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Adjustable flex bindings - good or no good?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have any experience with the bindings (Marker and Tyrolia?) which claim to allow you to adjust the flex of your skis?

It would seem to me that no matter what position you put them in (ie, what they are calling soft, medium and firm) they are simply putting another spring (the flex of the binding) in parallel with the flex of the center section of the ski. Because of this, the overall stiffness can only be increased from that of the bare ski, never decreased, whether you are pushing the tips down or pulling them up with that screw.

Rather, I would think that the main effect is probably more due to the change of initial camber.

The worst thing would seem to be that when they are in the "soft" position, all they are really doing is lifting the tips and tails, thereby enormously reducing the stability of the ski.

This "variable flex" design would also seem to fly in the face of the Pilot and similar mounting systems which are designed to let the ski flex as freely as possible.

Has anyone skied on "varible flex" bindings? How did they ski? Were they useful or were they a just a gimmick?


post #2 of 20
I like them a lot. Used to ski on Ess VAR bindings for years, and even the Spademan binding before that, looking for more "natural" flex.

Been skiing Marker Selects for a number of years, and I have skied on the Tyrolia Freeflex. The newer Tyrolias have a more noticable effect, the newer Marker Selects are also more noticable. The Markers start soft, and stiffen under the foot. The Tyrolias do actually push down on the front and back of the skis.

I tend to use them on softer mid-fat's in my quiver, and I leave them on the stiffest setting a lot, until I am messing around in pow, or deep spring goo. I don't ususally mess with adjustables on my stiffer narrower skis.

I may switch to Tyrolias, the binding's newer versions seem to have more retention than earlier designs, which I like. And the higher stiffer setting is much more noticable.

It 's not a gimmick, and it helps a soft all mountain ski "wake-up" on harder snow.

BTW, Physics is Phun. Used to proadly wear that button in school (70's), putting myself at risk for hate crimes directed at nerds. Ummm, I was/am a nerd, but I take/took no crap from bullies. So I guess I was into entrapment, eh?

"Link" this turn >>>SnoKarver
post #3 of 20
I watched the development of such bindings as the Marker and Tyrolia's flex control systems with interest. And I've owned (and still own I guess) some skis with them on them. My general thought has always been that the main problem is that they only stiffen the ski under the binding - rather than a progressively softer or stiffer ski throughout the skis construction.

Perhaps somebody more well-versed in physics can help me here. But it seems like since there are tie-in points for the bindings that it could only cause tension between those two points - and in fact might flex between those two points in a way inconsistant with the way the rest of the ski is flexing. i.e. a smooth and progressive arc hopefully.

Anyways, I was given a couple of pairs of skis that had Markers "Selective Control System" on them, and I played with it. Sometimes I thought I felt a difference, sometimes I couldn't. It was subtle enough in either case that I cannot call any of my findings objective.

The Chameleon DP . . . still the only ski with a flex that you could control through the entire ski. Ahhhh . . . . nostalgia!
post #4 of 20
The Tyrolia bindings do change the camber of the ski, and will in result ake the ski less stable when the tips and tails are raised (on groomed terrain) but if you take this flattened ski into the powder it will allow you to float easier with less of a chance of catching an edge. (floating is a bad way to put it but you get the idea)
The Marker bindings change the amount of flex that the ski has under foot, tho haven't noticed that much of a difference with mine, I have a set of the MRR SC turbo's. I notice a little more grip on ice but for the most part not much, as for the tyrolias I have heard they do make a fair amount of difference.
Another binding to take into this mix are the Salomon Power Axe series, this plate limits the skis flex allowing the binding to operate at a more constant position. Istead of flexing extreemly and pushing the boot out of the binding. (to my understanding, can't remember exactly how why it works)
post #5 of 20

I assume you must be right about the stiffness of the bare ski...BUT the Tyrolia Power Select binding you are speaking of has 2 systems

Free-flex. Allows the ski to flex freely. This mode makes no use of the camber adjustment, it merely 'floats' the bindings so increase and decrease if binding-against-boot pressure is minimized while the ski is decambering or the opposite(minimizing pre-release)....also minimizes any 'flat spot' the boot/binding may cause allowing the ski to bend into its ideal single arc.

Grip - This setting increases the camber of the ski. The idea is that the tip/tail gets more pressure.(Ice/racing/hard snow)

Turn - this flattens the camber slightly, allowing for easier application of rotary forces (junk/crud/bumps)

To my knowledge tyrolias are not supposed to stiffen or soften the flex. You can see the camber change while holding the skis and changing the settings.

I have skied them and can feel subtle differences. I cannot say it will improve the performance of a sub-standard ski.

It has been awhile since I skied the Markers. They are also reputed to minimize flat spot. My understanding is that the marker system does 'stiffen' the flex. It has a soft, normal and stiff setting. I did not ski them enough to get an impression of how they work, so someone with more experience with them will have to post up.

