Forums Bindings Karakoram VS Spark
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  • #574648
    reved
    4 Posts

    I have been checking this site out for awhile now for reviews, etc and just purchased a Prior Khyber 160 and now I am on the hunt to upgrade my bindings. My main concerns out there being ridability, reliability and weight.

    Looking at buyin something for next season and debating between sparks and karakoram (get on the waitlist now). I do not want to go to a hard boot, so I am trying to figure out which is superior.

    Cheers.

    #638427
    peacefrog
    376 Posts

    1. Do you already have the voile hardware?
    2. Is money an object?
    Voile Hardware $160+Sparks $299=$459
    Karakoram = $599

    So if you’re starting from scratch the Karakoram is not that more than Voile (when you look at the overall investment). But if you’ve already go the Voile and can’t return it then it’s $299 vs $599 and that’s a big difference. If money not an option than buy both :headbang:

    #638428
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Despite the hype, testing here indicated to me that the Voile interface with Voile slider plates is actually stiffer across the board than Karakoram. We compared two Venture Storms, one mounted with Voile hardware (and direct mount plate bindings), the other with the Karakoram set up. The Voile was clearly stiffer in terms of holding the two board halves in plane.
    Easy test to do, take the assembled board, and place half on a sturdy bench and have one person hold it firmly (or stand on it) to the bench, then apply hand force to the other half of the board, as would happen during a turn. Note that special attention was paid to making sure all bolts were tight.
    Controversial, perhaps, but this was an objective test, and the results were clear to both myself and my friend helping with it. As far as I can tell, the emphasis of the Karakoram design is to actively pull the board halves together, rather than making the interface stiff (door hinge effect) across the board.
    The Spark baseplates are stiffer than the Voile slider plate, so these should result in even better performance.

    #638429
    lernr
    233 Posts

    Thank you for sharing the beta, Barrows!

    Spark has funky buckles, and people seem to blow the toe straps. I have purchased extras jic

    I love the Karakoram clips on my NS split (not a cap, I hear that caps may hull a bit)

    Cheers
    Ivo

    #638430
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Other riders have posted here that Spark and Karakoram source their straps/buckles from the same place-I do not know if this is true or not. I ride plates and hard boots, but if I was in softs (and depending on how the 2012 Deeluxe Sparks boots look I might put together a new soft set up for the hell of it) I would use the Blaze base plate, and perhaps select some different straps from my collection. It does seem like peole are breaking the straps a little too often.
    I almost purchased a set of the Karakoram clips for retrofitting on my board, but the when we did the testing above, we performed the same test, without the bindings in place, just testing the clips. Voile was considerably stiffer, despite the simple design. Note-I do make an effort to periodically tighten the bolts holding the Voile Chinese hooks (and locktite them), they give a lot more interface stiffness when the bolts are tight (to the point that it takes some effort to rotate the hooks).
    As a bonus, Sparks are considerably lighter than Karakoram. We shall see how light the new SL version of the Karakoram system is this fall when production units are available…

    #638431
    rughty
    620 Posts

    The new Karakoram binders blow EVERY other split binding out of the water as the lightest binding weighing in at 678 grams. For those going to the Kali party next weekend, you get to see them for yourself. They mentioned bringing demos too!

    #638432
    lernr
    233 Posts

    Very interesting, glad to hear that Karakoram is improving the design – that’s what we all want 😀

    I am not so concerned about weight right now though. I would be really excited to hear that Karakoram improves the adjustability and climbing efficiency.

    As far as spares – I did get Union straps, ladders and buckles

    @barrows: I called and asked for Bola but he wasn’t there, was told to send an e-mail to pre-order – which I did. I also mentioned your name. So far haven’t heard anything back, guess I better follow up…

    Cheers
    Ivo

    #638433
    reved
    4 Posts

    Thanks for the info. I thought that the karakoram were lighter than the sparks…

    For $600+ I would hope the karakoram’s would live up to the hype. I like the idea… I can imagine the SL models will be even more $$$

    There is always something tough about purchasing the first run of production models… Seeing how next year the SL will be never have been produced before, I may try out their existing system next year.

    I have heard about the buckle issue on the Sparks… Carrying a spare set wouldn’t be a huge deal, but sort of frustrating knowing that it might happen, although people are stating that the karakoram straps are the same quality as the sparks…

    rughty, maybe your custom bindings would be something to check out too!

