REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Parlor Warbird (2019-2020)
175 William F. McClellan Hwy
East Boston, MA 02128 USA
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$975 usd stock build w/o customization
$1,275 custom graphics
Frontside recreational race carver
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9+ Hardpack and packed powder frontside groomed surfaces
7 Mixed surfaces and bumpy terrain
Not recommended for powder conditions (but we honestly tried)
"Parlor began among three friends in an abandoned funeral parlor in Cambridge, MA. Over years and many late nights honing the science and art of ski building, fueled by desire, beverages, and the most delicious pizza in all of Boston, Parlor Skis was born. After designing and building three models considered worthy by three dried-up ski racers, we sold an initial run of 25 custom pairs and never looked back. We are now the largest ski manufacturer in New England, and proud to be among a growing industry of ski builders and artisans across New England and the United States.
Parlor co-founders Mark Wallace, Pete Endres and Jason Epstein grew up in New England cutting our teeth in the youth race leagues, and later honing our skills through academy, collegiate and professional circuits. We know New England Skiing and it's our home. Whether we're laying arcs in the boiler plate of northern Maine, or taking a trip to the white room in a gully in Vermont, there is no where we are happier, or feel more free.
Parlor was founded on shared passion for skiing, New England, and designing and building great products. Our goal is to share this passion with as many people as we can.
We believe strongly in the New England tradition of hard work and making things the right way, with your hands. We are proud to make each pair of skis to order in our East Boston factory."
- Website 2019
"If you love to carve and the cold and ice don't keep you inside: This. Is. Your. Ski.
"Project Warbird" has been in the works at the Parlor shop for a long time. We've spent countless hours in Autocad and several seasons on the slopes looking for the exact balance of dampness, snap and stability to answer the question—When is Parlor going to build a race-style ski? The answer is now we do. And you are going to love the way this ski handles.
Inspired for the frontside and hard pack groomed terrain in New England, the Warbird includes Titanal in the build and has a 16m turning radius and narrow waist of 78mm under foot, giving the ski race car-like handling and stability to match. Customized to your exact specifications, it will get you making those quick turns and remind you why having a carving ski in the quiver is so much fun."
- Website - 2019
Technical Ski Data:
Bindings and Boots Used:
Tyrolia AAATack 13 adjustable bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots
Atomic Hawks Ultra boots
The 3 pairs of Parlor Warbirds (164cm, 171cm and 185cm) we tested showed why Parlor is fiercely proud of its construction quality and finish. These were pulled from their on-snow demo tour trailer for a couple weeks when there was a gap in the schedule, so they had some mileage on them and showed how they hold up under real-world abuse. The folks at Parlor have Ski-The-East blood running through their veins, so pristine base grinds and proper edge bevel settings and finishes were clearly evident on our test skis. Textured topsheet with deep, vibrant graphics. Superb fit-and-finish along the entire ski and its components. Really handsome maple hardwood sidewalls, sealed and nicely mated to every mating surface. Moderately strong hand flex feel wthout feeling stiff, torsionally strong, damp and energetic rebound. These feel like a high quality technical carving ski without feeling like a heavy race-ski. Full camber...maybe a tiny bit of early rise in the tip...but not significant. Really nice looking ski.
Eastern corduroy, packed powder and hardpack groomers & boilerplate.
The Parlor Warbirds represent how serious the regional, independent ski builders can be about delivering kick-ass frontside skis in addition to freeride and powder skis. The Warbirds are high-performance, well-refined, dead-serious hardpack etching tools for carving enthusiasts or those who regularly haunt firm, noisy snow surfaces. These are technical race-carvers engineered to execute high-pressure, high-edge-angle turns on hard surfaces with deft precision, accuracy, security and acceleration. Quick edge-to-edge with rock-solid line holding prowess and lots of energy if you load them deep into a flex and release them. Fast, tight sports cars for your feet.
Technical carving specialists, hardpack instructors and ex-racers will immediately understand the Parlor Warbirds in their native habitat and find they can pressure these skis intensely at speed without any insecurity or fear of washing out or over-skiiing the design and build components beyond their limits. The Parlor Warbirds easily meet and often exceed the performance delivered by the race-carver models sold by the "big 10" brands. The more effort you put in, the more you get out of the Warbirds. Ideally suited for experts and hardpack enthusiasts, although advancing intermediates will appreciate and grow into the secure grip and performance the Warbirds deliver.
