut concept in the Kendo/Kenja 88. The most noticeable difference, in my opinion, is the fact that you can make longer radius turns on the Kenja 88 than the Secret. Not a huge difference in width between the Kenja 88 and Secret, although the Kenja will feel a touch quicker edge to edge too. So, if you like longer turns from time to time, the Kenja is fantastic. I think you'd undoubtedly be happy with either ski, to be honest. Just think about what turn shape you really like when carving and whether that's a medium radius or slightly longer turn. That, in my opinion, is the biggest difference.

      Hope that helps!


  10. hey guys, great reviews!.....I just skied the 2019 kendo's in big sky and really liked them....very stable and easy to initiate all types of turns! I ski almost exclusively in big sky and am looking for an all mountain ski. For the rare powder day that i am here (20-25 days per year) I have a pair of Faction 105 waist. I am 6'3 195 lbs and would classify myself as an advanced intermediate that loves to charge hard on blue groomer (all types of turns) and ski steep black's......really don't enjoy moguls. I am looking at the 2020 Kendo or M5 Mantra or Kastle FX 85 or 95.....somewhere between 177 - 181cm.


    1. Hi Tim!
      If you have the 105, I'd recommend sticking to the narrower skis on your list like the Kendo or the Kastle. This way, your skis are different enough so that you get the best of both worlds. I loved the 2020 Kendo, as it was more versatile than the Kendo of last year, but equally as stable, and more snappy. The Kastle is a great performer for sure, with high-end feel and construction. The Blizzard Brahma should also be on your list as a hard snow/all-mountain ski with tremendous strength and stability. I'd agree with your size range--depends on the ski model's sizing options. Have fun!

  11. Hi there!

    GREAT Review, only thing I didn't see is the weight?
    Any idea on that ?

    Been using a 2018 Kanjo as my "all-around ski" & Touring as well. Was thinking of changing for the Kendo 2020. Thoughts ?

    1. Hi Max!

      I just put a 175 Kanjo and a 177 Kendo 88 on the scale. The Kanjo came out to 7.1 lbs (as a pair, with packaging), the Kendo 88 was 8.6 lbs. So, Kendo 88 is definitely heavier. Feels heavier on your feet too. The Kanjo definitely feels quicker and a little more playful too. Kendo 88 is heavier, stiffer, a little more demanding, but also has better vibration damping and stability at speed.


  12. Been skiing on the 184 2015 Kendo...tip rocker and flat tail so demoed next years 2020 version at Loon. I liked the ski a lot as it had less weight than my ski, however I found the 3D turn radius a bit quirky. Skiing bumps on the 17 TR then going into the 30 TR coming out of the bumps on a groomer was Odd. Also, I found that at speed the 2020 was slightly less stable...prob because of less metal and weight but still good. Definitely better in bumps and trees than my older Kendo's but equally not as good at speed. Ideally this ski should be built exactly as it is but w/o the funky 3D TR.

  13. Your 2020 review of the Kendo 88 was very informative and well timed. I was just getting ready to take advantage of season-ending discounts on the Mantra M5, since a ski patroller at Brighton recommended the 2019 Mantra over the 2019 Kendo.

    But he did also say that the new 2020 Kendo was being reshaped/reconfigured along similar M5 specs, and I should perhaps wait for the 2020's to become available for some demo runs.

    A few questions:

    1) The overall and consistent reviews of the M5 were really quite remarkable, especially the hard/soft snow capabilities. From your review of the Kendo 2020 it was not clear that these skis float as well as, say, the K2 Pinnacle 88's, on softer snow while also being great on groomers...? And do they handle ice & crud equally well? As an all mountain ski, do you expect the 2020 Kendo reviews to have such consistent stability and performance (as the M5's) across diverse conditions?

    2) I'm assuming that the 17 turning radius with the new 3D radii favors shorter, snappy turns, yet will hold well for longer and faster GS turns?

