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Binding "systems" and why we bother

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I’ve been thinking about how overly weird binding/plate design has become. Specifically about spring location and ski performance. Yeah, I know, it’s not the bow it’s the archer, and the effect will be small relative to other parameters, and so on. But it’s dead summer. Disclaimer: Own mostly Tyrolia and Look, coupla Markers. No hobbyhorses, think all modern bindings work.

OK, obviously all springs act to store and release energy. So imagine a deep carve with a fixed heel. Boot sole is a rigid plate, more or less, which is being forced outward as the effective distance between toe and heel piece lessens. The spring then absorbs some of the force, allows the boot to move up and back smoothly. Unclear about is how much up and how much back; assuming vector is mostly up, since that’s how all heels release. Concentrate on that: The more vertical the spring (think old Look/Rossi, Marker MRR), the more of that force is absorbed directly, by the lip of the boot heel compressing the spring above it. Even with a limited cam of some type, energy transmission will be more efficient, meaning more “kick,” which is what Rossi designers talk about when they argue for fixed heels. And the heel has a small footprint.

OTOH, imagine a horizontal system with a 90 degree cam that transmits force from the boot heel to the spring to the heel clamp and back to the boot. Less efficiency, bigger footprint, so less kick plus more chance of pre-release at the same setting as the vertical design, plus changes to ski flex.

To get around this, add a sliding system with a plate, and put another spring/piston horizontally. But to do what? Absorb/release that part of the boot movement that’s horizontal? No cams that I can see, so must be that. Which makes the heelpiece spring all for vertical force, yes? That’s a lot of hardware, and a lot of weight. Which we compensate for by using yummy titanium. Even though it weighs 60% more than aluminum. Hmmm.

OK, my confusion boils down to why all heel springs aren’t designed to be more vertical, since that seems to be more mechanically efficient, have fewer moving parts to wear out, much smaller footprints to minimize changes to ski flex, and apparently are friendlier to tibias. Plus if you really really want a sliding plate, they can accommodate that just fine. (And as an added bonus, you can put them on much easier in powder; no need to step down.)

But surprise, only the MRR is still being made, and that’s purely a high end carver/racing binding.

I’d like to think that there’s some fatal flaw in vertical designs, like inadequate forward pressure, or terrible stresses to the knee, that we didn’t realize for a half-century. But in my darker moments, I wonder if modern binding design first and foremost is about making sure Joe low-intermediate won’t have to take an extra second to click in correctly. Or are lower profile horizontal bindings cooler to look at, like the ads on the sides of buses? Or do Look and Marker have all the possible patents tied up? Must be some logical reason why manufacturers are committed to adding layers of complexity to correct inefficiencies in previous layers of complexity. What am I missing here? :
post #2 of 20

K2 marker

Thought you might be interested the K2 M1 binding is being recalled per the K2 web site.
post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
OK, my confusion boils down to why all heel springs aren’t designed to be more vertical, since that seems to be more mechanically efficient, have fewer moving parts to wear out, much smaller footprints to minimize changes to ski flex, and apparently are friendlier to tibias. Plus if you really really want a sliding plate, they can accommodate that just fine. (And as an added bonus, you can put them on much easier in powder; no need to step down.)
I think you are confusing the forward pressure spring with the release spring, they have very different purposes. There are definitely 2 springs in pretty much every heelpiece on the market. The orientation of the release spring has nothing to do with the ability of the binding to let the ski flex.
post #4 of 20
Binding 'systems' are here so a manufacturer is assured that they will sell a binding with the ski purchase. Better performance is the red herring.
post #5 of 20
The popularity of the 'vertical' heel design like a look or MRR faded in the early 80's as 'compact' heel design was marketed (and perceived) as cooler. Systems didn't have much to do with their demise...they were already on their way out when systems came along. Marker made the MRR up to last year (it is now discontinued) but sales were tiny for the last several years. Look has had some success, particularly in the freeride/powder category.

Marker does has some new heel technology, though. Their new Duke and Jester have an MRR-esque heel.
post #6 of 20
Everyone is using a variation of the Salomon 727 heel that came out in 1977.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...&highlight=727
post #7 of 20
What's happening with the solomon binding changes that are slated?
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Everyone is using a variation of the Salomon 727 heel that came out in 1977.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...&highlight=727
I still have my old 727's!! And some 502/505's. I saw someone skiing on some 737's last year.

I need new stuff really bad! The more I read on here, though, the more confused I get about what stuff to consider.
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Everyone is using a variation of the Salomon 727 heel that came out in 1977.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...&highlight=727
Agreed, but some are a bit more blatant than others - The "new" Atomic FFG 14:

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Kiwikski, understand that most "horizontal" heel pieces have a couple of springs, but that's my point: original Looks and MRR's didn't (OK, MRR's have two parallel springs), and they seem to do the same physics job as the current two-spring + plate versions, but with a lot less claptrap. And footprint.

