Post subject: Re: Spark buckles / ratchet mechanism very finicky
Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:32 am
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:30 am Posts: 64 Location: Sun Valley, Idaho
I would say it comes down to fit more than quality. They function as well as they are designed to. My feeling is that since I am still using my Burton boots I desire the adjoining straps that were co-developed. No one is at fault here, it's just that system integration is a mandate at Burton and they have the extensive product line and cash flow to do it. Love them or hate them, they have this dialed.
So, the Burton straps are mounted lower on the base plates than where Sparks mount. The Sparks are mounted on the highback pivot. I always regarded this mounting location as inferior because the joint isn't really optimized for either load, it has to perform dual function. So my thinking was to create my own strap mount in the base plate similar to Burton. Anyone have an example of doing this or have most people gone for the easier mod and just mounted on the highback pivot?
One last thing, the plastic used in the Spark straps is suspect to me. It reminds me of cheaper material that I've seen frozen and broken at the wrong time. Now, I haven't experienced them break, but haven't used them long enough to fatigue the material. It just appears to be that shiny, cheap plastic that gets cold and breaks. I just had a pack strap cinch break in the cold a couple days ago and it reminded me there is a science to creating plastic blends that work in the cold without becoming brittle. It's a total chaffe to break these parts in the backcountry and hillbilly your way back to civilization. And... Normally these small parts can be hard to replace. So I am going to replace tongue and straps just to feel confident. Am I out of my tree here or justified?
Since starting this thread back in December, it seems that most other users who are chiming in have also experienced troubles with either the straps or the ratchets and ladders.
I also think that most people posting on this thread are of the opinion that this is intended to be constructive criticism, if not hopeful criticism that a replacement might be made available.
Make no mistake, the Blaze interface plate has really changed the sport for the better. I no longer feel as though I am "making do" with riding my split, and I now sometimes choose to use it for an inbounds day which is something I never used to do before.
After initially replacing the ratchets with the new ones after their initial recall in December, I still find the performance of this to be substandard. My Burton P1s open and close smooth as silk. These things require a lot of pulling and tugging and sometimes seem to jam themselves up. So far nothing has broken in the field yet.
Kudos to Spark R&D for developing a product that is a true game changer! I expect to see more improvements in years to come. The whole strap, ratchet issue makes me realize that Spark dedicated probably 100% of its resources into the interface / connector plate system, and simply ordered boilerplate straps and ratchets from some generic manufacturer. I really hope that Spark gives some more thought to the whole system and continues to make improvements to these bindings. I also hope they make some new strap system available to current Blaze owners at no charge once it is available.
It started for 11/12 so previous versions will have the older straps. I'm still using mine from 10/11 but prior to that have always put Burton straps on my Sparks. The older straps get the job done but they're just not buttery smooth like the B straps. I think its a combo of better tech and better quality, and with the experience burton has in the binding game, you wont find better straps and ratchets on split specific bindings than on < 11/12 Spark binders.
If you are using bindings from 10/11 they did have an issue with the plastic on the toe straps and Spark will replace that piece if you call them. You can also purchase a strap upgrade kit here on the second page. Hope that helps!