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BNS Wax Recommendation: American Birkebeiner 2016

Categories: Announcements, Wax Reports | Author: SuperUser Account | Posted: 2/12/2016 | Views: 14920
Updated Friday Afternoon

The American Birkebeiner is the premier ski marathon event in the US.  This year’s edition will bring excellent conditions with plenty of snow coverage on the trail from Cable to Hayward.  The temperatures are forecast to be on the warm side with rain in the days leading up to the race. While many people are starting to panic about the rain and wet, we have lots of good options that will be reliable and fast. Stay tuned for our test results. Despite the weather, the racing should be enjoyable and unique compared to the cold temperatures of previous years.

BNS Wax Recommendation: American Birkebeiner

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Race Wax Service

Race Wax Service for the American Birkebeiner is sold out for 2016. Pre-registered customers are still welcome to drop their skis of at Riverbrook Bike & Ski in Hayward until 10am on Friday, February 19.

We will once again be providing our Race Wax Service at the Birkebeiner,
find details here.  All service will be performed at Riverbrook Bike & Ski. We have streamlined our process and are fully integrated with Riverbrook for ski drop off and pick up. Please drop off and pick up skis at the Riverbrook service desk.  

Race Wax Service Drop-off and Pick-up

Riverbrook Bike & Ski is located at 10538 Main Street, Hayward WI 54843.

Ski Drop-Off





until Wed, Feb 17


 Minneapolis, MN

BNS Midwest, 8929 Penn Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55431

Until Thursday,  Feb 18

 Hayward, WI

Riverbrook Service Desk

Thurs, Feb 18, 2015


 Hayward, WI

Riverbrook Service Desk

Friday, Feb 19, 2015


 Hayward, WI

Riverbrook Service Desk

****Please try to get your skis to us Thursday or before.****

Ski Pick Up

Ski Pick Up will be on Friday, February 19th as skis become finished. New this year, customers will be notified by text when their skis are ready. We plan to be finished with all skis by 6PM Friday. Skis are completed first come, first served, so please get your skis to us as early as possible to ensure you get your skis on time Friday.


Click on the links for the NOAA forecasts for Hayward and Cable.  The Cable forecast seems to be more representative of conditions on most of the trail.

Thursday Night
A 40 percent chance of rain, mainly after 4am. Cloudy, with a low around 34. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 15 mph.
Rain, possibly mixed with sleet, becoming all rain after noon. Some thunder is also possible. High near 41. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no sleet accumulation expected.
Friday Night
Patchy drizzle before 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 33. Breezy, with a west wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Mostly cloudy, with a high near 38. West wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.


See below for details and discussion.

Base Layer: Ski*Go LF Graphite 

Race Paraffin: Choose one: Ski*Go HFP16, Holmenkol Speedbase Wet, Ski*Go HF Orange, Holmenkol Matrix Yellow, Holmenkol Racing Mix Wet.

Fluoro Powder: Ski*Go C44/7, Ski*Go CM10, Ski*Go C22 or Holmenkol SpeedPowder Wet. 

Topcoat (choose one): Gallium Gigaspeed MaxFluor Super Wet, Gallium Gigaspeed Liquid, Ski*Go C22 Liquid, SkiGo C22 solid (block).

Structure: Finite Finish V03 with L04 on top or Holmenkol Cross Structure Tool with two bars.

Kick: Thin layer of binder Rode Chola klister or Guru Extreme Base Green ironed in, let cool before applying final layer. SkiGo HF Universal Klister OR Guru Red klister. No hard wax cover.

Test Results

Birkie Test Results and Wax Discussion Friday, Feb 18, 2/16/16 and 2/17/16

Friday Morning Testing

We tested at 8AM at the Fish Hatchery. Trail was groomed, saturated, grainy snow with a lot of wind debris. The trail was very solid and should hold up well on race day. We tested topcoats and structure as well as kick.
1. Gallium Gigaspeed MaxFluor Super Wet Liquid
2. Ski*Go C22 Liquid
3. Gallium Gigaspeed MaxFluor Liquid
4. Ski*Go C22 solid
5. Ski*Go CM 10 solid
6. Ski*Go CM 10 liquid
7. Skigo C44/7 liquid

The top 4 in our topcoat test were clearly superior to everything else. The skis felt amazingly fast. When warm liquids are running, the speed is startling, and those top 4 were very slippery. Gallium MaxFluor Liquid comes in a wipe that will do 2-3 pairs of cross country skis and is reasonably priced, for those looking for some liquid love without breaking the bank.

