Volkl Kendo ReviewNovember 22, 2018
- Excellent edge hold
- Damp and stable feel
- Perfect medium radius turns
- Dynamic flex
- Not a lot of energy
- Better on-piste
- Sleepy at slow speeds
- Not as quick edge to edge
Every test card reviewing the Volkl Kendo starts out something like this, “Damp, quiet, stable, and easy to carve, especially for medium radius.” That’s also what we wrote about this ski last year, when the Kendo kicked butt in the carving portion of the Frontside Category. Moderate tip and tail rocker, a woodcore mix of ash and poplar—with the ash concentrated underfoot and the poplar spread out toward the tip and tail—and Titanal, result in a ski with virtually nonstop edge to snow contact.
They are not as lively as many other skis, and are not designed to be. They also have to be driven to make anything other than a medium and sometimes long turn radius turn, which can make it feel like you’re taking the magic out of what makes this ski work. They do hold up at speed, where they provide more response the harder you push. This ski presents the perfect middle ground between hard chargers who want a race-style prototype that rips the hardpack like it’s a racecourse, and quick turners who want to treat the fall-line like some sort of aerobic workout. Buy this ski if you love one of the sport’s best pleasures, the beauty of a damp, progressive, medium-radius flex.
As more of a pure carver in a category where several brands introduced wider skis with more All Mountain appeal this year, the Volkl Kendo still earned solid marks in the Overall classification, including one 10 and one 9, several 8s, and one 7 from a tester who would have liked a livelier feel underfoot.
The moderate tip and tail rocker in the Kendo means that in the Floatation classification it gets the same moderate result as many of the other skis in the Frontside Category, where the it skis like a Samurai with its ease of initiation and lazer-sharp carve on-piste. But get it in mixed snow conditions and the lack of pop and Float make it seem rather sluggish. Overall, the Kendo focuses on one of the sport’s best pleasures, the beauty of a damp progressive, medium-radius flex.
The metal/wood core, with mix of high-density ash under the binding and center of the ski, and poplar toward the tips and tails, along with a Ti laminate is what makes this ski so remarkably damp. It really does feel “glued to the snow,” as one tester put it, with a kind of quiet, supremely confident Stability that stands out even in the Frontside Category, where there wasn’t much “instability” to report.
For the same reason, Edge Hold is also top notch. Full sidewalls, the Titanal laminate, and the power of being able to steer from such a powerful footprint underneath the binding make it easy for skiers to drive the ski from edge to edge. That being said, a lot of these performance features depend on skiing the Kendo in its favorite medium radius, a turn this ski handles so well it could do it in its sleep.
In case you enjoy a little nuance and culture with your ski test, Kendo is a martial art that uses bamboo swords and armor. Which means the good folks at Volkl really got the product development and naming of these boards absolutely right. This ski sets such a perfect medium radius carve that for the skiers who enjoy it, they really could feel as if they are practicing an ancient art.
Turn Shape Variability
Keep making that medium radius carve, until it feels like meditation, and you can access your inner alpine bliss. Try to push this ski too hard, too fast, or even too short and slow, and the dream will break.Continue Reading
Peter Kray- Publisher
Peter Kray is a co-founder of the Gear Institute, and a longtime specialist in the testing of skis, snowboards and outdoor equipment.