2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

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lilcliffy
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2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:15 am

SUMMARY

• Excellent backcountry xcountry ski: double-cambered with a moderately-stiff flex pattern. Excellent Nordic kick and glide off the groomed track. This is first and foremost a xcountry ski- the strengths of this ski require using an appropriate xcountry length.
• Excellent waxless scale traction for kick and glide skiing- on warm wet snow.
• Relatively stiff double-camber makes climbing steep terrain challenging without climbing skins.
• Camber-flex pattern makes for highly efficient xcountry skiing in the backcountry. This ski is FAST!
• Significant, relatively stiff second camber requires focused “kick” in fresh, soft snow.
• Flex pattern is finely tuned for efficient backcountry-xcountry skiing on variable terrain and snow.
• Probably best suited to gentle to moderate terrain- due to second camber being difficult to control when climbing and turning.
• Downhill performance is challenging due to stiff second camber.
• Would be even better with Nordic rocker in the tip.
• Would break trail more effectively with a broader, raised-elongated tip- FOR SURE.
• The integrated “Easy-Skin” would be a decent upgrade.

Here begins my intimate relationship with the 2014 Fischer E-99 Crown.

The model I have was bought on clearance this past summer- it is a 2014-2015 model. The current model has been upgraded with Nordic Rocker in the tip.

The E-99 is a versatile, high-performance, distance-oriented backcountry-xcountry (BC-XC) ski. It is double-cambered for kick and glide efficiency, but it has a flex pattern designed for the backcountry. The flex pattern is stiff for a backcountry ski- nowhere near as stiff as a track ski- but it is controllable on fresh snow, at least in a xcountry context. That double camber makes these skis very efficient in a xcountry context, but I find these skis very challenging to climb slopes without a climbing skin (especially with the waxless scale pattern- this ski with a waxable base climbs better). The addition of the integrated “Easy-Skin” would be an excellent upgrade to this xcountry ski- greatly improving their climbing performance. The Easy-Skin would also offer better xcountry grip on difficult snow.

The stiff double camber makes for an exciting ride down-hill! On the other hand they are so wonderfully light and snappy that I find I can navigate all kinds of weird downhill complexes of step turns, parallel turns, and step/jump telemarks. They stride through turns beautifully. That being said- they are nowhere near as easy to squash as a softer ski like the E-109. In short- the E-109 is a better down-hill ski than the E-99 because of its flex pattern.

FAST. This ski is incredibly fast for a waxless BC-XC ski.

SPECS

I am 5’10” and weigh 185lbs. I am skiing on the 210cm.
Here are the specs:
• Lengths to 210cm.
• Sidecut profile: 66-54-61mm.
• Camber profile: significant, and moderately stiff initial camber; moderate and very stiff second camber.
• Flex pattern: stiff ski- period.
• Low profile tip- relatively soft- compared to the rest of the profile- and flexible.
• Flat stiff 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-99?

Although I am aware that many a Fennoscandian skier would describe the E-99 as a “fjellski” or XCD ski- from a North American perspective, the E-99 is a backcountry CROSS-COUNTRY ski. It is clearly designed to travel long distances in the wilderness and mountains.

PERFORMANCE

As I already mentioned- this xcountry ski is fast- really fast. That stiff flex and double camber produces true classic kick and glide performance. As a backcountry ski, the flex pattern offers brilliant kick and glide performance- even on soft fresh snow. It does require a focused Nordic “kick’ in order to offer effective traction. For those skiers with little experience with xcountry skiing on double-cambered skis, this may- at first- produce a frustrating slip and slide experience. If these skis are the appropriate cross-country length, they will have an effective, pronounced wax/traction pocket underfoot- you will need to fully weight the ski to compress the camber and get some grip. Double-cambered skis require transferring all of your weight from one ski to the next. (Grip/kick wax offers better and more reliable traction than the waxless scales.)

Compared to an even narrower, stiffer ski. As a comparison- I managed to test the E-89 again, before last winter was out (I have been debating between the E-89 vs. E-99 for a few years now). The E-89 is even stiffer and faster than the E-99. In fact- the E-89 is almost as stiff as my Atomic classic track touring skis. The E-89 is so stiff that I think it is too stiff for soft snow. If I had a lot of hard snow to ski on- I might consider the E-89. But- I find the E-99 is plenty fast enough on hard snow, and it is much more stable and smooth on fresh snow- and it definitely offer better grip than the E-89 on soft snow.

