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KAFFEINE


Allyson Spacek holds the Kaffeines before they were trimmed.



Miscellaneous

weight: n/a
tipspacer:  wood
inserts: none
width of wood core strips:  n/a
epoxy:  QCM; resin: EMV-0049; hardener: ECA 408 (45 minute set); 4 to 1 mixing ratio
bladder pressure
:  45 psi
duration of pressing:  40-minutes (with heat of course; see our heated press)
other: wood sidewalls, one layer of Titanal (1.0mm x 50mm x 1600mm) laminated below wood core

Graphics - Rice paper graphics

Builders -   Kelvin Wu and Kam K. Leang (Big Kam)

Date Manufactured - October 23, 2005.

Comments (by Kam K. Leang)

This is the second pair of skis created using our heated ski press.  By using heat (in addition to pressure) we significantly improved the speed (and quality) of the skis we make.

The Kaffeines have the same shape as the Stiff Upper Lips. Kelvin and I decided to design a "production" ski; it would be a ski that we would make for friends -- something that works.

The Ride

Whistler, Thanksgiving Weekend, 2005 (written by Kam K. Leang) I'm at Whistler, BC, with friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving Weekend. I brought with me 5 pairs of skis - Kaffeines, Stiff Upper Lips, Rossignol Mega Bangs, Upper Krusts and Daddy's Little Girls. Conditions are relatively nice for early season. Groomed runs are hard, with patches of ice in the high traffic areas, but they are definitely carveable. Between Blackcomb and Whistler, Whistler is my favorite. I spend most of my time in the upper bowls of Whistler (Harmony and Peak chairs for those familiar with the area). There's new snow, between 6-12" on top of a firm base in the bowls and on steeper terrain. The base layer, however, feels like a re-frozen melt-freeze, but in some spots the snow is deep enough and it's hardly noticeable. Unfortunately, the base isn't thick enough to cover rocks yet.

The snow isn't deep enough for the Upper Krusts. Instead I decided to test the difference between the Kaffeines and Stiff Upper Lips. Both of these skis are made of the same materials and they have the same shape. The only differences are (1) the Kaffeines have at least 25mm of camber and the Stiffs have between 12-15mm and (2) the Kaffeines have a layer of titanal between the ski-base material and the wood core and the Stiffs have it between the top-sheet material and the wood core.


Kelvin holds the Kaffeines.  Notice the ridiculous amount of camber.

Kelvin did me a favor by base grinding the Kaffeines and putting a nice layer of wax on them (thanks Wu!). Because of the camber, I decided to add a 0.5-degree bevel on the top and both third of the edges. Underfoot was left untouched, at 90-degrees. I was hoping that the bevel would help compensate for the camber during turn initiation.

I started the first half of the day on the Kaffeines. Before hitting the snow I noticed the camber! The Kaffeines have at least 25mm it. I had a hard time carrying them around because the camber made them hard to "squeeze" the skis together; they stressed my hands and occasionally would "spring" apart. I finally had to use a velcro ski-strap to keep them together during transportation.

The first run was from the top of Emerald chair down a groomed blue run. I wanted to have a chance to feel them before skiing them on steeper and more varied terrain. The first half of the run I keep my heels down and drove them alpine-style. The first thing I noticed was they had a smaller "sweet" spot than most skis I've been on. I had to stay more balanced over the skis to get them to turn. After ten turns or so I felt comfortable, but the skis definitely needed some attention. I noticed they weren't very comfortable going straight. They were happy on edge, turning, and with active pressure applied (most likely to "de-activate" the effects of the camber). But even during the turn they needed attention. I think Kaffeine is a good name for them because they definitely kept me awake...at all times. A few turns later I decided to let them run but still with my heels fixed. I was able to push them and they carved beautifully, but with some attention of course.

For the second half of the run, I decided to tele-turn the skis. The excess camber made them feel a bit awkward. At first they wanted to resist the tele-turn, but I found the right balance and pressure point to get them to behave. Again, they didn't not like going straight. I had to keep them turning.

My thoughts after the first run: a great ski, in terms of the turning radius, dampness, and stiffness. And when they behaved, they were great! (Kelvin, I think we have a winner here, modulo the camber). The only thing I didn't like was they felt a bit unpredictable. Sometimes they had a mind of their own and would track off trajectory. Turn initiation requires a little more effort than I'm use to.

Next, I took them into soft snow and varied terrain. They skied the 6-12" of powder that we found great, as long as I kept them turning. When I relaxed and tried to make more gentle turns, they wanted to submarine and run off.

Here's a video that Chris Cass made using his small point-and-shoot camera.

For whatever reason, on more or less flat terrain like cat-tracks and traverses, the Kaffeines were slow. I wonder if the camber has any affect. I struggled to keep them moving when the terrain eased off. But they were freshly waxed?!

At half-day, I switched over to the Stiff Upper Lips. This is pretty much the same ski. I immediately noticed how easy they were to turn; they were significantly more predictable and fun to ski. I didn't use as much energy to keep them under control; I didn't have to "fight" as much compared to the Kaffeines. However, I did notice that the Stiffs were not quite as "positive" as the Kaffeines in terms of carving on hard snow. I almost want to say that I like the feel of the Kaffeines better (except the camber); they felt more solid. But the Stiffs were more forgiving. I wonder if it's related to the camber or the location of the titanal or both? As for gliding abilities on traverses and cat-tracks, the Stiffs were great. Again, the Kaffeines were slow for whatever reason by comparision.

In summary, between low and high camber, I think low camber skis are more user friendly. They feel more predictable and easier to turn.  Based on my experience, I found that high-camber skis tend to submarine when they are not actively turning. I got into trouble when I was trying to straight-run on the Kaffeines. Again, I found they were slow too on flat stuff. I'm not sure if this is a camber-related issue.

The next thing to try is a soft ski with lots of camber.

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