The latest developments in binding technology are as much about simplicity as mechanical magic. Less parts equals less weight, and the faster you can get in and out of your bindings, the more laps you’ll get in on the mountain. That logic drives several companies, including Gnu, Flow, K2 and Ride, to develop quick-draw strap and binding entry systems for riders who keep it pinned all day long.
Mark Zwahlen, Ride’s Binding Category Manager, said breaking down the function of each individual binding component inspired the first rendition of the Contraband. He and his crew found the V-Strap was more comfortable and gave them better toe hold than a traditional toe strap. “There was no magic in the engineering,” Zwahlen said. “That’s what we love most about it—it’s simple.”
K2’s Autos look like traditional two-strap bindings minus the toe ratchet. And instead of a ladder strap, a thin cable runs from a pulley on the toe-strap, through the chassis and connects with the ankle strap’s ladder. Ratcheting down the ankle strap pulls the slack out of the cable and tightens the toe strap. K2’s Auto motive was making bindings faster and easier to use. “They’re faster to get into, faster to get out of, and you lose some components which shaves some weight,” said K2 Binding Design Engineer Nigel Steere. “When we brought the Team in early on and showed them the prototypes, it was surprising to me how stoked they were on it.”
Kick Back and Recline
Rear-entry style/reclining highback bindings are found in Flow’s line and in Gnu and K2 models. Flow uses a three-pronged approach called the “Power Triangle.” A high-tensile steel cable connects the baseplate to the reclining highback, increasing responsiveness and power transmission—so less rider energy is required to initiate turns, they say.
To lock and load: Recline the highback, step in and slide your foot beneath the strap(s), bring the highback up, and pull up the rear lever that draws the cable tight. The methods for engaging K2’s Cinch models and Gnu’s line of Fastec bindings are similar in function. –Mike Horn
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