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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tech Bindings? AKA "Dynafit bindings" Part Two:


The Conehead here is smiling, because -0- ramp delta in the bindings and a -.5mm boot pin delta makes the lwt skis really fun and more importantly for me, comfortable to ski in and ski on!


Some background?   I wrote this in July of 2011:

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/07/tech-bindings-aka-dynafit-bindings.html

In the past couple of years I have learned a few things about tech bindings I thought worth passing on.  I find it interesting is that out side the limited back country skiing market,  understanding the tech bindings from both the positive and the negative has so often obviously been missed or simply misunderstood.

Sometime just prior to 2010 I had decided to go all in with Dynafit/tech bindings.  No more alpine boots for me.  I wanted to be able to walk in my boots.  (not climb mind you just walk and tour in my ski boots)  I still have 3 or 4 pair of new, perfectly serviceable  alpine bindings hanging in my gear from that change over.  Lost souls in the battle of the ski style I wanted to adopt.  My last alpine boot is now a decade old.

I had little clue then even how one might use a Dynafit binding correctly, let along the differing models of tech bindings.  I was to be pummeled shortly by my bad choices in AT boots, skis and the wrong binding models.

My hope is some of this content will help you avoid the same mistakes.  So I'll start at one of the most confusing pieces of gear in that  combo, the tech binding..invented by  Fritz Barthel 30 years (1984) ago, and marketed by Dynafit originally.  First pair I saw, my thought was. "that will never work!".  Ya, well I surely got that one wrong!!

Dynafit, Trab, Plum are among the few now making tech bindings.  One might argue one brand being better than the others.  That discussion holds no interest for me.

For the sake of a better explanation let me just use Dynafit products as examples.  I use their bindings.  And I'm more aware of what each model has been capable of on my skis.  But there are other bindings,  Both Trab and Plum make several variations of excellent tech bindings.

Listed are the weights of each binding and the resulting "ramp delta" in mm listed.  Weight is self explanatory and easy enough to sort out.   "Ramp delta" is going to be a big part of the conversation so if you don' t know what it is and how it relates to tech bindings part of this discussion will be worth reading.   Ramp delta is basically the difference in mm between a level foot on the ski.  A +(plus) means the heel is higher than the toe.  A - (minus) means a toe higher than the heel.  -0- means for the most part you have a flat foot/boot on your ski. 

At that point the minor detail of internal boot delta comes into play.  I won't be discussing how the internal boot delta effects your foot.  Rest assured it isn't anything as drastic as what 15mm+ of binding delta will.  In the alpine world single layers of duct tape make a difference there.

It is worth noting the tech fitting deltas of the better AT boots I have on hand here.  I suspect it is a good representation of what is out there from the industry for tech fitting placement.

Boot tech fitting deltas:
Dynafit One/Vulcan/Mercury +4mm   (25 and a 28 shell measured)
La Sportiva Spectre +1mm 28 shell
Dyanfit TLT6 +1mm 29 shell
Dynafit PDG/EVO -.5mm 29 shell

You need to add that delta number to your binding delta...and then wonder where your foot bed is at!!?

Here are some examples of the ramp deltas on the more common BC and Alpine ski bindings.

Plum Guide +17mm
Marker Duke/Baron/Tour -0-mm (with alpine boots)
Marker Duke/Baron/Tour +6mm (with AT boots)
Atomic +2mm
Salomon +2mm
Head/Tyrolia/Fischer +3mm
Marker Jester/Griffon +4mm
Look/Rossi/VIST + 5mm
Look/Rossi Pivot/FKS +5mm (only flat with their 5mm toe shims)
Dynafit Radical Speed/ST/FT +15mm
Dynafit Radical ST/FT +15mm
Dynafit Beast 16 +6mm

May be the best thing to take from that list is you really want to have a ramp delta of below +5mm.  and mimic Alpine ski technology.   Over the years the ski industry has spent a lot of money and time getting to where they are today.   The Dynafit binding and BC skiing in general has really been the red haired step child getting hand me downs for the most part until just recently.  Worse yet BC/AT skiing was and still is to a great extent unsure where it actually wants to go and what is needed.   Skis and bindings are no more one size fit all than boots are.

What I use on the Haute Route is not what I want to ski off the top of the Midi.  Or the gear choice I want for side country at Crystal.   Sure I could make do with one set of gear but to do so I want to know the most important attributes of the initial gear selection.  And that may not be obvious to the new user or the experienced pro.

TLT Radical FT on a DPS Lotus 138 @ 138mm under foot
TLT Radical FT, 599g, RD + 15mm

TLT Radical ST,  531g,  RD of  +15mm




TLT Speed Radical, 341g, RD +15mm
TLT Speed Superlight, 185g,  RD +3mm

Low Tech Race on a PDG @ 65mm under foot
  
Low Tech Race, 115g, RD -0- mm

My thought is mate the appropriate binding to the ski's intended mission.  Then define each mission and pick the right ski.   The real question for me isn't binding weight.  Is it important?  Sure.   I think how much ramp angle are you willing to live with and the mount location can be as important as which ski you choose.

