G3 Onyx Backcountry Skiing Binding – Mount It

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G3 Onyx binding review.

G3 Onyx Binding

Doing a successful product launch in today’s world isn’t nuclear physics. But close. Consider the new Onyx backcountry skiing binding from G3. Not only do these guys have to take a complex meld of machinery from fantasy to reality, but they’ve got things like user manuals to produce, not to mention putting together an effective story for their marketing, as well as educating their retailers and sales reps on mounting, maintenance and use the thing. Oh, and how about minor details such as customer service, spare parts inventory/supply, and having an army of lawyers on tap just-in-case. Must be an interesting life. For now, I think I’ll stick with blogging (and backcountry skiing). So let’s get on with mounting those Onyx.

Backcountry Skiing

Packaging is indeed part of a product launch. Onyx ski binding comes in a solid feeling cardboard box, cozily bedded with the obligatory use and mounting instructions. To G3's credit, they built Onyx with the same mounting screw pattern as Dynafit. Along with that, since you can position Onyx a few centimeters for/aft on the ski after it's mounted, with a modicum of care you can swap from Dynafit bindings and still end up with your boot in the same position on the ski. As for a new mount, I set things up with my Dynafit jig as if I was mounting some ST or FT Dynafits, and with the Onyx screwed to the ski my boots ended up where I wanted them. Simple and nice. My only gripe was needing two different screw driver bits for the mount. Modern life. Too complicated. (Can't we just go back to dressing in bark and eating pine cones?)

Backcountry Skiing

Underside of heel unit. Both toe and heel are attached to plates which in turn are mounted to the ski. For/aft adjustment of the heel unit works in similar fashion to many alpine bindings, in that the unit moves along a track as you turn a corkscrew mechanism controlled by a screw head accessed at the rear of the heel unit.

Backcountry Skiing

Did I say mounting these things was simple? When I saw this pile of screws the word 'simple' flew from my vocabulary like 2% coldsmoke powder flying over Chris Davenport's head in a Matchstick video. Thankfully, that feeling was only temporary (the fastener overdose, not the coldsmoke). It's actually pretty obvious where everything goes. Main reason for so many screws is you're mounting the plates on the ski, then the actual binding on to the plates, with the latter taking a few extra fasteners.

Backcountry Skiing

Once holes in ski are drilled and tapped, it's tempting to just slam the mount plates on like a Houston framing contractor installing window headers just after his meth break. Problem is, even a mechanical jig doesn't give you perfect bores in the ski, so you've got to eyeball things as they progress and make sure the plates are aligned. Funny how seat-of-pants craftsmanship enters in. Stranger still, notice how the T-word is buried by the rando binding? Perhaps this is some ski mechanic version of reading tea leaves and seeing the future?

Backcountry Skiing

Our only big disappointment with Onyx was no ski brakes. Instead, you install this cover which doubles as your heel-on-ski foot rest when you're not using any climbing heel lift. In lieu of brakes, G3 provides a set of their tow-truck ready safety leashes (shown in first photo of this post). Let me mildly state that I hate those things. Such leashes seem like a good way to get injured, if not because of a trapped ski, then your worst nightmare in an avalanche. G3 told me the brakes are coming. I believe them. But does anyone know to what god we must sacrifice a fatted lamb to speed up the process?

Backcountry Skiing

Attaching the heel rest takes a couple of fasteners out of the screw pile. You can feel a noticeable amount of play between the heel unit and track/plate, but once these screws are placed the movement is minimal and easily falls within the realm of any alpine binding's parameters.

Backcountry Skiing

Moving along, now we get to the toe unit. Track/plate (on right in photo) is quickly screwed to the ski. You then slide the toe unit on, pick which of three hole sets you want for the for/aft position, and drop in a couple of machine screws to hold it all together. Slick.

