2023 Volkl Kendo 88

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Philpug:
Length tested: 177
Location tested: Sun Valley
Conditions: Fresh snow, mixed condition

The Kendo 88 is just as important to Volkl for sales volume as their flagship M6 Mantra, so it was important for Volkl to bring all of the technology such as Tailored Tip and Tailored Titanal frame to the reimagined Kendo 88. The outgoing Kendo 88 already was designed with Volkl’s 3D sidecut, but this year, Volkl is dropping 1 meter from the middle of the 3D sidecut to decrease the turning radius from 17 m to 16 m on the reference 177 length.

The construction and shape changes on the Kendo were immediately noticeable. The ski was a lot quicker and had a bit more personality than even the outgoing model … which was noticeably better than the prior offering without losing what the aficionados like about the Kendo.

Insider Tip I: It’s not so much that you might want a Kendo, but with the new tailored construction, you now choose length by the turn shape you want.​
Insider Tip II: We expect the new Kendo to be a part of our Long Term Test Fleet, so stay tuned for updates.​
One thing I would change: Without completely picking nits, I think 2023 Kendo is about as perfect as a Kendo can be.​

Andy Mink:
Size tested: 184cm
Location tested: Mammoth Mountain, CA
Conditions tested in: Hard wind buff, chopped softening groomers

This is a charger that can be played with. With the addition of the titanal frame and carbon tip similar to that found in the M6 Mantra, plus the 3D radius, the Kendo has a great balance of torsional stiffness, stability, and turn shape possibilities.

On the very firm wind buff at higher elevations at Mammoth, the Kendo dug in securely allowing long or short turns with no problems. Release in the turns was easy and reengaging the edges was just a matter of pressure. The cut and piled up lower groomers were no challenge; the Kendo knifed through at whatever edge and turn radius was input. No matter where I took it the ride was smooth and supple, with what felt like power on tap.
  • Insider tip: From my notes: "I don't want to give this one back. It is REALLY good."
  • One thing that I would change: Nope. Nada. Nothing.


WadeHoliday:
Length tested: 177
Location tested: Mammoth
Conditions tested in: Hard snow, mixed terrain

Lots of excitement in the air about this one, as last year’s was “ski of the year” in some publications, and it did ski great. I liked the last one a lot, but believed the stated changes would be improvements, and they were!

The shape is awesome, it is a clean seamless blend of rise with 3 d sidecut, which I think is brilliant. It creates a ski that morphs easily between shapes, speeds, edge angles and terrain. It was the best of the day on the glazed groomer. Volkl spent some 6 million bucks on their factory tuning/finishing process, and it showed. Best edges of the day by far. They gripped like a race ski, but stlll drifted easily and predictably, with easy releases in bumps and 3 d terrain as well. How much was the ski design and how much the tune? Good question, but suffice to say, both were sweet! The Kendo is a bit more communicative than my favorite skis, but that is a taste thing. I think it’s the carbon tip providing a little extra noise feedback.
 
Awards
Who is it for?
Modern Kendo 88 lovers unite. Super broad range of levels, skills and speeds can handle this one, but rewards better movements and more intentional input. If you love the M6 Mantra, you'll want, no! need this as a narrower quiver mate.
Who is it not for?
The Kendo is still on the power side of the spectrum, so lighter finesse skiers could be a little overpowered by it. No worries, there is the Kanjo and Blaze 86 for you. Just skiing groomers, there are better skis out there. The Kendo is a strong ski that may be too much for lighter skiers. Enter the Blaze.
Skier ability
  1. Advanced
  2. Expert
Ski category
  1. Frontside
  2. All Mountain
Ski attributes
  1. Groomers
  2. Moguls
  3. Off Piste
  4. Trees
Segment
  1. Men

Specifications

right ad
Available sizes
163, 170, 177, 184
Dimensions
129-88-113
Radius
30/16/[email protected]
Rocker profile
  1. Camber with tip rocker
Size Scaling
  1. Construction
Construction design
  1. Updated construction
  2. New graphics
Binding options
  1. Flat

WadeHoliday

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yep, good review.
I do believe Phil said almost the same thing in way less words :).

