Dynafit Radical FT (12) Binding Vibration Damper System

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

You know those pedestrian switches at stoplights? The ones that supposedly let the light computer know you’re waiting to cross and will bias the lights for you if you give it a slap? My family has always laughed at my theory that some of these do nothing, and are just there to appease the impatient who would otherwise walk against the light. Yeah, I’m crazy. But hey, are you sure every one of those is actually wired to the system and does something? SURE?

Likewise, I’m a skeptic when binding companies come up with “stiffeners” or “vibration dampers” working off a plate under the foot. First, some such systems can be shown to do virtually nothing except look good in the ski shop (no names will be mentioned), while others that show an effect on the test bench many still have little or no effect on the actual performance of your skis and bindings. Why? As one engineer I spoke with put it, “for that plate to do much if anything, it would have to have a significant amount of strength or damping in relation to the flex properties of the ski, otherwise it’s just too small a percentage to have any real effect on performance.”

Perhaps most importantly, on the lightweight Dynafit Radical FT ski touring binding this added mechanical system is piling on a significant 48 grams (1.7 ounces) per binding. Is it worth it?

We’ll report, but ultimately you’ll have to decide.

Dynafit Radical FT 12 'vibration damper switch' for backcountry skiing.

Dynafit Radical FT 12 'vibration damper switch' moves on and off as indicated by arrow. The question, does it really do anything?

Underneath the Radical FT 12 connector plate, the white bumpers.

Underneath the Radical FT 12 connector plate, the white bumpers block movement of the semi-rigid black connector plate, as indicated by the horizontal red arrow. While this system undoubtedly has some effect as indicated by our extensive observation and bench testing, it is not beefy enough to be what we'd term a 'stiffener,' but rather is a somewhat minimal vibration damper.

Specifically, what about Dynafit’s Radical FT 12 “special plate that can be used for changing the stiffness of the system,” as this component is termed in the consumer info enclosed with the binding? First, know that most ski bindings have provision for the ski flexing under the foot (to avoid the dreaded “stiff spot”), but such provision usually has some form of inherent of vibration dampening either due to friction, or a spring and friction system. Tech bindings allow for flex, but have virtually no vibration damping. In other words, when the ski flexes, it moves the tech binding rear pins in and out of the boot heel fitting with no damping action or friction. That’s good when you want your ski to bend freely and indeed has been a well liked feature for years, but when you want some attenuation for things like ski chatter, you’re getting none.

When your ski flexes, the heel gap closes.

When your ski flexes, the tech binding heel gap closes. In your average skiing with an average weight skier the heel gap remains open, allowing the ski to flex as shown to left above. But in aggressive skiing, perhaps with a larger skier or flexible ski, the heel gap can close to the point where the boot impacts the binding heel unit, as indicated in the right hand part of the double photo above. Oddly enough, Dynafit added a 'bump' on the heel unit that exacerbates this effect. Main point here is that the FT 12 damper system is likely intended to minimize this effect, though in our testing and evaluation we found any measurable or observable effect to be minimal.

What’s more, if the ski flexes hard, it can drive your boot heel against the tech binding heel fitting housing (see photo above) — possibly causing unintended release or even binding damage. The harder a ski is skied and the larger the skier, the more likely this is (and also the reason the tech binding ‘heel gap’ is such an important setting, not to mention the length of the pins). Hence, I’d agree with Dynafit that developing some form of damping or stiffening under the boot, between the binding toe and heel, is a good idea for aggressive skiing (so long as you can switch the system on and off, and it doesn’t add too much mass.)

Well, our dose of Dynafit coolaid had worn off some time ago (despite the constant accusations of bias we receive), so instead of assuming the FT-12 vibration damper worked, we did some bench tests to actually show what it does. First, terminology: Calling this a stiffness changer rather than a damper is I suppose fair, but a bit misleading as the system works not by rigidly connecting the toe and heel units, but rather by providing cushioning from small flexible dampers on the underside of the heel unit that slightly engage when the ski is bent into a turn. While this does make the binding and ski in one sense “stiffer” under the foot, a more accurate take is that it cushions the ski flex in that area, and is thus a vibration damper. More, during our testing we found that unless we added an unusual amount of flex to our simulated plexiglass ski, the system most definitely added nothing more than a very small amount of cushioning. So we’ll definitely call it a vibration damper, not a stiffener.

Dynafit Radical FT 12 vibration damper test rig.

