Dynafit Beast Binding Elasticity & Touring Lock — Beast Week Part 3


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | August 28, 2013      

What separates Beast 16 from all other tech bindings? What causes me to say it could probably be used with full confidence as a resort alpine binding? Answer: Elasticity. Ergo, return to center force (RTC-F).

During side release forces, turntable toe rotates under control of spring loaded heel unit.

During side release types of forces and vibration, turntable toe rotates under control of spring loaded heel unit. Safety release may eventually occur, but not before the binding strongly and smoothly attempts to return to center -- thus providing elastic shock absorption that in our view is more effective than any other tech binding, and equal or superior to conventional alpine bindings.

When paired with correctly shaped boot fittings, all properly constructed tech bindings exhibit a modicum of return-to-center force at the heel. Believe me, this has been greatly appreciated by all who understand binding mechanics for backcountry or frontcountry. But the Beast’s RTC is a step above.

Elasticity of the Beast 16 heel, in lateral release, is burly. Bench test placing boot in the binding in alpine mode, then rotate heel unit to the side with your hand, thus simulating a partial release. Feel the pressure, the way the heel wants to return to center; like the powerful magnetic attraction that draws Seth Morrison from the top of a cliff to a perfectly executed huck.

Beyond the spring loaded heel (really not much different than other tech bindings), what makes the Beast RTC work is the turntable toe unit. To release laterally, all other tech bindings have to come out at the toe fittings as they move sideways at the heel. Boot held by the Beast toe unit simply rotates during lateral (side) release, eventually coming out of the fittings when necessary. Smooth, and obviously a “safety” binding.

For more, see today’s addition to our Dynafit Beast 16 FAQ

(Please note, Beast 16 ski binding is a radical departure from virtually all other ski bindings. At this time we have no idea what kind of commercial success Beast will have, nor what problems may appear once the binding is in full consumer use. These blog posts and FAQs are not a recommendation, they’re simply here to inform anyone interested and to clarify things if you desire to be an early adopter. All testing here was done with a pre-production unit. FAQ will be updated when retail bindings are available.)



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Comments

25 Responses to “Dynafit Beast Binding Elasticity & Touring Lock — Beast Week Part 3”

  1. Charlie August 28th, 2013 10:27 am

    Thanks Lou!

    Increased elastic travel is, to my mind, the biggest single feature missing from the TLT Speed/Classic. The Onyx appears to surpass the TLT, but probably won’t match the performance of the Beast. Lots of moving parts and potential failure points in the Beast design. Looking forward to seeing how it goes in the marketplace. There’s room for an elegant design that delivers similar performance with the simplicity of the TLT Classic.

    If the Beast can convincingly solve prerelease problems, it may prevent injury for those who lock the toes on more traditional Tech bindings.

  2. Lou Dawson August 28th, 2013 10:42 am

    Charlie, as far as I can tell, Beast easily has the elasticity and retention of an alpine binding — or even better. Only glitch is that yes it does release at BOTH toe and heel, in a sense like the “diagonal” alpine bindings or the Knee Binding. That could make it safer, or it could continue problems people have with pre-release unless they run at high release values. Lots of testing will tell the tale. Last winter’s reviewers gave the binding high marks, including myself, Joe and AJ skiing it here at WildSnow, but I didn’t ski it enough at low release values to get a read on it, and Joe dialed it up out of habit and to be safe from the dreaded “test binding pre release.” Skiers such as Hoji are swearing by it, but one wonders if they’re setting it at 16, or something that would actually protect their legs? Thus, it’ll be an interesting winter once the retail version is out! Lou

  3. Bryan August 28th, 2013 11:11 am

    I am super excited about this binding, but terrified at the “locking” touring function. I think we’re going to see that locking mechanism crack pretty easily on firm side hilling terrain.

    Lou – can you comment on whether that locking mechanism is easily replaceable? Also, if that part does break off in the backcountry, can you still use the binding in touring mode?