I have a long history of skiing traditional boots and ski.  Which generally means that the boots were flat on the ski and your feet for the most part at least comfortable in the boot for ramp angle.   Your foot was locked into a natural/neutral position.   As times and techniques have changed heel wedges and boot shims became popular.  At some point even walking in an alpine boot became difficult.     We use to be able to wear our ski boots to school with no undue negative effect while waiting for the afternoon trip to the local ski hill on the school provided bus.  Free ski school and lift tickets!  You weren't walking like Frankenstein between class in the older boots.  Imagine doing that now in modern alpine ski boots?  Ungainly at best!  Dangerous at worst!  These days you could easily wear the best of the modern AT boots to school.  I drive my manual transmission pickup down from the hill in comfort wearing my TLT 6s!

My idea for skiing comes from packing a shovel, chainsaw, explosives or a toboggan around on skis more than I have an over night pack.  So I look at skis as a tool for transportation.  I want to ski any terrain, any snow in comfort giving up little or no technical advantage.  But it would be nice to be able to walk naturally in my ski boots as well.

I need my feet not to hurt,  ever.  So I am really careful on how I fit my boots and the support used in the boot.    I wrote previously about fitting ski boots tight for the elusive "performance fit".


For me ramp delta is just another part of "ski/boot fit".   I rather not ski with a too tight boot or a binding that has too much ramp delta or a ski boot with too much forward lean.  It is an up close and personal issue once you know what ramp delta is and how it effects your stance.  Too much ramp delta forces you forward and to over compensate by adopting a "back seat" and unnatural body position.  Too much ramp delta puts you out of balance and into a physically fatiguing position.

Can you ski that way?  Sure....but there are easier ways to ski.   Ramp delta isn't that hard to identify or correct.  You only need to understand the position excessive ramp delta forces on you and know what you desired end result should be. 

I sat through an instructor's clinic this fall listening to how, "we want an up right, natural stance" and how to modify your boots to get there.  At lunch I pulled apart the Lange plug boot the instructor was using.  Leg shim glued in behind the upper cuff on the inner boot  to get him as far forward as possible,  a fair size after market heel wedge to get him up on the ball of the foot and off a "natural balanced stance" plus the fully custom insoles needed to support the foot in that forward and unnatural position.  

What he was saying made no sense if you knew what he was doing in his own boots.  One of those, "do what I say, not what I do" moments. 

There is no question in my mind that 15mm of ramp delta (common on Plum and Dynafit) is a hard pill to swallow.  Harder yet to ski with.  The smaller your boot shell size the more it will effect you.  Brakes on the bindings make the ramp delta worse by adding stack height at the heel.  Ditching brakes is not a big deal for me as I grew up in the era prior to ski brakes so going back is not real hardship.  And to be honest I like the added security of leashes in steep or glaciated terrain where I am pulling my skis off on occasion.  Not a fan of being at risk of totally loosing a ski on unforgiving terrain in a fall with brakes .

The 'shrund on the North side of the Midi is full of single skis with brakes still firmly attached. 

Binding setting and how a tech binding works of sorts?

In my alpine days I required by the charts a DIN of anywhere between 7 and 9.   If I was skiing hard in difficult terrain I needed DIN of 10 or 11 to stay in them.  I used Marker, Salomon and Look bindings.  Generally preferred Salomon for no better reason than I liked how they looked I suppose.  As  shop monkey I was certified to mount every one's bindings at one time or another.

Obviously my ski technique and skills could have been better. Still could be.   But I was a strong strapping kid...not the best skier for sure but strong enough to twist out of a binding set at a DIN of 11 with little effort, at will,  back in the day.

These days I am not nearly as strong and my ski technique is thankfully a little smoother.  I have been skiing lifts on my Dynafits set at 4 with the toes unlocked and very, very seldom come out of my bindings.  To date only when they should come off, have they.   And I am skiing harder and faster than ever.

At a DIN of 11 I knew it was going to hurt me if I came out of a binding at that setting.  But I also knew the binding wasn't going to be reliable keeping my ski on when set much lower than 11.

Now I ski in the Dynafit system at a trivial number compared to what is recommended and have yet to pre-release.  I think having the Dynafit toe piece doing most of the work is a good answer for my skiing style.  For the "safety binding" part of it I have to date been safe and sound in Dynafits  all the while taking some big tumbles.  Painful?  Sure!  But not to my ankles, legs or their joints.  All this, skiing hard as I might dare, on 115mm skis under foot and a binding setting of 4.

Admittedly now the setting of 4 was a mistake on my part and I will be cranking them up to 6 :-)  But none the less I have been skiing hard @ a 4 and 6'1", 190#!

