Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:38 pm Posts: 793 Location: The Belly of Ham baby!!
For those of you buying Karakoram bindings, please do post your personal reviews so that I'm not the only wanker who's stoked!
I'm just one perspective, but I'll recap some of my previous rambles about comparing and contrasting Fuses and Split30's. Essentially, I really do believe its RAD that there are several options available; healthy competition can only benefit the end user. Sparks aren't going anywhere, and I'll continue to own my set, but there are key improvements in performance that I think are super important to splitboard bindings. At least from MY perspective.. Please DO NOT read this as product pushing.. Its just scientific scrutiny!
These improvements being primarily:
1) Lateral support and stiffness: When you crank down your straps, these bindings really are much stiffer side to side, and I experience a much higher degree of precision on turns. Particularly on ice and hard corn snow.
2) Toe-Heel power transfer: In pow the difference between the Fuse and Split30 is nominal, but on hard surfaces I find the body position the Karakoram's puts me in is a much more aggressive stance. This is mostly to do with the degree of forward lean (and could be different with the new Blaze binding) but because of the bindings architecture forces are transfered from the highback directly to the toe. Because the heelcup also makes up the lateral aspects, it seems that torques about the midfoot can exert a more direct line of action on the toe stays.
3) Tour Mode Stiffness: Once again this might be different with the new Spark Touring brackets, but the front axle system of the Karakorams combined with the touring bracket design makes for a much tighter and precise interface (in *my* experience). On the Split30, I can actually Ski the system like an alpine setup without skins on. I can't do this in my Fuses because there just isn't enough support.
4) Weight: There is definitely an improvement here, although like all bindings I feel it could be even lighter. As Kyle said, it would be AWESOME if Karakoram turned into the Dynafit of splitboard bindings! My overnight pack with splitboard strapped on is still around 60 pounds... Ouch..
5) Tightness of Interface: The whole concept with this binding's physics, is that active engagement is critical. From tip and tail clips, board clips (instead of hooks), and the interface itself..
Instead of two pucks and two skis just sitting closely next to each other, every aspect of the Karakoram interface works to "PULL" the two board halves together. If you draw free-body diagrams of the pin-linkage system, it becomes apparent that the binding itself is being pulled down onto the surface of the board (its not just sitting there). Combined, these variables mean that the binding is truly pulled to both board halves, and both board halves are being pulled not only toward each other, but to the binding. In other words there simply is ZERO play in the system. It might just be me and my biomechanics background, but I find find this to be a very important distinction. When I first met Byrce and Tyler I thought I was a huge nerd... But they're MUCH smarter and more creative than I am...
6) Ease of Use: Although there are more moving parts on the Split30, the end-user friendliness is actually much better than for the Voile puck system. I find the turn over to be slightly faster, and have very much enjoyed the step-in capabilities. Also, I've never had icing issues, and with the puck system I definitely have (when ice gets compacted under the Fuse baseplate after a long tour).
Take from these thoughts what you will.. In the end its all personal preference!
If I think of anymore pressing comparisons, I'll post them.
_________________ PROFESSIONAL AMBASSADOR OF STOKE
Am I the only person who thinks that the Karakoram is waaaayy too over engineered?
There are way too many moving parts that could potentially break when your out backcountry. I think the hooks are are better than the Voile, but the rest is overkill, and wouldnt save much more time than any other system.
Why would anyone want to use the Karakoram when you have the simplest most effective alternative: Spark?
The sparks will never break as they are just a solid piece of aluminium with a simple pin, thats its, thats all you need.
Why would anyone want to drive a VW when they could be driving a Ferrari?! The Kloster brothers are engineers and really put time and effort into making a stand alone product. They require no Voile or Sparks parts to work. I have thought of less complicated interface systems, but much less user friendly. Seeing how their moving parts are put to use is pretty inspirational. Those parts never see the kind of forces that would cause them to break. Not even close. Karakoram system is a much stiffer design than using Voile pucks. But to each their own. Have you ever seen or tried their bindings? Remember, Spark was at one point where Karakoram is now and I am pretty sure they had their doubters too. I can't wait to see all the feedback this season to really see how all the systems compare.