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Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition Review

Dependable and forgiving in softer snow, but unstable and chattery when things get firm
Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
Photo: Elan
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Price:  $850 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Lightweight, good floatation
Cons:  Brittle, nervous at speed
Manufacturer:   Elan
By Bobby Garrett ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 27, 2021
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52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 4
  • Carving Ability - 20% 5
  • Powder Performance - 20% 7
  • Crud Performance - 20% 6
  • Terrain Playfulness - 20% 4

Our Verdict

Elan's new Ripstick 96 Black Edition performs best when the snow is soft and forgiving. This ski is crafted with a considerable amount more carbon material compared to the normal Ripstick version. This 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 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.

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Pros Lightweight, good floatationStable, confidence inspiring, magnetic ride qualityStiff, explosive, carving machinePowerful float, stable at speed, can arc or smear turnsPlayful, responsive, versatile
Cons Brittle, nervous at speedDampHeavySome vibration, sometimes feels softVibrates at high speeds, overly soft tip
Bottom Line Dependable and forgiving in softer snow, but unstable and chattery when things get firmWith these on your feet, you'll be ready for anything the mountain has coming at youA 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 daysThe unique rocker/camber profile and wider 102-millimeter waist width promote versatile performance wherever your powder stash may bePlayful 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%)
4.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Carving Ability (20%)
5.0
9.0
10.0
5.0
7.0
Powder Performance (20%)
7.0
8.0
5.0
10.0
7.0
Crud Performance (20%)
6.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Terrain Playfulness (20%)
4.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Specs Elan Ripstick 96 Bl... Volkl M6 Mantra Nordica Enforcer 94 Blizzard Rustler 10 Faction Dictator 2.0
Waist Width (mm) 96 96 94 102 96
Shape (Tip-Waist-Tail) (mm) 136-96-110 135-96-119 127-94-115.5 133-104-122.5 127-96-117
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 (cm) 180 177 179 180 179
Radius (m) 18 30-18-24 17.1 17.5 19
Rocker Style Amphibio Profile Tip-Tail Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Tip-Tail Rocker Tip Rocker/Freeride Flat Tail
Mfr. Claimed Weight (Per Pair Unmounted) (pounds) 8.4 lbs Unavailable 8.9 lbs Unavailable 8.2 lbs
Core Material Woodcore/Carbon Inserts Poplar/Beech/Double Titanal Woodcore/Double Titanal Multi-layer Woodcore/Carbon Fiberglass/Titanal Poplar Woodcore/Double Titanal

Our Analysis and Test Results

Elan introduces their Ripstick 96 Black Edition as an improvement to the already established Ripstick 96. Included in this high-performance version are Elan's VaporTip, Carbon TubeLite Woodcore, TNT Technology, and SST Sidewall. All of this combines with the Ripstick's Amphibio profile to create a ski which we expected a lot from. 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.

Performance Comparison


The Ripstick 96 Black Edition liked higher edge angles when sliding...
The Ripstick 96 Black Edition liked higher edge angles when sliding in soft snow.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Stability at Speed


Unfortunately, we were not able to 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 being "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.

Carving Ability


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 we expected. This was surprising, especially when comparing it 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.

Get the Ripstick 96 Black Edition in its element and there are...
Get the Ripstick 96 Black Edition in its element and there are moments of greatness.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Powder Performance


Absolutely where the Ripstick 96 Black Edition shines the most is in the steep and deep stuff. This is where 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.

Crud Performance


A surprising category 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. Granted, there were other skis that scored higher in this category, but if lower weight is a top consideration for you, this might be something to consider.

Terrain Playfulness


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 was especially unnerving when lining up to air over an obstacle or moving through soft, then firm, and then more soft snow.

Bumps on the smaller side were manageable at times on the Ripstick...
Bumps on the smaller side were manageable at times on the Ripstick 96 Black Edition.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Value


The Ripstick 96 Black Edition was our lowest scoring contender for this review. That's not to say there isn't value to be found here. With a middle-of-the-road price tag, if this ski speaks to you, try it and buy it for yourself.

Conclusion


Admittedly we had higher hopes for the Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition. Some scores, although lowest, are not actually "low" scores. We also found that it performed better than others in both powder and crud. While overall, we wouldn't outright buy this ski over most of the contenders in this review, we do recognize that different things work for different people. Perhaps a much lighter but still aggressive skier will find different results and bring this ski to its full potential.

The Ripstick 96 Black Edition struggled to provide consistent...
The Ripstick 96 Black Edition struggled to provide consistent results for our testers.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Bobby Garrett

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