Aftermarket G3 Brakes for Tech Bindings, including Early Dynafit TLT

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Mod it baby! The cry went out over the neighborhood at WildSnow HQ the other evening, when I ran across a set of G3 Onyx brakes and noticed they have a slick little latching system that allows them to be stowed in their non-actuated position. Actually quite a beautiful gadget, kudos to those product developers at G3!

G3 Onyx brake used with early Dynafit tech binding, would work with lots of different tech bindings.

G3 Onyx brake used with early Dynafit tech binding, would work with lots of different tech bindings. Brake is shown in stowed position, it's held that way by a tiny metal latch visible near the center over the shiny cross bar. Click all images to enlarge.

I wish I had a nickle for every person who’s asked me if there are _any_ ski brakes that would be easy to install as aftermarket on earlier Dynafit bindings. So, I’ve always got that issue on my radar. I saw the Onxy brake, and, aha. You modders out there will have to decide if this is a viable mod or just a lark on my part. Meanwhile, this is a not so subtle hint to G3 that they could perhaps easily develop and retail an aftermarket “bolt on” ski brake for tech bindings. All they’d have to do is take their existing Onyx brake, make it slightly thinner with provision for running screws through it, and the brake could be installed as a “stomp block” under the boot heel with nearly any tech binding. They’d sell thousands! Check it out:

To enable the brake for downhill skiing, you push on the tiny catch and release the arms.

To enable the brake for downhill skiing, you push on the tiny catch and release the arms. A finger works, or a ski pole tip. To be clear, the idea here is that you have a brake you manually stow for the uphill, then manually deploy for the down. That said, and automatic deployment system could probably be cobbled up pretty easily.

I made three new holes in the brake to attach to ski. The rear holes go through a beefy steel plate but could do with some support underneath.

I made three new holes in the brake to attach to ski. The rear holes go through a beefy steel plate but could do with some support underneath. The modder could install 'crush sleeves' as supports for the screws, meaning small lengths of steel tubing that the screws ran through, thus providing plenty of strength. A custom sized block of plastic or aluminum would work as well.

Looking at the G3 brake from underneath, red indicates the three holes I drilled as well as where I cut the back off the plastic housing.

Looking at the G3 brake from underneath, red indicates the three holes I drilled as well as where I cut the back off the plastic housing. WARNING: If you cut the back part off, just cut to the front of the screw holes and not farther, as indicated in the photo by the RIGHT side of my rather thick red line.

With boot heel latched in binding, brake unlatched and ready to work.

With boot heel latched in binding, brake unlatched and ready to work. A couple of issues: First, if you press the brake down a tiny bit too far it'll latch into locked mode and won't deploy during a binding release. That's not a problem if you place the brake at just the right location under the boot (as pictured), but if you got snow or ice between the boot and brake you could end up pressing it down too far anyway. The other issue is friction in a side release. I tested, and with the brake in the pictured location I didn't see any significant problem with this, but it's worth testing for and at least keep the brake plate waxed. A production model of this idea could have an AFD such as Dynafit Radical FT/ST.

Again, what would be incredibly good with this is to have the brake just the right height to act as a stomp plate under the boot heel. The brake could be made at one standard height, with shims for different binding brands and models. G3!

Get yer Onyx ski brakes here, and mod on!


25 Responses to “Aftermarket G3 Brakes for Tech Bindings, including Early Dynafit TLT”

  1. John Gloor November 23rd, 2012 9:56 am

    Lou, could you belt sand the whole base down to get rid of the void space? I cannot tell from the pictures if the locking mechanism would be compromised if one did that.

  2. Joe November 23rd, 2012 10:16 am

    Lou -

    Far be it from me to discourage your mod ways. Mod on. That said…

    The ATK /Sportiva RT brake seemed to hold promise for this and I had thought to get my mitts on one and tinker to see how it could work with the TLT toe piece. Thanksfully I didn’t to the trouble. ATK has a “universal brake” that seems to do what I was hoping for.:

    This gizmo would in theory even work for braking if the failure happened while touring up. Personally I think brakes of the toe piece should be the way to go.

    All the same, Mod early and mod often!

  3. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 10:28 am

    Gloor, you could perhaps sand about a millimeter off the base, the front part forms the place where the brake arm pivot so any more than that would make things too weak. As it is, it could be fit with just about any Dynafit TLT type binding by placing in the type of location I have in picture. As mentioned, one would want to put crush sleeves on the rear screws. Biggest downside is the things are not light in weight. one brake weighs about 5 ounces not including screws.

    Also, if any of you guys get serious about this, when cutting rear part of brake off, don’t cut too far in or the whole thing will come apart. Basically, just cut off the tiny wings with the existing screw holes — or perhaps leave the whole thing as-is and use the existing rear screw holes with some kind of support underneath.

  4. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 10:32 am

    Joe, we’d already seen that of course! It activates with a leash, am not seeing why that’s much better than just having a much lighter weight leash system and no brake. Stop-gap solution, in my opinion. The most ingenious brake so far is indeed the Dynafit system of having the brake retract when the heel unit is rotated. Genius. I think it’s still patented which is why you see all these “Golgbergian” solutions such as ATK’s — and mine, for that matter (grin).

