Neutral vs. Active Bindings

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vt_trees
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Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by vt_trees » Fri Dec 27, 2019 9:07 am

First a quick background. Took up tele in the mid 80’s growing up in Vermont. Started out on 3 pins, Trucker skis, Fabiano leather boots and poles that came up to my shoulder. Skied many a tele specific ski as well as downhill boards mounted with tele bindings. Boot of choice was the Merrell Ultra. Owned a set of Arkos boots but never really loved them. Drifted away from skiing in the early 2000’s. Starting last season I began to reintroduce myself to the sport and the technology. This fall I picked up some Excursions and a used pair of Vector BCs with Switchback bindings. With and early snow fall in VT I had a chance try this “new to me” setup. Holy crap what ton of fun.

Reading up on the advances in boot and binding technology I’ve been learning about “neutral” vs “active” bindings. From my understanding the Switchback is neutral binding as is any other binding I would have skied in the past. My question is, what do folks with similar skiing backgrounds think of “active” bindings. Is the Excursion “beefy” enough for an “active” binding, or is that even a relevant question? FWIW my lift service days are between 0-1/year.

Jamie
North Central Vermont

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lowangle al
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by lowangle al » Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:12 am

Welcome to the forum Jamie, and congrats on your gear choice. I also started back in the 80s and after 35 years came up with a T4, Vector BC, with a Riva cable binding as my holy grail quiver of one ski. Very similar to your set up and it should be good for the Vt. trees.

A more active binding will give you more tip pressure and better edge control throughout the turn, including the part of the turn when the skis are unweighted. I think an active binding works well with a soft boot when more power is desired. I think an active binding is worthwhile if you are ripping big lines at speed or skiing a lot of hardpack at speed but not worth the sacrifice of touring performance in the bc, especially for k&G. If you are primarily skinning with a free pivot binding they would be OK.



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Woodserson
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by Woodserson » Fri Dec 27, 2019 11:46 am

I agree with Al.

He and connyro steered me in the direction of T4 + Voile Switchback X2 which is more active than the standard SB and I love the feel and control. As I bring up the heel the extra activity helps keep the ball of my foot down and reduces how much I have to think and I can focus on route finding around tight trees. Neutral/active, they are different flavors that appeal to different skiers. One of my tele friends that I ski with tried my set up with the X2s and went scrambling back to his SB as quick as he could, I'm the other way around.



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Holzinger
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by Holzinger » Fri Dec 27, 2019 12:27 pm

Just chiming in on neutral vs active. My preference is neutral for off piste and skinning, while active is OK for riding the lifts. It’s something you have to experience yourself. Also had a similar experience as Wooderson, one of my ski buds hated the heel retention of my BD 02 bindings and couldn’t wait to get back to his Targas.
Go your own way, the lines are shorter...



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connyro
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by connyro » Fri Dec 27, 2019 12:28 pm

IMO the SB isn't a neutral binding. I would consider 3-pins neutral and SBs more active. I use Excursions with SB or SBx2 and Vectors for local bc hills. I think the Excursions are fine with both of those bindings.



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phoenix
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by phoenix » Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:33 am

vt trees, I have a very similar background, dating back to the 70's. I highly favor a "neutral" binding for lift serve (rare for me these days), or BC of any sort. With T1's, T2's, or Excursions. I'm also particular about the binding having a smooth, "progressive" flex (meaning no dead spot with initial heel lift, and not losing flex in a deep turn). This sort of binding provides the most natural feel and reliable response for me.
Examples of the bindings I'm describing: BD 03, 7TM Powers, Burnt Mtn Bulldogs (dialed in to where you like 'em). Although I like G3 a lot in general, I was never fond of the venerable Targa for it's skiability, as it exhibits the dead spot mentioned,lacking the progressive aspect.

Gotta say you certainly updated you gear nicely! I'd love to score a pair of Vector's. I also have a big soft spot for Trucker's,still have a pair of their "light touring" out in the shed, and spent some early 3 pin years on the Light Edge. Which one's did you have?



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vt_trees
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by vt_trees » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:23 pm

@Pheonix, I had the green Trucker Light Edge as well. If I remember correctly I found them in the basement of the house we bought when I was 11. Picked up a second pair in Lander, WY when I was on a NOLS course in 1990. Unfortunately they didn't make it back to Vermont. I pulled one of the bindings out and ending up sleeping with it in my sleeping bag while trying to get epoxy to dry.

