TESTED BY CHRIGL
Having put in five full days of testing, in varying snow conditions, on the handmade freetouring Ronin 116, my overwhelming impression of it is one of total confidence. When you have a trip planned, a bag packed with skins, crampons etc., you want to be sure that the ski you bring will be the right one whatever conditions you find, and this Ronin delivers that confidence in spades.
On the first day of testing, the game became to try and find a turn shape or a snow type that the ski would object to. I tried heavy untracked mashed potatoes with a load of different turn shapes; I tried tight trees, steeps, fast speeds, hard-snow short swing and carves, ollies, drifts… the Ronin 116 was there for me every time. I couldn’t outwit it.
All the while, the skis were quiet – there was minimal vibration transmission. Having hand-built the skis at Ronin in Chamonix, under the tutelage of Jonno (read all about the process in our 2021 Gear Guide), I recalled the rubber inserts we had placed in the ‘vibier’ areas, and, moreover, the layer of organic flax throughout the length of ski, which counteracts the undesirable effects of the carbon lay-up.
Run after run, my sense was that the skis were immensely ‘comfortable’ to ski. They were intuitive – twitch your ankle and they change direction, and you get that fresh turn or avoid that rock. Part of their responsiveness is owed to their very mellow underfoot camber and progressive rocker profile. The sheer pivotability of the Ronin 116 means you can get yourself into, and out of, trouble in an instant.
Of course, it’s a double-edged sword, so where the gentle camber helps with manoeuvrability, the edge grip, despite the performance of the bamboo sidewalls, and poppiness are not quite on the same level as something with a lot of camber (the Ronin 108 is more cambered underfoot). I also felt that the stated radius of 21m felt a touch longer when I lent them over for some carves (but given how precise Jonno is with his engineering this could merely be my impression rather than fact).
The salient feature of the Ronin 116s is how light they are. These 116mm 187.5cm skis are a mere 1800g per ski. That is mega light, they tracked uneven snow better than anything I have skied in this weight category.
I am happy I mounted them with the versatile Salomon Shift binding for extra precision and security albeit with a weight penalty. There is no question in my mind that I would have been just as content with a pin binding and the resulting uphill performance will definitely be a priority for many customers (the current Ronin range is touring focused).
I mounted them at +1 from Jonno’s recommended point, which ended up being -10cm from True Centre.
Having built the skis at the Ronin workshop, I can confirm that skiing something that you know literally inside and out is a super-cool feeling. I learned a lot about ski design during the process and subsequently during testing. In some ways it feels like the skis being as good as they are is just a bonus.