He he, hah hah hah, giggle giggle, Nano Gignoux

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 7, 2014      

(Updated with full evaluation of Gignoux Fixation (binding) Ultimate 2)

Sportiva Nano 180 cm saddled with Pierre Gignoux micro thong bindings, also known as Fixation Ultimate 2, or branded by Dyanfit as RC1.

Sportiva Nano 180 cm saddled with Pierre Gignoux micro thong bindings (92 grams per binding, with screws).

1286 grams per 180 cm ski, with binding, 130/103/120. He he, hah hah hah, giggle giggle.

The Gignoux Fixation (binding) Ultimate 2 reminds me of the first time I owned a car with computerized fuel injection. So simple, yet complex under the surface. One of the most important things my first evaluations revealed is the Ultimate truly has nearly neutral delta when used with conventional AT boots in downhill mode (company literature says the only boot for this binding is the Gignoux, so consider all this a test).

While some of you might like having much less delta, for me it’s too radical of a departure from the Dynafit TLT standard delta I tune all my bindings to. In numbers, the difference between toe and heel heights of the Gignoux is 7.2 mm lower at the heel than a Dynafit TLT. (Note that due to how the Gignoux boot is shaped, you end up with more delta and heel lift in touring mode than you do with a conventional AT boot).

Along those same lines, if you’re used to standard touring bindings, when using boots other than the Gignoux carbon models you’ll find the Gignoux binding has nearly zero heel lift in climbing mode (red “flap” folded over heel pins.) With a 7 mm shim under the heel the binding could perhaps perform in normal touring, but in stock form the lack of heel lift made things quite difficult. That’s an observation, not a criticism, as this is a race binding and as such does not emphasize steep skin climbing. What’s more, the Gignoux boot does jack your heel up a bit higher than the TLT6 shoes I set these up for, though not to the extent of higher heel lifts on most touring bindings.

Gignoux heel unit (1 binding, 40 grams with screws).

Gignoux heel unit (1 binding, 40 grams with screws). Lateral (side) release is accomplished by the upper part of the unit rotating against the lower, with a sort of “loaded friction” occurring as the upper rides past two plastic lobes on the base. Double arrow indicates rotation, single arrow points to one of the lobes with the upper riding it. Upwards (vertical) release occurs by virtue of the heel pins spreading as with most tech bindings. Only in this case the pins spread simply by distortion of the plastic risers they’re mounted on. Release values felt in hand testing to be around 8, neither are adjustable in of themselves, but choosing to lockout rotation of toe turntable (see next photo) changes lateral release value depending on type of boot. For example, a boot with conventional (Dynafit spec) tech fittings will release out of the toe with the turntable fixed, while a Gignoux boot has toe fittings that are not designed to release unless the binding toe can rotate.

Gignoux toe

Gignoux toe (57 grams with screws, one binding toe) is what I feel is the most beautiful part of the whole contraption. You can tell the composite was hand shaped to some degree, with all the spring action holding your boot in being provided by deflection of the composite. With my Dynafit TLT-6 boots I was able to enter the binding with a tricky step-in motion that took some experimentation. To exit you just bend the obvious tab. The interesting thing here is that the binding is toe is configured so as to ‘turntable’ rotates and give a smooth lateral release in downhill mode. Problem is, you can’t go uphill with a free heel with the turntable active, so Gignoux provides a small threaded pin (shown with arrow) that screws through the binding into the ski to lock out all rotation. For ski touring this is tedious at best, hence I experimented by running the binding with the turntable locked out. This worked with conventional tech fittings that are designed with a taper so as to ride off the binding pins for smooth release. Gignoux boot is different, see next photo.

Gignoux boot toe has a somewhat primitive looking tech fitting, but it works well with their binding. The idea is that the lead-in notch shown with arrow engages the binding pins when you step directly down (see embedded video below). It works quite well, you pop in directly downwards with a reassuring 'snap' and have no discernible lateral release function unless the toe unit turntable action is enabled by removing the tiny lockout pin shown in photo above.

Gignoux boot toe has a somewhat primitive looking tech fitting, but it works well with their binding. The idea is that the lead-in notch shown with arrow engages the binding pins when you step directly down (see embedded video below). It works quite well, you pop in directly downwards with a reassuring ‘snap’ and have no discernible lateral release function unless the toe unit turntable action is enabled by removing the tiny lockout pin shown in photo above.