Sure they are a bit finicky to get in and out of.  But practice makes it easier.  I don't find it annoying these days.  I think the advantages of less weight and a more secure ride an easy trade off.   The harsh steel to steel connect took me a bit to get use to compared to the bungee cord feeling of a typical alpine binding.  That uncomfortable feeling has passed as well.  But it will always come back a little to remind you it is there when the snow conditions are really hard or icy.  Not a deal killer but I (and my knees) do notice it.

This is a comment that simply bewilders me:
"a ton of people in EU tour on this stuff. It’s very popular, especially in social groups where racing and super fitness are practiced. I’ve tried touring on some lightweight rigs and really don’t like the lack of ski brakes, but it seems a lot of people don’t care one way or the other about brakes. Most of those folks are such good skiers they rarely fall and hardly ever release from a ski. Lot’s of them ski with the toes locked. It’s actually gotten pretty crazy. Reminds me of telemarking at its peak in North America, e.g., all sorts of innovation, and who cares about safety release or ski brakes?"

I am neither racing or super fit.   I don't consider myself crazy or unsafe.  I find the comment utter nonsense.
 
Guides argue all the time about which is better, brakes or leashes, in avi and crevasse terrain.  I try to stay out of avalanches.  So mute point to me. I do however ski in avi terrain a good deal of my ski outings, if not all.   You get caught in an avalanche with leashes on your skis, and the ski windmilling or keeping you buried is likely the least of your problems in my opinion.  But pretty common to loose a ski with a brake any where on or off piste.  If you have to walk out 10k on one ski you might have a differing opinion of just how effective the "brake" is.   

I do care about a safe release.  Experience on the snow has proven to me the Dynafits are up to the task even on a setting of 4 for my own skiing.  The Low tech version with a auto locking toe has been super solid for me in no fall terrain.  

Locking the toe?  There are places I simply do not want to loose a ski...leashed or not.  I don't want the ski coming off in no fall terrain.  That is the kind of terrain I would have a client roped up on.   Might even have an axe out for self arrest.   I like having the opportunity of locking out the toe and keeping my skis on if at all possible.  What you do with your ski is up to you.  Several of us have quoted a 17 DIN at the toe once locked.  I think that is in error from my experience.  More like a DIN of 11 or 12 I'd bet in use.  But I am not recommending you ever lock your toes!   I do, I have and will continue to do so on occasion.  It seems to work for me.  It may not for you!  When doing so, a trivial fall, might just snap your leg like a dry twig ;-)

From:    http://www.skintrack.com/people/trevor-hunt-interview-steep-skier/
  1. Trevor Hunt says:
    After a comment on Twitter, I feel I should elaborate on why I said low techs (or plum races as well) couldn’t handle steep ice. In my experience, race bindings (both plums and dynafits) have been great for skiing 95% of what I ski. But when I’ve been side-slipping because I was unable to make turns on a slope due to steepness and ice, or I’ve been jamming my edges into the slope to get a bit of purchase between jump turns, I’ve looked back and watched in terror as my heels would rotate a significant amount. So it doesn’t necessarily happen during the jump turn (since there would be no way to look back and see during a committing jump turn!)
    So if you are interested in skiing very steep lines in stiff conditions (lock you toes!), I’d suggest using a heel with DIN, or find a light heel that doesn’t rotate (they do exist).




TLT6 P with a soft green tongue, no power strap,  Praxis carbon GPO and Dynfit Speed Super light bindings and BD leashes.  All of which I have been skiing hard for the last month @ a setting of 4.  Ramp delta is a measured +3mm., added to the boot pin delta is +1mm.   Easy to live with +4 on both on hard and soft snow.

More here on that particular set of kit:
     



Above are pictured 4 sets of slightly differing Dynafits.  Three are hybrid versions that have significantly changed ramp deltas from the  factory versions.  2 for the better..one worse.

Left to right:  Radical Speed with a Dynafit 6mm shim under the toe.  RD is 9mm.
Radical toe with 6mm shim and a TLT heel.  RD is 6mm
 Stock, Speed Superlight.  RD is 3mm
Low Tech Race with rear adjustment plate.  RD is 5mm


The typical answer to a TLT Radical ST,  RD of +15mm? As shown above...stick a second 6mm shim under the toe to get a +9mm or ramp delta (RD)  and excessive 12mm (1/2")  of simple stack height off the ski deck (stack height).  Common but not the right answer IMO.  The added insecurity of longer screws in the toe piece and more leverage on ski and binding is well known.  If you go this route you need more than the 4 binding screws doing all the work.   Not the best answer IMO.  Ditch the brakes and the extra toe shim.  That gets you down to  +6mm of RD with a cleaner profile with the older TLT Speed heel.   Exactly 1/2 the RD as the weaker and the proven to be unreliable 12mm of shim and 4 long toe screws.  If you need more track adjustment do the same by using a 6mm factory toe shim and a Speed Radical heel to get +9mm of RD.

