2014-2015 Templar Knight 175cm
135-100-125 r=21m @ 175cm
When was the last time you saw a ski like this?
View of the Templar Knight vertical profile and camber design
Note the tapered thickness of the ski at the tip and tail
(click image for larger version)
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$880 CAD retail - Free Shipping
Big Mountain (according to Templar)
All-Mountain Freeride (our opinion)
Templar Skis may be the first "Crowd-Funded" ski company startup (let us know if you know of others!). Jan Kowalczewski submitted his project to Kickstarter.com (click HERE for the details of the campaign) and raised more than $30,000 CAD to fund an initial production run (outsourced to the same company making DPS's carbon and hybrid skis for years), t-shirts, promotional materials, website and other essentials for a ski company. On October 24, 2013, the money was raised, and the project went into full-steam-ahead mode. Four initial models were produced and launched into the public realm to get feedback and response from skiers throughout North America.
The wood core and carbon components, as well as the chassis design, vertical and flex profiles are exotic and unusual, unlike other skis we have examined here at ExoticSkis.com. (See the snapshots below to see what we mean by the flex and vertical profile.) Innovative design, innovative business startup business model and innovative approach to manufacturing add up to an interesting company and products.
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9 for any variable snow conditions - hard charging, high-speed forward-bias
8 for boilerplate hardpack
8 for packed powder groomers
6-7 for powder due to some tip dive and high-camber stiffness
6-7 for bumps due to stiffness
"...Following months of research and testing we came up with a novel CNC machined core design that incorporates 3 woods ( Bamboo , Poplar and Paulownia ) - we built a finite element model and rigorously tested each combination to come up with a unique core concept. We then optimized it for more torsional rigidity and fine tuned its behavior in a carbon semi cap design. We chose carbon, as its flex properties out-perform conventional fiberglass and Kevlar designs. We also designed a bracing system that lets us tweak the manufacturing process and the carbon sheet properties to optimize ski flex. What you will notice is that our skis have beefy cores greatly improving performance and at the same time they are surprisingly light. All together this new technology has proven incredibly versatile and will allow skiers to get the most out of their skis."
"This is a 100 mm underfoot Full Carbon mountain destroyer. *** This ski is not for everyone*** You will dictate every turn, on any terrain. This charging ski can give you the edge you have been looking for while you power through crud, drops, pillows, crust, This ski is unique in that it is torsionally stiff with a noticeable soft tail specifically designed for big landings. It has a real wide shovel in the front and a much less aggressive camber than the Noble making this a very unique ski for your quiver."
"The Knight is a 100mm Full Carbon underfoot powerhouse. The only laminate we use is carbon it makes our skis perform more consistently and will maintain the flex of the ski for a longer period of time. Key features of the ski include a small camber that lets you power through turns on any terrain and a more traditional tip with a soft tail allowing you to take bigger drops on more varied terrain. At 100 mm underfoot this is a proper hefty freeski but thanks to our unique approach this is a stiffer ski that happens to be light and more maneuverable. Like all Templar skis this ski was initially designed using Finite Element Analysis to fine tune the ski design and includes a highly torsionally stable semi cap design that improves the skiâ€™s durability. All Templar skis come with the legendary guarantee (if anything breaks you get a new ski... "
The Templar Knight, like its 90mm Noble little brother, is an exotic, high-camber, torsionally stiff ski with very light weight and tons of power and energy under the hood. It has a somewhat unusual geometry and flex being wide and strong in the forebody and tapering to a narrow tail, with the tail having a distinctly softer, nearly hinge-like flex. Some of our testers found it took several runs to "figure the ski out" and learn how it liked to be driven. The Templar Knight is stout, wants to be driven, not ridden, and responds eagerly when the pilot keeps the focus and pressure on the forebody, which cuts through crud and manky surfaces like few other skis. In this sense, the Knight is a "charger", yet has a relatively softer tail which can get the ski to come around tightly when pressured properly, but can feel like it wants to go straight if you ride it passively or get in the back seat. Keep the front end decambered under pressure, hold it into the surface (2D or 3D snow) and apply power and it has a line-holding prowess and responsive liiveliness rarely found in any mass-market skis. Pure powder conditions reveal a bit of tip dive since the Knights are highly cambered and do not have the generous helping of tip rocker often found in 100mm skis, but then again, the Knight is not meant to be a powder surfer, it's more at home crushing variable surfaces under power. One of the most fun corn and windpack snow slayers we have ridden. Athletic, charging skiers will like this ski more than the passive, pleasure-riders. The carbon-frame chassis created by Jan Kowalczewski has tons of potential. This is one example of what it can do.
Technical Ski Data:
Bamboo, poplar, paulownia laminate wood core
Carbon fiber laminate
Carbon frame flex cap
Early rise tip
Slight early rise tail
Austrian racing base
1 year replacement warranty
Manufactured in China
Bindings and Boots Used:
Tyrolia SP12 Demo Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Shrink-wrapped and bound with Templar-logo ski straps, the skis had a very professional look right out of the box. Tearing the shrink-wrap off revealed a beautifully finished set of skis with some of the most vibrant graphics colors we have seen. Matte-textured topsheet with an interesting semi-cap, semi chamfered design. The skis were sharp and well-ground, ready-to-roll right out of the box.
The second thing we noticed about the Templar Knights, (like the narrower Templar Nobles we tested) was the camber. The camber is highly unusual, both in size and strength. These characteristics raise both curiosity and initial skepticism (no need for skepticism...like the Nobles...more on that later). Hand flex of the ski reveals a stiff forebody, midbody and late-midbody, with a slightly "hinged" tail of somewhat softer flex. Torsional strength is best described as "intensely strong". Giving the unmounted ski the "hand-gong" test showed the ski to have a resonance with a high-pitch common in many carbon-intensive constructions, and a high-frequency buzz which quickly dies diown, almost like a musical instrument muted after the initial note. Again, a very intriguing design and behavior, without ever getting it on snow.
