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HammerHead Tele Binding - Full Review

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I've been skiing these on the Atomic 10.ex, I have 15 days on them and am overwhelmingly impressed. These bindings have several very well thought-out design innovations.

<UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Changeable pivot points so the cable bends at various points forward or back under the boot. This allows adjustment from a neutral flex to a more active one that holds the ball of the foot down better (even with stiff bellows) for greater control. This feature works brilliantly.
<LI>A strong 6 inch spring with a full 2 inches of travel so bottoming out should never be an issue. Plus it is incredibly smooth when flexing the boot.
<LI>Cables routed underfoot, low to the ski, and along the ski edges for greater power transfer.
<LI>An integrated high (23mm) shim.
<LI>Anti-snowpack/icing plastic plate under foot.
<LI>Six screws for the toe piece, metal plate & shim all mounted with recessed screw holes and short screws making a stronger mount more resistant to tearing out. A wide pattern for these 6 screws distributes the pulling pressure for greater strength.
<LI>An extra long/large toe hold to prevent the boot from wiggling.[/list]
AssessmentThe result is a binding that will improve you skiing if you are in the early learning stage and will give you a more stable, confident feeling if you are already an aggressive skier. These make it far easier to weight the rear foot than any other binding on the market, and the power transferred to the edge is greater than any cable bindings (close, but not quite as much as a plate binding such as the Linken).

Also impressive about this binding is the attention to durability. The toe piece (a major headache for past Rainey designs) is one solid piece of metal, there is nothing to pop off. The entire unit feels solid and I see no wear at all after 15 days of hard skiing. Only time will tell for sure, but it looks like Rainey has incorporated all those years of learning about durability from the Superloop into the HH.

I have only encountered two minor problems -- one is a "problem" merely in light of the potential of this binding's exceptional adjustability (which no other binding even attempts), and the other seems to have an easy solution:

(1) On deep-snow days snow can pack into the tracks along which the pivot points slide/adjust which can make them difficult to adjust mid-day. This could be an issue if you want to hike-in with the pivots allowing for a loose or floppy heel, then tightening them for downhill performance and maximum ball of foot pressure. I have found leaving them on the fourth position back from the front (out of five) has been fine for touring and awesome for downhill performance, but others I have spoken with complain about that being too tight for touring and are willing to spend some time digging out the tracks to make the adjustment. But keep in mind that being able to adjust the pivot point each morning for that day's conditions, or setting it for your preference and leaving it is a MAJOR innovation that no other binding even attempts; and something at which the HH fully succeeds at accomplishing.

(2) The climbing bail (which is included with the binding) occasionally pops down, and in some instances when I have swung my pole at it to lower the lifter, it has twisted and come partially out of the hole on one side of the plastic heel piece. I had to take the ski off and play with it for a minute to fix it. However I have not been able to lower it without a hard swing of the pole. Rainey has said this "HammerHeel" could use some refinement and is working on solutions. I have experimented with flipping the heel unit backwards and that seems to have done the trick (more on this after test it in the field).

All in all, these are minor points relative to the major innovations and performance improvements this binding represents. It is one of the only two bindings to even consider, the other being the Linken plate binding. The choice comes down to Hammerhead if you want active assistance with ball of foot pressure and the control associated with that, and Linken if you want maximum power transfer to the edge and a neutral (non-active) flex. In more practical terms, I would recommend the Hammerhead for those working on developing proper technique and those with stiffer boot bellows of all abilities.

The HHs cost $200 (including shim, heel lift and shipping) and can only be ordered directly from Rainey Designs

post #2 of 3
A.C. thanks for the review. I find you can fine tune the ease of flex by loosening the cables on the uphills rather than messing with the buttons. Just remember to tighten up for the descent!

Just to illustrate my point, I find that a loose cable in the middle position (#3) allows more heel lift than a tight cable in the #2 position (2nd from the front).

For a long approach I'd probably just take the buttons out, then put them in where I like them for descents. If I were just gonna yo-yo, I'd leave them in my favorite descending mode and just loosen the cable for skinning up.
post #3 of 3
Great review AC.
Good point, Mary. I've been playing with the cable tension too. The third pin position with a "tight" cable feels a lot like the fourth (fourth from the front) with the cable adjusted more "loosely".

Some more minor problems and ideas:

I have noticed that the cable length adjustment coils will get sorta locked in the cold. I carry a lighter to unlock/unfeeze it.

I have modified a plastic bicycle tire iron to do all the pin movement fore and aft. I use the iron to clear the track. Then I stick the iron inbetween the cable and spring (if I'm moving the pin back) to make enough room for one gloved finger so I can pull the cable up with my finger. This pushes the cable against the pin device while I push the pin in with the modified tire iron (ground it down to be able to push the pin in.) Using the cable to press against the pin is the simplest way I've found to make pin position adjustments. Of course, moving the pin forward is easier if you lift and pull the heel yoke towards the front of the binding as you push the pin in. Finally, I use the tire iron to lift the heel elevator off the ski if it snaps all the way down.

So there you have it! I carry one modified plastic tire iron and a lighter.

I have 24 days on these bindings including today. They're smooth and seemingly bomb proof. They're also very chameleon like for area pirate snow (it's harrrrrrd), soft fluff and finally ascending with skins. This is all due to the little pin which adjusts to 6 settings for the cable's fulcrum position (5 pin hole positions and the sixth is without the pin.)

I liked the first HH binding that I bought soooooooo much that I bought 2 more.

They're on a pair of Rossi Hellgates, Tua Crossride 112's and Atomic TM 20's.

Anyone want to buy a pair of SkyHoys. :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 20, 2002 07:32 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PinHed ]</font>
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