Compared to the E-109 Crown. The flex pattern of the E-109 is tuned in for soft, fresh snow. It is much easier to compress the camber and engage the traction zone of the E-109. HOWEVER- using grip wax on the E-99 Tour- the E-99 has every bit as much grip as the E-109.

The tip on the E-99 is low profile. To be honest- it basically sucks when breaking trail. There is no Nordic Rocker in this generation of the E-99 xtralite. The tip is softer and more flexible than the rest of the profile. This was very noticeable- and appreciated- on hard icy snow earlier this ski season.

The tail is flat and stiff, and tracks beautifully- just like a xcountry ski should!

Sidecut…Does this ski need sidecut? I don’t know- doesn’t every ski need sidecut? This ski has 12mm of sidecut…At a length of 210cm- what is the turning radius of a ski with only 12mm of sidecut? Do you still think it needs sidecut? I offer this- you put this ski on edge and try and carve your way through the glade- and guess what happens- YOU HIT THE TREE!

Flotation. This is not a powder ski- of course it isn’t. But I need to be completely honest here….I don’t find that my wider midwidth skis (e.g. E-109/Eon) offer any more effective flotation than the E-99…If the E-109 performs “better” in deep, soft snow, it is because of the flex pattern, not its width.

Traction. Fischer’s Offtrack Crown scale pattern is very, very good. This ski offers excellent grip on warm, wet snow. Otherwise, the stiff, the double-camber makes fresh, soft snow- worse, icy snow- a bit of a slippery experience. The double camber makes climbing anything steep a real challenge- without skins. As the slope increases, it becomes very difficult to fully weight the ski.

Grip/kick wax greatly improves the traction of this ski in both K&G and climbing contexts (hint: the E-99 Tour rocks!)

The addition of Fischer’s Easy-Skin would be a much appreciated upgrade to the E-99 Crown.

Downhill skiing! To a high-performance track xcountry skier, the E-99 might actually feel wimpy and soft. BUT- no matter what you compare the flex to- one will definitely discover that this ski is double-cambered when downhill skiing!! The pronounced, stiff second camber on this ski makes for a bit of a wild ride down-hill- especially if one is trying to get the ski to perform like a downhill ski. One would need a very short E-99 in order to be able to completely control its camber in a downhill turn- with both skis equally weighted. (This short length would ruin its xcountry performance.) However- on moderate terrain- I find even my 210cm E-99 to be a lot of fun on the downhill. Why? How? These skis are incredibly light and responsive. I find I can easily make them turn on moderate slopes, through a mix of step/stride/stem/jump turns- stride your way down the hill. If you are comfortable transferring weight from ski to ski- these skis are great on the down-hill. Obviously, on truly steep terrain, one needs more stability and control than this xcountry ski has to offer.

The hills I ski through typically offer multiple routes downhill. If I am out with my E-99s I can simply choose a more gentle line downhill, than I would with a more down-hill oriented ski.

CONCLUSION

This is a finely-tuned backcountry-xcountry touring ski.

For anyone wanting to travel long distances at speed in the backcountry- the E-99 is the real deal. It is a truly double-cambered ski, offering a very effective wax/traction pocket- true Nordic kick and glide. However, Fischer has finely tuned the flex pattern of the E-99 for off-track snow. With some skill and focused “kick”, the camber is easy to control on variable terrain and snow. (This ski would feel relatively “soft” and slow on a groomed track.)

The waxless scale pattern is really only effective on warm wet snow. As a result- the E-99 Crown will be a seasonal ski for me. I will end up using the waxable E-99 Tour much more.

The addition of the Easy-Skin, integrated kicker skin would be an excellent upgrade to the E-99 Crown.

The E-99 offers- to me- an excellent balance between stability and speed for a xcountry ski in the backcountry. If the snow you are skiing on is typically hard and dense, an even narrower ski would be faster- but, I prefer the greater stability of the E-99 for fresh snow and hilly terrain.

In my opinion, the E-99 offers as much effective flotation as wider mid-width skis like the E-109.

