Ski Reviews

2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review

2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

Um, yeah, so if you're one of those people who didn't like the new Mantra M5 because you thought it was too narrow or was toned-down too much, you're going to get your wish in the new 2020 Volkl Mantra 102. This thing is a beast. The Titanal Frame construction from the new Kendo 88 and the Mantra M5 filters up to the 102, and in a really good way. The design makes the skis more playful and less planky while still retaining the high-performance edge control and power of the more traditional Mantra/Race-style build. When the Mantra 102 was invented, the Titanal Frame was a natural match. While some fans of the 100mm underfoot, fully-rockered Mantra were unsatisfied with the narrower M5, they won't have to show their disappointment for long. Those skiers should get on a Mantra 102 as fast as possible. Speaking of fast...

I skied these at the end of March, on a nice spring day that was firm and fast in the morning, and a bit mushy later in the day, but still with hard, icy snow covering most of the mountain. The Mantra 102 did not care. I kept thinking of that quote from Game of Thrones when Tywinn says that "A Lion does not concern itself with the opinions of sheep." The Mantra 102 is the Lion in this analogy, and the rest of the mountain is the sheep. The Mantra simply seemed to not care what was in front of it or beneath it. It just went. With the additional 8 mm of width as compared to the M5 Mantra, the 102 ends up being quite a bit heavier and burlier. Over the course of the 184 centimeters of ski, that 8 mm of width adds up and bulks the 102 up to heavyweight proportions. That said, and as substantial as it felt on my feet (noticeable on the chairlift), the Mantra 102 is a pretty nimble ski. It reacts quickly to input and, due to the Titanal Frame and 3D Radius sidecut. This sidecut shape makes it easier to vary up your turns depending on where you pressure the ski. In the tips and tails, the ski has a longer radius, so is better at going faster and straighter. In the middle of the ski, the radius is a bit shorter, so when you're making quick turns, you want to make sure your pressure is centered underfoot. Sounds weird, but it works. So yes, it is a heavier ski, and certainly meant more for inbounds and lift served terrain versus touring or backcountry, but the performance is far from brick-ish.

2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

I took them into the moguls, which were pretty hard and fast. The Mantra 102 did not care. They did not flinch. They were a bit of extra work when the lines tightened up, but for a stiff 102 mm underfoot ski, I could wiggle them around pretty well. This is not what they are designed for, by the way, so any mogul skiing being done on the Mantra 102 should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, the fact that they turned quickly (with pressure on the middle of the ski reducing turn radius) was very promising.

How about the woods? I couldn't help but think that if I decided to ski the Mantra 102 directly into the trunk of a tree, that it would take the tree down. I didn't, and it wouldn't, but the point is that the Mantra 102 feels like it will literally conquer anything. It's a fantastic tree ski that will go where you point it. When the woods get tight, sure, a nice light wood core twin-tip would be a better choice, but we're looking at the overall picture here, and in that regard, the Mantra 102 is a totally competent ski in the woods. Again, this was a relatively hard snow day, so I was staying right on top of the surface. With fresh or softer snow, I'd expect the 102 to totally shine. They have the width to float, for sure.

2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review: Action Image2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review: Action Image

I didn't get to test them out in powder, because it's hard to just phone in a pow day, but I'm willing to bet (and we can re-visit this later) that they're going to do just fine. There's not a lot of tip and tail taper, much like the M5 Mantra, and the rocker isn't terribly pronounced, but they're still 140 in the tip and 102 underfoot, so just based on surface area calculations, they'll float. Once that snow gets cut up, though, watch out. These things light up the crud and chop. Again, they simply do not care what's in front of them. They are some of the most un-wavering and stable skis that I've ever been on, and their ability to hold the edge regardless of the snow quality or condition, is unlike anything else I've experienced.

Back to the speed, and the ski's ability to make different turn shapes depending on pressure, the Mantra 102, for a wider ski, carves like a dream. It's a Cadillac out there, just motoring along not caring about anything else in the world. I was hesitant to point them down some of the steeper terrain here at Stowe, but it didn't take me long to realize that was a ridiculous thought. It was an "A-Ha" moment when I finally understood what was on my feet and what they were capable of. The sidecut makes a difference, because as you lean into the turn and increase speed, it's natural to want to move your pressure back from the forebody and into the underfoot and tail. You can really feel the ski pick up speed, mostly because the turn radius is increasing as your pressure moves back in the ski. In the transition of the turn, be ready to get back to the tip of the ski, because I'm pretty sure these things will take you for a ride if you're just turning from the midfoot back all day. But when you're balanced and when you figure out the 3Dimension Radius (there is a bit of a learning curve), you'll wonder why anyone would want a narrower ski for groomers and smooth terrain.

