One of the latest trends in ala carte bindings is going "back on the deck", in others words reducing or eliminating the lift on a standard toe/heel binding. Salomon doesn't even make an ala carte binding with any rise. Marker is discontinuing its Piston bindings, and the only binding in their non-racing line that has significant lift is the Duke/Baron (and its lift is probably due only to its design as a pseudo AT binding). Tyrolia same thing. So, the big question is... why?
Binding lift helps get skis tipped up on edge with less effort and helps skis of all widths carve better. Why do you think that all the world cup racers wanted all the lift that they could get for better carving? Now FIS has limits on binding and boot lift because it "makes it too easy". I have skiied relatively wide skis (Volkl Mantras and Fischer Watea 94's) and compared them with bindings that were "on the deck" and bindings with lift. Hands down, the skis carved better and were more responsive with bindings that had lift. I have had customers that bought wider skis and wanted bindings that had bindings with minimal lift (with no logical reason why) and had difficulty getting the skis to turn like they wanted, those customers that took the opportunity to add lift to the binding noticed a marked difference and improvement in performance.
The other factor is that many of the lifter plates on performance bindings were designed to minimize the flat spot in the ski underneath the boot, and would allow the ski to flex freely under the foot - smoother ride and cleaner carving. The "on the deck bindings" don't have that capability - hello flat spot. Why is that a benefit?
Ask a binding company representative about the loss of lift, and they shrug their shoulders, some say that it makes no difference or that consumers only want the cheapest thing that they can get. Another response is: "All the kids and jibbers'want flat bindings that don't release, so we are building bindings for them.". OK fine, what about the other 90% of skiers? Its like we backed up in binding technology 10-15yrs.
In my market, skiers want maximum performance out of their equipment - so the vast majority of them like bindings with lift and with technology to minimize the flat spot under the foot.
I know that many would say that the answer will be - just buy a ski/binding system. Guess what, these aren't offered in all ski models, and some bindings just suck - many consumers want free choice of bindings - and so do I as a dealer. What say yooos?