REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Renoun Z-Line 77 2016-2017
Renoun Z-Line 77 (2016-2017)
“Silky accurate groomer etcher.”
“The faster you go, the smoother they get.”
Renoun Z-Line 77 (left) and Z-Line 90 (right)
266 Main St., Burlington, Vermont, United States
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$1345 usd (2016) - Unusual Two Year Warranty – 100 Day Satisfaction Policy
Resort Frontside Groomer Cruiser/Carver
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9+ for packed powder groomers...all speeds
8+ for mixed conditions...you might want something a little wider and more surfy depending on your style and preferences.
Powder conditions unavailable for testing by press time (but who uses a 77mm-waisted ski in powder these days anyway?).
“A narrower version of the Z-Line 90. Our fastest ski edge-to-edge, seamless in bumps and a downright ripper. The Z-Line 77 effortlessly melds form and function. A full performer, whether in the trees or on the open run, the Z-Line 77 holds an edge at hair-raising speeds and doesn’t let go. Every Z-Line 77 is embedded with the patented HDT™ and will adapt instantly to the snow conditions and your skiing style. A narrower overall width dictates a lower float in fresh powder, but our testers loved taking it straight to the freshies. The Z-Line 77 has a slight rocker in the tip and strong camber underfoot like the Z-Line 90. This is a proven and deadly combo if you’re looking for stability and control. Are you’re still skiing when your friends have gone home? Then this is your ski.” - Website November 2016
The Renoun Z-Line 77 is the first narrow-body frontside-specific ski from Cyrus’s drawing board, and it occupies an interesting space between race-carver and all-mountain frontside categories….really, really well. Ex-racer types, instructors, coaches and any carving enthusiast craving something barely wider than your bootsole, but not wanting to put in the vigilance and athletic input required by a race-carver will find the Z-Line 77 a super friendly edging machine with a smooth-as-buttah feel when it’s engaged in a pressured turn...and it can take plenty of pressure so hip-dragging, high-angle, high centrifugal force antics are completely on tap for you to play with. It’s also a friendly, easy-running ski for those who want a responsive and secure grip as soon as you tip it on edge, but don’t want to be pulled across the hill by your ears in an abrupt, slot-car-like ricochet-rabbit manner some SL skis and racecarvers deliver. The Z-Line 77 produces a very smooth, nearly silky feel under its entire length as you cruise at speed, or pound-out some short, choppier turns with enthusiasm, and that is an important thing to mention about this ski. It has a very wide performance envelope (just like the other models in Renoun’s lineup), and supports a variety of skiing styles ranging from casual or luxury groomer cruising, to “see-if-you-can-match-my-turns-and-stay-on-my-tail-as-I-turn-up-the-heat” behaviors, and that’s no easy feat to pull off in a ski this narrow. Like other skis in Cyrus’s lineup, the Z-Line 77 does not immediately hit you over the head with any particular handling characteristic, habit or discernible trait like some skis. What hits you after a couple runs is how much this ski disappears under you and you forget about it, focusing instead on where you want to go and what line you want to take and what kind of turns you want to execute. You forget the Z-Line 77s are on your feet...simply doing pretty much anything you want them to do...without any glitches, hiccups, protest or failures.
The related, but REALLY interesting characteristic about Renoun’s technology and design is how the skis get quieter and smoother the faster you go while never feeling heavy, unresponsive or dead underfoot. The more of the entire length of the chassis you engage fully, the more smoothly the Renouns respond. Normally, you expect an easy-going ski to get a bit unsettled and sketchy as you exceed the speed limit of the design and materials used in its construction (remember what’s its like to drive a rental car too enthusiastically on a sporty, turny road and realize it’s a bad idea as the spooky feeling in your gut begins to yell “...bad idea...this thing is not meant to do this..back off or else…”?) The Z-Line 77’s non-Newtonian polymer material, in conjunction with the other materials in the chassis, actually gives the impression the ski is quieter and more composed as you go faster and the frequency of actions upon the ski by the terrain and the pilot’s input increase and become more intense. This is a big deal, and one of the holy grails of the ski industry for many years. Plenty of dampening mechanisms, materials and marketing voodoo hype have come and gone over decades of ski designs, all trying to improve quiet behavior when conditions get unsettled, but unfortunately, most have been discontinued because they really didn’t work or made the skis feel heavy and unresponsive. Renoun’s technology of materials and construction have made a significant, and important change to ski behavior. For real.
