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Ski / Binding integration - yea or neh?

Poll Results: Do you prefer integrated skis and bindings?

 
  • 1% (2)
    I insist that any ski I buy has integrated bindings
  • 13% (15)
    I prefer skis with integrated bindings
  • 18% (20)
    I prefer some integrated binding designs but not others
  • 27% (30)
    I have no preference whether a ski has integrated bindings or not
  • 24% (27)
    I prefer skis without integrated bindings
  • 15% (17)
    I insist that any ski I buy does not have integrated bindings
111 Total Votes  
post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
The manufacturers have been pushing integration over the past couple of seasons, but are integrated skis and bindings something you actually prefer?

For the purposes of this poll, integrated systems include only those systems where the bindings are unable to be mounted on conventional flat skis, such as Volkl Motion, Salomon Pilot, Elan Fusion, K2 IBX and Head Railflex. It does not include skis with factory mounted pre-drilled plates, because those plates function the same as after market free-flex plates, the bindings can still be used on other skis and because these plates can be "modified" to accept other brands of conventional bindings.
post #2 of 57
I have never been a fan of ski binding systems.
post #3 of 57
I am not for it, I like my Salomon bindings and my Volants. I do see it is a wave of teh future, so like it or not, it will be more common than not.
post #4 of 57
I prefer some integrated binding designs but not others

Chose this one because it was closest, but it suggests I have a preference for integrated (proprietary) systems over a non-proprietary interface. I do not, but depending on a specific system design, I might consider using. To date, I have never selected a proprietary system for my personal use, although I have skied them.

The response that better fits for me is:
I might use some integrated binding designs but not others
post #5 of 57
Product in search of a problem. Or, as we say in the computer field, Markeneering.
post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
Product in search of a problem. Or, as we say in the computer field, Markeneering.
Respectfully disagree.
The evolution of integration goes all the way back to the late 60's and has been progressing ever since, starting with variations of step-in/safety bindings. Some binding manufacturers attacked the ease-of-use issue, while others focused on safety. Plate bindings were quite prevalent and required boot modifications to make the two work together- usually by attaching hardware or a plate to the boot. Then Look came out with a proprietary boot/binding system to improve functionality and ease-of-use. It was recognized, even then, that plate bindings altered the flex of the ski underfoot. The ski's flex interfered with heel/toe binding function, but plates interfered with flex. Plates were sold as "safer", heel/toe as allowing higher ski performance.

Concurrently came dampening plates to reduce ski chatter and vibration transfer. (those old Head 360's vibrated like a tuning fork) Dampening plate designs also impacted ski flex, but became de rigueur in racing. The design challenge then became how to attach a plate and not affect flex. Since those days engineers have designed and redesigned plates and methods for connecting the plate to the ski and the boot to the binding. This grew out of racing, not marketing.

With the advent of shaped skis and "arcability" the quest was on to raise the boot to prevent boot-out and gain leverage. Around this time is when marketing jumped into the fray and started promising butt skimming "boarder-style" turns with shaped skis. Then the arguments began about how to allow the ski to arc as much as possible so we could "lay out" the most radical turns. Some of the older ideas for free-flex systems were dusted off, updated, and put into action. In the interim, ski companies and binding companies merged or closely aligned themselves in a strategic move to own the best interface, rather than see it be transferred from ski to ski with the binding. (With Salomon being the first to really throw it's long-owned ski/boot/binding experience around.) Then it became "marketing" because each company had to convince the public their system is superior- especially since Salomon was more organized in the initial stages of the war. And here we are today...
post #7 of 57
I like that I can easily do the binding installation myself (on my family room floor!), re-adjust them as I'd like (regardless of how much bigger or smaller than my feet my friends have), and so on.

I also like the feel of bindings that do not impact the flex of the ski. I think I can feel this, and that it makes a difference for me.
post #8 of 57
the sceptic in me(who really only appears on the net) would say that all the interface systems are just trying to make a ski work like it has some form of turntable/suspended spring housing mounted on it:
Look TT/ZR/Pivot/PX
Rossi Axial/FKS
Marker MRR

oh yeah and charge the consumer 200-400 extra dollars in the process
post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by waxman
the sceptic in me(who really only appears on the net) would say that all the interface systems are just trying to make a ski work like it has some form of turntable/suspended spring housing mounted on it:
Look TT/ZR/Pivot/PX
Rossi Axial/FKS
Marker MRR

oh yeah and charge the consumer 200-400 extra dollars in the process
So they could have stopped nearly 40 years ago with the Marker Rotomat and the Look Nevada? I know I refused to ski anything other than Look turntables from 1967 (or so) well into the 1990's when I decided to give Salomons a try. Now Atomic for the past 6+ years.