I used a conventional tech boot (TLT6) in the binding as an experiment. I found this configuration to have a modicum of safety release (without turntable function in toe) but would not make it my daily driver for ski touring (if for no other reason than lack of heel lift in climbing mode).

Switching to the Gignoux boot yielded results with a more “integrated” feeling and reasonable heel lift for moderate climbing angles, yet conversely the boot had virtually no lateral release unless the toe turntable function was enabled.

Problem: no way in a race situation are you going to be screwing and unscrewing the tiny pin used to lock out turntable action in the binding toe. Even while ski touring this seems to be a system that would be prone to loss of the pin, as well as being difficult to manipulate in full conditions. In other words, good uses for the Gignoux Ultimate 2 system would be “vertical” time trial type skimo racing when weight is of essence and mode changes are not a big factor. Or, ski touring with either no release enabled or willingness to fiddle with the tiny lockout pin. What’s more, both inserting and backing out our lockout pin required inserting a tiny handle/rod we improvised from a drill bit. We’re not convinced this would be very friendly in the backcountry.

Note the Gignoux boot does function to some degree in a conventional tech binding. But due to shape of the tech fittings in the toe it has no lateral release unless the tech binding has a turntable function. Certain Dynafit models will have this function by next season.

One of the ongoing problems with the current state-of-art tech binding system is that unless the boot toe fittings are perfectly shaped, you can get sticky or zero lateral safety release. Next winter, you’ll begin seeing Dynafit bindings that allow the toe unit to rotate (turntable) in lateral release (Beast model already has this feature). I’m optimistic that such rotating toe units will reduce the criticality of how tech binding boot toe sockets are shaped — thus helping the industry as a whole. On the other hand, no engineering change in a machine is without consequence. I’d encourage all you guys who tend to be “early adopters” to be leery of how the new turntable bindings are going to perform in real life. Beast model seems to be doing well, but lighter weight models designed for touring and racing must meet different needs.

You can’t argue the simplicity and elegance of the classic tech binding configuration. Any changes to the basic configuration could indeed be solutions without problems.

Rotating toe unit on Radical 2.0 may increase binding safety, or solution without problem?

Rotating turntable toe unit on Dynafit Radical 2.0 may increase binding safety, or solution without problem? At the least, this may enable use of Gignoux boots by enabling full safety release.

By the way, they have some Vapor Nano skis at Cripple Creek Backcountry. Shop for ’em.


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34 Responses to “He he, hah hah hah, giggle giggle, Nano Gignoux”

  1. Mark Worley May 1st, 2014 8:34 am

    What kind of a freakshow is this? Might blow away in the wind!

  2. Tom Gos May 1st, 2014 8:38 am

    So let me get this straight, you have a PAIR of moderately wide skis WITH bindings that in total weighs less than some AT bindings (thinking Duke) alone? Wow!

  3. Charlie Hagedorn May 1st, 2014 8:44 am


  4. JCoates May 1st, 2014 8:55 am

    I might want a little beefier toe-piece, but otherwise pretty sure I would ski them anywhere. So, so, so jealous.

  5. Erik Erikson May 1st, 2014 9:20 am

    Ok, ok Lou: It took quite a long time and a considerable amount of your blogposts, but now you succeded at last in ultimately convincing me: My coombacks with vertical FTs are indeed a HEAVY setup nowadays… 😉

  6. Joe Risi May 1st, 2014 9:23 am

    Exactly how nanotubes should be used!

  7. lederhosen42 May 1st, 2014 10:20 am

    The great thing about that binding design is that for 30 bucks in hardware store materials, you can pretty much ghetto something up in the basement that’ll do the same job. 😉

  8. biggb May 1st, 2014 11:50 am

    Ready and waiting for your ski review … big fan of the new La Sportiva gear.

  9. wick May 1st, 2014 2:10 pm

    Sick…blow people minds!

  10. Jon Miller May 1st, 2014 2:30 pm

    And I thought my Vapor’s with Speed Radicals were light! I think you are going to like that rig a lot! I almost put Low Tech races on mine but wanted a bigger heel pattern.

  11. Scott Nelson May 1st, 2014 3:22 pm

    Saw these this morning, I was skeptical, but Lou skied them, flames were coming out the back of his skis on the skin track. Mind blowingly light setup.

  12. Scott May 1st, 2014 3:45 pm

    These look cool, but why are they that wide if they are designed for racing?