The feel and personality of the Warbirds are unique in the race-carver category, and that's the big appeal since you can feel the way the designers at Parlor wanted these skis to behave. Add the ability to customize your pair, and Parlors guarantee of "If you don't like them, we take them back, give you your money back and go ski on them ourselves!"....and you have a winner. Ask your local Rossignol, Fischer, Elan, Head, Dynastar...etc. dealer if they will do the same for you....you can guess the answer....
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
Hardpack is where the Warbirds belong. They are dedicated firm snow carving tools, and they do it really, really well because their Eastern-bred designers and testers used years of national-level racing circuit expertise and enthusiasm to build the skis they wanted to use when cranking arcs into the fast and furious hardpack surfaces around New England USA. The Warbirds are not race skis, but race-carvers.....somewhat more forgiving, lighter-weight and less demanding than full-on FIS spec race skis, but maintain a vicious grip on hard snow with excellent accuracy, energy and security underfoot. Think of them as "cheater" race skis for civilians. Warbirds would be one of our first choices for a beer-league race ski if we didn't have access to full-on race skis or non-FIS-spec race carvers.
We tested the 164cm, 171cm and 185cm versions of the Parlor Warbirds, and found they have profound personality differences. First, we'll cover the similarities. The Warbird chassis componentry is based on a hardwood core and hardwood sidewalls, so the feel and response is firm and direct. The Warbirds will give you highly detailed feedback about the surface density and texture underfoot, yet dampen vibrations nicely so you don't feel like you're riding a high-tension ceramic plate over the snow surface. This highly detailed surface feedback translates into an ability to accurately apply the right amount of pressure and edge angle to the job underfoot as it happens along the trajectory of your turn. Technical carving enthusiasts will immediately love the way you can feel the surface and give the Warbirds the pressure and angle they need to execute the turn as needed. Both lengths we tested had this same behavior. Both skis also held accurate turn shapes under low and high pressure situations...no need to maintain monster-like pressure underfoot to hold a line....set your edge and ride it smoothly and securely. Both lengths also allow you to change radius mid-turn with only small adjustments to edge angles and pressures, which is nice. Both lengths also resisted slarvy scrubbing mid-turn. If you release the pressure mid-turn, you don't get a scrubbing drift. You get a ski that will straighten itself out a bit...which is what you want in a race carver. The short radius and cambered design wants to be on-edge or running straight. Drifting is not natural in this design. Grippy accuracy is.
The differences between the personalities of the 164cm, 171cm and 185cm versions of the Warbirds were fascinating. The 164 & 171 felt like street fighters and more slalom-like than the 185...but not just because of the shorter length. The 164cm & 171cm are fast, quick, punchy and kept you busy. The 185 felt like a GS cheater, loving long arcs with a radius feeling much bigger than the specs would indicate. No real speed limit to the 185...faster the better. The 164 & 171 felt punchy, while the 185 felt silky. The Warbird maintains the same geometry ratios and camber profiles in the various lengths...but the personalities vary among the lengths, despite the proportional similarities. Both lengths displayed excellent stability and composure on hardpack over the entire speed range, which is really nice.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The 78mm waist delivers a narrow floatation surface for mixed snow conditions, but the Warbird has a 125mm shovel which allows some initial entry into softer snow material without diving and feeling trapped, but in the end, you have a dedicated carving ski in mixed conditions, so you have to treat it accordingly. If the fresh snow was less than 4 inches..the Warbrids were a blast if you like to power across mixed snow with a carving ski. The handling was always predictable, but super-directional as you might expect. There's no surfing...only cutting through variable snow with the Warbirds. The relatively stiff and torsionally strong structure of the Warbird means you cut a line, change direction and do it again....there's no smear or drift across the surface. Directional integrity is rock-solid, but not easy to alter en-route. Deflection is essentially zero, but you feel everything under the surface...which can fel a bit busy at times at higher speeds...if that makes sense. Essentially, you have a carving ski which can handle mixed conditions, but feels a bit out of its element and takes too much effort compared to more all-mountain designs such as the Parlor Cardinal 90 in these conditions. Generally stick to the piste with the Warbirds, but don't feel like you have to avoid mixed snow conditions.