Depends on what boot you ski the double shimmed binding with....as to just how much good you have really done to improve your ramp angle on the ST/FT.  TLT gives you a +10.  One/Mercury/Vulcan gives you a  +13.

I use some B&D after market Dynafit parts. They also make high quality Dynaft toes shims in differing thicknesses.  The heel  top plates on the adjustable Dynafit heels are all interchangeable with the same 4 screw patterns.  Easy to mix and match old and new lifters (or no lifter as I do now) depending on your personal preferences.


 My point to all of this?  First if you really want to use your skis as transportation tools the current generation of tech bindings and just as importantly, boots, will fill the role nicely.   As a skier doing everything from teaching in a ski school, slope maintenance, patrolling or avi control there are some sweet gear choices available these days.  May be not a good choice for everyone.  I am just speaking for my self and my experience on snow.   As a skier going from lift yoyos to a week of cat or heli skiing (ya, I wish these days), some combo of what I have mounted with a tech bindings is going to be my first choice in gear.  In the mountains any time there is snow on the ground?  I wouldn't think there is even a question there today.

Distinct advantages?  Weight drop, and much easier boots to live in day in and day out.  May be a better ski retention mode with out using high release values. 

The one caveat  for me endorsing tech bindings is the various levels of ramp delta options.   My first suggestion is be prepared to ditch the ski brakes with the current technology to get something reasonable for ramp delta.  Reasonable being something below + 9mm. ramp delta.  Half that would be even better.  If you have a small BSL get a binding that starts out @ or below +6mm.

Distinct disadvantages?  Ramp deltas can be difficult or impossible to over come.  Likely you will need to loose the brakes to get a reasonable ramp delta.  Cost.  The added fiddle factor.   Low max DIN settings on most of the tech bindings.  Not a lot of elasticity or a soft feel on tech binding by comparison to modern DIN alpine bindings. 

I think currently the best choice in tech binding when you look at the binding weight, binding settings and consistent release is the Dynafit Speed Super light.  The down side, without a adjustment plate which would add 5mm to a 3mm RD, you are stuck with one specific BSL and no options other than redrilling if you change boots. (Boot Sole Length).

I suspect within a year or so  there will be more lwt options with low ramp deltas easily available.
 

45 comments:

Tony said...

Dane, thanks for the comprehensive overview. Quick question re the speed superlite - does it rotate to provide a flat touring position? I don't think it does, but the catalog description is not clear & I've never held one in person.

I take it that that is not an important requirement for you. I live in an area with long flat approaches to the goods. Do you know which of the lightweight/low ramp bindings let you tour flat?

Dane said...

Hi Tony, many don't have a flat position. The Speed Super light and the Low Tech Race don't. Trab race does if I remember correctly. But I could be mistaken. Plum race bindings do "I think". May be Brian or Ian will drop in and answer that with some authority. Anyone else? I used a pair of Trab race bindings for a season but simply don't remember one way or the other now if they went completely flat. It just became a non issue eventually. I have since ceased to care one way or the other. But I do wish I could remember how the Trab actually did work!

Having used a few lwt models here is my observation. First round on my Low Tech race I was pissed. Seemed like a no brainer to add that detent on the heel post for a flat boot position. Still unsure whey they don't. Since then I have done a lot of flat skiing/skinning. I think the key to being comfortable and fast on the flat is having a really good lwt boot with enough ankle flexibility. TLT5 and 6 are a good choice for me. PDG or any of the lwt Scarpa boots are good as well, may be better. If you have enough rearward ankle movement the fully flat position doesn't seem to be needed for me. The need for a high heel lifter is negated for me as well if the boot will flex forward and back easily enough. I actually sold my Trab race bindings after one full season and bought another pair of the Dynafit Low tech race simply because I liked the Dynafit product. Better for fit, finish and most importantly, in use imo. Plum seems to be a step up on build quality over both. But I have not used them personally.

Nick said...

Plum and Trab both drop flat.

I will also second Dane's sentiment that if your boot has the proper flex, the flat drop is not needed. For reference I'm skiing a TLT6 and previously a TLT5.

As always, thanks for the thorough look at these things Dane. Great read.

Dane said...

Thanks for the help Nick! It is sorely needed most of the time ;-)

Randolph said...

I have an older low-tech race (circa 2008/2009) that drops flat. I know the speed superlite does not go flat, but are you sure that the new low-techs don't as well?

Dane said...

"are you sure that the new low-techs don't as well?"

Low-tech heel will turn so your boot will go flat but there is no detent to hold them there. So yes, I am positive they won't work in a -0- delta postition. Without duct taping them in place ya gotta use the first heel block to ski or skin in them.

AJSCOTT said...

http://skimo.co/hagan-zr-binding

this is the binding I have been looking at getting. It does rotate 90 for flat skinning.