    3) I'm an expert skiier at 5'6" and 165 pounds (with gear on), and for a few years have been skiing K2 Aftershocks (130-86-114/16 radius) as a one ski quiver because of the ski's consistency on all conditions...including trees and powder. At 96 underfoot, I did have some questions about the M5 for me, but it seems to be very adaptable for my aggressive skiing. Thoughts or suggestions for my next purchase of the 2020 Kendo or 2019 M5's?

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful reviews and overall passion for the mountains!

  14. Hey SE,
    Great review on the Kendo. I had a chance to demo the 2020 Kendo a couple weeks back after trying out the Brahma 82. I've never skied a Kendo let alone a Volkl ski. I skied the Rustler 11 the last couple years so I'm interested in a skinner ski for on-piste performance in the mornings and some side stashes for jumping and playing around.
    The Brahma 82 felt like a tank on my feet. When i first put them on I was not overly excited about the weight. After a couple runs (icy cold spring morning) I didn't want to give them back. Holy Batman Robin! Those things we fast, responsive and extremely precise.
    I then tried the Kendo @ 177cm with no perceived notion. All I can say is WOW! First thing I noticed was the weight difference compared to the Brahma. Alot lighter on my feet. It took a few turns to get the handle of it after skiing the Brahma. I quickly learned that I didn't need to give too much input. If anything the damn ski was almost to reactive at first. Never have i skied a ski that could make any turn any time at any speed. There were a couple times when cruising at rocket speed down groomed blacks where I almost lost control because of too much input but the ski is light and fast enough that I could correct on the fly. I had nothing but a smile on face. It's not as precise as the Brahma nor do I feel like I could run over anything like I did the Brahma but does give more flexibility and Brahma in all terrains.
    Here's my question (as I'm ready to pull the trigger on a 2nd quiver ski), How does the 2020 Enforcer 93's compare to the Kendo's. I've heard nothing but great things about those skis and I'm sad I never got a chance to try them out on Demo day. My buddy did and he loved them. I want a ski that gives me the on piste performance (I like to go fast and hard) but also want a ski that I can hit moguls, some soft snow and jib around with. I know I'm asking for a lot out of a ski but after using the Rustler 11 for 2 years I want to make sure I have something quicker edge to edge but still have the same playful feel with charging characteristics. I hesitate on getting anything wider than 93/96 as i fear i may never get on my Rustler's throughout the season.
    Look forward to your response!

    1. Hi Willy!

      Curious, how many runs did you take on it at Loon? Admittedly it took me a while to figure out the 3D Radius and how the Kendo 88 wanted to be skied, but once I had about a day's worth of skiing on it, it felt great to me. It's not exceptionally intuitive the first time you ski it.

      Thanks for the feedback!


      1. Hi WB!

        I'll do my best to answer all your questions.

        1. Float as well as a Pinnacle 88? No, but that's just because it has less pronounced rocker. Handle ice and crud? Better than a ski like the Pinnacle, but it's not as easy to ski. Advanced/expert level skiers will prefer the Kendo 88 over a ski like the Pinnacle 88, but not everyone will. I think in general the M5 is a more versatile/diverse ski, mostly due to its width. The Kendo 88 feels more at home railing turns on groomers than pivoting through trees, for example.

        2. This is interesting, because we found it has a lot to do with weight and skier input. I am just about 150 lbs and actually found it preferred longer turns, especially if I was just cruising riding the ski. I had to gas pedal it and give it some power to shorten up the carving radius.

        3. As a one ski quiver, I think the M5 is a better choice, just because it boosts performance in softer snow conditions over the Kendo and you don't lose much performance on groomers. I don't expect you'll have any trouble going from 86 to 96. 96 mm underfoot is still pretty manageable, doesn't require a super high edge angler or anything like that.

        Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.


