134/96/117 | Lengths: 170,177,184,191 | Turning Radius: 17.9-23.3
To say the Volkl Mantra is a go-to for hard-core skiers would be an understatement. Glance around any lift line in North America and you’re likely see at least one pair of these red and black bad boys.
But bring up the Mantra’s latest iterations around old dogs, and you’re sure to stir up some harsh feelings. Roughly a half a decade ago, Volkl overhauled their daily driver’s design, changing the ski’s profile from full camber to a fully rockered profile.
Those crusty curmudgeons will be glad to know that what’s new is actually old. The ‘new’ Mantra M5 appears to shift back the focus towards a more traditional profile that offers itself to harder charging on harder snow surfaces while still offering the best the ski industry has to offer in progressive flex patterns.
*Lets take a look at some of the key changes.
Waist width is the most obvious difference between the Mantra M5 and the outgoing version. The new ski has a 96mm waist width as opposed to the 100mm waist on the old Mantra. While a tweak of a millimeter or two is relatively negligible, a 4mm difference is substantial. This will make the new ski significantly quicker edge to edge. The downside? expect decreased floatation in deep snow conditions.
Despite having a narrower waist, the new version has wider tips. In ski design terms, the Mantra M5 has more sidecut. What does this mean for on-snow performance? The new ski has a tighter turn radius. The outgoing ski had a 25.4-meter radius at the 184 cm length. The new ski has a 21.2 meter radius at the 184cm length.
The downside of a ski with more sidecut is that it can be “hooky” in softer snow and chop. It takes a relatively aggressive skier to be able to tell the difference, but when you are cooking through some choppy snow, the shape of the ski can feel like it catches.
This is a big one. The 2017-2018 Mantras, in addition to the three preceding model years, were fully rockered. This means the ski had a flat section underfoot and then early rise in the tip and tail. This is great for skiing soft-ish to variable conditions off piste. The new iteration has camber underfoot with some tip and tail rocker. This camber underfoot provides much better edge hold on firm snow.
Fully rockered skis do have a place, but most people will agree that it belongs on wider, less damp, powder skis. On hard snow, a fully rockered ski gives you a much shorter running length and it feels like you are only skiing on about 60% of the ski. If you are designing a 96 or 100mm wide all-mountain ski, designing with camber is a no-brainer.
The Mantra has always been a powerful ski. Light or novice skiers may find it too demanding. The new M5 still features Titanal layers with some carbon laid into the tips and tails. We expect more of the same in terms of classic Volkl stiffness.
The all-new Volkl Mantra M5 takes some of the classic features of the Mantra and tweaks them to be a little more frontside friendly. The new iteration will perform better on hard snow thanks to its camber underfoot, narrower waist, and more sidecut. The result will be a ski that turns quicker and holds up better on ice. If you are looking for a powerful all-mountain ski to do a ton of tree or bowl skiing with, you might want to look towards the Nordica Enforcer 100 or Blizzard Bonafide.