  4. Lou Dawson August 28th, 2013 11:27 am

    Bryan, that’s a super good point. If the lock broke, you’d not be able to tour as your foot would pivot all over the place. You’d have to strap the binding toe to be stable, perhaps by wrapping a strap around the ski.

    However, “terrified” is a pretty strong word. Any touring binding out there has parts that if broken would disable it.

    With Beast 16, provided the touring lock parts are made with high quality non-defective plastic, it’ll work fine. And let’s not get into the plastic vs aluminum debate. Plastic can work fine and be durable, that’s why we ski on it and in it. Lou

  5. Matt August 28th, 2013 1:03 pm

    Gotta admit, I’m fascinated with this binding and can’t wait to try it. It does look intricate, though, perhaps excessively so. There’s a dictum in my business, never be the first or the last to adopt a new product…

  6. Bryan August 28th, 2013 2:21 pm

    Lou,

    I agree, I’m not going to get into the “I’m afraid of plastic debate”, however it does seem like bindings that rely heavily on plastic in areas of high leverage are suspect to failures (see marker duke / baron / f12 toe pivot).

    Functionally, while a skier is side hilling with the beast in tour mode…those plastic wings receive all of the force holding the toe piece in place. This is obviously not the case with Radical or FT12 / Verticals / Speed. I get that there are trade offs, but as someone who skies in Colorado, this thing needs to be solid when side hilling on firm snow.

  7. Lou Dawson August 28th, 2013 3:11 pm

    Bryan, yes, all the rotational force is going to be on that plastic. I never saw it as a concern, but it could definitely be a pain point. Of course, trying to predict this stuff is nearly impossible. That’s why nearly every new binding release for the last 10 or 20 years, from all companies, has had problems and inline improvements.

  8. Omekim August 28th, 2013 3:27 pm

    Following on from what Charlie said… Lou can you subjectively compare the elasticity of TLT/Radicals/whatever vs G3 Onyx vs Beast?

    I remember reading or watching somewhere that Onyx had attempted to address the lack of elasticity in tech bindings with the Normally-closed jaws, etc. but as they are the only tech bindings I’ve ever used I have nothing to compare them too.

  9. Lou Dawson August 28th, 2013 5:05 pm

    Yes, I can. All but Beast are dependent on the boot fittings sliding out from the toe pins. Beast simply rotates (and eventually pops out of the toe, but only after the release is pretty much done). Much smoother and not dependent on the boot fittings which are notorious for being made wrong, sometimes to the point of no release, no matter what binding!

    Also, the Beast heel rotation spring is simply, strong, big. I’ll compare dimensions in the faq eventually. It’s all upsized.

    But yeah, subjectively, RTC force on Beast is a whole other animal.

    Lou

  10. Nick August 28th, 2013 8:22 pm

    Reading this blog post might have just cost me a thousand dollars…

  11. Daniel August 29th, 2013 4:19 am

    just got around it by convincing myself a trusty light speed tlt is plenty for my new huascarans. pretty sure that won’t last forever. this is the future of backcountry bindings.

  12. David B August 29th, 2013 5:40 am

    It’s the heel release characteristics which grab me. Regardless of uphill or downhill functionality, the main job of any modern binding, alpine or touring is to protect the users against injury. It’s about keeping the joints in tack to ski another day.

    Lou, now that this is year two coming up, are Dynafit going to produce larger quantities? And if so, have they indicated any retail pricing reduction?

  13. Lou Dawson August 29th, 2013 8:03 am

    David, the retail version of the binding is slated for this coming season of 2013/2014. The bindings that were out last winter were pre-retail prototypes sent out for review and beta testing. The retail version will be nearly the same, with a few small changes and improvements we will cover as is necessary for these blog posts and FAQ.

    In terms of how many bindings they produce, last I heard they’re sticking to a limited production run as planned. I’ve heard a few versions of how many bindings will be produced so I don’t spout them off too often so as not to create false info. We’ve also been told the retail bindings will have serial numbers for better tracking of problems, etc.

