Al Morgan, the Club's Kit & Equipment expert, puts the Head Supershape i.Magnum through it's paces to see if really is as good as the old model.

The Head i.Supershape Magnum won many awards. For winter 2016-17 winter season Head made some significant changes to this ski, so we were very excited to test it in March 2016. We had loved the previous version, the iSupershape Magnum, and it had won a Top Performer award in our Piste Performance test for quite a few years. Any major change to such an iconic ski can really stir interest and sometimes it pays off and sometimes change does not make a product better.

When we tested the new version, the Supershape i.Magnum (can you spot the difference in the name?), with a change to the shape and construction of the ski, it didn’t light us up like the previous version had. Head had made some comparable changes to other skis in their line-up with great success that season so the fact the i.Magnum was not so on-the-money was a little odd. The ski did not run and grip like it should, and we put this down to servicing of the ski (this can make an astounding difference to how a ski behaves, even if the degree of edge or base angle is only half a degree different), so I really wanted to get back on this ski and see if it was servicing or if they had not got the balance of construction, technology and shape quite right in this model.

I therefore contacted Head in the UK to see if I could retest the ski, and they kindly provided the 2017-18 ski in 170cm for me to test, on my family trip to Tignes in December 2016. The only change to this ski from the 2016-17 version is a graphic change on the ski. I received this straight out of the factory – it was still in the film wrapper. I mounted the bindings and headed off to the Alps.

So, how did the iMagnum perform? Well, if you don’t want to read any further then in summary this ski is all I had hoped for when I first met the updated ski in January 2016. Even though 170cm is a short ski for me it gripped superbly well, had plenty of rebound from turn to turn and was really accessible if you wanted to take it easy. At top end speeds, even on this relatively short ski, stability was superb and I never felt like the ski needed to be longer. If you’re after a piste performance ski, are an upper intermediate level skier or higher then you really should consider this ski.

My opinion of this ski was confirmed when the Ski Club’s test team put the 2017-18 version through it’s paces in March ’17 in Kuhtai. Once again the i.Magnum was back on the podium. What a ski! You can read our test report here.

Mark Jones laying it over on the iMagnum

ROSS WOODHALL

It may be worth making it clear that Head did not request I retest this ski, they’ve not paid us for this and had not input in how or where I tested this or wrote this up. This was me simply wanting to make sure I was as informed as possible about this ski to be able to help Ski Club members when selecting their next pair of skis. This is how I test all products – on the merit of the product alone. It is how our test team test all products and out ski test is a perfect example of this; the most thorough test possible to give you a truly balanced and independent appraisal of the skis we test.

So, time for a little more detail on this ski.

Head makes superb piste skis – just look at the podium at any World Cup event and you can see how successful Head are when it comes to planks of wood that grip and perform on firm snow.

For winter 16-17 they changed the Magnum by adding Graphene to the core, as well as changing the tip and tail profile (along with graphic changes and moving where the ‘i’ appears in the name). They kept the lengths the same.

Graphene, a ‘super’ material discovered at Manchester University, is a one atom thick layer of carbon atoms. Doesn’t sound like something one atom thick can make that much difference to a ski? Head have been using this material to great success in their women’s Joy range of skis for a while now. They also use it in their Worldcup Rebel, Monster, Instinct and their superb new Kore range of skis; it is not a fad.

Interestingly the extra 3mm width in the tip and 4mm in tail of the i.Magnum have not changed the reported radius of the ski, but in real-world terms the radius has decreased, making the ski favour a tighter turn that the previous version, and that works really well for this ski. The i.Magnum is 131mm in the tip, 72mm underfoot and 110mm across the tail.

I am 178cm tall and in winter I weigh around 78kg. I tend to like piste skis that are 175-180cm long, so the 170cm ski Head supplied made me a little nervous. I needn’t have been concerned though as this ski is so stable (World Cup skiers use shorter skis, so this should not have been a surprise). The radius of the 170cm ski is 13.1m, comparable with a slalom ski. However, this was not a one-dimensional ski and can easily blast out bigger turns without catching you out and trying to make you turn tighter. The wider, blunt shovel on this ski, combined with the shallow, short tip rocker feeds into the turn with ease and this inspires confidence and can really help you if you want to improve your skiing, keeping you relaxed as you increase the speed. There is not the nasty grab-and-whip-around that you can get with blunt shovels seen on some other piste skis.

Through the middle of the turn level of grip remains high, as you would expect of a dedicated piste ski, so how does it feel as you get into the latter stages of the arc? Head uses their KERS technology in this ski to great effect, as they have done for a long time and across many of their performance skis. The ski reaches maximum flexion at the end of the turn and their Kinetic Energy Return System helps to stiffen up the tail of the ski as you finish your turn, enhancing the rebound you want to help you transition from turn to turn. The finish of the turn is smooth and you do not get any nasty wash out. If you want to rail your turns, this ski will nail it, and if you want a more relaxed turn where you skid the end then the KERS will not engage as if you were blasting our tight carve turns, and as a result the ski remains more forgiving through the tail.

I have mentioned a few times how this ski works if you want to take it easier, or want to improve. This is not a tame ski, so don’t misunderstand me. It is just surprisingly accessible for something that is so performance orientated. At high speed this ski is superb and will have you grinning you from ear-to-ear. This is not a ski that you will out-ski – it holds its own against the best piste skis out there, and hence it has won a Top Performer award for this winter. If you are looking for a piste ski then I would really recommend you look at this ski.

The other real gem of this ski is how adaptable it is on varying snow and terrain. I skied it off the sides of the groomed runs; breakable crust; fresh powder about a foot deep, through trees, bumps and that slight tip rocker and wider profile through the shovel really helps. If you like the sound of the Magnum and want something a little wider with more of an all-mountain feel then look at the Supershape i.Titan.

If you are a Ski Club member and have any questions about the i.Magnum, or any other skis, feel free to call Al at the Ski Club office on 020 8410 2009.