DPS Lotus 120 Ski Review

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 24, 2014      

Jason Davis

L120’s camber and stiffness make it easy to stay upright during pillow extermination missions.

DPS Lotus 120’s camber and stiffness make it easy to stay upright during pillow extermination missions. Click to enlarge.

“Pacific Northwest powder.” Perhaps that’s an oxymoron to those who ski in drier climates, but every winter the PNW-P draws me back to the mountains, and I freely admit that I’m completely addicted. While we might not get the dry, light, fluffy stuff of higher and colder ranges, we get record-breaking quantities of snow on a pretty consistent basis.

Unfortunately, Pacific Northwest pow doesn’t materialize as cowboy cold smoke except for a handful of times a season, which leaves us with a strange paradigm. Float on top and you’ll call it Baker-pow, sink and you shall know it as Cascade concrete. Thus, spend any length of time around the west side of the North Cascades in mid winter and you’ll find that we like our skis wide.

In deep snow, fat skis make everything easier and more fun, they take less work to turn, planing up on top of the snow at slower speeds and make breaking trail less of a chore — you get more cushion for the snow pushing.

Skis with modern shapes that combine sidecut and camber underfoot, with rockered and tapered tips and tails, can even carve 2-dimensional snow surprisingly well.

Big skis have one huge drawback for the uphill skier though: they’re heavy. I’m lucky enough to have a lighter, skinnier pair for 2-D snow and bigger objectives so I’m not looking for the one-ski quiver. I’m after surfy, chargy pow boards that make no compromises on the down and are still light enough to be part of a dedicated touring rig for winters in the PNW.

DPS Lotus 120

DPS Lotus 120

Enter the DPS Lotus 120. In DPS’s new Pure3 construction at 189cm long and with dimensions of 140/122/126, this is a big ski, but the big ski heft is conspicuously absent. I measured them to be just a hair under 2kg per ski in the tested length, lighter than the 2012-2013 178cm Hybrid Lotus 120’s they replaced. In fact, these have a different shape and ski quite differently from the hybrids I was used to.

The long, fat, rockered nose of the L120 prevents any thought of tip dive in the deep.

The long, fat, rockered nose of the L120 prevents any thought of tip dive in the deep.

The tip has a flatter profile combined with the ski’s more centered mount point that seemed to increase the usable surface area of the ski and decrease the amount that the tips bounce around in cut up or variable snow.

The tip has a flatter profile combined with the ski’s more centered mount point that seems to increase the usable surface area of the ski and decrease the amount that the tips bounce around in cut up or variable snow.

The L120’s putting the surf into surface area in Mazama, WA earlier in February.

The L120’s putting the surf into surface area in Mazama, WA earlier in February. Click to enlarge.

The shorter 35m sidecut radius doesn’t seem to detract from the ski’s high speed stability and you can actually get them to carve on groomed snow if you’re going fast enough, which is a definite change from the hybrids. That being said, if you’re looking for a bouncy powder ski to milk figure 8 turns, you’re in the wrong category.

DPS Lotus skis are certainly on the stiff side of the spectrum. Comparing them to other skis I’ve ridden in the same wide charger category, they’re stiffer overall than the 178 Hybrids, and 188cm Salomon Rocker2 115’s, but not quite as rigid as Blizzard’s 186cm 2012-2013 Bodacious.

Flex of the Lotus is nicely uniform throughout the cambered portion of the ski, softening up a bit in the rockered portion. This flex pattern has been perfect for the way I like to ski, with wide, fast arcs, occasional airs and the odd straightline thrown in. The softer tip keeps the ski from spearing into bumps, (a problem I had with the Bodacious) and lets the rocker keep the ski on the surface. The carbon in the ski gives them a liveliness that makes these more than just point and chute rocket ships. Going back to the Salomon Rocker2’s for a day left me wishing for the energy of the carbonated lotus. The Rocker2’s felt easy and forgiving where the Lotus was dynamic and powerful.

DPS aimed to dampen the twangy feel of their previous Pure construction by adding weight to the ski’s tips and tails (think adding a weight to a guitar string to change it’s resonance). It seems to work well. Overall the ski is plenty damp enough to back up its stiffness and this helps it stay stable when going scary fast. Interestingly Kastle tried to achieve the same goal by removing weights from the tips and tails of their skis, which sounds like a better option for a touring ski, but perhaps that wouldn’t work with the spooned tip. This is only something I noticed in harder snow, but the carbon feedback is still perceptible when skidding down harder snow, but it was never too unpleasant, and any ski this light, wide, and torsionally rigid is going to be jarring in those conditions, especially with tech bindings and stiff boots.

