Testers say that speed is less gateway drug and more the invitation to the party when it comes to the S/Max 130 Carbon, as it only got stronger and more connected to the arc the faster they went. They've called the fit painted-on and gapless--essentially perfect for the low-volume foot and instep. Built to absolutely crush early morning groomers, testers couldn’t get enough of the close-to-snow feel of the lower shell and directly linked attitude between lower leg and cuff. This remains a responsive, lightweight ride that puts stiff skis on edge and hammered hard snow into submission with ease--it returns unchanged outside of minor cosmetic updates this season. The ultra-quick Custom Shell HD process succeeded in mellowing minor hot spots.
One tester said the well-distributed and firm grip on the foot and lower leg foretold of responsive skiing, and he was right about that based on its performance scores. The fit is race-room tight with a particularly snug fit on the lower leg just above the ankles where the boot tapers to wrap the leg shaft and instep area in a highly transmissive match. Testers were initially concerned about the super rigid carbon fiber Coreframe insert affecting the navicular area fit, but no such complaints came to light after testing. As a side note the Coreframe insert area is able to be traditionally heat-stretched for additional room there. Testers who found the overall fit a bit too close for comfort and underwent the new Custom Shell HD molding process came out the other side all smiles and in only 10 minutes—impressed, they were (said with a Yoda voice).
One could tell from the score spread that the boot's best attribute is its quickness and precision feel underfoot. The thin shell wall polyurethane lower boot with the carbon Coreframe insert puts the foot in close and transmissive contact with the boot and ski and the Grilamid cuff adds snap while shaving weight (only 1664 grams). This construction combination made for a highly tactile feeling boot that responded immediately to foot steering inputs and transitioned turn to turn with synaptic speed, testers agreed. The boot is not lacking in power, whatsoever, testers assured, calling it a trench laying fool and a turn-completing stomper. Regarding post-Custom Shell process performance—we had one of our testers only mold one boot for the sake of comparison with an un-molded boot and he found no appreciable difference in stiffness between the two afterward.
Kaprolene is the additive to polyurethane that allows for Custom Shell molding. Now in certain models within the S/Max and MTN lines the Kaprolene used is pre-mixed in precise amounts into the polyurethane itself rather than as a somewhat random additive at the time of plastic injection. This creates a more predictable and defined molding response which, when used in the thin shelled S/Max and MTN boots, drastically reduced cook times from ten minutes to only two, molding from five minutes to only three and cool-down to five minutes. Our tests showed legit results without a degradation of performance, post-molding. Salomon offers a kit for bootfitters to drill out the Oversized Pivot cuff hinge point and replace it with a lateral cuff adjustment for skiers who need more stance angle adaptability than the Custom Shell process will provide. Cantology cant shims are available for the S/Max boots but require over-plating and routing along standard race room protocols.
“The process of cooking the shell can create positive results—what a difference a little heat makes! Agility and quickness in spades—made my beer league race skis walk the line!” -- Chris Wilde
“Tight but right—like, tighter than my prison wallet--but after a few minutes feels like a perfect hug. Does this lightweight pack a punch? Holy sh*$ snacks Batman--this boot has all you need and more. Made my race skis turn into race cars. Seriously, speed is now not a concern but an invitation.” -- Kevin Gabriel
“Dramatic fit improvement after heat molding with toe caps and molding pads on my styloid, fifth met and pinky toe. Very comfortable without giving up fit tension after heat mold. Much improved from the out of the box fit. The heat mold allowed my foot to settle in flat to the boot board.” -- Jim Schaffner
“Fits good but different. Tight on lower part of shin. It is different but still good. Skis powerfully and quick—it makes you very confident the ski will do what you want.” -- Stacy Crumpler
“Hard to get on without doing damage to your instep.” -- Jack Rafferty