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 Post subject: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:32 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Denver, CO
I picked up a 2010-11 Prior Khyber 160 (w/ Voile interface) on a great deal at the REI Boulder on Sunday. Now, I'm just trying to figure out whether to pick up the Spark Blaze/Burner or the Karakoram system.

The forum has some good discussions on pro/cons: they seem to be a similar weight (K vs. Spark + Voile); everything I read about Karakoram is really positive, from the feel of the whole board set up to the improved touring ability; and I was a bit worried about the soft Spark highbacks although some people said they were able to modify the bindings with Salomon straps, etc, to make them stiffer.

To me, one positive is that I already have the Voile system, so skins + a pair of Sparks (even the LT version) would be less than the Karakoram. But, money (or the difference in total cost) is not really an issue. I'm looking for a stiff set-up, tight board integration and feel, and reliability (won't have to replace the straps on the third time out). Read that Spark is now using Burton for some of it's components - I have never ridden a Burton binding, but does anyone have thoughts on that?

I'm about 5'8", 155 without any gear. This topic has been discussed in the past, and I've read an exhaustive number of posts. You guys are great! Any quick thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:55 am
Posts: 59
Location: Colorado
I have the Spark R&D set up from last year and just got the Split30 Karakoram set up this year. Last night i skinned up and rode Vail mt (2' of good pow). I can honestly say that the Korakoram system is much better in tour mode and the switch over is much quicker. as far as the ride mode, i felt like they were pretty close to the same. Either set up is going to work well for you. it just depends on if the speed of the K system and extra cost is worth it to you.

Cheers! Have a good season.

my set up is a 164 Lib tech T-rice w Karakoram spit30. Dream come true!


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:32 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Denver, CO
Thanks for sharing your experience at Vail, definitely motivates me to make a decision on the bindings. Re: your comments on the Karakoram set-up, it definitely seems to go with what I've read: quick switch, excellent in tour mode.

Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:25 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:03 pm
Posts: 344
Location: Stockton, CA
You could always sell the Voile interface to offset the cost of the Karakoram set up. I think you should go for it! I'll report back on my Split30SLs when I get them - I've only ridden on the Voile kit with solid board bindings, but I was sold on Karakoram based on their look, feel, and reviews online. Also, I love how they execute the mating of the board halves! Click!

Just curious, what did you score the board for at REI?


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:22 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:41 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Vermont
If you're interested in getting rid of your voile interface (or if anyone is at that) I'm in the market.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:13 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:02 pm
Posts: 250
Location: OR
I too faced the same dilemma this fall. After much agonizing, went for a set of Blaze Lt's on sale for $304. The LT pin is an improvement that should help the spark perform on par with the split30's in tour mode. The sparks also accommodate a strap at the top of the highback which may help sidehilling. I'm not too worried about the burton straps. I've had a few sets of burton binders and straps have never been an issue.

The nice thing about already having some voile stuff is that you have a good chance of fixing some things quickly. I'd hope that karakoram would keep spare parts on hand but even so, it'll take a few days to get to you. Maybe no big deal, maybe bummer.

For me the price difference was significant. If the k's were $100 less, I think they'd make my choice much harder. Overall, I think performance from either system will be excellent. Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:38 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:03 pm
Posts: 344
Location: Stockton, CA
stuka wrote:
I'd hope that karakoram would keep spare parts on hand but even so, it'll take a few days to get to you. Maybe no big deal, maybe bummer.

I plan on having no issues :thumpsup:

I think that soon enough Karakoram will have extra mounting plates and parts, it is only a matter of time. I would love to have some extra ride modes/tour modes for extra boards, etc. Their click in click out technology is so conducive to grabing whatever board you want to ride.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:32 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Denver, CO
Great advice, guys. I'm definitely leaning towards the Karakoram set-up, but hoping to make up my mind up either way and place the order by Friday. I need to get out there and work on the tour mode part of things.

fitit: I got the board for $550. It was last years Khyber model and was down to a hand written price tag, which I haggled another $80 off. Plus, I get 5% back with the REI Visa. Not a bad deal, and definitely frees up some cash to consider the Karakorams.

Not to keep harping on REI, but one reason I was considering the Sparks was that you can now get them, the LT system, skin tail clips, etc, through the store. One, that inspires confidence in the Spark R&D brand that the "problem" with straps might be less of an issue now, and two, I can always return them for a full refund if something catastropic happend - and use the money to buy Karakoram's. That being said, I read plenty of posts on this site and other reviews that absolutely love the Spark bindings, put them through hard seasons, and have no problems whatsoever.

