KneeBinding — Part 1 — Unboxed


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 25, 2016      
Knee Binding unboxed.

KneeBinding unboxed. Intended to prevent certain types of knee injuries.

Many of you WildSnowers have asked about creating a ski touring binding that truly releases to the side at both toe and heel — ostensibly to better protect against knee blowout. We don’t have that in the touring world — yet. But in the alpine skiing world, KneeBinding is one of the first* with a modicum of lateral heel release specifically designed to defend your ligaments.

(We are a bit uncertain as to how we should be writing the name of this product. The binding has what appears to be the word Knee printed on it, while the company name in the documentation is KneeBinding Inc., and the name is written as KneeBinding in all the product literature. I’ll use “KneeBinding.”)

These sorts of “new” knee protective bindings (see notes below) are not the first ski bindings to provide lateral release at the heel. Older version of Tyrolia Diagonal comes to mind, though its lateral heel feature was not intended to mitigate ACL injury but rather to assist in protecting against spiral fractures. Current model Tyrolia Diagonal model releases upward at the toe in a mode and is indeed claimed to protect against knee injury. Other various bindings over the decades have provided side release at both toe and heel, examples being Moog, Miller, and Alsop. While such bindings possibly did mitigate the chance of a knee ligament injury, they were next to impossible to ski aggressively at normal release settings without accidental release.

(I should state something about our ski binding coverage. While we talk quite a bit about “safety” release. We conform to the common wisdom that job one of a ski binding is retention. Release is nice as well, but think about it. It’s only logical. If the binding won’t hold you in it’s not even a binding. Moreover, you can die from a pre-release. A blown knee can usually be repaired. Interestingly, industry standards are almost entirely about release and do little to test for or dictate retention performance. That’s both good and bad. It allows innovation, but as literally thousands of anecdotal stories easily indicate, the retention characteristics of ski binding brands and models has been a crap shoot from the gitgo.)

The KneeBinding Inc. folks sent us a test pair last winter. Due to some mounting issues I didn’t get them on a pair of test planks, am working on that this summer in anticipation of testing just as soon as we get skiing again here in Colorado. (And yes Virginia, I know these are not ski touring bindings. Point here is to examine state-of-the-art technology that might apply in the future. As well as acknowledging that current tech bindings do release to the side at the heel, and could thus be the “knee” binding by default.)

Big thing with Knee binding is you've got a left and right.

Important thing with KneeBinding is you’ve got a left and right, indicated by this icon on the heel unit. Apparently the most dangerous ACL damaging fall happens when your heel is twisting to the inside. Thus, side release at the heel is provided in that direction but blocked to the outside. This could be the genius of Knee binding, in that it mitigates the persistent bugbear of a safety release mode equalling an important force direction in normal skiing.

View of left heel unit in release pivot mode, it's quite a simple system really.

View of left heel unit in release pivot mode, the mechanicals are simple in concept: mount the heel unit on a pivot with an additional spring-cam-piston release system similar to what’s used in most alpine binding toes.

Instead of only one release adjustment at the heel, you get an extra for the lateral heel release.

Instead of only one release adjustment at the heel, you get an extra for the lateral heel release. Right hand screw is vertical release, middle screw is the heel lateral release, bottom screw is boot length adjustment.

Vertical release springs do not mess around, plenty of length.

Vertical release springs do not mess around, plenty of length and an extra spring inside the main that engages for high release value settings (this model is the KneeBinding Carbon and goes to DIN 12. I was fascinated to see that just as with some of the touring bindings we’ve dissected over the years, Knee is using washers as spacers to tune the vertical release values.

Another view of the side release system at heel.

Another view of the KneeBinding side release system at heel.

Most of the binding is carbon infused plastic.

Most of the binding is carbon infused plastic, including the toe base plate which attaches at three points, two screws and a stud affixed to the ski. The heel unit has a conventional metallic baseplate that incorporates length adjustment. Even with all the carbon plastic, one binding weighs a massive 1264 grams, what with no compromise on the beefy springs, large diameter brake arms and rear steel baseplate. After handling tech bindings for so many years that weigh a fraction of that, I pulled a bicep muscle just picking one of these up. Oh, the sacrifices of science.

KneeBinding toe has what appears to be a basic but solid toe-height adjustment system using a large vertical screw. I was surprised at the lack of a movable toe AFD plate. On the other hand, performance skiers appreciate a wide, straight AFD at the toe that forms a stout “gas pedal” for applying robust forward pressure. In my experience a properly adjusted binding mated with a clean boot, that’s been bench tested and verified, doesn’t necessarily need a moveable AFD, so the lack of this is not a deal breaker. Moreover, I’ve been told that a teflon AFD can perform much better in situations such as dirt working its way into the cracks of a mechanical AFD. At first glance the toe cups appear to not rise slightly in a “double pivot” motion to eliminate lingering friction as the boot releases to the side (in my view an excellent and perhaps essential feature of modern bindings). Turns out the cups do rise, enough to help reduce friction, but not enough to be noticeable in my quick evaluation on the workbench.

One issue that will doubtless arise is it’s obvious not one TUV logo is present on the KneeBinding housing or in the documentation (nor within the company’s website), indicating the binding is not certified to DIN/ISO standards such as 9462:2014. Kneebinding as much as I can tell is built to such standards, and one assumes it is “self indemnified” meaning the company stands by their product with robust engineering practices that would be difficult to prove as negligent.

Standards testing and subsequent certification is a germane issue, so I did a quick phone interview with KneeBinding Inc to get the official story on TUV. They told me that indeed they paid for the full battery of alpine binding standard tests, which the binding passed, but opted not to spend money on obtaining a certificate. This has been a trend for years on the ski touring side, interesting to see an alpine binding company “just saying no to TUV and DIN/ISO” (my quotes for emphasis). So you’ll have to take KneeBinding’s word for it that they “passed TUV.” But how important is that, really?

Not only is the actual TUV certificate expensive, but another problem that’s worth mentioning is that the the ISO standards that TUV tests to are fairly restrictive when it comes to innovation, due in part that TUV has to evaluate with standardized testing procedures, and sometimes those procedures can’t accommodate “non standard” release modes and that sort of thing. That’s one reason it took so long for any tech bindings to receive TUV certifications, and why the TUV certificate for tech bindings includes the caveat that they’re only certified for Dynafit boots, there yet being no ISO standard for the “tech” boot sole fittings. I don’t know if this sort of stuff came into play with KneeBinding, but it’s worth mentioning.

Thus, based on my many years of experience using ski touring bindings without TUV certifications, I certainly don’t make a deity out of TUV. Regarding KneeBinding specifically, my advice is to watch general consumer trends, watch what ski instructors and patrollers are using — and as we always caution, be deliberate about what you’re getting into if you choose to be a semi-early adopter. Me, I’m comfortable with testing these next winter — with the same care I apply to all ski binding testing. Which is a lot.

*Notes: Another binding called the “Pivogy” was designed and marketed as an ACL saver before KneeBinding came on the market. Pivogy appears to essentially be an alpine binding mounted on a plate that provided additional release angles-directions. Pivogy was retailed in 2002-2003 and failed for various reasons. A bit of googling indicates it may have had durability problems and manufacturing issues. In terms of engineering a knee protective binding that works, the challenge as with all other “safety” ski bindings is to mechanically create functional protective release modes that do not open the binding into a dangerous “pre release” under normal skiing forces. It’s safe to say no ski binding is perfect in this regard — it’s a difficult engineering problem — and adding more release angles compounds the situation. For example, consider the current Tyrolia Diagonal with upward release at the toe. Clearly, there are plenty of situations when a strong skier in big boots is going to put all kinds of “upward at the toe” forces on a binding. Mechanically sensing the difference between such “normal” forces and a situation that could blow a knee? Could be impossible to do reliably in my opinion, without going from mechanicals to microprocessors.

More summer reading links below, be aware that fierce competition is ongoing regarding who can design, manufacture and sell a binding or boot system that significantly reduces knee injuries. Thus, you’ll see lots anecdotal evidence, as well as lengthy forum threads stuffed with extreme opinions and comments that are possibly (sometimes obviously) done by industry folks with agendas. Such threads can be valuable, in particular you’ll see quite a few comments from a Rick Howell, the inventor of KneeBinding now not working for the company. Rick clearly has an agenda but he’s up front about it and you can learn a lot from his copious writing. He’s contributed quite a bit here at WildSnow as well.

All that said, anecdotal evidence is of limited value with this sort of thing, as are biased takes. What we need is for the products to be well tested prior to retail, then widely used so epidemiological studies can be done that prove whether they work or not. Beyond that, my hope is that knee (with small k) protective bindings won’t end up like ski helmets, a product of limited effectiveness that’s massively pushed by the industry as a cash cow, with significant innovation and improvement blocked by out-of-date standards.

When I spoke today with KneeBinding Inc., they put a pleasantly positive spin on what they’re doing. I was told their binding sales have really taken off, and reminded that not only does KneeBinding have safety features, but it’s got ski performance features as well such as what they claimed was the “widest rear screw pattern of any alpine binding.” Even more interesting to me, they said at least one insurance company is classifying the binding as a “personal protection device” and reducing insurance rates for companies who have their employees using the binding. Economics is important, if anything we’ll watch that part of the KneeBinding story and see where it leads. In other words, follow the money to get the story.

Stay tuned for the mount, and we’ll do the on-snow just as soon as the Aspen ski lifts open. Which is in mere weeks, or at least so we’re told.

Interesting white paper on the subject of ski binding knee protection.

Tyrolia solution.

Knee Binding website.



