I'm back to looking at traditional bindings.
I'd looked at K2 Cinch and GNU bindings, and there are still too many compromises to justify the convenience. I know my opinion on my negative experiences riding Flow bindings in the past aren't popular here - I'm not going to invest good money on something that has disappointed me in the past.
Don't get me wrong - the NX2 looks great, might actually feel like a traditional binding, but there's still some maturing to be done with all rear entries.
So at any rate - save for the one trip I'll be making to Colorado this year, I primarily ride a skate-style, jibbing around a very small resort with little vertical, and play in the park area. Board is a GNU Park Pickle I've had for 3 years now, and love it.
I don't really rely on my highbacks to get my back edge in the snow, for years I even rode with cut-down highbacks when that was the big thing back in the 90's. Apparently that's even coming back again. I at least don't want them to get in my way, any more than I want a rigid boot (holy crap it was hard finding a boot that didn't feel like a ski boot, throwing me around! Nasty!)
I'm considering the following:
I've always loved Burton hardware for being indestructible. And there comes part of my concern... I like the theory of the re:flex bases, but playing with it in the shops, it seems a little flimsy. The heel component that pops out is all that holds the toe component from moving, and there's some very small bits of rubbery plastic that bind those parts together. Also, while it seems there's lots of heel cushioning, that could also mean it'll compress over time. It seems pretty soft. And the ankle straps just seem so-so, I don't really know how comfortable they will prove to be. I know I'll love the ratchets.
I'm neutral between the custom and mission... the custom is a little more freestyle oriented, but the mission seems a little nicer, both I'm sure will ride fine.
Flux is new to me, there's a local shop about an hour away that I haven't gotten to yet. High recommendations from some of my buddies on the west coast. The RK30 is intriguing to me with a urethane highback.
I found a deal on last year's DS30 for about the same price, or less, and have heard that is a good freestyle binding as well, even though it doesn't have a urethane highback. My concern with either Flux is maybe the opposite of the Burton re:flex base - the criticism I've heard is that the heel area isn't cushioned enough. Sounds like their ankle straps are really good.
I've seen Union around, and ignored them, for years. But the Contact Pro looks decent. My local Zumiez in the mall had them to check out. Seem solid, the cushioning under the base seems intriguing, seems like they'd flex at least decently, although the highback seems pretty rigid. Ankle straps seem like they'd be comfortable, like they'd spread the force out, rachets seem good.
EDIT: Read a review on the ankle straps that some people find them uncomfortable. A comfortable ankle strap is one of my highest priorities - I'd rather not pop my binding on my front foot every ride up the lift.
Anyone have any thoughts on these?
The first two pairs were my own (I only weighed 140 lbs at the time) and the last one was a friend of mine (he's like 170-180 lbs, a bit of a hucker... shattered the heelcup trying to ride down a frozen waterfall back in 2007). In all cases Burton was cool and replaced everything for no charge (not even shipping). If you want bombproof... check out Rome 390s (tough aluminum baseplate with wrapped heelcup), that's what I have on my park board.
That being said, I have ridden a couple of EST bindings (which like the Re:flex are almost baseless minus some flimsy padding) and I am actually rocking a pair of CO2 with Re:flex on my freeride/powder board right now and I like them. I'm not really worried about the heel/toe component being flimsy or falling off - and if they do compress. I trust Burton to just replace them for me. I like the ankle strap and I like the rachets.
I am interested in trying out Union and Flux one of these days.
Well... by "hardware" I meant more like the ratchets... but I definitely wouldn't have expected that damage from a Burton binding either. I thought they used decent quality plastics in their bases.
If anyone is old enough to remember Elfgen, I had a set of their bindings back in the late 80's or early 90's, and on a particularly cold day, they actually shattered... worse than a crack like that, I actually ended up with bindings that were 4 or 5 pieces each!
Those pics do have me leaning away from them a bit... they were in my list mainly as my nothing-too-exciting-but-at-least-reliable choices. Thanks.
I'm aware there's a bit of a catch-22 here, as I am looking for a flexible freestyle binding. Aluminum bases may be more durable in the long run, but I don't want something too rigid.
The Unions may be a decent compromise, as they have what I think is a urethane layer of different durometer beneath the baseplate, that would absorb shock both to the binding and rider, which might provide flexibility and ultimately durability. Mainly just not totally psyched on such a rigid highback, but I suppose I'll have it dialed back anyway, and that might not be so bad on my Colorado trip.
On the other hand, I've got a line on last year's DS30's for $160... anyone comment on the apparent lack of heel padding?
Anything can break. I snapped the frame on my Flux Titans (now the TT30s) after about 50 days. Landed pretty badly in the back seat and torqued the shit out of it. They held together though. I took another run before I finally stopped to check it out because it just felt loose and sloppy.
Breakage is something you have to have some faith in the manufacturer for. That being said, I'm interested if any of these are fundamentally flawed - if not, I won't worry about it much.
Flux are very comfortable and they replaced mine after the failure despite the fact that the warranty had already expired. They had a one year warranty and I was at about one year and four months. :thumbsup:
Great price, but effectively in exchange for "no warranty" - not only because they are last year's model, but because it would be through a shop who is likely not authorized to sell online.
On the other hand, I can probably pick up RK30s for close to the same price.
An interesting consideration. I probably will never need a warranty, but:
$160 for last year's $260 binding is a great deal, even with no warranty.
$180 for this year's $180 binding is no particular deal, but would a warranty.
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