Forums Bindings Karakorams or Sparks?
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  • #573408
    JayBee
    10 Posts

    I want to start out by saying hi to everyone as this is my first post!
    I’ve been lurking around for some time now and I’m getting my first split this season, I’m so done with snowshoeing.
    I have already made up my mind about wich board I want to get, big thanks to this board!
    Now I have to decide on the binders, Karakorums or Sparks? I’m totally torn between them.

    Here’s what I’m thinking about the two:

    Split 30:
    +Active engagement in clamping the skis together, both the clips and the bindings.
    +stoked that you don’t have to open the bindings in transitions.
    -I’m a bit worried that there are a couple of parts that might give out after a lot of use and aren’t that easy to replace.
    What happens when you get water inside the chambers where the locking rods move and it freezes, does the system work?
    -No crapons yet (propably going to be solved before it comes an issue).

    Blaze:
    +Tried and true system.
    +With the new climbing bar I think they’re going to be in par with Karakorams in skinning.

    +Highback angles
    +Mr. Chomps
    -Transition takes propably a bit longer than on Split 30 system. It’s a big factor as I tour a lot with skiers.

    Any thoughts?

    #629292
    HikeforTurns
    1113 Posts

    Hard to say at this point, as only a handful of people have tried them, and likely no one has tried both the blaze and the karakoram. Since this is your first split, it may be hard for you to tell performance differences until you have had a chance to get out there a bunch. You could consider waiting until there is more information available?

    #629293
    rughty
    620 Posts

    Out of curiosity, what board did you get? As far as the binding choice goes… I don’t think you could go wrong wither either. I talked with Bryce about water getting into the binding and freezing and he assured me that won’t be a problem. I am a little relieved that I can’t afford either setup new right now so I can get some feedback on both systems over the course of the season. Being a fan of new technology, I am leaning toward Karakoram. If you do go with Spark, you should at least give those Karakoram clamps a try. They are sic!!!

    #629294
    aksltxlt
    621 Posts

    Some people seem to think that the karakoram product is bulletproof. For these peoples reps… well I hope so. If something does break in the BC…. How easy is it to rig up to get your ass back to the trailhead? Does your riding buddy have compatable spare parts? Do you have spare parts, screws, bolts, DUCK TAPE? I tend to lean towards the sparks. Plus when I blew out MY Ignition 2s Will sent me the Fuse. Total down time 1 week. Sparks has great customer service and stands by their shit.

    #629295
    PedroDelfuego
    758 Posts

    Sparks no question….

    Karakorams dont exist yet, at least practically.
    This is their first season; its all pure speculation at this point.
    They have yet to even ship let alone have they gear tested and destroyed by splitboarders.
    What about the warranty? They are here now but tomorrow???

    Spark has been proven, and they are the sole reason for karakoram, and Voile’s new binding (also not torture tested) .
    Just pony up the dough to Spark and revisit the Karakorams in a few years, if they are still around.

    :twocents:

    #629296
    russman
    689 Posts

    As someone who has ridden extensively on both systems, I really will say that you cannot go wrong. Both bindings work fantastically well.

    As far as addressing your concerns:

    Its true that Spark has been around longer, and is more well established, and their customer service is off the hook… Will is downright the raddest dude in snowboarding. However, the same can be said about Bryce and Tyler. What I wish everyone understood, is that Karakoram really is just two highly passionate and driven engineers putting their heart and soul into this project.

    Let the best product win!

    @jaybee wrote:

    -I’m a bit worried that there are a couple of parts that might give out after a lot of use and aren’t that easy to replace.

    I’m yet to have a catastrophic failure in the wilderness. No other prototype tester has either, I believe. The binding is actually very simple and easy to work on. I’ll go as far to say that the linkage is impossible to break with human produced forces. The tolerances are just too high. We’re talking about material strengths in the area of thousands of pounds. Also, because the binding incorporates an axle as opposed a pin, there are negligible frictional forces between materials. I found the axle on my Fuses to significantly wear through my baseplate, yet there are no signs of wear on the Split30’s.

    @jaybee wrote:

    What happens when you get water inside the chambers where the locking rods move and it freezes, does the system work?