  14. peterams December 11th, 2013 10:37 am

    I just bought these solid looking bindings and the first thing i noticed, along with the dealer who sold me these, is that the front toe pins are wider than that of the other tech bindings of dynafit.(57mm instead of 54mm). In consequence, my boot, technica cochise pro, has room to wiggle at the front, and in fact so did the other boots he tested. Seems weird.
    The dealer has told me to test it on the slopes and see what happens.

    Do you know if this is normal???

  15. Lou Dawson May 10th, 2014 3:05 pm

    Rolf, please put your Beast comments here on this post. I’ll do the same. As you can see, the comment above is asking about the very issue you bring up. Lou

  16. Lou Dawson May 10th, 2014 3:07 pm

    Well Rolf, we are all entitled to our opinions about how a business should be run. I certainly have mine (grin).

    I can tell you that the issue of non-standard boot fittings has been HUGE for years. For the usual Dynafit binding to work correctly, the boot fittings have to be very exact, many many have not worked correctly. Even some of Dynafit’s fittings over the years have had problems. Testing them is easy if you know what you’re doing.

    Mail-order internet sales have not helped with this situation. Especially when the adoption of the system was accelerating, I can’t tell you how many people were trying to use the binding with absolutely no knowledge or help with how it’s supposed to work. These days it’s better, more experts out there, and the ski shops tend to know more. But if someone goes out touring on a binding and it doesn’t work, due to a problem that is easily checked on the workbench, whos’ fault is that? The binding maker’s?

    And, the issue of the binding being blamed for problems that are actually sourced by the boot is also HUGE.

    If a boot maker can’t make a boot that fits in a binding, after 30 years worth of stuff to look at and copy, it is the boot maker’s problem, and not Dynafit’s, not ATK’s and not Plum’s.

    For example, what do we expect? Every time a boot maker wants to fool around with the shape of the fittings or the boot toe, Dynafit is supposed to re-design their binding?

    It is very nice of Dynafit to redesign their binding. I hope they create a lot of good will, and of course sell more bindings since they’re ostensibly work with more boots. But as long as their bindings work with their own boots and with Scarpa (because of “certification”), that’s all they are required to do in my opinion. Beyond that, the boot makers need to get their act together.

    Lou

  17. Rolf May 17th, 2014 10:49 am

    Copying all the post to here will make it a mess. So I’ll leave at this one.

    It might be a problem of the boots, but as Dynafit is easily capable of solving a lot of the problems next year, they might have done so right away! And I agree that Beast issues are not a problem for ski touring, but for more freeride oriented users. But especially with this target group the use of heavier boots from other brands then Dynafit is very common. I also feel that Dynafit, knowing of the problems, could have told retailers about this (and might have sold some extra Mercury’s or Vulcans in the process!).

    For more on this issue see: http://www.wildsnow.com/12649/volkl-bmt-106-ski-review/
    Sorry to have made a mess out of it Lou! 🙂

  18. Lou Dawson May 17th, 2014 11:53 am

    Rolf, it’s not that boots are heavier, it’s that some of the makers ignore the de-facto standard for boot toe shape and fitting dimensions. Really, be reasonable, you can’t expect any binding maker to produce a binding that will work with any shape of anything? For example, what’s next, we require Dynafit to make a binding that fits rock climbing shoes and we complain when it doesn’t?

    As for telling retailers about problems, yes, I agree that in most cases (and not just with Dynafit) it would be better if these situations were communicated earlier in the process.

    But even then, who should communicate? Dynafit makes a binding that’s guaranteed to only work with their certified fittings. A boot company makes a boot that doesn’t work in the binding. Should not the boot company who made the dysfunctional boot be the one to alert the retailers? Not to mention fixing it?

    For example, Scott had a batch of Cosmos boots that simply did not work well in Dynafit bindings (or any tech binding, as far as I could tell). Did they expect Dynafit to entirely redesign their binding so it worked with Cosmos boot? Of course not. To Scott’s credit, they manned up and made better fittings, ones that work quite beautifully.