Best suited for skiers who are looking for a high-performance ski and who equate weight with stability, the 2020 Volkl Mantra 102 is a ridiculously amazing ski. The width, combined with the build, combine to create a ski that's an absolute blast to rip around on. It has pretty surprising slow-speed ability, so you don't have to be on it all the time, but good luck finding the speed limit on this thing. I'm 6'2" and 220 pounds all geared up, and I was on the 184. I think the 191 would be on the long side for me, especially here in the east. For a wide-open western ski, I'd most likely size up. But that 184 felt pretty good on my feet, and I think a whole lot of skiers are going to have the same experience. If you're at all serious about the sport of skiing, check out the Mantra 102 and don't be afraid to floor it.

2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review: Buy Now Image


 

Written by Bob St. Pierre on 06/13/19

32 thoughts on “2020 Volkl Mantra 102 Ski Review

    1. Hi Bo!
      The main difference in my experience is swing weight. The K2 has a lighter and quicker swing to it, and is able to be skidded and smeared better. The 102 is more of a "locked in" type of feeling, one in which it takes some energy to break out of the turn. Even though it's a bit wider, the 102 is a stronger carver on-trail as well as being a better crud and chop ski. In flat-out straight powder, take your pick. The 99 is more playful and easier to manipulate turn shapes due to that lower swing weight. Both pretty sick skis.
      SE

    1. Hi Hansjorg!
      I feel like we'll be seeing a lot of these questions with the 102. The Enforcer 100 is the most freeride-oriented, thanks to the longer rocker profile. The E100 also has the most consistent build versus the other two that have different materials in different spots to achieve different effects, such as the carbon in the tips of the Bonafide that reduce swing weight. I'd say the Mantra 102 is the least quick of the three, with the Bonafide being the quickest. The 100 is the best floater, and even at 102 underfoot, the Mantra is the strongest carver, with the Bonafide coming in a close second. At the end of the day, all three of these skis are burly builds with crazy stability and strength. Hope that helps!
      SE

  1. Hi guys, how does the mantra 102 compare to the enforcer 104 and the k2 pinnacle 105z.
    Thanks for your reviews, they are great!!

    1. Hi Alex!
      Bottom line, I'd go with the Pinnacle for powder, the Mantra for harder snow and crud, and the Enforcer for versatility. The longer tip rocker in the K2 really allows it to stay on top, while the twin-tip shape of the Enforcer gives it a playful feeling, while still being pretty stiff. The Mantra is stiff, stable, and unflinching at speed. The biggest gap is between the Mantra and the Pinnacle on hard snow--the tip of the Pinnacle really does not like harder snow. Hope that helps!
      SE

  2. Wow! Cant wait.
    Suprised about your length choice though ....
    We are similar in size, I may be an inch taller. I currently own and LOVE the M5 in the 191, and have a hard time mentally going down in size. I don't think I have ever once wished for the shorter length.
    Having said that, I have considerable knee damage, (motorcycle accident 30 years ago) and now 52, I worry about the longevity of said knee.
    I ski a million vertical a year, in Revelstoke. Should I be considering the 184?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Chris!
      To be fair, I haven't skied the 191 yet so I can't speak to how that one feels, but I did think the 184 was certainly enough ski for me. I've skied similar skis in the longer lengths, such as the Nordica Enforcer 100 in the 193, and did feel like those were a bit cumbersome sometimes, but not all the time. The stoutness of the 102 makes me lean to the 184, and as I ski primarily in the east with tighter trees/turns, I appreciate the extra maneuverability. Hope that helps!
      SE

      1. I am 67 years old, 6”2”, 220 and am skiing Volkl Katana 191s. Thinking about the 102 as the replacement. I ski the West with Squaw/Alpine/Mammoth my homes. Starting to slow down a bit, but still go off the top off piste. Some powder, but not as much as in the past unless we get lucky at Snowbird or Revelstoke. I have begun to embrace the groomers more. The Katanas are the best Volkl I have ever skied so am looking for a replacement. My 4 year old Mantras are ok but not nearly as good as the Katanas. If I go for the 102s should I stick with the 191s or downsize?

