Malavita EST vs Cartel EST vs Genisis EST
All on a 152 Easy Livin. 150lbs, 22 wide, 18/-12, size 9 Flow Hylites.
After riding all three back to back the Malavita is the overall stiffest. The frames of the Mala and Gen are the same and a littlse softer than the Cartel becaue of the Hinge. But with the way the Hinge works, though it softens them up a bit tip to tail, they're both still a little more responsive. The hinge lets you direct more energy to the tips.
The best way I can find to decribe the highback is all the benefits of a urethane back without any of the faults. You dont feel it on your boot but its there 100% when you drive into it. When you push through the side it does give, so compared to its "predecessor" the Prophecy it is not as aggressive or responsive. With the way Burtons Flying V works this isnt too much of an issue though. With the extra bit of rocker outside the camber zone you're really directed more towards driving the board with centered weight. So you aren't really driving into the outside of the highback much since when you try you just sort of wash out unless your super on top of it and in grippy conditions. So, these are a comfy responsive all mountain freestyle binding. On a cambered deck or something you can really drive into the tail on the highback will be more of a factor.
It rides softer. Like with the Genesis it isnt really different driving through turns on Flying V. Where you feel the softness is playing around on your tips. In my opinion for Burtons direction this is exactly what they needed to do with the Cartel. The last couple years its been more an all mountain/freereide feel, giving it just a bit of softness to the inside brought it back to the all mountain/ freestyle killer it used to be. In my opinion it is the best Cartel yet. Without the hinge it just felt like a more precise ride and for a higher end jumper the hingeless frame I think makes more sense. Its just a bit more accurate.
The whole idea of riding your ankle strap a click or two looser because of the hammock is sound. I felt more comfortable in the binding that way and felt like it rode more the way it was designed. In reality this was the stiffest of the three. The highback just makes that difference. Again, on Flying V you really only notice it when playing around. It's stiffer to the inside and makes for manipulating the board more powerful. For the higher end park rider that likes a bit more of a skate pop these are money. Otherwise they are a great do anything binding with a good chunk of response and a dash of playability with the Hinge.
This changes some things. I didnt ride the ReFlex version, but the Mala and Gen have the same baseplate. So in realtion to each other they just both get an equal amount stiffer. Not much, just a hair really. But with the Cartel since it doesnt have Hinge in EST the overall feel of the binding is more or less just the difference between EST and ReFlex. So since the Mala and Gen get a bit more precise and the Cartel basically stays the same, the relation between the three changes between EST and ReFlex.
Overall how I'd categorize the three:
Malavita EST-High end park rider that likes a little more skatey pop or a general all mountain comfy ride.
Malavita ReFlex-High end parkk rider, solid comfy all mountain ride.
Cartel EST-park destroyer who knows what they're doing and wants some precison.
Cartel Reflex-Park destroyer who likes some more play in the highback.
Genesis EST-Rides everything, long days, and not afraid to spend $$.
Genesis ReFlex-Responsive binding for someone that liked the idea of a urethane highback but thought they were just a bit too loose.
For matchups with decks I think the Cartle and Gen depend on how the board is meant to be ridden. They'll feel softer on boards you drive into the tips more with and "stiffer" on boards you stay more centered on. Straight back the response between the two was minutely different with the Gen being just bairly more relaxed. The two part back and all.