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Comments

82 Responses to “KneeBinding — Part 1 — Unboxed”

  1. See July 25th, 2016 7:11 pm

    I skied for a while on early Tyrolia Diagonal bindings and my recollection is that the heels would not release directly to the side. Lateral heel release required a small amount of boot heel lift before the heel piece could pivot. (I may be wrong about this. Hey, it was a long time ago). Furthermore, plate bindings didn’t really catch on and I’ve never heard of Pivogy. Point being, tech bindings are the only example I can think of that have this feature and are widely used, and injury prevention is not what leads most people to use tech bindings. (Also, most of the patrollers at the resort where I ski are on teles.) I look forward to the Wildsnow take on these bindings.

  2. Rick Howell July 25th, 2016 7:19 pm

    Hi Lou: The U.S. Patent Office disagrees. Kindest regards, Rick Howell, Howell Ski Bindings, Stowe, Vermont USA

  3. Rick Howell July 25th, 2016 8:01 pm

    Hello See: You are correct. Best regards, Rick Howell, Howell Ski Bindings, Stowe, Vermont USA

  4. Rick Howell July 25th, 2016 8:32 pm

    Scientific proof regarding the interaction between ski bindings and knee injuries — especially including solutions: I presented the 1st scientifically-recognized, peer-reviewed, biomechanical engineering proof at the 35th SITEMSH skiing safety conference in Inawashiro, Japan, in March of this year (2016) & at the 17th ESSKA sports-orthopedics research conference in Barcelona, Spain, in May of this year (2016) at the largest orthopedic research conference in the world. Three leaders in the field stood up and endorsed my peer-reviewed scientific proof. Receiving endorsements from leading research orthopedic surgeons at these kinds of scientific conferences is unprecedented.

    Here are links (chose 1, based upon your type of mobile-device) to the 2 presentations at Barcelona (double-videos):

    for Apple iPhone via Apple iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acl-injury-thresholds-ski/id1106644894?ls=1&mt=8

    OR

    for Android via Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.retrieve.paid_retrieve_prod_3470

    There is a $9 fee for the double-videos (this is a sharply discounted price compared to the typical $30 cost for most peer-reviewed scientific papers/presentations). Respectfully submitted, Rick Howell, Howell Ski Bindings, Stowe, Vermont USA

  5. mtnrunner2 July 25th, 2016 9:22 pm

    Thanks Lou, a sober, scientific appraisal as always : )

    I seriously considered the Knee binding for my last alpine skis, but the width seemed small for my every day’s 117mm-waists, and the stand height was more than I wanted. I like the near-earth feel of a low, turny ski in the trees. But I would totally demo these or consider them in the future. The intent is great and I like to support innovation.

  6. Ed July 26th, 2016 1:02 am

    This is fascinating having seen the KneeBindings in Europe the past few seasons, and more recently, making an emergence in BC resorts.

    However, for me the ultimate decider of whether a binding offers sufficient lateral release/retention/reliability is in park skiing (and indeed the FWT)…hence why the Look/Rossignol turntable bindings continue to have a cult following.

    Be intrigued to see if KneeBindings make an appearance in the park!

  7. Frame July 26th, 2016 6:59 am

    Lou,

    When the heel unit is pivotting, what happens to the brake arms? Will they be up above the top of the ski and there is enough width that the arms don’t hit the body of the binding to prevent pivotting?

    I was considering these bindings to, but went for the Lord, so I could use my boots with both sets of swappable soles (which I hardly ever swap, which I recall you may have forecast ;o) )

  8. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 7:44 am

    Frame, the pivot action is limited, just enough to let your boot out near as I can tell, and the brake arms have a bend that keeps them below AFD, everything clearly works together. BTW, the brake actuation spring is incredibly strong, perhaps there are other alpine bindings with industrial strength brakes on them, but this is the first I’ve messed around with.

    Ed, the KneeBinding is obviously making an effort to be a good freeskiing binding, I’m not sure about park, however. As with all discussions such as these, we should clarify. Are those park skiers setting their bindings at chart recommended DIN release values, or cranking them up? If bindings are being skied at significantly higher settings than chart, discussion becomes somewhat moot. Same with KneeBinding. If it’s skied at chart settings perhaps it works to protect from certain types of ACL injury, if the release settings are cranked up, I have my doubts about the heel lateral release function really doing anything to protect knees.

    Lou

    Lou

  9. Rudi July 26th, 2016 8:29 am

    Why does the action of the Look binding not count as a lateral release, because it rotates below the heel? I have been skiing those for 10 years probably and the only binding I can ski at chart settings without pre-release, They also have a significantly smoother release in my opinion than other bindings such as duke/jester…

  10. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 11:00 am

    Rudi, the lateral release of the boot heel at the KneeBinding heel is to the side, somewhat perpendicular to the ski. There is some rotation going on as well, but it’s not a turntable type arrangement, it’s more like how a binding toe cup operates. Lou

  11. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 11:20 am

    See, regarding the early Tyrolia Diagonal, I liked the concept and skied them quite heavily for a few years. I have good recollection of how the heel worked, and yes it had to rise up a bit before it allowed movement of the boot heel to the side. It was probably intended more to prevent leg bone fractures and not as an ACL injury prevention. I was just using it as an example of a binding that released to the side at the heel, not as an example of a binding designed to prevent ACL injury. I hope I didn’t confuse in that regard. Apologies if I did confuse. Lou

  12. JCCJ July 26th, 2016 1:02 pm

    I applaud Mr. Howell for his efforts and passion for improving skier safety, I believe that is something we all want for our industry. Our society is moving more and more towards ‘evidence based’ interventions for solutions to problems so we avoid ‘cures that harm’. If we have identified a problem (i.e. ACL injuries), there should be some scientific basis for why an intervention should be used to address it. So this begs the question, what constitutes that basis or proof? Equations? Graphs?

    Once someone has a theory such as Mr. Howell, researchers should perform a prospective study on a small controlled set of individuals to see if the theory holds up. If it does, then a large-scale prospective study should be done to truly evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed solution to the problem.

    A common pitfall in science is to run some lab tests or computer models and assume that everything in the real world will perform as well as it does in a tightly controlled laboratory setting or computer model.

    Mr. Howells presentations show the derivation of his theory to mitigate ACL injuries. However, this does not constitute ‘proof’. There may well be some merit to looking at ACL injury prevention using the method he has proposed; but there are several limitations to his analysis that should be clarified.

    1. If we assume Howell has correctly extrapolated data from Andriacchi (see point 2); his analysis is only valid when a knee is flexed at 22.5 deg. Knee angles are constantly changing as we ski and especially when we fall skiing. As knee angles change, ACL is stretched. It is the tightest when our knee is straight/hyper-extended; most lax when our knees are bent. To be effective at mitigating ACL injuries, a binding would need to have some feedback for what angle a skier’s knee is flexed at all times.

    2. Howell drastically over-extrapolates data from Adracchi (2009) for ACL strain.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663630/pdf/nihms95606.pdf

    In Howell’s analysis, the graphs for Valgus torque vs. ACL strain are all linear, and start at the strain value of 0.8 for different levels of internal rotation. Per Andriacchi, the value for torque at strain levels = 0.8 are not all equal.
    Figure 3 shows a very non-linear map of the ACL strain corresponding to combinations of applied torques and only go up to a strain value of 0.11.
    So not only has Mr Howell incorrectly reproduced the starting data point on his figure using Andrachhi’s data, he has extrapolated it to strain levels three times further than there is any data to support.

    One other limitation of the Andracchi study; it done using one male specimen knee. So effectively, the proposal from Howell is using one knee, from one human, to design a binding to fit….everyone.

    He is often quick to point out that Andracchi cautions not to ‘over apply’ their results, but Mr. Howell does precisely that in his analysis. To his credit he admits as much, but doesn’t clarify the implications of this over-application.

    3. If I may offer Mr. Howell one suggestion: the curves you have produced by doing ‘thousands’ of tests are actually statically determinant. This means that everything can be calculated using First Principals of Engineering and Physics. You could save a lot of time/money by calculating these values and possibly using the large volume of work you have already done to double check those calculations.

    If Andriacchi’s study were to be repeated for the entire range of motion of the knee, one could generate curves similar to Howell’s for each degree of knee flexion. If these curves were to lie on top of each other, then a mechanical binding could be designed accommodate this behavior. However, if the curves do not lie on top of each other, than the binding must somehow be aware of the skier’s knee angle in order to be effective.

    Contrary to what the length of this post would suggest, I’m typically not verbose, so I apologize for it’s length.

  13. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 1:52 pm

    I made a mistake in evaluating the binding and didn’t notice that the toe cups actually do rise slightly during release, an important feature in my opinion. Further research showed me the error of my ways. Edited that in. Lou

  14. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 1:55 pm

    Thanks JCCJ, appreciate the interesting input. Lou

  15. Rick Howell July 26th, 2016 2:53 pm

    @JCCJ: Sorry to disappoint your attempted assassination (Lou — you might consider editing Trolls) , but I apply the “extrapolations” that you reference only to ‘ordinary’ bindings: my binding designs operate inside of the Andriacchi algorithm, without extrapolation. Also, all of my settings are scaled for different size humans based on retention, not release: so the scaling within the ACL non-rupture zone is scaled, properly. Lastly, a proper prospective intervention study is a $3M to $4M proposition that NO SKI BINDING COMPANY HAS EVER CONDUCTED FOR TIBIA INJURY MITIGATION — BUT WE ALL WENT FORWARD WITH SEVERAL SKI-BINDING FUNCTIONAL IMPROVEMENTS, SUCCESSFULLY, BASED ON PLAUSIBLE BIOMECHANICAL TESTING. Why should I have to be the first to do a prospective intervention study when I clearly indicate in my research the limitations of my scientific presentations IN ADDITION TO MY RESEARCH BEING “PLAUSIBLE BIOMECHANICALLY, NOT EPIDEMIOLOGICALLY?” Plausible causation and solution are ‘good enough’ if there are no side effects … and my designs have no side effects. My designs do everything an ordinary binding does (including superior anti-pre-release) with the plausible possibility that my designs also mitigate (never eliminate) ACL and MCL injury. On the other hand, your bindings (obviously made by company ‘M’) clearly CAUSE ACL injury (and we do know that, epidemiologically: see Shealy and, separately, see Binet). Sorry to disappoint your attempted assassination. My interventions work: we ski on them every day in the winter here in Stowe, Vermont with no pre-release and no side effects. Plausibility has virtue. 🙂

  16. Rick Howell July 26th, 2016 3:09 pm

    Also @ JCCJ: p.s. — the Andriacchi study that you link is part of my reference-work AND ALSO see Andriacchi’s updated study:

    “Shin, C. Chaudhari, A., Andriacchi, T., 2011, Valgus Plus Internal Rotation Moments Increase ACL Strain More Than Either Alone. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 43, No. 8, pp 1484-1491”.

