Randosteve skis on the 2010 Black Diamond Efficiency skis and boots in Antarctica.
Photo: Sam Bass.
I think it’s pretty interesting when I post pictures of skiing in Antarctica under clear skies and above the big blue ocean…and half the comments are about the equipment I’m using. Well, that was the case about two months ago with the skis and boots Thomas Laakso and I were using. Both are new additions to Black Diamond’s Efficient Series ski line to be released in Fall 2010 and shown to the masses at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in a couple weeks. I had to be pretty tight lipped about the skis and boots back then…but now…all can be revealed.
I love my Factors and Megawatts just as much as the next guy and I’ve done a few 10K’ days with that setup just the same, but sometimes it sure is nice to have lighter weight equipment on your feet. It’s easy to make big skis and stiff boots, but to make them lighter, while retaining durability and high performance…that is the real trick. When BD switched from having their skis made in conjunction with Atomic and moved to wood cores, it seems that the increased weight was the biggest gripe amongst those that may have liked the BD skis of old. For me, it is very nice to see Black Diamond Equipment put a little more focus in their ski line on some lighter weight gear, instead of just making wider, heavier skis and stiffer boots. It’s also been fun testing out the products over the past few months.
The 2010 Black Diamond Efficiency skis…Drift, Scarlet, Aspect, Stigma, Syncra and Guru.
Okay…here we go. Ski-wise, there will be four new entries to the Efficiency Series line for Fall 2010…as well as a total retooling of the Stigma (125/80/109, 1425g) and Guru (123/75/106, 1306g…BD’s lightest ski) carry over models. The Voodoo will no longer be part of the line. All of the skis will have 3D paulownia wood cores, Torsion Box construction, flat tails and SkinLock, which is a metal insert in the tail to hold up to aggressive tail clips. All the beta can now be found on SkiBD.com, including weights, dimensions, sizes, photos, videos, etc. A great place to kill some time at work…it is Friday and all.
Flat tails and SkinLock make the back end of the new BD Efficiency skis mighty attractive.
New models for 2010 include the Syncra (124/80/108, 1350g) which is a women’s version of the Stigma. The Aspect (130/90/117, 1425g), which is the ski I used skiing on and around Aconcagua. The Drift (138/100/123, 1750g), which in the 176 length is 2lbs lighter than the 180 Verdict, and also the ski I used while in Antarctica, but in the 186cm length. Last but not least, there is the Starlet (134/100/121, 1400g), the women’s version of the Drift.
The model that will no doubt get the most attention from us backcountry skiers in the west is the Drift/Starlet, which is kind of (but not exactly) a lightweight version of the popular Verdict model in the Power Series. The Drift will be offered in 186, 176 and 166cm lengths…the Starlet in 176, 166, and 156. With a sidecut radius of 21m, it is a bit turnier than both the Verdict (26m) and Kilowatt (24m) models. No doubt the change in lengths is related to the fact that the Drift has a slight early rise tip (245mm), which as far as ski construction goes, has proven to be one of the greatest things since sliced bread. In addition to the paulownia core, the Drift is also constructed with carbon fiber, which adds rigidity without adding weight. I think the Aspect will also attract the attention of many ski mountaineers out there. It will be offered in four sizes (186,176,166,156cm) and will be geared as BD’s best hard snow carving ski. But, with it’s 130mm tip, it can still offer good float in the pow.
The Quadrant is the mack-daddy, four buckle, lightweight ripper of the new lineup.
And now…on to the boots. The big deal with the new Efficient boot program is that BD really wanted to create boots that are lightweight, whose cuffs have little resistance and a large range of motion for touring, yet still provide high performance when skiing…since it is “all about the down” still. I think they have achieved all three.
The Black Diamond…Quadrant, Prime, Swift and Slant.
