For those already familiar, not much new here until the end of this post:
I tested these bindings extensively during the last month or so. I found the interface between the binding and user in need of serious attention. I was losing one AFD per day of skiing. The factory quickly addressed the issue with a redesign on the heel. The new design has no AFD at the heel. However this introduces an entirely new problem in that if the heel now just has a plastic interface which was not in the original design, and it is not smooth like an AFD, will it still release as predictibly as the teflon AFD in the original design? Only time will tell.......
I was informed by the manufacturer that the toe AFD is more of a critical release issue. I eventually ended up losing a toe AFD and the factory said that there was nothing they could currently do with the design. It would be addressed in the future. The Kneebinding manufacturer quickly replaced the toe AFD and an entire toe plate. Kneebinding even offered to come and pick up my skis at my job, which was quite generous. The service at Kneebinding was excellent and they seemed genuinely concerned about my experience. I went home and was able to peel up the new toe AFD with a short pull from a blunt fingernail. The AFD is an issue that needs attention.
I pre-released once when I gained enough confidence in the binding to push them hard on my Mantras. My standard setting has been 8.5 for years and I run Marker Comp 14.0 on two sets of Mantras (184/177) and have never experienced a pre-release even during 10'- 20' drops off cornices. With my Markers I've crashed and released (thank God, but never pre) It is possible that this pre-release could have been due to the forward pressure setting of the binding needing to be re-set.
These replaced my Markers and the heels were set at 9.0 The heel was the source of the pre-release and I attempted to crank up the heel with a large 6" Stanley screw driver to finish out the day. It's a big screwdriver and it was in excellent condition. The heel adjustment screw is plastic and promptly stripped w/o moving, and I could no longer make an adjustment. I've adjusted the Markers, Sollies, Freeflexes with out an issue, in the in the field, during the dead of winter on other sets of skis.
For the price these bindings need to be bulletproof. They are not. I found them unreliable because if you travel with them and you don't carry extra toe AFD's in your pocket or in your car, you'll have to rent skis to finish out your day or possibly your entire trip. If you're hiking on a one way trip to the top of a cornice and happen to notice it gone.....you're hosed..........that is a MAJOR problem.......especially if you cannot get down via easier terrain.......
The Knee binding has sparked much controversy on other threads. I believe the concept is on the right track but the reality of a "knee protective" binding that is consumer ready and also ready to take on cornices, chutes, hucks, and trees, is still years off into the future.
Based on my experience I cannot recommend this binding. I can say that there is validity to the claim of increased edging. With this binding my Mantras railed the hardpack like never before. That was fun and I miss that component of the Kneebinding......
Lastly, Kudos to Pinnacle Ski Shop in Stowe.........THEY ARE SIMPLY AWESOME....(Steve is THE MAN!)......I'm a customer for LIFE!!!! Those guys are on Task!
Edited by Yo Momma - 2/15/2009 at 07:15 pm