We honestly tried the Warbirds in powder, and they felt...well...like carving skis in powder. 'Nuff said. These are specialty tools for hard surfaces.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The Parlor Warbird likes a bit of speed and a bit of pressure to get it to fully engage. If you ski it lazy and don't really commit some input to the start of the turn, the Warbirds can feel a bit reluctant. If you put just a bit of athletic oomph into the start of your turn like you mean it...they come alive and want more. Once you get the edge and flex engaged, the Warbirds reward your effort with a secure and nearly hungry grippy feel that wants more angle, more pressure, more speed...until you find your apex...where you can stay centered and switch over to a new edge in a continuous motion...OR....load the tails a bit and release them into a new turn...and spring your way into the new turn to finish. The Warbird in 164cm & 171cm loved a punchy approach in a slalom-like fashion for best athletic results, while the 185 really rewarded a more GS-like turn progression of roll-it-over, apply pressure along the entire length at increasing speed and power...then finish the turn with some power along the tail while starting the new turn motion with a mirror-image of roll-pressure-ride-release like the previous turn...more fluid and continuous. Both lengths of the Warbirds feel like their shapes have been refined to deliver a deliberate turn response and set of handling traits...but with different personalities...short length is rowdy...longer length is smooooooth.... The shorter length Warbird finishes its turns with a "bang", while the longer length Warbird finishes with a "voooommmm." Think SL+ and GS and you'll get it.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
We played with boot positions on the test skis both fore and aft of the recommended line, and found we ended up back on the standard boot center mark after most runs.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
The 164cm & 171cm Warbird felt like a street fighter. Rowdy and willing to go a few rounds with enthusiasm. The 185cm Warbird felt like a TGV high-speed train with a few of the cars removed to make it lighter and more responsive...smooth, smooth, smooth at speed, and quiet as the night.
Notable Tester Comments:
"Gentlemen start your engines!"
Parlor has crafted the Warbirds to deliver to their piste pilot horsepower and aircraft precision to execute clean carves with quiet accuracy.
When I tested the Warbirds in a 171 at Killington on a windswept day of hard packed and icy conditions, the ski wanted to carry out their mission like high octane Thunderbird rides. The maple that runs the length of the edges has solid integrity which executes clean and quiet arcs with precision. They have the true heart of a giant slalom ski that is drawn to the chase of ever striving to push the limits on their target autobahn slopes. A ski for Tony Stark's quiver. Warbird's are committed to their pilot; they execute on cue, snap to attention at the end of turn, are eager to dive into each ensuing turn, and do so with a need-for-speed attitude. While ripping turns down Killington's "Cruise Control" I found another booster rocket gear! Fun! Fast! They operate well in tandem and also have great independent suspension that will get you back on track as long as you don't spend too much time in the back seat. The damp hovercraft consistency of base with the snow keeps me close to the action.
These skis are reinforced with titanium and fully suited for iron man execution on boiler plate, however not so geared for special opts when off-the-beaten path. They have more of that front side personality which occasionally ventures to the backside. This is not a one-quiver ski, but a great ski for hard cores who seek hard pack.
This length of ski delivers everything the 171 has and it does so with more dexterity. When thinking on the best way to describe the Parlor in a 164 one word came to mind-"Spitfire!" These "spitfire" crafts love to dart in and out of turns and like to play a cat and mouse game with the contours of the hill chasing fun down the slopes. This ski has a big sweet spot which runs the length of the ski which allowed me to taper off the turn and just cruise, or load it up and accelerate into the next succession of turns on the more aggressive steep pitches. This ski works for all level of skier from the weekend warrior to the boutique daredevil. Because they hold well on steep ice and hard snow conditions, they promote confidence in their rider to go more places on the piste and in their skiing. I took the 164 to my Tuesday night race league to see how they stacked up against my seasoned dyed-in-the-wool race skis--they were only 1-1.5 seconds of the pace. Warbirds are quintessential carvers and very first beginnings of what could be crafted into a future race ski.
(Noel Lyons has been on the U.S. Ski Team 1976-1981, been an NCAA All-American, won a World Extreme championship, a U.S. Freeskiing Open skiercross, and a 24 Hours of Aspen race as well as being a ski tester for Ski Magazine.)
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
The Parlor Warbid is a ski for high-performance addicts who haunt the hardpack. Really impressive, really well made, really great bunch of people making this ski who love to please their customers.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Hardpack groomer carving addicts will love the Warbird. Ex racers, technical carving enthusiasts and speed demons will get giddy. Off-piste all-mountain skiers will want a different ski. This is a specialty tool. Beginners will find the Warbird a bit brusk and unfriendly until they get up to advanced intermediate level, or have a soft pair crafted for them in this geometry.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Definltely demo the different lengths to find the one that matches your speed zone. The different lengths really do have different personalities....they are not just shorter or longer lengths of the same ski.
None found as of March 2019.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
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