We designed this test to see if the 'vibration damper' actually had any measurable effect. We mounted the binding on a fairly flexible plexiglass demo board, which is suspended between two points with one end anchored and the other free to move on a lubricated surface. Underneath we set up a dial indicator reading in thousandths of an inch, then weighted the rig with 4.5 lbs (four Bud tallboys), this deflected the demo board 3/8 of an inch, which is roughly three times greater deflection than is possible with a boot blocking movement of the toe and heel unit. Thus, we exaggerated our simulated ski flex by a factor of three, because if we flexed our test rig to the max allowed with a boot installed (1/8 inch), we could not consistently measure the tiny result. The dial indicator was zeroed with no weight on the test rig. We made a bridge over the connector plate to prevent friction from the weight. We did nine measurement cycles, each time with the vibration damper switch on and off. As we did the test, the results were consistent enough to be meaningful, though slop in the system made it important to average the results. The average difference in deflection was 12 thousandths of an inch, again in a ski/plate flex range of 3/8 inch (.375 of an inch), so our deflection difference with damper on was 12 out of 375, or 3.2 percent (apologies for my math, the 12 thousandths is definitely correct, other numbers subject to checking this morning now that the extra tallboys have worn off). Again, we exaggerated the amount of flex to achieve this result, just to show that the system does function to one degree or another (considering we exaggerated the simulated ski flex by about a factor of three, and observable effect at less flex is quite minimal, it's probably safe to say that in real life the system has an effect of about 1% between being on and off).

Test rig weighted with four tallboys, for deflection of 3/8 (.375) inch.

Test rig weighted with four tallboys, for deflection of 3/8 (.375) inch. That's roughly three times more deflection than the binding can do with a boot installed, due to the heel gap closing up and the boot blocking for-aft movement of the binding toe and heel units.

  Dynafit backcountry skiing boots.

Over-camber demonstration The ski (in this case demo board) curves so much the binding pins pull out of the boot heel. As far as we could tell, the Radical FT 12 stiffener/damper has no effect on this, as the movement it creates in the mechanics is simply too minimal.

Conclusion: As you can see from our images and testing, the mechanics of this system actually do have a mechanical effect that could be beneficial when the ski is curved (bent) as if in a turn. More, we also experimented with “over-cambering” the simulated ski, in the direction that sometimes pulls the pins out of the boot fitting in unusual situations or while super aggressive skiing. In over-cambering, the damper/sitffener has absolutely zero effect as far as we could tell.

How much of this damping or stiffening effect you’ll experience in real life is an open question. Indeed, as at least one skier has related to me, you can ski the binding with the system on or off and feel the difference. If so, terrific. If, on the other hand, you see no need for this extra plastic the binding can be easily mounted without, at a savings of 48 grams (1.7 ounces) per binding. Let us know your take!

(Note to home mounters: When doing a paper template mount, simply adjust distance between Radical FT 12 toe and heel unit so the damper system can be set to the “off” position and the connector plate mates with the obvious slots in the underside of the heel unit. Which slots you’ll usually mate the plate with is indicted by BSL numbers on top of the heel unit. If you choose to forgo mounting with the plate system, bed the toe unit in a nice puddle of epoxy just for good measure.)

Comments

54 Responses to “Dynafit Radical FT (12) Binding Vibration Damper System”

  1. Hojo December 29th, 2011 10:51 am

    I can’t say I’ve ever experienced any problems with chatter or vibration while touring. Have others?

  2. Lou December 29th, 2011 11:07 am

    Hojo, there is a known issue of unnecessary unplanned release for certain individuals using nearly any tech type binding. Some engineers I’ve spoken with think this issue is due in part to a lack of elasticity/damping in the binding system set to DIN type release values (not cranked up, and not locked at the toe), along with the “gap” closing up as illustrated above. Thus, an effort to address this is a good thing, but other then as a marketing tool is probably only needed for a very small percentage of skiers.

  3. Tony S. December 29th, 2011 11:57 am

    Dear Dynafit Marketing Department:

    As a North American Freeriding Kunckledragging Neanderthal, the only reason I bought this bindiing is for it’s wider support plate up front for wider skis (really wish you made an FT version with wider mounting pattern all around) and because of the alleged benefits of the power towers. I did not in any way base my purchase on this useless piece of plastic between the toe and heel piece. Please just stick to simplcity, functionallity, and durability in the future, or my next purchase will be from whichever competitor finally decides to cater to the real needs of evolving skiers and evolving equipment while providing a quality and reliable product.

    Thank you, looking forward to the future, hope it really is “radical”.

