G3 Carbon Synapse Ski Review — Another Take

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 20, 2015      

Doug Stewart

(Editor’s note: Alas, G3 harassed us enough and we finally sent our tester Synapses back to the crazy Canucks, but not before my old friend and avid backcountry skier Doug Stewart gave them a go during our epic Colorado spring ski touring season. I felt a little guilty. Doug has been on frame bindings and 20-year-old planks; when I handed him the latest uber-tech in the form of ION bindings and carbon skis, it was like a drug pusher giving the first one free. Wait, isn’t that my job!? Oh, and some of you might notice these are supposedly a “women’s” ski. We beg to differ. They’re for anyone. That said, we suspect that while this ski is nearly a direct match to the men’s version only with purple graphics, it is possibly a bit more supple and thus enjoyed by our lighter weight testers. Check out Perl’s review. )

G3 Synapse Carbon women's ski, available fall 2015.

G3 Synapse Carbon “women’s” ski (in our opinion unisex), available fall 2015.

I stood at the top of Ski Hayden, south of Aspen, Colorado and wondered if I had just wasted 4300 feet of uptrack. Beneath me were a pair of G3 Carbon Synapse 101, which I’d happily picked from Wildsnow HQ for demo.

Thanks to the slight weight of the Synapses (6 pounds for the pair, 175 cm), my legs were fresher than usual. But now I was looking down at a pair of boards with a very unfamiliar shape, thinking that I might use up most of my turns just trying to figure them out. (I’m not the standard Wildsnow gear connoisseur, so the G3s were a huge jump in technology from my standard rig.) An earlier shakedown at post-season ski tour at Cooper hadn’t given me the test I’d wanted, with the intermediate pitch combining with 14” of dense powder to slow my decent to a mostly downhill polling experience.

Below me, telemeister Aaron Daler had already looped several dozen nice drop-knee turns, ending with a couple of whoops that passed for a faux yodel. So all was well on the mountain, at least for the guy on teles. Only one way for me to find out if the climb had been worth it.

I had my answer in a couple of truly backcountry turns. The G3s grabbed the arc quickly and didn’t let go until I pulled back. I pushed them harder each turn. No hesitation. No chatter. Damped down solid. My anxiousness quickly turned into a big, high altitude ski touring grin. Now I could play a bit. I pressed my heel to see what I could get at the end of a turn. The rocker shot me around instantly, letting me know there was more under the hood when I needed it.

Myself and the Synapse on Ski Hayden summit. That's the Elk Mountains; when they're good they're very good.

Myself and the Synapse on Ski Hayden summit. That’s the Elk Mountains; when they’re good they’re very good.

As I dropped elevation, the snow changed from frozen hardpack on top to corn in the morning on mid-mountain. The Synapses didn’t miss, navigating varied conditions with the same aplomb as above, sometimes within the same turn.

As I hit ankle-deep mush near treeline, I looked upslope to calculate what it would take to ski tour back up top for another silly-grin rep. But the sun was already too high for that. So I set out into the labyrinth of trees that is the Hayden approach, grateful that I had the Synapses on my feet for the hundreds of close-quarter turns ahead.

The G3 Synapse Carbon 101 is impressive. They spoiled me forever. My only suggestion would be for the ski brake that comes with the G3 bindings. I had difficulty getting it to stay down a few times, requiring strength and dexterity that might be tenuous with cold hands. But that’s a small inconvenience compared to the feeling of letting a pair of these run free beneath you down the mountain!

(WildSnow dot com guest blogger Doug Stewart works in public communications for Colorado Mountain College. He is a backcountry skier of many decades, and his skis are of the same vintage — though he hopes to change that before next winter.)


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26 Responses to “G3 Carbon Synapse Ski Review — Another Take”

  1. Frame July 22nd, 2015 6:03 am

    As a bit of fun, I don’t suppose you took a photo of Synapse/Ion next to your other set-up? An evolution of ski/binding.

