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Race Tech: Why Not All Grinds are Equal

There is much confusion in our marketplace on how and why a ski should be ground a certain way.  Not all grinds are created equal.  Even two different shops with the same machine will turn out different results depending on the specs that are used on the equipment, and by what technician.  Whether race gear or rec, this brief side by side comparison should help you cement your decision to bring your equipment to the specialists:  Start Haus!

Please note:  These images are not doctored (other that the addition of text or illustration) and have been uploaded in full resolution for you to better see the detail.  Click on em to see the detail!

grind-sidebyside

Here is a side by side with a pair of skis ground by our techs, and a pair ground by the “other guys”.  Both grinds are a pattern WS09.  The ski ground by the Start Haus tech is smooth, consistent, and otherwise perfect.  The grind by the “other guys” is far too deep a pattern, inconsistent, and was done with multiple passes creating a wave of deep and smooth patterns across the entire ski.

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grind-otherguys

 

 

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When caring for your equipment, don’t skimp on maintenance!  Take your gear to the guys who know best at Start Haus.  Our boys in the back-shop truly strive for the best tune available in the US.

 

 

Giant-Bikes

Shop News: Giant Bikes in the Haus

It’s an exciting time in the Start Haus company history. As many of you know we made the decision to become a bike retailer and will transition to a full line Giant Bicycles dealer in the spring.  We are incredibly excited to be partnered with Giant; there’s no denying they make an exceptional product at some of the best prices in the industry.  We also feel they make a tremendous mountain bike for the Tahoe area.  If you haven’t already, take a look at the Reign and Trance models.

Giant Reign

The Reign is an aggressive all-mountain machine with over six inches of travel that can take on the toughest Tahoe trails while still descending like a billy-goat thanks to the versatile Maestro suspension.

Giant Trance

The Trance is an all-arounder that climbs like a beast and doesn’t give an inch on descents.  With 5.5 inches of travel the Trance is a great choice for all but the most aggressive of riders that will handle just about everything the Tahoe area can throw at it.

If you are looking for your first full suspension bike that isn’t going to break the bank, we urge you to take a serious look at the all-new model Stance.  Coming in well below $2000 the Stance has 4.7 inches of travel with Giant’s new Flexpoint suspension. It doesn’t ascend quite as well as the Maestro platform, but descends astonishingly well for it’s price and is a heck of a lot more fun and comfortable than rattling your fillings out on a hard tail in the rocky Sierra.

In future blogs we will give more in depth ride reports and reviews of the Giant bikes, for now we hope you will stop by in the spring and check out our selection of bikes, components and soft goods.  We truly love biking and you’ll find the entire summer staff spending almost all our snow free time on the trails, constantly looking for new trails to link, downhills to rip, and we’re always cool with giving up some legitimate ride beta.

Haven’t had the bike tuned in a while?  Stop in for some great promotions we will be running. Our experienced staff is professionally trained, tuning skis and bikes and generally making things work better. Setting it up right is what we live for and we’d love to tune your trusty bike with the quality attention to detail you’ve come to expect in our ski service department.  We hope to parlay your trust with servicing your skis into servicing your bikes as well.

As always at Start Haus we very much appreciate the ongoing customer support, without which we wouldn’t be able to work in the outdoor industry we love, and love to share with you.

Thanks, and welcome Giant Bikes to Truckee!

base-repair

PTEX In Action: What it Takes

When snow is scarce, damage to your ski is inevitable.  When a gash in the base is deep enough to make its way through the base of the ski, we call it a core shot.  Some are big, some are small, but each repair gets the same skill and attention to detail.  PTEX is a repair some can do at home, but without the base grind, its impossible to get a ski back to looking and skiing like new.  Here is a step by step overview of what it takes to do a base repair.

Step 1:  Identify Necessary Repair

With a gash this big, its hard to miss.

With a gash this big, its hard to miss.

Right down through the ski into structural material

Right down through the ski into structural material.

Step 2:  Prep Your Wound

After trimming excess base material, we sand down burs and groves.

After trimming excess base material, we sand down burs and groves.

Step 3:  PTEX

filling-ptex

Using the PTEX gun, we fill the grove with new material.

Using a convex hand anvil, the material is squeezed into the grove filling any excess space.

Step 4: Cleaning Up the Repair and Prepping for Base Grind.

The repair is then scraped to get the surface as flat as possible by hand.

The repair is then scraped to get the surface as flat as possible by hand.

Once scrapped, any holes or bubbles are re-filled and the process is repeated.

Once scrapped, any holes or bubbles are re-filled and the process is repeated.

Step 5:  Base Grind

On the Grinder

Passing through the base grinder.

