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How do you evaluate ski binding performance?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

What do you do to separate the marketing behind the binding from the technology in a ski binding? How do you know that the binding is doing what they say it does?

 

What do you value in a ski binding? Is it retention, is it joint/bone safety, is it durability, is it value, is it ski performance characteristics? How do you quantify these in any way that isn't either 'seat of the pants' or experiential?

 

Should we compile a list of binding meme's that we all 'know' but in reality... are false?

post #2 of 21

OK, I'll bite.

 

Depends on who you are.  I am a shop owner/operator.  I mechanically test hundreds of bindings a year, so I have a good feel for individual binding functionality, both new and after seasons of use.  I also deal with lots of different types of skiers, some who value retention over everything else, some who want maximum safety, and many who just want something that "works" and is durable.  I find it very important to qualify my customers and their individual needs and desires.  You certainly don't want to put an older or beginner/intermediate skier on retention oriented bindings and the opposite is true for an aggressive skier.  

 

Every binding manufacturer makes a product that will pass the mechanical function test, but it is obvious that the industry's testing procedure has many limitations and only tells a small part of the story.  In general, here are my impressions, for whatever it's worth:

 

Ranking for Retention (from most retention oriented to least)

   Rossignol (Look) FKS

   Rossignol/Look Axial2

   Marker Jester/Griffin

   Salomon Driver

   Tyrolia Race Diagonal

   Tyrolia Full Diagonal

   Marker Squire/ Tour

   Salomon Quad

   Marker Glide/eMotion

   Marker Biometric/ Twin Cam

 

Then pretty much flip the order for most release oriented.   Doesn't mean that any of these are particularly "good" or "bad", just pick the one that fits your personal release/retention preferences.   There is a lot of discussion about elastic travel, lateral stiffness, mounting base width, ramp angle and effect on ski flex.  For 95%+ of skiers, there will be little noticable difference, and for the most part it is marketing hokum.  The one factor that is important to skiers of all levels is stand height.  The current conventional thinking is that more height is preferable for carving and precision on groomed/hard snow and less stand height is better for off-piste and freestyle skiing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                Personally, I don't like the more retention oriented bindings, and avoid skiing with them as much as possible.  I am a big guy (230#) and ski fast and aggressively, my binding preference is the Marker Biometric/Twin Cam models, followed closely by the Tyrolia Race Diagonal models.  These are, by far, the most consistent on the test bench, both new and used and have worked well for me and my customers for years.   The Marker Twin Cam/Biometric models have a bad name (especially here and on TGR) as prone to pre-release, I think that this is overblown and BS, but each to his own.  I also am not a fan of the current trend of manufacturers making bindings that are cheaper to produce at the expense of safety/performance features and long term durability.   

post #3 of 21

Really interesting reply. As a total non-industry outsider who's only claim is that I've used every binding on your list except the Squire/Tour (and a bunch you don't list), I'd add that the kind of terrain you favor is a big piece of this. If I'm doing my sad imitation of racing, I like FKS's because I really don't want to lose a ski when I make a (frequent) mistake. Ditto for wider skis intended for blasting crud out in the open. If I'm in the woods, I like the Tyrolia Full Diagonal because it'll release more directions, more predictably, than anything else out there and falls in the trees tend to be at weird angles. 

post #4 of 21

I think anyone who skis aggresively can tell you that the Marker Biometrics toes do prerelease.

 

For me its

 

Lateral stiffness

durability

and retention

 

The nice thing about high retention binding is I can get away with running a lower DIN and have almost no fear of prerelease.

post #5 of 21
I've never pre released on my griffons/barons/dukes, Only when ive needed to release. Ya know that pressure in the leg just before the binding pops off. Maybe I'm not skiing as hard as I thought I did. I'm 185lbs with DIN@9.
post #6 of 21

Ok, I'll add another observation to the mix.  I've found that the Marker Giffon's that I've skied have been really sensitive to extra snow under the heal when you get back into them.  If there is a little buildup on your boot sole they will click but not fully cam over and then eject you when you least expect it.  So, I'm more diligent now about knocking all the snow off my boots before stepping in and all works well.  But can be a pain none the less.  And lastly, of the bindings I've owned/used, I must say that the Marker bio's are the only ones that I can say definitely pre-released.  I've had it happen on multiple occasions and don't/won't own any more as a result.   Right now my favorites are the Tyrolias and Looks.  Where would the Px Looks fit into the equation? 

