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Volkl G4s and Freerides - Specific question - Please help

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
So I picked up a pair of 168 G4s for 350 bucks the other day. (I'm 5'6" 135lbs, OK?!?)

I'd like to mount these up with some Freerides, but I have never used them before - the skis or the bindings..

So here's the question -

Should I -

1) just mount the Freerides with the boot sole center to the ski's center mark and go, or...

2) Buy some cheap Tyrolia railflex bindings to get a good feel for the ski, and to help me figure out where I might want to mount the Freerides?

I don't plan to do any touring right away, so I can live without the Freerides on there for a bit...

There's a bit more to this story, but I'll see where this goes before I make it more complicated than it needs to be.

Any thoughts / suggestions?

I need to make a decision ASAP - Going out west next week.


post #2 of 23
I looked at the G4 178 for an AT ski. The G4 is a really nice ski. I ended up with the Rex 177 mounted with Freerides because of the weight and the flat tail. The Freerides do give you a very low/flat ramp angle. It kind of feels like your in the backseat. You may want to mount yours a little forward.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Interesting about mounting the bindings forward -

I wondered about mounting without the toe plate. I've read quite a bit about doing that with Freerides, and even called Black Diamond about that the other day. They said that's no problem, and won't void the warranty or anything.

There's so much discussion about mounting position on different message boards that I'm more confused than when I started! Just makes me want to mount on center and forget it. But with the freerides, it seems that the lack of ramp angle could be a problem. Especially on such a stiff ski, I am concerned that the lack of ramp will give me that backseat feeling. I'd probably not worry about it nearly as much with a softer ski...

Can someone summarize the differences between forward mounting and adding a little ramp angle please?

post #4 of 23
Originally posted by webboy:
...Can someone summarize the differences between forward mounting and adding a little ramp angle please?
"Summarize" may not be the right word, but here goes ...

To answer your question in a non-superficial way, we first have to look at something called the PDF. This is the distribution of pressure that the ski exerts on the snow along its length, and is one of the most important things in determining how a ski will behave. Take a look at the graphs referred to in Note #2, below, for some examples of different pressure distribution functions or PDF’s. Unfortunately, ramp angle, delta angle, cuff forward lean angle and fore-aft binding location all interact in a fairly complicated way with intentional and unintentional changes in the skier’s joint angles to produce changes in the PDF.

A skier’s boot simultaneously exerts a combination of a force AND a torque on the middle section of the ski. The force is not always pointed straight down, and the torque is not always exactly fore-aft (i.e., around an axis lying in the plane of the snow, perpendicular to the ski – sticking out of the sidewalls of the ski). However, to simplify the discussion, lets consider the basic case of a flat ski going straight on flat terrain, so the force and torque point exactly in these directions.

Considering this force in absence of torque, pure downward force from the boot always causes a peak in the PDF that is almost directly underfoot no matter where the binding is mounted on the ski. Move the boot/binding forward by a certain amount (and make no other changes), and the peak in the PDF will move forward on the ski by the same amount. Moving the binding also changes the tip-heavy / tail-heavy balance of the ski. It changes the polar moment of inertia of the ski. For example, moving it forward makes the ski easier to pivot. It also changes the relative amount of flex of the ski in front of and in back of the boot. For example, moving the binding forward will decrease the length of the ski in front of the boot and increase it behind the boot. This effectively stiffens the forward part of the ski and softens the rear part of the ski.

OTOH, the fore-aft torque that the boot can exert on the ski can drive the tip or tail of a stiff ski into the snow like a long lever, and hence change the PDF in regions of the ski far away from the underfoot area. This can produce major changes in the behavior of the ski without inducing any of the other effects mentioned in the previous paragraph. On softer skis, fore-aft torque will produce more localized effects in the PDF and reduced effects on the performance (ie, they are more "forgiving").

The way I like to think about ramp, cuff forward lean, and delta angles is any particular combination of these variables sets the minimum, midpoint, and maximum fore-aft angle that the lower leg can achieve relative to the snow. These variables also do other things such as set the min, mid and max angle of the ankle, but with respect to the pressure distribution of the ski on the snow, the first effect is more important. The reason this is so is that if the angle of the lower leg (relative to the snow) is changed, AND the angle of all other body joints remains unchanged, the fore-aft position of the CM will change, and this will generate the fore-aft torque that we discussed in the previous paragraph. As described earlier, a heavily pressured tip versus a heavily pressured tail produce very different behavior in the ski.