Also, I like your idea about a future of extra Karakoram plates and being able to use the bindings themselves on multiple splits. While I only plan on having one split for a while, I could see the advantage if you had a flexy pow or freestyle versus some super stiff big mtn line split.

Richard: If I get the Karakoram's, I'd sell the completely new Voile set up (with slider tracks) for $100, compared to $160. I live in Denver, so if you are anyone else is interested, just let me know.

stuka: Nice pick up with the Blaze Lt's (at a discount, too). From what I've read, the LT seems to really make a difference in tour mode. If I pick up the Spark Blaze or Burner, I'd definitely get the LT pin/bracket.

Once I get my set-up going and practice touring around a bit, if anyone from Front Range/Summit CO/Vail wants to get out for a day, I'm game. Definitely looking for partners. I've been out in the backcountry for about three years now - not too long, but not completely new either.

Thanks again for the advice!


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:27 pm
Posts: 608
Location: South Lake Tahoe
Either system you are stoked! Both of these systems will work for anyone that wants to hike for it. My ideal system is one that would combine the two. The Karakoram tip and tail clips (which are stiffer than the voiles) The Karakoram clips (tool box style latches that activly pull the board halves together) I've been on the sparks bindings for 3 full seasons and love em I would put those on, with the sparks touring bracket...The next thing is custom pucks that overlap to the other board. (this will keep the ride stiffer in ride mode.) I do believe the biggest improvement to the whole system would be plastic style sparks or plastic voile light rail, or plastic roughtys....Ive bent and broken my share of metal bindings and I do hold back a little when riding a splitty because breaking my binding, or pulling a puck out, Is in the back of my head when about to drop anything over 15 feet

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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:32 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Denver, CO
aksltxlt: Obviously I don't know too much because I'm new, but just reading your post makes me think about the future of splitboarding. What will the products, systems, and industry be like in five years? From what I read, I think we all have our favorite non-split binding and wish that could somehow be tightly integrated into a split set-up (e.g., without the Voiler slider tracks). Could Salomon make a Caliber-split binding? That would be sick. Will Spark R&D get bought by a larger company? The business side of things will be interesting.

Whatever the case, it'll be a fun ride over the next few years. I actually got a Prior split back in 2009, but chose to return it because I was so busy with grad school and it felt like a lot of money to spend on something I wasn't using nearly enough. I've been trying to keep track of all the developments - seeing Karakoram come out with a new set-up was amazing and Spark puts out new products every year it seems. Spark has the LT pin/bracket. Now, K2 even has a board with the K2-skin system. Lib-tech, GNU, even Icelantic and Rome have a split model. The old standbys of Venture and NS seem to be excelling. A poster on here is making his own line of bindings. Some guy in Winter Park has a growing business of doing custom splits from non-split factory boards. What innovation, truly amazing.

Based on trip reports, people are doing bigger lines, all while being even more knowledge and experienced with snow conditions, terrain management, and avalanche assessment than ever. Just super stoked to be joining the community.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:03 pm
Posts: 344
Location: Stockton, CA
I love stiff bindings so I am going to try to make some ride modes for my solid board and my verts.

REI is great and a forum sponsor. Similarly, other retailers offer similar policies such as backcountry or mountain gear. If you have a lot you need backcountry has that bill me later option and no sales tax ;-)

You can buy the Karakoram bits from online retailers follow their adds from here and they will donate to the forum :headbang:


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:06 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:32 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Denver, CO
Yeah no sales tax on backcountry.com is great - I've bought a lot of gear from them and the user reviews are a great tool. I just always forget about their return policy.


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 Post subject: Re: Spark or Karakoram?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:32 pm
Posts: 28
Location: Denver, CO
Quick question:

How adjustable are the Karakoram bindings? Can you move back the heelcup/highback if it's too tight of a fit or you're getting some major toe hang?

I was messing around with the Blaze today and that seemed pretty adjustable. The guy at Boulder Ski Deals, who said he had been splitboarding since 1989, offered them for $279 but I wanted to think about a bit more. The new Burton straps (and padding on the highback) seemed a little dainty compared to what I'm used to but better a split-specific binding than mounting a regular binding on slider tracks. Plus with the Blaze, it seemed easy to swap straps/highback out.


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