2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

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lilcliffy
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2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:12 pm

2015 FISCHER E-109 CROWN
• Excellent backcountry Nordic ski: cross-country skiing on fresh snow with a mix of old-school and new-school downhill performance.
• Perhaps Fischer’s last remaining distance-oriented XCD ski, with lengths up to 205cm.
• Excellent waxless scale traction.
• Brilliant flex-camber pattern- providing controllable camber, with enough camber and stiffness to offer very good xcountry performance on fresh snow.
• Would be even better with less sidecut and more width underfoot.
• Would break trail more effectively with a broader, raised-elongated tip.

Here begins my intimate relationship with the 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown.

The model I have was bought on clearance this past summer- it is a 2015-2016 model. As far as I know, the current E-109 has not been updated for 2016-2017.

I will start with some disclosure. When it comes to backcountry-xcountry (BC-XC) skis, I am a lifelong (43 years old) Karhu enthusiast. The legendary backcountry Nordic ski of my mind is a metal-edged, wood-cored Karhu touring ski that my father happened to buy in the mid-70s, and then hand down to me in the late-80s. I have no idea what the model was- the decals were worn off by the time I even cared to notice. But this beloved ski was a “mid-width” backcountry-xcountry ski- with very similar dimensions to a ski like the E-109, the S-Bound 78/Traverse 78, and the Madshus Eon/ Karhu XCD GT.

The most significant difference between “old-school” and modern mid-width BC-XC skis is the degree of sidecut. Current BC-XC skis have much more sidecut than they did 25+ years ago. I remain unsure whether the move towards more sidecut- with a BC-XC ski- is a good thing or not….

SPECS
I am 5’10” and weigh 185lbs. I am skiing on the 205cm.
As a starting point- here are the specs of the current Fischer E-109 Crown:
• Lengths to 205cm.
• Sidecut profile: 82-60-70mm.
• Camber profile: significant, but soft initial camber- low but very stiff second camber.
• Nordic rocker: the tips open up significantly when the camber is fully compressed.
• Flex pattern: moderately stiff. Smooth, soft, round initial flex pattern from point of “Nordic rocker” to tail. “Wax” or traction pocket is somewhat preserved by shallow, stiff, second camber.
• Low profile tip.
• Flat tail.
• Full length, but not wrap-around, metal edge.
• High-quality, sintered base on tip and tail.
• “Offtrack-Crown” waxless scale base insert.

BACKGROUND
What is the E-109?

As a Karhu guy, I am not intimately familiar with the development of the E-109, but here is my understanding:

The E-109- or “Europa 109”- was originally developed as a wider version of the “Europa 99” (i.e. E-99) to be a backcountry Nordic xcountry touring ski with a width and flex pattern more narrowly focused on soft, fresh snow, than the legendary E-99. (As an aside- the original “Europa 99” (E-99) at the time was designed to be the “world’s best” backcountry Nordic ski).

Looking back over the years, Fischer seems to be constantly changing their Nordic lineups. There are currently three Nordic backcountry- or “off-track”- Fischer lines:
1. “Off-Track Cruising”
2. “Backcountry”
3. “S-Bound”

My initial impression- a few years ago- was that the “Off-Track Cruising” line was intended for light-duty, short distance/duration tours off the groomed track. The recent move of the S-Bound 78 (now Traverse 78) and 88 (now Excursion 88) to this line changes my perception of this group of skis.

The S-Bounds have always been intended to be hybrid xcountry-downhill Nordic skis. By “hybrid” I mean that they- regardless of stiffness/flex pattern- are single-cambered Nordic skis, with intent to offer a balance between cross-country and down-hill (XCD) performance.

Fischer’s “Backcountry” Nordic line is old-school- at least by intent. From a modern North American perspective, Fischer’s “Backcountry” line are “traditional” cross-country skis designed for skiing in the backcountry- or off of a groomed track. From a Fennoscandian perspective, skis like the E-99 and E-109 are “fjellskis” (i.e. “mountain skis”). From the true Nordic perspective a ski like the E-109 is not considered to be simply a “cross-country” ski. It is a backcountry ski designed to be taken on a tour into the wilderness and mountains.

Fennoscandian skiers have a passion for touring- travelling long distances. Therefore, the “fjellski” is at its core a “cross-country” ski, from a North American perspective. The fjellski may be designed to ski in mountainous terrain, but at heart it remains geared towards long-distance travel.