Backcountry Skiing

In similar fashion to Dynafit bindings, Onyx is adjusted for a specific 6 mm gap at your boot heel. DIN setting is intuitive: find the screw, turn it, watch the indicator move. That said, the small black indicator line visible in the window is not blatantly obvious. Let's make it red and a bit thicker boys, eh? As with most ski bindings, you'll have to remember you've got two different DIN adjustments for Onyx, one for upward release, one for the side. Obvious to most of us, but we do get an occasional email from folks who think Dynafit or Fritschi bindings only have one DIN adjustment screw and consequently wonder why they eject from their bindings every time they try actually skiing on them, so clarifying this stuff is worth the wear on my keyboard.

Backcountry Skiing

After the mount was complete I compared boot position between Onyx and Dynafit ST/FT. In touring mode, both bindings allow plenty of forward boot movement range, with an edge to Dynafit as shown in photo. Stack height and ramp angles are interesting, with Onyx height at heel being 30 mm, toe 26 mm, giving Onyx virtually the SAME RAMP as Fritschi. In comparison Dyanfit ST/FT is 30 mm heel stack and 20 mm at the toe, which as many of you know is more ramp than just about any binding, and is well liked by some though a bit much for others.

Backcountry Skiing

Project complete.

I’ll do my own Onyx use review once I’ve been on the freshman grabber enough to do more than baby talk about it. Till then, Lee did a good job of getting past the babble stage for us, so don’t forget to check out his G3 Onyx review. What is more, we’ve actually got quite a bit of Onyx content here already. Find it all with this link.

Comments

20 Responses to “G3 Onyx Backcountry Skiing Binding – Mount It”

  1. Jon April 29th, 2009 9:45 am

    Great article Lou, did you get them on the scale yet?

  2. Lou April 29th, 2009 10:47 am

    Waiting for the brakes before I get too obsessed with the weight, but I’d think their published weight is probably accurate, I think I recalled seeing it on their website and we mentioned it in a couple of the past reviews. Let’ it also be known that several people I’ve spoken with have already wondered if G3 will make a lightweight version. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that.

    From previous blog post:

    Weight is somewhat disappointing, with Onyx specified at 1430g / 50oz (with screws) compared to Dynafit ST at 908g / 32oz. BUT, important thing about weight of Onyx is more mass not only allows features such as the attachment plate and toe indexing system — but allows for beefed parts such as the internal heel post. What’s more, G3 tells me that this is only a start and hints that other lighter offerings could be in the pipeline.

  3. ScottP April 29th, 2009 2:48 pm

    What concerns me more than how to mount it is, where does one get one? No one seems to have these yet. Are they doing retail distribution yet?

  4. Tucker April 29th, 2009 3:18 pm

    Are you mounting these on telemark skis just to torment the freeheel crowd? ;)

  5. Lou April 29th, 2009 3:48 pm

    The bindings are in a beta program. You contact G3 to get in on it. Seems like most new ski bindings these days are first released in a beta program, but usually they don’t call it that. Nice G3 is so up front with it.

    More here:

    http://www.wildsnow.com/1737/g3-onyx-beta-program/

  6. Rico April 29th, 2009 4:16 pm

    Pure poetry Lou – beautiful!
    “it’s tempting to just slam the mount plates on like a Houston framing contractor installing window headers just after his meth break.”

    Oh and good overview of the mounting process too.

  7. Jack April 29th, 2009 9:54 pm

    Another excellent article, Lou. Brakes, right on.

  8. Cody April 30th, 2009 8:41 am

    Lou,

    Has there been any further indication that G3 will offer mounting plates for seperate purchase, so to allow the bindings to be moved between skis?

  9. Lou April 30th, 2009 9:02 am

    Cody, I asked them about that at OR show and it seemed like a non-issue, and my impression was that they indeed would sell the plates. Seems like a no-brainer to me…and a very good reason to use their binding, perhaps the best reason I’ve seen yet.

  10. Cody April 30th, 2009 9:43 am

    Lou, I know you haven’t seen the brake yet, but is it reasonable to assume that the brake would move from ski to ski with the binding?

