weight: 2515 grams per ski
tipspacer: white ABS plastic
inserts: 9mm stainless steel with 1/4-20 threads for G3
binding pattern; one set located at chord center and the other located 3cm
forward chord center
width of wood core strips: 3/4 inch
epoxy: Duratec 80LM-2A resin, 80LM-2B hardener
bladder pressure: 35psi
duration of pressing: 12 hours
other: Titanal strips (1.0mm x 50mm x 1600mm) laminated above and
below wood core
The graphics of the Tao were inspired by my childhood hero, Bruce Lee.
You're probably asking "Why the name Tao"? Aside from Bruce Lee's many
accomplishments in the film industry and his contribution to martial arts, he
was also the author of "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do".
The book was mainly written to put his newly developed fighting
style into words. But it also contains a lot of philosophical
thoughts that can be applied to other interests outside of martial arts
- for example skiing. It's for this reason that I keep reading this
book and why I value it so much. I am by no means a martial artist and I
have no desire to become the next Jackie Chan, nonetheless, Bruce Lee still
remains a idol to me not because of his fighting skills but because of his
accomplishments and his "fight the authority" attitude.
This is what inspired the ski design.
Enough of that. The Tao's graphics are by far the
most involved images I've done for a ski up to this point. My
previous graphics were created using simple cut-outs but I decided to put some
more creativity and effort into this one. All of the images were
made using a crude screen printing method that I'd been experimenting with (an
article discussing this method will be up soon). By using my homemade
screens along with some ordinary fabric paint, the images were screen printed
onto duck cloth, which is similar to canvas. The duck cloth with all the
images was then laminated underneath the clear P-Tex topsheet layer to create
the ski's graphic that you see. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the left ski
actually has dark grey characters that run down the entire length of the ski
making it look like a Chinese scroll.
Kam S. Leang (Little Kam)
June 16, 2005
DRAWING FILE: download the *.dxf file for
the Tao (this file can only be viewed in a CAD program and will appear as a
big mess if opened in Adobe Illustrator or anything else)
The Tao is what I would consider my first real ski. This is because
all of the materials in the ski are what you could find in a ski made by the
industry. My previous skis had epoxy sidewalls, which did not
withstand the abuses of skiing. Trying to avoid the epoxy method I used
UHMWPE, or P-Tex, for the sidewalls. This same type of sidewall
construction can be seen on many skis made by K2, Rossignol, Armada, etc. I
decided to put the extra time into making the most durable sidewalls I could
make because I intend to use these skis primarily for park riding.
Plus I'm pretty tough on my skis as my friends can confirm with my constant tree
bonking, asphalt walking, and high speed rag-dolling.
The Tao also features strips of Titanal running down the length
of the core. I have to say many thanks to Michael from Titanal Sports for
his help. Without the generosity of Titanal Sports the use of this alloy
would have been extremely difficult and probably too expensive for my budget.
Titanal strips were laminated directly below and above the wood core during
layup. Most of the skis on the market today utilize Titanal
somewhere in their construction and I think this is the extra kick that my
previous skis were missing. I'm not exactly sure how the Titanal will
affect the ride of the skis but they seem to add a lot of weight.
These skis are incredibly heavy! However, the extra weight may also have
resulted from the use of duck cloth for
the topsheet graphics. Next time I'll have to go with a lighter fabric,
such as flannel or cotton, for
From the pictures you'll notice that the skis almost have a
Pocket Rocket "Space Frame" look to them. The raised ridge running down
the ski is actually the indentation made from the Titanal strip. I didn't
think that it would be so noticeable. Perhaps in the future I'll have to
router some space in the core for the metal strip. Also, the weird look of the tip and
tail areas resulted from the tipspacer material (2mm thick) being thinner than
the wood core at this point (3mm thick). I wanted thicker tip and tail
areas so that they wouldn't deflect as much while skiing. My other skis'
tips seemed a little flimsy and got knocked around a little bit in the crud. I'll have to get
thicker tipspacer material next time to make the tips and tails look nicer.