    Question: How much money has WildSnow received in paid advertising over the years from ‘M’ ski binding company (and why did Lou “thank” JCCJ in view of his obvious assassination-attempt)? 🙂

    If guys like JCCJ applied as much energy into improving their bindings as they do to to try to trip me up, we would all be far better off. But, oh, sorry — you can’t really commercialize ‘improvements’ because my bindings are patented. If you ‘go there’ you will be infringing. ( Obviously, JCCJ and friends only recourse is to try to smear my designs because they cannot legally get around my Very Strong utility patents. So so so sorry about the Very Real world of patent law that prevents people like you, JCCJ, from doing anything other that writing troll-speak. If you are ‘so right’ — show yourself, rather than hiding behind your pseudonym.)

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont

  17. Rick Howell July 26th, 2016 3:27 pm

    @JCCJ: Regarding your “Point 2”: You are incorrect about strain across the ACL relative to knee-flexion (angles): ACL-strain does NOT solely increase as knee flexion increases: ACL strain is highly non-linear across the range of knee flexion angles and has 2 saddle-points (see Steve Arms Master’s Thesis and his related data from his company, Microstrain). My plausible biomechanical research is based on the worst-case scenario that ALSO INCLUDES A 300-POUND GROUND REACTION FORCE that further makes my model a ‘worst case scenario’. As a ski-binding engineering-technician, I must utilize the worst-case scenario, not some mid-point data such as you seem to imply.

    Too bad you were not present at the orthopedic conferences in Japan and Barcelona where the leaders in the field gave standing ovations on my work (these are orthopedic researchers who have been in this field for their entire careers). My research and its application to ski binding technology is ‘proper scientific proof, biomechanically’.

    Your “Point #3”: all of my plausible biomechanical theories are tested against plausible biomechanical experimental tests — and the correlation between those two areas will be presented at the next upcoming conference in Innsbruck, Austria.

    Lastly, JCCJ — please say “hi” to Dave Dodge for me.
    .

  18. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 3:38 pm

    I guess I need a technical troll detector (smile)? I didn’t see any personal attacks in there Rick, other than pointed polemics, so I’ll let stand. Let folks have their say. You’ve put yourself out there publicly, meaning you’ve got to have thicker skin.

    I would offer that folks who have the balls to use their own name are appreciated. If you do use your own name, we are happy to do minor edits on request so long as they don’t mess up the continuity of a thread.

    Lou

  19. Rick Howell July 26th, 2016 4:24 pm

    @Lou: It’s not a troll attack against me, personally: JCCJ has written a troll attack against ALL SKIERS by attempting to raise doubt about a biomechanical (not epidemiological) intervention that has plausible merit, especially in clear view of no side-effects (e.g., no pre-release when the binding is properly configured according to my specifications). The knowingly false and malicious lies that he proffers adversely affect all of us skiers.

    JCCJ is clearly a troll because all of my lateral heel release mechanisms are adjustable: my lateral release function OBVIOUSLY THEREFORE does not rely upon a “sample size of one”. How outrageous of him to suggest such folly!

    The doubt that JCCJ raises under the guise of ‘appearing to be scientific’ adversely affects all of us skiers.

    Lastly, JCCJ outright lies about my ACL failure algorithm: My ACL-failure algorithm is HIGHLY non-linear, as clearly shown in my published literature (and in the video’s) that he is referencing !!! Since I am using my real name, it would be great if Lou could post my highly non-linear ACL-rupture algorithm so that everyone can see how distorted JCCJ’s post is. The level of difference between my non-linear algorithm and JCCJ’s lie about my algorithm being linear can only be explained by trolling as a proxy for another binding company: how else could the extent of JCCJ’s lies be explained? What is JCCJ’s motivation other than to try to continue the sale of ordinary bindings that we know will cause ACL (and MCL) injury?
    .

  20. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 4:29 pm

    Okay, I’ll keep an eye on things. Everyone take it easy. Lou

  21. JCCJ July 26th, 2016 4:48 pm

    Mr. Howell, I am not employed by any binding manufacturer, including ‘M’. I do not work with Lou or Dave; I have no pony in this race. Am I not free to ask legitimate questions regarding your analysis?

    Your rapid and blind accusation of collusion leads me to believe you don’t have any response to my questions that are backed up by data; maybe why such questions feel like an assassination to you?

    If you submitted your work to any reputable peer reviewed journal (not conference proceedings), you would be subjected to the same questioning; ‘peer reviewed’ means your work has help up to the critiques of other experts. Would you accuse them of being in ‘M’s pocket too? You can repeat in all caps that your designs work as much as you want, but as an engineer myself, data trumps plausibility. Plausible does not equal proven.

    Do you have any data to support that if your binding works for Andriacchi’s algorithm, will it also work for a knee angles not equal to 22.5 deg? To my knowledge, that data doesn’t exist; if it does I would love to see it. ACL strain is highly non-linear as a function of knee angle (as you said); how can your algorithm for one knee angle apply to others? Does your binding measure knee angles?

    And scaling Andracchi’s algorithm…how? ‘Properly’ is a bit vague…linear, polynomial, logrithmic, exponentiated? How do you validate/justify such scaling?

    Your methodology has potential, I’m not denying that. However, I see limitations to your analysis, and have even offered suggestions to improve it. I hardly call that an assassination. I applaud your continued work in this area; it’s a labor of love no doubt.

    Lou, I do apologize for the pseudonym; Mr. Howells affinity to pursue legal action against those who disagree with him can limit the degree of open communication with him. That being said, I feel I have kept things professional and not offered any personal attacks.

    I’ll use my real name in the future. Cheers!

  22. Lou Dawson 2 July 26th, 2016 5:42 pm

    Everyone, I totally understand reluctance to use real names on web forums. Indeed, posting under fake names has become the norm. If you feel the need to do so feel free. Just know that we respect those who choose to break the iron veil of website pseudonymity. As for concerns about legal action, the 1st Amendment is powerful. If you’re careful about what you write, and don’t do personal attacks, legal action that’s anything but frivolous is unlikely. What is more, individuals such as Rick have websites and Google exists. In the interest of civilized discourse, if you have something complex to say I’d suggest contacting the individual privately first, agreeing to disagree, then going public. If this stuff is important to you guys, then doing so would seem to be just a few extra worthwhile mouse clicks.

    I’d add that you might think you are anonymous on the internet, but unless you are going to great lengths to disguise yourself (e.g., running a sanitized computer on a VPN), you are not. Indeed, our approach here at the WildSnow shop is to figure that nearly anything we write that’s stored either on our computer or on the cloud could become public at the drop of a hat. That doesn’t mean embarrassment would not occur (smile), but neither would personal ruin.

    https://howell-ski-bindings.myshopify.com/

    Lou

  23. See July 26th, 2016 8:13 pm

    Lou, you make the rules, of course, but I think the discussion is interesting even if it is “complex.” I’m not pretending to follow a lot of it, but I think I’ve learned a few things. I would, however, ask that engineers and other experts do their best to make comments that are comprehensible to lay people if they choose to have these sorts of conversations in public.

  24. See July 26th, 2016 8:17 pm

    With the understanding that this is a skiing website, so some knowledge of skiing is assumed.

  25. Terry July 26th, 2016 10:24 pm

    Lou, a little off topic here, but being anonymous on the internet is actually quite easy. And I’m talking about the NSA or anyone else not being able to track/identify you. Just use Tails on a USB stick. I don’t do this for wildsnow… but anonymity is not difficult.

    https://tails.boum.org/

  26. Lou Dawson 2 July 27th, 2016 5:49 am

    Terry, that’s an interesting and apparently easy way to use TOR, good to see. Even with that, if a person really wanted to be reliably 100% anonymized, perhaps in the situation where your life depends on it due to government oppression or something like that, I’d go farther, mainly by using a sanitized computer on public (cafe) connection., and do all emails in encrypted code, drop box style (two people using the same cloud based email account). I don’t pretend to be an expert on this, just couldn’t help mentioning based on lots of screen time and reading, as well as dealing with security issues while doing website admin on the road. Physically disabling the computer mic and camera are probably good ideas as well (smile). Then there is the smartphone… Lou

  27. Lou Dawson 2 July 27th, 2016 6:33 am

    See, I’m with you, I like to get these technical threads now and then. I’m only suggesting that if folks want to debate highly technical material, they might get acquainted during the process to help keep the level of discourse elated. When folks are passionate about a subject, and you combine that with the dynamic of anonymous posting, from what I’ve seen in more than 25 years of forum moderation (I started with Compuserve, before there was a public “world wide web”) it tends to have the effect of dragging down the discussion. Lou

  28. Rick Howell July 27th, 2016 2:45 pm

    From Rick:

    JCCJ:

    1– My responses: They are loaded with factual information.