BD will offer four new boots for Fall 2010. The Quadrant (7lb 10oz), a four buckle boot with a flex rating of 120. Reported as the lightest and stiffest four buckle boot on the market and the boot I have been testing. The Prime (7lb 4oz), a three buckle version with a flex of 100. The women’s model is the called the Swift (6lb 11oz). And the Slant, which is a softer flexing three buckle boot. BD sorta labels these last three boots as 3 1/2 buckle boots, since there are still two upper buckles on the cuff (which allow them to retain their skiing performance) and the lowest buckle is positioned so it can act as two buckles in one.
The new liners are warmer, easier to fit, and the BOA system tightens faster and requires less torque.
All of the boots with have a bit more volume to the lower shells compared to the Factor, as well as thicker, warmer, and easier to mold liners. The Quadrant, Prime and Swift will all come with an improved BOA system that reduces the amount of rotations and force needed to crank things down, which is a really nice improvement. The boots will have two forward leans settings of 18 and 14 degrees, and cuff alignment capabilities like their boots have now. All the boots will have a staggering 40 degrees of resistance free movement in the cuff…which I can assure you is smooth as silk, with plenty of rearward travel.
The Triax Pivot Frame allows for more forward travel in walk mode.
A key design feature of the boots is what BD is calling Pivoting Cuff Technology, which allows the buckle second from the top, to pivot upward and away from the lower section of the boot, letting the whole cuff move further forward and not restricting movement. A buckle that “locks” open, assures that things are able to move freely, yet keeps things from flopping around as they would if you just unbuckled the boots completely. Another new design for BD is the cables that are integrated into the buckles, and skeletal framed buckles, which help to reduce weight yet maintain strength. Hey, if BD’s swagged cables can stand up to a 10KN force like in their stoppers, I’m sure they will be able to hold up to the rigors of an AT boot buckle.
That’s about it for now…but look for more info and feed back down the road. Any questions regarding the new Efficient skis or boots…feel free to leave them in the comments section.
Face, Rab, Mountain Hardwear and Stoic at Backcountry.com. Expires soon!
The Quadrant looks awesome. How does it compare to the Factor, since they have the same amount of buckles, “stiffness” and look fairly similar except much lighter?
I’ve gotta say, having so many boot brands using “tech inserts” is making for a pretty awesome show. Once you see one boot come out, you get stoked on it, then the next brand comes out with something awesome. Now, if ONE shop carried all of them to compare that would be incredible. Thanks Steve.
The Quadrant is just a little less stiff than the Factor. BD does some good testing with their boots (and other products) so trust the flex ratings…at least relative to other boots in the BD line up. The Quadrant however is a pound and a half lighter than the Factor…and has a better walk mode. It also has a bit more volume to the last…especially higher on the foot and over the instep. Liner-wise, it has a thicker, 6mm stroble base, compared to 4mm in the Factor…it also has three different layers of foam instead of two.
Agreed…there are a lot of really nice boots out there. I get lots of people asking me all the time if they should wait for product XYZ to come out…or buy product ABC now. My opinion is if you want to buy new boots…skis…whatever…just do it! There is lot of great product available already.
Do you have weights for skis? I can’t seem to see them on the BD site.
This looks like a clear shot at the Dynafit ZZero (color and all?!). Thoughts?
Great shot of you skiing in Antarctica. I saw the same shot as the background image on BD’s site. I noticed that they had the photographer listed as Yves Garneau. I understand that it is the first day the site is up, but might want to have them look into their photo credits.
(skibd.com–>efficiency skis–>line-up–>drift–>tech specs)
r…better walk mode than the Zzero…and i’d say a nicer flex. i think the quadrant competes with a lot of boots out there beyond the Zzero though…Radium, Skookum, Spirit 4, Titan…it’s powerful enough to really drive big skis.
jerimy…i saw that too (efficiency boots–>tech–>line up)…but i think the credit is right for that one. there are a lot of other shots with randosteve look-a-like…in antarctica look-a-like terrain (looks like europe to me). i don’t own a blue agent pack though…so that’s is the indicator.