        1. Hi Zai!

          A lot of what you said is how I would describe the differences between a Brahma (either width) and the new Kendo 88. So, Enforcer 93 or Kendo 88... The Enforcer 93, in my opinion, is a more versatile ski. More pronounced rocker in both the tip and tail, and a very smooth feel in a wide variety of conditions. I don't think it feels quite as reactive or responsive as the Kendo 88, but I also think it's smoother and a touch more forgiving. So, kind of depends what you want. Kendo 88 is going to give you more precision and a quicker edge to edge feel on firm snow. The Enforcer 93 will feel more playful, and more versatile for different terrain and snow conditions. You lose a little bit of groomer performance from Kendo 88 to Enforcer 93, but not much. You could, of course, consider the Enforcer 88 as well. Similar to the 93, but better on firm snow.

          Hope that helps!


  15. I went from an 18' mantra 177 to a 19' Mantra M5 184. Both incredible ski's. The two sheets of metal in the 18' made it very stable, like a tank in crud. The M5 is lighter so there is a bit more tip flutter in crud but the offset is they are lighter and float through it, fast. The M5 is just as stable as the 18' at high speed but dances around the 18' when it comes to railing carved turns, slarving through bumps and popping through crud. They really rip and are super fast from edge to edge.
    They say the new Kendo is like the M5 but quicker from edge to edge and has no speed limit for turns. Sold me. Ordering a pair of 184's with Griffons!

  16. I've now narrowed my ski choices for next year - a strong preference for a 1 ski quiver that nicely balances both tight S-turns and GS turns with good float and maneuverability in soft snow and trees. My final choices are the 90ti or 99ti K2 Mindbender, or the Volkl new Kendo or Mantra M5.

    Please assist:

    It seems that the new Kendo will have more of a tendency to sink in soft snow that the Mindbenders?

    It seems that the Mindbenders and Mantra M5 are both great, but the K2's are simply more playful and fun...?

    Re the K2's: The turn radius for the 90ti's is about 17, and for the 99ti's is only 18.4. These side cuts must perform similarly for both tighter and longer turns?

    Thx so much for your insights!

    1. Hi WB!
      The K2's will certainly feel more playful and fun than the Kendo/Mantra, which are very business-like skis. They require a ton of input, but you do get high-end feedback. The K2' s have a high-performance ceiling, but are lighter and easier to turn and maneuver. They still have a metal frame in the core, so they're damp and solid skis to be sure, just not the heft and beef of the Volkl's. As far as the turn radius, check the reference size, my catalog shows that the 99 in the 184 has an 18.5 while the 90 in the 177 has a 17.9 meter radius. I suspect they'll have a similar radius in the same length and will therefore make about the same shape turns, just the 90 has more torsional stiffness and will hold an edge better. Hope that helps!

  17. Great Review! I skied the '19 Kendo in Deer Valley this winter and liked it even though it was out of its element (12 in a day for 4 days straight). I also liked that Volkl precision comment came true and it seemed very compliant, despite the conditions. My questions is this - I have only demo'ed, and want to buy this year. I am 5'9, ~170, advanced intermediate (mostly blues and blacks, some doubles - I still struggle with moguls a bit). I ski only mountain west these days (vail, bc, steamboat), and am finding I enjoy more and more time in the trees, glades, and want to do more technical terrain like moguls, ungroomed, etc. I'm probably a targeting a 60/40 on-piste/off-piste mix in my mind.

    I am really leaning toward the Kendo's (esp the 2020's with the redesign) but not sure I got a good test in the conditions given what I want to use them for going forward. I am also a progressing skier who can do 85% of the mountain but want to tackle that last 15% (steeps, chutes, aggressive bowls, etc.), so slower speed / control, responsiveness are probably what I value. Because of this, I seem to gravitate toward shorter skis as I am not "super" aggressive driving the ski, and preference shorter turns. (I feel most comfortable at 163-165 length, which is short for my stats). I am also considering the Kanjo, but the waist width alarms me for the conditions I've been getting out west lately. The K2 mindbender is another that may fit the bill, but I'd love to get your opinion on whether the new Kendo's would be good or a mistake for me. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jeff!
      I'm not a huge fan of the 2019 or prior Kendo, but I loved the 2020. I preferred it in all-mountain conditions rather than high-speed groomers, which actually surprised me quite a bit. If you prefer the shorter length, I'd go with the Kendo over the Kanjo, as they're very stable and you won't lose stability by downsizing. The Mindbender (90 Ti, I assume) is a bit more forgiving than the Kendo, and is easier to turn and more maneuverable. That said, you lose stability, but not too much, we're dealing with small amounts of differences, here. Hope that helps!

