Post subject: Time to step forward into the next century
Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:33 am
Joined: Sat Nov 25, 2006 1:48 am Posts: 5 Location: Calgary
I keep seeing reviews of bindings that I can find on any snowboard site. Let's get splitboard specific, let's talk about what actually connects us to the board. I would like to see more options than what voile has given us. One half decent binding and everyone gives up? I would love to see a modified dynafit that hugs closer to the boot (I've got 31.5 Scarpa's). This is an engineering challenge to all those who think they have the savvy to bring such a design to the forefront. Who knows - maybe Dynafit will like your idea enough to cut you a cheque! Perhaps you have a design that is different from all others out there and take us beyond what we currently believe possible. I know I'm throwing my idea machine behind it, who's up to it?
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2006 8:59 am Posts: 550 Location: Stowe, VT
I'll get back to you when I'm not taking four graduate classes at once... And have access to a machine shop. Why is it I always have more toys when I have less time and vice-versa? A light-weight dynafit setup is on my "fun to do list" so I may or may not get to it someday.
Who you calling half decent? Just kidding dude. Getting the bindings out this year has taught me a ton about the market, and all the different ways that people get on the split. Bringing a hardshell boot to market is an expensive thing to do, but if it's your passion get after it. As UB told me "someone needs to take one for the team and invest a serious amount of time and money into making a sweet hardboot splitty system." I fully agree. If that were my passion I would spend my time talking to custom ski and hiking boot producers and see if they're into working on a project. After talking to some of the big guys at the shows I think it will be hard to get their attention. Some of the ski companies seem to have the opinion that a splitboarder is just a snowboarder that hasn't given up yet and gotten on an AT setup, they may be hard to convince. If you come to them with a proto that looks close to production you may be able to get their attention. If you come with knapkin sketches, it'll be a lot harder. My $.02.
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2005 4:15 pm Posts: 372 Location: The land of MO (SLC)
Yep, if we want innovation it's going to have to come from within our little community. When I talked to all the boot makers about making a split specific boot at OR I got (as stated in the "will atomic make boots" thread):
Summary of answers to this question at OR:
Atomic: No, but check out our sweet skate skis and boots...........
Scarpa: Splitwhaaaaa? No
Garmont: No, leave me alone, there are skiers I need to talk to......
BD: Splitwhazdat? No
"No" often also followed by "we have this lightweight 3-buckle.............."
Will talked to the big snowboard kids at SIA so maybe he got a better of for their take on us splitters that he wants to share with everyone. But the overview I got from Will on SIA seemed more about graphics and steeze than function and innovation.
None of the major "ski" boot manufacturers see us a a big enough or serious enough market to invest the time and $$ needed to make a split specific boot and binder combo. In fact, after talking to them they'd rather spend their time convincing us that AT and tele gear is what we should be buying rather than waiting for some split-innovation. Even Voile seems to be funneling much of, if not most of, the profits from their splits into developing their growing ski and ski binder business rather than back into split R&D. Makes sense when you look at the size of the markets.
Like Will said I said, if it is going to happen one of us is going to have to sack up and do it with our own passion and resources. And as Will mentioned, if that person shows up with a functional or semi-functional proto it might get the attention of the big kids. Unfortunately, unlike Will, I don't have the balls to turn my hobby into my job. I use my hobbies to unwind and not think about my job.
Who's going to step up to the plate?
_________________ "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" HST
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:50 pm Posts: 7 Location: Seattle, WA
I occasionally lurk on this board and am both inspired by the grassroots drive to evolve our sport and frustrated with the lack of corporate sponsorship/recognition needed to really fast-track and standardize progress in the sport.
Echoing what others have been bitching about for years, I wish someone would step-up an offer a viable split-specific boot and binding system. While there are merits to both AT/plate and softie(or PMB)/straps setups (I have alternated between both depending on the nature of the trip), there does not appear to be a true one-size-fits-all solution. What's worse is it seems we're in an era of binding devolution, where more emphasis is being placed on fashion rather than function. Do we really need more gold bling, studs and faux suede-lined highbacks?? WTF? The advent of Burton's and K2's step-in bindings, while not my first choice for the downhill, was a promising step in the direction of a quick-release snowboard mechanism which could save lives in the advent of an avalanche. Unfortunately, I think every major manufacturer has now abandoned their respective step-in systems.
Interestingly, if one combined and tweaked elements of the various disparate store-bought and DIY binding and boot systems now largely out-of-production into a single system, I think you'd get very close to the ideal setup.
While I certainly don't speak for all splitters, I'm going to assume that most of us prefer the downhill versatility and control offered by strap bindings over plate bindings and AT boots. With that said, I think Burton's Fusion binding was on to something by combining step-in capability, and by extension, quick-release capability within a standard strap binding, without also requiring a bulky and inflexible step-in soft boot. Now, I have never actually tried the Fusion bindings myself, and no doubt there was room for improvement and modification to realize a true quick-release system, but the general idea seems solid, especially if one also integrates the weight-saving Spark R & D base/sliderplate into the binding.
So what about the boots? What I have found works best for me is actually a modified Koflach PMB (the standard red/gray kind) with a basic Scarpa AT liner. The idea isn't 100% mine, but I cannibalized a second pair of the same boots (bought second-hand for $50 at Second Ascent in case you live in Seattle) by removing the articulated upper ankle cuff, and riveting it to the top of the ankle cuff on the original pair of boots. By doing so, I have effectively extended the lacing eyelets by about three inches up the ankle, and thereby have the forward lean and lateral stiffness that standard PMBs lack. Combined with strap bindings, this setup offers the best of both worlds IMO - a narrower, stiffer sole with hard toe cap and heel to kick steps in ice and/or plunge-step with ease, and a soft-boot flex around the ankle allowing for a more 'natural' feel. For comparison, the flex feels comparable to my Salomon F22's which I use when riding in-area. One can increase the forward stiffness by adding a booster strap or simple Velcro strap of some sort, but I haven't found this particularly necessary.
If I were to design the boots from scratch, I'd make the sole slightly wider, but nowhere near as wide as most soft boots, and make the heel slightly shallower so that one can better feel the board underfoot yet still have traction when booting. The bindings themselves could then be tailored to this boot and the baseplate made narrower than conventional strap bindings, which would allow for easier skinning without the annoying bashing of the bindings against each other. The quick-release levers on each binding could in theory be connected by a stowable cord, that the rider could reach down and grab and pull in the event he/she needs to jettison the board.
Curious how many more of us there needs to be to create sufficient market demand and competition to break us out of this stagnation we're in.