2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review

We tested hundreds of different skis over the past year. Sometimes, a certain ski becomes more memorable than others. It can happen for different reasons, too. Sometimes we’ll ski a really unique shape that stands out, sometimes a ski will stand out for being exceptionally powerful, or exceptionally agile. In this case, however, it feels memorable for a different reason. When your sales rep shows up with a fleet of next year’s ski and confidently hands you one and says “this will be our most popular ski,” it’s a pretty bold claim. That’s what makes testing this ski so memorable, at least it’s what does it for me. And that ski is the new Black Crows Serpo.

Black Crows turned some heads around this time last year with the new Justis for 2021 (at least it turned our heads). The Serpo was developed along a similar trend, although as is typically true with Black Crows skis, it’s not just a narrower version of an existing ski, there are certain elements that make it different aside from just width. To start, this ski is 93 mm underfoot. The Justis is 100 mm underfoot, and the Orb, another ski with quite a few similarities, is 88. It has a 20 m turn radius in every length, which happens to be the same as the Justis, and quite similar to the Orb too. The difference in shape amongst these skis is the amount of rocker. The Justis, as we’ve talked about before, has a lot of rocker in both the tip and tail. It rises quickly off the snow and I the reason Black Crows can retain somewhat of a surfy feel, while still attaining strength and power. Although the Black Crows catalog describes the rocker in the same way, the Serpo has less rocker, most notably in the tail. “Progressive front rocker and slight rear rocker” is how Black Crows describes it, which I think is a more accurate description of the Serpo than the Justis. To me, the Justis has more than “slight rear rocker.”

AT A GLANCE


2022 Black Crows Serpo Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

168.2, 174.1, 180.1, 186.3 cm

20 m at All Lengths

131 / 93 / 115 mm

Poplar with Double H-Shape Titanal

Versatility, Responsiveness, Edge Grip


Construction is relatively similar between these 3 skis as well. They all start with a poplar wood core and fiberglass, and they all get double “H-shape” titanal plates. That means you get full width metal underfoot, then metal along the edges of the ski through the fore and aft-body, then the metal stops before the tips and tails, about where the rocker starts in the tip, and the same is true in the tail. Of course, as there’s less tail rocker, the metal extends closer to the end of the tail than the end of the tip. The Serpo does have a different tail shape than the Justis and Orb, and it also doesn’t get the aluminum tail insert that’s found on those 2 skis. So, it’s almost like there’s a 3-ski collection that consists of the Orb, Serpo, and Justis, but I wouldn’t go quite that far. Close, but it’s not like a Nordica Enforcer, where you basically get identical shapes and constructions through 88, 94, and 100 mm widths.

As we often do, I asked Bob St.Pierre to provide his insight, so let’s start with that: In a bit of a break from what Black Crows normally does, which is to make each ski unique and different, the Serpo offers a narrower version of the sublime Justis, and skiers like myself couldn't be happier. I love the stability, power, and overall character of the Justis, and the Serpo carries those attributes forward, but in a quicker and more agile format. While the Justis may be on the wide side for an Eastern one-ski quiver, the Serpo slides right in and snags that spot with authority. It's an easy turner with a high top gear. It's quick and stable at the same time, with a responsive, but not overpowering tail. At my size, on the 180, I found the shovel to be on the softer side, so at 6'2, I'd certainly gravitate to the 186. Even so, I was pretty darn impressed with the way the Serpo held tight to the snow and was able to make a variety of turn shapes and styles. I think a lot of skiers who balked at the 100 mm Justis will feel right at home on the 93 mm Serpo.

2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review: Camber Profile Image

As always, valuable feedback from Bob, and I couldn’t agree more with his assessment of “quick and stable at the same time, with a responsive, but not overpowering tail.” That’s the key to the Serpo and what makes it such a fun ride. Softer, lighter tips and tails allow for really easy turn initiation. Easier than a lot of skis in this width range that use metal, in fact, fair to say it’s easier than most skis in this width range. The tip shape helps with this too. There’s not really any notable early taper, but the way the sidecut kind of rolls into the tip shape gives it a very smooth, intuitive feel when linking turns. Underfoot, you get a lot of grip and precision from the H-Shape metal, which is where the stability comes from. With the softer flexing tips and tails, you’re still able to manipulate the ski into different turn shapes and styles, like flexing it into a shorter radius carve or allowing the tail edge to release ever-so-slightly. Some heavier, really aggressive skiers might push it past its limits in terms of edge grip and stability at speed, but I don’t expect many will find that limitation. On the other hand, it feels more valuable to have more compliant and more supple tips and tails.

