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Nobody wants to hear this - an observation on binding delta

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

< officially on my soapbox>

 

I have a love/hate relationship with the sport of skiing.  In some ways I love dealing with all the gear and the complexities of getting everything dialed-in.  But today I dealt with what I believed to be a very small change that led to very large consequences, thus showing me once again that ski reviews aren't to be trusted, even your own demoing sometimes can't be trusted, and skiing as a sport needs someone to step up and try to give all of us a better way to select properly fitting gear and methods to get it all setup to maximize our skiing enjoyment.

 

< getting off my soapbox>

 

I decided to reduce the binding delta on my Elan 999 skis by removing the 6mm lifter under the heel piece on my Look PX12 Ti bindings.  This change left me at just about 0 delta with both my toe and my heel at the same height.  I had used these skis previously with the lifter in place so I knew them well enough in that setup before making the change.  With this "small" change in the binding delta I hit Breckenridge today to see how the skis would perform.

 

I knew from the moment that I skated towards the first lift that I was going to be in for an interesting day.  I was already having trouble getting the shovels of the skis to engage.  We took a warm-up groomer before hitting the bowls and chutes off the top of peak 8 and I felt like my skiing had just stepped back to full blown intermediate status.  I just felt no confidence in setting my edges and the skis were feeling very squirrely at speed.  These same skis just 5 days earlier were railing groomers for me and were very inspiring overall.  As the day went on I was able to adjust a bit, but it was much more work and I had to be constantly "on" to make sure my weight was substantially forward at all times.  I generally ski with a much more centered weight balance, but with the reduction in heel lift I had to shift my weight significantly further forward.

 

Now please don't take away from my experience that a reduction in binding delta is a bad thing - and that's the very problem I'm trying to point out here.  It's different for everyone since so many variables come into play - binding delta, boot ramp angle, boot forward lean, binding mount position.  If the ski had been "masked" I wouldn't have even thought they were the same skis.  So there are no "absolutes" or rules of thumb that can apply to everyone.  The combination of gear that we put together (skis, bindings, and boots) results in a hit or miss proposition.  Sometimes you'll be lucky (or close enough) and it will all work out.  But what if it doesn't?  Do you start telling everyone that "these skis suck"?  All I'm trying to get across is that it's very possible, heck it's most likely probable, that you just didn't have the right setup when you drove that ski.  Maybe you needed more delta or a more rearward/forward binding mount position.  It's a crazy state of affairs we deal with in taking up this sport.

 

Some of you may feel that I'm exaggerating this a bit and that it's really not all that confusing, but how many "professionals" out there really know how to put all of this together with reasonable assurance that the gear setup will "fit" you?  Bud Heishman's approach (go check out his site at snowind.com) is probably the closest thing going, but his expertise is not common and not generally available to most of the skiing public.  Most boot fitters are clueless (or choose to ignore) all of the variables since they don't usually deal with the skis and bindings.  What are we left to do to get things right?

 

Personally I'd like to see the relationship of these variables spelled out and made well known to at least the skiers that are interested in getting the most out of their gear.  Right now it's much more of a hidden art to get these things right rather than a well-known science.  Would it be possible to develop some concrete guidance based on your height, weight, tibia length, foot size, skiing style, etc. or will it always be a "black art" that few understand and few benefit from?

 

Thanks for listening (or should I say reading ).

 

 

post #2 of 24

Noodler,

 

How do you know that you don't just need time to adjust to the new (lack of) ramp angle?  Perhaps you would benefit from heel lifts in your boots?  I share your frustration but I just think there's too many variables for a college case study or thesis (or professional boot-fitter) to overcome.  Even if we can get a handle on the effects of subtle changes in the equipment I'm afraid there are far too many physiological and technical differences from one skier to another to evolve this from a black art to a science.

post #3 of 24

6mm is hardly a "small" change, prrehaps 3mm or less, and prehaps raising the toe rather than dropping the heel.

 

but.....in saying that, you have described the issues very well and make statements that are so very very true, everyone is very different and what works or doesn't work for you may do the exact opposite to someone else

post #4 of 24

Interesting. I find a couple of points that I will add.  

 

1. I am surprised that Marker does not offer a shim doe the Griffon/Jester for people that will be freeriding this binding. 