    I still don’t understand why you are placing the onus entirely on Dynafit. They should do the best they can, but be reasonable, they’re making a very tricky machine that is designed to work with carefully designed components. If a boot company can’t take the small amount of effort for their engineers to learn how the toe of a boot should be shaped, or a tech fitting to be made, I think that indicates a flaw at the boot company, not at the binding company.

    Another example. Alpine bindings only fit certain boot shapes. If a boot company made a nice boot that didn’t work in an alpine binding because of a different sole shape, would you expect the binding company to re-design their binding to fit that boot?

    It’s nice of Dynafit to do what they’re doing, but totally optional and not something to scold Dynafit about. Instead, one really has to wonder to what extent the boot company tested their boots!!

  19. Brian August 21st, 2014 2:57 pm

    What are your thoughts on running a Beast 16 heel along with a shimmed Speed Radical toe piece? I’ve never really had a problem with the full Speed Radical binding when it comes to lateral release – I’m a pretty smooth skier. Sure, absorption could be better, but I don’t really need it, at the cost of the weight of the Beast.

    However, what I DO need is a stronger and more elastic vertical release. My biggest problem with Dynafits is how easily I release vertically when jumping off cliffs into deeper snow. The forward force generated by landing in deeper snow causes me to eject much earlier than I’d like. I run my Salomon bindings at 12 or 13 in the heel to avoid this same problem (I’m a DIN 9 on the charts).

    If I don’t use the turntable toepiece of the Beast, I’ll loose some elasticity in the toe. I don’t really care about that for almost all tours. However, will the Beast heelpiece release my boot properly with a fixed toepiece like the Speed Radical? Properly = similar to (or better than) a Speed Radical heelpiece.

    (really wishing they made a DIN 14 Speed Radical).

  20. Lou Dawson 2 August 21st, 2014 6:01 pm

    Brian, the new Beast 2 is essentially that, only nicely integrated with a turntable toe. I’d use it instead of cobbling a binding together that you depend on for your life. I think the soon to be unleashed upon the world Marker Kingpin might also be a solution for you guys who need vertical heel elasticity, but that needs a good winter of consumer testing before we know for sure.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/11958/dynafit-new-bindings-2014-2015/

    Lou

  21. Scott October 5th, 2014 4:31 pm

    Back to the toe piece wiggle. I’m using Scarpa Maestrales and while mounting the Beast I noticed one boot has a wiggle. One boot, both bindings. Other boot is fine, which shows it’s a boot issue. Since Scarpa and Dynafit boots are supposed to work with these bindings, and I’m sure it’s not normal to have play in the toe piece, what’s a guy to do? I’ve already started a warranty discussion with Scarpa, and questioned Dynafit as to what “normal” is for the Beast binding. No replies yet, anyone else have answers?

  22. Lou Dawson 2 October 5th, 2014 4:37 pm

    The toe fitting is guaranteed with that red plastic clip seal. Try another pair of Scarpas in the bindings, if you don’t have wriggle with either boot of the new pair, you totally 100% deserve warranty replacement of the boots. In my opinion. It sounds like you’re making this too complex. ‘best, Lou

  23. Scott October 5th, 2014 4:54 pm

    Do any of your boots wriggle, Lou? Is that too complex?

  24. Lou Dawson 2 October 5th, 2014 6:48 pm

    I’ve actually had some that did wriggle (grin).

  25. Santin October 13th, 2014 1:06 pm

    Hello Lou!
    My first comment here so first thing first : CONGRATS for the huge work with Wildsnow, love it! Then back to the Beast issues. Just come back from my local shop in France, when I told them about the “2014/2015 Beast 16 will have a full-on toe locking system that absorbs variations in boot toe fittings, as most Dynafit binding models have done for 30 years” you mentioned on the BMT post they called Salewa France straight away. Answer? “Only a few minor changes but nothing to improve compatibility with other boots”. Not sure they really knew about those possible changes to be honest but that’s their answer.
    I’m about to buy some Beast 16 and I’m only half worried as I have both Vulcan and K2 Pinnacle but still… The binding is not in the shops yet so no way to check. Any feedback from anybody about this on the 2014/15 Beast 16? Thanks!

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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

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