Eastern corduroy, packed powder and hardpack groomers, ungroomed packed powder with small bumps, shin-deep to knee-deep powder conditions, both smooth and bumpy. Windpack, crust, chalky wind buff, fresh and old powder. Spring corn and icy patches.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
Like the 90mm Nobles on our Eastern hardpack and boilerplate, the Templar Knight at 100mm underfoot has an edge grip and powering-through personality of a much narrower ski, although you know you need to roll it up on edge since the 100mm waist is torsionally stiff. The relatively stiff, high-camber nature of the midbody of this ski responds best when it is pressured strongly with a forward stance into the surface, but doing so sets a rock-solid edge along the entire length of the ski, and turn radius alterations are easily made en-route without any resistance. The feedback underfoot is very active and accurate, always letting you know what is below you so you can adjust your angles and pressures. The Knights can mimic a nice GS-ski across the hardpack. Some high-frequency vibrations can come through to the skier since this is a carbon-intensive ski design, but they never affect the connection of the ski to the surface. This ski responds well to being driven on hard surfaces. The harder you angle, pressure and set this ski, the more it delivers...seemingly without limit. If you ride it passively or get in the back seat, the Knights might feel like they want to go straight. Get back on-board and forward, and the Knights re-engage and carve across the fall line as hard as you want them to go. Once you figure out how the Knghts like to be driven, you feel like you're on rails. We enjoyed them sharp tip-to-tail...no detuning. They feel slightly longer on hard surfaces than they measure.
Mixed conditions are sliced and diced with authority with the Knights, just like the Nobles. The feeling is non-surfy and definitely more directional and camber-influenced (when was the last time you rode a highly-cambered 100mm ski?), but it is also 100% solid and secure with no deflection. The high-camber and torsional rigidity provide a powerhouse ride with some unusually eager personality traits which make for an exicting, high-octane ride. Of course, the harder you push it, the more it delivers, so if you charge into mixed snow, the ski will respond to your slightest movements and do exactly what you told it to do...whcih can surprise some skiers. This is not a "darty" ski, but it does respond nearly instantly to your imputs, making directional changes with eager enthusiasm. If you start a turn with pressure, then let off, it will tend to straighten up, but simply maintain some pressure, or change your weighting, and it will come around without any resistance. Don't get in the back seat, or it will straighten out and take you for a ride. It likes to be skied with a modern, cab-forward stance (park and pipe riders will get this idea right away), pressuring forward into the turns and terrain, not passively ridden in middle or the back seat. The Templar Knights slay cruddy conditions with authority and are one of the most fun Spring corn snow skis we have ridden in a long time. While corned-up surfaces can turn into some choppy, granular piles of kernals of various depths and consistencies interspersed with icy patches and cut-up tracks which can cause some skis to fold up, twist, flap, deflect and skid and generally become unsettled, the Templar Knights simply track through this stuff with authority and zero deflection or loss of composure. Keep the pedal to the metal and they keep on truckin, with tons of rebound and energy if you want it. Some testers were jazzed by this personality, while others didn't quite get in synch with it. Power reserves in the Knight's carbon-rich chassis are pretty much unlimited.
This is a relatively stiff and strong ski, so bumps are not absorbed, they are traversed with impact. The stiff midbody directs that energy to the pilot who needs to know where he or she wants to go. The high-camber design creates a powerful leaf-spring effect when the bump size matches the ski length, and if you press the Knights into a trough, you need to be ready for a powerful launch and fun ride. This is not a ski that follows the flow of bumps like water...it bounds or pounds across them. Don't get in the back seat in the bumps. Overall, we found the Knights felt big and stiff in the tight bumps and somewhat balky. Get them into widely spaced, or volkswagon-sized undulations (think snowmaking mounds before they get mowed down by groomers), and the high-octane camber design can make for some exciting roller-coaster fun.
The Templar Knights have some tip dive in powder conditions because they are relatively highly cambered and stiff and lack a significant tip rocker. The faster you go in 3D snow, the more they come alive and plane. The surface area of the Knights is decent enough to give you some respectable powder floatation, but when you compare the ride of softer, less-cambered, more fully rockered 100mm skis in powder to the Knights, the Knights feel a bit balky. They are perfectly well behaved and completely effective, but they don't shine in powder like many other skis in this width class. Get the Knights into some windpacked or crusty powder conditions, and ride them with a powerful, forward-biased stance, you can navigate unfriendly conditions with authority and security which softer, less cambered designs would find hard to achieve.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
An aquired taste in strong, distilled spirits. A speciality item impossible to find on store shelves. Some will crave what it does for them, others will look for something else to make them happy. Somewhat similar to Vin Jaune from the Jura in France. Addicting for some people.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Perhaps make the tail a bit wider and add more rocker to the tip to give it a slightly turnier and more compliant nature without destroying the superb strength and response of the torsional stiffness and flex.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
This is a strong, powerful ski for high-performance skiers who like a cab-forward stance and drive their skis. Intermediates will find it somewhat demanding or unpleasant. Charging-type skiers will find they have a high-octane tool at their disposal. Passive skiers will not enjoy it compared to most mainstream skis out there in the same class.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
If you are worried about the unique flex pattern and cambered-ski turn behavior matching your ski style, see if you can demo a pair as Jan has a few available. If you drive your skis hard and prefer forward-bias designs, you might love this ride. If you want an easy, loose-feeling all-terrain ski, this is not your ticket.