Exciting to see boot manufacturers figuring out how to improve tourability.
It’s funny how the telemark boots are now far far beyond on that; though I am expect BD will do the same cuff changes to their telemark boots as well.
For my part, I just picked up some Dalbello Virus — Glen Plake’s design.
The tour mode is unbelievable, probably even more so that the BD series. It’s like wearing tennis shoes, but the ski setting is like a ZZero4.
Have you seen ’em?
eric…a guy on the boat to antarctica had a pair of virus boots. it’s an interesting design…and i’ve heard also with a nice walk mode. haven’t had pair on my feet though. do they fit narrow???
Definitely the same photo, now it says the photographer is Thomas Laakso. I’ll email you a screen shot.
yeah…that one is right on. thomas was with me as well.
Great reviews Steve. I am very excited about the Drift. I currently use the 180 Verdicts w/ STs and 188 Megawatts w/ FT-12s. Love the Verdicts, but I have been thinking about replacing them with a similar-waisted ski with tip rocker. With an early rise tip and shedding almost 2 pounds, sounds like the Drift may be the ticket.
How does the stifness of the Drift compare to the Verdict?
If lightest, stiffest four-buckle boot on the market is what you’re after, wait until you see the new SCARPA Meastrale and Gea.
Nice to see BD going back to skin friendly, non-bulbous tips.
AT boots keep growing in volume. When will someone make a lower volume/width boot?
nick…the drift would definitely be the replacement. it has a little softer tip…and more progressiv flex…plus the slight early rise tip. it’s a little more relaxed skiing ski than the verdict…but still holds an edge well.
dave…time to share with the rest of us!!!!!
al…i think the virus might be a narrow fit. maybe??
Thinking of upgrading – how do they compare to KVC Comps and Salomon SX91’s? Joking. Great website Rando.
More narrow fit:
Dynafit Titan and even more slim is Dynafit Zeeus (the black model of Titan that has a thicker inner boot.
Also Dalbello Virus (great boot a lot like the new BD but you can buy them now) has a normal 98 mm wide last like most performance alpine boots. Not touring super wide.
Awesome to see BD finally dropping the weights! That’s the main reason I have shied away from their skis so far. I mostly tour and weight makes a huge difference. Trab, Goode, and Dynafit have been leading in this category. Kudos to BD!
I look forward to them making lighter weight boots as well.
A bit off topic but why do U ski with the toe piece in the “up” position on your Dynafits? I mean I know that some situations require a higher DIN, but just curious as to why you were skiing that way in the photo. Not saying it was wrong or anything, heck I dont know, I pretty novice……
Mostly out of habit Caleb….from getting into Dyanfits to skin alot. But back in the day…when there was doubt about Dynafit holding power, lots of people would ski with the toes locked out. That might be changing as people are now more confident in the holding power of them. Granted…there is a time and a place when you really don’t want your skis to come off, but most of the time when powder skiing they could very well be in the ski position and be able to ski aggressively. Plus, I don’t take my skis off when I rip my skins…so they are usually left in that position in that case.
I think you still get some some releaseability with the toe locked out. The question is whether it’s before or after your leg breaks…or you get buried in a slide.
Guys, the Virus actually has a 100 mm last. Not narrow like their downhill boots — very comfortable. Garmonts don’t fit me but Scarpas and Viruses fit, if that helps.
A key thing with the Virus is that you never need to unbuckle at all for walk mode. Buckle positioning is optimized for this. Flip the ski/walk switch and you are golden. If you do unbuckle the top buckle, then walk mode is even more crazily comfortable, and the buckle still doesn’t flop around. Brilliant.
Buckles are also low profile, and intelligently placed to avoid catching on stuff.
On the BD series, the second buckle from the toe is on backwards; hopefully BD will fix this in production. At least, looks to me like it’ll come unbuckled easily when scrambling on talus or in manky snow. I’ve got this problem on sold old Garmonts (which don’t fit me very well anyway).
