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V’lkl – RTM 86
V’lkl’s RTM 86 is the product of years of testing and refinement, resulting in one of the most smooth, stable and powerful all-mountain carving skis on the market. For 2018 it’s been upgraded with what V’lkl are calling ‘3D Glass,’ an update to their 3D.Ridge technology featuring extra fibreglass extending to the edge of the ski and then out to the sidewall for noticeably increased torsional stiffness, dampness and power. The updated RTM 86 then is a frontside weapon, with best-in-category carving performance and the smooth unflappable character V’lkl do so well. The ridge-style construction ‘ a powerful central spine tapering down to razor-thin edges ‘ plus a full sheet of metal provides incredible edge feel and sensitivity; yet somehow only the good feelings are transmitted through to the foot: the UVO (Ultimate Vibration Object) absorbs any unwanted vibrations, leaving the ski to slice cleanly into the snow whatever the surface quality or hardness. The 86mm waist brings some forgiveness to the mix and improves performance off-piste, though ultimately the RTM craves to be worked and needs to be actively driven to unlock their full magic. They have the power and aggression to steamroller through ungroomed snow, rewarding precise technical turns and good balance more than sheer speed. They’re a joy in tight terrain and moguls, feeling more like a fencing sabre than a great sword ‘ jab and thrust rather than hack and slash. The subtle early rise rocker helps here by speeding up turn initiation and planing quickly at lower speeds in soft snow than other similar-width skis. They permit a bit more license and abandon on groomed snow, but are still fundamentally high performance skis. Stay up on edge and give them some welly and they cut clean carved arcs through April slush as well as they do January hardpack, with enough sensitivity to accurately tighten turns and adjust course by flexing deeper into the ski at will. Drive the tips and they’re amazingly agile ‘ you can fling them about like a Spitfire in a dogfight ‘ or load up the powerful tails once you’ve crossed the fall-line and slingshot into the next turn, but if you don’t maintain dynamic balance they’ll make their displeasure known! As you’d expect from V’lkl the build quality and finish is excellent. They’re reassuringly expensive, but you get what you pay for with the RTM: a full bore carver capable of gunning the frontside all day in any condition.