  5. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 10:34 am

    All, if anyone gets serious about this I can share more detail. But once you have the brakes in hand it’s pretty obvious what to do. A small bar of aluminum with two holes would provide adequate support under the existing rear screw holes.

  6. mason November 23rd, 2012 11:47 am

    do you recommend adding stomp plates to older dynafits? will it extend the life of the pins? seems like the pins last forever without… On Speed Radical a stomp plate would raise you above the lowest climb setting, no?

  7. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 12:01 pm

    Mason, no recommendation, they’re just something some people like so I thought I’d throw that in there… And yes, stomp can raise you above that nice heel-flat-on-ski mode that’s so comfortable on level ground… Lou

  8. mason November 23rd, 2012 12:05 pm

    Some people like them because they break pins? I never have, so probably no need. I found the Plum post with more discussion on stomp pads…

  9. Justin November 23rd, 2012 7:07 pm

    Interesting, didn’t know about the G3 brakes. I’ve been brakeless with dynafits/plums for 8 years, but I have had 1 nearly disasterous runaway ski incident and I keep thinking about brakes. On the link you posted, the “reviews” on these brakes are pretty bad. Do you know if they’ve been changed since then?

  10. Lou Dawson November 23rd, 2012 7:18 pm

    Hi Justin, not sure about those reviews. What were the issues?

  11. Seth November 23rd, 2012 7:28 pm

    I mounted numerous G3 Onyx bindings with those brakes… 1st gen. sucked, 2nd was better. There seemed to be a propensity for the desirable feature you have noticed (that they clickety-clack stay out of the way) to be unreliable at best. But y’all have better luck than I.

  12. Justin November 23rd, 2012 8:15 pm

    There are a couple comments about them sticking and not deploying reliably.

  13. Michael Finger November 24th, 2012 8:28 pm

    Forget the brakes, what are those beefy skis they are mounted on?

  14. JQ November 25th, 2012 7:27 am

    Are you generally an advocate of brakes in the backcountry? I have pretty much abandoned them as they are clearly the weakest link in the Dynafit system.
    Yesterday (first tour of the season) I somehow reverse rotated the heel of a new pair (last March) of Radicals and a bench inspection revealed that the tapered pin was OK but the whole plastic unit was broken. Local shop will warranty no problem but now I am worried that a new set of bindings will be problematic into the future. Do you know if warranty replacement will be the integrated brake unit ? Is this actually compatible with the original?

  15. Lou Dawson November 25th, 2012 8:01 am

    Hi JQ, I have no idea what the replacement part will have in terms of brake, but I can tell you that the pins are obsolete and any replacement or upgrade should or will have the external anti-rotation solution mounted on the brake plate. In other words, you will have to use your bindings with a brake. If you don’t want brakes, the binding without them is the Speed Radical. Lou

  16. Andy November 26th, 2012 2:34 pm

    I have several seasons on the G3 Onyx, including experience with the second generation brake and absolutely do not trust that they will deploy when needed. I’ve completely lost confidence in them to the point that I only use the Onyx with leashes. This is my one and only complaint with the binding. In all other respects I think it has functioned very well.

  17. Lorne November 27th, 2012 5:17 am

    Lou: could you please measure the height of the rear section of the brake (where your two screw heads show)? I was about to make a “stomp block” (as you call it) for my Plums but this might do double duty if the height works for my setup. Thanks.

  18. Lou Dawson November 27th, 2012 8:56 am

    Lorne, it’s difficult to measure because the top is curved as well as slightly tilted, but I’d say 25mm would be a good number to work from, probably about 26 mm at it’s thickest. If G3 wanted to, they could probably make an add-on brake using the same design, only about 4 mm thinner. Any more than that looks like the mechanical parts would need to be redesigned.

    I’ve spoken with another guy who’s serious about using these brakes with Plum bindings. Let’s see who is first with a guest blog (grin)!

  19. Lorne November 27th, 2012 10:37 am

    25mm sounds about right for my setup. Challenge accepted!

  20. Lou Dawson November 27th, 2012 10:55 am

    If you really wanted to tune things, you can always shave a few mm off the sole heel of the boot…

    For using Onyx brake as stomp block, you’ll nee to make a filler/support that those screws can go through…


  21. Lorne November 27th, 2012 11:55 am

    Yeah I figured that. Epoxy putty should do a good job as a filler and to add height if required. I’ll let you know how things go.

  22. Lorne December 11th, 2012 2:23 pm

    Lou: I should be able to get hold of some Onyx brakes soon and give this thing a shot. Quick question though: what width of screw and what size of hole do you recommend? Drill a little narrower than the screw width?

  23. Lou Dawson December 11th, 2012 2:49 pm

    I think I used a #10 screw… snug hole but it does go through steel so too snug won’t work… be sure to make a support under the screws. Lou

  24. David Brown January 13th, 2013 6:08 pm

    This seems to be universal – without the cable. Has anybody out there tried them?

  25. Lorne February 14th, 2013 11:51 am

    I just got done building the brakes for my Plum Guides, doing double-duty as a heel support pad. Not skied them yet but they seem pretty good! Blog post:

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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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