    2– Peer review: ESSKA (European Society for Knee Surgery, Arthroscopy & Sports Traumatology) which had an attendance of about 4000 members in Barcelona, has a peer-review process that accepted about 1 out of 10 scientific presentations that were submitted for peer-review about 6 months prior to the recent conference in Barcelona. Both of my 2 presentations were peer-reviewed and both were accepted. How outrageous of you to attempt to discredit the significance of my presentations and the orthopedic surgeons of ESSKA. I wish you ‘good luck’ if you ever try to gain peer-review approval for a presentation at ESSKA — your odds will be slim even with great science.

    3– Data: I’ve generated a mountain of data from my experimental physical tests over the past 47-years of ski-binding development … which data is the basis for my developments. Ski bindings are all about testing, testing, testing. How outrageous of you to suggest to the skiers in this blog that my work might not have sufficient testing and data. Shameful.

    4– ‘Plausible’: ‘Plausible biomechanics’ is not the same as your conjecture about ‘plausible proof”. I first established with the top researchers in the field (Shealy) that my methods are ‘biomechanically plausible’. Then, I utilized the plausible biomechanical methods to generate experimental test data to seek proof. The experimental test data within the plausible biomechanical test method suggests ‘biomechanical proof’.

    Your brand of proof is lofty — and would be necessary in the unlikely event there was no suggestion of biomechanical proof. But, again, your approach is super expensive; requires years to perform, ‘properly’; and standard industry practice has never once utilized prospective intervention study to validate ski binding efficacy. However, again, in the absence of adverse side-effects, plausible biomechanical proof is the gold standard in the ski binding and non-FDA safety-products markets.

    Some years from now when my technologies have saturated the market well enough to provide sufficient epidemiological power — we will then gain the answer you seek through the on-going epidemiological studies that are conducted by Jake Shealy and team, and (independently) by Marc Binet and team.

    Until then — and in full view of my plausible biomechanical proof — your inferences are business interference.

    The default to your logic suggests that ‘ordinary bindings are ok’ even though it is independently proven several times through several different, independent leading studies — that ordinary alpine bindings cause ACL injuries: your knowingly false and malicious default-logic is contributory to fraud and is business interference.

    5– ACL-strain as a function of knee flexion angle: Simply review the UVM (interdisciplinary orthopedics and mechanical engineering) master’s thesis of Steve Arms who became the founder and former owner of Microstrain. Microstrain strain gauges are almost universally utilized in ACL-strain research, as noted in the scientific research paper:

    “Momersteeg, T., Blankevoort, L., Huiskes, R., 1995, Effect of Variable Relative Insertion Orientation of Human Knee Bone-Ligament Complexes on Tensile Stiffness, J. Biomechanics, Vol. 28, pp 745-752.”

    As I have already noted (above) Andriacchi’s knee flexion angle of 22.5 degrees coupled together with a 300-pound ground reaction force is a worst-case scenario in terms of knee flexion angle because there are 2 saddle-points where strain across the ACL is maximal — this flexion angle being one of them (again, see Steve Arms’ masters thesis where he clearly identifies strain across the ACL as a function of knee flexion). Ski binding development requires focus on the worst case scenario, which scenario I am focused upon.

    6– Scaling: Yes, the other binding companies would also like to know how I’ve scaled lateral heel release across the full range of male and female anthropometrics. ‘Good luck attempting to reverse-engineer my work.

    7– Disagreement: Your troll-damage attempts are wrought with open and obvious malice in view of the large frequency and severity of your disinformation. I have a right to vigorously address the truth and the facts.

    8– Litigation: I have never initiated litigation in my life: I have successfully defended myself in wrongful litigation filed against me. My reference to patent infringement litigation is a red-line warning to you. Are you suggesting that you are above the law, too?

    9– Infusion of doubt, where reasonable doubt does not exists: Your brand of discourse in this forum about my research that will ultimately and significantly improve knee-friendly skiing — instead of communicating (as Lou suggests) privately with me — infuses unreasonable doubt about my work within this core group of committed skiers. Your actions in this way are reckless, ill-founded and and business interference.

    10– My on-snow field testing for ski binding development is grounded upon retention, not release. When a binding does not pre-release, many possibilities are available for friendly-skiing.

    11– Good News for fellow skiers: the outcome of my work produces products that function at a level that’s at least the same as ordinary alpine bindings — with the addition of plausible knee-friendliness — without adverse side-effects — PLUS with a new level of anti-pre-release, edge control, and skiability not found in any other alpine or AT binding. This means if, in the unlikely event my bindings are not knee-friendly, we still have a binding that’s at least as good as ordinary alpine bindings PLUS enhanced retention, edge control, skiability and confidence.

    Why would we not go for that?

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  29. Wes Morrison July 28th, 2016 10:07 am

    I mounted a knee binding on a pair of K2 Press a season ago, and did the Pepsi challenge with an older pair mounted with Marker Jesters. The Knee binding was so completely inferior it was ridiculous. Just skating to the lift you could feel how there poorly it performed on the snow. It was very mushy underfoot, and skied like an inexpensive rental binding with lots of lift and to much ramp. I l skied them for about ten days before giving up. Eventually I pulled the bindings off and have yet to remount the skis. I think I would be more likely to hurt myself skiing the Knee Binding due to it’s lack of performance. Maybe it will get better.

  30. Lou Dawson 2 July 28th, 2016 10:13 am

    Thanks for the impressions Wes. It appears the lift at the heel is necessary due to the mechanicals, ramp is adjustable with shims of course. In my examination I don’t see what could make it feel mushy, though I do need to get it on-snow. Did you evaluate on bench? Perhaps a bit of extra elasticity in the extra release mechanism at the heel? The toe appears to be conventional, with a solid AFD underfoot, brake springs are powerful, with a solid AFD on the brake pad. Perhaps there was something mechanical going on that made it feel soft? Thanks, Lou

  31. XXX_er July 28th, 2016 2:16 pm

    Before anything else happens, let me make some popcorn!

  32. Rick Howell July 28th, 2016 3:30 pm

    @Wes: Your experience is why new Howell Ski Bindings exist.

    @Lou: To understand ski binding function, one must TEST while utilize measuring instruments. Expressly, to measure the shape of elastic-recenting, one must measure torque as a function of of displacement.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 July 28th, 2016 3:48 pm

    KneeBinding is supposed to be safer. On snow. On the internet, however, who knows!? (smile)

  34. Rick Howell July 28th, 2016 4:28 pm

    @Lou: A sloppy connection between the boot and the ski is UNsafe at any speed because skiers cannot properly control their skis when there is too much slop. Wes is correct.

  35. See July 28th, 2016 7:13 pm

    I wonder what (if any) compromises have been made in the area of rear binding down force on the boot in order to allow the heel to release laterally without excessive friction, both with the Kingpin and the Kneebinding.

  36. Rick Howell July 28th, 2016 8:46 pm

    Hi See. With Howell Ski Bindings (not KneeBinding) there is ‘overbite” to maintain great edge-control; plus large-surface low-friction virgin Teflon on the heel pad; plus 4 unique overlapping lateral recentering features that cause powerful retention at chart settings. The forward retention function of Howell Ski Bindings is functionally decoupled from the lateral retention function (2 separate mechanisms) so that each mode operates independently to provide powerful overall retention when both modes are actuated during innocuous loading.

    Pls remember that the Kingpin heel relies on their pin-toe for both retention AND release (if there was no pin-toe, one would fly out of the Kingpin heel). Additionally, Marker’s attempt to go-round the Howell lateral heel release utility patents has led them to go-back to a single pivot arrangement (which Maker has not utilized since the “Marker-Out” Simplex toes of the 1960’s. That’s why the Kingpin heel needs high lateral settings to attempt to overcome the effects of ski flex when the short longitudinal travel in their heel bottoms-out. But when Marker relies on their pin toe to provide lateral heel release, this combined-effect causes the overall Kingpin binding to be sensitive to ‘near-point’ lateral loading that dramatically increases the resultant torque on the tibia — just like in all pin-bindings, except the Diamir Vipec toe. ( I call all ‘pin-bindings’, “pin” because — based upon their gross functional deficiencies — they’re hardly ‘tech’. Do you think their certification invalidates my comments? Heck no because the specific ISO standard, that’s utilized by the testing institute that issues certifications, was written almost exclusively by the pin-binding manufacturers ! ‘Self-serving, or what !? )

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

    .

  37. ptor July 28th, 2016 11:47 pm

    Skiing the piste is dangerous!

  38. Lou Dawson 2 July 29th, 2016 7:25 am

    Rick and all, please don’t use double quote marks in your comments. Our spam filter doesn’t like them, same with double exclamation marks. Thanks, Lou

  39. See July 29th, 2016 7:15 pm

    Thanks Rick. How is a single pivot lateral release heel different from your lateral release mechanism?

  40. Wes Morrison July 30th, 2016 8:52 am

    Maybe vague is a better description than mushy. It left me wondering why I was not getting more edge as I skated to the chair. Either way it was disappointing. I had a very experienced tech in the shop I work at mount and torque them, but did not do any further testing. I don’t know if the lack of performance is related to the heel AFD and side release; the Kingpin skis fantastic with similar features. I have to wonder how a Jester toe and a Kingpin heel would work; at first glance that would seem to equal what knee binding is doing.

    Lou, be sure to measure the mounting screws before mounting….something a very experienced tech did not do…They were quite long.

  41. Lou Dawson 2 July 30th, 2016 9:34 am

    Thanks Wes. I’ll tell you one thing that I measured in my shop: any tech binding is incredibly stiff, it’s not always apples-apples to compare a tech binding to an alpine binding, you’d be surprised how much rolling deflection nearly any alpine binding allows due to the toe wings and toe cup flexing up and down. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, no need to have your foot attached to your ski with a cast cement boot and binding system, but due to how your neuromuscular system functions, transitioning from different “feeling” bindings can be odd and even unpleasant. Once I get KneeBinding on some skis I’ll do a rolling deflection measurement and add to my findings, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be that interesting…

    The Marker Royal Family bindings are quite stiff in rolling deflection, and some other alpine bindings are. But again, it’s more what you’re used to that’s important, from what I’ve seen in years of observing performance skiing. Telemark skiers have proved that over and over again, for example.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/379/backcountry-skiing-binding-flex-tests/

    Lou

  42. Hans July 30th, 2016 2:34 pm

    Hate to interrupt Mr. Howell digging himself into a giant hole, but I tested the Knee binding a couple of years ago in Jackson Hole and had the exact opposite of Wes’ experience.