What kind of company would they be if they didn't want your money
post #10 of 57
Thread Starter 
Medmarkco (and others) - In my first post I deliberately made the distinction between factory mounted or after market free-flex plates, and integrated systems. In the context of this poll an ‘integrated system’ is more than just skis and bindings which are tested together and intended to be used together, like Look/Dynastar. The true ‘integrated’ systems require bindings that cannot be mounted on flat skis, so the bindings are only able to be mounted on the original brand of skis which have the necessary modifications. You can’t mount Salomon Pilot bindings on any other brand of skis so they are integrated, but you can take Atomic bindings off the factory mounted plate and put them on another brand of skis so they are not integrated. Integration goes beyond the requirements of providing lift and free flex, by making the bindings proprietary and removing the consumers ability to mount the bindings on another brand of skis at a later date.

The issue I am talking about here is - is the removal of consumer choice, justified by real performance benefits compared with conventional free-flex lifters? Or are integrated skis and bindings just a marketing idea to sell more bindings, and to make sure that if you want to re-use your bindings you will have to buy the same brand of skis next time?
post #11 of 57
Kiwiski - understood your original intent to survey for proprietary systems (proprietary being the key).

Just commenting that a lot of things converged to bring proprietary systems to market. The concepts originated for purposes other than locking skis and bindings together for commercial purposes. That is until the marketing bulbs went on and competition forced each company to defend their turf.

As we discussed before, I think certain systems have some functionality depending upon how/where they are used. However, in their current incarnation the systems do not dramatically impact the average skier's performance. Companies are clearly testing the waters to see if they can stake out a competitive and financial advantage with systems.

This is dangerous ground for the manufacturers. They have to get the ski right, the binding right, AND the binding/ski interface right. As well, the marketing hype has to resonate. If they don't slam dunk all four, they'll watch their sales and profits dwindle precipitously. Not sure any company execs have the cajones to bet the farm 100% on proprietary systems right now.
post #12 of 57
Salomon pilots are now integrated plates that are predrilled for a normal salomon hole pattern... at least on the systems that take anything with a 900 hole pattern. Technically you could refuse the bindings if you were buying a crossmax 10... and mount your own. They are even labeled for sole length i think.
Later
GREG
post #13 of 57
I certainly see the benefit of free-flex in certain applications and some of the other integrated systems, but I gotta believe that the primary driver for proprietary systems like the Pilot was the marketting light bulbs going off, e.g. lock-in. If HS is correct that means that even Salomon is backing off.

The bottom line is that diversity and lack of lock-in is winning for now. Bindings tend to last longer than skis and even if most people will never reuse a binding they still like to know that they can.

Now, this could all change if market consolidation continues and one company has enough market share to come up with a system that is both proprieatary _and_ interchangeable across many lines. IMO, Salomon just doesn't have enough pull or respect in the market right now to make it work.


As an aside, imagine what would happen to a company that tried to market an integrated boot/binding/ski system..wouldn't get very far. I assume this happened ealier in the industry before the DIN standards came about.
post #14 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
As an aside, imagine what would happen to a company that tried to market an integrated boot/binding/ski system..wouldn't get very far.
Well, Sleddogs certainly didn't.

Consider, however a hypothetical Dynafit-Fusion-Neox system with electronic camber and flex controls.
post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
I certainly see the benefit of free-flex in certain applications and some of the other integrated systems, but I gotta believe that the primary driver for proprietary systems like the Pilot was the marketting light bulbs going off, e.g. lock-in.
No inside scoop into how it actually happened, but from 20 years in medical instrument marketing and business development dealing with open and locked in testing systems, here's a simplified version of a possible progression..

Industry response:
Shapes are great for learning, but if you really lay them over at higher levels of skiing there are boot out problems.

Engineers brainstorming:
Not if you raise the boot off the ski- how about with standard lifters? Yes, that'd work. You know a simple lifter will interfere with the flex- last thing we need is a big flat spot on a short ski. Hmm... remember we worked on a free flexing interface a few years ago as a concept for competition. Right, but too costly and fears of failure under high stress. Yeah, but in volume I think we can bring the cost down and we're talking about hacks here, so no Tombas pullin' the things out. Let's review it with product marketing.