    I’m doing this experiment right now. So far, in actual riding situations, I haven’t been able to ice them up (I have iced up my Fuses). So, tonight I’m laying the binding submerged in a tub of water for 30 minutes to get it good and soaked. Then I’m putting it in the freezer. In the morning if I can’t get it to work, you’ll have your answer! (I’m curious to see how this goes too)

    @jaybee wrote:

    -No crapons yet (propably going to be solved before it comes an issue).

    Crampons are very close behind 🙂

    #629297
    zerodog
    93 Posts

    As far as availability? My Karakorams should be showing up today! Not to say there won’t be supply issues later this year, that is why I ordered mine a long time ago. But they are on schedule for the first run and hopefully have everything lined up to keep cranking all winter.

    #629298
    ehcarley
    411 Posts

    Sparks $300, Karakorams $599.

    Is money an object? I know that I’m unable and unwilling to spend $600 on snowboard bindings.

    #629299
    tiltedworld
    406 Posts

    @ehcarley wrote:

    Sparks $430, Karakorams $599.

    Is money an object? I know that I’m unable and unwilling to spend $600 on snowboard bindings.

    Fixed

    Not advocating either one since I own neither, but if you’re base on $$ only – at least compare apples to apples. You still needed to add $130 in Voile mounting hardware to have a comparable cost. Just sayin’ 🙄

    Very interested to hear more about the real-world performance of the Karakoram’s though before making a decision on which to buy.

    #629300
    russman
    689 Posts

    @russman wrote:

    @jaybee wrote:

    What happens when you get water inside the chambers where the locking rods move and it freezes, does the system work?

    I’m doing this experiment right now. So far, in actual riding situations, I haven’t been able to ice them up (I have iced up my Fuses). So, tonight I’m laying the binding submerged in a tub of water for 30 minutes to get it good and soaked. Then I’m putting it in the freezer. In the morning if I can’t get it to work, you’ll have your answer! (I’m curious to see how this goes too)

    The verdict is IN! Karakorams pull through in the freeze test!

    Here were my methods:

    1) Set Split30 in 4 inches of cold water, let sit for 35 minutes.

    2) Pour out water until 1/2 inch sits in bottom of tuperware.

    3) Place in industrial freezer along with all the dead deer, salmon, beef and turkeys.

    4) Leave alone for 13 hours.

    5) Remove from freezer (my industrial freezer is set at 19 degrees F).

    6) Test linkage system. Here were my questions:

    -Does the lever move?
    Yes
    -Do the pins push out?
    Yes
    -Does the lever still cam over?
    Yes
    -Is the motion still smooth and continuous?
    Yes
    -Do the pins still push into the baseplates perfectly?
    Yes
    -Does the front axle still rotate and glide perfectly in touring bracket?
    Yes
    -Were there any significant notable functional differences in how the binding works or feels other than being frozen?
    No

    7) Subjective thoughts:
    Most notably, when the binding was frozen solid, it took a tad bit more force than normal to get the pin to move. This was negligible though, and once moving there were no differences.

    Overall, this is the toughest freeze test I could come up with. The only way to make it more knarly would be to leave the binding completely submerged in water and let the whole thing freeze inside a block of ice. I might try this version too, and see if it still works after I chip it out.

    GO SCIENCE!!

    #629301
    jeri534
    159 Posts

    @tiltedworld wrote:

    @ehcarley wrote:

    Sparks $430, Karakorams $599.

    Is money an object? I know that I’m unable and unwilling to spend $600 on snowboard bindings.

    Fixed

    Not advocating either one since I own neither, but if you’re base on $$ only – at least compare apples to apples. You still needed to add $130 in Voile mounting hardware to have a comparable cost. Just sayin’ 🙄

    The Karakoram system also comes with board clips.

    #629302
    tiltedworld
    406 Posts

    @jeri534 wrote:

    The Karakoram system also comes with board clips.[/quote]

    yep, accounted for that – missed the 4 gaskets though

    Tour bracket – $36
    Hooks – $24
    tip/tail clips $24
    Pucks/gasket $36
    Climbing bars $36

    Total $156

    #629303
    JayBee
    10 Posts

    I ended up gettin a 166/26 Venture Storm R. Can’t wait to get it on some snow! :bananas:

    Thanks to Russman for doing the test! It was just what I wanted to know, thou it did make the decision harder again. I was leaning a bit on the Sparks side, but now I’m back in square one… :scratch:

    I’m willing to spend some $$$ if I get good bang for the buck.

