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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    North Van
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    Review: Head A-Star

    There are lots of deals floating around for these online, but little in the way of reviews. I figured people would appreciate some info.

    Ski stats:

    Stated length: 187
    Measured tip-to-tail length: 186
    Sidecut: 137-118-128
    Radius: 28.6 m
    Recommended mounting point: -6 from true centre

    I have my skis set up mounted at recommended (-6) with 916s for 292 bsl.

    My stats:

    5'8" 165 lbs, 31 years old, based in Vancouver, BC. I grew up racing but now I'm washed up.
    I generally seek out skis that carve well and perform in a wide variety of conditions and terrain. My favourite skis over the years have been 182 Moment Garbones (112) and 190 Bibby Pros, 188 Rossi S7 and RC 112, 4frnt EHP and Renegade. I haven't found a ski I have hated, but those that don't last long in my quiver usually lack versatility.

    Flex, shape and observations
    The skis are quite stiff overall, stiffest in the forebody and underfoot. They soften just a touch in the very tips and from just behind the heelpiece back. Overall, they're a hair softer than my Garbones.

    Camber/rocker profile is posted at the bottom (credit thatdkid). They have mild tip rocker with relatively little splay, low camber for much of the length of the ski, and a very low tail rocker.

    Review (so far)

    I have 3 days on my A-Stars. The first day was entirely spent ripping groomers at Manning Park. The second and third days were at Whistler, with 15 cm of fresh, relatively light snow over a hard rain crust, which became chopped up and bumped.

    If I had to sum these skis up in a couple words, I would call them a newschool charger.

    It took me a few runs to figure these out on groomers. Unlike other skis I have been using recently, the tips don't pull the ski into the turn as strongly at turn initiation. My first few attempts at carving resulted in the outside ski diverging. What I figured out is that, similar to a race GS ski, these ski need a patient turn initiation, letting them run deeper in the turn to establish solid pressure on the outside ski before moving laterally. Once I figured this out, I was railing GS and felt nostalgia for my glory days of running gates. They are powerful and have solid edge hold. They are just maybe not as forgiving a carver as some other options and need some speed and space to come alive.

    What surprised me more is how well they do short turns. My recent experience with wider-tipped skis is that of tips biting at initiation, and sliding tails through the turns. In contrast, the tapered, narrow tips are smoothly slid to the desired radius, with strong, carved turn completion from the tails.

    These observations on groomers carry over to how the skis perform in other areas. As expected, they are good at ripping big, open turns, but they do well in tight spots and trees. Their tip design, slight tail rise and forward mount make them easy to disengage, but the sidecut and camber keeps them snappy. At low speeds in very tight terrain, they are a bit of work, requiring deliberate movements to make them turn, but they come alive at higher speeds, which allowed me to whip through the trees. They also do well in bumps, which I attribute to the tip shape. Other skis with bigger tips tend to grab and engage in each bump, whereas these allow more of a smear.

    I'd like to get them out on a true power day before commenting on float, but a few runs in untouched boot deep snow gave me an idea of what to expect. Because they are stiff, they need some speed to float. But once you let them run, they are smooth and surfy, but the camber makes them somewhat playful.

    The big question you probably have is, are these too much ski? I'd say that for someone with a strong technical background, they make a great all-rounder. A softer ski will be more fun and playful in pure pow, but these have enough heft to not fall apart in chop and at high speeds while still being maneuverable. For someone who skis a bit slower or who isn't used to making quick moves while at a good clip, these will likely feel like a lot of ski, and there are probably better options out there.

    In comparison to some other skis I have used, they remind me most of the 186 4FRNT Renegade, which was another ski I'd put in the newschool charger category, with a stiff flex and long-ish turn radius, but a forward mount and design that allows them to get loose. My main complaint with the Renegade was their full reverse camber, which resulted in a lack of stability in rough snow, and made them tricky for making snappy turns in trees. The camber on the A-Star helps in both respects, drastically increasing versatility. They are slightly less smooth and surfy in untouched snow, but it's a trade-off I'm fine with.