      1. Hi again SE!

        I have narrowed my search down to the 2020 Kendo vs. 2019 Rustler 9 at this point. Have they changed the 2020 Rustler 9 in any number of ways as Volkl did the with the Kendo? From everything I've read, the 19 vs 20 Kendo are night and day, wondering if Blizzard made any notable changes. Per my comment earlier in the section, I am looking for 60/40 on/off piste split that values trees, glades, tight terrain (lightness, flickability) a bit more than ripping the fastest rails across a blue groomer.

        Anything else I should be considering?

        Love your reviews and thanks again - Jeff

        1. Hi Jeff!
          Blizzard claims a stiffer/denser wood core for 2020, but it's not terribly noticeable. Other than that, they're the same as last year. And yes, I was never a big fan of the Kendo until the 2020 version which I love. That said, it's still not as light or flickable as the Rustler. If you're tipping the scale towards terrain versus railing groomers, I'd go with the Rustler. There's quite a bit of competition in that 88-92 mm all-mountain ski category, and they're all pretty good. The K2 Mindbender 90 Ti is worth a look, as is the Fischer Ranger 94 FR as well as the Ranger 92 Ti. Have fun!

          1. Thanks SE! In looking at the Rustler, it seems some people find it a little too loose or squirrely if you're not driving the edge (lots of tip rocker, etc.). I ski about 15 days out west (little to no east coast) - the last few years we have gotten lucky with powder but I def want something that is easy during the packed snow / ice over days when they happen. In looking at the Mindbender, looks like it has a more low rise rocker, seems a bit more damp/controlled than the Rustler - is that a fair assessment? Maybe just a touch more groomer focus yet being fun off-piste when called? Aside from all else I mentioned, I definitely appreciate a ski that doesn't need to be driven all the time and can be stable when cruising a blue at low/mid speed.


          2. Hi Jeff!
            Yup, I think you're pretty close with your assessment. The K2 has more metal over the edges of the ski, specifically in the forebody, and this makes for less chattering on ice at high speeds. The Rustler will be your better soft snow ski, as it's lighter and more flexible. The K2 is on the heavier side for a ~90 mm underfoot ski, but doesn't feel like it's hard work all the time--they've done a nice job with the Mindbender line for sure. Have fun!

  18. I see in the catalog, at least for europe anyway, that there is also a Kendo 92. Will that also be available next season at skiessentials?

  19. Another great review. Thanks for the info. I just started a skiing again for the first time in nearly twenty years because the family has gotten into the sport. I wasn't planning on doing any aggressive skiing; however, after gong a few times I still want to ski like I'm twenty, and was looking to upgrade my current skis. I picked up the Head V6 at a sale and like the ski, but was looking for something a little wider and more aggressive with some tail rocker. I'm 5'9 170 and I ski in the midwest, so mostly skiing on groomers and moguls and going off trail when I can. Probably plan on taking some trips out west with them as well.

    After a lot of research on your site, I've narrowed to down to a few skis: Kore 93, Enforcer 88 or 93, Mindbender 90Ti, or Kendo 88 (was thinking about the Kanjo but it sounds like the '20 Kendo is more forgiving than previous versions). The Kendo 88 and Enforcer 88 are at the top of my list as of now. Thanks for the help and all of the great work that you do.

