Salomon Mtn & Atomic Backland Binding Brake — Retrofit Mod


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 23, 2017      

An effective ski brake you can fit to different touring bindings has for years been a gear head’s dream. A few exist to one degree or another; years ago we tried making one out of a G3 Onyx binding.

Update: The intact non modified Salomon-Atomic brakes we have I’d call 95 mm in terms of max width, they add 96 grams to the weight of the binding (including the additional stud and screw). The 85 mm brakes weigh a few grams less.

Salomon splashes this year with their Mountain model binding brake (is also the Atomic Backland and one of the better minimalist tech binding available, in our opinion). Straight away, we noticed the Mountain/Backland brake operates independently of the heel unit. You flip a lever to lock the brake arms up, flip it forward to release for the downhill. We also noticed this brake is robust (ATK for example sells a “Universal Ski-Brake” that’ll work with any binding but is too minimalist in our opinion, as well as requiring the use of a leash). Time for the mod shop.

Salomon (Atomic) Mountain Brake, new this year, is the best we've seen. We have zero appreciation of brakes that require rotating the heel unit and playing around with systems of catches that (attempt) to keep them folded up out of the way, why not simply divorce the brake from the binding? What is so hard to mentate about that? So, some Einstein at Salomon finally got it. Their Mountain binding brake is operated by simply flipping a catch that locks the arms up. Yeah, you pretty much have to take your ski off to operate. So what. It works. All the time. And...perhaps it's easy to fit for other binidngs? Read on.

Salomon (Atomic) Mountain Brake, new this year, is the best we’ve seen. We have zero appreciation of brakes that require rotating the heel unit and playing around with systems of catches that hold it, why not simply divorce the brake from the binding? What is so hard to mentate about that? So, some Einstein at Salomon finally got it. Their Mountain binding brake is operated by simply flipping a catch that locks the arms up. Yeah, you pretty much have to take your ski off to operate. So what. It works. All the time. And…perhaps it’s easy to fit for other bindings? Read on.

This is a fun mod that’s more than proof-of-concept. I’d recommend it for any do-it-yourselfer once these brakes become widely available. A few dims and links before we blast you with images:

Distance from Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland binding rear unit, front screws, to hidden brake screw is 57 mm.

Distance from front of brake base plate to hidden screw is 22 mm.

Salomon MTN & Atomic Backland binding mount template, with a few brake dimension, link here.

Salomon-Atomic Mountain-Backland brake will be available in widths 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120 mm. Nice.

First attempt, simply mount TLT binding heel on the Salomon brake base plate.

First attempt, simply mount TLT binding heel on the Salomon brake base plate. Ended up with heel pins too elevated, boot did not position down far enough to totally retract the brake.

First attempt, took only minutes but boot is too high and doesn't press down far enough on the brake retractor pad.

First attempt, took only minutes but boot is too high and doesn’t press down far enough on the brake retractor pad.

Tricky part of this is locating a hidden screw the brake base slides onto.

Tricky part of this is locating a hidden screw the brake base slides onto.

Hidden screw location is done.

Hidden screw location is done by installing brake and binding on the ski, marking front of base plate, removing everything, then measuring back 22 mm from the front of the brake base plate.

Front of base plate is marked before removal for installation of hidden screw and fitting.

Front of base plate is marked before removal for installation of hidden screw and fitting.

Brake base plate slides over this hidden screw and mushroom fitting.

Brake base plate slides over this hidden screw and mushroom fitting.

View under the brake retractor plate shows the mushroom screw-fitting.

View under the brake retractor plate shows the mushroom screw-fitting.

Removing Salomon Atomic binding from brake base is easy, just pop it up with a small screwdriver.

Removing Salomon Atomic binding from brake base is easy, just pop it up with a small screwdriver.

Brake coming off the ski.

Brake coming off the ski.

Brake with base plate at bottom of photo.

Brake with base plate at bottom of photo. Middle item is the non-brake base plate for Salomon and Atomic.

Coming off.

Coming off.

Binding will sit on this rear portion of the base plate, creating routes for screws is the next step.

Binding will sit on this rear portion of the base plate, creating routes for screws is the next step.

Marking the screw routes.

Marking the screw routes.

Screw routes marked, I clearanced with a small rotary grinder burr.

Screw routes marked, I clearanced with a small rotary grinder burr.

Ready for the old Dynafit TLT that's my first experiment. Screw length was checked and dealt with.

Ready for the old Dynafit TLT that’s my first experiment. Screw length was checked and dealt with.

First attempt, simply mount TLT binding heel on the Salomon brake base plate.