    #629304
    summersgone
    820 Posts

    I was in the same boat as you, got a new setup this year. I ended up with a Venture Zephyr and the Blaze’s. My thought was that Spark has been tried and true for so many people and so many people sing praises of them, you really can’t go wrong. While Karakorams are cool, and innovation is great, I figured I would let some of the guys here try it out and get in their opinions before I threw down. I didn’t want to drop extra money (already had plenty of parts to reuse, so no voile interface extras) on something that wasn’t completely proven yet, although it has a lot of potential to be great. Then maybe in a couple years after they have finalized their production, came up with new innovation (who knows where they will go, but it will be better), possibly dropped some costs from manufacturing, I would look into it again. Until then I really think the Sparks will be great. They are lighter and been in the biz for longer. The clips on Karakorams do seem sweet though, and I might look into them later in the year.

    Product innovation is only going to get better. One must say that the battle these guys will have from competition is only a good thing for us consumers. Go CAPITALISM! :scratch:

    #629305
    samh
    726 Posts

    Karakoram Split30


    Weight: 920 g (single binder)

    ============================================

    Spark R & D Blaze


    Weight: 798 g (single binder)

    --
    samh.net

    #629306
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    And, for those who are not good at metric system, the above posted weights end up being 8.62 oz. less for the Spark for a pair of bindings… this is weight on your feet, which you lift with step forward when skinning.
    Looking at the pictures of the Karakorums, I cannot see how they adjust for size and for boot centering? The Sparks allow for precise adjustment of size and boot centering-I am sure Karakorum must adjust somehow.

    #629307
    Ecobrad
    2068 Posts

    Are either of the toe straps able to be toe caps? Now that I’m used to it I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back. Nothing like spending $500 and immediately having to buy parts and do a mod.

    Also, The Karakoram doesn’t have a solid baseplate, has anyone noticed this to be a concern on the down. It’s probably no big deal but I can’t remember a binding that doesn’t have a solid base. Maybe that’s the next place for sparks to try some swiss cheesing?

    #629308
    russman
    689 Posts

    @samh wrote:

    Karakoram Split30


    Weight: 920 g (single binder)

    ============================================

    Spark R & D Blaze


    Weight: 798 g (single binder)

    Remember that most of the weight on both of these bindings comes from the highback and straps. The actual aluminum components of the Blaze are very close to the Fuse weights.

    #629309
    russman
    689 Posts

    Sorry for the two in a row replies..

    @ecobrad wrote:

    Are either of the toe straps able to be toe caps? Now that I’m used to it I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back. Nothing like spending $500 and immediately having to buy parts and do a mod.

    Yes, the toe straps of the Karakorams are indeed cap straps

    @ecobrad wrote:

    Also, The Karakoram doesn’t have a solid baseplate, has anyone noticed this to be a concern on the down. It’s probably no big deal but I can’t remember a binding that doesn’t have a solid base. Maybe that’s the next place for sparks to try some swiss cheesing?

    Actually you don’t notice it one bit. If you look at your normal solid board binders, when your foot is in there the arch region doesn’t even touch. Burton actually drops the base disk down so it doesn’t contact your foot; this way you get more toe and heel leverage through turns.

    Also, because there is no metal in the middle, they don’t ever get that major ice buildup while touring (I’m constantly fighting an ice block under my Fuse binding on cold snow days).

    #629310
    HikeforTurns
    1113 Posts

    @barrows wrote:

    And, for those who are not good at metric system, the above posted weights end up being 8.62 oz. less for the Spark for a pair of bindings… this is weight on your feet, which you lift with step forward when skinning.
    Looking at the pictures of the Karakorums, I cannot see how they adjust for size and for boot centering? The Sparks allow for precise adjustment of size and boot centering-I am sure Karakorum must adjust somehow.

    Barrows,

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