    Thanks for the insight, it’s great to have this resource available…

    Cheers

    #638434
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Lerner:

    “@Barrows: I called and asked for Bola but he wasn’t there, was told to send an e-mail to pre-order – which I did. I also mentioned your name. So far haven’t heard anything back, guess I better follow up… “

    I would recommend that you keep calling back until you speak with Bola directly, to be sure. He is the owner of the shop, and the one person who really seems to know what is going on.

    #638435
    russman
    689 Posts

    A few weeks ago I rode Voile Light Rails for a weekend instead of my Karakorams. It was a great refresher course of splitboard systems!

    There was no question from my experience that touring efficiency is better on the Karakoram axle system than on the Voile pin. It is simply darn near impossible to “ski” the Voile system “well”. On the K Dawgs I can carve inbounds groomers in ski mode; lateral stiffness in tour mode is far tighter and seems to allow for much higher edge torques.

    Barrows, what kind of objective measures did you take on your test? I’ve done similar tests with the Fuses, Light Rails, and Karakoram systems. I measured “inside edge shear force translation” with a ruler between the bindings in ride mode. During torsional flex tests with my feet strapped in, the middle edge can displace as much as 6 millimeters with the voile system. On the Karakoram interface I can get it to move between 2 and 3 millimeters. While riding, the pucks “feel like a splitboard”, the split30’s feel like a solid.

    The other variable that seems important is for-aft translation of the binding on the board’s surface. There simply is no amount of lateral “bending” of the Karakoram binding. On the pucks, there are fewer forces acting to “pull” the binding down onto the board. When you lean side-to-side, the binding flexes the plastic puck a few millimeters before it touches the topsheet. Some people like this kind of flex, but for me when I drive my knee down into the snow, I like the board to respond instantly.

    After drawing quite a few free-body diagrams and doing over a year of testing on the binding, four main factors make the binding stiffer and more responsive to me:

    1) They are metal…

    2) Five points of contact, and they are wider.

    3) Heelcup: instead of a baseplate + heelcup, all heel-to-toe force vectors are translated through one piece of material. The heelcup initiates an I-beam type of force transmission (the stiffest type) and cradles the foot much more securely.

    4) Linkage system: pulls board together, and binding “down”.

    #638436
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Russman:

    I was testing the ability of the interface to allow the two boards halves to remain in plane (across the board, not longitudinally). In other words: the seam down the center of a split allows the board halves to pivot along that seam, as if the board was hinged. This effect translates to a less responsive ride going from toe to heel, and less leverage/power/control over the edge.
    As described, the K interface allowed more angle to develop between the two board halves under the same application of force.
    I have not tested longitudinal flex, from observation of the K system I would suspect that the K system would offer a stiffer interface fore and aft. I have no need for increased stiffness longitudinally though.
    Do not get me wrong, I like a lot of what K is doing, and I look forward to Bryce and Tylers continued development of the system. I almost picked up some K clips (as you know, I have no need for soft bindings), but the testing I did indicated that the clips alone, in comparison to the Voile chinese hooks, did not produce the same level of across the board stiffness, note that I keep the Voile hooks really tight (the tightness of the hooks makes a big difference).

    I agree totally that the touring interface of the K setup is superior to a stock Voile set up, very tight and torsionally stiff, and definitely a big improvement over the stock Voile set up-the Spark touring bracket is also a big improvement over Voile, and is significantly lighter than Voile or Karakoram.
    My setup, with Dynafit toe piece is even lighter, and offers the gold standard of touring performance (wins all rando races and ski mountaineering comps).
    I will be interested to see the 2012 product from Karakoram. If they can get the weight close to Spark, beef up the stiffness of the interface across the board (especially the clips), and change the baseplate design to allow for more stance options, it will be really cool.

    One other thing, I have never tested the lightrails. They sure look flimsy though. I would expect a Spark Blaze baseplate, being machined from a single solid piece of aluminum, to offer way more stiffness than the lightrail. A carbon fiber slider plate would be ideal, but I have not figured out how to make one…yet.

    #638437
    ecrider
    8 Posts

    Thank you everyone for your great insight on both of these bindings. I am still swaying between both. The only thing I am solid on is my decision on board (Venture Zephyr). While the west has some great powder days (experienced them visiting my brother in summit county), the east coast has to worry about a lot of ice and variable conditions. In the ADK area the weather can be in the 0-10 degree range… my concern is what will freeze and crack. I received a comment stating a single pin insert can produce less risk at replacement versus an entire system shifting between ride and tour mode. I know the 14ers in CO have some tough weather so I’d be curious to hear how the gear held up.

