This article originally appeared on Outside
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
Overall Score: 7.91/10
Crud Performance: 8.43
Hard-Snow Integrity: 7.43
Stability at Speed: 7.71
Lengths: 163, 171, 178
Radius: 16 (171cm)
Weight: 1,800 g (171cm)
Level: Strong Intermediate to Expert
In a Nutshell
Pros: Crud Performance (#1), Stability at Speed (#2)
Cons: Quickness (#7), Hard-Snow Integrity (#3)
Ladies loved last season's Rallybird Ti, which remains unchanged this season except for new graphics, so it's no surprise to see this ski rise to the top of the All-Mountain Wide category. For a wide ski, it performs surprisingly well on hard snow, though its girth does force you to put a little more effort into setting an edge. Testers didn't mind, since the added surface area makes for stellar crud performance.
During the gear test in Sun Valley, testers had to contend with a heavy melt and refreeze cycle that culminated in coral-reef conditions, and this was the ski on which testers felt most comfortable. That's partly due to the Titanal and extended core in this ski's construction. Both increase the ski's stiffness and dampness, thus adding to its stability in variable conditions. It also makes the Rallybird 104 Ti one of the heavier skis we tested in the women's All-Mountain Wide category. "I really like this ski, but actually prefer it in the shorter lengths," said SKI Test director Jenny Wiegand. "At 178cm, the ski feels significantly heavier and beefier. Still, it's a great ski for late in the season when you're crushing crud or slush bumps."
The Rallybird 104 Ti features 60 percent camber, with 25 percent rocker at the tip and 15 percent rocker in the tail. This freeride oriented rocker profile makes the ski fun and maneuverable in the bumps, but only for the testers who have a lot of strength and energy to make the ski turn quickly. It takes an expert skier to whip this ski around in tight spots. "This ski can do it all, but only strong and skilled skiers will be able to make it turn quick enough to navigate tight terrain," added Wiegand.
But if you keep to wide open terrain--say, the back bowls and headwalls at the resort--and ratchet up the speed, the Rallybird 104 Ti impresses with its knack for bombing through even the worst mank. A couple testers reported that the ski gets a little chattery when you're flying down hardpack, and an ex-racer said they had hoped for more edge control on the firm groomers. That isn't to say that this ski doesn't like going fast--it does in softer snow. But if you're skiing in super firm conditions like we were on Sun Valley mornings during this year's test, this ski prefers restrained speeds.
A tester who prefers less aggressive, cruisey turns said this is "overall a fun, solid ride that likes to cruise and blasts through the chop. It's definitely more of a freeride feel than an ex-racer type of feel, though."
At the end of the day, balanced, arcing GS turns in softer snow or blasting through the crud is where the Rallybird 104 Ti truly soars. If you're not afraid to put in the work, like to wander off-piste, and the conditions where you ski are often less-than-stellar, this may be the ski for you. And when the snow gets soft, be prepared for the ride of your life.
Kelly Klein is an associate gear editor specializing in skis and bikes. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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