Marketing:
Hell yeah! We'll solve the boot out problem and let these suckers arc tighter than snot. Everyone will want to rip it. And holy crap...the design requires customers to buy the ski and the binding from us. WooHoo! Get some betas mocked up and let's get this thing patented and in production before our competition figures it out. Pull the collateral together... let's MAKE IT HAPPEN people!!
post #16 of 57
I voted "prefer some designs but not others," but I think that there is more to the question.

To me, it really depends on the type of ski. For the new crop of high-speed groomer rippers (Salomon Street Racer, Fischer RX, Supersport,) I think a truly functional system makes some sense.

However, since Powder/Freeride skis:
1) are softer anyway, so boot/binding interference is less of an issue,
2) have less sidecut anyway, so bending the ski under foot to access the entire radius is less of an issue, and
3) you really don't need any extra vibration absorbing gizmos in pow,

I really don't need a system on this category of ski, say anything over 80mm wide. It's not surprising that there are not nearly as many "system" models for skis over 80mm that there are for skis under 80mm

All that said, systems are not going away anytime soon. There has been zero consumer resistance to the popular systems. Sure, some people like one design more than another, but not that many people, relatively speaking, are adamant against systems.

The argument that consumers will demand the ability to re-use bindings doesn't hold a lot of water because the number of people that actually want to do this is statistically insignificant. Most people will sell off the old ski/binding combo and buy the new one.

I've said this before. It's not the consumer that holds the key to the future of systems - it is the shop owners. When enough shop owners realize that thereis potentially more profitability in a re-useable system binding (owning 2 skis and switching one binding between them,) the manufacturers will listen. Obviously, lawyers will have something to say about that scenario, but where there is a will, there is a way.
post #17 of 57
It never made any sense to me to pay $1000 for boards only to have some minimum wage guy drill holes in them in the back of a retail store, but I don't like buying new bindings every time I get new skis. I like the Rossignols with the pre-drilled plate for Look bindings. You can re-install your old binders, and you never need to worry that they were drilled incorrectly.
post #18 of 57
I like the Line idea of being able to switch bindings out very easily between skis.
post #19 of 57
Thread Starter 
I think if there was a genuine problem with the way conventional bindings are attached to skis, all the manufacturers would get together to define a new standard interface between skis and bindings which they would all follow. But the way they are all setting up competing proprietary systems sets off the alarm on my bullsh!t meter.

This poll seems to show that the response of the people in this forum to integration is luke-warm at best. And being relatively clued up about gear, you would think that people here would be the first to know about it and make the switch if there was a real benefit. When carving skis and fat skis came out there were people singing from the rooftops about how great these innovations were and how it was a black and white difference to the past. But that is not the case with integration. Most people like the principles of free flex, lift and ease of installation, but the implementation using proprietary systems seems to be off target and tangled up in marketing hype. This poll should serve as a warning to the manufacturers that regardless of their intentions, skiers are not jumping onto the integration bandwagon in droves, and that there are just as many people who are against the current designs than who are for them. If manufacturers and retailers try to force integration down consumers’ throats they will lose a sizeable chunk of the market, and I think they know that. Whether or not integrated systems have a long-term future is open to debate, but it is obvious that integration, in its current incarnation, is not the next great revolution in skiing.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiski
This poll should serve as a warning to the manufacturers that regardless of their intentions, skiers are not jumping onto the integration bandwagon in droves, and that there are just as many people who are against the current designs than who are for them. If manufacturers and retailers try to force integration down consumers’ throats they will lose a sizeable chunk of the market, and I think they know that.
Disclaimer: The following is not a defense of all "system" technology, it is merely on comment that systems are not going away anytime soon, regardless of what an internet poll may "reveal."

I have no clue what the percentage of system skis vs. flat skis are in NZ, but your comment above is already off the mark in the US. The average US ski consumer, not necessarily the participants in this forum, has already accepted the "system" with no resistance.

Over the past year, well over 50% of all skis sold in the US had a "system" binding mounted on them. I would think that the manufacturers, with the shops' blessing, look at that as a green light to make more. As I eluded to above, the US skier that is adamant against systems is statitistically insignificant - there simply aren't enough of them right now. Maybe that will change, maybe not.

The only place where flat skis will continue to outsell system skis is Powder/Freeride.

Here's something that will really get the ire of many in the staunch anti-system crowd: Most popular "system" skis are potentially available in "flat," traditional versions. Last year at the SIA Vegas Ski Show, all the major System players - Salomon, Volkl, Head, Elan - told shop owners that flat versions would be available if there was sufficient interest amongst the shop owners.

