The Black Crows Camox Birdie presented us with a number of hurdles on the road to respect and understanding. When we pulled the skis out of the packaging, they had wildly uneven bases, but after they'd been fixed up by the local ski shop, we could compare them properly. Our testers found one frustrating characteristic that presented itself throughout a variety of terrain — if you don't get early pressure onto the tip of the new outside ski, it tends to diverge and go racing off-course. We concluded it might have to do with the rectangular shape of the tips, as we've all felt a similar sensation on similarly shaped skis. Basically, you need to be on top of them at all times, or they will remind you that you're not in the sweet spot.
This ski has been updated since our testing cycle ended. See the details below.
Our Analysis and Test Results
Camox Birdie Updates
Black Crows recently tweaked the design of the Camox Birdie, lengthening the sidewall and giving it a new, more supple flex. There are also updated graphics, shown below in the image on the left. The photo on the right depicts the model we tested.
We're linking to the updated ski, but be aware that we haven't yet tested it. The review to follow speaks only to the previous version.
Hands-On Review of the Camox Birdie
When this set of skis first arrived, we immediately realized that the factory tune was not only awful — it was potentially dangerous. The issue was that the bases were inconsistent (not flat) and often concave, making parts of the ski edge-high, which can make for a frightening skiing experience.
After lengthy discussions with our trusted ski technicians, we learned that this is not an uncommon problem for any ski manufacturer. Evidently, there are a number of processes that can alter the base and feel of the ski during the time it travels from the factory to the consumer.
One technician mentioned that wood core skis that incorporate unseasoned wood are subject to the swelling and shrinking of that component. Additionally, he said that some epoxies take up to 3 YEARS to settle completely, meaning our skis could potentially be in constant flux until it's time to buy new ones!
Black Crows was surprised to hear about this defect when we emailed them, and their customer service was excellent and apologetic. While we understand that this is a common issue, it's discouraging to have to fully grind and retune a ski straight out of the plastic. It's also expensive. An average tune, including the necessary base grind, might run you between $50-$100 depending on how your pair came out of the factory. It also requires a fairly knowledgeable and perceptive skier to determine whether this is even necessary.
Stability at Speed
The Camox Birdie does not evade the ever-present tip-flap, which is the nemesis of so many all-mountain, tip-rockered skis, and is less stable at high speeds as a result. When the snow is soft, the Camox Birdie can hold an edge, but the moment the snow becomes more firmly packed, slick, or chalky, it tends to slip out of line and chatter. Our testers also hypothesized that it does not have a very progressive flex pattern. In other words, it is stiff in strange places, and it can feel difficult to get the ski to bend and engage with the snow. Much heavier skiers may have better luck.
Just by eyeing up the ski's shape, you know the Camox Birdie is not going to be an ideal carving ski, but it can be directed to arc a clean 18m radius turn. As in other types of terrain and turns, we found you need to move your weight to the outside ski early, or it doesn't want to make the turn that you do. We also noticed that the flex pattern makes it difficult to bend the ski when and where we wanted to.
On the wider side of our all-mountain category at 97mm underfoot, the Camox Birdie doesn't feel particularly quick edge-to-edge. In addition, it prefers more of a smeared turn to an edged arc.
With a wider waist and significantly rockered tips, this Black Crow model is very much at home in powder. You can imagine yourself as a French ripper chick, soaring through the fresh in Chamonix, where this birdie was made to fly. It managed to stay afloat even in some of the tougher, heartier Sierra snow.
Even our testers who were unaccustomed to this ski shape had to admit that it performed well in the deep stuff. There is still a tendency for the tips to diverge slightly, which is tricky to mediate in the powder, where we're trying to be more two-footed. Overall, however, when the snow was falling, we were very happy cruising over the surface on these hot pink beasts.
The Camox Birdie skied alright in chopped up snow. Our testers agreed that it is more capable in softer, colder chop, where it could drift across the surface. When running the gauntlet in heavier, more set-up crud, it sometimes deflected and didn't quite have the chutzpah to blast through the tough stuff.
It's hard to say that the Camox Birdie isn't fun because it is. But it isn't going to give up the goods straight away. You have to stay on top of it to draw the fun out. It can have a nice little rebound (once you actually get it to bend), feel happy in the air, and make a smooth, buttery turn in powdery trees.
This ski has a more traditionally parky shape and, with the tail rocker, would feel perfectly contented landing switch off a rock drop or park kicker.
Given its propensity for pivoting, the Camox Birdie feels good when taking a mellow line across the tops of the moguls. If you're trying to ski the troughs, it may feel a little lumbering, especially in the longer length that we tested. However, in every other type of terrain, we were happy to have the extra length. If you are busting your knees through the bumps all day, every day, we'd recommend something a little smaller and quicker.
The Black Crow Camox Birdie comes in at the higher end of our collection, price-wise. This is a fun model to ski in powder, which earns it added esteem, but it isn't as versatile as we'd prefer for this price point.
If you love skiing powder, the Black Crows Camox Birdie will reward you with a floaty and pivoty ski. Just don't rely on it as a stable on-piste ski.
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