I just bought the Dalbello Virus tour boot… wow, what a difference from my Zzeros. they tour better and my skis actually go where I want them to on the way down. What a concept. Those BD boots look pretty cool though… and probably lighter.
Does the new Quadrant boot ski as well or better than the Factor
the factor is a bit stiffer and has a tighter fit than the quadrant. i would defiantly say the factor is a step up in performance…but the quadrant is a combo of lightweight, tourability and performance. i know it’s hard choosing between the two…but if you want the most powerful boot…go with the factor.
got any pics from the side showing how much early rise there is on the drift? (and the whole camber layout too?)
josn…i can take a picture i guess. here are some specs:
Drift Running Length- 1552mm
Drift Sidecut- 22m
So is the change in volume really due to the shell, or is the new liner part of it? For example, assuming the same shell size, if you put the liner from your Factors in the Quadrants are the Quadrants looser? Its such a bummer that there really aren’t many (any) low volume AT boots out there. My old Megarides were the only ones I’ve ever tried on that I would call low volume. There are plenty of us out there with skinny feet, and just because we’re touring doesn’t mean we want our boots to fit like Sorels…. I just tried on the Viruses, and they seem fairly high volume as well (a bummer because the Krypton they are based on are fairly low volume).
jw…both the shell and liner are higher volume than the factor. not wider…just higher volume for more comfort when touring. have your tried on the titan? i think it’s kinda lower volume….but wide where you want it.
I just saw a pair of Dalbello Virus Tours. Great looking boot, but what’s up with the color scheme? Same as the BDs!
I like the looks of the Quadrant…and the other BD boots. But that Virus…ugh!
Eric…regarding the buckles, I said the same thing to HQ. They state that with the second buckle form the toe oriented in the opposite direction…and on top of the foot…you don’t get the right pressure when buckled. It tends to push down on the top of the foot…as opposed to wrapping around it when tightened.
Steve, what size Quadrant did you test? Was it a performance or comfort fit? What was the BSL on that size? What size zzero do you use for both performance and comfort fits?
I am trying to firgure out if I will have to remount my skis if I upgrade to a Prime next season…….
Also, I am having trouble with the BD website you linked to about the efficient series. It doesn’t let me scroll to get to the bottom of the web page they are displaying. Is it just me?
What size Quadrant did you test? 27…it was the only sample size available.
Was it a performance or comfort fit? comfort…i have three shims under the footbed sucking up volume.
What was the BSL on that size? doesn’t say on the shell…but measures about 312mmm.
What size zzero do you use for both performance and comfort fits? Zzero performance=26.5/comfort=27. Titan=26.5. Factor=26.5. i’m pretty sure the 26.5 in the Quadrant will fit me perfect…hope some become available before spring.
I am trying to firgure out if I will have to remount my skis if I upgrade to a Prime next season. Guess it depends on your boot binding combos. I wasn’t able to mount the TLT Speeds to work with the 26.5 Titans and size 27 Quadrants. With the Vertical ST/FT…no probs!
Also, I am having trouble with the BD website you linked to about the efficient series. It doesn’t let me scroll to get to the bottom of the web page they are displaying. Is it just me? hmmm…i think so. i’m not sure there is anyplace to scroll to. it’s all designed to display with out scrolling…just clicking…right?
[…] know I’ve already mentioned the new Efficient boot line up here, but I wanted to show a picture of the new women’s Swift because I though it […]
If your Factors are 26s and your Quadrants are 27s how are you comparing the fit? Have you compared the Quadrants to the same size Factors?
justin…i have access to a PDF that gives some measurements of the two boots lasts. there are no size 26 shells available yet…or else i’d have them as well.