The E-99 breaks trail very poorly. It would GREATLY benefit from a higher profile, broad, raised tip. The addition of Nordic Rocker on the more recent E-99 helps a bit as well.

If you want to- or need to- climb and ski down relatively steep terrain, a softer flexing ski is probably a better choice (e.g. E-109)- but nowhere near as fast as the E-99.

The expedition-grade dependability of the E-99 is legendary. I have heard many reports of the current generation E-99 being less durable and prone to breakdown…I hope that Fischer resolves this critical issue.

For me- the E-99 Crown will be shoulder-season ski (warm, wet snow) for distance-oriented backcountry-xcountry skiing. Speed baby.
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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MikeK
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Re: 2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

Postby MikeK » Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:42 am

lilcliffy wrote:Compared to an even narrower, stiffer ski. As a comparison- I managed to test the E-89 again, before last winter was out (I have been debating between the E-89 vs. E-99 for a few years now). The E-89 is even stiffer and faster than the E-99. In fact- the E-89 is almost as stiff as my Atomic classic track touring skis. The E-89 is so stiff that I think it is too stiff for soft snow. If I had a lot of hard snow to ski on- I might consider the E-89. But- I find the E-99 is plenty fast enough on hard snow, and it is much more stable and smooth on fresh snow- and it definitely offer better grip than the E-89 on soft snow.



At first this ski was sounding a lot like the E-89.

It is too stiff soft snow. I find mine work best for warm, mushy, spring-type snow. They are kind of slow, and difficult to get grip in hard, cold bases - mostly due to the scales and stiff secondary camber. A wax version might work quite well in those conditions.

I think stepping, stemming or jumping is the only way to appropriately maneuver these skis.

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Woodserson
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Location: New Hampshire

Re: 2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

Postby Woodserson » Tue Dec 20, 2016 4:50 pm

I love my E99s when the snow is too variable to support my wax wood Madshus Tourings.

For the record and to supplement LC's excellent review I am 155-160lbs naked and ski the 205cm.

LC, where did you mount your bindings? Mine are bar-at-balance point. Did you move them back 1cm? I am thinking of it to get a little more speed out of them, yours sound fast. (mine certainly aren't slow, but I think I'm dragging the scales a little more than I would like-- could be the corn I ski them in, GREAT climb and grip though).

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lilcliffy
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Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: 2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:17 pm

I mounted my E-99s at balance point.

They would be even faster mounted 1 cm aft- but I was concerned about losing grip...

The Crown E-99 will be a niche ski for me- warm wet snow- and gentle terrain. I can manage these skis on moderate slopes- they are so light- but I find I need lots of room- due to their length and camber. The E-109 is a much better ski for true XCD skiing- it climbs better than the E-99 as well. The Easy-Skin would take the E-99 Crown farther.

When I say that they are "fast", I mean it in a relative sense. My 210cm E-99 Crown is WAAY faster than any other waxless-scaled ski that I have. In the ideal wet snow conditions, I can do either my 5km or 10km loop in almost half the time that I could on my 205cm Eon Omnitrack (the E-109 Crown is faster than the Eon- but nowhere near as fast as the E-99 Crown).

The Crown is certainly nowhere near as fast as the waxable E-99 tour- but I was almost shocked as to how fast the E-99 Crown was for a scaled ski. The only BC ski I has ever tried that is faster is the E-89- but I find the E-89 too stiff for variable and hilly terrain and variable snow.

The high-quality sintered tips/tails on the Fischer Crown models is a stroke of pure genius. I have managed to get my glide wax on the tips/tails polished to a near racing finish!

Another note on speed- Nordic Rocker. The Nordic rocker on my current E-99 Tour performs beautifully on soft snow. But- the opened tips very noticeably reduce gliding surface on hard/dense snow. The E-99 Crown I have has no Nordic rocker at all, and it very noticeably has a longer glide surface on a hard/dense base. The open tips still offer glide surface on soft snow, in fact they seem to improve glide on soft snow. If the E-99 Crown is fast for a scaled BC ski- the E-99 Tour literally SMOKES on soft, fresh snow!

