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Integrated binding systems

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
The integrated binding system, that is, a binding mounting system that is designed to allow the binding and ski to flex together (as opposed to a plate with pre-drilled holes that takes a proprietary/corporate/affliated binding, but could be mounted with any manufacturer's binding) have been with us for several years now. I'm curious what the Bear's experience with these systems has been, good, bad or indifferent.

For this discussion, I'm putting four 'systems' in the mix: Salomon Pilot, Marker Motion, Tyrolia Railflex, and Atomic Varizone (sp?). The last may not exactly qualify to my way of thinking, but I'm including it because it tightly integrates with Atomic skis and allows for quick adjustment of the boot position.
post #2 of 21
I have not tried any of those systems. I have experience with the old Hangl plate (which interfaces to the ski within a very small area, thus alowing a full flex) and the Tyrolia Free Flex system (where the heel is floating).

Personally I am in favor of any system that preserves the natural flex of the ski, especially for very short skis. For those who want more ski, one can always buy various plates that alter the flex pattern or dampen the ski.

For longer skis, I doubt that a fixed binding system really interferes in any significant way with the flex. As the ratio of binding length to ski length increases, the "dead zone" under the boot diminishes significantly.
post #3 of 21
I have only tried the Salomon Pilot but I felt very detached from the ski. Sort of like having sex while wearing 20 condoms. It let the ski flex fine but there are better ways of achieving this. This system is probably fine for the 10 ski-days-a-year dentist, but it is definitely not good for performance or fat skis. As for Marker and Atomic…well, they have more basic design issues to address before they start worrying about integrating skis and bindings.

I am still not sold on the need for integration, I have never heard anyone say they don’t like the way their bindings are screwed to their skis. And normal free-flex designs can easily cope with letting the skis flex for those who think it is important. I think the current sales of integrated systems are a triumph of marketing over common sense, and relies on there being enough people out there who know nothing about bindings except that they want them to match their skis.

Thankfully there are enough dedicated and informed skiers and telemarkers who insist on putting their favourite bindings on their new fat skis to keep them integration free, so the integration fad is only taking over the groomer cruiser skis. But it will probably still be several years before integration goes the way of rear entry boots and stretch pants.
post #4 of 21
I think that there is still some uncertainty out there on the part of manufacturers on the subject. For instance, until this season, many hard-core skiers stayed away from the Salomon Pilot system, as it tends to give a detatched feeling, as stated before. Salomon sales of pilot skis are not as strong as in the days of the original X-Scream. On the other hand, Skis like the Pocket Rocket, which have no Pilot system still fly off the shelves.

It really is a feel thing. I have been surprised at the amount of people who prefer the motion system on Volkls, even though a "flat" version of skis like the AX3 and 724 Pro are available.

To further add to the confusion, Atomic is removing the plates and hence the Atomic binding interface, from their Sugar Daddy, Big Daddy and Stomp models for 2005. Although it is a bit different than the true interface of the pilot or motion, is does force the purchase of Atomic bindings. My thoughts are that sales of some of these Atomics will increase since the ski binding interface/plate will be defunct. I will be looking for a Sugar Daddy for the first time, now that the interface will be history.

For the future, I think that the jury is still out on the issue, but I think that interfaces still have a long way to go before becoming the norm.
post #5 of 21
I personally like the feel of the integrated systems on certain skis, but I think sales would increase if they standardized the mounting. Many people avoid Atomics because of their dislike for Atomic bindings, others Volkl for their dislike of Marker, etc. Make a system ski that accepts a system binding from your manufacturer of choice and ski sales might increase.

Just a thought I had.
post #6 of 21
Matt

I agree with you...but it'll never happen. I think the major reason for integrated bindings is to force just the opposite, and capture both the ski and binding dollars. I think in some cases this works and in some cases, as you've cited with Atomic, this backfires.

I've skied some intergrated systems I've liked ok, but never noticed enough difference to force a binding on me.

Edit: It'll never happen unless sales suffer as a result.
post #7 of 21
I think you will see Atomic sales pickup now that they have the new Neox bindings which work great for me so far.

I have already had half a dozen people comment on the new skis and redesigned bindings.
post #8 of 21
I skied the old pilot system, and loved it. I did not feel like I was wearing 20 condoms :

Tyrolia Railflex and extra mount plates seem like the best interchangeable option at the moment.
If only the whole mech. wasn't quite so delicate.

