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K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance - Women's Review

More stable than many K2s we’ve skied in the past, but lacking the pizzazz to make them stand out from the pack
K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance - Women's
Photo: K2
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Price:  $700 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Damper than K2s of old, built strong for larger women, awesome pow ski
Cons:  A little dull, not great edge-hold on firm snow
Manufacturer:   K2
By Renee McCormack ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 23, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 6
  • Carving Ability - 20% 5
  • Powder Performance - 20% 8
  • Crud Performance - 20% 8
  • Terrain Playfulness - 15% 4
  • Bumps - 5% 4

Our Verdict

The K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance is a solidly built ski that feels like it can handle the weight of a larger skier, particularly at higher speeds on groomed runs and in choppy snow. It also makes skiing through fresh powder fun and easy for skiers of any ability. However, if you ski a lot of either hard pack or ice, you might want a model that can grip the firm snowpack more securely. The Mindbender is reasonably versatile, performing well both on-piste and off, but it's slightly unmemorable across the board compared to other competitors.

K2 gave a cosmetic update to the Mindbender 98Ti since we had our hands on it. The latest topsheet graphics are shown in the photo above.
October 2021

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Damper than K2s of old, built strong for larger women, awesome pow skiCrud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability levelAwesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable priceGreat stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than othersSuperbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold
Cons A little dull, not great edge-hold on firm snowNo wow-factor, not a lot of reboundGets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectlyOnly for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide themToo burly for lighter gals, not nimble
Bottom Line More stable than many K2s we’ve skied in the past, but lacking the pizzazz to make them stand out from the packA great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiverA fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tagThis model will do great in everything but the deepest powder and is ideal for an aggressive skierA good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste
Rating Categories K2 Mindbender 98Ti... Nordica Santa Ana 98 Elan Ripstick 94 W Faction Dictator 2.0X Volkl Secret 96
Stability At Speed (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Carving Ability (20%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Powder Performance (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
Crud Performance (20%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
7.0
Terrain Playfulness (15%)
4.0
6.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
Bumps (5%)
4.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
3.0
Specs K2 Mindbender 98Ti... Nordica Santa Ana 98 Elan Ripstick 94 W Faction Dictator 2.0X Volkl Secret 96
Waist Width (mm) 98 98 96 96 96
Shape (Tip-Waist-Tail) (mm) 134-98-120 132-98-120 136-96-111 127-96-117 135-96-119
Available Lengths (cm) 154, 161, 168, 175 151, 158, 165, 172, 179 154, 162, 170, 178 155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187 149, 156, 163, 170
Length Tested (cm) 175 172 178 171 170
Radius (m) 17.1 16.3 16.2 18 27-16-22
Rocker Style Tip and tail rocker, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, cambered inside edge Amphibio tech Tip and tail, camber underfoot Tip and tail, camber underfoot
Weight Per Pair (lbs) 8.4 8.1 7.4 7.9 8.5
Construction Type PowerWall sidewall Energy Ti W SST sidewall Sandwich Full sidewall
Core Material Aspen Veneer Performance Wood & Metal Tubelite wood Paulownia & Poplar Beech and poplar
Intended Purpose All-Mountain All-Mountain All-Mountain All-Mountain, Big Mountain All-Mountain
Ability Level Advanced-Expert Expert Intermediate-Advanced Advanced-Expert Advanced-Expert

Our Analysis and Test Results

The K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance prefers to make a medium radius turn and handles adequately on-piste. It's not ideal on very firm, East Coast-style snow but does feel more stable at speed (on a softer surface) than many of its predecessors. It doesn't have the rebound or carving prowess of some other skis in our review, but it did feel surprisingly light and easy to get airborne.