Bruno Schull said...

Hi Dane,

Great post. I think that your exploration of these bindings has really helped many people re-imagine their approach...the industry should thank you!

Here's my question: I can generally ski slowly down most reasonable terrain on and off piste, but my technique is awkward and strained. The advice I have always received is to bend my knees more and keep my weight forward, to attain that Holy Grail of a neutral position with my lower legs pressing into the front of the boots. Instead, I always feel like I am in the back seat, and it takes a great deal of muscular effort to control my skis. For this reason, I always assumed that more ramp angle would be a good thing for me, an adult who learned skiing late, and will never have nice form. By my reasoning, probably flawed, more ramp angle would tilt me forward, and help get my weight in the right place. You seem to suggest that less or zero ramp angle might help me more. Thoughts?

All the best,

Bruno

Dane said...

Hi Bruno..what is your ramp delta now? What boots are you skiing in? All these things help or hinder you as a skier, boots, bindings and skis. I don't like blaming one's technique on the equipment but there are times when technique is hindered by the choice in gear.

Bret Kobe said...

Dane Thanks for the great read! I have just got into tech bindings and i purchased the dynafit TLT Speed Radicals that as your article points out have a very high ramp angle and having skied them for a month getting upset with them i now know why. this is the exact problem im having with this high ramp of 15mm is there a spacer you would reccomend to decrease this angle i am a big skier at 300lbs and am worried i might have too much leverage if use a shim. so the question is shim them or replace the binding
Thanks Bret

Jonathan S. Shefftz said...

“Here are some examples of the ramp deltas on the more common BC and Alpine ski bindings.”
– Those examples by alpine downhill ski binding *brands* are meaningless: big range within brands among different models. And even by models with the same name, can change from year-to-year depending on what shims are shipped with the binding that year.

“Plum race bindings do "I think". May be Brian or Ian will drop in and answer that with some authority. Anyone else?”
– Yes, they rotate 90 degrees to “flat”: Race 135/145 is actually slightly negative, and Race 165 is truly flat (b/c of the adjustment plate).

“AJSCOTT said...
http://skimo.co/hagan-zr-binding
this is the binding I have been looking at getting. It does rotate 90 for flat skinning.”
– Yes, but the fit is too tight unless you mount the gap at ~5.0 to 5.5mm instead of 4mm (as confirmed by an ATK email earlier this week (in reply to the “small tricks” referenced on the ATK website).

“The advice I have always received is to bend my knees more and keep my weight forward, to attain that Holy Grail of a neutral position with my lower legs pressing into the front of the boots.”
– Additional knee flexion will just shift your hips further back, unless it’s matched by additional corresponding ankle flexion (which is unlikely).

Dane said...

Jonathan..."meaningless?" Bit far fetched I think on that one. I get your point just not willing to go as far as you have and call the typical Alpine binding data and research to get there "meaingless". None of this is written in stone or to the exact mm. It is alwasy a movong mark with new products. Point is alpine skiers don't ski with a 15+mm ramp delta. I suspect we shouldn't be doing so either.

Bret...sure. Easy answer for you that is safe and lowers the ramp delta on a Speed Radical from 15mm to +9mm. Just call Dynafit customerr service and order up the factory toe shims and the longer screws for a pair of TLT Radical ST bindings. Cost should be under $30 all in. Then simply unscrew your toes pieces, add the shim and use the long screws with some good water proof glue when you screw them back down. Even the 6mm drop in ramp delta will be noticable i na positive way for most.

I ski that exact set up on some of my skis.

Jonathan S. Shefftz said...

Let’s instead say “misleading” to represent an entire line of alpine downhill bindings with a single delta figure: varies significantly by model, and even by model year depending on which shims they decide to swap in or out. One company even advertises its various shim options, for a stated range of 0mm to 6mm.
Also potentially misleading to compare alpine downhill binding impart boot sole delta with Tech binding pin delta: I suspect that many of the more downhill-oriented AT boots with minimal sole rocker have heel sockets higher up than the toe sockets, which would mitigate the imparted delta … but I don’t have any to measure, so I would be curious as to any measurements that anyone out there can report?
Bottomline though is that *most* Tech bindings probably impart more boot delta than is optimal for *most* skiers. The same is probably true for alpine downhill bindings, but to a lesser extent.

Alex said...

Hi Dane, have you seen these?
http://www.diamir.com/produkt/diamir-vipec-12/
What is your opinion?

jbo said...

AJSCOTT,

I've been using the Hagan ZR the past few weeks. The flat mode works great on hard snow, but the heel can rub your boot when the ski flexes in soft snow. This is true with any binding with enough flex but maybe happens more easily on the ZR (the Trab doesn't handle much flex either). Hagan does say it's OK to mount back as Jonathan suggested, though I have not tested the release characteristics when mounted this way. I will update our product description as we learn more.

