It has been several years now that Marker changed it's premium toe design to the new "Triple Pivot" horizontally oriented spring design. Obstensively, this was touted to reduce toe pre-release issues, give a wider footprint to more easily tip wider skis up on edge, etc. At the same time they changed their premium heel design from the Twin Cam heel to the Inter Pivot Heel. These changes are represented by the Marker Royal Family lineup of bindings (Jester, Griffon, Duke, Baron, etc.). Tyrolia (et al) made a similar move when they came out with the Attack 11 and 12 toe piece. Now, Salomon has the Guardian/Warden toe.
Seems to be a lot of reasons for this change from traditional toe pieces to the horizontally oriented spring design. First it allows for easier adaption to the AT style binding that pivots at the toe area when hiking, secondly is "stiffer" laterally for a stronger connection from boot, binding and boot, and lastly "reduces" pre-release upwards due to decompression etc, and they are lighter in weight. I would also add, much cheaper to manufacture.
These modern bindings have been wildly popular, the Marker Griffon has consistently been the top seller in the North American market. But, as a shop rat that works on and test hundreds of pair of ski bindings every year, I have some reservations about these design changes. These types of toe pieces test fine when they are new and are used with new boots, but the functionality and consistency is much diminished as time goes on, they also have a lot more friction between boot and binding than the traditional toe pieces have (had), and the lack of upward release is also concerning. As I understand it, the backward twisting fall leads to the most common debilitating leg injury (ACL injury). So, why no upward release features in these "modern" binding toe pieces? Aren't injury liabilities still a concern? or Do upward release features even make a difference in safety? Are there more injuries today than 10 years ago? I haven't seen the statistics, I just don't know,
Binding marketing and design used to be targeted at "safety" and convenience. Now it's about retention, weight, and "hikability". The "Best" bindings are all about retention at all costs - appropriate for the top 1-5% of the ski market- film stars, cliff jumpers, racers, etc. But are these best for the "average" skier, the families, weekend warriors, that ski most of the time on piste and moderately.
In my shop, I am seeing a sizable part of my customer base shying away from the "modern" design. Many have had issues where the binding did not release when they thought it should have, and are concerned about the safety. I have a box with used Marker Jester, Griffons, Dukes, etc. that these people have traded in. These folks are looking for a quality binding that is focused on safety first, but that is becoming increasingly hard to find. The more safety oriented bindings are targeted at beginners or lightweight intermediates. Where are the quality options for more advanced skiers?
I am also not a huge fan of these toe pieces, and run older traditional designed bindings on all of my personal skis and my families' personal skis. Although, I haven't experienced a toe release (or pre-release issue) for over 30 years, I am not willing to compromise my knee ligaments, if I need to release out of a toe someday. Are these concerns justified? I don't know for sure, but I wonder....