SIA and OR Winter Market '05 Trends -- Telemark/AT bindings

Not much in the way of innovation for next season. Mostly beefing up AT bindings and keeping the status quo in the telemark world. But the major price hikes in AT may make tele more attractive again, especially now that releasables are getting dialed in.
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Not much in the way of innovation for next season. Mostly beefing up AT bindings and keeping the status quo in the telemark world. But the major price hikes in AT may make tele more attractive again, especially now that releasables are getting dialed in.

22 Designs -- The makers of the HammerHead telemark binding aren't making any major changes to the product. However, it has made a major change to the business model inherited from previous owner Russell Rainey. The two proprietors have begun to open more retail accounts and hired sales reps to boost visibility at demos and in stores.

Bomber -- The burliest telemark binding on the market continues to attract fans who appreciate the power. While the $320 price tag is daunting, a second ski kit sells for only $65 so it's fairly economical for those with a quiver.

Interestingly, the folks at Bomber now offer a $65 adaptor that allows the HammerHead binding to be used on telemark skis with inserts. This means that every significant tele binding on the market can easily be tried on K2 and Voile skis.

Dynafit -- Nothing says "rich yuppie" like titanium components (except perhaps carbon). The new TLT Race binding will retail for an astounding $625 and shaves seven ounces off the $300, 24-ounce TLT Classic binding (much of that simply from eliminating the heel elevator that racers don't use anyhow). That's $46 an ounce folks.

Fritschi -- No changes in the bindings but a major wallop in the wallet. The popular Freeride increases $90 (to $425 with brakes), while the Explore/Express goes up $70 (to $370 w/o brakes) next season. Even the very nice crampon goes up $17 (to $67).

Karhu -- The 7TM releasable telemark bindings have justifiably taken over a significant portion of the market in the past few seasons. While the original All Mountain ($235, a slight decrease but brakes not included) and more recent Tour ($320, a $30 increase) have loyal followings from skiers traveling in avalanche country, neither binding offered the feel that some hard-charging tele skiers desired.

To satisfy the demand for more boot retention, 7TM will offer the Power ($270), which uses a pin to move the flex point further back. Without the pin installed, the binding skis like a G3, but with the pin, the binding is more like a Rottefella Cobra. Unfortunately, it would be very easy to drop the pin so making this change in the field is ill advised. Hopefully, a 7TM PowerTour will be the next offering.

Although 7TM does offer a second ski kit ($105), it will not sell the upper portion of the 7TM Power alone. This means existing customers cannot upgrade without purchasing a complete binding. Hopefully, the powers that be will recognize that offering an upgrade for ($175) is the best way to ensure loyalty and grow market share.

Also new is a much-needed ski crampon for the 7TM Tour ($45) and a wider brake ($35) for modern powder skis (fits up to 110 mm waist). It already offered an adaptor kit for skis with inserts so it's at last a complete line.

Naxo -- It took a couple seasons but the nx01 binding is now fairly dialed in…just in time for a $100 price increase (retail will be $400 next season, with brakes). To satisfy the weight-be-damned hardcores, Naxo introduces the nx21 Freeskiing binding for next season ($475), which has beefier construction and the highest DIN rating (14) of any AT binding.

Silvretta -- The only AT bindings that don't go up in price next season are the Silvretta's. The lightweight Pure remains $400 (with brake) and the versatile 500 decreases by $40 to $350, while the older 555 is discontinued. New for next year will be the Pure Freeride ($420) which has solid carbon rails (instead of hollow) and a higher DIN rating (12 instead of 10). The telemark binding adaptor is still available but for $200 and with no release function it falls in the so-what category.

Voile -- To accommodate small boots, Voile will offer the standard Hardwire and releasable Hardwire CRB in a women's version that has even shorter heel assemblies. For the fashion conscious, the Hardwires will now be available in red as well as orange to work with a wider range of ski graphics. Though the Hardwire CRB is increasing to $175 (with brake), it is still the most affordable telemark release binding and has a proven track record. Aside from its retro look, the main deficiency is the lack of a ski crampon.

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