Finite V03/V05 - very close. V03 seemed to have higher top speed
Holmenkol Cross Structure tool with 2 rollers - close.
Blank - way out

Kick Wax Results:

1. Ski*Go HF Universal klister was outstanding!
2. Guru Red-bomber kick, fast.
3. Guru Extreme 39 klister- bomber kick, a tad slow. This might be good for someone who needs great kick.

Thursday Night Testing

Testing from 8-10PM on Thursday night was very enlightening as it reinforced what we learned earlier in the week and confirmed that some great waxes are running. We were also finally able to get a representative kick wax test which allows us to do a lot more than guess. We re-tested paraffins, powders and top coats at OO. The track was wet, glazy and icy and there was a section of trail that a snowmobile had driven over recently that gave us a representative track for the early waves as well as the chewed up snow to expect in later waves.

Thursday Night Paraffin Test Results

Our Paraffin test lined up with what we discovered earlier in the week, and showed the warmer waxes coming into play with the colder waxes falling out.
1. SkiGo HF P16
2. Holmenkol Speedbase Wet
3. SkiGo HF Orange
4. SkiGo HF Yellow
This test confirmed almost exactly what we had earlier in the week, so there were no surprises.

Thursday Night Powder Test Results

  • SkiGo C44/7
  • SkiGo CM10
  • Holmenkol Speedpowder Wet
  • Holmenkol Race Powder Wet
  • SkiGo C22

C44/7 is a great powder when conditions are right, and the conditions are now right for it. It really took off and separated itself from the rest of the field with the rain Thursday afternoon. Everything else we tested was grouped pretty close to each other, so all of them are good options for Saturday's race.

Thursday Night TopCoat Test Results

We tested liquids against our previous topcoat winner, C22 solid to see if the rain transformed the snow enough to make liquids come into play. They had not been faster than blocks earlier in the week. We will re-test a full topcoat test early Friday morning and update our recommendation for the final time.
1. SkiGo C22 Liquid
2. SkiGo C22 solid
3. SkiGo CM10 liquid

SkiGo C22 liquid is amazing stuff. When it gets wet and transformed, C22 liquid can run so fast it is almost silly. We've had such good skis when C22 is running that we are excited to see it take off again. It means a lot of people are going to be amazed by this wax.... Another liquid that may come into play is Gallium Gigaspeed MaxFluor liquid. We are approaching Gallium conditions and our test Friday morning will confirm what is running fastest.

Thursday Night Structure Test Results

The structure test results were the most interesting of the night. We ran three structures against a blank ski (S1.3 grind, which is a fine grind). Despite the snow being quite wet, the blank ski felt fastest when compared to the structure skis. Given that the track was icy from not being groomed all day, this makes some sense, but we still think it is a good idea to put hand structure in. There is not a big penalty to do it, and as Friday's rains add more moisture to the mix, structure will be necessary to keep the skis running fast.
1. Blank (no hand structure)
2. Finite Finish V05
3. Holmenkol Cross Structure Tool with both rollers.
4. Finite Finish V03

Thursday Night Kick Wax Test Results

The most interesting test of the night was for kick wax. We have been waiting for the rain to fall in order so we could get a test indicative of race conditions. This test allows us to make recommendations based on results, not just guesses. Luckily, our guesses were correct and what we've been recommending for the past few days is working on the snow.
The snow is wet enough that it will be straight klister. No hard waxes are working, and the snow is wet enough that there is no need to cover the klister with a hard wax.
1. SkiGo HF Universal Klister - Great glide, very solid kick. A clear winner
2. Guru Red Klister - Very solid kick, a little less glide than SkiGo HF Universal.
3. Guru Extreme 39 klister. Bomber kick, a little draggy compared to #1 & 2.
4. SkiGo HF Yellow/HF Violet klister mixed 60/40. Not enough kick.
5. Rode KM3/Start Oslo Violet mix - draggy, not good kick.
6. SkiGo HF Yellow Hard Wax - no kick at all.

