The Volkl Kendo has been updated for 2015/2016 with a slightly wider base (90mm instead of 89mm), and a gradually tapered tip that seems to improve it’s maneuverability a bit more. The new Kendo still has the solid edge hold and carving ability of past, but with improved soft snow capabilities. I’d still classify it as an all-mountain frontside ski for advanced or expert skiers, but with a slightly more approachable feel.
2016 Volkl Kendo On-Snow Video Review
Video Outerwear: Trew Cosmic Jacket – North Face Freedom Pant
Conditions: Groomers, Soft Chop (5”), Hard Pack
Boots: Rossignol Alias Sensor 120
Bindings: Marker Griffon
On the Snow Feel: Last seasons Volkl Kendo had a nice stable feel that could be locked in when on edge. There was some maneuverability, but the ski was still happiest on edge. The new Kendo has a similar stable feel, but I found it slightly less locked in and a little more maneuverable. It’s still not a surfy or playful ski, but I did find that I could unlock the ski and access a slightly playful side on softer snow.
Powder: The new Volkl Kendo has been upgraded from 89mm underfoot to a ski that is 90mm underfoot. While this along won’t really improve the powder performance, the slightly tapered tip, and improved rocker line help to keep the ski approachable in deeper snow. You’re still not getting a ski that is going to excel in the deeper snow, but rather a ski that will be capable when there is a few inches of fresh snow on the groomers.
Turn Initiation and Carving: The 2015/2016 Volkl Kendo is still a ski that likes to carve. The redesigned tip shape, and rocker line makes it feel slightly more maneuverable than past, and even at slower speeds I found the ski relatively easy to turn. Despite the upgraded shape, the Kendo is still a ski that prefers to be on edge, and like past versions it does take some speed to put it there. Sure at 90mm underfoot it doesn’t take a ton of work to get it on edge, but it’s also not automatic either. I felt that I had to drive the ski rather than just shift my weight. Thankfully, the ski isn’t overly heavy so I found it relatively easy to get them from edge to edge. I enjoyed making moderate to long radius turns, but did find that I could adjust turn shape with ease. The ski was energetic, lively, and moderately powerful, but I didn’t find them overly exciting either. To be fair, I had just skied the Blizzard Bonafide, a ski that while demanding, is very fun and exciting when transitioning from edge to edge. The Kendo is still a very capable carver, especially for those who are willing to work a bit, but it wasn’t nearly as powerful or energetic as the Bonafide (I know these are two very different skis, but I expected the Kendo to carve better than the Bonafide, not the other way around). Again, the Kendo is still a very capable carver, but for me it wasn’t the most exciting carver of the category.
Speed: The Volkl Kendo holds up pretty well at speed. The flex is moderately stiff, and with a titanal core, it feels relatively damp and stable at high speeds.
Uneven Terrain: The Volkl Kendo is great in soft chop so long as it isn’t too deep. The small amount of rocker in the tip helps to keep the kendo on top of the shallow chop, but as soon as it gets deep, the Kendo is much less at home. The stiff flex, and layer of titanium helps to absorb the terrain, but the ski just doesn’t have a wide platform to absorb the terrain. In addition, the poplar core is quite lively and has a lot of rebound energy. At higher speeds, and deeper chop, the Kendo begins to get bounced around if you try and blast through.
Edge Hold: Maybe it was the demo pair that I skied, but I was actually disappointed with the edge hold of the Kendo. The day of testing was mostly hard packed groomers (far from the ice you find in the NE), and I found myself skiing very cautiously. There were several times I lost an edge when transitioning from soft to hard snow. On soft snow, the Kendo feels like a knife. Maybe I need to get back on a pair with a better tune.
Flex: The Volkl Kendo has a moderate to moderate stiff flex, with tip and tail leaning towards moderate. The softer flex makes it feel slightly more approachable than past, but still holds up well at speed. The Kendo has enough torsional stiffness to feel solid on edge.
The 2015/2016 Volkl Kendo feels slightly more approachable and maneuverable than past, but still wants to carve high angle turns on groomers. The new Kendo is better off piste than in past, but I’d still say it’s more at home on groomers than powder. The new shape makes it easier to get on edge and easier to vary turn shape once there, but the Kendo is still a knife that likes to be on edge. It’s still damp, stable, and powerful, but I found it lacks a bit of energy and liveliness. It’s still a very capable carver, just not overly exciting. It does decently well at speed, and is actually relatively quick in bumps. It’s fun in soft snow, but isn’t great when conditions get a bit bumped up. So who is it for? Well the Volkl Kendo is a versatile all mountain frontside ski that likes to carve groomers, yet still has the ability to ski off piste. It’s more of a carver than slasher, but does have the ability to be playful at times.