    Sounds like you had a blast.

    Lou, the second photo isn’t displaying. The one part way down the post with the comment “Myself and Synapse…”

  2. Lou Dawson 2 July 22nd, 2015 8:30 am

    Thanks Frame, will check it out. Lou

  3. Lou Dawson 2 July 22nd, 2015 6:22 pm

    Frame, I got it fixed. Was a jury duty, they declared a mistrial but I’m behind about 4 days now on everything! Back at it though, both blogging and getting the new workshop/office done soon! Lou

  4. Frame July 23rd, 2015 6:05 am

    Looks good at this end. Thanks Lou.

    The jury service is a double edged sword, good to do your civic duty, but would hate to get caught on some long running case.

    Great that Wild Snow can absorb some of these things that come up.

  5. Nick July 24th, 2015 8:01 pm

    wondering if anyone had any beta on the Synapse 109 for short radius turns.


  6. Dan October 6th, 2015 3:40 pm

    Hi, I was looking at picking up a pair of G3s (either this one or the ZenOxide 105), but now I’ve seen that the Dynafit Chugach is coming out…I’m undecided.

    I’m 178cm, about 75kg (more with backpack) and like to go pretty hard down the steeper stuff. I’m running Dynafit Vulcans, and want a ski that can do powder without being too massive. The Chugach looks like it’s about 1.5kg heavier, but might have better downhill performance.

    Anyone have any opinions on the matter? Thanks in advance!

  7. Lou Dawson 2 October 6th, 2015 4:12 pm

    Dan, Chugach rocks but it’s massive. No comparison in mass to G3. If you want to go more apples to apples with Chugach, look at skis like DPS Spoon, or? Lou

  8. Bob Kippola December 28th, 2015 2:31 pm

    Hi Lou, did you mount the G3 Synapse boot center on the center mark of the ski? I just tried my new 101’s in both pow and hard pack mounted right where G3 recommends.

    Very strange ski, i felt like the mount was about 3 inches too far forward. Also, the skis from the factory have a fairly significant linear rilling texture, perhaps this contributed to their poor performance on hard pack? Thinking of giving up on these skis, as they ski horribly compared to my 8 year old G3 Saints in the same length…

  9. Lou Dawson 2 December 28th, 2015 3:34 pm

    Hi Bob, I’m pretty sure they were factory mounted. The rill can be really bad, and make you feel more forward, sort of like having a poorly waxed ski. I actually have never been a fan of base structure, have found for ski touring that a smooth polished and waxed base works best, no rill, smooth ptex under the wax. Suggest waxing the skis as well as being SURE the binding setup is not changing the ramp angle you are used to. I’m dealing with similar issues myself at the moment, so I feel your pain. Lou

  10. Michael December 28th, 2015 6:52 pm

    The Synapse series does have a fairly forward mounting position. I have some 185 Synapse 109s and I think they’re like -7cm from true center at the recommended line if I’m not mistaken. With all of that rocker and taper they’re bound to be a bit more center mounted.

    Really loving the 109s in pow. I was skeptical of the mounting point but so far I haven’t had any issues. They’re just so easy in pow. Light, great float, any turn shape in soft snow. Really fun. Haven’t had them in much firm snow really but they’re a quiver ski for me.

  11. Lou Dawson 2 December 28th, 2015 8:14 pm

    A trend is definitely “center” mounting that brings your foot position forward. I’m finding this detrimental to a relaxed powder skiing style, but observing it works well for skiers with the chops and knees to handle it.