 

2. Delta means less and less as the BLS gets larger, but conversely has more of an impact on a smaller BSL. Where is the medium in BSL that the Delta was designed for? 

 

3. Woman: Ski are mounted forward, bindings have more delta, boots have more ramp angle. Does any woman need all three? Note: Volkl for 09-10 is reducing the delta on their woman's skis. 

 

4. I just got a pair of NOS Spademan S4's from 1980, in the box was a shim that is designed to change the delta of the binding. This really surprised/impressed me about this binding and Dr. Richard Spademan. 

post #5 of 24

5. Another point on demoing skis: the delta of the demo bindings may differ from the delta of the bindings that you buy for your new, perfect skis.

post #6 of 24

Interesting observations, Noodler! 

 

Look at the images from the last two TR that Faisasy captured of you.  Ya sure ya don't like the reduced delta?  I've heard it said:  "If it doesn't feel strange, you haven't changed!"

 

Maybe combine it with bumping the mount a bit forward?

 

Keep experimenting!  Hope to catch you on snow soon. 

post #7 of 24

Noodler--I have felt this way for a long time, and I think you've hit the nail on the head.

 

I concur--changes in delta, cant, edge tune, and binding position can have HUGE impacts on ski performance---they can turn a ski that rails groomers with ease into a pair of useless wooden planks.

 

This is why it would be better if demo bindings came with an adjustable delta and binding position.  That way, you could mess around with it to make sure that the binding setup is not masking the skis true performance. 

 

 

post #8 of 24

Noodler,

 

Just out of curiosity, why did you make the change and what were you expecting? In the OP, you indicated satisfaction with that the original set up. Do you consider yourself as "obsessive-compulsive" with respect to set-up? Please consider that a question and not a put-down.

 

There are so many variables in the boots, skis, bindings set-up. Add in the variable elements brought by the individual skier , and, my head begins to hurt thinking of the getting the combinations just right. At some point, ya just need to go ski.  Yes, the demoing of skis is not a perfect way to judge ski performance. For me, this forum is an excellent resouce for finding out which skis are better for certain styles. What's meaningful is reviews from a few very knowledgeable testers who remain very neutral from personal bias in review of a ski. 

 

I'm all for trying different combinations on equipment to determine if one change makes a difference. I have bindings that are adjustable front and back, and, experimented with the various binding placements. On two pairs of skis, I use a setting that puts me forward of the original mounting point. I've changed my boot flex settings and determined I like the stiffer setting. The learning for me is to use equipment with some degree of flexiblility built in.

post #9 of 24

Would you want your dinner cooked by a scientist or a chef?

 

This isn't 'science'... it never will be. Sorry.

 

There is a reason why guys like Bode will test and test and test, tweek and tweek and tweek. They know more about what they are feeling and what they are looking for than any of us will ever come close to understanding, yet they can't just plug some numbers into an equation and get the result they want.

 

That should tell you all you need to know about this 'science'.

post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post

 

Would you want your dinner cooked by a scientist or a chef?

 

This isn't 'science'... it never will be. Sorry.

 

There is a reason why guys like Bode will test and test and test, tweek and tweek and tweek. They know more about what they are feeling and what they are looking for than any of us will ever come close to understanding, yet they can't just plug some numbers into an equation and get the result they want.

 

That should tell you all you need to know about this 'science'.

 

actually, it's more scientific than you think.  Every ski basically operates the same way--there is a sidecut whose geometry dictates the performance of the ski.  In order for the ski to "work," the sidecut must be pressured into the snow in a certain way.  If the weight distribution is too far forward or backward, the sidecut won't engage properly, and ski won't hold.

 

All the variables, including binding position, delta, etc---can all change the weight distribution.  The key is finding the right set of variables that causes the weight distribution to pressure the sidecut correctly into the snow.  Of course, this is different for different people, since our weight distribution depends on multiple factors including technique, boot ramp, binding ramp, weight, binding position, etc etc.

 

Eliminating the binding ramp probably shifted the skier's center of mass backwards such that the sidecut could not engage properly.  So there is some science behind this.