    #638438
    Nachoconqueso
    56 Posts

    @ecrider wrote:

    Thank you everyone for your great insight on both of these bindings. I am still swaying between both. The only thing I am solid on is my decision on board (Venture Zephyr). While the west has some great powder days (experienced them visiting my brother in summit county), the east coast has to worry about a lot of ice and variable conditions. In the ADK area the weather can be in the 0-10 degree range… my concern is what will freeze and crack. I received a comment stating a single pin insert can produce less risk at replacement versus an entire system shifting between ride and tour mode. I know the 14ers in CO have some tough weather so I’d be curious to hear how the gear held up.

    Good choice on the board. I have the new one, 159, it’s the most well made splitboard I’ve seen. Superior craftsmanship if the design fits you.

    As far as choosing bindings go, I think you’ll find both systems to be nice. I bought the K’s because the money wasn’t an issue and I liked the design. I’m a person who really gets excited about touring, but keeps a soft shoe so the SL’s kinda stood out at the time. It’s more on your personality really. Dyna is gonna tour fast and be awesome, but like every system we have for splitboarding, there are trade offs. Go for what speaks to you, but you won’t lose either way imo.

    #638439
    rky mtn srfr
    152 Posts

    A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (especially when the bird in hand is on sale and has a solid track record), so I bought a pair of Spark Blaze’s today. I weighed the Sparks against my old Voile plate w/Ride EX bindings, and am frigging stoked to find that I just took two pounds off my splitboard- Sweet! If the hype pans out, I’ll give the Karakorams a go when it’s time for a new board.

    #638440
    fitit
    343 Posts

    On sale, where? At this point go with who can get them to you the soonest!

    #638441
    rky mtn srfr
    152 Posts

    Boulder Ski Deals (Boulder, CO), and it was more like a slight discount than a sale. I’ve bought a lot of boards, bindings, and random gear from them over the last decade. Their snowboard dept staff are rippers, very helpful and knowledgable.

    #638442
    snwbrder
    6 Posts

    Hello all,

    My question is there a big difference beetween voile and karakoram in terms of riding mode and keeping board under the bindings tight?

    I live and ride in europe so we often ride hardpack conditions and there is one thing i don’t like in voile system. It is play of the board under the bindings. I thinking of getting new binding soon and started to think about karakoram. I use Jones Solution C with karakoram clips which I like very much and spark lT. I like simplicity of sparks and don’t have any comments to touring performance which is in my opinion perfect but don’t like the play of the board under bindings. I hike to ride so a would be making my decission based on riding performance. I read many posts and still didn’t find clear answer. Thanks for replys.

    #638443
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Honestly, you might consider a hard boot system with Phantom Bindings ultimately, this will be more responsive than any soft boot set up.
    As for K vs S, I do see some ride mode advantages with the K system: The binding has a closer interface with the board surface, and uses metal parts (rather than the plastic Voile pucks). So the connection from boot to board with K is more direct and responsive-no matter what one does, the Voile pucks do flex quite a bit, and this allows for a less responsive system-how big is this difference, well only you can decide that. Weight wise, Sparks with the LT bracket are lighter than Karakoram, but it is a relatively close thing if you compare Karakoram SL to Spark.

    I was surprised how much more responsive my system was when I went from using the Voile pucks to the Phantom bindings, and the difference between K and S would be similar.

    #638444
    philip.ak
    679 Posts

    I’m sorry, but the Voile puck to Phantom analogy does not apply here.

    I’ve owned both Sparks and Karakoram. The Krams flex more in ride mode, no question. The plates the bindings mount on are wafer thin and the screws that hold them to the deck are right in the center of the plates while the binding attachment points are far on the outside edge of the plates. That long, unsupported distance of thin metal flexes a lot. I could get the edge of the Kram Split30 binding to lift off the board many millimeters. My Spark Burners are rock solid by comparison.

    #638445
    BGnight
    1382 Posts

    That you can get the K metal plates and V pucks to flex off the board fore/aft is actually a GOOD thing. Google NOW bindings. Same concept. The flex actually makes K’s more responsive imo. They were designed to flex to allow preloading. Don’t be confused though, because my Superlights are tighter, more solid feeling than any binding I’ve strapped in to. It’s the side to side slop you don’t want and Spks have more of that than K’s.

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