What's the difference? The kick or the glide?
The difference is definitely the grip. I get as good a glide with the kicker skin- but much better grip. (The kicker skin definitely produces significant drag on cold snow, but that is the domain of grip wax anyway). When the conditions are ideal for double-cambered scales, I get as good a glide with the kicker skin- but, MUCH better grip- especially when climbing. This experience probably has a lot to do with topography- I tend to take in a lot of vertical, even on my E99s.
When the conditions are perfect for my E99 Crown, they are great- but, certainly no better than the E99 Tour + Easy-Skin.
I think that part of my challenge in the current weather is that I often miss the "ideal" time of day to ski. It is still very cold here at night and all of that wet snow re-freezes overnight, making the Crown a slippery pain in the arse. If I had a kicker skin for the Crown- they would be better than the Tour at this time of year.
Icy refrozen snow has been of particular concern this week- it has been going down way below freezing at night (was -20C at dawn on the 7th!), and then up to 5C by mid-afternoon.
Early this week, I went for an early morning yo-yo ski with my Koms in a steep field. The base was fantastic and stable but the surface was icy and refrozen. I must admit the traction of the Koms was absolutely freakin useless! I could not set a track on much more than 5% slope! After a couple of rounds, I went back for my Storetinds- with 60mm Skin-Lock. I could climb straight up the slope (30%-40%) with the Skin-Lock. Though I had to take off the Skin-Lock at the top of the hill, I used way less energy and got in way more laps/hour. I am sure the Koms would have been perfect if I had been able to get out that afternoon- but, I had to go into work.
I wonder what could be different between our style of skiing/past ski experience/history that we have decidedly different experiences on the E99 Crown. When temperatures are all over the place and/or I'm dealing with klister conditions I go for my E99 Crowns and am usually completely satisfied. I'm 160lbs on the 205cm with nordic rocker. Relatively new ski, about 4yrs old- the blue/black ones.
Though I bought my E99 new- they were left-over stock (got em for a steal at $100CAN)- not sure exactly what year they are. They are E99 "Xtralite Crown", but they have no rocker in the tip- they are 210cm. I weigh 185lbs. Perhaps they would be better if they were shorter...But if they were less cambered-stiff for my height, I think that I might as well be on my 205cm E109 Crown.
And there lies the issue perhaps- perhaps I am using the E99 Tour on terrain that would perhaps be more typically suited to the E109...Full-base grip waxing and the kicker skin are enabling me to tour on terrain that perhaps is a bit much for a 210cm double-cambered touring ski...Perhaps you would choose a less-cambered, more "XCD" ski for the terrain I am using my 210cm E99 Tour...I find I can move some much quicker on the flats with the E99 that I am eager to take it up the ridge as much as I can! (And- if I use the E109 Crown on the same route- they are much better than the E99 Crown- though not as fast as the E99 Tour on the flats.)
I must admit that I love the speed of the E99 Tour so much that when the snow is settled enough to support it, I tend to push it on to terrain that can be less than ideal for its camber and stiffness. The E99 Tour+Easy-Skin with its double-camber underfoot and rockered tip allows me to fly on the flats, climb up hills/ravines/ridges and then rip down hills- all in one ski! But- I need stable consolidated snow to do all of that on the E99.
After all- the E99 is really not designed to offer effective climbing performance- it is a K&G ski, IMO.
This is where past experiences I think, can change one's opinions on skis and armchair internet theorizing then meets a limit of vulnerability to interpretation.
This is not, in any way, a critique of your opinion of the skis, it makes me wonder why we see it in such a different light. I have never skied the E99 Tour at all, and maybe I would be heavily swayed if I did try them with a kicker skin and could see the difference first hand.
If I had to choose- the E99 Tour + Easy-Skin is a much better performing and more versatile ski than the E99 Crown. That being said- if my E99 Crown had the Easy-Skin attachment I am sure I would have been using it the last couple of weeks- I am certainly not using kick wax at the moment!
But, in the end- I guess I am pleased enough with the glide of the Easy-Skin- on wet snow- that I find I don't need the E99 Crown. Without the kicker skin, the E109 Crown is a better ski than the E99 Crown- on the terrain and snow that I am skiing on.
In return I have far less years XC skiing than you and even though I fancy myself fast and able I could be nothing but a skier out for a stroll as opposed to bombing along as you may well be doing by comparison.
I think it likely that it has more to do with snow conditions, temperatures, and terrain.
On what kind of terrain are you using the E99 Crown?
Back to my original question at the top, I personally prefer glide over grip. I tend to enjoy less grippy skis and longer glides with a change in kick technique to compensate. What is the limit you are running into with the E99 Crown?
Well I definitely love glide- hence my tendency towards very long touring skis. But, if I am out to kick-and-glide-fly I can't stand it if I push down for grip and find that I cannot fully lunge forwards on the other ski. And- again- perhaps I climb more with my 210cm E99 than most?