Salomon Q-96 Lumen Review
Cons: Unstable at speed, no edge hold on firm snow
Our Analysis and Test Results
Stability at Speed
This ski feels stiff when you are trying to turn it, but not very stable at speed. The Lumen would often chatter out when trying to turn at speed and the rockered tip would flop around disconcertingly. We were very disappointed with the ski's edge hold, despite the camber underfoot, This did not help us have confidence in this ski at speed. The chattering could be partially due to the very small amount of sidewall construction underfoot - skis with complete sidewall construction, like the Blizzard Samba, tend to have better edge hold and chatter out less when carving turns on hard pack and groomed runs.
Our testers did not enjoy themselves on-piste with the lifeless Lumen.
The Lumen is not ideal for carving. It has a large turn radius of 18.8M, and prefers slow, arcing turns. Even with that said, the Lumen does not like to turn on the firmer conditions and wants to slide out. It takes a lot of energy to get it over on edge. The Lumen can be fun when the corduroy is fresh and soft, and you get them going at speed. Once we have this ski on edge, it does not like to hold it, and prefers sliding and smearing turns rather than railing them.
Many of our testers remarked on the lifelessness of this ski. Although the Lumen is only 96mm underfoot, it feels like a much fatter ski. It is slow when transferring from edge-to-edge and feels like big planks on your feet. The Head Great Joy had the quickest and most fun edge to edge transfer, and is a much more lively and suitable choice for on-piste skiing.
Our testers took the Lumen out for some hero skiing and had a great time. Soft snow is what the Salomon Lumen is built for. It has decent rocker in the tips for floating through powder and provides a smooth ride. This ski is a lot of fun to fly down the slope in the soft snow, and at speed they glide on top of powder. The rocker tip allows the ski to stay on top of the snow with little to no effort. None of these all mountain skis are sold as powder specific skis, but we think the K2 Fulluvit 98ti and the Volkl Aura had the best powder performance in this review.
The Lumen handles itself well in the crud. Some of our testers do not have confidence that this ski would turn when we wanted it to in skied out conditions when things get tough, so would often throw a little hop in to make sure they would. This could also be because the ski felt longer than others in this test. The K2 Fulluvit 98ti's were the most fun to ski in variable conditions because they were forgiving and easy to turn. In variable conditions the Lumen did not instill confidence.
This is the least playful ski in this review. More than one tester described it as a "dead fish". Sluggish from edge-to-edge and hard to turn, the only fun we really had on this ski was in untracked hero snow. The Armada ARVW is a much more playful ski.
Bumps Skiing Performance
In firm, icy moguls, the Lumen is hard to control because it does not hold an edge very well or want to turn. It could do slightly better in soft cruddy bumps - but this ski is not nimble or responsive enough to be a good choice for the moguls.
This ski is best for an expert skier. A woman who is a bit heavier and taller may have more luck driving this ski because of its significant camber. It excels in powder, so if someone wants a ski that they only want to take out on fresh snow days, this could be it — but why not just buy a powder ski in that case? We would not recommend spending a ton of time on-piste with this ski.
The Q-96 Lumen has been in Salomon's line for a number of years now. Retailers seem to have recognized this and most sell this long in the tooth ski for a reasonable $500. We would rather spend an extra $100 on the very versatile and fun Atomic Vantage 95 C. The Salomon Lumen has 90% capped construction, and this means its topsheet is less durable and shows significant scratches and chips, however the Lumen's bases seem to be relatively durable.
Although they have some redeeming qualities, the Salomon Q-96 Lumen would not be our first choice for the all-mountain ski in our quiver, especially not as the only ski in our quiver. It lacks pep and responsiveness on-piste and in variable conditions, and does not inspire confidence.
Its lack of sidecut makes it less turny, and not very fun to ski on groomed runs. It is not very stable at speed and does not like to hold an edge in any type of variable conditions. It is good at one thing: staying on top of powder. The Lumen skis true to length, and some of our testers felt they skied a little long. We would not recommend sizing up in this ski, despite its rocker.
— Jessica Haist and Renee McCormack