  4. Greg Louie December 29th, 2011 1:07 pm

    I think you pretty much summed it up here, Lou:

    ” if we flexed our test rig to the max allowed with a boot installed (1/8 inch), we could not consistently measure the tiny result. “

  5. Lou December 29th, 2011 1:19 pm

    Greg, perhaps, but in my opinion if the ski is vibrating at a really high rate, even a tiny amount of damping could have an effect. Thus, I’d give the system the benefit of the doubt but would indeed feel more confident if it had a bit more beef and visible action within the range of normal ski flexion. I show this in the vid.

    I think what anyone would agree is that if you’ve been enjoying tech bindings for years without problems, this could be a solution without a problem. But if you’ve had trouble staying in your bindings, perhaps it’s a solution _with_ a problem…

  6. Randonnee December 29th, 2011 2:08 pm

    Newly-created tech bindings get instant instant interest and approval, do they? The new tech bindings’ problems are excused or diminished? Yet if the original, Dynafit, tries something new, look at the snarky and negative attitudes expressed. Fascinating psychology. Not to say Dynafit is perfect, I had the Tri Step and suffered that failure. But it is fascinating to see the expressed ‘tudes toward the original ‘big’ company, Dynafit. This sentiment also occurred here recently in a comment toward the ABS, perhaps similarly. Just observation, I try to evaluate things soberly at times to overcome my own weak human nature…

    If, as Lou says, this would help with pre-release that is good. I have dealt for years with pre-release, actually instant release on hardpack with a simple twitch of my knee. Smaller folk who can apply less power do not understand that, but it seems Dynafit is perhaps putting some thought into it?

    I feel justified in hesitating to get the Radical, with the heel problem, after my first-year Tri Step experience. In summary, Dynafit has been good stuff that works well more of the time, but one should evaluate carefully anyway before buying something.

  7. Bob December 29th, 2011 3:15 pm

    I have a pair of the the Radical ST bindings that do not have the plastic section in between and they have been very reliable even on icy moguls and bumps at the resort. I don’t think they need the plastic piece as they seem to work just fine without it. (nor do I need a DIN of 12 for that matter)

  8. Bryan December 29th, 2011 3:36 pm

    I’ll own a pair of the STs this year (when the are available post recall) because I think the toe design is a big improvement. I do think the “damper” or stiffening feature discussed here is pointless.

    Perhaps this is a result of what happens when a staunchly European company designs a new product for the (very different) North American marketplace. Here’s to hoping Dynafit in North America will have some design influence on the next round of product development – the Euros won’t ever get it 100% correct for North America.

  9. Mike December 29th, 2011 6:13 pm

    I think you are missing the boat Lou. The mechanical analysis while valid for the static response is not valid for the dynamic. The effect of the dampner is a function of frequency, and the frequency of the analysis was 0…In the electrical sense it was like measuring a an inductor with an ohm meter. Both an inductor and a short have the same response to a DC voltage, but they are very different to an AC voltage. The effect of the dampner is in how it modifies the rate of change to a response.

  10. stewspooner December 29th, 2011 6:59 pm

    Gimmicked – equipped or embellished with unnecessary features, especially in order to increase salability, acceptance etc. What next? Magnets. Astrological engravings. Credibility is a valuable asset and the clowns making these decisions should be shed asap.

  11. Kevin December 29th, 2011 7:13 pm

    Beef, that’s what I want! I I don’t want no stinkin plastic. The vertical toe piece is pretty damn beefy looking. Now, give me some BEEF in the rear. Put some metal in that heel piece. How about a metal baseplate. How about a rear din screw that threads into Beefy threads. Don’t those euros know. Big is better. Give me some Beef.

  12. David Aldous December 29th, 2011 11:37 pm

    The shock absorbing pieces only look like they work when the ski flexes in a turn. Does the plate push on the plastic backing to the rubber when it flexes in the other direction? If so does that limit the flex that could cause the pins to come out of the fitting in the heel of the boot? I guess I’m wondering what would happen if you flipped the binding and simulated ski over and repeated the test. If it works the way I’m imagining it could help the people who have had trouble coming out of the heel piece while riding bumps.

  13. Jay December 29th, 2011 11:56 pm

    I appreciate any effort to add innovation. Not all innovations will last…plastic heal locators…but the try is needed to help move the industry.

  14. James Broder December 30th, 2011 6:57 am

    +1 to Kevin, above.

    BEEF! BEEF! BEEF!