Guess what? No interest.
post #21 of 57
Question: Is it logical to assume that for applications where the benefits of lifters and free flexing binding plates are appropriate, that it should be possible to design a system that inherently performs better than seperately developed componants?
post #22 of 57
I agree with troutman, ski-binding systems are here to stay. Personally I have nothing against systems, but I can see the dilema with buying new skis AND new binding, when the old binding could still be functional. At least systems eliminate the frustration of having new skis drilled by some untrained moron.

Having said that, my 2 skis (Elan HCX Hyper and Elan Mantis 662) do not have "system" bindings. Sure enough, the binding on the Elan HCX was mounted incorrectly. Fortunately the binding was set in the wrong holes on the race plate so no re-drilling was required!
post #23 of 57
Thread Starter 
When it comes to ski equipment there is no absolute better or worse. It is just different, and a matter of personal preference. The best manufacturers can do is make gear which is liked by as many people as possible. Carving on large sidecut skis isn’t ‘better’ than skidding on straight skis, but the vast majority of skiers have a strong preference for it so carving skis have taken over.

Anyone who is buying top of the line gear probably knows a bit about it, and they have their own preferences about things like sidecut, width, length, weight and dampening. If an integrated system removes their ability to customise their gear or it means they can’t set it up just the way they want then they are less likely to go for that option. Manufacturers will continue to try and skim the profits with these integrated systems, but nobody is prepared to bet the farm on the success of systems.

In terms of dual version skis I was looking at 7:24 Pros last season but the flat version sold out nationwide within a month of the start of the season, when there were still plenty of integrated ones left. Admittedly NZ is a small market and I don’t know the mix of flat to integrated that was ordered, but it shows that, at least here, the desire of skiers to make their own choices was underestimated by the official distributors.

I realise that the sales of the systems will be strong for the next few years, not because integrated systems are inherently better than conventional mounting, but because many people don’t know the first thing about bindings, so having an integrated system relieves their fear of buying the ‘wrong’ bindings. My guess is that integration will have a similar life cycle to rear entry boots, where intermediates were attracted by the convenience but there were still a lot of holdouts using front entries. Sales were big for several years but people gradually realised that the performance and fit were better in front entries, and over the next few years made the switch back to the ‘old’ methods. This also happened with snowboard step in bindings. Manufacturers wanted these technologies to succeed, but despite their best efforts they wasted a lot of money in re-tooling for these.

Ski history is littered with ideas and products that manufacturers pushed as the next great thing, but which turned out to be a dud. I think ski/binding integration is one of these. They won’t die overnight because it always takes manufacturers along time to admit they were heading up a dead end path, especially when they invested a lot of money in the idea, but integrated systems will eventually die, or at least be relegated to rental shops, like rear entry boots.
post #24 of 57
Frankly the whole thing is a moot point for me.

I dont ski anything without two tips and so far, nobody I know of makes an integrated binding twin.
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiski
I realise that the sales of the systems will be strong for the next few years, not because integrated systems are inherently better than conventional mounting, but because many people don’t know the first thing about bindings, so having an integrated system relieves their fear of buying the ‘wrong’ bindings. My guess is that integration will have a similar life cycle to rear entry boots, where intermediates were attracted by the convenience but there were still a lot of holdouts using front entries. Sales were big for several years but people gradually realised that the performance and fit were better in front entries, and over the next few years made the switch back to the ‘old’ methods. This also happened with snowboard step in bindings. Manufacturers wanted these technologies to succeed, but despite their best efforts they wasted a lot of money in re-tooling for these.

Ski history is littered with ideas and products that manufacturers pushed as the next great thing, but which turned out to be a dud. I think ski/binding integration is one of these. They won’t die overnight because it always takes manufacturers along time to admit they were heading up a dead end path, especially when they invested a lot of money in the idea, but integrated systems will eventually die, or at least be relegated to rental shops, like rear entry boots.
Kiwiski, I raised a similar thread to this on the snowheads site.

I agree that the big manufacturers want integration to succeed. For every ski they also sell a binding. Each sale is worth more. With static sales of skis, the concept has obvious advantages.

I am not sure that this concept will disappear. Companies will form alliances and the smaller companies may go to the wall.

A point that I made before is that, in the UK ski catalogues, this year bindings are only mentioned in passing. A year ago, bindings would have had separate section where the supposed benefits of each model were described in detail.