    1. HI Wes!
      Great list! For your application, I'd leave the Kore and the Enforcer 93 off and focus on the Kendo, E88 and MB 90Ti. Of those, the Kendo is the burliest, even with the new version, while the MB 90Ti is the most forgiving and playful, but still a very lively and performance-oriented ski. I'd say it's the most versatile of the three. The Enforcer 88 is an absolute blast, and while it does have the tail rocker you're looking for, it's still quite stiff and responsive, so be prepared for that. The Enforcer is snappier and prefers carving more than the Kendo, but not by much. Sounds like you're looking for the more versatile ski, and I think the K2 is the way to go. Hope that helps!

  20. Hi guys

    Great site with great reviews!

    Looking for some assistance..... Started skiing again in the last few years after nearly 20 years doing other stuff (including snowboarding) and I'm hooked again!

    I ski in Europe (State-side on the agenda once my daughter has a few more years under her belt) and only manage a week or so a year at the moment but I've done a fair amount over the years so I'm fairly capable. I used to ski on a set of 2m long Fischer GS skis in the day.

    I ski mostly European reds and blacks and off piste if the conditions are good (although I'm less accomplished here).

    I'm looking for a one ski quiver with some tail rocker so I can ski switch and I want to learn old tricks like 180,s and 360's (although that's where my aspirations in the park end). I'm old school and like to ski with style - average speed - sometimes fast - sometimes cruising. I love to link quick turns and being old school I don't think I'm really a carver if you know what I mean. To me carvers are a new invention! I'm 175 tall and weigh about 75kg.

    I'm looking for some all Mountain skis and thinking about 85 - 90 under foot so considering the Vocal kanjo, Volkl Kendo 88, Nordica enforcer 88 or K2 mindbender 90 ti. Any thoughts? The Kendo 88's sound great but I'm wondering if they will be too stiff. The Kanjo is lighter which I'm guessing I'd like for the 360s but the Mindbender sounds great too. In fact they all do!

    Any thoughts, and advice on length too.

    Many thanks in advance.


    1. Hi Mark!
      You're right, they all are great skis! They all have some trade-offs, and they're not terribly different from one another at the end of the day, with the exception of the Kanjo, which as you noted, are lighter and more forgiving than the other skis on your list. None of them have a true twin-tip, but it sounds like that's kind of low on your wish list. Check out the Blizzard Rustler 9 (92 underfoot) for an all-mountain ski with a turned-up tail, or go right for the Nordica Soul Rider 87 for a full-on twin-tip ski that's pretty sweet for all-mountain skiing, just without metal.
      On your list, the K2 is the most forgiving, while the Enforcer and Kendo are pretty similar in terms of stiffness and carving prowess. Anything in the low to mid-170's would be a good size for you. Have fun!