Performance Comparison


This ski impressed us with its strength and stability, but did not...
This ski impressed us with its strength and stability, but did not stand out in most of our other metrics.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Stability at Speed


K2 has added in a Titanal Y-Beam, which is intended to increase the torsional stiffness while maintaining consistent flex along the length of the ski. The Mindbender does feel as though K2 has infused the ski with a noticeably greater level of dampness, allowing for better edge-hold and significantly less flapping at higher speeds. The testers from our group, who are taller and heavier, observed that this ski felt particularly solid underneath them. However, the Mindbender wasn't infallible on the firmest snow and tended to slip out when we most wanted their commitment to the edge.

Even our larger female testers felt confident in the strength this...
Even our larger female testers felt confident in the strength this ski offered at any speed.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Carving Ability


While the specs read that the Mindbender has a turning radius of 16 meters at the 175-centimeter length, we found that its "sweet spot" in terms of turn shape was less discernible. The Mindbender is happy going straight or making a medium radius turn, and it's light enough that it can be coerced into a short turn when necessary. It isn't built for carving but will succumb if driven precisely. Some of our less experienced testers did find it difficult to stay on top of this ski; they found they needed to be moving almost violently forward at the start of the turn, or else the outside ski would sneak away from them.

Holding an edge well in softer snow, our testers found the turn...
Holding an edge well in softer snow, our testers found the turn radius felt longer than 17.1m at the 175cm length.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Powder Performance


This ski seems born to soar through the powder. Every time we checked, the sparkly polka-dotted tips were either on the surface already or on their way back to it. Not that we had to check often. After the first few deep powder turns, we trusted this ski inherently. The Mindbender kept us afloat most of the time, and even in the moments where it submerged, we were confident that the strength of the ski could build a platform of snow off of which to porpoise its way back to the surface. While the Mindbender feels slightly bunglesome in the tightest trees and bumps, it absolutely found its groove in the powder. It is highly reliable in fresh snow conditions and comes highly recommended to anyone who is either just learning to handle deeper snow or seasoned powder hounds.

Large, rockered tips help the K2 stay afloat in fresh snow.
Large, rockered tips help the K2 stay afloat in fresh snow.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Crud Performance


The Mindbender performs well in moderate, softer crud. One tester commented that it didn't exactly slice through the chop, but it definitely plowed its way past the chunks. We found that overall, it manages to offer a fairly smooth ride over bumpy terrain. Unlike some K2 skis of the past, which were a bit too floppy to maintain course in variable snow, the Mindbender is much stronger and more stable; it's more suited to hard and fast charging through rough conditions.

This ski plowed through variable snow conditions.
This ski plowed through variable snow conditions.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Terrain Playfulness


This ski feels lighter on your feet than in your hands and enjoys being in the air. We had fun going over little rock drops and feeling buoyant while also knowing that our landing would feel stable and secure. What is not present with the Mindbender is much feeling of rebound, so if you love the feeling of the ski springing back at the end of a turn, you'll need to look elsewhere.

While easier to get airborne than we anticipated, the K2s did not...
While easier to get airborne than we anticipated, the K2s did not have a pronounced rebound out of the turn.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Bumps


The Mindbender 98Ti Alliance is a little wide and unwieldy in a mogul field, though its lightweight nature helps counteract this feature and makes it just okay for a run or two of bump skiing. We would not highly recommend this ski for anyone who likes to take a bump lap or two every day, though; it's just not nimble enough.

Slightly lumbering in the bumps, this ski is not the ideal mogul...
Slightly lumbering in the bumps, this ski is not the ideal mogul companion.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Value


This is a fair-to-middling ski for a fair price. Though it doesn't excel at anything in particular, the Mindbender is a decent performer in most metrics and could provide added value to someone looking for a women's all-mountain ski that can still handle a man's weight and power.

Conclusion


The K2 Mindbender 98Ti Alliance provides adequate quality in all our metrics but never really shines. It offers decent performance all over the mountain, especially when it comes to stability for larger women.

The main highlight for this ski is its stability at speed...
The main highlight for this ski is its stability at speed, particularly for those of us larger and stronger women.
Photo: Scott Rokis

Renee McCormack

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