The Z-Line 77 is solid, fun, easy, athletic, smooth and effective for many types of skiers, not just a single category. It’s relatively narrow shaping of 77mm underfoot means it is definitely a directional, carve-oriented design preferring frontside groomers, but that’s what Cyrus wanted...a narrower, more carving-focused Z-Line 90 model, and he hit it right on the first try. The Renoun Z-Line 77 skis are priced at the higher-end of the spectrum at $1,345 for several reasons. First is the unique, patent-pending material and construction recipe exclusive to Renoun that won the World’s ISPO Gold Award for technical innovation. Second is the rather unusual and confidence-inspiring 2 year warranty against defects. Cyrus stands behind the premium product with a premium warranty. Third is the 100-day satisfaction guarantee. Try them for 100 days, return them for a full refund if you don’t love them. That’s a premium offer...essentially a risk-free purchase direct from the builder. If you love carving skis, and want a premium ride in a wide spectrum of turn shapes and speeds, the Z-Line 77 delivers a surprisingly impressive solution with an eerie smoothness as you go faster or find harder surfaces. Nice work Cyrus. Definitely see what all the buzz is about and demo the Renouns if you can. You might like what you feel.
Technical Ski Data:
Maple wood core
HDT Non-Newtonian Polymer inserts in the core
Carbon fiber and Triaxial fiberglass
Full sheet of Titanal metal
Image from Renoun Website
Bindings, Boots, Wax & Tune Used:
Tyrolia PowerRail PRD12 Demo Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Green Ice waxes, cold and warm
Skied as-is out of the box in Spring 2016, then refinished and retuned November 2016 at Northern Ski Works, Ludlow using a crispy, brand-new Wintersteiger Mercury tuning machine.
Excellent fit and finish, business-like subdued graphics, but not inspirational or overly impressive. Damp, rounded hand flex, “medium” flex with slightly softer tips and tails and a fairly stout midsection.
Eastern corduroy, man-made dry packed powder (shin-deep max), Spring-like corn and refrozen man-made hardpack boilerplate in places.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Renoun Z-Line 77 does not have the “locked-into-a-slotcar-track” feel like many racecarvers, digging-in quickly and abrubtly to change direction that racers crave, but it has a more subtle, civilized carving behavior on hardpack requiring much less input than a race-oriented ski. If you cross-bred a narrow all-mountain ski with a racecarver, you would get the Z-Line 77...more compliant and less demanding than a racecarver, yet more accurate and surgical in turn execution than an all-mountain design...yet a few hairs shy of the vicious grip of a dedicated ice-carving race ski. The Z-Line 77 can bang out quick, edge-to-edge directional changes on hardapack without a ton of effort from the skier. Stand square in the center, apply quick pressure directly underfoot and arc the ski left or right as hard as you want. You can hold it into GS-like, long-radius turns and enjoy a quiet, calm ride under pressure..even as speed increases (perhaps thanks to the HDT polymer), or you can cut a more choppy, cut-and-thrust series of quick SL turns on demand. The Z-Line 77 is happy doing both at a variety of speeds. While many hardpack skis need some speed to activate their sweet spot behavior, and others begin to get irritable or nervous when speeds increase past a certain level on hardpack, the Z-Line 77 runs smooth and stable and compliant at slow or high speeds, and in the East, that’s a great behavior. Vibration control is excellent, and if you induce chatter on boilerplate with a defective turn initiation and finish technique, you can cancel it quickly with a stance correction without feeling the ski get out-of-sorts under you. Control is the key trait of the Z-Line 77, and while it’s not a race ski, it’s a really impressive all-mountain carver with a hint of racer-wannabe under the hood.
