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Parlor Kingfisher 105 Medium + Stiff Flex 2016-2017

Parlor Kingfisher 105 178cm Medium Flex
138-105-125 r=18.2m@178cm

Parlor Kingfisher 105 185cm Stiff Flex

140-105-126 r=18.1m@185cm

“Surfy When You Want It... Class-Leading Grip When You Need It."
"Dial-In The Personality With Flex and Length Options."
"Quickly Becomes The Go-To Ski In The Quiver For Fresh Snow"

Parlor Kingfisher 105 185cm

Parlor Kingfisher 105 178cm (left)
Parlor Kingfisher 105 185cm Custom BackCountry
(right - reviewed separately)

Manufacturer’s Description:

“The Kingfisher is a quick, responsive ski with more tip and tail rise than other birds in the Parlor flock. With its bigger rocker profile, the Kingfisher smooths out the bumps, crud, and slush and allows quick maneuverability in the trees. Coming back on piste, let the slight traditional camber take over and settle into long slalom or tight GS turns with confidence, even on the hard stuff. When it snows, the Kingfisher's wider platform and tip rocker lets it dance quick turns on the surface. If speed is your preference, just sit back and enjoy the float.

The Kingfisher is available in both 105 and 95 millimeter widths. We recommend the wider platform to anyone who prefers a wider-waisted ski, prioritizes softer snow skiing, or will use it as a backcountry ski. We recommend the narrower platform for better performance on groomers or harder snow.” - Website December 2016

Manufacturer Info:

Parlor builds each ski to the customer’s specifications. These are not off-the-shelf models.

Parlor Skis
175  Wlliam F. Mcclellan Hwy
East Boston, MA 02128
(617) 918-7308

Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):

$950 usd (2016)  ...depending on options selected
100% Satisfaction Money-Back Policy
(“We guarantee our fits 100%. If you are not satisfied with your skis, send them back.
We will rebuild them or send you a refund and ski them ourselves.”)

Usage Class:

All-Mountain / Big Mountain 3D snow bias

Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")

Medium Flex Version:

8-9 Class-leading grip on boilerplate for its rockered design and 105mm waist. No slip and lots of grip when you need it. We tuned them sharp tip to tail.

8+ for packed powder groomers with a really "sweet", energetic, fun feel to it. Crowd pleaser.

9+ for mixed conditions. Super friendly, fun and quick as you like with minimal deflection.  Bumps are super easy and fun. Not the least bit demanding, yet substantial underfoot.

9+ Medium flex for powder conditions up to high speed, then 8 for being a bit quick at higher speed at short lengths. Great surfable, slightly directional feel in powder.

Stiff Flex Version:

9 for Class-leading grip on boilerplate for its rockered design and 105mm waist. No slip and lots of grip when you need it. We tuned them sharp tip to tail.

8-9 for packed powder conditions since it's a bit sluggish until it comes alive at moderate speed, but rock-solid with higher speed limit than medium flex version.  105mm trench digger on demand.

9+ in mixed conditions for strong skiers. 8 for less athletic skiers due to stiffness and feedback. Strong crud-cutter...likes to be driven and has no deflection. Secure broadsword blade at speed.

8 for powder conditions below high speed (a bit balky), then 9 for higher-speed powder runs with great surfabilty, stability and good tracking personality.


The beauty of custom ski builders like Parlor is you can get completely different personalities from a specific design by altering the flex and length options to your liking.  This A-B comparison test was eye-opening since the the two Kingfishers showed two completely different handling behaviors with their different builds and lengths.  After some consideration of several days of riding these two skis in conditions ranging from boilerplate to shin-deep powder and everything in between, the best way to convey the differences to most skiers is to consider the "stiff" Kingfisher as a "pro" model of the medium flex version.