The E-109 is a midwidth Nordic “fjellski”- a “cross-country” ski with a flex pattern, narrowly intended for fresh soft, snow, with a sidecut intended to offer reasonably effective downhill performance.

Despite the aggressive sidecut of the current E-109, it retains its core cross-country DNA.

PERSONALLY- I see the E-109 as a modern interpretation of a mid-width BC-XC ski. The current E-109 has a number of attributes- significant sidecut for one- that would cause many to consider this ski a hybrid XCD ski. I personally see the current E-109 as a xcountry ski, that offers some limited downhill performance.

CROSS-COUNTRY AND DOWN-HILL PERFORMANCE

Flex Pattern
The E-109 is a double-cambered ski- or “camber-and-a-half” ski- depending on your perspective. The second camber is shallow and stiff. Whether one chooses to describe this as “double-camber” or “camber-and-a-half” is, as far as I’m concerned, a matter of personal perspective. Regardless, this ski has a shallow wax pocket, and therefore offers some of the performance of a double-cambered ski, when xcountry striding.

The initial camber is soft and smooth- easily compressed. This flex pattern is well suited to fresh snow conditions (it also contributes to downhill performance). The second camber is shallow and stiff allowing an effective Nordic “kick” to engage the traction underfoot. This second camber may be stiff, but it is easy to compress and engage. Again this is ideal for fresh, soft snow.

Tip
The tip on this ski is relatively soft, and is very low profile. Were it not for the early-tip-rise produced by the “Nordic rocker”, this ski would be extremely poor at breaking trail. I personally would like to see an old-school, traditional, broad, raised tip on this ski- it would break trail more effectively.

The “Nordic rocker” is effective, causing the tips to open when the camber is compressed. However- in order to open those tips, your need to fully compress the camber. In a full-on diagonal stride, the full weight of the skier is on the trailing ski as you lunge forward. Therefore, if your weight is kicking downwards into your trailing ski, the camber on the forward/gliding ski is not compressed, and therefore the tip doesn’t open until your weight has been transferred onto the lead ski.

Tail
The tail of this ski is flat and stiffer than the tip. From a xcountry perspective, this is a good thing as it helps the ski remain stable during the glide phase of striding.

Sidecut
The current trend is to add considerable sidecut to BC-XC skis. I understand this from a XCD context, but I have issues with adding a lot of sidecut to a ski primarily intended to be a xcountry ski. This xcountry ski has a ton of sidecut- 22mm to be precise. There can be only one reason for all that sidecut- downhill turns.

From a xcountry point of view, there are at least three potentially negative trade-offs to having all of that sidecut:

1. Tracking. For a xcountry ski to be efficient, it must track reasonably straight. Thankfully, the E-109 has a stiff enough second camber, that the sidecut is not aggressively engaged during the glide phase of the diagonal stride. I can feel the sidecut when I fully compress the camber though. This ski would track more efficiently if it had less sidecut.

2. Flotation. That very narrow waist reduces the potential flotation of a ski as wide as the E-109. (I am actually suspicious that the E-109 may not offer much more flotation than its narrower little brother, the E-99- more on that later this winter.) This ski is thankfully stiff enough that the tips and tails offer some support to the waist. I do at times feel like my trailing foot is down in a hole, with the tip/tail up on top of the snow. This effect can be frustrating for a heavy skier, and/or a skier that pushes their skis hard to perform. However; I do not find it as bad as other similar skis- with a softer flex- such as the Madshus Eon.

3. Traction. That very narrow waist also reduces the potential width of traction of a ski as wide as the E-109. More width underfoot would offer more grip for the kick phase of striding (as well as better climbing traction).

In case you have not already figured it out, I would prefer the E-109 with less sidecut, and more width underfoot. I think it would track better, float better, and have more grip.

Traction/Kick
What can I say? Fischer’s “Offtrack Crown” is without a doubt the very best waxless scale design I have ever tested in the backcountry. In my opinion it offers an excellent balance between grip and glide for a waxless-scaled ski. On warm wet snow it is no better than many other waxless scale designs (e.g Madshus’ “Omnitrack”; Rossi’s “Positrack”). But, on difficult snow, this design outshines all other scales I have tried.

Climbing Performance
The E-109 climbs reasonably well for a relatively stiff cambered ski. That low second camber requires some focused compression, but it certainly is easier to engage the traction zone on a climb than a stiffer cambered ski like the E-99. My ski season has started out with a lot of hard, icy, snow- my E-109s have consistently out-climbed the E-99 Crown.