    I didn’t have any kind of life-changing experience, but did test them on a very hard refrozen day and the binding connection felt ultra-solid, similar to the feel of Look or the modern Marker bindings. I didn’t like the amount of lift, but I wouldn’t hesitate to ski on the binding again. It sounds to me like maybe Wes was dealing with a toe-height adjustment issue or maybe insufficient forward pressure.

  43. Rick Howell July 30th, 2016 10:04 pm

    @See: When a ski flexes and a ski boot is incompressible, forward pressure builds-up at the toe and aftward pressure builds-up at the heel. If, while this pressure builds-up an innocuous lateral load enters the system and the boot deflects relative to the ski, elastically, to deal with the load, the center-of-pressure (the centroid of the longitudinal pressure) shifts off of the centerline of the ski. If during this scenario the binding (toe and/or heel) has a single pivot that controls lateral elasticity, the center of pressure is now acting off-center from the single pivot, thus producing a turning-moment that acts to open the toe or the heel even though this scenario requires retention, not release. To attempt to counteract this inherent design deficiency, the setting must be increased. If, on the other hand, the toe and/or the heel has off-center pivots, the center of pressure of the boot remains positioned between the off-center-pivots — even when the boot is deflected, elastically, a distance that’s equal to the amount that each off-center-pivot is located, laterally, from the centerline of the ski. When the center of pressure is located between the off-center pivots, the vector acts to recenter (not release) the toe and/or heel. In this way, the retention function of an off-center-pivot design is functionally decoupled from the release function: the binding does not need elevated settings to recenter. 🙂

    @Wes: As noted above, all non-pin toes (alpine toes) cannot supply additional lateral retention to the lateral function of the Kingpin heel, which Kingpin heel relies upon to provide its net lateral release. Further, the Kingpin heel is a single pivot heel: when an innocuous lateral load enters the ski-boot-binding-leg system — the heel will be biased toward release, not retention … thus requiring elevated settings to attempt to overcome the inherent design deficiency of the single pivot that controls lateral heel release in the Kingpin heel. In the alternative, an off-center pivot lateral heel release mechanism utilizes longitudinal pressure to automatically recenter the mechanism, independently of the settings. Your negative experience is not found in new Howell Ski Bindings, because the design of Howell Ski Binding is properly completed by the designer.

    @Lou: Respectfully, Lou, if you are writing ski binding reports, no matter whether they are alpine or AT — you need to begin utilizing measuring instruments, not guessing. In the alternative, if you consult a good mechanic, a mechanic should be able to help you with the tactile (non-measurement) aspects that you seek to explore. Your local high school might have a good mechanic who teaches shop; this approach might be a good source for you to tap into for the thrust of your tactile explorations.

    @Hans: When properly set-up, your experience is bona fide. The final design of any binding needs to be completed in order for the ‘final set-up’ of a given ski-boot-binding system to produce properly intended function on a consistent basis. Your technician must have properly set-up your ski-boot-binding-system. “Heel lift” can be measured in any ski-boot-binding-system (as though it is a ‘black box’) via the relationship between the applied-load and the resulting deflection of the boot-relative to the ski — in any given direction. The steeper the initial part of the load-deflection curve, the stiffer the connection. In this way, once the load-deflection measuring-device is aligned to measure in the direction of the desired travel (linear-travel or rotational-travel) it’s then easy to compare the characteristics of ‘heel-lift’ (linear-travel, vertically at the heel); ‘lateral elastic travel’ (linear-travel, laterally at the toe or heel); and/or the edge-control (rotational-travel about the long-axis of the ski). Most pin bindings have almost no deflection relative to the applied load (almost no elastic travel laterally at the heel before release; and almost no elastic travel vertically at the heel) — thus, applied-loading is transferred directly into the tibia … and this is also why the nature of the spiral and the green-stick tibia fractures are so severe with pin-bindings. On the other hand, all alpine bindings — via their inherent design, not by settings — must provide elastic travel characteristics that are strictly (and correctly) defined within ISO 9462.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA
    .

  44. See July 31st, 2016 9:41 am

    Thanks, Rick. Very clear (although I think your comments to Lou are off-base). Also, I checked out your website. The new binding looks very cool (and sintered titanium!). I eagerly await the Wildsnow review.

  45. Lou Dawson 2 July 31st, 2016 10:56 am

    And… when knee protection is the norm and it’s incorporated into all bindings, touring and alpine alike… Just think, all Fritschi has to do is put something like the KneeBinding in their Vipec heel unit, increase vertical travel a bit, and there! Lou

  46. Rick Howell July 31st, 2016 8:00 pm

    Thank you, See. Your questions and comments are right-on. ‘And you are right about my comment to Lou: I apologize to you, Lou. @Lou: How can I help you with your reviews in a way that — as a result of my obvious bias — detaches me from being directly involved in any given review?

  47. JCCJ August 1st, 2016 2:58 pm

    Mr. Howell, Steve Arms work is interesting; the location of the saddle points you rely on so heavily, vary significantly based on muscle activation. Arm’s coauthor, Fleming, later found in vivo ACL strain to be non-linear (but no saddle points); Avg Peak ACL strain @ 32 deg of knee flexion (not 22.5), stdev = 18 deg; peak strain varied by more than 100% in 9 subjects. Female ACLs fail at 14% lower stress than males and are 22% less stiff (Chandrashekar, 2006). I could go on, but the point is there is a lot of variation in human tissue.

    Where does Andracchi’s algorithm fall on that spectrum? Designing for retention for one specific knee doesn’t mean that release requirements for many other people won’t overlap.

    If your bindings turn out to not be ‘knee-friendly’, they won’t be any worse than any others? True (though that’s not a high bar for an alpine binding these days).

    ‘Why not go for that’ you ask? Because that’s not what you’re claiming; you’re claiming superiority/‘knee-friendly’ (albeit a very ambiguous term). The bar to claim superiority is higher, because the consequences if the product is not actually superior, are higher.

    You only want to be held accountable to the lowest common denominator (a TUV certification). This is akin to demonstrating non-inferiority to the FDA in a 510k if we were talking medical devices.

    You say this brand of proof is ‘lofty’; but this is about skier safety after all. You can’t tell me my standards are too high in one sentence and accuse me of undermining skier safety the next. I question your analysis, not your character; don’t take it personally.

    Public debate is healthy for consumers and the industry. I’m grateful for public forums and websites like WildSnow that help interested consumers sort through these issues. It’s great that designers and skiers alike can discuss these issues together.

    Lou may not have state-of the art equipment, but there are very few others who have taken the time/effort to document how bindings work for the curious consumer. More often then not, what he’s shooting for is up the right track.

  48. Powbanger August 1st, 2016 3:15 pm

    Sorry to say it but, 95% of this is somewhat mute. The best way to judge a binding is how the public receives it and shop employees talk about it.
    In my experience selling bindings and watching shop employees sell bindings, there is very little detailed technical talk. For the most part the customer wants an established brand which looks good on the ski, and in many cases extends the warranty of the ski. Using too much tech talk in your presentation actually can work against you in the selling process.
    Just the facts

  49. Rick Howell August 1st, 2016 5:03 pm

    @Powerbanger: Exactly. I’ve been in the ski binding industry for 46-years
    [https://howell-ski-bindings.myshopify.com/pages/about-us].
    You are exactly correct.
    I’ll leave JCCJ to his own agenda.

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA

  50. Lou Dawson 2 August 1st, 2016 5:09 pm

    I deleted a couple of comment posts that continued a name calling and personal insults. That”s not our style here at WildSnow. Strong and spirited arguments are ok, ad hominem simply brings your point down a notch or two. What is more, if you’re a public figure and hanging your hat here, you are automatically in a leadership position and we’d ask that you actually lift up the level of discourse in the style most of our readers prefer. If you can’t do that, I have a big red switch mounted on my computer for just that situation. Lou

  51. Rick Howell August 1st, 2016 5:56 pm

    @JCCJ: As I clearly noted, above — my in-house scientific proof for my knee-friendly Howell Ski Bindings, their related settings, and the specified ski-shop test-methods are based on a worst-case ACL (and MCL) scenario as delineated in the double-video’s, here:

    for Apple iPhone via Apple iTunes:

    [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acl-injury-thresholds-ski/id1106644894?ls=1&mt=8]

    or

    for Android mobile devices via Google Play:

    [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.retrieve.paid_retrieve_prod_3470]

    That’s why leaders in the orthopedic research community who are deeply involved in skiing safety stood-up to give my presentations an ovation (with glowing comments) at the most recently ESSKA (European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy) congress in Barcelona, Spain in May of this year (2016) where there were 4000 attendees.

    Additionally, you write: “‘Why not go for that’ you ask? Because that’s not what you’re claiming; you’re claiming superiority/‘knee-friendly’ (albeit a very ambiguous term). The bar to claim superiority is higher, because the consequences if the product is not actually superior, are higher.”

    No, the consequences are not higher because, as I previously noted, if in the unlikely scenario my bindings do not provide knee-friendly skiing (a posit you suggest) — there are no consequences / no adverse side-effects — because the default functional condition is that Howell Ski Bindings perform at least as well as ordinary alpine bindings (but, with the additional benefits of (1) enhanced anti-pre-release; and (2) super-low 17mm stand-height). So there are no consequences, only positive benefits under all scenarios. Please re-read my above post where I clearly outline why there is no downside with my Howell Ski Bindings and related claims.