Due to the fact that I will be most typically using the E-99 Crown on wet, consolidated snow, I am actually happy that there is no Nordic rocker on this ski. I bet the the current E-99 Crown, with Nordic rocker, is actually slower on consolidated snow...
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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lilcliffy
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Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: 2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:51 pm

We basically have spring snow conditions at the moment...

My wife has discovered my E-99s...should have hid them...

And I thought she would be forever satisfied with her Eons...

My wife- the avid Alpine skier- is turning into a Nordic skier...

Might end up needing another set of E-99s...

Or perhaps this opens the door for a Gamme 54, and/or a Nansen? :twisted:
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry

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lilcliffy
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Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada

Re: 2014 Fischer E-99 Crown

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:41 am

Well I am in the midst of spring skiing conditions where I expected the E-99 Crown to shine...

I have reached some conclusions.

The E-99 Crown is a truly full-on double-cambered ski with a waxless -scaled base in the kick zone. Although I have tested many double-cambered waxless-scaled BC-XC skis- this is actually the first one that I have attempted to put some serious miles on.

I say the word "attempted" deliberately- because I have discovered the useful application of a double-cambered waxless-scaled ski is SEVERELY limited.

The first problem:

Waxless scales offer very limited traction, and on a full double-cambered ski, the kick zone is off the snow during the glide phase- the kick zone engages during the kick phase. Fischer's "Offtrack Crown" waxless scale pattern is very well designed and performs very well. BUT- like all waxless scales, they perform best on warm wet snow that is soft or free-able enough for the scales to properly engage. Waxless scales perform very poorly on hard or crusty refrozen snow. This combined with the effective kick required with a double-cambered ski, has meant that the E-99 has been useless until the snow warms up enough- later in the day- for the scales to properly engage with the snow.

IME- waxless scaled skis are more effective on single cambered or very soft double-cambered (i.e. "camber-and-a-half) skis. As a direct comparison- although the current conditions should make my E-99 Crowns very fast, they have no traction- therefore, the E-109 Crowns, with their softer flex are MUCH, MUCH better. I am using the E-109 Crown in conditions where I was expecting to use the faster E-99 Crown.

The second problem:

CLIMBING. Waxless-scaled truly double-cambered skis basically SUCK at climbing- PERIOD. IF I was exclusively skiing on the flats, the E-99 Crown would be just fine on warm, wet snow- but put that ski up any slope at all and it just becomes to difficult to fully weight that leading ski and properly engage the scales. As I almost exclusively ski in the backcountry and in hilly terrain- the E-99 Crown is almost useless for me.

Conclusions:

1) The E-99 Crown- as a waxless-scaled, double-cambered ski- is only effective on flat/gentle terrain, and on warm wet snow.

2) The E-99 Tour Easy-Skin is a MUCH better and more versatile ski. Grip wax and/or klister allows enough customization for the E-99 to grip and glide in any snow condition- grip wax/klister also outclimbs the waxless scales, particularly because it allows one to extend the grip wax/klister forwards and increase climbing traction. The integrated Easy-Skin further extends both the K&G and climbing performance of the E-99 tour.

3) The addition of the Easy-Skin attachment (or just an aftermarket kicker skin) would greatly improve the versatility of the E-99 Crown- BUT- then you may end up constantly taking the kicker skin and off...I still think the E-99 Tour (waxable) is a much better ski than the Crown.

4) If one really wants a distance-oriented waxless-scaled BC-XC ski, then a softer flexing single-cambered- or even better "camber-and-a-half"- ski is a much more versatile choice- especially if you are touring in hilly terrain. The E-109 Crown is a MUCH better XCD ski than the E-99 Crown. (HOWEVER- if I had to choose- I would have to pick the E-99 Tour over the E-109 Tour).

Waxless-scaled double-cambered skis are a serious disappointment- and they are perhaps the reason why double-cambered BC skis have developed such a bad reputation...

If you want a truly double-cambered ski for travelling at speed in the backcountry- my advice is to avoid scales and get a waxable base and a set of kicker skins. That or accept the slower speed of a single-cambered or camber-and-a-half ski. (BTW- even the E-109Crown- with its softer flex and better traction than the E-99 Crown- has limted traction. A kicker skin for a ski like the E-109 Crown is highly recommended.)
The pursuit of XCD balance: cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry


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