The addition of the “Easy-Skin” integrated skin would be a decent upgrade to the E-109 Crown for that extra bit of climbing traction when you want it. (Not sure why it is only available on the E-109 Tour with the waxable base).

Downhill Skiing
This is where things get very interesting. The downhill performance of this ski is a mix of old and new school.

By new school, I mean the relatively “soft” camber (compared to a stiff double-cambered ski) and the aggressive sidecut.

By old school, I mean that this ski does have ample camber and a moderately stiff flex compared to a single-cambered ski. That low second camber is definitely there- you can really feel it on the downhill.

In sum- you must equally weight both of your skis, or that second camber can take your ski away from you on the lesser-weighted ski!!

I am able to steer my way through turns on a dense base.

These skis are also so light that striding through turn initiations is a dream- as long as that rear ski is aggressively weighted!

The Nordic Rocker is simply wonderful on the downhill. The tips feel open with both skis fully weighted, and the camber completely compressed.

All of that sidecut offers some sweet carving on a dense base. Fully and equally weighted, these skis are surprisingly “turny”.

However- despite all of the modern upgrades (e.g. sidecut, tip rocker), I find I have to use a lot of old-school traditional Nordic techniques to downhill ski on these XC skis. To the point that I again wonder how much of an asset all of that sidecut is…

In other words- if I have to stride my way through turns in order to control my 205cm skis, with XC boots- what good is all of that sidecut?

IN CONCLUSION
The current E-109 Crown is the best current soft-snow BC-XC ski that I have yet tested (more on this when I get a chance to test the E-109 Tour and the Asnes Combat Nato/Ingstad). I find that I much prefer the E-109 to the Madshus Eon for example. This preference over a softer ski like the Eon may be at least partially due to my weight. It is also due to my skiing style- the E-109 has the flex pattern to be able to respond when I push it hard to perform.

On another note- my wife- a diehard Eon lover- took the E-109 Crown out for a good tour this weekend- she loved it, and especially loved the extra grip on difficult snow- despite that stiffer camber/flex- she tends to prefer a single-cambered Nordic ski. She even said she didn’t even notice the extra 10cm length over her set of Eons.

I have discovered that I am finally over my mourning of Karhu skis.

I am now a Fischer guy. :roll:
Last edited by lilcliffy on Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:32 pm, edited 7 times in total.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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MikeK
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby MikeK » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:10 am

lilcliffy wrote:I am now a Fischer guy. :roll:


It was only a matter of time...

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MikeK
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby MikeK » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:33 am

lilcliffy wrote:Climbing Performance
The E-109 climbs reasonably well for a relatively stiff cambered ski. That low second camber requires some focused compression, but it certainly is easier to engage the traction zone on a climb than a stiffer cambered ski like the E-99. My ski season has started out with a lot of hard, icy, snow- my E-109s have consistently out-climbed the E-99 Crown.


I've found this Fischer pattern to be the most sensitive to camber and width of any other I've used.

For instance, the S78 and S98 climb pretty similarly (surprisingly) - but going to a very narrow, cambered version of the scales with the e89 and it can feel less than stellar in some conditions; mainly fresh, cold snow.

It's probably just a function of skier weight and how much shear force each one of those scale pockets can provide. Once you surpass the critical limit for your weight in a given snow, they hold. I think they are just particularly sensitive because they are such a low profile - much less than most traditional positive patterns.

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lilcliffy
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:32 am

Would be very interesting to compare the performance of the S-78 and the E-109 Crown.

Your tests and notes on the S-78 suggest to me that it, in fact, has a shallow second camber. This is something I did not appreciate about the S-78 when I tested it several years ago. I simply noticed that it was stiffer than its wider brethren.

The E-109 is the stiffest of the "camber-and-a-half" skis that I have yet rigorously tested. (From initial flexing, I am thinking the second camber on the E-109 may be even stiffer than my Combat Natos/Ingstads.)

I wonder how different the flex patterns of the S-78 and E-109 really are? I also wonder whether the length and placement of the Offtrack Crown insert are different between the two skis. The complex of flex pattern and traction pattern both influence climbing performance.

I have also been testing my E-99 Xtralite Crowns over the past couple of weeks, back-to-back against the Eon and E-109 Crown. The E-99 is full-on double-cambered. Both the initial and second camber are relatively stiff- and the second camber is probably twice as high as the E-109. With deliberate "kick" the E-99 has just as much traction as the E-109 when xcountry skiing. BUT- that stiff second camber makes any serious climbing a challenge.