  12. swissiphic December 29th, 2015 2:39 pm

    Hey Lou, an interesting experiment I performed may be of interest to you. I own a pair of quite old and beat up 185cms armada jj five point sidecut skis…pretty new school, minus 5 cms mount point. Found them to be a fun playful, poppy pow ski and even pretty good for soft groomers. Not so great for more traditional relaxed pow skiing in deeper snow though; they liked to be skied from the center which really doesn’t work for the ‘feel’ I prefer and seek. Sooo, moved the binding back to minus 7.5; nope, didn’t do it. So, I adjusted the other variable…tip length. Added a 5cm tip extender made of 1/4 inch lexan (unbreakable) and voila…more of a traditional feeling ski in deeper pow where the tip extender surface area is employed in tip driven turns…which somehow makes it feel more ‘relaxing’ 😉 Doesn’t do much for shallower pow where the more centered ski technique is suggested by the ski. It also eliminated a tendency of the ski to tip dive in bottomless snow, upside down snow and some crusts. Sweet spot on the sidecut was maintained so groomer performance is still fun…easily removable with t nut/bolt affixation for dedicated hill days. Fun project. Have no clue if it would ‘help’ other skis but worked for the JJ.

  13. Bob Kippola December 29th, 2015 2:50 pm

    Update on my G3 Synapse 101s: I tried to sand out the very deep linear structure on the base. By hand, it seemed like this was a 2 hour+ job, so i took them to the local ski shop for a belt sand and stone grind.

    The tech was floored by how deep G3’s linear structure was and said ‘can you even turn these things?’. My obvious answer was no, that is why i brought them into the shop. I will update this post once i ski them without the grand-canyon-like-rilling!

  14. Bruno Schull December 29th, 2015 8:43 pm

    HI Bob–I’m really curious how this works out for you. I recently tried my new G3 Synapse 101’s for the first time, and I could hardly turn on hard pack/windcrust. It was a real struggle. I felt like the skis kept racing away from me. The edges at the tip were also really grabby. I concluded that it was just my generally poor technique, and getting used to the new skis. I hope they work a little better after I get the tips and tails detuned. I will also ask the shop to polish and wax the base. Thanks again–maybe I don’t ski as entirely crappy as I thought…it’s the skis! (probably not) 🙂

  15. See December 29th, 2015 9:26 pm

    I have tried exactly one pair of G3 skis (186 Zen Oxides). I found them unusually stiff for their length.

  16. Bob December 29th, 2015 9:59 pm

    Bruno, I’ll let you know how the New tune goes. I’ll ski them tomorrow, I have the shop belt send them with 80 grit five times to remove the structure, and then put a light structure back into the base. Maybe because G3 is located in Canada with a maritime snowpack the deep rilling works for them. But here in Vail it is very cold with low moisture. Anyway, more tomorrow!

  17. Bruno Schull December 30th, 2015 8:50 am

    Hi Bob. I went down to my storage space, and compared the base of my G3’s to the base of my alpine skis, Rossingnol Soul 7’s (great skis by the way). The base of the Rossignol skis is polished and smooth, like glass. The base of the G3’s is matte and faintly rough, like fine grained wood. Is that the rilling that you are talking about? What purpose does it serve? Should I just get the bases of the G3’s sanded and waxed? Looking forward to your on-snow post tune up report. All the best, Bruno.

  18. ty December 30th, 2015 12:09 pm

    Hey Bob, Ive got the same issue. Very Frustrating. I’m on a 190cm synapse 109 mounted at the line. The rilling is significant and i’m in the ” maritime snowpack”. I’ve tried a detuning on the edges but i’m thinking a complete smoothing of the base and 1 deg edge loss will bring out the “playfulness” these are touted to have. My main issues have been on hard snow and grooming. I’m not a terrible skier and can usually adapt pretty quick to a new ski. I feel your pain. Looking forward to hearing how your base cleanup goes from the shop.

  19. Bob Kippola December 30th, 2015 2:15 pm

    Hello fellow G3 skiers, the new tune worked wonders. I just skied a couple of runs at the local hill. Conditions were some new powder on top of both man-made and naturally hard packed snow. The skis did really well on everything but the yellow ice. They were still grabbier than i’d like. I’m going to do a hand tune later today to buff out the remaining deep rills on the base and i will put on a 1 degree base bevel.