All that said, I have to agree with Dane that it probably doesn't matter. I actually had to remind myself to test the flat mode since I don't even bother when using PDG boots with great ankle articulation.

FYI, Bret, we also carry the Radical ST toe plates & screws (http://skimo.co/dynafit-binding-parts). Also B&D Ski makes some nice light shims that I've used successfully with the Speed Radicals.

Kerwin. said...

How are those 171 nanga's treating you? I have been eying those for a few months now waiting for reviews to come out.

Dane said...

Kerwin,
I'm a big fan! You see the actual weights published back a few?

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2013/12/it-is-back-in-my-quiver-dynafit-cho-oyu.html

Kerwin. said...

I missed that post, thanks for the heads up!

brian p. harder said...

A few others already gave the answer but I'll take the invite and throw my two cents into the ring here.

This is an awesome post in the usual painful detail we've come to expect. I wrote something much shorter recently on the same topic. I was not so bold to say all that you have but completely agree now that you've said it, Dane.

I was unaware of the ridiculousness of steep ramps on most tech bindings because I've skied nothing but Plum race bindings in the BC for at least 5 years. I simply forgot about the flamed quads and sore toes that "normal" tech bindings produce.

Your observations here explain why I felt so awkward the first time I skied my DPS with Speed Radicals and Vulcans. Thought my quads would burst into flames halfway down the first run. I then had the same feeling with Grand Tetons, Speeds and TLTs. I went to B&D and put the 6mm shims under the toes. So much better although still a fairly healthy delta. I wish the makers would just start getting rid of this steep delta. Unfortunately, most BC skiers will never know better unless they ski a race set up. Then the light will go on although they may not immediately understand why.

Let's face it. American skin tracks are steep and race bindings and their low heels makes following up these tracks tedious at times. I love the heel rise of the Speeds in these situations. I also get some grief from others for my flatter skinners when I'm breaking on race bindings. Of course, these partners usually decide they love the angle by the fourth lap. . But I'm close to giving up the luxury of the heel rise to get back to my preferred low delta for skiing down.

Finally, the ability to turn a race binding for a completely flat heel position is mostly unnecessary for typical BC skiing. I certainly wouldn't decide on one binding over another based on this. One simply gets used to the single heel rise position and, as others have said, modern boots with ample cuff articulation make the point moot.

Dane said...

Thanks Brian. All part of the discussion we had started when you were here last Spring.

Dave Cramer said...

I had the "aha" moment this year after my first run on PDG + Speed Radicals. God, I could ski down the whole mountain without stopping! Previous setups were 1st-gen TLT5 with too much forward lean, and Vertical STs or Speed Classics. So now I'm wondering if I should shim the old bindings, or just give up and put Speed Superlights on everything.

By the way, I don't miss a flat position on the Speed Superlights, and I've even skied them on groomed nordic trails.

Dane said...

Re: 1st gen TLT? I used both versions of the 5 (P/Mtn) for a few seasons. And really liked the boots. Ski the TLT6 now and the PDG. I think most of those unhappy with the forward lean on the TLT (which hasn't changed on the 6) simply had too much ramp on their binding set ups. Most I knew were on the ST with brakes bought at the same time they bought the TLT5. Most of us coming from the older Dynafit bindings...thinking nothing had changed.

Factory 6mm shim is an easy one for a Speed Radical to get 9mm. But still a Speed Superlight @ 3mm. Money no object..Superlight is "easy".

Tom said...

Dane, thanks for the overview. Maybe I missunderstood one thing: You wrote "Ditch the brakes and the extra toe shim. That gets you down to +6mm of RD." Honestly, I don't understand how removing the brakes affects the RD. I just took off one brake of my Vertical ST - RD stays the same compared to the one with mounted brake. IMO it would be necessary to lower the whole heel pins to change RD?

Dane said...

Tom, sorry for the confusion. You are correct. You do need to change the whole heel pin set up to change the RD. When I wrote "ditch the brakes" what I was refering to was changing out the entire heel piece and replacing it with either a Radical Speed or a TLT Speed heel piece. Just pulling the brakes off the ST o FL does not lowere the ramp delta, it just removes the brakes. You have to go to the lower pin height that some of the heels have available. Just removing the brakes will not solve the RD promblem. If you can't change heels, the best option is to use a double stack of 6mm shims under the toe.

Nicolai Michel said...

Hi Dane,
I have 2007 Dynafit TLT Comfort bindings. How do I determine the ramp delta? Someone here mentioned burning quads, which is exactly my problem (in addition to being a bad skier...)

Dane said...

Hi Nicolai, I use a digital caliper but anything in mm will work. Measure from the ski's top skin to the center of the toe piece pins. Number might be something like 29mm at the toe. Same on heel but from the ski top skin to top of binding heel pin. Say may be 44mm. Difference if heel is higher than toe makes it a +. Just numbers I pulled out of the air, no your numbers specifically. In this case it would be +15mm of binding delta. Curious what your bindings measure out. Please let me know if you have a chance.