I was very interested to try out DPS’s spoon technology, which gives just the rockered tip a crease that basically creates a bevelled edge about one centimeter wide. In effect, while I found that the skis were certainly never hooky, I also couldn’t say that the spoon technology truly sets these skis apart. Basically it’s hard for me to tell that it has much of an effect and this is not surprising, as the bevel is very subtle and is also only present on the part of the ski that is exerting the least amount of pressure on the snow. I think I’d have to try a version without the spoon tech and one with it, back to back, to come to a definite conclusion.

I’ve been riding these with Plum Yaks and Dynafit Vulcans, and I’ve found that I’ve been having so much fun on these I’ve been completely ignoring my heavier downhill setup, even when I’m riding lifts. I even sold my Bodaciouses because they were just collecting dust. I’ve also noticed a big difference with this setup even when riding lifts in that I’m simply able to ski harder all day long because it is so light. I could usually ride inbounds hard for about half the day on my heavy setup before I’d need to dial it back, but with these I’ve been able to charge all day long without running out of energy.

The lack of weight also makes it easy to throw these sideways when going slower in steep, tight trees or other technical terrain, and they are perfectly capable of jump turns in narrow couloirs. The camber underfoot also helps in these situations and gives them a predictable grip on the skintrack. The tail isn’t completely flat, but it’s close and doesn’t get in the way on kickturns like fully rockered skis can.

In any case, these skis have simply been the most fun pow-slaying boards I’ve ever ridden and I’ll be holding on to these for as long as I can. For those who are accessing big lines under their own power, and like a powerful ski with a flat tail, these should be on your radar.

(Guest blogger Jason Davis is a climber, kayaker and skier living in the Pacific North Wet. He works as a sea kayak guide for Discovery Sea Kayaks on San Juan Island, WA during the warmer months and searches for good views, aesthetic lines and soft snow while attempting to work as little as possible during the winter. His other hobbies include spaghetti western card games and enjoying vigorous legal debates with polite Canadian Border Guards.)

Shop for DPS skis here.


16 Responses to “DPS Lotus 120 Ski Review”

  1. me July 24th, 2014 11:01 am

    You may want to state your weight and height. I am 6’1″ and 160lbs and didn’t like the Lotus 120 Spoons at all. I skied them bunch last season in 4″ to 12″ days of Colorado powder and found them to be less than great for my size. I have been skiing the Lib Tech POW 191s with FT12s and have loved them. The POWs like to run straight down the fall line making huge fast turns. The only place they aren’t happy is really tight trees or low angle terrain where you can’t get them up to speed.

    The reviews of the 120 seemed to match that type of skiing so I was excited to give them a try. On the 120s I just couldn’t drive the tips without feeling like I was going to go over the front. I speculate the issue I was having was due to the fact I’m not heavy enough to properly flex the ski. Any time I drove the tips I think they were the only part of the ski flexing. With only the tip flexing and that traditional tail pushing things along it felt like I was skiing over continually varying snow transitions. This would create a jerking sensation which I had to continually fight. Think of transitioning between fluff, wind slab and back again every few feet.

    This is all speculation, it might have nothing to do with my size and everything to do with my technique. They were manageable but never fun. At 1.25lbs lighter per ski, they were a lot nicer on the up. I was almost tempted to keep them just for that but why make it easier on the up if you can’t enjoy the down?

  2. mikep July 24th, 2014 6:04 pm

    35m radius is long not short

  3. Jason Davis July 24th, 2014 7:59 pm

    I’m ~155lbs and 5’8″.

    I’ve definitely felt too light for a ski before, the Bodacious was definitely too stiff for me to really get much out of unless I was at mach loony. It certainly worked against me at slower speeds and in tight terrain. I found the Lotus flex to be perfect for the way I like to ski, which sounds similar to your style.

    I’ve heard that the ski is sensitive to where you mount it. I’ve had good luck with them right at the recommended, but I’d try moving your bindings back a cm or two before you sell the skis.

    Sorry, that was poorly worded. I was referring to the difference between the hybrid’s 43m radius and the spooned lotus’s 35m radius.

  4. XXX_er July 25th, 2014 8:11 am

    Last season I got a pair of the red hybrids in a 184 , I’m your size Jason Davis and i was curious what the difference was after the redesign. While 43M sounds big I found i could easily slarve them into a small turn any time or let them go big, I really like the ski everywhere except maybe the up where I wish they were lighter on but I did get them pretty cheap

  5. Kelly July 25th, 2014 9:18 am

    Thanks for the review, Jason. I’ve been trying to figure out which fat skis to buy and your review helps. Happy skiing in the beautiful Cascades, the best place to be!!!