    I’m 6’2″ and 220 lbs (188 cm and 100 kilos in EuroSpeak) with a 50″ chest. I’d pay extra for an all-metal tech binding with a metal base plate and EXTRA BEEF, even with a few hundred grams in weight penalty. I know you 140 lb weight weenies cringe at that statement, but there’s got to be a substantial market for a tech binding with BEEF.

    I have the 2012 FT12 and have already suffered one failure / warranty replacement cycle. But I do love the little alloy flippy-tab heel elevators. Kudos to Dynafit for that innovation.

    The Plum Guide is a nice baby-step toward what I’m talking about. The major heel parts are machined out of a solid block of alloy. I fondled a pair of Plums at MEC a few days ago, they look and feel as though you could run your car over them in the parking lot without even scratching them. If Plum would get a brake system figured out and offer a model with 12 DIN (and preferably a metal base plate), I’d switch regardless of cost.

    I’ve got plenty of money, but what I don’t have is a spare binding and a tool bench when I’m out in the backcountry.

    Hopefully Dynafit will get on the BEEF bandwagon sooner rather than later.

  15. Lou December 30th, 2011 7:53 am

    James, if you’re out there breaking Dynafit bindings then you have the podium!

    They could indeed make some stronger parts, but everyone should be aware that changing the size of just one part will probably involve a re-design of the entire binding. Even for Salewa that is mighty expensive. They could probably afford it if they keep selling bindings at the rate they’re doing so, but economics is still the factor.

    Also, bear in mind that much of the binding is not patented anymore, so every time they sink money into a re-work they’re running the risk of going up against other companies making basically the same thing. IN THEORY that’s good for us consumers as the makers will in theory all seek excellence as they compete with each other, but patents and intellectual property exist for a reason, and benefit us consumers by allowing a company to profit on an idea as they invest in development and production. Also, one way to sell a public domain product is to play around with design and marketing. We are no doubt seeing the latter as well, and you can’t really blame Salewa for trying, as they have to sell enough bindings to keep their whole deal viable.

    So, what we’re stuck with is a boot/binding interface that has no established standard other than a few drawings Dynafit shared a while ago and are strictly voluntary, is 20+ years old, and requires the use of tiny parts that seem in some cases to simply be too small for the forces involved. On top of that, the system’s main selling point is lack of mass, so there is very little incentive for beef. Oh, and add to that that the vast majority of Dynafit binding users are perfectly happy with the product.

    Like I’ve said before, for the small (in comparison to the vast EU ski touring market) but valid group who needs more beef, the fantasy would be the company who was big enough and financially resourced enough to patent a tech binding system 2.0, with bigger boot fittings corresponding to a wider and stronger binding system they would also produce and market. But to think the industry as a whole could come together and agree to a public domain standard (like the DIN alpine boot sole standard and binding standard) is probably wishful thinking. I hate that it’s that way, and that organizations such as TUV make it so difficult, but reality bites.

    Also keep in mind that the whole point of the G3 Onyx is that it’s the beefy but still “tech standard” system. It’s too bad they’ve had their lingering problem with breakage as that kind of damped enthusiasm for Onyx as the beefer, but as G3 keeps moving along with their concept and working out the bugs, then there you go, the beefy tech binding that weighs what a beefy tech binding probably needs to weigh. Many folks don’t prefer the G3 entry/open/close system of pressing on the toe unit and holding it open, but they can work that out eventually as well as they’ve already made incremental changes to that part of their binding…

    Here is another idea from the Dawson thought mill: For a beefy binding the tech toe boot fittings seem to allow pretty good toe units, but the heel fittings are too close together and the required rear binding “pins” are way too small. I’m wondering if a company could come up with a wider swap-in fitting for the boot rear, and sell a corresponding wider heel unit that was beefed up. Such a thing could probably be patented at least in part enough to make it financially viable. Plum? G3? Dynafit even? Get your thinking caps on!

  16. GRECK December 30th, 2011 10:28 am

    One question, does this feature make skiing more fun?

  17. Jack December 30th, 2011 3:43 pm

    Lou, you’re a genius. Wider spaced heel pins would be great. Forget swap plates and almost everybody will ditch their boots for new ones, so a win/win situation for the bindings and boot manufacturers. Instead of naming the standard 2.0, I propose to name it the AT Dawson standard. If every freerider in the world would send requests to Dynafit, Plum and G3, we can have the new standard in 2013 !