Soft Flex Version:

The 178cm, medium-flex Kingfisher was a bit short for some of our testers at higher speeds because it has signficant rocker up front and skis shorter than its measured length, but its personality was addictingly friendly and delivered really sweet turn shapes with little effort in all kinds of snow and terrain. "Balanced", "Fun" and "Friendly" were the words which kept coming to mind when describing the Kingfisher medium flex.  We kept thinking this was ski to make tons of skiers really, really happy if they want a rockered, all-terrain ski with a soft-snow bias but serious grip underfoot when needed.  Turn initiation was effortless, even at slow speeds in tight terrain, and it naturally fed itself into the rest of the arc through completion as if on auto-pilot.  Vibration contol was excellent, yet it delivered plenty of pop and zip when loaded and released.  Multiple turn shapes were always on-demand with nearly zero effort, as was scubbing sideways, smearing entry or exit moves and rolling on and off-edge. It was compliant in nearly every kind of snow and delivered a fun, energetic ride with surprising quickness and grip, yet surfed smoothly across mixed surfaces...prety much everything a skier wants.  We loved this ski...only wishing we had the 185cm version!

Stiff Flex Version:

The 185cm, stiff-flex Kingfisher upped the ante in both length and stiffness factors, and delivered a more hard-charging, serious ski that begged to be driven rather than ridden.  The 185cm length gave us the increased surface contact area we wanted at higher speeds, and lengthened the workable material fore and aft we relied on to smooth out chop and take on more pressure.  The longer, stiffer Kingfisher became more authoritative, about 15% more demanding, delivered about 20% more feedback in bumps and hard crud, produced a higher speed limit and about 30% stronger line-holding power.  The stiff flex is ideal for althetic, strong skiers who need crud-cutting muscle, or want a solid trench-digging tool at higher speeds and avoid skis that might fold under pressure.  Taking the medium flex and stiff flex Kingfishers through the same bump fields, the stiff flex model felt like it wanted to resist flexing into the bumps and preferred to bang the tops at speed rather than flow through them like the softer version.  The stiff flex changes the turn shape initiation feel from the "auto-pilot" personality of the medium-flex version to deliberate effort by the skier, and delivers an addicting increased feeling of security along the entire effective edge of the ski when on-edge and under pressure.  Power delivery is significantly stronger, as is the ability to handle really strong skier pressure throughout the chassis.  The harder you ski it, the more you like it. 

Technical Ski Data:

Aspen/Maple core
Maple sidewalls
3 Layers of Triaxial fiberglass
Medium flex
Stiff Flex

Bindings,  Boots, Wax & Tune Used:

Tyrolia AAAtack Alpine Demo Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Green Ice waxes, cold and warm
Tuned sharp tip to tail

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Excellent fit and finish. Smooth arc profile, no hinge points or abrupt deviations. Tips softer than the remaining flex of the ski. Torsionally solid with smooth rebound. Vivid, sharp graphic quality. Really nice textured topsheets. The Kingfishers feel substantial, perhaps slightly hefty, but not heavy.

Test Conditions:

Eastern corduroy, boilerplate, man-made dry packed powder, shin-deep try powder, Spring-like corn and refrozen man-made in places. Short, shallow bumps. Trees and open terrain.

Hardpack and Boilerplate:

Both the medium and stiff flex Parlor Kingfishers had an unusually good grip on hard surfaces for their rockered, 105mm-waist design.  The camber underfoot helps, but we're convinced it's the construction materials and solid wood sidewalls creating the class-leading hard snow performance.  The guys at Parlor grew up skiing in the East and racing NCAA levels and above throughout North America, and all their skis have a hard snow prowess that's a cut above most skis in the same dimensional class from other companies.  Vibration control is very good, with excellent response to edging adjustments and weight changes along the chassis on hard surfaces, with excellent power at the end of the turn.  Edge feel is secure and inspires confidence. Their rockered forebody makes them feel a bit shorter than their measured length, but the low-rise tail gives you a solid, reliable platform to hold a line across hardpack.