Nothing can replace good technique.

SA<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Roto (edited July 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #6 of 20
The markers are realitivly easy to understand if you look at the mechanism that makes them work, with three settings: imagine two E shaped pieces of plastic faced towards each other, in the first setting they are allowed to move freely within each other, on setting two they are partially restricted but still move a bit, and on the third setting they are head on and can't slide between each other just butt against.

As for the tyrolias they are not specifically marked as changing the flex of the ski, mainly the camber, but they do change the flex. Kinda cool to look at the tyrolias when you flip the switch, they do really move a fair amount.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
All - thanks for your thoughts.

SnoKarver -

<FONT size="1">re: "...I tend to use them on softer mid-fat's in my quiver,..."</FONT>

Putting them on a soft mid-fat was *exactly* what I had in mind. I agree that the effect would probably be lost on stiffer skis. Question - can the settings be changed quickly (ie, while clicked in your skis)? If they could, bindings like this might be especially useful for a big mountain like Whistler where snow and weather conditions can change drastically with altitude and you want to switch from the bowls to the trees but you don't want to go all the way back to the bottom to switch skis. Needless to say, this is only useful if the effect on the skis is big enough.


Todd -

<FONT size="1">re: "...the main problem is that they only stiffen the ski under the binding - rather than a progressively softer or stiffer ski throughout the skis construction..." </FONT>

As you saw from my comment on the Pilot system, this was exactly my worry as well. Is this effect something you have actually experienced or is it more of a theoretical concern?

<FONT size="1">re: "...Perhaps somebody more well-versed in physics can help me here..."</FONT>

And who might that be (grin)?

<FONT size="1">re: "...flex between those two points in a way inconsistant with the way the rest of the ski is flexing..."</FONT>

There is no doubt whatsoever that this can happen. Again, the real question is magnitude of the effect - whether or not it is bad enough to be noticible. Without ever having tried one of these bindings and speaking totally through my hat, my gut feeling is that you will never even be able to make a K2 ModX Pro out of a Mod 7/8 by turning a dial, but, if you are coming back from the glades on a 7/8 and find that you want to take a couple of runs on hardpack cruisers, the adjustment might make the ride significantly more pleasant - ie, maybe stop the tip from flopping around so much at high speeds.


Spyder -

<FONT size="1">re: "...The Tyrolia bindings do change the camber of the ski..."</FONT>

This is exactly what I thought would happen.

<FONT size="1">re: "...I notice a little more grip on ice ..."</FONT>

If yours is on a soft ski, do you also notice the tips flopping around less at high speed?

Thanks also for the description of their construction. I hate not understanding how things are made.



<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited July 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 20
I have Markers because they were free, or at least shop form. Really like the Tyrolia design, and will probably be on the Freeflex next year. The Tryolias have a more noticable effect.

The 3 position switch on the front of the Marker toe is easy to move, and I have the motion down... flip your poles over and tap on the switch, you don't even have to bend over! The little gizmo on the Tyrolias is easy to adjust, but I have not worked out the tricky pole moves.

The differences between the two are oticeable if you ski on them.

"Link" this turn &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #9 of 20
I had the marker sc's on a previous pair of skis and liked it. My new skis didn't have the sc, and I didn't miss it. So what's that mean?
post #10 of 20
That it's something you don't need BG. I don't need it either, but I like it. Kind of like electric windows and central locking on my car.

"Link" this turn &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #11 of 20
>re: "...the main problem is that they only >stiffen the ski under the binding - rather >than a progressively softer or stiffer ski >throughout the skis construction..."

>As you saw from my comment on the Pilot >system, this was exactly my worry as well. >Is this effect something you have actually >experienced or is it more of a theoretical >concern?

Definately more theoretical. I was doing a ski test for a local magazine, and some big dogs were there too (Ex-World Cuppers, Examiners etc . . . I was the "extreme" dude <g>) Anyways - pretty much everybody agreed that they couldn't really tell much of a difference. Sometimes between the stiffest and softest settings on harder snow I thought *maybe* I felt a difference - but it could have been placebo too.

>re: "...Perhaps somebody more well-versed >in physics can help me here..."

>And who might that be (grin)?

You are the Man! And I'm psyched you're here. Watch out, I'm a closet physics nut (total amateur) and might corner you with stupid questions at any moment!
post #12 of 20
Just thought I'd tossed that in.
I have the older M51 Turbo SC's. I have noticed a difference. On the same surface maybe little or no difference, but changing surfaces, yes. One time I came from groomed into heavy, chunky sutff on setting 3. I was tossed about this way and that; not violently but enough to have to do a lot of correcting in balalnce. next time through I stopped early and switched to setting one - softest. When I went through the chunky stiff my skis just flexed up over, down, around and went through smooth as silk. Also I do notice a higher speed stability on groomed, and setting 3.
Disadvantage? ... Just one more gadget to fiddle with. But then, I have to admit... I love gadgets!