  18. Michel gagné December 30th, 2011 3:54 pm

    Hi Lou
    I did not understand how to contact you from a specific question. So i am trying this post. I just bought a new touring binding from rossignol. I kwow that was Naxo who was the maker and Rossignol was only putting there name on those. I saw a post in 2009 saying that bindings were still available.
    My question is : Do you have Crampons available for those ? Or do you know where i can find them
    thanks
    Michel Gagné from Montréal

  19. Feldy December 31st, 2011 6:55 am

    @Mike – right on.

    I really appreciate the analysis, Lou, and it gets towards whether this doohicky does anything at all, but it’s not a measuring of damping at all as damping requires movement. For an “ideal” spring:

    F=-kx-cv

    where

    F= force
    k=spring constant
    x=displacement
    c=damping (frction) coefficient
    v=velocity

    So no velocity = no damping.

    I think I understand the notion that the contraption is more likely to add friction to the flex of a ski than it is actually going to noticeably contribute to the stiffness of the ski, but what you measured was actually a stiffness increase.

    Also, I’m not sure that 3x the displacement without the boot means you’d get 1/3 the effect with the boot. The reason is that the simple model above breaks down if the spring constant isn’t, well, constant, as seems to be the case in the video where a boot-allowed level of displacement barely touches the rubber bumper at all.

    Again, really appreciate the illustration of how the thing is supposed to/could potentially work. BTW, I believe you that the numbers were different in this case, but if ever want a statistical analysis of that sort of thing, feel free to shoot me the data set in an email.

  20. Lou January 1st, 2012 5:07 pm

    Feldy, thanks, I’m totally willing to stand corrected as I make no pretense of having any engineering credential, this is just seat-of-pants field/bench observation. And yes, perhaps that’s a stiffening effect but I think we’re getting into the territory of nomenclature. Also, if there was any true stiffening effect from this it would be quite small ( I illustrate that in the video, when I show how in a normal flex of ski, hardly anything happens). Thus, my conclusion that this minimal effect would have more influence as a vibration damper for thousands of movement cycles in comparison to one flex in a turn (especially a nice long smooth modern freeride turn).

    I think where I’m at with this (now that the post has been up for a while I’m feeling like commenting more) is that I’d have liked to see MUCH more effect in my test. Whether this is a stiffness effect or vibration damper, it’s pretty darn minimal, as one can see through the Plexiglas in a normal flex (not my exaggerated flexes.)

  21. dmr January 2nd, 2012 2:27 am

    At the resort I ski on a pair of stiff racing boots, DIN 14 bindings, and a stiff, heavy ski with a metal plate running all the way through it.

    In the backcountry I have a regular TLT Speed binding, a pretty stiff alpine (not AT specific) ski, and a pair of Skookums.

    While I recognize that the burly binding on my resort setup helps, I have been pleasantly surprised at the performance of the TLT on the descent (this is my third season on Dynafit bindings). Only in the nastiest, crustiest, boilerplate, coral head crap have I felt that I perhaps would have been much better off with my burlier alpine resort gear.

    Now, I’m only a 5’3″ (163cm) tall, 145 lbs (66kg) guy, so maybe I’m just not in the segment that breaks gear easily from a sheer size point of view.

    Or maybe I’m also biased based on my own outlook for skiing: I push the limits on the down at the resort, but in the backcountry don’t huck cornices or cliffs nor expect to be running gates, so am willing to make a compromise.

    In any case, could it be that lighter boots and lighter skis specific to AT also play a factor (in addition to bindings)?

    At what point does mass become an issue? Lightweight gear is fantastic for the ascent and certainly handles well in soft snow conditions, but at some point from a pure physics point of view doesn’t mass come into play?

  22. John Milne January 2nd, 2012 12:12 pm

    Hey Lou, one thing I didn’t see is the impact of the plate when over-cambering the ski where you could potentially pull the pins back/out of the boot. Any thoughts on that?

  23. Lou January 2nd, 2012 5:05 pm

    We were focused on what the little flexible doobobs do so we stuck with that to keep it simple. But now that I think about it I should mess around with resistance to ‘over cambering’ and add to review above. Meanwhile, I can say that any resistance the plate adds to over-cambering the ski and thus pulling pins out of boot heel would be minimal in comparison to the resistance already inherent to the ski structure under the foot. But the effect would be nonetheless real, however minimal. I’d like to see a much stiffer and beefier plate if there was going to be any significant effect, and in that case it would add a stiff spot in the ski just like having an alpine binding and boot with no elasticity. The best solution to the problem of the pins pulling out is longer pins and a deeper slot in the boot (just a couple of millimeters). The longer pins of the Comfort/Vertical/Radical series bindings noticeably helped with this, for those of us who experienced it. But I’ve always felt a few more millimeters would take it to the point where it totally eliminated the problem.

