Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces
Curious as to why you think this. I'm on first generation Freerides and they're nearly toast and I think this year is finally the year I need to replace them. I haven't skied in them yet, but Dukes seem to be better on paper in most respects except for weight and maybe Freerides are easier to switch from walk to ski mode.....i.e. Dukes have higher DIN, less chance of popping into walk mode when heading downhill (which has happened to me on Freerides before...scary), lower stack height, etc. Plus I've never liked the way my Freerides "felt" when skiing either.
The new Freeride Plus is a much more stable feeling binding than the first generation Freerides. I have been skiing Fritchis for over 10 years and have never had them "pop into walk mode when skiing," and I've pushed mine very hard in every condition imagineable. I believe this problem is caused by bad mounting, which requires very close tolerances. They are also lighter than the Dukes.
As for the FR Plus vs the Dukes, you can certainly find alot of opinions on the subject. I use my AT bindings 95% of the time for AT skiing, so the fact that you need to take the Dukes off to switch the walk/ski mode makes them a lame AT binding in my opinion. I change the height and lock/unlock frequently with my poles tips when skiing. On a climb I may lock my heels down to ski a short downhill transition slope, side step in deep snow, climb over an obstacle, or to traverse a steep or icy slope, and then unlock them again. I also may want to unlock them for a flat transition on a bc downhill run. When the going gets weird on a climb I may want to lock my heels, which is exactly when I do not want to be taking my skis off.
If I am using my FR Pluses on-area or with my alpine boots I usually am doing it in powder, where the bindings work just fine. OTOH, if you are primarily using your bindings for on-area skiing then I think the Dukes are a better choice. From my experience the Dukes primary AT functions are side country or cliff hucking in the backcountry. The Dukes certainly have a nitch function, but as has been noted, there seem to be a lot of area skiers using them who don't own skins. The hassle to unlock them is not much of a drawback if you almost never use that function.