  21. Hi! Thank you for the great reviews, and for providing this great service to the community.
    I'd like to ask some advice. I am looking for my next one-quiver ski. I am 5'10", about 165 lbs, 44 yo man, reasonably athletic, I'd call myself advanced - last instructor assessment was "solid 7, maybe 8 when you pay attention" 🙂 I do want to keep improving and progressing. I'm currently skiing a Volkl RTM 84, I think the 2016 version. I absolutely LOVE this ski on hardpack. I live in the mid-atlantic and ski mostly East Coast, but take at least one trip a year to big mountains, either out West or Europe. So, on groomed runs or hard stuff, which is most of what I see, these skis rock for smooth carved turns, the faster the better. But, that's about all they can do (but man, do they do it well). I took them to the Alps and they stayed in the locker, because they would not float at all in powder, so rented something else there. They won't float even in a bit of snow - the feet of powder Trois Vallees got a couple winters ago are not really a reasonable ask for any non-powder ski, but even in a little bit they tend to bury their tips instead of floating. This March I was in Winter Park CO and played in the trees and it was fun, but a lot of work, and I found myself eating snow a good couple of times. Bumps are doable, mainly because i undersized (167), but still not a strong point. I find myself really wanting more versatility.
    So, my impossible, ideal ski would be this: all of the automatic carving ability, the solid, strong hard pack performance of the RTMs, and with added float, more flex, ability to go into at least a bit of powder, more versatility for things like bumps etc., and maybe an easier to ski, less demanding feel. Of course, this doesn't exist, but what shall I look at to try and get close? This Kendo 88 looks like it may be an option. Or, Enforcer 88? I looked at the Rossi E88 Ti and the Salomon XDR, but I see mixed reviews. Brahma looks awesome, but from what I read it may be as demanding and front-oriented as my RTMs. Or should I look outside of these choices, at something like the Rustler 9? Dynastar x88? something else? Help a fella stay off a ledge, will ya?? 🙂
    Oh, for length I'm thinking 170 or low to mid 170s - is that right?
    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. Hi Codrin!
      Wow you've got a lot going on there! The good news is that you'd ultimately be happy on literally ANY of those skis on your list--just some have different qualities that require some adaptation on your part. Really the only outlier on your list is the Rustler 9--all others are fantastic all-mountain skis with both carving and off-piste capabilities. With the Rustler, you get a more playful and freeride-style feel due to the fact that there's not a full sheet of metal (XDR doesn't either, for what it's worth) and a twin-tip profile. As such, it'll be your best floater. I tend to put the Kendo and the Brahma in the same group in terms of highest-level overall performance, but that does come at the cost of weight and stiffness--certainly not "relaxing" skis by any means. The Dynastar, Enforcer 88 and Experience 88 I put on the next tier down, as more well-rounded skis, neither being the stiffest nor the softest. I do like that Enforcer--it's got pop!

      If you want to look outside these choices, I'd recommend something in the wider category. In addition to the Rustler 9, I'd add the Rossi Experience 94 and the Volkl Mantra M5. These are three mid-90's underfoot skis that can still carve pretty mean turns. If you're planning on keeping the RTM 84, I'd recommend something in the wider category, but if you're looking for one, I'd stick to the 88's.

      Again, all good choices!

  22. Really good review. I really like your site!
    I am an intermediate skier. I ski in the Midwest. The first skis I ever purchased were Elan Waveflex 12 some years ago. Don't get me wrong, they were a big jump over rental skis. But the problem is unless conditions are pretty good, my technique seems to fall apart. I will do great on fresh corduroy, but as conditions get chopped up I seem to have trouble with releasing my turns - it always seemed like the tail of the ski would hook up. Until last year I thought the problem was me. But I went out west got some good instruction and rented a bunch of skis. I figured out I need something more versatile. My favorite that I rented was the 2019 Kendo 90, which surprised me, since I tend to be cautious and skid/pivot turns a lot (and that was the heaviest and most stiff ski I tried). I am guessing that the lighter skis inspired less confidence in crud? For example, I HATED the Salomon QST.
    Anyway, Intermediate, somewhat cautious skier (who wants to improve), mid west, 100% on piste. 5'8" , 180#.
    What do you think about kendo 88 vs K2 Mindbender 90ti vs Rossignol Experience 88?

    1. Hi Julian!
      There's nothing intrinsically wrong with heavier or stiffer skis, even for intermediate skiers, it's all about personal preference. The new Kendo 88 is a bit less planky than the 2019, so you'll get a bit more quickness and response without losing stability. Same goes for the K2, with it's sculpted metal laminate and fiberglass weave, is on the heavier and more stable side as well. The Rossignol is on the lighter side, and I expect you'll have some of the same feelings about that as you did the QST. I'd look to the K2 or the Kendo 88 as those are the more stable and damp of the skis on your list. I'd say the K2 is a bit more lively while the Kendo is more composed, especially on groomers. Hope that helps!

      1. I thought I would close the loop.
        I purchased the Kendo 88 from you in Sept and now we finally have snow.
        I paired these with Look Pivot bindings.