 

LT

post #7 of 21

I have come to prefer a laterally stiff binding with a lot of elasticity that allows me to ski it at a lower DIN. An a N on a DIN chart with a 9.5 (295mm or 300mm shells) I like that i can ski a FKS 155 at 9 (and currently at 7.5 on groomers) and not worry about prerelease but will release in that slow twisting fall. I prefer the FKS (turntable) over the PX counterpart due short mount distance and reduced swing weight. From Salomon, I prefer the Sth14-16's but would have no problem, skiing any of the worm heel ones even back to a 957 Race. If I am going to choose a demo binding (which I do quite often because we loan our skis out a lot), my choice is the Marker Royals (Jester, Griffon  Squire (for TC's skis), I find that they feel and weigh not much different than their retail counterparts.

 

Regarding the Marker toes, I agree they still get an undeserved bad rap too. If there was a prerelease issue, would Volkl, Blizzard, Nordica ALL be offering them as the sole binding option on ALL of their race skis? 

 

My binding collection, there has been a few additions since this picture was taken. 

IMG_9872.JPG

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

I have come to prefer a laterally stiff binding with a lot of elasticity that allows me to ski it at a lower DIN. An a N on a DIN chart with a 9.5 (295mm or 300mm shells) I like that i can ski a FKS 155 at 9 (and currently at 7.5 on groomers) and not worry about prerelease but will release in that slow twisting fall. I prefer the FKS (turntable) over the PX counterpart due short mount distance and reduced swing weight. From Salomon, I prefer the Sth14-16's but would have no problem, skiing any of the worm heel ones even back to a 957 Race. If I am going to choose a demo binding (which I do quite often because we loan our skis out a lot), my choice is the Marker Royals (Jester, Griffon  Squire (for TC's skis), I find that they feel and weigh not much different than their retail counterparts.

 

Regarding the Marker toes, I agree they still get an undeserved bad rap too. If there was a prerelease issue, would Volkl, Blizzard, Nordica ALL be offering them as the sole binding option on ALL of their race skis

 

 

Is there a significant difference between the Comp toes and the consumer models? Reduced vertical compensation f.ex?

 

I still think the existence of the Comp 30.0 is rather worrying when none of the other manufacturers feel a need to go beyond 20.

 

 

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

I have come to prefer a laterally stiff binding with a lot of elasticity that allows me to ski it at a lower DIN. An a N on a DIN chart with a 9.5 (295mm or 300mm shells) I like that i can ski a FKS 155 at 9 (and currently at 7.5 on groomers) and not worry about prerelease but will release in that slow twisting fall. I prefer the FKS (turntable) over the PX counterpart due short mount distance and reduced swing weight. From Salomon, I prefer the Sth14-16's but would have no problem, skiing any of the worm heel ones even back to a 957 Race. If I am going to choose a demo binding (which I do quite often because we loan our skis out a lot), my choice is the Marker Royals (Jester, Griffon  Squire (for TC's skis), I find that they feel and weigh not much different than their retail counterparts.

 

Regarding the Marker toes, I agree they still get an undeserved bad rap too. If there was a prerelease issue, would Volkl, Blizzard, Nordica ALL be offering them as the sole binding option on ALL of their race skis? 

 

My binding collection, there has been a few additions since this picture was taken. 

IMG_9872.JPG



my marker system skis have the Griffon style toe not the piece of crap biometric toe. The other thing is most of the race binding do not have the bio metric toes, and when mounted on a plate it should take away from prereleasing as the issue I had with Biometric toe was when the skis flexed it pushed to toe up and out. Even at a DIN of 13 with forward pressure that was spot on.

post #10 of 21

no scientific evidence but after skiing the FKS's for 4 days in varied conditions and terrain, I really liked these. I still like the griff/jester but I think moving forward, I am going to FKS's. I really liked the feel of this binding especially in the bumps and the limited tree  & unsettled snow I was able to ski. the ability for the heel to move (as needed) was noticeable but still released when needed ( i was coming through some unsettled snow that had some small evergreens just under the surface,  my ski sank and got hooked, it released perfectly and smoothly as I was turning, I could feel the heel move and then release as opposed to an abrupt release that would have occurred on a traditional design) 

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post



my marker system skis have the Griffon style toe not the piece of crap biometric toe. The other thing is most of the race binding do not have the bio metric toes, and when mounted on a plate it should take away from prereleasing as the issue I had with Biometric toe was when the skis flexed it pushed to toe up and out. Even at a DIN of 13 with forward pressure that was spot on.