I have tested the E-109 Tour with the easy-skin a bit (as well as the E-99 Easy-skin). I am greatly looking forward to the E-109 Tour and the Combat Nato next week- we have a major fresh dump in the forecast for early next week!!
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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lilcliffy
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Dec 26, 2016 5:48 pm

Some more observations on this ski:

1) The low profile tip on this ski is very poor. The Nordic rocker opens up beautifully- but, it only does so much when breaking trail through deep, fresh snow. I don't even need to try the Ingstad/Combat Nato to know that it is going to be better at breaking trail.

2) The flex pattern of this ski is what makes it a better XCD ski than a stiffer and more cambered ski like the E-99. The camber is lower and softer on the E-109. The E-109 climbs better, and it is easier to turn- the camber is easier to control. I would still describe the E-109 as a double-cambered xcountry ski though. The E-109 is a BC-XC ski for hilly terrain. The E-99 is more finely tuned for the gentle to rolling terrain.

3) This ski- as well as all other waxless-scaled skis- is basically useless on cold, icy, refrozen snow. The addition of the integrated Easy-Skin kicker skin would be a very good upgrade.

Fischer does not seem to be making the Crown version of this ski at the moment- I am only seeing the waxable-base E-109 Tour on Fischer's website, and at retail. That is too bad- the E-109- with lengths up to 205cm- is Ficher's only distance-oriented XCD ski.

The waxless-scaled E-109 Crown is an excellent BC-XCd ski for mild climates, where the snow is often warm and wet. The addition of the Easy-Skin would extend the skiability of the Crown version.

For those that ski mostly on cold fresh snow- the E-109 Tour is a better choice. The Easy-Skin again extending the skiability of the waxable base.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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fisheater
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby fisheater » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:48 pm

It does not sound like much of a ski for inland New Brunswick. However it sounds like it would work well in my neck of the woods. Since I don't have any NNN boots, you can keep the bindings for a more suitable ski ;).

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lilcliffy
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:02 am

HA! Well I'm afraid I will be keeping it! And I may even be keeping my eyes open for another one on clearance at some point- my wife loves this ski- she hasn't even touched her Eons since I had her try this ski- maybe I should have kept it to myself...My wife is Alpine skier- she tends to prefer a lower/softer cambered ski over a stiffer double-cambered ski- even when the terrain and conditions are ideal for a ski like the E-99. (Although she was very impressed with the E-99+Easy-Skin in that icy breakable crust.)

We had dream conditions for this ski yesterday. Overnight we got another 15cm of fresh soft snow- then it turned very warm. I skied about 15kms on fairly dense 6inches of warm wet snow, on top of a dense, cold base. The grip was excellent- the glide was as good as gets in this type of snow. I didn't take in much vertical on this XC tour- not sure whether the E-99 Crown would have done better...

With the whole Climate Change thing- I definitely want waxless scaled skis in my quiver. The temperature extremes we have been having would require me to be constantly changing wax. I have my waxable skis set up for cold snow- with Easy-Skin on hand for ice! The waxless scales for warm, wet snow.

The temperature changes may be extreme, but the snow keeps coming- 30 more centimetres in the forecast by the end of the week!
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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lilcliffy
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Re: 2015 Fischer E-109 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:34 pm

This ski is much better than its narrower, stiffer waxless-scaled little brother the E-99 Crown.

Why?- because it is softer and easier to engage the waxless scales when XC skiing and ESPECIALLY when climbing ANYTHING.

Th ski is a ton of XCD fun and efficiency on warm, wet, soft, spring snow: the waxless scales perform perfectly in these conditions; they offer reasonably efficient true XC K&G performance; they climb without skins; and the open Nordic-rockered tips offer wonderful downhill turn initiation.

This ski is nowhere near as good as the waxable E-109 Tour Easy-Skin however.

The Easy-Skin attachment on the E-09 Crown would be a huge improvement.

What would I change about this ski?
1) I hate to say it but it needs a wider waist and/or a more integrated flex pattern to perform in deep soft snow.

2) It needs a stiffer more integrated tip: that tip rises up and flaps all over the place leaving the rest of the ski behind and below.

3) It needs a broader, elongated, raised tip for better trail breaking.

4) A full-wrap steel edge would improve durability.

I prefer this ski to the very similar Eon Omnitrack. This is mostly due to my weight and preference for more K&G snap. The Eon is MUCH softer flexing underfoot than the E-109. If you are significantly lighter than me, the Eon you might prefer the Eon.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry


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