So if most horizontal models have a forward pressure AND a release spring, one (or both) MUST absorb and release energy from flex. You say that only the release spring figures in this, so fine. My original question remains: why change a simpler design that works for a far more complicated one? Jeez, look at the new Fischer Flowflex system, with all the cams and springs UNDER the primary plate, which then has the usual stuff on TOP of it, all to mimic "natural" flex. Surprised there's still room for a ski. :

Sounds like Troutman and Philplug are on the track here; Salomon marketed a "compact" heelpiece, and everyone got on for the ride. Nothing to do with better mechanics, just different.

It's an interesting rejoiner to economists who argue that the free market will inevitably result in technological improvement.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Everyone is using a variation of the Salomon 727 heel that came out in 1977.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...&highlight=727

Not me. My binding are based on the Besser plate binding.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
Kiwikski, understand that most "horizontal" heel pieces have a couple of springs, but that's my point: original Looks and MRR's didn't (OK, MRR's have two parallel springs), and they seem to do the same physics job as the current two-spring + plate versions, but with a lot less claptrap. And footprint.

So if most horizontal models have a forward pressure AND a release spring, one (or both) MUST absorb and release energy from flex. You say that only the release spring figures in this, so fine. My original question remains: why change a simpler design that works for a far more complicated one? Jeez, look at the new Fischer Flowflex system, with all the cams and springs UNDER the primary plate, which then has the usual stuff on TOP of it, all to mimic "natural" flex. Surprised there's still room for a ski. :
The original Look Nevada heel didn't need a forward pressure spring because it was designed before plastic boots were common. The forward pressure was provided by compressing the leather sole, so movement of the heel wasn't necessary. By modern standards, it was crude and inconsistent. That's why people substituted the Rotamat heel for the Look. The diagonal spriings on the Marker allowed more consistent forward pressure. The later Looks used the same release mechanism, but mounted the turntable on a sliding track with a conventional forward pressure spring. AFAIK that heel (the FKS) is still available, although it's mostly racers who use them.
All that stuff about a short "footprint" may have been valid years ago, but all modern bindings are mounted on sliding tracks that compensate for the change in length caused by bending the ski. I doubt that there's much effect on the flex of the ski from the binding alone, with the possible exception of some Marker pistons that have long extensions to allow the binding to act over a very long length.

BK
post #13 of 20
For reference, previous threads

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=1735

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=1304
Includes hard numbers on an Elan SCX
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Comprex, thanks for the links. Interesting stuff, as I would expect from PM. My reading of those data says that a) The boot doesn't significantly add to ski rigidity, which to me confirms that a binding spring is doing its job, and b) the binding/spring location itself only contributes about 5%, but c) the plate on which the binding is attached has a large effect.

Hmmm. So I read these data as a confirmation that the extra plates, springs, pistons and so forth in binding "systems" have a big impact - which we all know intuitively from using carving or racing plates - and while I agree with PM that a 5% "pure binding effect" ain't much, it's statistically gigantic compared to racing differences between two skiers that are measured in fractions of one percent.

Ergo, Joe intermediate won't notice much effect of where his binding springs are located, but Alice elite might...And even Joe would detect the impact of mounting plates, sliding or otherwise; recall the reception the Pilot got?

Also agree that the vibration isolating properties have a subjectively more obvious impact, but that's another issue.

Nice info. I still think the reason we have binding systems is to sell binding systems.
post #15 of 20
I still think Spademan was one of the best designs, the metal to metal contact was the downfall. I wonder of there is a way with carbon fiber or another material to make them function more consistent.
post #16 of 20
Cubco was better than Spademan. Both allowed upward release at the toe which is very helpful in preventlng injury. Voilé CRB is the only binding currently available that does that.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
I still think Spademan was one of the best designs, the metal to metal contact was the downfall.
Not the umm, adventure of walking with them on?
post #18 of 20
I know that a small group of Freeskiers experimented with springless bindings here in Austria. They used a fluid system similar to Manitou's SPV platform (bike shocks).

I heard that those bindings were the ultimate for freeriding, but due to very high production costs (even once one full blown up production, production costs were predicted to be over 250-300€) are not in question to go into production. Even more as the system only really worked well for freeskiing. The weight was a bit heavy too. The benefit of no springs was instant release with short, hard shocks. but no release on longer time pressure.

They thought that it could well be adapted for general purpose skiing and racing, but no company wanted to buy the concept.
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
That's really interesting, extremecarver. Do you have any sense of the setup? Did it have a recognizable toe-heel, with small shocks/pistons in place of springs, or a suspended plate with shocks or what?
post #20 of 20
I'm not really sure how it worked. They didn't want to tell much about it. They stepped in with normal ski boots - so toe-heel. I've only seen it once 2-3 years ago. the plate was not suspended as far I can still remember.
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