Nicolai Michel said...

I measure approx. 19 mm. This is with the front binding in the downhill position. :(

Paddy said...

Hi Dane, I've finally got my Cho Oyu's coming, and I'm trying to decide on a binding. Do you miss having the "high" heel lifter on the race-type bindings spring and Summer volcano skiing? Low angle switch backing on frozen snow isn't much fun, and I'm worried about having enough "lift" on what will (mostly?) be a spring ski for me. Am I missing something? Just not stretching my imagination far enough? I do love the idea of keeping light skis light....

Dane said...

Hey Paddy, sorry I missed this. Newest boots like the Aliens or TLT5/6 are so flexable for and aft that a high lifter isn't required even on some pretty steep tracks. Most just don't seem to need lifters anymore if you have the newer boots. I am happy with just the low tech myself and I almost never set the tracks...just following what everyone has has done already and happy I don't need anything more.

Curtis said...

Hi Dane,

I am trying to save some money and make a setup for touring, resort and touring/climbing. So I think I've settled on the Spectre's for boots but since they only work with Tech bindings, it has been suggested for what I want to do, a do-everthing-setup, that the Dynafit Beast is the only binding that will work well, due to the DIN going up to 16. What's your opinion on this?

Dane said...

You couldn't pay me to ski on the Beast ;) I stay in all the Dynafit tech bindings no matter the terrain/conditions. But I don't ski ganster style either. I do use Dynafits, in the ski area, on lifts and in the back country. Anyone that tells you it can't be done is an idiot. Go with Speeds and no brakes! Try a google search for the bindings and add Cold Thistle. Should give you my thoughts on the subject. I'm 200# and will be skiing tech race bindings on the majority of my own skis this season.

Ryan Banfield said...

How was the boot ramp delta measured? I've got a pair of TLT6 P's, and Radical ST bindings. I was considering swapping the heelpiece with the Superlite+ a plate, and from the numbers for pin height on Skimo.co, the binding delta would be -0.5mm, but add the 1mm from the boot and it's +0.5mm.

My only reason for asking is that looking at the boot on a flat surface, the toe pinholes are higher than the heel, which would be a negative delta. I know internally there's a ramp, so is that what you measured?

I considered just going straight to Superlites, but the things I'm worried about are cost, and cost of mounting plates because I'm worried I may someday need to remount..

Dane said...

Put the toes and heels on a flat surface. Measure center of pin height from the flat surface. Subtact the two. Toe high is - delta. Heel high is + delta.

I measure from the center of the toe pin and top of the heel pin for my own use. But anything close on the pins will give you a rough idea. I want a level binding/boot sole, not my heel up in the air like you would have on a Rad ST. SSL heel on a plate is a LOT better than a Rad ST for ramp angle. But almost any combo is if you are using brakes.

Ryan Banfield said...

Thanks for the reply Dan, appreciate it, and all the info!

If I measure the TLT6 using your reference points, I get a -1mm delta. Though, this doesn't account for the internal footbed that might not be level itself.

Regardless, I don't know who to trust with the pin heights. - http://skimo.co/pin-heights

Using those numbers the Rad ST with a SSL heel and 4mm plate would be -0.5mm delta, but the same setup you had, you mentioned had +4-5mm? I wanted to go this route, but if the other websites numbers are true, and factoring in my boot -1mm delta, I'd have a -1.5mm. I guess if that was the case, I could ditch the Rad ST base plate, right?

Dane said...

Dane..not Dan. Measure twice cut once. SSL heel on a Dynafit adjustable track plate is 35.5mm. Heel track plate is 5mm of that 35.5mm. Radical toe on a Dynafit 6mm shim is 36mm.
You need to make sure you are looking at the numbers of the combo you want to use. The measurements I just gave are from a binding I used this summer. Speed Radical toe with the 6mm shim and a SSL heel with a 5mm track.

I am the first to admit I could have published it else were incorrectly or more likely was from a Speed super light toe/heel combo which is 6mm less in front with no toe shim. Add a heel track and you then are jacking up the heel 5mm. So instant change of 11mm of ramp angle from the starting point.

Best thing to do is actually measure the combo you want to use. Along those lines be sure that the heel and toe combo will work together. One combo I skied on much of last winter was a disaster waiting to happen I am told. I didn't have a problem but I won't be using it again either.

People start quoting boot board angles and I call BS. Even Dynafit's designers can't tell you what those are exactly. And as I was told...by one of them, "no one cares except American gear geeks."

Dane said...

Ryan, I don't think you are geeking here. I think most get way too much ramp angle and it makes the skiing suck IMO. No way in hell would I ever suggest anyone ski intentionally with a ramp of +12mm delta. Or even 1/2 that. You only know, what you know :)

It is a bigger deal than most make it out to be. And not a big deal to those trying to sell the gear...of course :)

Dave said...

