Volkl Kiku (2014)
The Kiku has crushed every one of our tests since its first iteration in 2009. It's not the floatiest, but it is the most versatile. (The best skis - even specialists - do it all. And face it: Even on a deep Wasatch day, you still have to get back to the lift.) It has a wood core, vertical sidewall construction, gradual rocker throughout, and carbon-fiber layers to give it power without the weight and dampness of metal. It's stable, quick, and adept at terrain transitions. All that adds up to a light, maneuverable powder ski that rails on groomed like a ski half its size - an ideal one-ski quiver for a Snowbird local. Humes: "Just super solid."
With a 107 mm waist, the Kiku is the widest women's ski Volkl makes, intended for expert freeriders who expect to ski lots of powder. It's similar in intended application to the men's Gotama, one of Volkl's oldest and most important models. It's part of Volkl's Women's Freeskiing collection, which features soft-snow, freeride-oriented models ranging in width from 107 mm down to 83 mm. All are durable wood-core constructions with solid-feeling vertical sidewalls and glass-reinforced internal torsion box (the core is wrapped in a fiberglass sock to resist torsional flex, or twisting). The top model, Kiku, has carbon fiber layers, which give it power without the weight and dampness of metal. The Aura (96 mm) and the Kenja (87 mm) both have metal reinforcement. The two narrowest and least expensive models - the new all-mountain Yumi (83 mm) and the park-oriented Pyra (85 mm) - are reinforced with fiberglass only. Rocker profiles also vary: The Kiku is fully rockered for loose powder performance; the Aura, Kenja and Yumi are rockered in the tip only, for optimal mixed-conditions performance; the Pyra gets tip and tail rocker for easy pivoting and switch riding. All models are sold flat (no binding).
|Level||Advanced, Expert, Hi-Expert|
|Awards||Gold Medal Gear|
|Lengths||154, 162, 170, 178|
|Rating: Stability at Speed||3.71 / 5|
|Rating: Maneuverability||3.28 / 5|
|Rating: Hard Snow Grip||2.24 / 5|
|Rating: Crud Performance||3.75 / 5|
|Rating: Forgiveness||3.11 / 5|
|Rating: Flotation||3.75 / 5|
|Rating: Overall||3.36 / 5|