Elan's new Ripstick 96 Black Edition performs best in soft and forgiving snow. Designers crafted this ski with a considerable amount more carbon material compared to the normal Ripstick version. This input of carbon serves to keep the overall weight down while adding stability and torsional rigidity for more high-performance skiing. Despite the improvements over the base Ripstick, the Ripstick 96 Black Edition earned lower than average scores in most of our performance metrics. Our testers found the most success with this ski on higher edge angles and in more predictable softer terrain.Editor’s Note: We updated this Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition review on February 23, 2022, with an unbiased take on product value and a direct comparison to similar products, just in case this isn’t the best ski for you.
Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Review
Cons: Brittle, nervous at speed
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Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
|Price||$850 List||$559.96 at Backcountry|
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$559.99 at Amazon
|$559.96 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Lightweight, good floatation||Stable, confidence inspiring, magnetic ride quality||Stiff, explosive, carving machine||Powerful float, stable at speed, can arc or smear turns||Playful, responsive, versatile|
|Cons||Brittle, nervous at speed||Damp, heavy||Heavy||Some vibration, sometimes feels soft||Vibrates at high speeds, overly soft tip|
|Bottom Line||Dependable and forgiving in softer snow, but unstable and chattery when things get firm||With these on your feet, you'll be ready for anything the mountain has coming at you||A combination of raw explosive power and stability puts this ski well ahead of the competition for carving and is ideal for even the firmest snow days||The unique rocker/camber profile and wider 102-millimeter waist width promote versatile performance wherever your powder stash may be||Playful and adventurous, this ski is also manageable and forgiving. It encouraged us to explore the changing terrain over the whole mountain|
|Rating Categories||Elan Ripstick 96 Bl...||Volkl M6 Mantra||Nordica Enforcer 94||Blizzard Rustler 10||Faction Dictator 2.0|
|Stability at Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (20%)|
|Specs||Elan Ripstick 96 Bl...||Volkl M6 Mantra||Nordica Enforcer 94||Blizzard Rustler 10||Faction Dictator 2.0|
|Waist Width||96 mm||96 mm||94 mm||104 mm||96 mm|
|Available Lengths (cm)||164, 172, 180, 188||163, 170, 177, 184, 191||165, 172, 179, 186,191||164, 172, 180, 188||163, 171, 179, 187|
|Length Tested||180 cm||177 cm||179 cm||180 cm||179 cm|
|Turn Radius||18 m||18 m||17.1 m||17.5 m||19 m|
|Camber Profile||Amphibio Profile||Tip-Tail Rocker||Rocker/Camber/Rocker||Tip-Tail Rocker||Tip Rocker/Freeride Flat Tail|
|Manufacturer Claimed Weight||7.6 lbs||9.4 lbs||8.9 lbs||8.9 lbs||8.2 lbs|
|Core Material||Woodcore/Carbon Inserts||Poplar/Beech/Double Titanal||Wood/Double Titanium/ GR400 Carbon Glass||Multi-layer Woodcore/Carbon /Fiberglass/Titanal||Poplar Woodcore/Double Titanal|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Elan introduces their Ripstick 96 Black Edition to improve upon the well-established Ripstick 96. This high-performance version includes Elan's VaporTip, Carbon TubeLite Woodcore, TNT Technology, and SST Sidewall. Combined with Ripstick's Amphibio profile – specialized sidecuts on the left and right skis – we expected a lot from the technology included in the Ripstick 96 Black Edition. Our testers were overall disappointed, and this ski's overall scores reflect that. There were at least a few high points to note for the die-hard Elan fans out there.
Stability at Speed
Unfortunately, we could not find the Ripstick 96 Black Edition offering any of the familiar stability or dampening qualities that we found in other skis that utilize carbon in their construction. Testers described the ski as "nervous at speed." While the infused carbon helps keep the weight down, we found that the skis bounce and chatter at higher speeds or on firmer snow.
Our crew noted that the Ripstick 96 Black Edition had an inconsistent, "brittle" flex. We also found that even with this ski being so light, it wasn't as quick as expected. This sluggishness was surprising, especially compared to similar width but heavier skis. As far as groomers go, this ski performed best in fresh-packed powder conditions where the snow is more receptive to the ski's edge.
Absolutely where the Ripstick 96 Black Edition shines the most in the steep and deep stuff. Elan's laundry list of technologies comes together and delivers a strong floating sensation in a lightweight package. While we still couldn't feel much assistance from Elan's Amphibio Profile – where the specific left and right skis have slightly different shapes – we noted the nervousness from on-piste was gone, and the ski felt nimble and athletic. Again, the Ripstick 96 Black Edition prefers a somewhat longer turn radius at a medium-type speed.
A surprising metric for the Ripstick 96 Black Edition was how it dealt with crud. Especially considering how difficult different crud situations can be, we gained some of our smiles back after adventuring off the groomed. Other skis still scored higher in this metric, but the Ripstick 96 Black Edition might be a ski to look at if lower weight is a top consideration for you.
The one-word description of the Ripstick 96 Black Edition was "brittle." Within the moments of greatness steering through trees on ridges and venturing through natural gullies, there was a constant inconsistency with the ski flex. This inconsistency was especially alarming when lining up to air over an obstacle or moving through soft, then firm, and then more soft snow.
Should You Buy the Ripstick 96 Black Edition?
To be frank about it, probably not. The Ripstick 96 Black Edition has some things going for it – like a lightweight, nimble feel in the deep and fluffy stuff – but at 96 millimeters underfoot, this would be an interesting choice for a powder ski. We’ve heard the argument that skinnier skis do make for more face shots, so if you live in a place where light and dry snow is common and you enjoy “skiing the bottom” on a powder day, then this is a niche ski for you.
What Other All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
Even though the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition can be considered a specialty powder tool within the all-mountain category, other skis like the Blizzard Rustler 10 are more fun to ski in powder, and more versatile. We recognize that weight savings can be a major factor. Still, at the same waist width of 96 millimeters underfoot, the Faction Dictator 2.0 is marginally heavier and much more playful on a wider variety of terrain.
— Bobby Garrett
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