Allyson Spacek holds the Kaffeines before they were trimmed.
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
other: wood sidewalls, one layer of Titanal (1.0mm x 50mm x 1600mm)
laminated below wood core
Graphics - Rice
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.
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
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
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.