Obviously, the “fly in the ointment” is that when the angle of the lower leg changes, people tend to react to this in different ways by changes in the rest of their posture. Some will under-compensate, some will compensate, and some will over-compensate. For example, if the boot/binding anglea are changed to force the knee more forward, some people may try to keep their upper leg and torso almost vertical. Doing this would be under-compensation and will move their CM forward. Other people may react by closing their knee angle too much and may even wind up sticking their butts out to the rear. Depending on what they do with their pelvis and spine, this could move their CM backwards. This would be over-compensation.

The “bad” side is that these changes are not under the control of the ski/boot technician. The “good” side is that they ARE under the control of the skier (within biomechanical and psychological limits).

In summary, the way I look at these adjustments is that moving the binding produces changes in the performance of the equipment that are well understood, and which do not so quickly result in compensatory behavior from the skier. The changes can be as small as desired. OTOH, adjusting the boot & binding angles can produce significant changes in high end skiing, but because all skiers react differently, these changes are not quite as controllable / predictable, so their effects really should be backed up by on-snow experimentation / observation.

Hope this helped.

Tom / PM


1) There have been a fair number of previous threads on Epic which have discussed binding location, for example:



2) There have been an even larger number of threads describing ramp, forward lean of the cuff, delta, etc. It's probably best to search on them using these terms.

3) Examples of different pressure distribution functions (PDF’s) can be seen in a message of mine posted August 31, 2003 08:30 AM in this thread:


4) In an old post http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=001321;p=2#0000 37 , I described a very easy way (ie, bathroom scale and a couple of telephone books) to measure the effect of various bodily movements and equipment tweaks like adjusting cuff or delta angles). While this measurement is static and not actual skiing, I find that a direct experimental approach like looking at the reading on a scale to be very compelling when people are unconvinced about the basic effect of various posture changes or boot/binding adjustments.

[ January 31, 2004, 01:48 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Tom / PM,

Thanks for that post. I have done quite a bit of reading, following your links, and even reading further in some of those threads than you intended perhaps. (The boot stuff was particularly interesting.)

Along the lines of not wanting to experiment with ramp, cuff angle, delta, etc. at this point - I feel that mounting a set of bindings in that have essentially no ramp (or would that be delta?) in their intended way would be, in fact, changing something that I do not have a desire to change at the moment. Therefore, mounting these particular bindings without the toe shim would compensate in the direction of no change (relative to what I am used to.) Would you agree with this logic? It seems fairly straightforward I guess.

So now all of this leads, me to - 1) Assume that I would be better off mounting these bindings without the toe shim, and 2) be better off experimenting with the fore/aft position of the binding.

Not to complicate things further, but I am also leaning towards the following -

Mounting the Freerides on my Seth Pistols instead of the G4s, which I happen to love, and feel very comfortable on, since I can mount them in the same fore/aft position and not worry too much.

Mounting the G4s with either the Looks now currently on the Pistols, or purchasing a pair of bindings that will allow me to experiment with the fore/aft placement. Of course, new bindings cost more money, so....

I still have hope that I can reach a logical conclusion about where to mount whatever on the G4s, and thus save some cash! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Again, there is a reason for all of this mess... Essentially I am "renting" the use of one pair of my skis to a friend for a trip out west soon. For a nice discount, of course. Fortunately her boot sole length is nearly identical to mine. In the end, these new skis will end up not costing me too much.

Thanks again for the help...

post #6 of 23
Lots of racers are zero-ing out the delta in their bindings these days (i.e., same stand height at toe & heel). Many skiers find it helps their fore-aft balance. So don't be so quick to remove the toe shim from the Diamirs. I had already zero-ed out the delta on my race bindings years ago before I started backcountry skiing, so once I started skiing on Diamirs, I found they already came set up w/ the angles I wanted.
post #7 of 23
My experience with the freerides is that I did not like the zero ramp, and prefer the ~4mm of difference in say a pair of Salomon drivers. Removing the toe puts me in a more comfortable position. I'm in X-Wave 10s, and have had the Fritschis mounted in a pair of 180cm Nordica Ultrawave MF and now 177cm Rex. I also rode the G4 in a 168cm with Salomon 912ti mounted standard (boot center to ski center) and flat for a season.

The G4s were tons of fun mounted the standard manner with a normal ramped downhill binding, and would highly recommend that setup. However, it doesn't hurt to start with the toe riser, and remove it later...

I find turn initiation much more natural and the edge hold stronger WITH the ramp than without.
post #8 of 23
Unrelated question about the Freerides. Has anyone used these bindings or the Diarmirs as a lift-served ski setup also. For fat skis I've got Bandit XXXs mounted with telebindings and Pocket Rockets mounted with Saloman 912s. I'd like to try some AT setups for a bit just to see how I like it for touring but am unwilling to sacrifice my teles.