Not sure what you are saying here?

 

post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post

What do you do to separate the marketing behind the binding from the technology in a ski binding? How do you know that the binding is doing what they say it does?

 

What do you value in a ski binding? Is it retention, is it joint/bone safety, is it durability, is it value, is it ski performance characteristics? How do you quantify these in any way that isn't either 'seat of the pants' or experiential?

 

Should we compile a list of binding meme's that we all 'know' but in reality... are false?

 

I haven't been skiing or around the industry for nearly as long as a lot of folks here, but maybe info from somebody like me is useful to you, too..

1) I don't and I don't.  I pretty much ignore the marketing, and pay attention to rumor and recommendations from friends in the business.  I do look at manufacturer websites for info about diagonal heels and stuff, and think "hm...releases in more directions sounds like it could be useful someday.  Do they make a race model of this that's designed to retain well, too?".

 

2) I value retention, the idea of joint/bone safety, durability, and ski performance characteristics.  I've not yet been injured by a binding holding on when I didn't want it to, but I did lose an MCL two years ago when a ski came off on a medium-speed landing and my boot hit the snow, so my idea of joint/bone safety includes keeping my skis on.  My idea of performance characteristics is pretty rudimentary.  If it skis like a Fritschi Freeride+, I won't like it.  If it skis like a normal binding (I've mostly skied Tyrolia), it'll be fine and I won't notice it one way or the other.  It's completely "seat of the pants", though there's enough slop in a Freeride+ that you can pretty much feel the thing twisting.  I bet you could measure this by attaching a lever of a fixed length to a DIN-compliant sole and measuring deflection for a given force.  I'm not sure I'd care enough about the differences in normal bindings, though.  I'd probably still just buy a Look or Tyrolia binding that goes to at least a 12 DIN (for durability) and call it a day.

 

3) Well, I guess we could, but do people really agonize over binding purchases enough to make it worth the effort?  I'm always happy to learn stuff, so I'd definitely read the list if you put it together, but it seems like a lot of work for a subject I never really thought was a problem.

post #13 of 21

Due to several heel releases with both my Barons and new F10s, I really miss the elasticity of my Axial 2s. With the Royal Markers, it's like you are either in or you are out and they are touchy about any snow on your boots. They'd pop me out in situations where they would not be an issue with the Looks at the same DIN. Now I ski with the continual thought of a potential ejection in the back of my head versus just skiing. IMO, the elasticity provides a higher safety margin so you aren't launched when you should not be plus peace of mind.


Edited by Alpinord - 1/1/12 at 8:34am
post #14 of 21


Was there a reason you switched from Rossi/Look? I am sticking with them.

The thing I most dislike in a binding is too much fussiness by the binding with respect to snow on the boot or in the binding. sure you clean that area best you can, but for a skier who boots a lot, or for an area that you constantly walking over scree sections and in and out of your skis, or for anyone who falls a few times in powder, it is the single most annoying and frustrating behavior of a binding. I once missed first tracks I had well earned when I couldn't get a Z-12 on my foot quickly enough after booting to a secluded chute, stamping in and recleaning about 6 times before the click would happen. Four skiers stepped in and dropped in while I stood there stamping and fuming. (I only had the Z as a warranty replacement of the Ti) got rid of it that day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post

Due to several heel releases with both my Barons and new F10s, I really miss the elasticity of my Axial 2s. With the Royal Markers, it's like you are either in or you are out and they are touchy about any snow on your boots. They'd pop me out in situations where they would not be an issue with the Looks at the same DIN. Now I ski with the continual thought of a potential ejection in the back of my head versus just skiing. IMO, the elasticity provides a higher safety margin so you aren't launched when you should not be plus peace of mind.



 

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
The nice thing about high retention binding is I can get away with running a lower DIN and have almost no fear of prerelease.