    My local shop ran the bases on an 80 grit sanding wheel 5 times per ski, then put in a light cross hatch structure. They probably could have used a few more passes on the sanding wheel. I am also going to contact G3 and recommend that they do a different grind on these skis before sending them to the retailers.

    I enjoyed the ski, now i need to adjust the ramp angle on my Dynafit TLT boots. The Plumb binding has a few degrees more ramp angle vs. my other Dynafit bindings.

  20. ty December 30th, 2015 4:39 pm

    Thats great news bob, i’m glad it worked. There’s hope yet! I was ready to give up on these skis. I’m taking mine into the shop for a grind too. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Agreed, they are very grabby. Happy New Year.

  21. Bob Kippola December 30th, 2015 4:53 pm

    …also, i had a lengthy conversation with the customer service rep at G3. He is going to email me to get the serial # of my skis to see if there is anything in their processes to fix this. I would strongly encourage anyone who is experiencing the challenges with the factory tune, to contact G3 so more folks don’t give up on these skis. These are amazing ski for powder, but my gosh, I seriously almost broke my leg when i transitioned from powder onto a well packed snowmobile track at the end of my tour last Sunday.

    My local retailer was very accommodating, and will connect with G3 about this also. It is pretty evident the full longitudinal rilling is a problem, i looked at other factory tunes on other skis and did not see anything remotely resembling the structure on the skis i purchased.

  22. Bruno January 1st, 2016 2:57 pm

    Hi Bob–thanks for the great information about Synapse 101’s. I know next to nothing about ski tuning, but I do know that these skis were surprisingly hard to turn on hard snow and breakable crust. Luckily, I live near a great ski shop. I would like to bring these skis to the shop for work. Would you say that these instructions would be appropriate? 1) Sand the base so that the rilling is gone and the surface is smooth and polished. 2) detune the tip and tail. 3) Put a 1 degree edge base bevel. I hope I can get these skis to feel better. Thanks again.

  23. Bob January 1st, 2016 4:07 pm

    I’d agree with most of that. You need a light structure on the base and I put a 1 degree BASE bevel not a 1 degree side bevel necessarily. Also, I’d talk to the warranty department at G3 or talk to the retailer to see if either party can help you out. My contention is that G3 should do something to make this right.

  24. Bruno January 1st, 2016 11:59 pm

    Bob–great. I will go to the ski shop with these instructions and work with them to see what we can do. Yes–I meant 1 degree base bevel, just as you describe. My mistake writing. I’ll report back about the results.

  25. Bruno Schull January 18th, 2016 2:32 am

    Quick update on G3 Carbon Synapse 101 tune, and two follow up questions. I took my skis to a good local shop that specializes in ski touring. They lightly detuned the tip and tail, and lightly beveled the base. I think it was very conservative–not very much material was removed. I also spoke to them about sanding down and smoothing the base structure. They did not think the base structure was important. They seemed to think that the base structure was more about glide and less about riding and turning. I kind of had to go along with them because I don’t really know much about it and I did not want to get into an argument about making the bases smooth. Anyway, the skis do work much much better. They are much closer to how I hoped they would ride, although not perfect. I am thinking of going back and having them tune the tips/tails/base a little more, and maybe try to convince them to remove the base structure. Two questions: when you detune the tips and tails, what are you talking about, a complete half round profile on the edge, or just a slightly dulled edge? The shop basically just dulled the edge a little, but it is still definitely a square-shaped edge over the whole tip and tail. Also, how important is the base structure relative to the other modifications? How will smoothing the base change how the skis ride? Thoughts? Many thanks.

  26. Pierre February 25th, 2016 2:23 pm

    Those skis are described as “LOW CAMBER UNDERFOOT”, what should we understands from this feature? Are they better in powder than regular cambered skis? Are they worse on hardpack. Why do we need camber anyway?

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