    Your amazingly detailed efforts to disparage my 47-years of excellence in ski binding research and development is adverse to the ski industry because there is no downside to the fruits of my work. ‘Only advantages. ‘And if in the likely scenario that my bindings do provide knee-friendly skiing, you are definitely harming skiers and the ski industry with your obvious agenda to cause ‘unreasonable doubt’ about my research, technology and products.

    The outcome of your motives is counterproductive to the ski industry.

    My life-long motive is to enhance skiing performance and confidence [https://howell-ski-bindings.myshopify.com/pages/about-us].

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont
    .

  52. Rick Howell August 1st, 2016 5:58 pm

    @Powbanger: Sorry about my ‘typo’ on your name 😉

  53. See August 1st, 2016 6:48 pm

    In my opinion, if “(t)he best way to judge a binding is how the public receives it and shop employees talk about it,” that’s not good, unless the public reception and the shop’s sales pitch are based on actual data. I think Lou’s point regarding helmet standards may apply to alpine bindings— they are, in most cases, “massively pushed by the industry as a cash cow, with significant innovation and improvement blocked by out-of-date standards.” In other words, since the binding companies are building to meet a common standard for safety, there isn’t much innovation in this area, so they concentrate on making the binding look good on the ski.

  54. See August 1st, 2016 6:52 pm

    And by “data,” I mean performance tests and epidemiological studies.

  55. Rick Howell August 1st, 2016 7:23 pm

    @See: Yes, you are correct, too. We binding companies provide ski shops and early adapter-skiers with specific performance data and overall-epidemiological data (see my website). We also have ski shops and top racers ski on our high-performance products. In this way, our information is properly diffused. If there is too much technical information that cannot be not well-understood by ski shop personnel and by racers (as with the above comments that aim to harm my information) — ski shops and racers will naturally avoid all of that information and the related brands.

    The key at this time is to understand that the writings by a certain blogger on this thread are obviously aimed to destroy a certain forthcoming brand and to destroy the character the person who is behind that brand. That blogger’s writings are not intended to help skiers. That blogger has a personal agenda contrary to our agenda. Our agenda is to enjoy our beautiful sport of skiing. Properly functioning ski bindings are intended to do that.

    Cheers!

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA
    .
    .

  56. Powbanger August 2nd, 2016 12:47 am

    @see. The data shows up in the sell thru of the binding, It’s not a sales pitch at all. The industry standardized bindings, they must do the same thing under the same forces they just get there on a different paths. I would agree that standards restrict innovation, but they do offer security.
    We all have equipment brands/models we gravitate to, they work for us and we trust them. I have a couple binding brands I would jump into and ski on without even thinking about performance, and I have a few that I’m uncomfortable using. That doesn’t mean one is better than the other, it’s just my perception of what I feel safe skiing in. All the tech talk in the world (real or marketing hype) won’t really do much to change my opinion of what is a go to product unless my peers that I respect validate my observations. I know that is a very simplistic view, but think about pin bindings, one brand dominated the market, really it created the market, but then others came into it and we all questioned their performance until a person of influence to us said, naw man check’em out they’re good. Nothing to do with tech, you tried them because someone you respected offered you a positive opinion. The tech story raised your eyebrow maybe, but your buddies got you to try them. Live testing trumps (sorry bad word) lab data IMHO

  57. Rick Howell August 2nd, 2016 6:23 am

    @See: Powbanger is right about how a large portion of market diffusion occurs.

  58. See August 2nd, 2016 7:46 am

    Yeah, Powbanger, your description of how we often choose bindings sounds about right. There are a few alpine bindings that I gravitate to also. They work well in my experience, and I’m comfortable on them. But for touring bindings these days, I’m not sure the “my buddy says they’re good” criterion is good enough. Given all the new and innovative bindings currently available (with more appearing every year), I think a more scientific approach is needed. Considering reports of prerelease and other issues, it’s seems possible there could be problems with some new gear. If no one is collecting data and sharing their findings, it could take a lot longer than necessary for a particular binding to get a bad (or good) reputation. I agree that real world testing is indispensable. I just think it would be better if the data from actual users was methodically collected and analyzed instead of just being anecdotal.

  59. Sam August 2nd, 2016 9:34 am

    I agree that for the vast majority of serious skiers Powbanger’s description of market diffusion is correct. However, for it to work, some of the serious skiers have to be curious about innovation and interested in experimenting with new technologies. If not, then no new products would have a chance to prove themselves.

    I am definitely guilty of being one of those people who is always wanting to try out some seemingly innovative binding. For some reason, this is more so for me than boots or skis. Perhaps this is because I feel like there isn’t as radical a need for innovation in skis and boots (sure, I want less weight, more comfort, incremental performance improvements all around, but the improvements tend to be smaller than they seem in the binding world). Perhaps this comes from my experience in the telemark world where for so long (pre-NTN) the bindings were absolute garbage and even now, they could use significant improvement.

    The funny things is that even though I have watched several state changes in my friends ski gear, both of which followed my own gear at a lag of 4-6 years, they still resist even trying out whatever I am using. By the time I get around to advocating for something it has to be solid, but they are set in their ways.

    All of this pretty much convinced me not to try to start an innovative ski binding company. I’ve not used Mr Howell’s bindings yet and it is always interesting, if predictable, to see him interact directly with potential customers on forums like this, but I have to give him credit for chasing his dream and trying to make our lives a little better. This is a tough market and he has a steep uphill climb to get any measure of success in it. I can only imagine his frustration as he watches the industry giants pick out colors for next seasons version of their 30 year old product knowing that they will sell a ton of it to reliable customers who wouldn’t give his baby a second look.

    I guess this is a long winded way of observing that progress requires a very small group of people bent on innovation, a slightly larger (but still small) group of people interested in that innovation and a large group who are happy with the status quo for too long in order to keep the whole thing going.

  60. Lou Dawson 2 August 2nd, 2016 10:26 am

    Nicely said Sam: “as he watches the industry giants pick out colors for next seasons version of their 30 year old product knowing that they will sell a ton of it”

    Rick is not the only one, I’ve spoken with numerous engineers and designers in the ski industry who feel this way about both bindings and boots. To be fair, there is innovation so let’s give credit to things like Vipec toe and the TLT boots, but there sure are a lot of boots out there that remind me of the 1970s, and I’ve got newish tech bindings here that are nearly identical to our first testers, yes, 30 years ago.

    All ski gear overlaps into the realm of personal safety equipment, so innovation is perhaps slower than it would be with, say, a smartphone case, or tennis ball? And the ISO standards while clearly necessary do get in the way of innovation as well, unless they’re ignored to one degree or another.

    Overall, it’s a dance that does depend on the early adopter culture — though I sometimes wish the early adopters were a little less willing and would thus force more pre-retail beta testing.

    Lou

  61. Lou Dawson 2 August 2nd, 2016 10:28 am

    I should mention that ISO 13992 (ski touring bindings) calls for lab testing as well as on-snow testing. And it should always be mentioned that DIN/ISO is the standard, just a bunch of text written on a piece of paper. Testing and certification to a given standard, in skiing, is virtually always done by TUV in Germany, a for-profit company specializing in testing.

    https://www.wildsnow.com/14843/din-iso-13992-binding-release-safety-testing-summary/

  62. Lou Dawson 2 August 2nd, 2016 10:37 am

    BTW, wouldn’t it be interesting to know who the TUV on-snow binding testers were? A bunch of greybeard meadow skippers? Racers currently on the World Circuit taking a few days off? Freeride film pros? Ballet competitors? Olympic bump medalists? Inquiring minds want to know. Lou

  63. powbanger August 2nd, 2016 1:28 pm

    @See – In my post remember, you’ve read about the tech, maybe you believe it or not, when your buddy says he has skied on it and likes it, most likely you feel good about checking it out.
    How many of us had suspect opinions of a new version of a tech binding which comes in black now? Lou gave us some positive reviews and the technology that was suspect almost flawed a year ago now is compelling. Change Lou into a regular touring buddy and you’re almost guaranteed to try the binding out.
    Sure binding companies gather data concerning safety, performance values, especially when they are developing new models or technology in the binding. (Believe it or not, a number of companies are not just hanging their hat on 30yr old tech which was designed to deal with bone fractures, not ligament tears) however you won’t see actual numbers as there are liability concerns and they also do not want other companies using their data against them as Rick is experiencing currently.
    Thats what I was getting at in my “my buddy likes it” statement. Tech is just marketing until someone you trust validates it.

  64. See August 2nd, 2016 6:31 pm

    Powbanger, understood and agreed. Some marketing claims, however, require more evidence than a bud’s recommendation before I consider them valid. I’m thinking in particular about claims that a certain pin binding “offers release functionality… comparable with… alpine bindings… in the unlocked position… without risking accidental releases on hard surfaces or when making aggressive turns.” Before I’ll believe that, I want to see widespread adoption of such a binding among hard core freeriders (riding with unlocked toes), or at least some epidemiological evidence. But hey, that’s just me.

  65. Rick Howell August 2nd, 2016 8:19 pm

    @Lou: Here is an explanation of the alpine ski binding standards for you:

    “DIN”-standards are German national standards (they are voted-on by Germans).

    “ISO” is above DIN: ISO standards are the international standards. ISO standards are voted-on by the various ISO-members who are representatives of the national standards groups, such as ASTM (which is ‘allowed’ by ANSI to represent USA), AfNOR (France), Ö-Norms (Austria), BfU (Switzerland), etc. The national standards groups — ASTM, DIN, AfNOR, Ö-Norms, BfU, etc., vote at ISO to form ISO standards.

    Each national standards group (such as DIN, ASTM, BfU, Ö-Norms, AfNOR, etc.) has its own national standards — due to what I call ‘national political engineering’ (( … though the voting process at ISO is also ‘political engineering’, too.)).