  13. Scott May 1st, 2014 3:46 pm

    Oh, I get it, the bindings are for racing!

  14. Lou Dawson May 1st, 2014 4:48 pm

    The flames died out when the lack of heel lift got the better of me. Not sure I have the time to shim up the heels, but I’ll do some more testing regardless. Safety release is not adjustable, and a bit sticky. All considered these are not daily drivers for me, but incredibly fun to activate on such a light ski. It actually felt a bit strange, like I was hiking uphill instead of skiing. Am working on completing the blog post above. Glad you guys are enjoying. Lou

  15. Chuck May 1st, 2014 4:51 pm

    How’s Marble skiing holding up?

  16. Lou Dawson May 1st, 2014 6:38 pm

    Better then expected, due to cold temps and new snow. Stuff above timberline in Elks is the best, but not roadside easy. We’re eking the last out of the roadside stuff, super busy with office work so don’t have much time for big slogs.

  17. Andy May 1st, 2014 6:47 pm

    So are those bindings technically workable with something other than the Gignoux boots? I thought the official line was that they’re slightly different and you’re not supposed to use those bindings with any other boots… Vapors, Gignoux micro bindings, and Scarpa Alien 1.0s are my dream light touring setup. I’ve been on Praxis GPO 187s, TLT verts and Vulcans this season, so I can only imagine how light they would feel by comparison (while not giving away THAT much in skiability).

  18. Lou Dawson May 1st, 2014 7:01 pm

    Andy, in theory I’d say yes they work. But in reality, an ATK or Dynafit race type binding is going to be easier to deal with for a lightweight touring binding. The Gignoux is for sure a dedicated race binding. For example, it has virtually no climbing heel lift. Also, durability is unknown and they do have that horn sticking out of the side of the toe unit, which can catch on things. And there is no real release lockout (more on that as I finish up this blog post.)

    In the end, we will probably take them off these skis and put them on a race setup.

    I’ll also do more with the boots going on into next week, to compare how they work in the binding as opposed to a boot such at TLT with standard tech fittings. Part of the reason for this experiment was indeed to see how a standard consumer touring boot would work in the Gignoux binding. More as a test, and perhaps to encourage someone somewhere to make a superlight binding specifically for touring, rather than racing.

  19. JonnyB May 2nd, 2014 10:02 am

    That toepiece is a work of art.

    This reminds me of the concept cars they bring to auto shows. Yes, this is over the top for a “daily driver” but it would be great to see some of these concepts trickle back into “normal” BC setups. Thanks, Lou!

  20. Grant May 3rd, 2014 12:59 am

    I tested the toe unit in 2008, when Pierre first starting making it- it was awesome! But pretty strange to look down and not see anything in front of your boot, just ski.

  21. Tay May 4th, 2014 8:30 pm

    It’s all down hill, actually up hill; from here Lou. First race bindings, next you’ll dip your toe in the skimo race ski water and your journey to the dark side will be complete.

  22. Erik Erikson May 4th, 2014 10:41 pm

    I am surprised that skimo race courses in the US obviously have “very little steep skinning” according to Lou. Here in Austria at least a big part of a race is done on slopes in a ressort – and very often at the steepest parts (no, I don´t know this from personal experience – just as a spectator ;-).

  23. Lou Dawson May 5th, 2014 6:46 am

    Erik, I should have worded that more clearly, was trying to be brief. I’ve observed quite a few skimo races in Austria and Italy, as well as even entered a few as novice racer. Ditto for United States. My point is that the courses have quite a bit of “skinning” at relaxed angles when having your foot flatter on the ski is optimal for a “kick and glide” type of stride using race skins and super light gear. More, the racers are good at climbing steeper without heel lift due to athletic ability as well as by using boots with lots of mobility. All race bindings I know of are optimized for this in terms of heel lift. None have higher heel lifters like touring bindings. The Gignoux is very low. Lou

  24. Chris May 5th, 2014 8:06 pm

    I am unable to find a single review of these skis. Can we expect one in the future? I am however very curious of the rocker profile. Similar to other skis?

  25. Lou Dawson May 5th, 2014 8:19 pm

    Yes, a review is coming. Unlike other forms of journalism, we ski the skis more than one day on chairlifts (grin), so it takes a while. Lou

  26. Bar Barrique May 7th, 2014 9:46 pm

    I think that the ATK raider 12 would be a good binding to mate up with these skis. I don’t know if ATK has any NA distribution for the upcoming year, but these bindings seem to be the lightest full featured binding option out there. Any chance of a review?