So far I've be very pleased with my Switchbacks. Would like to try a pair of Switchback X2 for comparison. I find the concept of the active binding intriguing, But from what I've read I think it may require more of a style change than I want to commit to.



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MSU Alum
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by MSU Alum » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:51 pm

You could make the case that there's no such thing as a completely neutral binding unless you're in tour mode and no pressure is felt....just degrees of activity. Any binding is going to pressure the tip as you drop a knee. I had tried a 3 pin with very soft boots in 1970 and those were certainly on the neutral end of the scale! Years later I started out on G3 bindings and Garmont Syner-G's. Compared to what I tried in 1970, those are really active. Compared to what I ski now, they're really neutral.

For me, the break over point is the point at which you can easily drop a knee without pressing the cuff of the rear ski.

On a more neutral binding, you can easily pull a ski back to get the heel up. On a more active binding, you really have better results aggressively pressing the cuff.

Also, I think if you are a "knee to ski" telemarker, a binding/boot combo on the neutral side MAY be more enjoyable. If you tend to favor a more upright style, with less fore-aft separation, an active set up MAY be a better choice. But, it's not a rule!



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teleclub
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by teleclub » Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:28 am

VT that sounds like a good balanced set up. I would like the try the Vector BCs.

I'm in the neutral binding camp, generally, but it's mostly history and habituation for me. I remember back in the early N.A. tele days (as far back as late 70s for me) when boots were floppy and there wasn't much to make a binding active; we all thought an active binding was the holy grail. I still have a pair of Phoenix skis in the garage with a long plastic plate under the 3pin binding with a heel bale holding the plastic plate to the boot sole to try to stiffen the sole. But the bale was attached with elastic so how was that supposed to help much?

When the Superloop came out, lots of people ran it with the cable pivot in the rear-most position which stressed the toe plate and caused some failures, but it was a first taste of active binding for a lot of us. Ha!
What I discovered was I didn't love the active feel. I ran my Superloops with pivot in the forward-most position (I still have several Superloops in the rotation).

By that time in the 90s, lots of new tele skiers were coming over from alpine and learning the turn on hardpack at resorts and there was no patience for a neutral binding for these folks. And why should there be. An active binding allowed a faster learning curve for new tele skiers. The Hammerhead was introduced and from then on we were spoiled for choice for active bindings. In fact it took a while for any of the virtues of a neutral binding to be noticed and re-appreciated, but they've been mentioned here. The Linkin (IIRC) was an interesting example of a binding that was super-powerful for edging and yet more neutral than a Hammerhead and subsequent Rainey/22d bindings that offer a highly active feel. Folks shredding big Chamonix lines on Linkin bindings showed a highly active binding was not necessary for the most demanding skiing.

Few seasons ago I installed NTN Freedom bindings (for other reasons) and the active feel of the bindings was difficult for me to get used to at first. And the NTN Freedom isn't as active as the NTN FreeRide but a lot more than I was used to. I adjusted quickly though and found that they're active mainly in the first part of the heel lift but I don't have to keep exerting pressure to keep the heel up through the turn once the heel is fully up.

So I guess I have to say I've been converted to active bindings by NTN Freedom. For BC I still prefer a neutral binding.



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lowangle al
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Re: Neutral vs. Active Bindings

Post by lowangle al » Sun Dec 29, 2019 8:51 am

vt_trees wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:23 pm
So far I've be very pleased with my Switchbacks. Would like to try a pair of Switchback X2 for comparison. I find the concept of the active binding intriguing, But from what I've read I think it may require more of a style change than I want to commit to.
I have used both the SBs and SBX2s with T4s, both with good results. For K&G I didn't like the X2 with my T2s because I could feel the more limited range of motion but it was not as noticeable with T4s. For the downhill I was amazed by the amount of leverage I got with the X2. I've skied both bindings with my widest powder boards, 108mm underfoot, and my impression was that the X2 made it feel like I had the power of a much stiffer and higher boot.

If you like hard charging and getting the most out of your turns the X2 will not disappoint.



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