Again, First attempt, simply mount TLT binding heel on the Salomon brake base plate. Ended up with heel pins too elevated, boot did not position down far enough to totally retract the brake.

Height of my test binding (left) is quite a bit elevated in comparison to Salomon Atomic (right).

Height of my test binding (left) is quite a bit elevated in comparison to Salomon Atomic (right). Result is boot heel not pressing far enough down to effect complete operation of the brake retractor. Other binding models with less height will work in this configuration, but bindings such as Dynafit TLT and Speed Radical are too high. Yet a solution exists, read on.

Solution for heel height problems.

Solution for heel height problems. Cut rear portion off brake base, so it’s totally independent of binding heel unit. Doing this drops the heel unit about a millimeter and worked ok with my test boots. If necessary, a shim could be installed under the brake base to raise it to correct height.

Cutting rear portion of brake base plate.

Cutting rear portion of brake base plate so binding heel can be mounted lower, and-or brake stacked on shim.

Semi final mod version.

Semi final mod version. I was impressed with how easy this was. Brake retracts enough to ski as-is, but a 1 or 2 mm shim under the brake would make it work better. Likewise, the brake retractor lever jacks your heel up a bit if you’re try for heel-flat-on-ski touring mode. Solution for that is shimming up the toe unit to achieve your desired angles.

Mocking it up.

Mocking it up on some Voile Objectives with a 30+ year old binding that still works perfectly.

Overall, a fun day of modding. Real-world useful, also proof-of-concept to encourage Salomon-Atomic to design and manufacture a brake version that’s sold for installation on other binding systems.



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Comments

44 Responses to “Salomon Mtn & Atomic Backland Binding Brake — Retrofit Mod”

  1. Pablo January 23rd, 2017 8:14 am

    nice work!

  2. Hayden January 23rd, 2017 9:39 am

    This new binding system from Salomon/Atomic, is so exciting. Lighter weight than a Speed Radical, but with mostly the same functionality. Plus, it has a nice low profile brake. Awesome. 😀

  3. Harry January 23rd, 2017 9:44 am

    I thought the center post binding screw had gone the way of the last of the V8 Interceptors.

  4. Eric steig January 23rd, 2017 3:40 pm

    Clarification needed! If I mount Backland binding this year without brake, can I add break next year without mods, and without removing and reinstalling heel unit?

  5. Lou Dawson 2 January 23rd, 2017 5:05 pm

    Hi Eric, the brake can be installed without mods, but you have to unscrew and remove the heel unit since the brake has a base plate that takes the place of the non-brake heel unit base plate. Both base plates are the same thickness, it’s just a swap (along with installing another screw to hold the “mushroom” fitting). Clear?

    Lou

  6. Patrik January 24th, 2017 7:01 am

    Will the brakes come in different widths?

  7. Lou2 January 24th, 2017 7:40 am

    Hi Patrik, very nice widths, 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120 sizes, we are very excited about these brakes. As I’ve said before, I’m so tired of fiddling around with brakes that attempt to integrate with the heel unit, this is so refreshing.

    I’m not sure about what’s available presently in retail. Suggest just working with etailers to get the latest.

    Lou

  8. Chris January 24th, 2017 8:00 am

    Lou, do you ski on skis with that number of holes and drilled that close? The space between is pretty tight. Curious.

  9. Lou Dawson 2 January 24th, 2017 8:09 am

    Depends. This ski is very strong with metal layer, I ski them, but I’ve been using them as a binding test-bed for a while now and sure I wouldn’t generally use a ski with that many holes as my day-to-day. I’d suggest you ignore how many holes are in these skis, again, they are test skis.

    On the other hand, for most skiers a few extra holes in any ski are not an issue, especially if the holes are indeed spaced apart and plugged with a ski plug and a bit of epoxy, and they’re under the binding base plate.

    Lou

  10. Chet Roe January 24th, 2017 10:10 am

    Different topic Lou….I cracked one of the climbing posts on a pair of Dynafit Comforts……B+D makes replacements (heel risers/”volcanoes”) but in different sizes……I am a tall guy (6’2″) size 28 boots….any OPINIONS about the normal or taller size? was thinking about just staying the same, but curious…..thanks, Chet

  11. Rob January 24th, 2017 10:24 am

    Lou, spent tubes wrapped around a brick? Looks like a great ski bench mod. Care to share the underside of that brick.