Mixed Conditions:

The Kingfishers really shine in mixed surface conditions, or when you have powder in the morning and cut-up chop mid-day leading to tracked-out surfaces in the afternoon.  Parlor got the proportions right on the money for a somewhat surfy all-terrain ski with definite directional abilities and a strong carve potential.  The rockered forebody lets you skim up and over materials without effort, leading to a rock-solid midbody and tail to hold and cut through mixed suface conditions.  The easy-going medium flex version is an all-day recreational ride with plenty of spunk and fun, while the beefed-up stiff flex version is more suited for higher-speed antics and athletic sprints to rip through terain with gusto.  The combination of rockered forebody, cambered midsection and mild, low-rise tail holding up the sidecut geometry works really, really well and feels like it's been refined to feel exactly as intended.  These were some of the most rewarding 105-class mixed-surface skis we have skied in a long time.

Bumps and Powder:

The medium flex Kingfishers were a joy to boogie through bumpy terrain with a compliant, quick, but never flappy feel, while the stiff versions felt a little balky at slow speeds and gave more resistance feedback to the pilot, yet became rock-solid and energetic if you skimmed the tops and banged straight across the bumps.  The stiff flex option definitely required more effort in bumps, so anyone who wants a ski this size for bumpy terrain should definitely demo it first to make sure the stiff option is really what you want.  Agility in the medium-flex version was excellent and fun.  The stiff version was a little less agile, but a stronger platform for higher speeds.  The medium flex Kingfisher loved snaking through the bumps, while the stiff version prefered banging straight through the same terrain.

Powder performance of both Kingfishers was really fun, although we never got into any snow above knee depth during our testing.  The shaping and rocker profiles made both versions surfy up front, with a nice, semi-directional feel in the midbody and tail.  You could smear them through the powder to scrub speed or change direction with little effort, although the stiff flex version wanted a bit more speed in 3D snow to get its responsive behaviors into gear.  The Kingfishers have a powder bias leaning toward a slightly directional personality rather than pure surf-and-smeary style, which makes them good for those powder days when you will find the powder gets cut up and skied-out as you go through the day.  We found the Kingfishers liked the pilot to ski them well-centered, and had a zero-learning curve with a huge fun factor.  Both models excelled at nibbling through the trees.  The medium flex version felt a bit over-quick in powder at higher speeds, but we concluded this was due to the 178cm length being a bit short for our testers who prefered the surface area of the 185cm length for powder cruising.  We think a medium-flex 185 Kingfisher might be a huge crowdpleaser for powder hounds happy with a 105mm waisted ski.

Analogies: ("This ski is like...")

Medium Flex Version:

A favorite, comfort food meal you want to have over and over every time you go out to eat.  Super satisfying and always produces a grin.  Long-haul happy place rather than flash-in-the-pan excitement event.

Stiff Flex Version:

A sports-buddy who pushes you just a little more than you would push yourself if you were all alone.  An athletic partner you'll always have a great time with and high-five at the end of the day when you're a little bit worn out, but stoked.

Things We Would Change About This Ski:

Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":

The Parlor Kingfishers are a great example of a really, really versatile all-mountain rockered design with class-leading hardpack grip for a 105mm-waisted ski.  Super effective and super fun to ski bell-to-bell in all kinds of snow.

Advice To People Considering This Ski:

Definitely demo a medium flex and stiff flex version to find out what you really want a ski to feel like underfoot, and don't be shy about bumping up a size since they ski a bit shorter than their measured length.  Think carefully about the graphics you want since Parlor has some excellent printing capabilities and your skis could look amazing with a little art-searching effort.

Who and What Are These Good For?

The medium flex version is ideal for nearly everyone who wants a slightly surfy, but directionally secure all-mountain 105mm-waisted ski for lots of conditions with a soft-snow bias but exceptional packed snow grip when needed.

The stif-flex version is for stronger, heavier, athletic skiers who want a powerful platform for higher-speed terrain adventures where edge security and stability are more important than easy-handling and comfort.




Parlor KingFisher 105 (Left)
Parlor Backcountry Custom (right)

Parlor Kingfisher Camber

Parlor Kingfisher Sidewall Finish

Parlor Kingfisher Tips

Parlor Kingfisher Tails

Parlor Kingfisher Camber-Tip Rocker Profile


By: e.edelstein  Posted: Saturday, March 18, 2017 8:16:49 AM
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