 

post #11 of 24

I'd be curious to know the angle change associated with that delta change -- so maybe something like:

 

                angle ~ arctan(6/BSL)  

 

as an approximation.  Then we'll know how much of an effect we're dealing with in your case.  It doesn't take much more than 1.0 deg difference to be noticeable in my experience.

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnus_CA View Post

 

Noodler,

 

How do you know that you don't just need time to adjust to the new (lack of) ramp angle?  Perhaps you would benefit from heel lifts in your boots?  I share your frustration but I just think there's too many variables for a college case study or thesis (or professional boot-fitter) to overcome.  Even if we can get a handle on the effects of subtle changes in the equipment I'm afraid there are far too many physiological and technical differences from one skier to another to evolve this from a black art to a science.

 

I actually did adjust a bit to the lack of binding delta, but the adjustment required (what I felt to be) too much additional forward lean/weighting.  I no longer felt centered and balanced - the only way to get the ski shovels to engage the way I expected required a forward stance that I beleive leaves you vulnerable to changes in terrain.  I think that you can overdo the whole forward lean thing and it's just not necessary with modern shaped skis.  As long as you have pressure against your boot tongue that should be all that is generally necessary given most conditions.

 

Unfortunately I think you may be right to a degree about making this more science than art, but that doesn't mean I don't want to give it a shot.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

 

Interesting. I find a couple of points that I will add.  

 

1. I am surprised that Marker does not offer a shim doe the Griffon/Jester for people that will be freeriding this binding. 

 

2. Delta means less and less as the BLS gets larger, but conversely has more of an impact on a smaller BSL. Where is the medium in BSL that the Delta was designed for? 

 

3. Woman: Ski are mounted forward, bindings have more delta, boots have more ramp angle. Does any woman need all three? Note: Volkl for 09-10 is reducing the delta on their woman's skis. 

 

4. I just got a pair of NOS Spademan S4's from 1980, in the box was a shim that is designed to change the delta of the binding. This really surprised/impressed me about this binding and Dr. Richard Spademan. 

 

1. I also would love to see a binding manufacturer incorporate some kind of binding delta adjustment along with fore/aft adjustments.  It's almost like they don't want to acknowledge that this variable exists.

 

2. Absolutely correct - I have a short BSL so consequently the delta changes have a greater effect for me.  Who knows what the "average" BSL is that the manufacturers use in their calculations.  I guess if you're "average" in your physical build you have less to worry about overall.

 

3. Another good point - we have all these "solutions" for gear oriented toward women, but if you combine them all you're most likely headed for overkill.  It's nice to see though that the manufacturers have acknowledged that women do need special/different attention in their gear.

 

4. Wow - that one really surprises me.  I never skied Spademens, but my aunt and uncle used them.  I don't recall seeing any shim options for their gear, but I was only like 12 at the time (IIRC).

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbinder View Post

 

5. Another point on demoing skis: the delta of the demo bindings may differ from the delta of the bindings that you buy for your new, perfect skis.

 

Yeah, that was exactly my point in the first paragraph when I said that you sometimes can't even trust your own demos.  If you put a different binder on your new skis than what was on the demo you could totally throw things out of whack.

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgeib View Post

 

Interesting observations, Noodler! 

 

Look at the images from the last two TR that Faisasy captured of you.  Ya sure ya don't like the reduced delta?  I've heard it said:  "If it doesn't feel strange, you haven't changed!"

 

Maybe combine it with bumping the mount a bit forward?

 

Keep experimenting!  Hope to catch you on snow soon. 

 

You would have to point that out - so I'll elaborate.

 

The binding delta change affected me most greatly (and negatively) on the flatter groomers.  Surprisingly (or maybe not so) on the steeps in softer snow it was much less of an issue (if at all).  When you're skiing "3D" conditions it's much more about bending the skis into the snow than the sidecut (at least that's how I understand it).

 

Here's a shot from Breck where you can see the ski bending a bit:

 

post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Living Proof View Post

 

Noodler,

 

Just out of curiosity, why did you make the change and what were you expecting? In the OP, you indicated satisfaction with that the original set up. Do you consider yourself as "obsessive-compulsive" with respect to set-up? Please consider that a question and not a put-down.