I'm excited to ski this one, maybe I could be volkl guy again on skis, like I am with my tennis racket.
cheers!
W
 

Kyle

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I was at Snowbasin on Tuesday where they were hosting an industry demo. I heard a guy talking loudly in his cell phone that the new Kendo really ripped and it needed to be part of next year’s order.

I skied by the tents to look but was not qualified/eligible to actually take anything out. Maybe I should have asked nicely?
 

Brian Finch

PT, CSCS, FRCms, FRSC, Ready State L2 Coach
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184’s in the wild

Such an impressive ski! I’m contemplating buying a second pair & making this my primary ski for 2023. Key for myself is that the free ride tip allows for much lesser deflection than a Race Tiger or Deacon on piste (read cut up trails once groomed hours ago) and the portion in front of the bindings is flexible enough to allow easy stivots for speed control. Others require B netting to attempt such.
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ondra

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Oh no, just when I thought I knew which ski to buy! (The Deacon 84, though I'm still wondering about the Deacon V. Werks.) It seems the technology and construction are very similar, except that the binding sits lower on the Deacons (no?). Whereas there are more differences in the shape, though they are not huge: the Kendo is a bit wider underfoof (and slightly narrower in tip and tail) with a longer radius. Does that mean it feels very much like the Deacons (which is kind of my take from the reviews I've read so far, though no one has addressed this in any detail) or ... ? Is the Kendo as good inbounds/on hard snow as the Deacon? Is it as manueverable?
 

Brian Finch

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Having skied both, the D84 is more strictly committed to its sidecut & therefore, in my mind, more twitchy and unstable as who can actually ski perfect 14 meter turns?!

Deacons also come w a rather subpar track binder and thus lesser capability to fine tune to the clamps of your preference.
 

ondra

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Hmm, that give me a bit to think about. No, 14m is not ideal for how I ski. Though I thought the benefit of the 3 different radiuses (radii) was to make it work well with a range of turn lengths, no? Anyway, I didn't find it twitchy and unstable - which perhaps means I'm not a strong (and heavy) enough skier to constantly use the under-foot-radius. Indeed, when testing to see what short, non-smeared turns felt like, while it obediently popped back and forth, I had no desire to continue doing this long. Possibly my muscles had even less desire - don't recall exactly.
 

Brian Finch

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To be fair, the Deacon 84 is an incredible ski and I consider it and the slalom race ski to be a great early and late season option. I say this because when there is limited terrain it is really fun to pop back-and-forth in a rhythmical manner.

In the middle of the season, when I really want to open things up – the free ride tip on the Kendo allows you to vary the radius and not become locked into turns as easily.

I had skied the Deacon 80 quite a bit and even without metal, the tip/shovel would engage more than I wanted at speed.

I think perhaps the perfect vocal would be the Love Child of the Kendo and the Deacon where you had the Kendo Tip on a Deacon 84 construction and a flat interface to allow you to choose the binding that fits your body habitus and style best.

Every ski is a compromise and for myself, the Kendo will likely be my go to. It permits the incredible ability to close down the radius or stivot whilst still being able to carve.
 

Tony S

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Having skied both, the D84 is more strictly committed to its sidecut & therefore, in my mind, more twitchy and unstable as who can actually ski perfect 14 meter turns?
Um, people who are skiing slower than you?
 

ondra

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I think perhaps the perfect vocal would be the Love Child of the Kendo and the Deacon where you had the Kendo Tip on a Deacon 84 construction and a flat interface to allow you to choose the binding that fits your body habitus and style best.

Every ski is a compromise and for myself, the Kendo will likely be my go to. It permits the incredible ability to close down the radius or stivot whilst still being able to carve.
Doesn't the Deacon V. Werks have the Kendo tip (technology)?

Not sure I understand what you mean about fitting one's body habitus. How far forward or back the binding is on the ski? I think adjusting this is possible with the standard binding, no?

Also, and maybe I should know this (despite being new here), but "stivot"?
 

ondra

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Re. stivot, never mind, google helped. I assume it's a matter of how well each ski stivots, b/c any ski can be pushed into a slide - or am I missing something?
 

ondra

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My takeaway from this recent discussion is that the Kendo has distinct advantages on soft snow and off-piste. And that's of course why I'm interested in it. I'm still wondering, though, if I wouldn't be disappointed in it on hard snow on piste when the alternative is the Deacon 84.
 

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