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Thread: DB Surreal thoughts
01-28-2004, 09:14 AM #1
DB Surreal thoughts
I've had 2 1/2 decent days on these so thought I would offer my thoughts. I don't think 2 1/2 days is long enough to write a full review but a few thoughts have morphed into something longer - please keep this in mind. Please also bear in mind that I am coming back to alpine after three years straight tele so that might affect my perceptions. Then again, in my alpine days I was racing at a high junior (occassionally international) level so I do have some idea what I'm on about. I tip the scales at about 165 pounds, maybe a touch more after all the pies I have eaten recently.
The skis are the DB Surreal in a 193, shape 124-94-112. Flex ordered was stiff with a softer tip. Bending them by hand I found that the (turned up) tails are very soft. From the back binding forwards the flex felt similar to a 190 Tanker (which I would only call moderately stiff). The tips felt pretty solid; they only flexed a little. Camber looked standard, I didn't bother measuring it. The skis feel really light but, again, I didn't fart around measuring them. The skis appear extremely well-made - race-room care seems to have been take over them compared to most production skis. The topsheets chipped and scored very easily but DB seem to be aware of this and are (I think) going to some significant trouble to deal with the skis of current owners who have suffered from this.
I skied the skis in three types of snow: powder (about 20cm), chopped up heavy crud and solid windpack. I skied them in La Grave - no pistes and plently of steep stuff, usually plenty of crappy snow too.
Powder: these skis were a whole lot of fun. The shape worked well for long, fast turns but the relatively large pintail allowed for easy short turns, especially on the steeps. Whilst not naturally turny (and consequently stable at speed) making turns was easy and the skis didn't hang in the turn. I like that.
Not so good, however, was when I got forward on the skis to try to really drive them they had a tendency to dive a little. A softer tip ought to improve this. I saw that fault also as partly relative to my weight - I was using a ski intended for someone considerably heavier than me who would bend the ski more in the middle and raise the tips more. If the tips and general flex were my own specification I am certain I would find that the Surreals rock in the powder.
Chopped up heavy crud and breakable crust: I have yet to find a ski that rules on breakable crust (although their owner on his Tabla Rasas was doing pretty well); these were no exception but their size and weight meant they stayed on top of it better than most skis.
In the chopped up, heavy crud I felt that these skis were not ideal. Their light weight meant they got bashed around quite a bit and didn't hold their direction; a heavier rider might have slightly fewer problems but I am not too sure. Their sidecut means that you have to go quite fast to carve turns in crappy, cut-up snow (I find that the best way to cut through chop) but this led to getting based around even more rather than charging through the snow.
I think a heavier ski (particularly in the tip) with a bit more sidecut would be better in these conditions. I guess this is an area of performance you pay for when using a very light ski - and many will be attracted by the weight.
Solid windpack and firmer, grippy snow: due to trying to ski steep, exposed stuff in low light I was not feeling too confident when I was skiing this type of snow. My perceptions about the ski were that they are great in this snow as long as you stay forward and work them. They don't need to be worked really hard but you must make them your bitches or else they will make you their bitch. By comparison, they require quite a bit less effort than a V-explosive.
On shallower slopes (less than 35) this was easy and making big fast arcs was a pleasure - the skis felt responsive yet forgiving. The feeling on the steep stuff was different; staying forward on them on steep stuff requires a commitment that feels dangerous because of their lack of sidecut - it feels as if it won't work and the skis will not turn. However, the skis are torsionally very rigid and will turn well; I fould that (when I stayed forward and was firm with the skis) controlled turns in a tight couloir, slightly steeper than 40 were pretty easy. However, when I felt unconfident on the skis and got a little back they chattered and generally whipped my butt. I was pretty glad not to have fallen then.
I think if I spend more time skiing these conditions I would come to really like using these skis in them; they require some adjustment from a more shaped ski. Thanks to their exceptional torsional rigidity these skis performed much better in these conditions than I expected. I think if I got used to them I would come to find them truly awesome, even ahead of skis with more sidecut (thanks to their torsional rigidity and even yet progressive and responsive flex)
Conclusions: Standing alone these are an excellent ski. I believe that their powder performance would be excellent for the person thay were designed for. For a fat, straight ski they were also surprisingly good on firmer snow. I think that their torsional rigidity would also make them reasonable on ice, given their shape and width. Their light weight and lack of sidecut makes them a handful on heavy chopped up snow but IMNSHO this is more than compensated for by their powder performance. I am a firm believer that one ski cannot "do it all" - bearing that (and the haevy chop performance) in mind I rate these skis pretty damn highly.
The problem with the Surreals is that they don't stand alone. They stand between the Tabla Rasa and the R. Whilst a great ski in their own right IMO their best feature (pow performance) is probably eclipsed by the TR's. The TR is effectively a wider version of this ski with the twintip cut off and a swallowtail instead - the running length looks only marginally shorter. The TR has a similar shape and seems to perform well on firmer snow as well (NB this is my observation, I haven't used them yet).
If I was into dropping 850 Yankee Dollares on a pair of skis I would get the Tabla Rasas - it appears they share the less good features of the Surreal (crappy chopped up and refrozen snow performance) but improve on the best feature of the Surreal: powder. These are still a great ski, it just seems to me that they have been out-classed by the Tabla Rasa, with which they overlap too much.
If you do not want a wider ski, fairly straight ski (or feel you need that little twin) and can ski well I would not hesitate to recommend these skis. I was very impressed by them. I have also been extremely impressed by DB Skis (that is the company) in general. From all accounts their customer service is excellent, they really care about the skis they are making and apparently take a lot of trouble to make the right ski for each customer. Whilst you pay more for one of their skis you undoubtedly get a great, personalised service. Moreover, they represent an attitude and enthusiasm in the ski industry that I would gladly support.
This is just my .02 - take it as you will and remember, I didn't spend that long on these skis. BTW, I'll be amazed if anyone actually read down to here...
01-28-2004, 09:41 AM #2Of the Bu-Tang Clan
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
- Bellevue WA
I'm going to be super disappointed if I don't get my Tabla Rasas in time to take them to AK. (Espically considering they were ordered in August.) Stephan has been telling me "any day now" for about a month.
But he has also offered me a full refund no less than 3 times, so I won't fault their customer service.
I just want my skis!
02-16-2004, 07:29 AM #3
bump- any more thoughts?
02-16-2004, 09:17 AM #4
Are you serious? You want more?
No, no more thoughts. They were not my skis and I haven't skied them since then. I think I mentioned one or two things in that review though...