I also agree with he point that there will never be a "standard" system.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Coach13:
Matt

I agree with you...but it'll never happen. I think the major reason for integrated bindings is to force just the opposite, and capture both the ski and binding dollars. I think in some cases this works and in some cases, as you've cited with Atomic, this backfires.

I've skied some intergrated systems I've liked ok, but never noticed enough difference to force a binding on me.

Edit: It'll never happen unless sales suffer as a result.
I honestly never expect it to happen, but it would be nice.

Honestly, is it that far off? How many decades were skis flat and accepted the binding of choice? Since system sales aren't all the industry had hoped they would be...maybe there is hope?
post #10 of 21
If there was a geniune problem with the way bindings are attached to skis or if there were real performance gains to be made, then the manufacturers would all be getting together to create a new standard for attaching bindings to skis which they would all follow.

But the fact that the different manufacturers are going for completely incompatible systems shows that they are just trying to bundle the bindings and skis to make us buy bindings more often.

Snowboard step-in bindings and boots offer an interesting comparison. They were more convenient, but because there was only 1 or 2 boot manufacturers for each system, if you didn't like the boot or binding you didn't have the option to mix and match. It was a big fad 4 or 5 years ago but now they are mostly seen only in rental shops.

I think the ski integration fad is at its height right now, and Atomic removing their plates from twin tip and fat skis is the first sign that the tide is turning against them.

It is just a pity that in a couple of years there are going to be a lot of people with worn out skis but serviceable bindings which cannot be transferred to their new skis.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Looks like somewhere in the recent hiccup of the system, the poll that goes along with this thread was deleted. Oh, well....
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by TomB:


Personally I am in favor of any system that preserves the natural flex of the ski,
Sounds good in theory, but I did not like my experiences with it very much.

I recently tried a ski that had a very tall carving plate attached. The plate was attached to a small area of the ski, maybe 6" long, and the binding attached to a much longer platform, about 1.5 inches above the ski.

The plate was not rectagular, kind of like an inverted truncated pyramid. That allowed the ski to bend upwards at tip and tail easily, and preserved more of the natural flex of the ski.

With this set up, forward pressure alone could acutally lift the tail of the ski while standing still.

Skiing it was quite odd. I could make the shortest radius turns ever. That is what that setup preferred doing. It was very fun, but I think more a novelty that anything. Edges felt very detached. Felt vey trampoline like. Doing bumps never crossed my mind.

This example is pretty odd, because I don't think that the binding was "integrated" in the sense that the ski was not manufactured assuming this binding is to be used.

I've tried other skis with integrated systems, and felt some detachement with all of them. From most detached to least: pilot, railflex, fusion, autodrive. Never tried Marker.

Maybe I'm just not used to it?
post #13 of 21
BigE, like this:

http://www.floskis.com/

Talk about odd.

I just want that damping system.
post #14 of 21
Exactly the same shape! There were also holes drilled in the sides to reduce weight.
post #15 of 21
I have owned Scream 10 pilots since they came out in 2000. I now have the Xtra Hots which have the "backside" system. They have some type of hard rubber or something between the plate and ski. I think they have excellent snow feel. The ski flexes very nicely. They flex smoothly in soft snow and powder and you can really feel it. But they don't feel like they are bending in half. On packed powder the carve like wild. The edge grip on steeps and icy slopes is awesome. If you can, try them. I like the 175's. I have skied 185's also.
post #16 of 21
Several times on that forum I have already expressed my dissatisfaction with Volki’s policy not to sell skis without bindings. At that time it was more theoretical complain rather than real issue. Now it is real case! Couple of weeks ago I spent a week in Soelden (Austria). On the second day of my stay there I bent my Volki P50 Motion equipped with Marker Motion 1400.

Bad luck in foggy day!

The rest of the vocation I spent on rented Volki Slalom Carver. I liked that skis as well. However, the fact that now I am forced to buy another Marker makes me bit reluctant of choosing Volki again.

I have no complains about Motion system itself. I liked it for convenience and performance. Volki are great skis but they marketing policy is not building up customer’s loyalty at all.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by kiwiski:
Snowboard step-in bindings and boots offer an interesting comparison. They were more convenient, but because there was only 1 or 2 boot manufacturers for each system, if you didn't like the boot or binding you didn't have the option to mix and match. It was a big fad 4 or 5 years ago but now they are mostly seen only in rental shops.

I think the ski integration fad is at its height right now, and Atomic removing their plates from twin tip and fat skis is the first sign that the tide is turning against them.