  27. JCoates May 8th, 2014 2:13 am

    Lou, I think you have a really bad journalistic integrity problem with your review on this set-up. Obviously you don’t weigh enough to really stress these bindings and skis and you can’t give an objective report on how they handle long-term abuse with a bigger individual. Therefore, I would be very (very!!!) happy to test this rig for you. I will send you my mailing address if you want. 🙂

  28. Lou Dawson May 8th, 2014 7:45 am

    J, I’m working hard on my journalistic integrity, especially on which type of epoxy is used to cement it all together.

    BTW, some of the captions got messed up in this post, I fixed, they explain things a bit more. For example, the photo of Gignoux boot toe shows the lead-in notch on the bottom of the boot toe fitting that allows stepping into the Gignoux binding. And I mention that with next season Dynafit bindings the turntable they’ll have will allow possibly safe use of boots such as Gignoux that don’t have “standard” tech fittings. I find this rather interesting, as I believe that the Dynafit turntable systems are probably intended to go for TUV DIN certification, but they’ll have the perhaps unintended consequence of enabling just about anyone to make a functional boot toe tech fitting, since the shape of the fitting will possibly cease to be as critical for safety release. These are interesting times.

  29. Erik Erikson May 8th, 2014 10:23 am

    Lou, If your journalistic integrity needs further improvement (for example by also testing how this set up would work on the current Euro-snow): I´d gladly complement J´s efforts 😉

  30. Stano May 11th, 2014 2:02 pm

    Thanks for the report Lou.

    And just to add on (or clarify) to your sentence about these bindings suitable use that the fact is they have been successfully for full-on ski mountaineering races such as individual races at World Cups or stage races such as Pierra Menta. So not just for verticals.

    One big problem with highly specialized skimo racing gear though is that no one really knows how durable it is (abuse it will take) because most people on it either got it for free or highly discounted to promote the product. When something breaks they don’t reveal anything and the brand quickly gives them a new pair of skis, boots or bindings. The other people that are thinking of buying it are all hesitating since it’s lots of money for an “untested” product.

    On the other hand, regarding Pierre Gignoux boots, they lasted me quite a bit more than I would have ever expected. So I assume his products are pretty solid for what they may seem. Also they are usually very serviceable with common parts from a local hardware store.

  31. Stephane Mougin June 4th, 2014 6:08 am

    Hi there,

    More Morpho in action here :


    And the kids version also here …


    Yes kid’s version in !!!!

  32. Joel December 31st, 2016 8:19 pm

    Any further experiences on this binding? I’m super curious about how usable it is with a non-Gignoux boot for a race set up. I’m fine with the entry being a scosh finicky. You noted that there is a chance of release with the turntable locked when using a non-Gignoux boot, but did you feel this was a possible issue with tour mode? Since the toe is not really any more lockable, did an unexpected release seem possible or likely when the heel is free?

  33. Lou Dawson 2 January 1st, 2017 8:58 am

    Hi Joel, I wouldn’t recommend this binding unless you’ve got time to experiment with different boots, and accept that you might purchase and it might not work correctly. Yes, if you enable the turntable rotation of the toe it has more of a lateral release function, but then you’re enabling this with a heel unit that might not be designed for the boot to move sideways that freely. It’s a can of worms. My advice for racing would be to just use a binding such as one of the lighter but still side releasable ATK offerings, that is unless you are a podium finisher, in that case saving a few more grams with limited side release might be appropriate. Lou

  34. steve sellers February 4th, 2017 4:41 pm

    most of these posts are pretty old, but I want to throw my .02$ in. After using them for 3 skimo races I’m going to use them only for Vert races. With the Fischer Alp attack skis, they’re under the min weight limit for int’l race rules. My problem with them is that I just can’t reliably get my RC1 Dynafit/PG boots into them when I’m racing. Maybe it’s mental, but in my living room and in outdoor practice, no problem, but on race day I’ve lost waaay too much time struggling to get my boot attached in transitions. Each of these races were quite cold, maybe the carbon gets stiff. I only weigh around 142 so maybe I can’t punch it down hard enough. I’ve tried squirting flouro spray into the inserts to keep snow from clogging in there. But at this point I don’t want to sabotage any more races so I’m going back to Dyna lo techs. I also observe on youtube vids in Euro races, the only person I see racing with these is Killian.

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