 

There are so many variables in the boots, skis, bindings set-up. Add in the variable elements brought by the individual skier , and, my head begins to hurt thinking of the getting the combinations just right. At some point, ya just need to go ski.  Yes, the demoing of skis is not a perfect way to judge ski performance. For me, this forum is an excellent resouce for finding out which skis are better for certain styles. What's meaningful is reviews from a few very knowledgeable testers who remain very neutral from personal bias in review of a ski. 

 

I'm all for trying different combinations on equipment to determine if one change makes a difference. I have bindings that are adjustable front and back, and, experimented with the various binding placements. On two pairs of skis, I use a setting that puts me forward of the original mounting point. I've changed my boot flex settings and determined I like the stiffer setting. The learning for me is to use equipment with some degree of flexiblility built in.

 

I had the false belief that I would be better served by lower amounts of binding delta - so going for a 0 delta was making sense at the time.  I do have other setups with varying deltas going down to about 2mm, but of course the other variables come into play so I guess you can't entirely compare them since it's not apples-to-apples.

 

Am I OCD about my ski gear?  I see you somewhat new here (and you haven't seen me around in a while).  I'd say that 90% of my posts are about gear - so yeah maybe I'm a bit more "involved" than the typical skier .

 

Regarding tester reviews on skis - I'm in total agreement with faisasy on this - if I'm familiar with the ski tester's ability and style then I will put much more stock in their opinion.  I believe that it's really important for reviews to include what gear the tester likes and regularly uses so that you have a "baseline" for the review itself.  There's always an adjustment period to new setups and quickie reviews really don't lend themselves to adjusting to gear that the tester is inexperienced with.

 

I'm glad you're experimenting with your setups.  Maybe that's the most important point to get across to skiers unfamiliar with all the variables that come into play.  Don't settle for mediocre - a red flag should go up in your head if someone else is raving about the edge hold on a particular ski and your experience is exactly the opposite.  That should tell you that there's something different in your setup.

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

mrzinwin & skier219 - now you're taking this thread where I was hoping it would go.  We may never reach a conclusion or get consensus on a more scientific approach, but I want to take a shot at it.

 

I just don't think I have all of the necessary knowledge and experience to put together a scientific relationship between these variables.  I plan on taking some time later this week to put together a list of "facts" as I know them based on my testing and experiences.  I'm hoping that it might begin to get me to a more solid undertanding of how these variables affect each other.  I really would like Bud to jump into this thread, but there may be some hesitation since this stuff "treads" into his profession, but I hope not.

post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post

 

 

FWIW - It looks like the tails are bending more than the tips. (could be camera foreshortening or something though)

 

Anyway, this is why I like using race plates and skis with race style plates. It's easy to adjust fore/aft and binding delta without making any permanent changes.

post #19 of 24

Good discussion going on here .

post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 

FWIW - It looks like the tails are bending more than the tips. (could be camera foreshortening or something though)

 

Anyway, this is why I like using race plates and skis with race style plates. It's easy to adjust fore/aft and binding delta without making any permanent changes.

 

Note that the skis are twin tips (that might be why the back looks more bent) and of course my weight could be a bit more back at that very point in time.  Of course no one else who skis ever gets in the back seat, right ?

 

I also use plates on some of my setups, but they're not on these skis in particular because at this point in my experience on Elan skis I pretty much know where I like them.  Elan's midsole mark is much further forward than most and just so happens to align my BoF on the ski's TBP just perfectly - and that's the way I like it.  I want the concentration of most of my centered pressure to be hitting the ski right in the middle of its contact length.

post #21 of 24

Apparently skiers can tell the difference by a 0.5mm change in delta ("The all mountain skier" - second edition) if you were happy the way they were, a 6mm change is likely to have negative results!

 

Anyway, there is always something to be learned experimenting.

 

 

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post

 

 If the ski had been "masked" I wouldn't have even thought they were the same skis.  So there are no "absolutes" or rules of thumb that can apply to everyone. [A] The combination of gear that we put together (skis, bindings, and boots) results in a hit or miss proposition.  Sometimes you'll be lucky (or close enough) and it will all work out.   [B] But what if it doesn't?  Do you start telling everyone that "these skis suck"?  All I'm trying to get across is that it's very possible, heck it's most likely probable, that you just didn't have the right setup when you drove that ski.  Maybe you needed more delta or a more rearward/forward binding mount position. [C] It's a crazy state of affairs we deal with in taking up this sport.