        1. Hi Yeti!
          I'd get the same size as your older Mantra. I'm your size and skied the 184 in the 102 and thought that was just about right. I was thinking the 191 might be long for me and where I ski. Hope that helps!
          SE

  3. I used the Mantra M5 last season and I am wondering whether to swop the 102.

    Any advice?

    I ski everything and anything I can, and predominantly ski in Europe. I am 191cm tall and weigh 86kg.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Tom!
      It's a very similar feel and behavior, just that extra width makes the ski that much burlier and stable. I was pretty blown away at how stable they were, but it did come at the cost of quickness, but at that power level, you didn't really have to move the skis too much because they just plow through everything. On groomers, they carved like a much narrower ski with fantastic edge grip. Worth a rip for sure.
      SE

  4. Im very interested in the vokl 102 Im getting new skis for this season and cant decide exactly I ski out west and usually get about twenty days in a year since I live in illinois Im more of an advanced skier and can make my way down double blacks but im certainly not the best skier on the mountain Im about 5,6 150 would these be a good choice thanks and I love your vids keep up the good work

    1. Hi John!
      The 102 is a great ski for western mountains and conditions. It's on the hefty side, so be prepared to put in a bit of effort. Other than that, they're about as smooth and stable as you could find! Have fun!
      SE

  5. I was all set to get the M5, but now this.... Help me decide between the Mantra 102 and M5.

    I'm 50 yo, 5'9" x 150 with skinny legs. I've been skiing for 40 years. I ski pretty aggressively, all over the mountain, probably 60% off-piste, but i also love to rail GS turns on the groomers. I mostly ski Mammoth mountain in CA. I average around 5-6 days a year.

    For the past 3 years I have been skiing the M4 mantra in a 170. I love this ski. I ski it in everything with no problems at all. But at that width with two sheets of metal, it is one heavy ski. Admittedly, it does sometimes wear me out by the end of a full ski day, especially if i ski bumps.

    So I have been thinking about getting a ski that is a half step down from the M4 in terms of weight and energy input required. Naturally the M5 came to mind. But I was concerned whether it would be enough ski for me, in terms of width and stability/dampness (i skied the old 90mm Kendo and felt it was too narrow and not damp enough).

    But, now I am thinking about getting the 102 instead. Do you think the 102 with the titanal frame and 3d sidecut will be easier to ski and lighter than the M4? Will i find the M5 too soft coming from the M4? Help me choose. I would purchase either ski in a 170. These skis do not ski short.

    Appreciate your input. LOVE the site guys.

    1. Hi BT!
      It sounds like you're leaning to the 102, and I agree. At 96 mm underfoot, the M5 isn't that much wider than the older Kendo, and if you're looking for wider and damper, the 102 iw the way to go. It's one of the most impressive skis I've been on in a while. Still energy required, but they blow through everything on the hill--very strong. Have fun!
      SE

    1. Hi Santiago!
      Yup! Although very stable, I think the 184 would feel short for someone your height/size. Have fun!
      SE

  6. Hey, I’m looking to replace my original bonifides that are 180s and I have loved for years but I demoed the newer bonifide 2 years ago and didn’t love it as much as the originals. Considering this years Mantra M5, Bonifide, mantra 102 but am struggling to make a decision any thoughts or other suggestions as I don’t get to demo many skis.
    I am 5’11 and 210lbs advanced - expert skier.

    1. Hi Aussie!
      If you're a fan of the old Bonafide, you'll probably love the Mantra 102. I'd go with the 184 in that model based on your stats. Also the Nordica Enforcer 100 is worth a look. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Thanks for the reply,
        Just out of interest why the 102 over the M5, and do they both ski short vs the Bonifide as the 177 length seems to be similar to the 180 in the Blizzard just wondering for the occasional bump run if the 184 may be a little long as I had the original mantras in 184? Regards Aussie.

        1. I have 2016 Mantra 170's and 2019 M5 170's. I am the same height and level of skier and am very aggressive skier but lighter than you at 78kg/172lb.
          Never thought I could get a better ski than my old Mantras, until I got Mantra M5's. Seriously an awesome ski that rips anything at any speed you like with zero complaints. So very similar to the 2016's, but sharper.
          Have not yet tried Mantra 102's, but as they are identical apart from width, and the tester's description is exactly as I would have described my M5's, you cannot go wrong. I will be getting a pair of 102's for powder days, have my M5's for every other day, and my trusty 2016's for the springier snow.
          Hey Volkl: Don't go changing....best skis ever made!

