Richard dropped off his brand new, never been skied Head Icon TTs for a wax. There has been a lot of hot air exhaled online on the question of whether brand new skis are as good as they can be or do they benefit from a going over from a decent tech before use. The arguments boil down to:
The “Don’t touch ’em” side:
- Surely the manufacturer uses the best possible wax prior to shipping?
- Surely the manufacturer uses the best possible grinders for base & edge angles?
- Surely the manufacturer’s tight QA/QC wouldn’t allow convex or concave bases out of the factory gate?
The “Give them a once over” side:
- They just plonk whatever spray on wax will stop the edges from rusting in transit.
- They run the skis through the edging equipment as fast as possible and only change the stones/belts/grinders when they break.
- The skis are still cooling down as they leave the factory and you should anticipate a bit of warping in transit.
Now I have never had the pleasure of visiting a ski factory so I can’t comment directly, although I have seen some interesting QA/QC diversions come out of Chinese factories on other products – and let’s face it, the majority of skis in the shop today are made in China.
So I’m going to record a few photos and let you make your mind up about the big debate, for these skis at least.
Flatness – not bad, not as good as Emmett’s Heads a few months ago, slight concavity but not significant enough to be worth photographing.
Base edges showing unevenness where the grinder has bounced along, most noticeable on the inside edge where the light reflects.
This side edge shows where the grinder has gone from one angle to another, probably relating to the side cut of the ski passing a certain angle, or possibly just from the ski bouncing as they throw it through the machine as fast as possible.
This is something similar but over a longer distance- you can see the edge reflecting the light getting thinner and thinner from the top of the picture to the bottom.
This photo shows a small ding on the edge – nothing serious but very hard to avoid this sort of thing in a container full of skis making their way from the far east to the UK. You can also see that they have ground the plastic above the edge with the grinder rather than planing it out of the way. Fair enough, why waste the time planing the plastic, but it does mean that their grinder wheel will fill up with plastic and won’t make a clean cut after a while.
My brief from Richard was to clean the bases and get base then top wax onto the skis so I didn’t touch the edges. He’s planning to come back for a lesson in March so he can sort them out himself after that.
Nothing wrong with the bases, look at that lovely stone-ground linear discontinuous structure. No easy way to get that without the stone-grind machine, although cross-country skiers have little steel rollers that they can use to impress different structures on their narrow planks.
Waxing is easy on these fairly narrow skis – here
they are after the base wax has been scraped and brass brushed to force it all into the structure grooves. Even at this stage it’s looking a bit shiny (right).
Finally the second coat of Zoom Universal has had its hour soaking in and scrapes and brushes to a high shine (left).
So you’ve seen the photos and I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions on whether the factory finish meets your own standards.