 

Do you mean lower DIN number on bindings or lower actual release force? After testing my Rossignol Axial2 140 Ti on machine, I've got toe bindings set on DIN 6 with release force equivalent to DIN 7.5 settings. Is this 1.5 difference a secret for "most retention bindings" public image? This way or another, I'm very happy with Look/Rossi bindings. And also with Tyrolia (can't see any on Phil's photo).

post #16 of 21

As a ski patroller, I get in and out of my skis all the time.  I like bindings that are not too fussy about snow under my boots.  I am a creature of habit, and tend to stick to products that have served me well in the past.  As such, I have been trusting my safety mostly to Salomon bindings ever since they came out with the 747 model in the 80's.  I also have had Tyrolias and currently have a Look bindings on my patrol skis and I am pretty satisfied with them. 

 

My patrol skis are shorter and more flexible than my personal skis which are GS race skis, and as such the DIN setting on the Look bindings I use for patrolling is lower than that of the Salomon bindings on my GS skis.

 

The only binding I ever walked away from was the Atomic Neox, mostly because I did some research on the net and found what appeared to be an abnormally high number of people complaining from the plastic heel assembly breaking.

 

I believe the greatest threat to safety is not the binding model per se, but rather the ridiculously high DIN settings on some people's skis, or the use of skis that are 15+ years old which have not received regular TLC.  I cringe when I see rusted bindings still being used.

 

So, that was my totally unscientific 2 cents.

post #17 of 21

Seems everytime I buy skis I struggle with which binding to use.  With all the high tech talk one doesn't know what to believe!   I'm a fast skier primarily on Kastles and note that their CTI series bindings are made by Marker.  Being a fast skier the one thing I fear most is pre-release.  Since Kastle is a high quality product I would think that they wouldn't recommend a inferior binding for their skies, but I do know that there was a recall on some of their CTI bindings a while back.  Do you guys know if there's been any pre-release issues on them?  I skied the MX 88s hard last season and never had a problem. 

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski314 View Post

Seems everytime I buy skis I struggle with which binding to use.  With all the high tech talk one doesn't know what to believe!   I'm a fast skier primarily on Kastles and note that their CTI series bindings are made by Marker.  Being a fast skier the one thing I fear most is pre-release.  Since Kastle is a high quality product I would think that they wouldn't recommend a inferior binding for their skies, but I do know that there was a recall on some of their CTI bindings a while back.  Do you guys know if there's been any pre-release issues on them?  I skied the MX 88s hard last season and never had a problem. 


CTIs do not have the launchable biometric toe

 

post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post


CTIs do not have the launchable biometric toe

 


Why don't mine launch? Do I suck that bad?

 

Whiteroom - I want my bindings to always hold me when they should and always release when they should. Which one should I get?

 

My scariest "pre-release" was with an FKS 155 (can't remember if I came out at the toe or at the heel). I keep coming back to the Markers because they hold me in most of the time, they seem to release when they should, and they are easy to live with. The Tyrolia works really well for me too. The only binding that I really avoid is the VIST.

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post


Why don't mine launch? Do I suck that bad?

 

Whiteroom - I want my bindings to always hold me when they should and always release when they should. Which one should I get?

 

My scariest "pre-release" was with an FKS 155 (can't remember if I came out at the toe or at the heel). I keep coming back to the Markers because they hold me in most of the time, they seem to release when they should, and they are easy to live with. The Tyrolia works really well for me too. The only binding that I really avoid is the VIST.



you have all you bio toes on plates. The binding distance is not being altered as the ski flexes as say on a Gotama.

post #21 of 21

Don't worry about the Marker Biometric toes.  I haven't pre-released out of a Biometric Marker toe since it came out.  I am 230# and 6'1", ski my toes at a 9 DIN, my "awesomness factor" probably doesn't even approach BWPA's, but I do ski fast and aggressively, in all types of snow conditions.   I ride my skis and edges and try to carve my turns, smoothly,  No air, no bashing bumps, etc..  If you are that kind of skier, then Biometric is great.  If you are a hucker and ram and jam kind of skier, then definitely opt for the retention oriented stuff (Look/Rossi and Marker Royal Family stuff,), also it you don't want to come out of your bindings period, then pick those same models.   We never had a Marker Biometric model returned to us because of performance issues, but we have had several pair of the retention oriented models returned (traded for Biometric models) because the customer felt that they didn't release when they should have.  Just an interesting note, in my shop, every employee uses the Marker Biometric bindings on their personal skis, and they won't ski a Royal Family or Look/Rossi binding unless they have to (ie. at industry events.)   But what do we know, we only mechanically function test hundreds of pair of bindings a year in our shop. 

 

 

 

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