    Compared to my trusty 182 Moment Garbones (112-waist), the A-Star is easier in bumps and tight spots and easier to disengage, but not as solidly locked in or intuitive for high-speed carves on groomed runs.

    Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. I will report back again after a few more days on the skis.


  2. #2
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    Sep 2006
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Couloirfornia
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    Not in the market, but digging the "old school" Tech Talk review. Appreciate the time you put into it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernest_Hemingway View Post
    I realize there is not much hope for a bullfighting forum. I understand that most of you would prefer to discuss the ingredients of jacket fabrics than the ingredients of a brave man. I know nothing of the former. But the latter is made of courage, and skill, and grace in the presence of the possibility of death. If someone could make a jacket of those three things it would no doubt be the most popular and prized item in all of your closets.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Vancouver BC
    Posts
    3,268
    I hadn't been following Head for a few years so it was cool to read this. We seem to like the same style of skis, so I'll keep these in mind even though I'm happy with my current quiver.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Idaho
    Posts
    449
    I miss these good detailed reviews too. Thanks for your effort. Any comparisons to the bibby? That has been one of my all time favorite skis as well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    North Van
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    Review: Head A-Star

    Quote Originally Posted by wwwllw View Post
    I miss these good detailed reviews too. Thanks for your effort. Any comparisons to the bibby? That has been one of my all time favorite skis as well.
    I haven't been on the Bibby in a few years, but from what I recall, the Bibbys grab more at turn initiation but have less tail support at turn completion. I'd say the A-Star and 190 Bibby are a similar amount of work, but the ability to more easily slide the A-Star into a variety of turn shapes makes them a bit easier in tight spots. The A-Stars are a less intuitive carver, though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    NorCal
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    531
    Quote Originally Posted by D(C) View Post
    Recommended mounting point: -6 from true centre

    I have my skis set up mounted at recommended (-6) with 916s for 292 bsl.

    [/IMG]
    Are you happy w/mount pt. or do find yourself wanting more tip? I hear the tails are very stiff.

  8. #8
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    Sep 2006
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    North Van
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    Quote Originally Posted by esseff View Post
    Are you happy w/mount pt. or do find yourself wanting more tip? I hear the tails are very stiff.
    I like them at -6 so far, but carved turn initiation is quirky, as mentioned above. Going back a bit might give a more traditional feel, but I don't know what it would do to versatility and surfiness. The shape and flex of the ski is fairly unique, so they may just work best on the line.

    The tails are stiff, but not quite as stiff as the forebody of the ski. They don't feel unwieldy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    6,041
    Great review, thanks!

    Which S916's do you have on the ski - metal or plastic?

    The -6cm mount point, is that just a single line on the ski? Or is there a marked scale on the ski, and if so, is the -6cm the furthest back? I've got 3 pairs of freeride 191cm heads, and have them all at -1cm or -1.5 cm back from the furthest back line on the scale.

  10. #10
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    Sep 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damian Sanders View Post
    Great review, thanks!

    Which S916's do you have on the ski - metal or plastic?

    The -6cm mount point, is that just a single line on the ski? Or is there a marked scale on the ski, and if so, is the -6cm the furthest back? I've got 3 pairs of freeride 191cm heads, and have them all at -1cm or -1.5 cm back from the furthest back line on the scale.
    I'm on metal 916s so that's one heavy setup!

    I'm on the furthest back line. They have lines going forward from -6 every half-cm up to true centre.

    I have gotten a few powder days in, which was missing from my initial review. Because of their stiffness, forward mount and relatively narrow tips, they don't have that unsinkable feel of softer skis with bigger tips. But at speed they plane nicely, and the lack of grabbiness makes them quite smooth and surfy.

    I had them out in fairly deep wind-affected coastal cement and there I was sinking tips if I wasn't careful. Other people were having issues too, though.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Mammoth Lakes
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    3,648
    Quote Originally Posted by D(C) View Post
    I'm on metal 916s so that's one heavy setup!