 

Some of you may feel that I'm exaggerating this a bit and that it's really not all that confusing, [D] but how many "professionals" out there really know how to put all of this together with reasonable assurance that the gear setup will "fit" you?  Bud Heishman's approach (go check out his site at snowind.com) is probably the closest thing going, but his expertise is not common and not generally available to most of the skiing public.  Most boot fitters are clueless (or choose to ignore) all of the variables since they don't usually deal with the skis and bindings.  What are we left to do to get things right?

 

Personally I'd like to see the relationship of these variables spelled out and made well known to at least the skiers that are interested in getting the most out of their gear.  Right now it's much more of a hidden art to get these things right rather than a well-known science.  Would it be possible to develop some concrete guidance based on your height, weight, tibia length, foot size, skiing style, etc. or will it always be a "black art" that few understand and few benefit from? 

 

 

Nice thread Noodler. Might we get more interest if you eliminated the "you don't want to hear this" ?  Unfortunately that's the general attitude because it's so confusing.

 

[A] Totally agree about the combination of the gear.  This the problem with demos.  I know that with the three Stocklis I demoed two had serious issues with the binding fore/aft placement that caused me to really dislike the ski.  Instead of dealing with it, I just got a different ski.  Same with Head though that was probably more a base tune issue.  I know that when I described the symptoms to others who knew the skis well they all said that they shouldn't be like that.

 

[B] Should you say the ski is terrible if it skied that way? 

Well most do.  I know we've had people actually talk about moving the bindings fore/aft in a review and the different response - some people complained!!  That's just basically from a lack of knowledge though so the more talk about this the better.  Sheesh, eight to ten years ago everything was about heel lifts esp. for women.  I think I've removed at least two sets of heel lifts.  They swept through the gear world like a dust storm.

 

[C] A crazy state of affairs?

Yes certainly!  Then you get people saying how waxing their skis is useless......at the same time claiming to know about ski designs! Oh...that's another thread!

What do you expect from an industry where manufacturers reps seem to only be required to drink beer and drive a van in snow?

 

[D] How many professionals know about this?

That's a tough one. One problem is that since we seem to be going round and round chasing or tails a lot just give up and accept a state of confusion.  Then there's people who own a quarter million dollars of tuning machines but have trouble having discussions on the effect of base bevels or even aknowledge that a brand new ski can be a disaster. Then there's people who basically consider everyone who walks in the store an idiot or have the attitude that the customer is wrong.  Geez, sounds like the parts counter at a car dealership!

 

Basically, the situation is a lot like the boot situation.  It's hard to get some general rules down about the various angles and what effect they have on the skier.  We started that discussion last spring and the idea of some sort of conference came up but that seems to have died.

This is where I would say that Psia has totally dropped the ball.  Well they've never had the ball actually.  With all those members though, it would be possible to do some of this research in a controlled way.  No money? Hmmm...how much does the demo team cost?

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post

 

 Of course no one else who skis ever gets in the back seat, right ?

 

 

 

Right!  As far as I know when the topic of being in the back seat comes up, you are the only one mentioned

 

I wouldn't put much stake in that one picture.  The trend from TR1 to TR2 appeared better to me overall, but who knows.  Whatever...  

 

Let's go skiing and experiment ...I'll even bring a video camera if ya like!

 

 

 

post #24 of 24

one point was raised earlier about all skis working the same way [in terms of science] sidecut flex etc etc

 

i don't see the problem in the ski...it is the person on top of the ski, every person is different, they react in different ways to different environments and conditions...where i think yes we can create a nice neat formula to work out where we should be it just doesn't stack that simply what you like is different to what i like is different to him or her over there.

 

i 100% agree that binding manufactures could go a long way to enabling these adjustments to be available although i think we may have a battle to achieve that goal....they see it as we sell X thousand pairs and our customers are for the most part satisfied then why should we change, we have to remember that "we" the readers/users of this site are in the very small minority of skiers, people who actually what thier skiing to be the best it can be, who seek improvement...ski companies are for the most part run by accountants and they couldn't give a stuff about us

 

but in saying that, the more information be it scientific or observational feedback we can supply the closer we will get to making a difference

 

 

ok i will now climb down off my soap box

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