The Z-Line 77s are more like surgical tracking tools through mixed snow conditions than floating skimmers, but they show a smooth, comfortable personality cutting across the terrain under light pressure or high pressure...you get to pick. They absorb undulations and junk with essentially zero deflection and a high degree of feeback so you know what the density and depth of any snow is the moment you encounter it, without uncomfortable transmission of impacts, which is a nice feature. The degree of flotation is limited by the 77mm waist size, but the handling is excellent in mixed surface types and terrain. Agility is excellent, with a bias to carve through material rather than smear through it. While the Z-Line 90s will let you pivot and slarve through some turns in mixed-up snow conditions or carve through them, the Z-Line 77s want to cut across them exclusively...as you would expect for a narrow frontside ski. Overall, the Z-Line 77 has no shortcomings in mixed snow types other than its narrow-ish chassis. The flex is balanced and super-controlled with excellent manners, even when you screw up your weighting or timing as you navigate the terrain. Their agility and control combined with excellent response makes them fun and playful in mixed terrain and surfaces, especially if you want to pick accurate lines through obstacles.
Bumps and Powder:
We almost agree with Cyrus’s description of the Z-Line 77. While the narrow-waisted Z-Line 77 is indeed agile and quick in bumpy conditions and tighter tree conditions, but we prefer a fatter, more rockered ski when the snow gets over your boot tops in the woods. If you want to thread your way through bumps like a slalom ski, the Z-Line 77 works pretty darn well, and you can take straighter lines and pound your way through if you want, getting excellent response and accurate control on-demand. Behavior is quick and sporty, yet controlled and well-mannered. The Z-Line 77s can throw you into the back-seat if your timing is off, but not in the urgent-emergency mode some bump skis or slalom skis can conjure up in bumpy terrain. While not as spunky as a dedicated bump ski, the Z-Line 77 makes short work of frontside bumpy terrain really well. We manged to get into Spring bumps as well as early-season shallow bumps, and the only shortcoming was the relatively narrow surface area of the 77s in the Spring mush where a fatter ride is more surfy.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A high-quality telephoto camera lens which can focus up close and tight, yet zoom out to wide-angle scenery with vivid accuracy and clarity in smooth, silent action with really impressive results every time. It never misses focus and is silky to operate over a wide range of terrain.
Vermont Beverage Most Like This Ski:
Society & Solitude # 2 Imperial Black Ale from Bent Hill Brewing – authoritative black image with concentrated notes of heartwarming flavors of chocolate, herbs and coffe with smooth, dark-roasted personality with a depth of finish and focus you get addicted to after two sips.
Things We Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing, other than maybe a dual-sheet Titanal metal “race” version for hotrods.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
Superbly smooth and accurate frontside groomer tool less demanding than a dedicated race-carver, but with a wider performance envelope for skiers of all types. Really impressive first-edition model from Renoun. Other ski companies should watch their backs.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Get yourself to a demo day and see if the smooth personality suits your style. These are a “sleeper” type of ski that doesn’t impress you immediately until you realize you’ve been skiing it all day at increasingly sporty levels.
Who and What Are These Good For?
Resort corduroy-hunters who get out first thing in the morning to get the first slice of the freshly groomed surfaces, but want to ski all over the mountain all day. Finesse and technical skiers will especially bond with the feel underfoot and the ability to generate intense G-force turns like silk.
Close up of finish quality at the tail/edge mating points.
Renoun skis are designed in Burlington, VT and manufactured in Quebec, Canada
Renoun Z-Line 77 (front) and Z-Line 90 (rear)
Renoun Z-Line 90 (left) and Z-Line 77 (right)
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