    I'm on the furthest back line. They have lines going forward from -6 every half-cm up to true centre.

    I have gotten a few powder days in, which was missing from my initial review. Because of their stiffness, forward mount and relatively narrow tips, they don't have that unsinkable feel of softer skis with bigger tips. But at speed they plane nicely, and the lack of grabbiness makes them quite smooth and surfy.

    I had them out in fairly deep wind-affected coastal cement and there I was sinking tips if I wasn't careful. Other people were having issues too, though.
    Interesting thanks. The last sentence is what scares me a little. Wish they had a bit more tip rocker as I'm in Mammoth most of the time and find I like a fair bit of tip rocker to keep the tips from diving in our sometimes heavy deep pow. Also I skied the 184 Bibby and you were on 190 so worried they might be a bit long, especially in tight, slow trees where you aren't really planing, but looking for the left over deep pow.

    Would you mount them back at all if its a mostly dedicated pow ski, since you mention the forward mount?

    Soo tempting as it looks really close...
    Last edited by comish; 03-30-2017 at 11:36 AM.
    He who has the most fun wins!

  12. #12
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    Feb 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by D(C) View Post
    I'm on metal 916s so that's one heavy setup!

    I'm on the furthest back line. They have lines going forward from -6 every half-cm up to true centre.

    I have gotten a few powder days in, which was missing from my initial review. Because of their stiffness, forward mount and relatively narrow tips, they don't have that unsinkable feel of softer skis with bigger tips. But at speed they plane nicely, and the lack of grabbiness makes them quite smooth and surfy.

    I had them out in fairly deep wind-affected coastal cement and there I was sinking tips if I wasn't careful. Other people were having issues too, though.
    Thanks for the heads up. If I get a pair, I'd mount them -1cm or more from the furthest back line, with FKS.

  13. #13
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    Sep 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by comish View Post
    Interesting thanks. The last sentence is what scares me a little. Wish they had a bit more tip rocker as I'm in Mammoth most of the time and find I like a fair bit of tip rocker to keep the tips from diving in our sometimes heavy deep pow. Also I skied the 184 Bibby and you were on 190 so worried they might be a bit long, especially in tight, slow trees where you aren't really planing, but looking for the left over deep pow.

    Would you mount them back at all if its a mostly dedicated pow ski, since you mention the forward mount?

    Soo tempting as it looks really close...
    I'd say the level of effort is more similar to 190 Bibbys than 184s.

    I can't comment on mounting farther back. The more forward mount is one of the things I like about the ski, and IMO is worth the extra attention in cement. Given their stiff-ish flex and narrower tips, I'm not sure how much going back would actually help float.

    I should note that the runs where I had trouble keeping the tips up were in really weird, heavy snow (lower down the mountain on Blackcomb). The wind affect was the main factor. In equally heavy snow that wasn't hammered by wind, they did fine.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Kilpisjärvi, Finland
    Posts
    939
    Like these skis so much, that I will be hauling these up to mountains this winter. Perfect ski for variable snow up here in Finland and Norway.

    Sent from my PLK-L01 using TGR Forums mobile app

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    1,351
    Random bump.

    Super interesting to see which skis become classics and which are relegated to a sidebar of history.

    IMO- the A-Star is an unsung classic. Combining the flawless handing that is an almost direct copy of the rocker/taper of an EHP, with the “I’m invincible” construction borrowed from the Monster skis, and just enough radius (29m) for clean fast carves when navigating back to the lift. Maybe they flew under the radar due to the “heavy as shit” construction of Heads (2600g+)? Or the wacky aesthetic (which feels invisible on-snow to me) of their tips and tails? Or just Head being SOOO Austrian in their marketing / race focus?

    In my book, the weight in particular only helps to make them that much more special and practical as the snow gets cut up, and compliments a Pro Rider or Monster 108 daily driver (mounted at -7 for the A-Star).