    Also, remember that correct setting of the Dynafit heel gap is super important if you want to prevent over-cambering of ski pulling your heel pins out and thus causing unintended release.

  24. Tony S. January 3rd, 2012 4:46 pm

    Well, I must say as a newcomer and a skeptic, I was most impressed today with the performance of the Radical FT 12. It’s been a pretty worthless season so far for touring, but I took them out for some thourough vetting at a resort today and was very pleased that I could rail groomers and lay into steep chalky hard pack with no restraint. I even slarved through some moguls and pointed some slightly choppy runouts, and I could not get a hint of pre release on a setting of 8 and I am 6’1″ 175. I am convinced now that Lou is right, that there is something wrong with the boot or the mount, or ice if you are pre releasing. I can’t say that they are any more “damp” than other dynas cause this is my first one, but did feel they were maybe a little harhser through the chop than a pair of Dukes on the same skis.

    I am still skeptical of long term durabiity with regards to some of the known weak points in the system, and have no plans on making a habit or resort skiing, but I am just super stoked that I feel like I can trust them in steep varibale conditions.

  25. Lou January 3rd, 2012 5:09 pm

    Tony, that’s good news. But it does beg the question, had you had pre-release on other Dynafits, or on alpine bindings? Perspective and comparison…. Thanks, Lou

  26. Tony S. January 4th, 2012 12:31 am

    I tried skiing on Marker alpine bindings for a few years and walked out of them all the time. Switched back to Looks most of the time and have to keep those at 10 or 11 to trust them. Skied Dukes for a while now, have to keep them over 10 not to release, blew the knee out at 12 though..

    So all I can say is that I have been skeptical of the tech bindings, but I think I might have tasted the kool aid. Sure I realize that I shouldn’t be skiing the resort every day or hucking to hardpack, but I am definetly very pleased with what I was able to put them through during my testing today. I hope they hold up to what I plan to put them through otherwise. I will feel more secure overall when I get some spare Radical parts to stash in my pack.

  27. Lou January 4th, 2012 5:53 am

    Tony, that’s an interesting binding history! Thanks for sharing. Lou

  28. Lou January 4th, 2012 7:30 am

    Ok boys and girls, I just re-mounted our Dynafit Radical 12 on our plexiglass test bed and evaluated its effect on “over-cambering” of the ski that can pull the binding pins out of the boot heel fitting. I could see nor feel no discernible effect with a boot in the system. Shucks.

    Remember if you build or see a test like this, at some point do it with a boot in the system. This realistically shows how little movement occurs in the Radical 12 binding damping/stiffening system, and is thus available to activate the system.

    In our video I do a lot of demonstration with no boot, since that was the only way to visibly show how the system is intended to work. When testing with a boot in the system, I was actually surprised how little everything moved before the boot either bumped into the heel unit (in turn type flexing) or pulled off the pins (in over-camber).

  29. Tony S. January 4th, 2012 10:01 am

    I just hope they scrap the whole plate idea and finally just beef up the 12 din binding in a few key areas…Mainly in how the top plate and lifters attatch to the heel piece housing. You would have a net loss of weight if you just axed the useless plate and did a little fortification of that heel assembly. This will help the bindiing hold up better to aggressive use in the real world.

    It’s clearly a weak point (check tetonat for a few recenf failures) and I believe we will see more failures as the season finally gets going and people really start charging and hucking on these things as per how they have been sold to the public in their own promotional videos. The power towers and the wide plate in the toe are good upgrades without adding alot of weight, now it’s time to do the same for that heel piece, at least on the 12 din version.

  30. Real January 7th, 2012 5:34 am

    Lou,
    You mentioned: the binding can be easily mounted without
    What extra parts do you need to do so?
    Thanks…

  31. Lou January 7th, 2012 6:46 am

    No extra parts are needed, I mounted some the other day and left the plate and white switch out. I did put a bit more epoxy under the toe plastic just figuring doing so would be a good idea, as leaving the switch out leaves a void. Better and cooler would be to use the plastic toe unit plate from a Radical ST 10.

  32. Real January 7th, 2012 12:18 pm

    Can you use the same holes twice to mount your binding. Do you have some advice. What kind of glue do you use when mounting a binding?
    Thanx..