  7. Hi SE! Just came across your site and I'm really loving the work you're doing. Thanks so much for the great information!

    I'm in my late twenties, 5'7", 132lbs, advanced/expert (comfortable on any trail and deep in the woods), however my knees have been a bit weak in recent years. I've been riding a pair of 169cm Völkl Bridge Jr's on-and-off since 2009. It's time for me to get back into skiing and do a proper upgrade, so I'm looking for the right new Völkl model to be my daily drivers (one-ski-quiver) for lift-serve at Mad River this winter!

    I love long woods runs and going fast on-piste, and I'm also a fan of slamming through the bumps from time to time. I need a strong all-mountain ski that can do it all. For my purposes, I'm already sold on the Mantra family, however I'm stuck deciding between the 102, M5, and Mantra V.Werks. I love your take on the 102's and they seem best suited for my current ability, and the M5's look like a winner as well, but I'm worried that these pairs will be too hefty for me by the end of the day. Your reviews of the V.Werks Mantra really entice me, especially due to how lightweight they are, but I think those may prove to be too stiff and unforgiving--perhaps better suited to a pro skier or for touring. What do you think? Would I be crazy to jump straight to the V.Werks for my first upgrade in years? Are the heavier yet stable skis a better match for me than the lightweight yet unforgiving V.Werks?

    1. Hi Jack!
      I think the VWerks will be too stiff (but light enough) while the Mantra skis will be a bit too cumbersome on your knees for full day MRG skiing. Check out the Volkl 90Eight for a lighter yet stable ski. It's shaped similarly to the Vwerks, but is made from wood and fiberglass instead of wood and carbon. I'd also look at the Blizzard Rustler 9 (or 10 for a wider option) for a great ski with a blend of lightness and performance. Hope that helps!
      SE

      1. Wow, I had completely overlooked the 90Eight! Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention, that's incredibly helpful! You rule!

    2. Ok, here’s the deal. I bought the Mantra M5s at the end of last season a free trying a friends pair for only 1 turn. They are literally THE GREATEST all around ski $ can buy. Incredibly stable on groomers & are up everything non perfect. Damn good in deep powder but there are better deep snow skis. Still, you will be thrilled. They turn real fast in all conditions & hold a line like a race car

  8. Hey,
    first of all, thank you for these awesome reviews!! Really appreciate it.
    So, I'm in search for a new pair again. I got some blizzard for ripping groomers and some armada for park und big air. At the moment I'm shifting my focus more towards backcountry/touring/freeriding. I got some heavy 88mm blizzards but I wanna get into the 92-100mm range. It should be a fun and versatile freeride ski with a mixture of all-mountain and some touring aspects. Just something to have fun with and play around! Will be used 70% off-piste and 30% on-piste. They should be on the light side, playful and in the best case with less sacrifice in stability and maybe speed. I want something that gives my backcountry skiing the boost to the next level. Age 22/145 lbs/in between advanced to pro
    These are my favs: Elan - Ripstick 96 Black Edition / Line - Vision 98 and Sick Day 94 / Kästle - FX96 / Faction - Agent 2.0 and Dictator 2.0 / Dynastar - Legend 96 / Rossignol - SKY 7 HD / Head - Kore 99

    What's your recommendation? Any other suggestions?

    Thank you very much for your time and insight!!!

    1. Hi Flo!
      For a combination of light weight and stability, I like the Ripstick, Kastle, and Kore. I'm not as familiar with the Faction skis. No metal in any of the three I pointed out, but they all use carbon to generate stiffness and stability without adding weight. I've really been liking the looks of that Ripstick lately--if you can give it a try, it's pretty impressive. Hope that helps!
      SE

  9. Hi SE,
    Love your video reviews and write ups. I have been skiing on 2012 Mantra's with 98 underfoot and at 177(I am 5'10" and 200#). It has been a really fun ski, and my one quiver ski. I enjoy carving the groomers as well as skiing the steeps, bumps, and the trees in the Sierras.
    I am looking to get some new skis for this season. So, the 96 or the 102's? I do enjoy a snappier ski, but I have gotten used to the feel of the Mantra's. I could go with others, like the Bonafide or Enforcer. I just need to narrow my field of choices. Thanks for any insight and guidance.

    1. Hi Eric!
      I've thought that the 102 is a better transition from fans of the older 98's. Tons of power and precision, although not quite as quick as the 96. Nothing wrong with the Bonafide or Enforcer, but if you've been a Volkl fan in the past, there's no real reason to change. Have fun!
      SE

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