Im 165lbs; do the odd 10ft drop, ski kinda aggresive; level 9. I'd love to be able to mount Freerides on the Pocket Rockets and use those for lift-served and for backcountry daytrips. Any input on durability please?
post #9 of 23
Hi Lee,

while at the ESA and the Gathering, I saw many skiers running Freerides with alpine boots at Alta, Snowbird and JH.

AltaSkier and his roommate Fredo both ski lift-served with freerides on fatties. Neither had any complaints.

I have used my Naxos 2x lift-served, and now that my BD Havocs' bases have been properly flattened and beveled, will use them much more for lift-served skiing (in addition to regular backcountry use).

Seems the only caveat is that the release mechanism is simpler, so I wouldn't expect the same tough-conditions release in as many directions as an alpine binding. Compared to tele, though, you're safer IMHO. (as AltaSkier says, "fix the heel, fix the problem")
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback guys.

Here's what I decided to do -

I mounted the Freerides on my Seth Pistols, since I am comfortable with the current mounting position. I also decided to mount with the toe shim in place. I plan to bring a file along with me so that I can remove the toe shim and replace the filed-down screws if need be.

I mounted the yet-to-be-christened G4s with a set of Tyrolia Railflex LD12s. I will be able to move the boot somewhat aft of the factory suggested mid-sole mark, and also well fore of factory. This should help me pinpoint my personal sweet spot on the ski, and I can then mount a set of AT binders sometime down the road if I wish.

I think things will work out well with both skis.

At this point, I have stopped worrying - at least about the skis - heading to Utah on Friday - time to start thinking snow!

Thanks again,

post #11 of 23
Originally posted by LeeL:
[QB]Unrelated question about the Freerides. Has anyone used these bindings or the Diarmirs as a lift-served ski setup also. [QB]
I've used mine for the majority of my skiing for the last two years, in bounds and out, and almost exclusively with an alpine boot (yes that includes multi-day tours). They function great, although they don't have the lateral stiffness of a true DH binding. Combined with the flat mounting and it cuts into hard snow performance. They have NEVER prevented me from skiing anything I've wanted to... but they definitely made icey runs tougher. Removing the toe riser helps a lot, but they're still not quite a DH binding.

I've done drops on them, and it hasn't seemed to phase them but I'm only 160#. I know bigger guys who've blown them apart.
post #12 of 23
I've got quite a few days on mine touring and resort.

I mounted mine 1cm forward of the standard point on a pair of 190cm Explosives. That's boot center, not some other technique. I use alpine bindings, not AT. This has helped remove the situation of getting in the backseat due to changed angles between the boot and the ski.

I would NEVER remove that toe shim no matter what BD or anybody else says. Torque, as PM suggests plays a role in it, not just height. The side to side stuff could rip the toe out of the ski! And, by the way, BD would have nothing to worry about as the binding was not damaged, so they don't have to replace anything. However, the ski company may say no due to IMPROPER mounting of a pair of bindings.

If you want to change the angle, shim the back, don't remove the front.

I've made many hard turns on mine, dropped plenty of stuff and have never had a problem with the binding on my ski. Its pretty bomber, can have problems, but so do all bindings. It's not an alpine set up, buts its plenty burley.
post #13 of 23

I don't know that it's any help at all, but here goes:

I've skied about 60 days on a pair of Freerides, mounted on Bandit XX's. Two thirds of that is resort skiing, the remainder backcountry skinning. I ski relatively hard and in a lot of fairly goofy places and they (the Freerides) have never malfunctioned in any way.

My binding tech (Andrew McLean) mounted them exactly ski-center-arrow to boot-center-arrow and with no change (toe shims, whatever) to the binding as it came out of the box. They seem to ski fine to me. I generally assign all weirdness in on-snow performance to operator (me) error rather than equipment issues.

I'll also say that I've found the binding to be incredibly reliable. I ski my alpine boots or my AT boots, depending on the day and the destination. I ski a 10 DIN whether I'm on alpine or AT bindings, and in those 60 days of use the Freerides have probably released about four times. Each release was warranted and I haven't had a single release that I thought shouldn't have happened.

I'm incredibly happy with how they perform and how they've held up.

post #14 of 23
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
My binding tech (Andrew McLean) mounted them...
I think that wins the award for best-ever parenthetical aside in an AT-related thread.
post #15 of 23
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
My binding tech (Andrew McLean) mounted them...
Name Dropper!

Andrew has got to start using dashes in his Avalanche Forecasting! I almost had a heart attack/messed myself this morning when I read this:

(From: http://www.csac.org/Bulletins/Utah/current-av.html )

Tuesday, February 03, 2004, 7:30 am

Good morning, this is Andrew McLean with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center...