One more comment/question about the Quadrants… I skied with someone wearing them today. To me it seemed like they didn’t have any more rearward range of motion than the Factors. The cuff didn’t even go beyond vertical. Was this pair an bad pair or something? Do yours really go rearward in tour mode? Besides the weight, thats my (and everyone elses) biggest complaint about Factors. It would be a big bummer if they didn’t actually fix this in the new line of touring oriented boots…
JW…they have much more rearward movement than factors. bd switched out a small piece in the walk/ski mode after I got the quadrants, that increased the travel a bit. maybe his didn’t have that improvement yet?
Steve — any idea how the Drift compares to the Dynafit Stoke?
mtb…both skis perform well in their own way. i think the black diamond drift is a bit stiffer overall…staying in line with the “all about the down” mantra…and better on harder snow. the stoke is very easy to turn in the powder…maybe because of its shorter length…and possible softer flex. hard to compare weights…since they are different lengths and dimensions.
Thanks. Sounds like the Drift might be a bit more versatile.
Do you know if there are any differences in cuff height between the Prime and the Quadrant? Is the difference in published flex factor due to the liner only, or other elements too (plastic, design, etc)? Any thoughts on how different these will ski? Thx!
dbc…the cuffs of the shell are the same height…but the liners on the primes are shorter. i think bd uses a softer plastic in the prime shells…so it’s not just the liner that effects performance.
i used the prime a lot last spring and thought it performed great…especially with a wrap style intuition liner in it. quite beefy.
i think if you want a boot to really power bigger boards or be a jack-of-all-trades boot….go with the quadrant. anythings else….take a good look at the primes.
What length of Drift skis would you recommend for a guy that’s 80 kilos( +- 160 pounds), 6 feet tall, athletic but on the skinny side? 45 yrs young, skiing at least 50 days a season, 90% backcountry or out off bounds… Thanks!
Fil…186cm all the way. i’m the same weight but 5’9″ and found that length to work well for an all mountain ski last year. i’m gonna try some 176s this year for lighter spring setup.
titans vs. Quadrants:
it seems as though you skied in both last season. I have super skinny feet and never found a boot I could wear in a long shell quite like I can in my Titans. For instance, my Titans are 7mm longer than my Nordica Dobermanns, which are easily some of the lowest volume race boots around, but which actually seem like they have more wiggle room than my Titans.
I love my Titans in pow and corn, but the canting on them is so severe that my uphill knee tips inward and I often find this disorienting, especially in wierd snow or on very steep terrain. Even in the neutral setting I find myself skiing and standing in a massively bowlegged manner, and when I put the boots next to each other on the floor I notice they look bowlegged just sitting by themselves on a flat surface. I’ve never had a problem with canting in my last dozen pair of ski boots.
Do you notice this in Titans? Has anybody else?
I’m interested in the Quadrants, after watching a friend ski his for a few months last spring. Are the quadrants indeed super high volume? does the canting feel normal?
christopher3000…yes…I skied in both the titan and quadrant last year. i actually am a little bowlegged myself and i haven’t really noticed anything weird with the canting on the titans. i have experimented with different cants in the past with other boots, so i’m aware of the felling when things don’t jive or lineup well with my lower leg. i didn’t feel the need to make any adjustments with the titan. but then again, that canting rivet on the titan seems to move on its own as well.
i think the canting on the quadrants is fine and also adjustable…like the titans. i think if you have a narrow but tall foot, you could probably still do the quadrants. if your foot is low volume in BOTH width and height…the quadrants may not work…but are probably still worth trying on to confirm. plus…the quadrants come with a boot board, which helps with customizing fit…as well as canting if you need more help than the cuff adjustment allows. simple shims under a footbed do wonders to take up space and take care of a loose fit…if you are into that kind of thing.
Wondering how the Swift boots perform with skis that are 112-125mm underfoot? I ski the Shiva…and am very impressed with the performance in the steeps; ability to truly drive the skis.
good question wolfieneve…112-125mmm could be pushing the limit of the swift? i would think a lot of it depends on the type of skier and body type a gal has. if you are lightish and/or mainly skiing pow lines…i bet they would work just fine, but if you are a super aggressive charger..you may want ot stick with the shivas…or maybe try the quadrants???