Because there’s less tail rocker than the Justis, you also get a more energetic, responsive feel out of the Serpo. Where the Justis wants to slip, smear, and slarve, the Serpo has more of a preference to get back to pointing down the fall line, which translates to a quick, agile feel. It’s also not catchy or hooky, rather it’s one of those skis that has a rhythmic, responsive feel as you transition through skidded, shorter turns. Both skis are maneuverable, but do so in a different way and with a different feel. More “traditional” skiers may prefer the increased responsiveness out of the tail of the Serpo. Interestingly, although it’s more responsive than the Justis, it’s also more forgiving and easier to ski. The Justis can feel like a lot at times. It feels heavier on your feet and its width gives it more of a tank-like feel. It can still be manipulated and still likes to play, but it does require more skier input, and some of our testers have noted that it’s probably too much ski for them as a daily driver. The Serpo doesn’t have that same demanding, heavy feel. It’s responsive, has good grip, and is still a relatively strong, stable ski, but it’s far more easy-going than the Justis.

2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

Off-piste the two skis have different characteristics that stem from the differences in forgiveness, rocker shape, etc. The Justis has more float and feels surfier in deep snow, but the Serpo is quicker and the lighter swing weight comes in handy when you’re in tight terrain. It’s a blast in east coast trees even with the flatter tail. It’s flatter, but certainly not completely flat, and in my opinion there’s enough rocker back to give it a more user-friendly than a lot of skis in this category. Black Crows has a ton of skis with wider shapes and more rocker, so it’s not like the Serpo is designed to excel in powder, but I do think it’s good enough in soft snow that most skiers would feel just fine using it as a daily driver. Probably a perfect scenario for a lot of skiers would be combining a Serpo with something like the Atris or Nocta as a 2-ski quiver from Black Crows, but if you’re just going to have one pair of skis, the Serpo is an excellent option.

To summarize, it’s more agile and quicker than the Justis. It might not be as powerful or have as much float, but I think it’s perfectly fair to say it’s a more well-rounded ski and one that will be enjoyed by a bigger range of skiers. In the video review, I ask Bob if it’s the “most normal” ski that Black Crows has ever made. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, rather that it has the broadest appeal. A lot of Black Crows skis feel like they have specific purposes or specific goals, but the Serpo is objectively a good ski no matter how you look at it or who skis it.

2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Jeff Neagle on 04/27/21

8 thoughts on “2022 Black Crows Serpo Ski Review

    1. HI Dan!
      Maverick is stiffer overall and more responsive. It's a better pure carver than the Serpo, which can be overskied by heavier or more aggressive skiers, while I would not really say the same thing about the Maverick. I'd rather ski the Serpo in bumps and trees and other places where quickness is a virtue, as the Maverick isn't quite as agile. Have fun!
      SE

    1. Hi Chris!
      More power and precision in the M6 for sure, and that comes at the cost of weight. I'd rather ski the Serpo in fresh snow, bumps, and trees, but the Mantra on groomers. You can get a high level of performance out of the Serpo without as much effort as it takes for the Mantra, so that's something to consider as well. I prefer how lighter skis like the Serpo (or the Elan Ripstick 96 Black) can achieve such power and precision rather than a heavier Mantra which may be more stable at high speeds, but does take some work to get it there. Have fun!
      SE

  1. Thanks for another great review! Definitely sounds like very cool skis.
    How would you compare them to the Armada Declivity 92 TI in terms of how they ski on different terrains, and whether one would be better for any type of skier than the other?

    Many thanks,

    Jan

    1. Hi Jan!
      I would rather take the Serpo in the bumps and trees, as it is a quicker edge to edge ski. I found the Declivity to have a lot of power, more so than the Serpo, and that does take some of the agility away from it. For more groomer skiing and stronger carving performance, I'd lean to the Declivity, but for a more well-rounded and versatile ski for a variety of conditions and terrain, I'd rather ski the Serpo. Have fun!
      SE

  2. Great review--looks like this might be the ticket for me.

    I'm 5'8, 145. Coming off a well-loved pair of 172cm Line Prophet 98s. I ski mostly Fernie and Canadian Rockies, usually hitting a lot of cut-up fresh snow, crud, trees and bumps after dropping the kids at lessons (ie after the fresh stuff has been pillaged). I like the idea of a directional ski that's both maneuverable with some decent pop for carving groomers, and can still float with up to 6" of fresh.

    Thoughts on these in a 174 vs. the new QST99s in 176 or Rustler 9s/10s?

    1. HI 800lbgorilla!
      Serpo is lighter and quicker than the QST 99, although probably not quite as stable or stout in more rugged snow conditions. The Rustler follows a similar construction path as the Serpo, with a partial metal laminate, so you will get snappier and more energetic response on groomer with either of these versus the QST. The Rustler 9 is likely a better comparison to the Serpo, with the Serpo being a bit more directional, a tad lighter, and slightly more energetic. Like the Rustler, it's just a really well-rounded ski. I'd even say the Serpo is quieter and poppier than the Rustler. Have fun!
      SE

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