    The national standards groups are comprised of an equal consensus of “users”, “producers”, and “general interest” people or entities. “Users” are typically consumers. “Producers” are typically the equipment manufacturers, testing machine manufacturers, retailers, ski area operators, and the lawyers who represent the manufacturers. “General Interest” are academic (typically biomechanical) researchers, medical researchers, and epidemiological researchers — as well as the major insurance companies.

    “DIN/ISO” is a combination of the German national DIN standards plus the ISO international standards.

    “TÜV” is a for-pay company (called a “testing institute”) with its principle headquarters located in Munich, Germany. TÜV has nothing to do with the standards organizations (except as one of many members of DIN) who tests according to whatever standards are requested by a given company for compliance with any given country of set of countries. For example, in the automotive sector — when BMW wants ‘independent’ certification regarding crash-testing standards according to the German automotive DIN-standards and/or ISO-standards — BMW goes to TÜV to gain that data and certifications. TÜV performs the crash-tests according to the German DIN automotive crash standards (of course, BMW has already performed their own in-house crash tests, first, to assure compliance — and BMW has already iterated their car-engineering several times in order to plan for ‘passing level data’ at TÜV according to the DIN-standards and/or ISO-standards).

    Germany is the only country in the world that requires, by German statutory law, that alpine ski bindings MUST meet their own national (DIN) standards “AS TESTED BY AN INDEPENDENT TESTING INSTITUTE” before being sold at retail. There is only one “independent testing institute” for alpine ski bindings in the world: TÜV (at their Munich, Germany, headquarters). To legally sell alpine ski bindings in Germany, an alpine binding must meet DIN 7881 as tested by an independent testing institute. TÜV is the only independent testing institute in the world for alpine ski bindings — that has the full capacity to test according to the DIN standard, it is by default, the entity that provides ‘certification’.

    Austria and Switzerland also require legal compliance — but with ISO-standards — AND with an independent testing institute. Only TÜV has the capacity (worldwide) to test alpine ski bindings according to the minimum international ISO standards, 9462, 9465 and 11087.

    To streamline the testing process at TÜV, they test according to the minimum German national standard, DIN 7881, and according to the minimum international standards, ISO — hence the universal reference on alpine ski binding shipping-boxes to “DIN/ISO”.

    When XYZ ski binding company wants certification to meet German, Austrian and Swiss laws — a manufacturer goes to the only independent ski binding testing institute in the world, TÜV, which institute tests according to the ISO and DIN standards. (Respectfully, Carl Ettlinger and his lab at Vermont Safety Research is not ‘independent’ because he’s been seeking to have various binding companies license his patents over the past 20-years — and because his lab cannot perform all of the requirements under ISO 9462 Annex-A and/or Annex-B; he has none of the equipment to perform ISO 9465; he has none of the equipment to test according to ISO 11087; and especially he does not have all of the equipment to meet the functional requirements of DIN 8061.)

    TÜV does not write standards: TÜV follows the methods and the functional-requirements that are prescribed by the national (DIN, ASTM, AfNOR, Ö-Norms) and the international (ISO) standards. TÜV performs tests. The national standards writing bodies (comprising ‘users’, ‘producers’, and ‘general interest’ members) write their own national standards — then, collectively, the national standards organizations vote at ISO as members of ISO to write ISO standards. TÜV tests according to those standards.

    None of these national or international standards limit innovation because all of these standards require conformance to certain minimum FUNCTIONAL requirements. The minimum functions that are standardized are mostly aimed at ‘release’ relative to the minimum biomechanical constraints of the human musculoskeletal system. The standards are largely ‘open’ in terms of design parameters (except for the ‘indicator scales’ on the bindings, and the content of the in-box consumer instructions). A binding engineer can design almost however she wants to meet the minimum standard functional requirements of the national and international standards.

    Further, it is illegal to limit innovation by ‘standards’ under various national and international laws pertaining to ‘restraint of free trade’ and ‘anti-trust’ laws.

    All of these standards (that do not limit innovation) are Very Difficult to meet (in terms of functional requirements) — even for long-established alpine ski binding companies … and especially for the children’s alpine ski binding standards.

    On-snow testing is fully-transparent. Typically, the chief testing-technician at TÜV (Thomas Mayer) and his personal colleague ski together with several of the ski binding company engineers for the binding that’s being tested — at Saalbach ski area or the Zugspitze Glasier — for a day or two. This part of the national and international standards is the only part that’s fairly loosely defined: the objective is to look-for “obvious faults” — such as for example … combined loading pre-release; difficult step-in / difficult step-out; difficulty re-cocking the binding for re-entry after release; AFD’s falling off; other parts falling off; etc. Testing for ‘no release’ or for ‘true-on-snow-retention’ is NEVER conducted, on-snow. NEVER. The on-snow testing provisions within DIN 7881 and ISO 9462 are the only provisions within these national and international standards that are not quantitative.

    There is also an on-snow provision for testing ski-brakes that’s presently being redrafted.

    All of the European alpine binding manufacturers plus Howell Ski Binding company (USA and Québec) ALSO IMPORTANTLY have what we collectively call ‘Standard Industry Practice’. This self-policing, non-documented, industry-wide-practice addresses real on-snow pre-release and real on-snow-durability by skiing on the bindings for a full season with a group of large, aggressive males (sorry, females) who ski all-day almost every day. None of the European alpine binding companies or Howell Ski Binding company will ever ship a binding that does not address ‘Standard Industry Practice’.

    There is one American alpine binding company that has believed for the past 7-years (including, now) that the national ASTM standard is irrelevant because it is non-statutory — and because it’s a “voluntary consensus standards” here in USA (quoting court transcripts). That company also believes it’s wise to ship bindings after skiing on them only one or two days. (Their brand of ‘skiing’ is conducted by the lower-intermediate-ability, self-proclaimed ‘chairman’ of the entity and by the environmental-engineer who has never been involved, previously, in consumer products or with ski-bindings who is also a lower intermediate skier).

    All of the European alpine binding companies and Howell Ski Binding company know that it’s essential to address on-snow ‘Standard Industry Practice’ AFTER gaining certification by an independent testing institute according to the relevant national standards (ASTM, DIN, Ö-Norms, AfNOR, etc.) and the relevant international standards for alpine ski bindings (ISO 9462, 9465 and 11087) BEFORE shipping product into the stream of commerce.

    ‘Have a nice day 🙂

    Rick Howell
    Howell Ski Bindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA
    .

  66. Jernej August 3rd, 2016 3:07 am

    Rick, I applaud your drive to improve bindings and I agree with you that whatever is done can probably only make bindings better, but not worse. And I’d be happy to use your binding if I have a need for new set in the future. For the moment I’m just satisfied by reading whatever you write as I find it very interesting from an engineering and biomechanical point of view.

    However, what JCCJ wrote is nothing but simple scientific scepticism. I can’t judge the validity of it but you really could use thicker skin. Further, claiming any binding causes ACL/MCL damage is ridiculous. They don’t cause, they just don’t prevent.

    And one other thing. While from an unrelated field of science, I have no problem saying this… you can’t claim to have gone through a scientific peer review process by presenting at a conference that does abstract review. Nobody can possibly judge your science based on a 3000 character abstract (or even short presentation) beyond estimating how interesting it is and how much of an impact it might have at the conference. I’m sure that with such a reception as you say, you won’t have a problem finding someone to collaborate with on a reviewed journal paper (or just publish on your own) sometime in the future. Please note I’m not questioning your science here, just your “marketing” approach that contains clearly misleading statements (although, honestly… what marketing isn’t based on embellishments of truth?)

    And the question nobody asked yet… are you doing anything on the touring binding front?

  67. Rick Howell August 3rd, 2016 5:30 am

    Good morning, Jernej: Thank you for your good comments. Every skier wants knee-friendly skiing. I remain confident of my approach to provide the only bona fide non-pre-releasing knee-friendly solution with alpine bindings — noting importantly that my solution addresses the ‘valgus-dominant’ (‘abduction-moment’) mechanism.

    Yes, my research will be published in high-level peer-reviewed medical-engineering publications that are companions to the recent orthopedic and skiing safety conferences.

    I cannot comment on the touring front, yet — but meanwhile I’m taking reservation deposits for my new alpine bindings that will be shipped in 2018 (see website).

    Also, I promise to become more mindful of your good comments, noting importantly the question that if in the event of a ‘valgus-dominant’ event (such as a ‘Slip-Catch’ event or a ‘Phantom-Foot’ event) — and an ‘ordinary’ binding does not respond by not releasing — is that ‘ordinary’ binding ‘causing’ or is it ‘not preventing’ ACL and/or MCL injury in view of my new bindings that probably read and react to the same events?

  68. Rick Howell August 3rd, 2016 5:49 am

    … also, Jernej, regarding JCCJ’s comments: Please note that even if JCCJ is correct about his version of what the constraints might be — I have already built-in LARGE MARGINS between my estimation of the ACL and MCL rupture limits on skis (which no one has ever had the gumption to do, previously) and my lateral heel retention limits (please see the large margins that are published in my research presentation that can be reviewed on-line via Retrieve Technologies as noted, above, or within the links in my howellskibindings.com website under the section entitled, “About”. My large margins allow significant latitude for alternative theories such as those that are conjectured and implied by JCCJ. (Please again also remember that, unlike all others, my lateral heel release settings are based on ‘retention’, not ‘release’.)

    Respectfully,
    Rick Howell
    Howell SkiBindings
    Stowe, Vermont USA
    .

  69. powbanger August 3rd, 2016 1:21 pm

    @See – a buddy saying a binding is valid would encourage me to take the time to try it and see if I think it works, not blindly go out and buy it.
    You are absolutely correct about certain marketing and review opinions stating you can go out and ski on resort alpine terrain and expect bindings which were field tested mostly in the BC to be as good or better than their alpine siblings. It just isn’t going to happen.