One problem that I noticed immediately was the presence of tiny air bubbles
underneath the topsheet. I can't seem to pinpoint the exact reason for
this but I think it may a combination of the duck cloth's ability to absorb
epoxy and the fact that the epoxy was over 8 months old. When mixing up
the epoxy it didn't seem to have the same consistency as it had before.
Hopefully the air pockets won't prove to be a problem and the ski stays
Aside from the above notes, the other aspects of construction were identical to those found
in skis I've previously made (Ahmos,
The Shit, etc.).
July 12-13, 2005: San Gorgonio Mountain, CA by Kam S. Leang With
July temps hovering around the mid 90's in Southern California, skiing was
the farthest thing from my mind. Usually, summer is the time for the gears,
pedals, and single track. However, with the huge snowfall this year
there was still plenty of snow (for a core skier anyway) to be found high in the San Bernardino Mountains
(just outside of Big Bear ski resort).
Cousin Kam (Big Kam) came down from Seattle and persuaded me to
accompany him on what he calls "a short trip" to San Gorgonio Mt. - Southern California's
tallest peak (11,499 ft.). After a grueling day of hiking
we finally reached the Dry Lake. Here we set up camp
and got a good view of what the next day of skiing would be like.
The next morning we got an early start. Just before early noon we gained
the summit only to find suncups -- suncups everywhere and HUGE! I've never
seen snow like this in my life and it was a little depressing to hike so far to
think that we'd have to ski through this stuff. We needed special skis, it
But luckily with Big Kam's expertise in snow and backcountry experience, we made
plans to converge on a more favorable aspect of the neighboring Jepson Peak.
But before we made the traverse, Big Kam insisted on dropping into the northeast
side of San G. for a short run. He did just that and by the way he was skiing the snow
looked like it required "dodge moves" to avoid the cups.
But it was definitely encouraging to see him link some nice turns, especially in
July. And it gave me thirty desperately needed minutes to sleep while he
climbed back up to make the traverse to Jepson.
After another hour of hiking we reached a nice entrance to the north side of Jepson Peak.
There was concern about wet slides as the snow was heating up fast, but we found
a nice line. I dropped in first while cousin Kam fired away with his
camera. The upper section was relatively free of suncups and the 40-45 degree slope was
perfect for getting some nice turns.
I have to admit that the snow as wet and fast enough that a fall could have been
ugly. When Big Kam dropped in, he fired off a dozen nice turns, then
suddenly washed his tails and went for a long and fast slide over some exposed
rocks in the middle of the slope. He managed to stop before the ugliness. It was definitely scary watching him go down out of
sight and hearing loud scraping of skis against rocks and some undecipherable
yelling. Luckily, he came out unscathed and all was fine except
for a damaged ski -- the fall delaminated the ABS topsheet. Too bad for the Ahma BC's.
After calming our nerves, we ate a quick lunch at the snow's end, and then hauled ourselves down to the trailhead to finish
off the trip. Overall the trip was really fun. It's the first
backcountry tour I've taken and I'm glad to have been able to share it with my
cousin. However, there were times when I would've given an arm for
a chairlift. But the pain and suffering was worth it. Even if hiking 20 miles or
so with a 40+ lb. pack did give me permanent "gorilla steeze". I'm sure Tanner would be proud.
About the skis.
The Taos really surprised me. With their heaviness and
stiffness I thought the skis would take a lot of muscling to move them around.
I was afraid that the skis would have a hinged feel to them, something I don't
prefer. However, my first turns on Jepson were much smoother
than expected -- the skis required average effort to maneuver them. I really don't
know what to attribute this to but I'm guessing it's the new flex pattern of the
wood core. With the Tao's core I tried to shorten the center plateau
section as much as possible. This section was profiled only long enough to
clear my Black Diamond O2 telemark toe risers. I think this may have
allowed for a "rounder" flex, thus a smoother feel in terms of turning.
This is all speculation, but I like it.
I noticed right away was the amount of pop. The skis
seemed to jump from turn to turn making them really lively. Could it
be the Titanal? With the pop, they will do well for in-bound
riding, particularly in the park.
And with the lifts I won't have to worry too much about the extra weight but I
still plan on building a lighter version (using carbon fiber) for backcountry excursions. I can't wait to ride these skis
next season. Just a few more months to go...