Passing through the base grinder.

After a few passes on the grinder, this ski is ready to go!

After a number of passes on the grinder, this ski is ready to go!

 

 

 

Tecnica Nordica Side by Side

The Straight Dope on Ski Boot Liners

The heart of the boot story for the 2015 season has most certainly been advancements in ski boot liners.  Several manufacturers have spent significant research and development on creating liners that do three main things; ski well, fit comfortably out of the box, and resisting packing out (feeling too loose) too quickly.

The result of all the hard work is some interesting technology that is sure to trickle down through lines across the board and dictate design trajectories in the future.  First a short history lesson is in order; in the dark ages of boot design vague shell shapes and inferior liners were the obvious issues with performance and long term fit.  Foam injected liners became the primary solution; if you were a serious skier you had to have a serious liner, and spend some serious coin while you were at it.  Foam injected liners still exist and people still use them, however they are far less popular than in years past.

Stock liners have improved by leaps and bounds in the past decade; an injection molding process has replaced over padding and cutting away a material that is disturbingly similar to the material that is placed under a carpet before instillation.  The injection molded foam has far more anatomical shape than previous materials so it fits out of the box far better and will stand the test of time better than ever.

Two manufacturers, Tecnica and Nordica, are at the forefront of new manufacturing processes and materials for this 2014-15 season.  Tecnica produced a trick liner of a new material they are calling C.A.S. or Custom Adaptive Shape in their new model line the Mach1.  The C.A.S. foam is a dense material that fits well and offers great heel hold and shape, it can also be ground with a dremel or punched by a competent boot fitter if you need customization.   The C.A.S. foam has been such a success it is going to be featured several different models next season, and has really been a homerun in sales, and refits- we’ve seen almost none!

Not to be outdone, Nordica has produced a semi-custom liner using a material that is not at all new to the industry but has a proven track record with hundreds of World Cup victories and Olympic medals to its name.  Cork has been used in World Cup liners for quite some time and is the current standard for the elite level.  The cork is usually mixed with petroleum, which allows it to flow or move to the correct crevices.  On their popular NRGy series Nordica placed cork panels in the ankle and navicular area to give great control over the shell and again, a great fit out of the box.  The cork can be heated up for just a few minutes to dial in the fit of the boot, and has had great result from fitters and owners of the boot.

Liners have come a long way in the last decade; they ski far better and fit better than ever before.  More and more skiers are finding they don’t need to invest three to five hundred dollars in custom liners to get their desired fit and feel, and the breaking in process is less painful than ever.  The next few years I expect more research and development in ski boot liners and would expect more exciting innovation.

back-head2head

Backcountry Head to Head: Scarpa Freedom vs. Dynafit Mercury

The Scarpa Freedom and the Dynafit Mercury are the two powerhouses when it comes to AT boots. Both make the elusive backcountry become an attainable haven for those desiring well-earned first tracks and big adventures.  However, there are a few key differences that create advantages and disadvantages depending on the users’ specific purposes.

1.  Profile- The first key difference lies in the sheer mass of the boots. Simply put, the Scarpa is bulkier. Don’t let this dissuade you though; the thicker materials create a superior descent giving a more classic Alpine boot feel and flex. On the other hand, the Dynafit is much slimmer, creating a boot that is going to tour and articulate in a superior manner.

2.  Shell Type- The Dynafit is a 3-piece shell and the Scarpa is a 2-piece shell. Relationally, the Dynafit attains 60 degrees of cuff articulation while the Scarpa attains 27 degrees. Again, depending on the desired use of the boot, one will be superior to the other. Are you going on long tours and overnighters and racking up miles upon miles? If so, the Dynafit is going to find a nice spot in your quiver. If your style is going on shorter tours and morning hikes, and the descent is more important, then the Scarpa is most likely a better option.

3.  Hiking- The time inevitably comes when the snow thins and you have to hoof-it. In varying terrain (i.e. rocks, grasses, bushes, varying slopes) both the sole type and profile of the boot come into play. The Scarpa comes equipped with a VIbram brand sole, while the Dynafit is equipped with an equally as solid proprietary rubber sole. However, no need to be blindly brand-loyal to Vibram as the smaller, neater profile of the Dynafit creates a superior option if you know that billy-goating is going to be a larger part of your trek.

4.  The Fit- Both Boots are heat-moldable; therefore, the “out-of-the-box” fit is not going to be as crucial as a non heat-moldable option. There are still some differences in shell fit, however. At first fit, the Scarpa is a bit higher over the instep with a little wider heel. The Dynafit is certainly going to be snugger in the heel, but is still happy to accommodate a D width. When it comes down to it, head over to your local boot fitter and let them size you up and allow them to work their heat molding magic. Both boots are happy to accommodate a varying width of foot with the right tweaking.