By the way, I disagree about the reason for the disappearance of rear entry boots. I think Salomon simply 'shot itself in the foot' on that one to use an apt phrase. However, that is a separate thread in itself.
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdowling
It never made any sense to me to pay $1000 for boards only to have some minimum wage guy drill holes in them in the back of a retail store, but I don't like buying new bindings every time I get new skis. I like the Rossignols with the pre-drilled plate for Look bindings. You can re-install your old binders, and you never need to worry that they were drilled incorrectly.
I love this frequent and completely baseless insult.

a) If your shop guy is paid that little, find a better shop.
b) Grab your calipers and start checking hostage plates. Amazing how many are not perfect from the factory.
c) Pull hostage plate off ski. Note that manufacturer didn't find it prudent to chamfer/clean up in any way the ragged hole they drilled in the topsheet. Note that they didn't use any lubricant/glue/whatever in their installation. Consider what this means if you need to R and R this plate for tuning purposes. Unless you don't do that. At which point you shouldn't be complaining about the accuracy of jigs anyways.

The Rossignols with the predrilled plates are actually fairly good, although the race room stuff definitely needs to be checked carefully before binding installation.

Other systems aren't so good. I've dealt with more than one pissed off guy holding his broken system in one hand and skis in the other. Three vendors' products come to mind immediately.

Some of the systems are getting pretty good, but some of them still downright blow. Meanwhile, kids will still be bending the heck out of Volkl SL skis, complete with a WC PC interface plate mounted by shop rats with or without a jig. These kids will not have any problem with "full flex", because "full flex" is ********.

As the ski bends, the shearing action in the binding occurs at the forward pressure spring, sometimes accompanied by a track system. Right after the shearing action in the plate occurs in some absurdly simple milled slots. Meanwhile, your ski, binding, AND boot are all bending. Yes, your bootsole bends even if it isn't made by Atomic.

If this terrible and antiquated setup works for WC slalom skiers on 155s with radii in the 10-11m range, what does it not work for?
post #27 of 57
Not sue about all the "integrated binding" hype, but I just mounted an '05 Marker 12.0 Ti Piston to my 2004 XT's and it's like a brand new pair of skis that I love even more! Skiing mostly Mammoth with it's huge variety of conditions I can't believe what a differnce this binding has made for me! The ability to turn the piston On or Off really makes a difference in rebounding, enjoying skiing more than ever...9 days so far this season and counting !
post #28 of 57

Count one more...

...skiier riding on a system this year.

Just bought K2 Apache Recons with the integrated Marker MOD 14.0 Piston IBX bindings. With more and more ski/binding/boot manufacturers coming together, I believe that the interface is here to stay. I do not believe it's such a bad thing...for me, binding performance and features have really become universal across the sport, especially with an interfaced system. IMO, the only binding company that has an advantage is Look, God bless them...their Pivot turntables would be the only binding I'd buy if I were riding a "flat" ski.

For me, it will always be about the skis. I'll shop for a the ski that has the feautures and performance that I want, and if it comes with binding, fine. As others have said, I've always sold off my old pairs with their bindings included. Salomon, Marker, Atomic, Tyrolia, Look/Rossignol...I'll use any of 'em as long as it's on the ski I want.
post #29 of 57
There is a test called "Fight of the Systems" conducted by the German SkiMagazin.

They wanted to find out
- how the systems influence the ski flex (under 30 and 50 kg) and
- how their dampening effect is.
The lab results are rather tragicomical.
The second best dampening index had the "control (referential) binding" (a not-specified classic Salomon mounted on Salomon Crossmax 700 without any plate).
As to the flex curve, the non-system Salomon was hardly worse than most of the systems and even better than some.
The "systems" tested:
Atomic SL:11m + Neox 614 (the best dampening)
Elan Fusion S08 + F11 (the second worst dampening, flex under 50 kg worse)
Elan Fusion Pro SX + ELD 12
K2 Mach SL Race + IBX Piston (the second best dampening together with ref. Salomon, flex not up to much)
Nordica Dobermann SL + XBS (the worst flex curves under 50 kg)
Rossignol 9S Oversize + Axial 100 (together with Atomic the best flex curves/50 kg)
Salomon Equipe 10 SC Pilot (the worst dampening)

(Un)fortunately, neither the Look/Rossi turntable binding nor the freeflex Tyrolia/fullflex Atomic were also tested.
Considering the brave results of the simple referential Salomon, incorporating them the results might have been even worse for the systems.
As you may imagine, it was not easy for the manufacturer-loayal magazin to comment on the results .
(SkiMagazin, Dezember 2004, pp. 30-41, available in printed version only)
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
I like the Line idea of being able to switch bindings out very easily between skis.
Word. Snowboard manufacturers have been doing it for years. How hard would it be to design a ski system that works the same way?
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