  11. Lee Lau April 30th, 2009 10:05 am

    Lou,

    Nice! I received a test pair and mounted them. Observations as follows:

    1. Once you mount the mounting plates, its trivial to remove and switch bindings.

    - For the front toe, you remove two loctited screws and remove the front toepiece. Sidenote that those two screws allow you to change the fore-aft mount position of the entire binding

    - For the rear toe, you remove the cowling on the front part of the heel piece then you’re off to the races.

    2. The screws are standard posi-drive and a nice size so you won’t strip them. It’d be nice to get spares just in case dummies like me lose them but then again, it’ll be easy to find spare screws.

    As for brakes from what I saw of the sneak Wildsnow preview picture they replace the front cowling of the rear heel piece so yes, they would move from ski to ski

  12. Mark April 30th, 2009 10:48 am

    Can’t wait to see these in person this fall. Anyone know where they are manufactured?

  13. Mark Worley April 30th, 2009 9:15 pm

    Lou, did I see you installing/turning screws into a ski with a drill?! I could not personally get away with that, but that’s why you are the master. Yes, those leashes look quite burly. I’m not a big fan of brakes or leashes, and often use neither in the backcountry.

  14. Bryce May 1st, 2009 8:17 pm

    ScottP. They sent a couple of pairs to us on Monday. Usually takes 10 days for G3 stuff to get to me, since they have to clear customs. But I should have some next week if you want to try them.

    http://www.randogear.com

  15. Lou May 2nd, 2009 5:22 am

    Mark, yeah, I’ve indeed got a feel for that (though I do check final torque by hand)! But if you use a drill with a clutch, you can set it at a nice low safe setting and have at it, then do the final tighten with hand driver.

  16. Michael Silitch May 3rd, 2009 11:55 am

    I had the chance to ski these bindings two full days in Chamonix this winter. One day touring and one day powder at the Grands Montets. For touring I liked the heel elevators and the ease of use. For Free ride, I really liked how the toe piece stays “closed”–you push down on the toe to open it, like a Dynafit, but unlike the Dynafit, it doesn’t spring open. You open it enough to get the boot it. I guess you could call it a constant tension spring. One big advantage is less pre release, as it rebounds to center rather after a stress. It definitely seems like a big step especially in terms of a Freeride tour tech binding.

  17. Mark W January 10th, 2013 10:30 am

    Lou,
    Are Onyx bindings still the same screw mount pattern as Dynafit? Dunno why it would have changed since 2009, but didn’t want to assume anything.

  18. jack January 10th, 2013 11:41 am

    @Mark W. I asked you about mounting the onyx this morning. I just read through Lou’s article and this is what is says.
    “To G3′s credit, they built Onyx with the same mounting screw pattern as Dynafit. Along with that, since you can position Onyx a few centimeters for/aft on the ski after it’s mounted, with a modicum of care you can swap from Dynafit bindings and still end up with your boot in the same position on the ski. As for a new mount, I set things up with my Dynafit jig as if I was mounting some ST or FT Dynafits, and with the Onyx screwed to the ski my boots ended up where I wanted them.”
    I’ll bring them into the shop middle of next week.
    Thanks!

  19. jack January 10th, 2013 11:42 am

    @Mark W. I asked you about mounting the onyx this morning. I just read through Lou’s article and this is what is says.
    “To G3′s credit, they built Onyx with the mounting screw pattern as Dynafit. Along with that, since you can position Onyx a few centimeters for/aft on the ski after it’s mounted, with a modicum of care you can swap from Dynafit bindings and still end up with your boot in the same position on the ski. As for a new mount, I set things up with my Dynafit jig as if I was mounting some ST or FT Dynafits, and with the Onyx screwed to the ski my boots ended up where I wanted them.”
    I’ll bring them into the shop middle of next week.
    Thanks!

  20. jack January 10th, 2013 11:43 am

    @Mark W. I asked you about mounting the onyx this morning. I just read through Lou’s article and it says the onyx has the same mounting pattern as dynafit.
    I’ll bring them into the shop middle of next week.
    Thanks!

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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