Current Conditions

The storm should continue to develop today, with moderate winds out of the SW, 8,000 temperatures around 20 degrees and storm totals of 4 7.


[ February 03, 2004, 02:50 PM: Message edited by: AltaSkier ]
post #16 of 23
I didn't like the zero ramp angle of my freerides and definitely felt it when skiing. It's mostly a matter of getting used to it - but if you also have skis with regular bindings with a "normal" ramp angle, it's not particularly fun switching back and forth - at least it wasn't for me - I spent the first couple runs when resort skiing getting the feel for the skis back, and even after "getting used to them" they never felt as precise as they did when they had alpine bindings on them. I'd figure out a way to make them match, but that's just me. Personally I didn't like the idea of removing toe shims either, said the heck with it, sold the Freerides and am learning to tele. Problem solved.

[ February 03, 2004, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: altagirl ]
post #17 of 23
Originally posted by AltaSkier:
[QB]I would NEVER remove that toe shim no matter what BD or anybody else says. Torque, as PM suggests plays a role in it, not just height. [QB]
Actually, torque is decreased by removing the shim, though not really significantly in any way. I personally added a shim to the rear, as I wanted to keep the integrated bumper in the toe shim, but removing the shim is really no problem. The only potential for damage is the stress concentrations from the non flat metal toe-piece vs. the soft plastic shim... but I haven't heard of it causing problems, even on foam core skis like the Rex.

One thing to pay attention to if you add a rear shim, is to make certain it is long enough that the pads on bottom of the brakes can make contact with it. These decrease the contact stresses on the rear pivot/lockdown under impact.
post #18 of 23
Originally posted by flip:
Actually, torque is decreased by removing the shim, though not really significantly in any way.
Gonna sorta disagree. Removing the shim may reduce the amount of torque, but the torque that is left is spread out over a significantly smaller surface area.

So maybe me using the term torque was wrong, but the forces are concentrated on a much smaller area, thus increasing the risk of a pull out from the ski.

Its been a while since I was in my engineering classes, so I don't exactly recall the proper terms.

I'd stick with shimming the back like you did, or freeing the heal like altagirl did.

[ February 03, 2004, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: AltaSkier ]
post #19 of 23
I was out on my Havocs w/ Naxos today, and definitely noticed the loss of ramp angle. I felt like I was skiing the rear half of the ski most times, and felt like I had to exaggerate my stance in a forward, crouched manner just to engage the tips.

How do you folks shim the rears of your AT bindings? Do you have to use a ramped piece of plastic? Or can you use a flat piece, and allow the toe pivot to accommodate the height difference?
post #20 of 23
Originally posted by Jonathan S.:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
My binding tech (Andrew McLean) mounted them...
I think that wins the award for best-ever parenthetical aside in an AT-related thread.</font>[/quote]Didja like that, Jonathan?

In truth, I added that not entirely to drop the name. We actually talked quite a bit about where (fore/aft) to mount them because the binding instructions were a little ambiguous. Andrew said he liked his mounted arrow-to-arrow and that was good enough for me.

It turns out that because of slight differences in boot-sole length, my alpine boots ended up a couple of mm *behind* the center mark, but I honestly can't say that I've ever been able to tell. I've generally been able to tell macro differences in skis (Atomic Sugar Daddy versus Atomic 912, for instance), but the micro distinctions have always eluded me.

post #21 of 23
Originally posted by gonzostrike:
How do you folks shim the rears of your AT bindings? Do you have to use a ramped piece of plastic? Or can you use a flat piece, and allow the toe pivot to accommodate the height difference?
Because the heel and toe piece are coupled by a rail, and the rear clamp is round, you don't need a ramped piece of plastic. My concern was too much pressure at the "pads" under the brakes, but in practice they still don't make contact on an unweighted ski. Of course, my shim is only 4mm (which is just a touch more then 3/16")... this is about the same difference as a salomon driver mounted flat. It made a world of difference.

As for materials, and softish plastic will do... HDPE, polypropelene, nylon. I actually used polycarbonate (lexan) at first because that's what I had for scrap, but it was more rise than I wanted... current shim is nylon.
post #22 of 23
thanks, flip. good info.
post #23 of 23
Originally posted by flip:
My concern was too much pressure at the "pads" under the brakes, but in practice they still don't make contact on an unweighted ski.
This is a frequently seen (though little discussed) problem w/ the DFR (though oddly enough, not w/ the DII or DIII). You should glue a little shim (maybe plastic milk container material) on top of the ski's topskin, so that contact is being made (but not so much that the lockdown lever has difficultly closing). Otherwise, it's probably adding to the sloppiness of the boot coupling, as well as possible putting stress on the central rail.
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