Dane,
I'm curious where you think the limits on ski size are for the Speed Superlite?
I'm mounting a touring ski that is 126-94-112 and while I'm not heavy weight at ~165lbs I will on occasion ski it with a loaded pack.
I've read of infrequent issues with the lighter toe cracking and the triangular heel mounting pattern is fairly small. Considering the adjustment plate under the heel to spread the screws wider with ramp delta increase.
Any thoughts?
Thanks


Dane said...

Dave,
I skied a 115mm down hill ski every where with the SSL all last winter and will again this. My limit on ski width will likely be the Dynafit mounting jig. So around 120mm. With the heel plate you eliminate much/all of the weakness on the 3 point heel mount (I did not use the plates on my GPO last year). Bindings were still rock solid at the end of the season. If you worry about the lwt toe design just use a Speed Radical toe...hell for stout by comparison and the holes match. So you could switch back and forth depending on mission if you had the spare toes. I am using that system on some skis this winter with a factory toe shim and adding the heel plate to get me back to zero ramp. Used that same Speed Rad toe/shim and SSL heel with a plate this summer in Las Lenas. I liked the combo a lot.

Corey Christensen said...

I'm so glad I found this blog. Thanks for all the info. It just salvaged my backcountry skiing career. I almost gave it up and went exclusively splitboarder. I was on the Dynafit Speed Radicals and I was experiencing exactly the feelings you described about being in the back seat and fighting against my boots. They were trying to force me into a super aggressive forward lean. It fatigued my legs really quickly. Yet when I'd go back to my alpine skis I wouldn't feel the same. It really came down to the Pin Heights or Ramp Delta. I went from a +16 to about +0.5mm depending on whose measurements you trust. It made all the difference. I went to Skimo and swapped out my Speed Radical heels and bought some Plum Race 150's. They worked great on my peak bagging expedition and felt way more natural. I've asked some of my friends if they have similar feelings with their Speed Radicals but they tell me they haven't noticed. It makes me wonder if height has something to do with it. I'm really tall and I wonder if the angles my leg make when knees are flexed are so different from my friends that the pin height delta didn't affect them as much as me.

I did the math and based on my boot sole length of 297mm. My TLT6 has a forward lean of 15° and by changing the heels out I was able to reduce the forward lean of my boot/binding combo from ≈18° to ≈15°. It made a huge difference. And by going to those heels I dropped another 2/3 lbs off of my setup.

Thank you again!

Dane said...

Pretty fun when you get it right isn't Corey. Anyway glad you got it sorted. Being taller isn't going to help. But so few people have a clue and just think..."that is the way it is". Seen some better alpine skiers (on alpine gear) who should know better have no idea what they are talking about.

Thanks for reading the blog! Hope it helps.

Andi said...

Wow, your article just opened my eyes. Since I bought my PDG boot I noticed a very unpleasent feeling when riding downhill - kind of a forward lean. I ride it with a Dynafit TLT Vertical ST binding. Always thought it's just because my ski is "non-rockered". But now that I understand that delta measures, it is obvious that it has to be the positive delta from my binding. Glad to know that. Finding the right setup is not easy these days... Can't believe that most salesman in the industry don't know about positive and negative delta and how it affects your riding style or they just don't wanna tell you and sell you products. The easiest way to get the right setup from the start is to inform on your blog, tell the salesman to mount a special binding on a special ski and have fun. So I'm looking forward to my new setup: PDG, Broad Peak and Low Tech Race...

Andi said...

Hey Dane, forgot to ask if you recommend any special binding mounting position on the broad peak? Just to make sure my setup is really nice ;) my boot is 28 and ski will be 167, Thanks!

Dane said...

I mount all my Dynafit skis on the line...seems to have worked great so far. Enjoy the new delta! You're gonna like that set up :)

Anonymous said...

Dane--have really enjoyed your blog, especially reading about the binding "delta" issue. So, I've found a pair of original Superlites to buy locally and will be mounting them on some 2007 DPS Lotus 138 for powder and soft snow touring in the Tetons. But, the Tetons have a lot of steep skin tracks, so I'm looking for info from anyone who has ever put some shims/mods on the high riser on Superlite 1 to make it even higher. Have only found one reference saying people do it, but gave no details. Appears to be pretty doable, but I'm just looking to see if anyone else has done it already. (BnD nubbins for Superlite 2 do not work on Superlite 1, according to BnD.)

Since the risers are removable, maybe I could get the 22 Designs binding shop in town to machine a bigger riser.

Thanks!

Dane said...

Most guys have gone to a very flexiable boot to the taller risers aren't needed. But understand the concern with a big ski and beefier boot. I have seen guys make risers out of aluminum stock a few years back. But haven't any info on it, sorry.