Life's a pain... then you nap. Cat philosphy
post #13 of 20
I have Marker Select Control bindings on my Volant Machette G's. I can't tell the difference between settings. I've even skied them with one set at "3" and the other on "1", and I felt no difference. I had an older select control binding on a Volant Z-Max G that did make some difference. That ski was narrower, longer, had less shape and what felt like a softer flex. But maybe the difference was psycological rather than actual. It was pretty subtle.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Todd - "...Watch out, I'm a closet physics nut (total amateur) and might corner you with stupid questions at any moment!..."

No problem! Just one request - please don't do what one person on a lift did: When they found out that I was a physicist, it was like the floodgates opened. They said they had wanted to meet a real physicist for years. The only problem was that what spilled out was questions about Kirlean auras, the secret numerical code in the bible, angels, etc. Arghhhh!

Fortunately, I was a faster skier then them.


<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited July 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Todd, jyarddog, JimL -

Talking to you guys as well as some locals, one of the common themes that seems to be repeated is that the effect of these adjustable bindings can only be felt on softer skis. From a mechanical point of view, this makes complete sense.

Now - the real reason I asked - The local ski store had one pr of Tyrolia "Power Select" Free Ride 9 at a summer sale price of $150. Since I'm doing a grand ski shuffle, need bindings for a pair of k2 Enemies (that are pretty soft and that I want to use mostly outside the park), and the price seemed fair, I picked them up this afternoon. I'll report back next season on how it worked out for me.


<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited July 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #16 of 20

I've had my M51 sc's on my old K2 FX Extremes and now on my Mod X's. The FX was stiffer. I might not notice much difference on the same terrain, but changing terrain like from groomed to broken, chunky stuff or ice I notice the diff.

Don't you just love the self-made scientists who believe in this bad science stuff?

Life's a pain... then you nap. Cat philosphy
post #17 of 20
nevermind I wrote the reply because I missed the part about not using them in the park.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Spyder (edited July 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 20

No worries, I'm quite on the opposite spectrum from such wacko's! Don't the realize the universe is already incredible and mysterious enough without having to add a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to it?!

Actually I let the whole town here know how I feel, which I might regret. There was an article in the paper where the writer (a staff writer!) said "Science is after all just as much a belief and superstition as any other". I responded with a letter to the editor where I mentioned that if you didn't "belive" in science you were a hypocrite if you drive cars, get MRI's, use CD players, Cell phones, medicine and etc. That while science, is always learning and growing, like all studies, it clearly doesn't require "belief".

We'll see what kind of letters I get back. Oh, reminded of great quote:

Penn (of Penn & Teller) from "The Onion" (1999)

[...]being pro-science is one of the oddest things you can do in show business. Which is very strange, because it was science that, oh, cured polio. I could list others--isn't that enough? [Laughs.] Oh, Western medicine doesn't work; I'm sorry, we cured polio. What more do you want? Your herbalism has done jack; we cured polio. And guess what? It cures polio even if you don't believe in it. And then there's also small pox, and then there's mostly dysentery, and we haven't even gotten into the stuff we're good at, which is physics. We're not good at medicine; we're good at physics. We were good at physics in the 20th century; in the 21st century, one would hope, we'll be good at medicine. But we [Penn & Teller] are pro-science, and when you're pro-science, that means you're an atheist, by definition, because religion... No matter how much they put "10 Top Scientists Talk About Why They Believe In God" on the cover of TIME magazine, you kind of have to look and go, "How come these 10 top scientists are all teaching at community colleges?"
post #19 of 20
I'm on the MRR's from the '99-'00 season with the SC. They're mounted on the volkl p40 energy rail. I have to say that they really work. I don't know whether or not the whole ski stiffens up or not...but i don't think they're trying to market it on how it affects the physical characteristics on the whole ski, but how it actually handles. I'm probably getting the settings mixed up, but from 1-2 and 2-3, there's very little difference, but from 1-3 there is a profound difference on how the ski handles. Try taking the skis into the bumps...setting 1 has very easy turn initiation, whereas setting 3 makes it very difficult to turn, requiring more effort in the bumps. When you're speeding downhill, 1 is definitely more chattery, but 3 makes the ski rock solid.

Hope this helps

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
jyarddog, Todd - re: Psuedo-science

I'm glad we are all in agreement her - Phew! Actually, I think that if you are really into understanding skiing (like most people on this forum), you probably are automatically oriented towards valid cause and effect logic (aka science). Todd - I enjoyed the various snippets on the subject you quoted!

MelloBoy - re: "adjustable flex" binding working on stiff skis, thanks for the input.

Maybe my earlier statement, "...the effect of these adjustable bindings can only be felt on softer skis..." should actually have said:

"...the effect of these adjustable bindings is usually more pronounced on softer skis...".

Thanks everybody,

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