The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 is back unchanged for 2016. It is a great all-mountain frontside ski for the intermediate that likes to make turns down the groomers, but may also venture off piste. Its light-weight design, forgiving flex, and all terrain rocker aid in maneuverability. The X-Chassis, RKS Rocker Stabilizer, and Ti Laminate help to ensure a smooth ride. It’s doesn’t have the same high end speed limit or off piste capabilities of the Salomon X-Drive 8.8, but it’s a bit more forgiving, and maneuverable.
Riders: Matt and Laura
Conditions: Soft Chop (5”), Groomers, Hard Pack
Boots: Rossignol Alias Sensor 120
Bindings: Salomon X12
On the Snow Feel: The X-Drive 8.3 has a stable feel.
Powder: The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 is designed more for the frontside groomers than the deeper snow. It does have a small amount of rocker in the tip, but at 83 underfoot, it just doesn’t have enough surface area for good floatation.
Turn Initiation and Carving: The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 is a frontside oriented all mountain ski that likes to carve the groomers. The light-weight design and All Terrain Rocker 2.0 make this ski easy to maneuver. The forgiving flex and partial sidewall construction in tip and tail, requires less input to get the ski on edge. The ski has a medium flex that is relatively uniform throughout. This allows any slightly more aggressive skier to bend the ski without a ton of input. When carving, the X-Chassis provides extra torsional rigidity underfoot, giving you powerful edge hold. The light-weight wood core is lively, and provides a nice energetic rebound. It’s not the most powerful frontside ski, but does a nice job of getting you from edge to edge with quick, smooth transitions. The tail is relatively flat (Salomon claims it’s rockered, but it is very subtle), and provides a decent amount of power and hold. It’s upturned just enough to aid in release, but not so much that you need to worry about the tail washing out. Again, the medium stiffness provides a decent amount of power, but is still relatively forgiving.
Speed: The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 does a decent job at higher speeds, but it is definitely not built to just bomb the mountain. The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 has a basalt layer to aid in dampness, while integrated elastomer pads help to reduce vibrations. . The ski also has one layer of titanium, but the light-weight core and tip rocker aren’t the best at smoothing out the terrain. The X-Chassis does a good job of increasing torsional rigidity, but doesn’t add anything in the way of longitudinal rigidity. This medium flex is forgiving, but isn’t the best at absorbing vibrations. At moderate speeds, the X-Drive handles pretty well, but at high speeds we noticed a lot more chatter. If speed isn’t your thing, this will be a non-issue, but for those that like to rip as fast as they can, you’d be better off looking into the Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS.
Uneven Terrain: The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 is OK in the uneven terrain, but it’s not where the ski shines. When we encountered piles of soft chop, the ski would get bounced around and lose stability. Narrower skis don’t often excel in these categories, especially when the flex is relatively soft. The All-Terrain Rocker does help to absorb some of this terrain, but it’s often a bit too much to handle. We also found that in these conditions, the Salomon X-Drive 8.3 was much less maneuverable, and it took a lot more effort to turn the ski. This wasn’t as big of an issue in shallow chop, but the deeper it got, the more this was true.
Moguls: The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 has a relatively forgiving flex and its light-weight allows you to maneuver them pretty well. It’s not my favorite mogul ski, but does a good enough job to occasionally venture into the bumps.
Edge Hold: Edge hold is good on firm snow, so long as it’s not too steep or icy.
Flex: The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 has a medium flex that is relatively uniform. This aids in forgiveness, and suits a more casual style of skiing.
Switch: This is a directional ski that doesn’t do well switch.
The Salomon X-Drive 8.3 is a solid all-mountain frontside ski for the intermediate riders. It’s a light-weight ski that is maneuverable and easy to swing around. The flex is relatively forgiving, and it doesn’t take a ton of effort to get the ski on edge. Edge hold is good, so long as it’s not too steep or icy. Short radius turns were fun and lively, with quick and smooth transitions from edge to edge. They are not the most powerful skis, but good for those that like to make slower short radius carves down the mountain. The ski is stable at moderate speeds, but does lack the top end stability of stiffer more aggressive skis. It handles okay in shallow chop, but feels out of place in the deep chop and powder. This is a fun frontside carver that handles well at moderate speeds, and gives intermediate skiers the ability to venture off piste, so long as things aren’t too chopped up. These skis also come as a package with integrated Salomon XT12 bindings.