That is what I expected…The Quadrant looks amazing; but BD needs to make it in a 23 (will see the rep. on Monday may voice my desires; girls do ski hard too). I am a more aggressive skier, and thus will stick with the Shiva. Have really been impressed in all conditions I have put the Shivas through, including ski mountaineering. Thanks for the insight Steve.
How do the Drifts handle varying conditions? Thinking about putting Dynafits on a pair for GTNP days.
stiehl…i find that the drift is soft enough longitudinally to stay on top when the snow gets crusty…yet laterally quite stiff to hold an edge on the firm stuff. throw in the early rise tip and shark nose…and they float on powder even more. get them…you won’t be disappointed.
For a quiver of one that’s say 50/50 on piste/backcountry (with an eye to more back country than in bounds down the road), would you go with the BD Aspect’s or the Kilowatts? I’ve read good things about the Kilowatts as a quiver of one, but I really like the idea of the lighter weight of the Aspects.
jordan…the aspect rails it on the hardpack, but i wonder if sharing it with lots of inbounds skiing might be too much for it, since it’s a lightweight ski. i’m thinking for that size of ski…i’d probably go kilowatt or verdict.
Thanks for your feedback Steve. I figured that would be the case, but knew you could clear it up for sure. 🙂
live to ski jordan! 🙂
Any feedback on the Drifts versus the Goode 95’s? I see both online, and will try out the Drifts tomorrow. The Goodes have no rocker, but it is surely a great touring ski. Would value your feedback.
pete…from what i’ve heard, most goode’s aren’t very durable and ski like planks. the semi-rocker tip on the drifts works great in a variety of conditions and the shark nose tip helps as well. a skier’s ski.
the bc95 goodes ski well and are great backcountry skis. super easy to turn, stable at speeds, float well, and have hardly any swing weight… seen a few broken goodes but I’ve seen lots of broken skis of all brands…
the drifts/starlets look and feel pretty low quality IMHO- I’ve mounted a few pairs and on the bench they are not impressive… uneven bases, lame tail hook that with a sloppy epoxy job and horrible factory grind… bd bases never hold wax. But I haven’t had a chance to ski them yet and have heard they are pretty fun… but the construction has me wondering about BD’s quality control…. hmmmm..
I have custom “medial” cants in my 2 pair of Titans. Unfortunately Dynafit uses rivets, and I have not found a bolt-in replacement. They do fit my narrow feet better then Radiums or BD boots.
Steve – Just wondering if this spring you were able to try the drifts in the 176 and if you prefer them to the 186 length. What are you overall impressions of this ski I see mixed reviews online specifically about them being to soft and the side cut. I’m looking for a back-country powder ski not sure if I should buy these on sale or wait to try out the new justice ski
I’m 5’9″ 160lbs too
adam…as a lighter ski for bigger missions, the 176 drift has treated me well. for an “all arounder” and faster skiing, i like the 186 drift better.
i also like the 175 justice as an all-round pow ski. after using 186 justices for a couple years, i find most of the time i can get what i want out of the 175. however, i’d also want something narrower for this (spring) time of year to shave weight.
the drifts ski fine for me on firmer snow. they have a relaxed longitudinal flex, which helps them ski soft snow well, but they are pretty stiff torsionally which gives decent edge hold.
I’ve been using the 176 drift with zeuss’ for the last year and I love the set up. I’m looking at the quadrant or prime for a lighter boot and also for the way easier/simpler/faster ski to tour back to ski transition. Which do you think would be a better boot to drive the drifts in all kinds of snow? I’m not the most aggressive skier, but most of my turns will be in heavy cascades ‘powder’.
tob…the quadrant will drive the drifts better than the primes…but the primes should be fine as well.
i’m not sure what you are asking regarding the faster transitions though…sorry.