  33. Collin January 7th, 2012 7:03 pm

    Great site Lou, I’m just venturing into AT stuff and this site has been a tremendous resource. After way too much investigation, I finally settled on K2 coombacks, Dynafit Radical TLT FT12′s with the “vibration damping” plate, and Scarpa Maestrales. I skied in Colorado last week at Monarch and Crested Butte and two days in the backcountry of Crested Butte. I’m 6’2″, 175lbs (a former cross country mountain biker endurance freak) but I can ski pretty hard. I have the DINs set to 10.

    The setup was actually phenomenal at the resort. Skiing icy bumps was no problem and the skis ripped on the groomers. I did pre-release on a really icy landing of a jump in the terrain park, but I will admit to landing a little funny and not dead center. In the past I have always skied my alpine bindings at a DIN of 8 (Marker, Look, and Rossi bindings). I have an occasional pre-release of all of those when skiing bumps, but can’t remember any other pre-releases on other terrain.

    This is probably dumb to say because it needs more investigation, but I tried the vibration in “on” and “off” down the same run at Monarch and seemed to notice a slight “cushion” feel with the damper “on”.

    I unfortunately live in Maryland now, so I won’t be able to follow up on this right away, but all in all the bindings seem pretty stellar. Also, the touring was phenomenal, but I only have BCA alpine trekkers to compare to. One more thing, the setup performed well also on rocks, roots, and fallen trees in the backcountry :-( pray for snow…

  34. Collin January 7th, 2012 7:11 pm

    I forgot to say my experience seems very similar to Tony S, I just set to a DIN of 10 because that was what was recommended at REI. At some point I’d like to set to a DIN of 8 and see what happens…I’m typically extremely conservative when it comes to trusting bindings to save my knees and I’m not too often in situations of 100% needing my skis to stay attached.

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  36. Mark January 10th, 2012 8:16 am

    Spam! Spam!

  37. Jonathan Shefftz February 17th, 2012 3:43 pm

    “When doing a paper template mount, simply adjust distance between Radical FT 12 toe and heel unit so the damper system can be set to the “off” position and the connector plate mates with the obvious slots in the underside of the heel unit. ”
    - So if I’m understand this correctly (based on both the quote and some TGR posts, although I haven’t seen the user/tech manual yet), the system can be engaged if and only if the mounting distance between the toe and heel holes is set at one of three exact lengths? (Combined with the fore/aft adjustment of the heel unit, these three lengths span the entire range of bsl that can be used with the system engaged. But still, if you don’t take this into account when mounting, or if you reuse some old holes on a skis, then although the binding could still be adjusted to the correct heel gap, the dampening system could not be engaged, correct?)

  38. pereles August 5th, 2012 10:33 pm

    Demonstration is perfect..skis is the product of plastic and is used for mounting and snow riding..Mostly it doesn’t seems to experience any difficulties of vibration during mounting..Binding can be mounted to skis..

  39. Peter October 21st, 2012 11:33 pm

    Hi Lou, I’m trying to mount a pair of these FT Z12′s on my skis and am a bit confused about the position of these vibration damping plates. My boot sole length is 306mm, but if I put the insert in the slot 290-320mm, with the white damper switch in the “off” position, I have to adjust the fore-aft position of the heelpiece all the way to the back (as far as it can travel) to get the required boot-heelpiece spacing. This doesn’t sound right to me, but positioning the plate in any of the other two slots puts the heelpiece way out of position. Have you any insight where the plate is supposed to be joined for a specific boot length? I’d like to try and install the bindings with the plates if possible.

  40. Adrian Walther November 7th, 2012 7:40 am

    Thank you for this test. I think it’s obvious ;)

    What i would like to know…??
    Is the toe unit of the Radical FT 12 stiffer as the toe unit of the Radical ST (10) ?

    Thanks a lot!

    Adrian from Switzerland

  41. Conor R November 18th, 2012 2:22 pm

    Hey all, buying my first AT set-up after years of skiing at the resort. I’m 5’9″ and weigh 159lbs without gear. I’m torn between the Radical ST and the FT. I set my DIN at 8 on the resorts, so the higher DIN on the FT doesn’t matter so much. At my height and weight, will I really see that big a difference with the “stiffener plate” or should I just save the money and go with the ST? Thanks so much for the feedback.

  42. Lou Dawson November 18th, 2012 2:38 pm

    The plate does little to nothing. Get the ST. Lou

  43. Billy Balz January 15th, 2014 12:30 pm

    Lou, do you still feel strongly about using a pool of epoxy under the FT toe piece if omitting the dampener contraption? If so, I’m assuming this is to better distribute the load on the otherwise hollowed-out base (sans dampener)? Also, would this affect removal of the toe piece for re-installment on other skis in the future? (Would the epoxy bond so strongly that I’d ruin the toe piece or rip the ski’s top sheet during removal?) Thanks!

