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QUICK SUMMARY:  I've seen for myself that bindings differ in lateral stiffness.  This is important for performance, and it's straightforward to measure (with the right equipment), yet I've not seen any articles in which such measurements have been done.  Is that out there and, if so, can anyone provide a link or reference? [Or offer comments on this subject....]




When bindings are compared for performance, what's typically discussed are their release/retention characteristics. Unfortunately, this set of attributes is complex and thus difficult to assess.  However, there's another performance characteristic that is much simpler, and that can be readily measured — yet it's one for which I've not seen any systematic tests: how well the binding keeps the boot from being deflected medially (the direction in which it would tend to be deflected when the ski is on edge).  


Curious about this, I did the following for each of the five different brands of bindings on my skis (three were nearly new, while two were much older):


1) put the ski on my kitchen floor

2) clicked my right boot into the binding

3) stood on either side of the binding to anchor the ski to the floor

4) tried deflecting the boot medially


I didn't take any measurements, but could see some noticeable differences.  My boots, while still within DIN (confirmed by a shop measurement last season), are somewhat worn, so there's a *small* possibility the differences I'm seeing are due to some bindings being able to better couple with a worn boot; for this reason, I won't mention here the ones that didn't do well.  However, I doubt that's what's going on because, with the bindings that flexed more, I could see the heel housing itself deflecting laterally.  And I will single out the one that performed markedly (no pun intended...) better than all the others: a pair of last season's Marker Griffon Demos (is this the same as the retail Schizo?).  And the reason seems obvious -- the Marker has twin metal buttresses that flare out on either side of the heel housing, which significantly reduce lateral flex.  


I think this has implications for performance, particularly if you are cranking turns on the groomers on a wider ski: with a more flexible binding, I wouldn't be surprised if you lost 3 or more degrees of edge angle.


So given that (a) lateral stiffness is important for performance; (b) bindings can differ significantly in lateral rigidity; (c) it's easily measured (with the right equipment); and (d) ski magazines and hobbyists measure stuff like this all the time, it seems these kind of measurements should be out there.  So: are they and, if so, can anyone provide me a link :)?


I think this measurement would be particularly apt for race bindings.  They, with their metal housings, are marketed as being more solid than recreational bindings.  To be sure, the metal makes them more robust.  But does it improve their performance -- or at least this aspect of it?

Edited by chemist - 10/22/14 at 9:48am