        First, thank you for all the advice! You guys are great.
        Second, the Kendo's are just excellent skis. I have found them to be very responsive and the word "precise" most comes to mind. Fantastic in the crud. Very confidence inspiring. I am finding myself moving to more challenging terrain on these skis. This intermediate skier is progressing to expert. (I even tried tree skiing and had a blast)

        Very happy with the purchase. I strongly recommend the Kendo 88 and Skiessentials.

  23. Hi,

    I am trying to decide on my new skies and replace my old volkl crosstigers. I am 6”1” and 280 lbs. i ski mainly on piste in france . I want something that helps me go better through crud(really hate it). I am not sure what would be the better choice the m5 mantra or the kendo.

    Hope you have some info

    1. Hi Michel!
      The Mantra is a stronger crud performer for sure. At 96 mm underfoot, you're going to get a good deal of power through the broken snow, and while the Kendo is no slouch, there's just no substitute for extra surface area. Have fun!

  24. Hi,

    Any insight on mount point? Did you test these at the factory recommended line, which is the long line furthest back on the ski? The reason I ask is because I have these skis in the garage, but I haven't mounted them yet. I skied the Mantra M5 last year at the factory recommended line and was always curious about going 1 cm forward. I was chatting with a guy with the same skis and he said he went that 1 cm forward at his shop's recommendation. Think it's worth trying or am I overthinking it?


    1. Hi Dan!
      I think you're overthinking it. I've always assumed the manufacturer knows best, and unless you really know for yourself that you want a more maneuverable tip and a longer and stiffer tail, then I'd stick to the factory point. That said, there's nothing wrong with drilling an extra set of holes in my mind. The skis have a bunch of metal in them, so it's not going to affect performance as long as you plug up the other holes. Have fun!

  25. I was wondering if the 2020 Kendo 92 is the exact same ski as the Secret, or does it have the 3D radius sidecut like the 88? I am 5'7" 142 pounds. I am looking to replace my old Mantras with a slightly more forgiving ski. It sounds like the Titanal frame and narrower profile will fill the bill. I thought the 92 might work a little better than the 88 since I live in Colorado and spend 60% of my time off piste.

    1. Hi Mark!
      Unless you're quite sure that you want a ski to perform one way or another, we recommend the factory point, which is where they were mounted for our test setup. Have fun!

  26. Hey guys - your reviews are super helpful.

    I’m 6’2” and about 185-190 pounds (probably close to 200 with gear). I currently have a DPS Alchemist Wailer 100 RP (185) and a Kastle FX95 (non-HP) in 189.

    I love the Kastle’s but sometimes they’re just too heavy for me and probably a bit too long, so looking to replace them. I’m advanced (not the best technique but pretty good) and can ski anything on the east coast and everything but the hardest stuff out west. I’d like a ski with almost no top end, but that can also be skied at slower speeds (my kids and wife are learning to ski).

    My primary issue with the Kastle’s is in tighter spots - steeper moguls/trees. When I can blast down the mountain they’re tons of fun. I’m also just pretty exhausted at the end of the day skiing on them.

    I think the Kendo 88s would be a great option to replace the Kastles. Do you think the 184 is the right size for me, or will they be close in weight and demand to the Kastle’s? I’m hesitant to size down too much to the 177s but am totally open to it if I won’t lose top end or stability zipperlining moguls, etc. Thanks very much for the advice and all the help.

    Also, should I consider mantras instead or the enforcer 88s? If so, same sizing question.

    1. Hi Matt!
      The Kendo 184 sounds like a great option. There's certainly nothing wrong with the Mantra or Enforcer 88, but the Kendo will certainly do everything you ask of it. The Mantra would likely overlap your DPS, and the Enforcer has an interesting sizing choice for you at either the 179 or the 186. If you're hesitant between the 177 and 184 Kendo, the 179 Enforcer might fill that role nicely, but overall, you can't go wrong with that Kendo. Have fun!