    Curious if anyone else out there are still skiing these things?
    Last edited by Marshal Olson; 12-14-2020 at 05:24 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    The greatest N. New Mexico resort in Colorado
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshal Olson View Post
    Maybe they flew under the radar due to the “heavy as shit” construction of Heads (2600g+)? Or the wacky aesthetic (which feels invisible on-snow to me) of their tips and tails? Or just Head being SOOO Austrian in their marketing / race focus?
    Might have been complete lack of marketing on behalf of head, or the trend shying directly away from stiff straight heavy chargers in this waist width, misbegotten association with the largely terrible Cyclic/Turbine/Venturi lineup, target demographic getting too old for this shit (RIIIIIIGGGGGSSSS!!!!!). Kinda feel like that ski was set up to fail. But it is interesting when you look at the history of “team issue” freeride skis (Rossi XXXX, anyone?), or absurdly big/stiff production models (stockli DP 201), how they develop a cult aura, if not exactly a following due to scarcity. I think those cult followings may well be largely confined to the nerds on this site, and even though we’ve had success convincing smaller manufacturers to make badass skis (super goats, praxis pm gear reruns), it’s not really enough to keep a major brand churning out skis that don’t make money for them.

    So, good opportunity to thank Dynastar for making the LP 105 for ten years straight and not changing a damn thing about it.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    531
    I think it was a marketing miss. Meaning, they simply put no $ into the campaign. Maybe they were unsure of what they had? They had the Kore in development so maybe they were holding on for that debut?

    Shameless plug- I have someone 191 Cyclic 115's available if anyone wants 'em, cheap.

    I liked the Cyclic, stiff, "goldilocks" TR, good edge, handled it all; crud, pow, corduroy.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    3,098
    Just something about Head.
    Same reason I was able to score my fav ski ever for $150 shipped brand new

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    165
    Quote Originally Posted by esseff View Post
    I think it was a marketing miss. Meaning, they simply put no $ into the campaign. Maybe they were unsure of what they had? They had the Kore in development so maybe they were holding on for that debut?

    Shameless plug- I have someone 191 Cyclic 115's available if anyone wants 'em, cheap.

    I liked the Cyclic, stiff, "goldilocks" TR, good edge, handled it all; crud, pow, corduroy.
    I have a pair of 191 Cyclic's as well, if someone in Canada wants a cheap pair ...

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Alta
    Posts
    3,000
    Quote Originally Posted by Marshal Olson View Post
    Random bump.

    Super interesting to see which skis become classics and which are relegated to a sidebar of history.

    IMO- the A-Star is an unsung classic. Combining the flawless handing that is an almost direct copy of the rocker/taper of an EHP, with the “I’m invincible” construction borrowed from the Monster skis, and just enough radius (29m) for clean fast carves when navigating back to the lift. Maybe they flew under the radar due to the “heavy as shit” construction of Heads (2600g+)? Or the wacky aesthetic (which feels invisible on-snow to me) of their tips and tails? Or just Head being SOOO Austrian in their marketing / race focus?

    In my book, the weight in particular only helps to make them that much more special and practical as the snow gets cut up, and compliments a Pro Rider or Monster 108 daily driver (mounted at -7 for the A-Star).

    Curious if anyone else out there are still skiing these things?
    Glad you’re liking them. They’re a great ski


    Sent from my iPad using TGR Forums

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
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    1,351
    Quote Originally Posted by altacoup View Post
    Glad you’re liking them. They’re a great ski
    Stoked man.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    MA
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    Would love to try these out one day

  23. #23
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    Nov 2018
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    I saw em at $230USD shipped on Corbett’s earlier today while looking for this thread!

  24. #24
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    Jan 2011
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    Alta
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    It’s also worth noting that Head really didn’t even try and sell this ski. It wasn’t even listed in their catalog the first year it came out. It’d be really cool if they made this exact same shape with the kore construction. That would make an insane pow touring ski. Zero chance that’ll happen.


    Sent from my iPad using TGR Forums

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Posts
    700
    Finally got some time on them today, great skis!

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