  44. louis dawson January 15th, 2014 1:34 pm

    Just do it, you will won’t have any trouble.

  45. Bob February 12th, 2014 4:20 pm

    Hey Lou- is there any other significant benefit to the FT over the ST (release value and plate aside)? I read somewhere that that towers on the FT are more supported by the plate implying to toe is torsionally stronger. This may have been covered here- is it true? Other factors making FT stiffer or higher performance, perhaps in the heel?

  46. Lou Dawson February 12th, 2014 4:29 pm

    No

    Yes the FT toe plate has a bit of extra plastic that comes up on the sides of the aluminum toe unit. This is in my opinion cosmetic.

    Lou

  47. Vesku March 21st, 2014 3:18 pm

    To me it seems that on these pictures the binding is not installed correctly. It is my understanding that the carbon plate should be positioned deeper under the front binding. In this position the white button would fill the shaped opening of the plate completely when in “unlock” position. In your setup it leaves a pointless 1cm gap. Does Dynafit support two different positionings depending on boot size or am I missing something? I’m not saying it makes a difference regarding the functionality but I’m just curious.

  48. Lou Dawson March 22nd, 2014 10:35 am

    Not sure Vesku, we worked pretty hard to make sure we got it right, and in my test it does engage the “bumpers” as the rig flexes so I’m certain the test is realistic. If I have time I’ll fool around with this, but it’s not going to be high on my list. If the system absorbed more energy I’d be more inclined to mess around with it, but as I’ve implied many times any effect it has on your skis is minimal to cosmetic. Indeed, I find it to be a distraction from more important issues common to nearly all tech bindings, such as how the toe fittings interact with the boot toe fittings. Lou

  49. Greg March 31st, 2014 12:32 pm

    I’ve got arthritic knees that don’t like it when I ski hard snow. I’m moving to dynafits from telemark but one concern I have is that I hear that you really feel hard snow much more when on dynafits than on alpine bindings. Would the mostly useless plate in the FT help absorb some of that feedback at all? Anyone able to compare it with other Dynafit’s for vibration absorption? If not, I’m getting Speeds as these will rarely be used in bounds and I’d rather save money and weight.

  50. Lou Dawson March 31st, 2014 1:02 pm

    Greg, you won’t notice any difference and yes you will have a much harsher ride on any tech binding compared to tele bindings. Frankly, looking to the binding to absorb vibration and shock is not practical for touring bindings. Vibration damping is the job of the ski, and the boot. I’ve had some knee issues, never found anything with enough damping and vibration absorption to make any sort of real-world difference. The only thing I’ve found is that if a person’s knees have an ideal a angle of bend, you can tune the alpine boot/binding system to favor that angle. Not sure how that would work with telemark, having not done it for about 40 years. In the case of alpine, some foklks find that a more upgright stance helps with knee issues, but I’ve known people who had an ideal bent knee angle they wanted the boot and binding ramp to help them utilize to fullest extent. Lou

  51. Greg March 31st, 2014 2:08 pm

    Thanks Lou. Really appreciate your website a lot. Thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions. I’ve been alpine skiing a bit this year (first time in 30 years! – why did I wait so long?) and find my knee seems to hurt less when I put the Titan UL’s into the forward lean position. I’m trying to figure out whether to shim the dynafits or not to reduce the ramp angle/delta. It sounds like most people like to use a shim? 3mm or so would get me closer to the ramp on the Adrenalins so I think I will do that.

  52. Lou Dawson March 31st, 2014 6:10 pm

    Greg, the main thing is to _experiment_, don’t settle for OEM angles, they’re just an average of what people like. If you’re new to alpine, know that with modern skis and boots you can ski with almost no knee joint flexion if necessary.

  53. see March 31st, 2014 7:25 pm

    I’ve always liked soft boots with a progressive flex– resistance builds smoothly as displacement increases. As I get older, I find I like stiff boots even less because of the perceived stress on my knees. That’s not to say I don’t use stiffer boots on bigger skis, but just that even my stiff boots are pretty soft.

  54. see March 31st, 2014 7:41 pm

    …and I also find slightly heavier skis to be easier on the knees in manky snow, ymmv.

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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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Backcountry skiing is a dangerous sport. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions or templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow its owners and contributors of any liability for use of said items for backcountry skiing or any other use.

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