    Rick, why are you waiting for a 2018 release? Are you waiting for a patent to expire, funding, or TUV approval?

  70. Rick Howell August 3rd, 2016 2:32 pm

    @powbanger: Launching an alpine ski binding is not for the feint hearted (as you can see here on Wildsnow 😉

  71. Peter Malacarne August 3rd, 2016 10:23 pm

    I am a relatively new skier, 8 years, on a limited budget. I have skied dynafit bindings, and own 2 pair. I have skied Kneebindings and own 2 pair I own 4 pair of skies.

    I learned about the Kneebinding way back when it was still “under development,” so a lot of this back and forth is just more of the same-old-same-old.

    I use my dynafit gear for ski touring//camping/backcountry skiing so I can sleep in a tent. I use my Kneebinding gear for alpine skiing and on a good day get 25,000 feet of vertical. Very different activities sharing the same adjective.

    I pop out of the Dynafits. Either I didn’t get into them right, or ice choked the toe piece, and or maybe I am a sloppy skier.

    My Kneebinding gear, I popped out a couple of times. Last time I was switching in easy moguls, showing off. They seem to work as advertised, retain – not – release. Thats what I told myself the last time I got 25,000 ft(approx) of down in a day.

    Lou, I am glad that you are the one taking them into the backcountry. Those bindings are heavy. I am confident you will find them to be a solid piece of gear. I like them.

  72. Lou Dawson 2 August 4th, 2016 9:01 am

    Hi Peter, I’ll probably use the KneeBinding for some sidecountry, but I won’t be uphilling on it. Word on the street is there is still no binding (touring or alpine) out there that can be skied at chart settings by aggressive skiers, with no fear of pre-release. Some are better than others and evaluating that seems to be based on personal experience, style of skiing, and word of mouth, for as Rick pointed out to me, the ISO standards are pretty much about release, not retention (though when you read the standard you do see there are a few things in there that test retention, however meager). The lack of standards for retention opens things up for innovation, but it also allows binding makers to slack. Which will happen? Only the future will tell.

    Examples of the weirdness with all this: Some aggressive skiers have problems with their boot popping out sideways from alpine binding heel cups, and can only solve this problem by using bindings such as Look that entirely block the boot heel from coming out to the side. In the case of tech bindings, there is some highly technical stuff that goes on in the case of the boot toe fittings riding on the toe pins. There is not much elasticity in this area of the binding, so if the boot toe fitting rides a little too far and doesn’t have enough “return to center” force, out it pops. Dynafit Radical 2 and Beast have pivoting toe that’s intended to remedy this. Does it? Some tech bindings have stronger toe unit springs, perhaps intended to remedy this. Do they?

    And as Rick points out accurately over past months, there is indeed a type of release, toe directly to the side, that most tech bindings do NOT provide (exceptions Vipec and Trab), that completely blocks out release and can allow lower leg fractures. (he he, I was going to use the word “cause” instead of “allow” but knew I’d get scolded by a certain binding engineer)

    The most dangerous thing with ski bindings is lack of retention, not lack of release. It’s easy to get that reversed in our minds due to years and years of industry indoctrination.

  73. geoff August 5th, 2016 9:58 pm

    interesting. after blowing both ACLs in the 80s (Thanks a bunch Salomon!) and much biomechanical pondering and research, I would up using Geze for years as their 180 degree toe release (and non-releasing compliance) was the only binding at the time to protect against backward twisting falls which is the cause of many a blown ACL. Geze was of course bought by Look and then by Rossignol, and they still use a variant on that toepiece.

    This Kneebinding heel binding looks an awful lot like a modified design on the original Geze heelpiece. Makes me wonder if there is any connection? Oddly, however, no upwardly releasing toepiece in this design (maybe Rossignol now hold the patents on the original Geze design? but I’d have thought they’d have expired by now.)

    I’ve since had my ACLs reconstructed and now mostly ski AT. Every time I let it rip though, I wish my AT bindings had some sort of 180 deg toe release!

    PS I believe that ski bindings were originally called “ski safety bindings” so maybe release is just as important as retention, not an alternative :wink

  74. Lou Dawson 2 August 6th, 2016 7:48 am

    Geoff, my understanding is that it’s super difficult to build a toe unit with adequate retention that releases upwards, more, it’s good to remember that a lot of what we see in any arena of industrial development is controlled by patents. For example, if one company or individual has a patent, and another company wants to do a product that possibly infringes on that patent, the problems or expense resulting from that situation can cause the concepts of the patent to just languish, or only be used by one company. Behind the scene, there is a lot of patent “licensing” going on for what you see finally pop out as retail, but on the other hand, again, there are a lot of good ideas that just don’t get used, or are limited in their use. This could be the case for upward toe release that has good retention.

    I happen to believe in the concept of intellectual property and the patent system, but there are people who think the whole thing is just wrong.

    https://mises.org/library/ideas-are-free-case-against-intellectual-property

    Interesting points of view!

  75. finn September 23rd, 2016 10:37 pm

    Ok, after reading all of this, what is the opinion of the safest tech binding and alpine binding CURRENTLY available for prevention of ACL injury? I currently have Kingpins on my DPS wailer 112 and 99 and have been very satified with their skiing characteristics and retention. Becuase of the lateral toe release, is the Vipec a safer binding for preventing knee ligament injury?
    Also, since my wife and I have 2 small kids now, we are finding that our touring experience is down to about 5-10% of the time, with the vast majority skiing done in the resort. So we decided this year to purchase additional skis with alpine bindings. On the current market, is the Kneebinding the only ACL safe binding out there? The stand height is concerning to me, and is persuading me toward the Look Pivot type bindings, with possibly some ACL protection and much better locked in boot-ski contection/feel. Are there better alpine bindings available that have an excellent skiing experience and unique charactertics that will improve safety? Or is it just a crap shoot until Mr Rick’s binding becomes available to the general public? Thoughts appreciated.

  76. Lou Dawson 2 September 24th, 2016 6:46 am

    Finn, my understanding from our extensive comment threads is that there are different types of ACL injuries, and that Knee binding is intended to protect against at least one type that most “normal” alpine bindings don’t do a good job of protecting against — while also providing all the “normal” release modes of an alpine binding. How it balances that with retention is the question, the answer to which we’ll need to wait and hear from consumer “testers” over coming seasons, as a consensus develops.

    As for stand height, don’t obsess on it. It’s more about what you’re used to, rather than being some kind of magic bullet that introduces miraculous or insurmountable influences on your skiing.

    So, the problem, with so many mechanisms of leg injuries in skiing, the word “safest” has no meaning. One binding could protect better against one type of injury, while it doesn’t do as good a job as another binding in the case of a different type of injury.

    Getting specific about ACL, main thing to remember is it appears that lateral release at the HEEL is what is key. Lateral release at the binding toe is about preventing leg fractures, and is the now ancient response to the spate of tibia fractures that were crippling skiers in the 1940s and 1950s, on into the 1960s, when people were using latched down cable bindings with virtually no release.

    At any rate, asking modern ski bindings to be “safe” is asking too much. They help protect if set correctly, but are actually quite primitive when you examine how the engineering balances retention (the most important thing) with letting go and “releasing” when necessary.

    Fact is, falling infrequently and learning how to fall are way more important than the the bindings. And regarding bindings, first and foremost they should be set up so that accidental release is virtually eliminated, and that doesn’t necessarily mean dialing up the DIN settings, it means everything being adjusted correctly, friction issues addressed, and the binding at least hand checked on the workbench for proper function.

    In terms of what “tech” binding protects better against ACL injury? Clearly, that would be the ones that release to the side at the heel. But only if they’re skied at reasonable release value settings, and in that case an aggressive skier might experience some accidental release. And again, the binding would need to be bench evaluated and tested to verify it would release at the assumed values, as well as not sticking or catching during the release function, which is all too common.

    Lou

  77. Nick December 13th, 2016 10:22 am

    Really looking for part 2 of your review.

  78. Purl January 9th, 2017 9:39 am

    Lou,

    Was wondering if you have gotten to ride the bindings yet, I have a pair which I have mounted to a pair of 4frnt clicks. Living on the east coast using them as a piste binding and beating the piss out of my skis, I recently ripped the toe piece screws loose. I know its mostly from me skiing on anything that will let me slide on it. But I digress. I have had a lot of positive and virtually no negative thing to say about them (I am on the cores not the carbons so I have 3 degrees less delta) and wanted your $0.02.

  79. Carter Trout February 11th, 2017 12:00 am

    As someone who just tore my ACL and meniscus while skiing, I have a new appreciation for binding design.

    I would love to hear part 2 of the review of the KneeBindings.

  80. Lou Dawson 2 February 11th, 2017 1:54 am

    Hi Carter, sorry to hear about your injury, best wishes for healing. Part 2 of my review is here:

    https://www.wildsnow.com/21700/knee-binding-skiing-review-2/

    Apologies for not linking from part one, my mistake.

    KneeBinding is an important step in ski safety, but know that it only protects against one type of knee injury, it is not a panacea. But it’s clearly better than a helmet!

    Lou

  81. Daniel May 11th, 2017 12:24 pm

    Found this thread while shopping for another pair of Knee Bindings. My wife ride a pair for a few years now with no problems, time to get it for my daughter.

    Now, it was interesting to find out about Mr. Howell’s work. But having launched products in my career, I would think he could benefit by talking less of it until they are actually made in volume and sold. As of now, they are neither available, nor a good value.

    I will keep skiing my Tyrolia’s Attacks and Look Pivots for now.

  82. chukko October 21st, 2017 5:11 pm

    Rick – is your design assymetric as well (i.e. lateral toe release only to the inside)?
    I managed to sprain my knee falling with my butt to the side below the skis – sounds like KB wouldnt release laterally to the side (although maybe release at the toe would prevent the injury).





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