      1. Thanks very much. Would I be ok on the 177? Don’t want to lose stability but like the idea of lighter and more maneuverable.

        1. Matt,
          I think it'll be fine. It's amazing what you can get used to and adapt to. There's not likely one perfect size for everyone and every model, so at some point, some type of accommodation will have to be made. Have fun!

  27. Great Review!
    I'm torn between the Kendo and the Enforcer 88. I tried both and I really enjoy them. Do you happen to know which of the two is heavier? Do you have any advice that would lean me to make a decision?


    1. HI Mathias!
      Enforcer 88 is heavier. I weighed them the other day. The lack of a second full sheet of metal makes the Kendo lighter and a bit more maneuverable. I've been skiing the Enforcer 88 for a few weeks now and love it. I'm 6/2 220, so I don't have much of an issue with the weight, but if you're a lighter skier looking for a tad more playfulness, I'd go Kendo. Have fun!

  28. Hi,

    Doing some comparisons between the Kendo, K2 MB 90Ti, and Rustler 9 wondering your thoughts on the differences. What might advantages/drawbacks of each, or what type of skier would enjoy each.

    I am a bit smaller 5'4" 160lbs. I predominantly ski the east, not overly concerned with getting float on my skis. I am an advanced-expert skier.

    I really like skiing trees, bumps and steeps... powder is great, but doesn't happen so often.... and if it really dumps, or I am on a trip, i'd just rent the proper skis. I like a skis that really respond to my input.

    Thanks for the input.

    1. Hi Chris!
      The Kendo is the most metallic--stable, smooth and quick while the K2 has more of a rubbery feel. I like the K2 better, but it is a bit more sluggish than the energetic Kendo. The Rustler is the most versatile, mostly due to the wider waist and more playful feel. Still a strong carver thanks to metal underfoot, the Rustler can snap off some quick and powerful turns, but the lighter tips and tails can be a bit chatty at speed on firm snow. That said, they're likely the best tree skis on your list, and even though it's not a priority for you, they are the best floaters. The Kendo has the highest gear, but also requires the most input while the Rustler can be skied by a variety of skier types in all sorts of conditions and terrain. The K2 sits somewhere in the middle, and unless you ski it and like it, it's harder to nail down than the other two. Have fun!

  29. Hey SE! I'm pretty set on the Kendo, but looking for some guidance on length. Solid intermediate skier looking for something to improve with - faster skiing and more off-piste. Have historically skied a bit cautiously, but looking to pick up the speed a bit in the upcoming season. Mostly east coast skiing with probably ~2 total ski days on the west coast per year.
    5'10" / 175 lb.

    I assume I'd be more comfortable on the 170cm. I won't be a super fast skier anytime soon, but would I be missing out on stability or 'room for growth' or something else by not going with the 177cm?


    1. Hi Mike!
      I'd go 177 for the reasons stated that you are looking to pick up speed. If you preferred shorter turns or were more on the conservative side, you'll be fine on the 170, but it sounds like you're looking for improvement and stability. Have fun!

  30. I’m 5’11, 245lbs. I ski raced in high school and college but admittedly am much better outside of the gates than in them. I’m not in the shape I once was but can still charge ok. I skied these in a 177 to test for a ski I can easily ski with my 7 year old and then sneak off and rip some runs. Jumping on these I felt that instant Volkl feel. From the first run in spring conditions with mashed potatoes over ice, these skis were awesome. On some high speed cruisers they crushed through the mash with no problem. I own 185’s in my other skis (100mm and 122mm) and I was really impressed with the 177’s in these. It never felt like the tips let me down. I skied them back to back with the Enforcer 88 and did not like this skis as much, although they were really fun! I love the tails of the Enforcer and they loved the soft snow but the rocker tips were chatter city on the ice and I just didn’t have the confidence with them at speed as I found with the Kendo 88’s! Excited to grab some for 2020/21.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *