K2 Mindbender 99Ti - Women's Review
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K2 Mindbender 99Ti - Women's
|Price||$449.97 at Evo|
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|$629.99 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Great powder performance, likes to pivot quickly||Crud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability level||Carving machine, powerful yet accessible||Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable price||Superbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold|
|Cons||Less than perfect for carving and edge-hold, too soft for the roughest terrain||No wow-factor, not a lot of rebound||Sinks a little in powder, too beefy for bumps||Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly||Too burly for lighter gals, not nimble|
|Bottom Line||Mindbending in powder and light snow, but lacking in edge hold and stability in bumpier conditions||A great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiver||Accurate and easy to carve, this ski is a dream on the groomers||A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tag||A good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste|
|Rating Categories||K2 Mindbender 99Ti...||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Kastle FX96 W - Wom...||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Volkl Secret 96|
|Stability at Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (15%)|
|Specs||K2 Mindbender 99Ti...||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Kastle FX96 W - Wom...||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Volkl Secret 96|
|Waist Width||99 mm||98 mm||96 mm||94 mm||96 mm|
|Sidecut (Tip-Waist-Tail width)||134-99-120 mm||132-98-120 mm||133-96-119 mm||136-94-110 mm||135-96-119 mm|
|Available Lengths||154, 160, 166, 172 cm||151, 158, 165, 172, 179 cm||156, 164, 172 cm||154, 162, 170, 178 cm||149, 156, 163, 170 cm|
|Length Tested||172 cm||172 cm||172 cm||178 cm||170 cm|
|Turn Radius||16.8 m||16.3 m||16 m||18 m||16 m|
|Camber Profile||All-terrain rocker||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Progressive rise, dual rise, low camber||Rocker tip and tail, cambered inside edge, Amphibio tech||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot|
|Weight Per Pair||8.7 lbs||8.1 lbs||8.0 lbs||7.4 lbs||8.5 lbs|
|Construction Type||Hybrid sidewalls, cap regions tip and tail||Energy Ti W||Powerzone, sandwich-sidewall construction||SST sidewall||Full sidewall|
|Core Material||Aspen Veneer||Performance Wood & Metal||Paulownia, beech, poplar||Tubelite wood||Beech and poplar|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The K2 Mindbender 99Ti, at only 99 millimeters under foot, performs surprisingly well in deeper snow but lacks some stability and edge hold to make it our first choice for our favorite all-around ski for women.
Stability at Speed
There used to be a consensus amongst our testers that women’s K2 skis tended to be quite soft and too flexy for expert skiers. However, the last couple of K2 models that we’ve tested have certainly made us question that theory. The Mindbender 99Ti is far more stable than the women’s K2s of old, but unfortunately, it still doesn’t stack up against the burliest skis in our test group. The edges are slow to engage, and there is some chatter on firm snow. At higher speeds on fast snow, the tips flap more than is comforting.
The Mindbender 99Ti loves to skid and butter across the snow’s surface, but this characteristic makes it less adept at carving. The lethargy with which it grips the snow causes a long delay before the ski engages, and once it does, the long turn radius and mediocre edge hold make for a less enjoyable carved turn. The 16.8-meter turn radius actually feels even longer in reality, as our testers agreed that it performed more like an 18-meter radius ski.
This is where the Mindbender shines. It stays afloat even in deeper, heavier powder and offers a much easier ride than its mere 99-millimeter waist width would suggest. The rockered tip and tail construction give it a very nimble feeling, even in tight spaces like trees and couloirs. Our testers found it very easy to maneuver in all types of softer snow. It didn’t quite hit the top of our charts for this metric, but it wasn’t far away.
The Mindbender’s performance in the crud depended a lot on exactly what type and texture the snow was. The type of chop we experienced at the end of a cold mid-winter powder day was handled well. When things got heavier — later in the season or during a wetter storm cycle — it didn’t have the oomph to slice through the chunkiness, nor the dampness to cruise on top. Our testers found them to be a bumpy ride in all but the mellowest crud.
We found that while there was some rebound to this ski, we really had to be giving it some energy for it to give something back. In other words, we either needed a lot of power or a lot of speed to feel the ski kickback at the end of the turn. When we did feel it, it wasn’t significant nor was it reliable. It feels light enough under your feet to get airborne easily, and its ability to release the edge quickly and pivot gives it a fun twisty sensation. The Mindbender is great for playing with flat-land 360s, shifties, and other rotational tricks.
Again thanks to its softer edge hold, the Mindbender twists and pivots with ease through moguls. It is much more maneuverable in the bumps than many of the skis in our test group. The same characteristics which are a deficit in the carving metric are an asset in this type of terrain.
Should You Buy the K2 Mindbender 99Ti?
If you only have eyes for soft snow and moguls, this ski is a fabulous tool for those types of terrain, and worth the price tag. However, if you’re looking for something that also performs well on hard snow and in tough crud, you will need to look elsewhere for that versatility.
What Other Women's All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
The Mindbender 99Ti is a great mid-fat powder ski with a bent for nimble, pivoty turns. A slight step up within this same vein is the Elan Ripstick 94 W. If you’re searching for something which leans more towards the hard-snow, deep-carving end of things, look towards the Kastle FX 96 or the Volkl Secret 96.
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