2007/10/27

New snowboard gear



If you're wondering why I'm selling my Ride Alpha bindings, it's mainly because my snowboard boots are dead. My old boots are pretty banged up, ripped and just don't hold my feet too well anymore so I need new boots. After some extensive research with precise criterias (compact design for my big feet, comfort, light weight, durability and please, no Burton), my boot choice for the upcoming winter stopped on the Salomon F22. Not too stiff, not too soft, true all-arounders and Salomon pretty much has the reputation to offer the most comfortable and well made boots of the industry. We'll see after a few rides but I have to say that my Salomon non-snowboarding boots are more comfortable than my favorite slippers.

But how does that explain the selling of my current bindings? Well, the main reason is that the Salomon F-serie boots are compact, very compact and they float in the Ride bindings and that's no good for board control. And although some swear by the Ride bindings and call the Alpha the best bindings ever, I'm not a fan of their straps. The ratchets are a bit sticky on release and Ride are known to use auto-loosening bolts (can be solved with some loc-tite though). So I said what the hell, I'll get new bindings too, but what? Apart from the cap straps, there hasn't been much significant innovation and useful new technology in bindings for the last few years. Sure, materials improved, looks too but even with all the marketing crap every company throw our way trying to convince us how they just revolutionized bindings year after year, few companies back it up with things that make you go hmmmm.



I have been curious about Salomon's Relay concept since it first came out. Basically, they changed the classic rigid heel support loop of most (if not all) bindings for a flexible loop and paired it with cables that link the highbacks to the front of the baseplate. What you get is a better fit between the boots and bindings, more comfort, a more natural side to side flex but the cables transfer the weight you put on the highbacks directly to the rod reinforced baseplates for powerful heelside turns. Since the ankles are now free to move and rotate side to side, the bindings give you a feel that is closer to a skateboard than being stuck in ski boots. You can check the second step of the demo animation to see what I'm talking about. With a Magne-Traction board, I'll really feel like I'm skating down the mountains! As a bonus, in most cases and quite logically, bindings and boots that fit the best together are usually designed by the same people so the Salomon bindings should be even better with the F22 boots. So I will be ridings with the Salomon Relay Pro. Apart from the soft heel and cables, you get the usual bells and whistles of most good bindings like a nicely cushioned footbed, tool-less adjustable gas-pedals and forward lean, convertible toe straps (that are said to be the quickest to attach), one single bolt to adjust the foot centering and highback rotation and most importantly, a diamond pattern print! Now, let's hope we'll have a winter full of snow!

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