Awesome! Thank you very much for the reply! Would you say that one holds an edge better than the other? How about in moguls? (just starting to do some, and I know it will be tricky with either)
Is the speed difference significant or marginal? I'm thinking since I'll probably be looking at a 171 ish I'll be getting nice speed one way or the other...not to mention mass does lend itself towards ridiculous speed in its own right
Do you think I could ride something shorter? Aside from being easier to turn- what other changes would I notice between a 166 and a 171?
loved the analogies btw
The Zephyr definitely holds an edge better than my Titan, no question. There is a caveat to that assessment however: My Zephyr is longer and therefore has a longer effective edge, and will by definition, hold better than a shorter board of the same construction.
The only way to really test out edge holding in a controlled manner would be to have the same person ride one of each of the same length with the same boots/bindings on the same hill... I'm not in a position to do that. However, if I were to make a judgement call, I'd say the Zephyr held the better edge in any conditions. If you want to go a particular direction, as long as you've got the leg strength to turn the board and the momentum to go the distance, the Zephyr will hold the edge to get you where you want to go, period.
As for moguls, it depends on what you mean by moguls and how you're hitting them. Do you mean the large bumps that the skiers build up on a slope over the course of a day (and then curse you for heelsiding them flat), or do you mean proper resort-constructed moguls? Do you want to just kill the mogul or have some fun on it?
The speed difference seems marginal, although I've never actually clocked myself or had anyone watch me, so it's all based on perception. I'm constantly amazed at how the Titan just builds up speed when you so much as sneeze with your face turned uphill. The Titan just wants to go fast, really fast. I don't get that feeling with the Zephyr, but the Zephyr has more mass, so it could all boil down to inertia: If you have two boards of equal performance but different mass, the heavier one will take longer to get up to speed even though they would both have very close terminal velocities (Newton's 1st law of motion).
The biggest performance change you'd notice between a 166 and a 171, aside from the agility, is that the 171 would hold an edge better during a carve b/c it's got a longer effective edge. I'm not sure that the added mass of a 171 would be enough to make a difference when smashing moguls, but I've never been there. I personally prefer a board that's a bit shorter (if you go by strict height:length proportion rules, 168 would be my board length) for the added agility, even though I don't hit the park. If you're 290 and hitting the black diamonds, it doesn't sound like leg strength is even remotely an issue for you, so you might be able to just bully a longer board into doing what you want. It's a trade-off, shorter is easier to turn and more responsive, but the longer will let you lay down some truly epic S carves. I've never had trouble carving on my Zephyr 166 in all but the shittiest conditions, but I'm also 90 pounds less.
As for needing a longer board just b/c of the weight: We're talking NS and Venture here, they'll both take your punishment in stride. You could ride a NS 128cm kid's board and it'll smile back up at you. It's the float-factor you'll need to consider - a shorter board will put a larger amount of lbs/inch^2 on the snow and you'll tend to sink just a little bit further down. Is the difference enough to warrant a longer board? I dunno, if you board in hip-deep pow all the time, it becomes important to keep that nose up. If you board on East Coast ice, then you really won't sink anyway.
I hope I've helped. Feed me more info on your mogul intentions and I'll see if I can help more.