  6. David B July 28th, 2014 7:24 pm

    Great review Jason. Agree 100%.

    Re. “me” experience with the Lotus 120. Are you sure you were skiing the Lotus?

    Only joking but your experience sounds so un-Lotus like. The design of that ski alone should negate the issues you are experiencing.

    I’m not debating your issues, as I believe them to be genuine. I would check your set up or length etc. Something sounds wrong to be getting that sort of feedback from the ski.

    I’m sure the team at DPS would be happy to take a call and discuss your issues.

  7. me July 28th, 2014 10:14 pm

    David B:

    I completely agree with you. The 120s shouldn’t behave that way and I am amazed they are the same skis everyone else is raving about. I skied them over and over hoping I could come to grips with them, to no avail.

    Flexing my POWs, and the 120s, the POWs are definitely stiffer. The POWs are also more of an early rise ski than a reverse ski. Even with the POWs being more center mounted I think they have more tip pressure due to their stiffness, extra length and lower rocker. It is that lack of consistent tip pressure that made it hard for me to gel with the 120s.

    I’ve already talked with DPS and they thought it might be my physical mechanics don’t match up well with the ski. That was, until I mentioned I was using Dynafits. After that they said it was most likely the bindings causing my issues. Since I ski both skis exclusively with Dynafits I don’t really give a whole lot of weight to that argument. If the 120s ‘need’ an alpine binding then they aren’t the skis for me anyway.

  8. Daniel July 29th, 2014 12:24 am

    Probably DPS hadn’t Dynafit as such in mind but the insane amount of built in ramp angle that most Dynafits provide. Ramp can mess up your biomechanics big time.

    I usually ski old TLT speeds for their light weight and flatter ramp. For my Wailers I wanted brakes (more in bounds use), so I went with markers primarily for the flattish ramp.

    So if your L120s had Verticals or Radicals mounted, give them another try with some flatter bindings. my 2cts…

  9. Lou Dawson 2 July 29th, 2014 5:23 am

    Truly, experimenting with binding ramp is so key when you feel too forward or back.



  10. me July 29th, 2014 6:16 am

    Daniel and Lou:

    You guys rock! Ramp angle was the furthest thing from my mind. It certainly makes sense. I am game for giving it a try. So with Radicals and a BSL of 317 what would the appropriate shim be. I would assume I should try to get them as close to zero as possible to match a true ‘alpine’ bindings. 6.4mm is the tallest shim B&D makes.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 July 29th, 2014 8:24 am

    Dan, I’d try to evaluate what else you ski on, and bring all your bindings/boots to similar angles. No need to get too crazy as after a certain point your body will adjust to differences. I’d suggest starting with a 4 mm shim or thereabouts, and remember to get the Nubbin heel lifter extenders if you start shimming! Be very careful with screw lengths as well as re-inserting the screws so they’re as strong as new. Lou

  12. me July 29th, 2014 8:39 am

    All of my skis have inserts so I have just the one set of bindings (Radicals) and one set of boots (Sherpa 5/5s). I will probably give the 6.4mm shims a try since they will get the Radicals very close to the Beasts. It is a cheap test and one that would be very interesting. I’ve never given ramp angle a whole lot of thought over the years – till now. Too bad I have to wait so long to give them a try.

    Thanks again Daniel and Louie.

  13. Lou Dawson 2 July 29th, 2014 9:32 am

    Ok, with shim stack that thick be sure to at least use double sided carpet tape between each layer of the sandwich — I’m not sure installing using inserts will be such a good idea due to the length of the fasteners and how they’ll “float,” but it’s worth a try. Lou

  14. Jason Davis July 30th, 2014 10:44 am

    I should note that the Plum Yaks I use with these skis have a more neutral ramp angle due to the built in toe shim.

  15. David B July 30th, 2014 4:44 pm

    Me, I know a lot of crew skiing DPS, including DPS staff with Dynafit, myself included, so it’s not the binding per se. Daniel & Lou are probably on to it with your ramp angle.

    Ski stiffness shouldn’t be a problem with a DPS Pure prepreg carbon fibre ski.

  16. me July 30th, 2014 9:04 pm

    After giving it some more thought I have my doubts that my binding’s ramp angle is the issue. I wasn’t feeling too forward or too back. It felt like the only part of the ski that was flexing was the tips. I truly appreciate everyone’s help and since spacers aren’t expensive I’m game to give them a try but my expectations are pretty low.

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