Our kick test gave us confidence in our kick recommendation of SkiGo HF Universal for technically strong skiers and Guru Red or Guru Extreme 39 klisters for those wanting more kick or coming in later waves (after wave 5-6).

Wednesday Test Results

Testing on Wednesday, 2/17 produced similar results to the previous day's tests. The snow is clearly transforming and wetter, warmer waxes were starting to more clearly dominate the cold waxes that were still in the running yesterday. LF Graphite is still a clear choice for base layer, with Speedbase Wet, Ski*Go HFP16, Ski*Go HF Orange and Holmenkol Matrix Yellow leading the field for paraffins, with Ski*Go CM10, Ski*Go C22, Holmenkol Speedpowder Wet and Ski*Go C44/7 being the clear winners for powders. It is much colder Wednesday night and Thursday morning, so we will test again Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to make our final decisions since these will be more representative of race conditions. At this point, with the testing we've done and our experience with the waxes that are running, we are confident that for paraffins, Ski*Go HF Orange or HFP16, HF Yellow, or Holmenkol Speedbase Wet or Matrix Yellow are all great calls for race day. For powders, Ski*Go CM10, Ski*Go C22, Holmenkol Speedpowder Wet and Ski*Go C44/7 are all great choices for race day and will do the job well. 

BNS tested on Tuesday (2/16) on course at 00 between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. We ran a full test of paraffin waxes, powders and topcoats as well as a graphite underlayer speed test.  Today was the last best day to test on the Birkie course on conditions that will be similar to race day. The temperature during testing today fluctuated between 32F and 34F which is exactly the predicted temps on race morning. In summary, today's conditions were ideal testing for the 2016 Birkie and we are confident that the hard work put in today will yield results on Saturday.


There is a lot of misinformation about graphite under-layers and whether they are a necessary component for race day ski preparation. Ski*Go LF Graphite has consistently tested as the best of the graphite/moly/wolfram base layers, and we find that you want it as a first layer on your skis for hardening the bases, improving durability and helping to keep the ski clean. Infrequently, Graphite will slow the skis down, but we test this a lot and it is very rare that SkiGo LF Graphite is a liability. LF Graphite is especially important in marathon races with thousands of skiers on course and the snow is likely to be quite dirty. Today we tested skis with LF Graphite as a first layer (with HF on top) vs. skis with a LF Blue layer and HF on top. As is usually the case, it was clear that LF Graphite made the skis significantly faster. Since one of Graphite's main advantages is increased durability, the speed increase is a clear statement that you want Ski*Go LF Graphite as your first layer.


We tested the following HF Paraffin waxes: Ski*Go- HFP16, HF Blue, HF Orange, HF Yellow, P16 and Orange/Green Premix. Holmenkol- Speedbase Wet, Matrix Yellow, Speedbase Mid, Racing Mix Wet, and Racing Mix Mid. The results were very clear with our top five being:

1.       Ski*Go HFP16

2.       Holmenkol Speedbase Wet

3.       Ski*Go HF Blue

4.       Holmenkol Matrix Yellow

5.       Ski*Go HF Orange

Based on these results and the predicted weather, we feel strongly that skis will be fast with any of: HFP16, Speedbase Wet, Matrix Yellow and HF Orange. HF Blue ran well today, but as we get warmer temps and rain, it will fall out of the running. All of the others should only improve as the snow warms and transforms more.


We tested the following fluoro powders: Ski*Go- C22, C44/7, CM10, C22/C105 mix, C105. Holmenkol Race Powder Mid(Mid 08), Wet, Mid. Swix-FC7X Powder, FC8X Powder. Toko-Red 2.0 Powder, Yellow 2.0 Powder. These were clearly better than the HF skis which is not surprising. The top four were nearly in a dead heat but they shook out as such:

1.       Ski*Go C22

2.       Ski*Go C44/7

3.       Ski*Go CM10

4.       Ski*Go C22/C105 mix

Clearly the warmer powders designed for wet conditions are running, as this is when Ski*Go really excels. All of these will only improve as the snow transforms and rain falls. Any of these will be a great choice on race day.