A fair conclusion would be to say that the backcountry skier who is seriously racking up the touring miles and distance tours are on the forefront of the journey, then the Dynafit is going to create a happier leg in the end. However, if quicker morning tours for some up and down laps are the goal, then the Scarpa is going to give you the extra beef you need to shred those downhill lines.

anon-m2

Anon M2 Ski Goggle Review (with Video)

The Anon M2 goggles have been getting a lot of attention this year, thanks to their magnetic interchangeable lens design. They’re touted as the easiest lens change on a ski goggle, and playing around with them in the shop, it’s hard to argue.

But I decided to put them to the test over the weekend on the snow, skiing in bright and overcast conditions, mild temps and in a cold wind. My normal goggles are photochromatic – which change darkness in response to ambient light, so swapping lenses would be a change of pace.

First off, the fit. These large goggles have great coverage that also translated into a wide field of view. The face foam is comfortable and without any gaps to let in cold air, and no pressure points to make them uncomfortable. A person with a smaller face may find these pushed down too low by their helmet, but that’s why you should try on goggles with a helmet when you can.

The optics are great. I’m not normally a fan of a gray base lens, but these are sharp and without distortion, and plenty dark for the bright sunlight. Switching to the yellow storm lens (included), they are also very clear, and offered a ton of contrast in flat light, exactly what you want on stormy days.

Speaking of swapping the lenses, the Anon M2 live up to expectations. It’s a little different when on your face vs in hand, but after a few swaps I had it down – the key is to rock the top edge away from the goggle, rather than trying to pull the whole lens away from your face (the elastic band just stretches when you try to do that). Putting the new lens on is as easy as setting the lens in place – the magnets take care of the rest.

I had no issues with fogging, slipping or other possible annoyances with goggles. The two lenses it comes with are very dark and very bright, so the initial switch can leave you blinking or straining to adjust, but this range gives you a lot of versatility.

Overall, these goggles are highly recommended. Check them out at Start Haus or online here.

scarpa-freedom-sl

Scarpa Freedom SL Backcountry Ski Boot Review

At the Start Haus we don’t bring in new boots lightly, and when we bring in a new brand, we do it after serious testing and consideration.

This year we brought in Scarpa, specifically for their new Freedom SL. The Scarpa Freedom SL (also available in a women’s boot), in our opinion, strikes a great balance between tourability and skiability, perhaps better than almost anything else on the market.

scarpa-freedom-sl

Their are backcountry boots that are stiffer for the downhill, there are boots that are lighter for the uphill – but if you want something that will perform in the skin track on the way up, then feel close to your alpine boot on the down, the Scarpa Freedom SL is worth serious consideration.

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xc-ski-tunning

Cross Country Ski Tuning & Wax at Start Haus

Start Haus is well known for our World Cup caliber downhill ski tuning and waxing, but what you may not know is we bring the same level of excellence to cross country skis. One could argue (maybe not with a World Cup ski racer) that a proper tune and wax is even more critical on xc skis than on alpine because you have to work for every inch of movement, rather than with the aid of gravity.

First thing on a cross country skiers list should always be the bases – are they flat? A concave base, sometimes caused by lack of waxing, makes the ski slower and harder to turn. A convex base, caused by normal usage and wear, is also slow and makes the ski unstable. A grind will flatten out the base, clean up any nicks or dings, and take away oxidized base material that can make it harder for fresh wax to stick.

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The grind also sets the pattern of the base – critical to the glide of the ski in different snow conditions. Using our Wintersteiger grinder, we can set different patterns – two of which are most common for xc skis. A fine parallel pattern is the smoothest on cold snow, and is best if you’re an advanced skier who hand sets your own patterns. More common, what we call the Sierra grind, is a deeper chevron pattern, great for braking suction in wetter conditions.

Next up and just as critical; proper waxing. Aside from our signature hot scrape and iron wax service, which gives significantly better results than chemical cleaners, we offer hot box cycles for cross country skis. One hot box cycle left overnight at Start Haus gives your skis the wax penetration of roughly 15-20 hand waxings, meaning longer lasting wax that continuously comes out of the base as you ski.

And while these are high end services, they’re also great values – we offer a grind for $40, a wax for $20, or a grind and a hot box package for $65 – less than a third of some other cross country ski services.

Once the Start Haus techs have your skis dialed in, you can also stock up from our full selection of waxes, tools, corks and more to keep your skis going. From hydrocarbons to pure fluoro overlays, we’ve got you covered.