It is just a pity that in a couple of years there are going to be a lot of people with worn out skis but serviceable bindings which cannot be transferred to their new skis.
From the snowboard instructors that I've spoken with, the step-in bindings have gone the way of the rental shop has to do with their lack of performance compared to "standard" snowboard bindings as opposed to their lack of flexibility in working with multiple vendors. And the rental shops love them because they are easy for beginners (especially kids) to use.

I've now skied the Pilot, the Marker Motion and Marker Piston Motion, and the Atomic. What is very difficult for me is to separate what the binding does vs. what the ski is contributing. I skied the original Salomon X-Scream and hated it (one of the few, it seems). When I tried the Pilot a couple of years later, I was blown away by how much better the ski felt under foot. How much of that was due to the Pilot system and how much was do (if any) to changes made in the ski? Same thing with the Motion systems. My Volkl P50 Motion's frankly feel a little dead under foot. They don't give me the kind of feedback I want and make the ski feel even more like a "doctor/lawyer" ski. I'll take my old P40's over the P50's. Now the Motion Piston system on my P60's felt great! Ski felt solid, great pop out of the turns, good feedback. But the P60 GC Racing is not the same ski as the P50 Platinum. So is the difference in the ski or in the binding?. The closest I've come to comparing 'apples to apples' is on my Intuitiv's which have to be mounted with a Look/Rossi binding. They have the Autodrive plate which is designed to let the heel piece flex with the ski. As my local shop only had a pair of Rossi bindings with a T-Plate left when I bought these skis and since Rossi bindings are the same as Look's, I put them on the skis. I had demo'd the skis with the 'standard' Look P12's. With the Rossi binding, the skis just didn't perform the same as the demo skis did. Took the Rossi's back, salesman told me I was crazy, that the binding wasn't the problem, but I ordered a pair of P12's anyway and put them on. Now the ski skis the way I remember from demoing them.

Is it a marketing ploy? Only if it really doesn't make any difference in how the ski performs. Now the spoilers on most sports cars that only have an impact on the car's handling when you're going over 150 mph, now that's marketing!
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by Tag:
The closest I've come to comparing 'apples to apples' is on my Intuitiv's which have to be mounted with a Look/Rossi binding. They have the Autodrive plate which is designed to let the heel piece flex with the ski. As my local shop only had a pair of Rossi bindings with a T-Plate left when I bought these skis and since Rossi bindings are the same as Look's, I put them on the skis. I had demo'd the skis with the 'standard' Look P12's. With the Rossi binding, the skis just didn't perform the same as the demo skis did. Took the Rossi's back, salesman told me I was crazy, that the binding wasn't the problem, but I ordered a pair of P12's anyway and put them on. Now the ski skis the way I remember from demoing them.

Is it a marketing ploy? Only if it really doesn't make any difference in how the ski performs. Now the spoilers on most sports cars that only have an impact on the car's handling when you're going over 150 mph, now that's marketing!
I agree it is all about "feel" and that it all depends much more on the ski and binding, rather than the way the binding is attached to the ski. The snowboard step-ins were good in terms of convenience but bad in terms of performance which has relegated them to rental shops.

Integrated bindings are bad in terms of transferability between skis, but their strength is supposed to be performance but the jury is definitely still out on this.

Interestingly the T-Plate you describe is not an integrated system or even a free-flex plate. If you look at it from underneath you will see that the bar from the toe to the heel is not actually connected to the heel in any way. It is a 2 piece lifter disguised to look like a plate. The maxplate II (which I have on my skinny skis) was Looks last true free-flex plate. Which then leads on to the question of how much of the "feel" of the ski and binding was psychosomatic. You don't have to make a better ski/binding interface - you just have to make people think it is better.
post #19 of 21
Personally......I think that the Integrated bindings will succeed and do fine. I have ski'd them on the Nordica SUV12X's and think they feel great.

I agree that at one point Marker had some design issues. I think most of those have been resolved and I was glad to have Marker bindings on these skis. Only time will tell what will happen, but I believe that the integrated binding/ski combination will comtinue to evolve and improve but is not going anywhere.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Kiwi, I think that the T-Plate most likely didn't interfer with the Autodrive "system". I suspect the reason that the ski felt different had to do with the lift, small as it is. Either way, I like the ski better without the T-Plate.
post #21 of 21
I just looked through www.floskis.com ... I encourage you all to go and look at their videos. I tell ya, if those skis made me ski like the people in those videos.... I would never buy a pair. ever.

Is the company a joke? look at the "how to skis these skis" section.... I guess the company is just trying to sell overpriced skis to retired doctors and lawyers that don't know anything about skiing.
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