We also were able to run an extensive topcoat test today. We tested: Ski*Go CM10, C22 block, C44/7 block, C105 block, CM10 fluid, C22 fluid, C44/7 fluid. Holmenkol- Wet block, Mid08 block, Mid block. Toko-HelX Red 2.0 liquid. Gallium-Giga Speed MaxFluor Liquid. This test showed that once again the topcoats made for wet snow were really fast, the results:

1.       Ski*Go CM10

2.       Ski*Go C22 block

3.       Holmenkol Wet block

4.       Ski*Go C44/7 block

5.       Ski*Go C105 block

All of our winners here will also only improve as the snow transforms and gets wetter except the 105 block. This is a really great sign for race day as we already have amazingly fast skis three days in advance on products we are confident will only improve as the conditions head towards the predicted weather. We will keep you updated throughout the week should anything change on both and our facebook pages.  You can visit our Midwest store in Bloomington or RiverBrook on Main St. in Hayward to pick up what you need for wax. If you want to leave the waxing to the pro’s then sign up for the BNS wax service and drop your skis off at Riverbrook! Best of luck to all competitors.


We were ahead of the game and were testing out on course yesterday when the temps were close to race time temps. This is a huge advantage because we have a great feel for what the race day conditions will be like especially as it warms and the snow transforms. We feel very strongly that our top three or four waxes in our tests are going to be money on race day. 


Many people are asking us about Hairies/Zeroes and other waxless skis. Hairies may be a good option, and waxless (either physical "fishscale" or skin skis) might be good for skiers in later waves, depending on how warm it gets. For people who do not have dedicated hairy skis/zeroes, we do not recommend preparing these with hairies. The shape of a ski's camber is very important in making hairies work, and there are a large number of variables that can make the hairy skis worthless. We don't think it is a good idea to count on hairies when they can't be tested and adjusted at race time. We think that in general, it is safer to go with wax or have a dedicated waxless ski. We do offer a zero prep service, but we do not recommend it for this situation, unless you have a dedicated pair of hairy skis that you are confident will kick well for you and you have a backup option if they do not work race morning.

Paraffin/Powder Discussion

Both HFP16 and Speedbase Wet will rock as conditions warm. They are both hard enough and with enough fluoro to withstand the inevitable dirt pickup of this course with all the road crossings. Matrix Yellow is one of the harder yellow HF waxes and thus we have faith in this also being a great call. For powders C22 and CM10 and C44/7 will continue to fly on the expected conditions. We have 100 percent confidence that your skis will be phenomenal if you follow this recommendation. 

Topcoat Discussion

The liquids are not in play yet and without the chance to test ahead of time after the rain it is best to steer clear of them. While C22 or CM10 liquid could end up being very good on race day liquids could also be a terrible liability. Only use liquid topcoats if you have a chance to test on the course and verify they are good. CM10 block/powder, C22 block, Wet block and 44/7 block are going to be amazing choices for this race. They were all so close in our on course testing and all will only get better after the rain. 

Skis/Structure Discussion

A high quality ski with a universal flex and a universal grind such as our S2.2 would be a good choice for the forecast.  Hand structure will probably need to be added. We have been having especially good results with the Holmenkol Cross Structure Tool this year in the Midwest.  This tool can be used with one or two rollers depending on temperature and snow type. Later waves will most likely use two rollers, and the early waves will probably use two as well. We will update our structure thoughts during the week. 

Kick Wax Discussion

Kick will be interesting. The early starters might possibly be able to get by with a hardwax binder and a hardwax cover, possibly Start Oslo Violet or SkiGo HF Red. It seems like it will definitely go to klister though. A Toko, Swix or Guru Binder klister ironed in will be appropriate. Let this freeze and then lightly cork before applying your race klister. Thin gs to have for race day: Ski*Go HF Universal klister, Guru Extreme 39 and 39 Hard, Rex Gold, Rode Multigrade and Rossa Special, Start Uni Wide and Swix Uni. 

note: BNS imports Holmenkol and SkiGo waxes, and also sells waxes from Swix, Toko, Rode, Solda, Rex, Guru, Innovax, Magnar and others. We search for the fastest waxes for our customers and our testing is professional, objective and transparent. We make our best effort to test what we think is the best from each brand.  However, given that we are testing more options from Holmenkol and SkiGo, there is a bias toward those brands.  With this full disclosure, you can assess the legitimacy of our testing yourself. Visit Swix and Toko for their official recommendations. If you have any questions please contact us.

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