  12. Lou Dawson 2 January 24th, 2017 10:42 am

    Rob, I learned that from the guys at Cripple Creek Backcountry. They’re not bricks, they’re chunks of 4×4 Trex fence post, heavy but clean, wrapped with bicycle tubes. I don’t use this setup for waxing (Eggbar vise is best for that) but it’s the best I’ve found for everything else, much quicker, easy to store, cheap, etc. Lou

  13. Lou Dawson 2 January 24th, 2017 11:16 am

    Chet, the longer your foot the lesser your effective climbing angle produced by heel elevators… but the longer ones can put extra stress on the binding. I’d try the shorter ones first and see if they’re adequate. This especially true since you’re still only in a 28 boot, which is average. Lou

  14. Eric Steig January 24th, 2017 8:24 pm

    Lou: Regarding installation on already mounted bindings. Yes, clear. Thanks.

    On the other hand you could also just cut off the back half of the binding base plate — as you did in your custom install — and then not have to take the bindings off at all.

    No?

  15. Eric Steig January 24th, 2017 11:51 pm

    I mean, of course, the back half of the BRAKE base plate.

  16. Rory January 25th, 2017 3:33 pm

    Lou,
    How do you like those Ultimate 85s? Have you had much time on them? Guess it’s really coming down in the Rockies now, so maybe not. I’m looking for a good mountaineering ski for later in the spring.
    Rory

  17. Lou Dawson 2 January 25th, 2017 5:55 pm

    Rory, I’ve skied them quite a bit. Yep, they are an excellent spring mountaineering ski. Good edge hold, light, just enough rocker. Go for it. Lou

  18. Josh M. January 30th, 2017 3:53 pm

    As a side question, how high are the Salmon MTN heel pins from the base of the ski? As in, the vertical center of the pins down to the topsheet. Also, how does the height of the toe pins compare to say the Speed Radical toes? Many tech bindings have such a high heel height compared to toe height, and I’m hoping that these have less.

    Thanks!

  19. Lou Dawson 2 January 30th, 2017 6:23 pm

    Josh, clearly, you’re not reading WildSnow daily!

    What do you think folks, should Josh give us 20 pushups?

    https://www.wildsnow.com/10733/get-up-rise-up-stand-up-for-your-ramp/

    ‘best, Lou

  20. Josh M. January 30th, 2017 7:24 pm

    I’ll give you 5,000′ vert!

    Since the brake is separate for the MTN binding, can I assume that the height is the same for the braked or brakeless models?

    FWIW, I’m one of the weirdest low-delta nuts I know. I run Plum 165 heels with Speed Radical toes and a 7mm shim under the toe. That puts my Mercury sole very close to parallel with the ski. After much experimentation this works the best for me, but it’s hard to get that low of a delta with any non-race heel and without a ridiculous toe shim. It’s nice to see that some of the newer bindings at least offer a lower delta option.

  21. Lou Dawson 2 January 31st, 2017 8:00 am

    Hi Josh, yeah, and heavy shimming to reduce delta compromises heel lift in touring mode…

    The brake and brakeless MTN-Backland binding uses a plastic plate under the heel unit that’s the same thickness in both cases. No change. Zero. Nada. Without the brake, you could mount the heel unit without plastic plate for about a 1 mm reduction in height, with care for screw length of course, and care for where boot heel sits when using heel-flat-on-ski mode for touring level ground.

    ‘best, Lou

  22. Matt N February 14th, 2017 10:15 pm

    Hi Lou,
    Did you get a chance to weigh these brakes & stock base plate before chopping them up?

  23. Lou 2 February 14th, 2017 10:27 pm

    Update, got the brake weight, 90 grams per. The brake plate takes the place of the non-brake plate under the binding heel. If 90 grams includes the brake plate then the actual weight added to the binding is a few grams less. I’ll check this when I get home, but 90 is a good operative figure, probably for the medium width brakes.

    Hi Matt, promise, I did weigh the brakes, and apparently forgot to write the weight down anywhere on the website? I’ll get the weight from Atomic or Salomon, or perhaps it’s in one my previous posts? I’ll look. Thanks for asking. Lou

  24. szaraz levente February 21st, 2017 1:00 am

    does anybody know how much it is , and where can i buy this brake? (i have salomon mtn binding and i want a good brake)

  25. Lou Dawson 2 February 22nd, 2017 8:52 am

    Information I’ll add to blog posts about this Salomon brake stopper: It’s very clever, in that getting a ski touring binding TUV certification requires a brake system that can’t be retracted (stowed) while you are in alpine mode. I’m told this is the main reason we have the sordid history of tech binding brakes that have gone through multiple problematic iterations. The clever part is this. Salomon simply shaped the holding latch on their brake, when in the uphill (stowed) position, to prevent your being able to click into the heel and use the binding for the downhill. While the Atomic-Salomon Backland-MTN binding is not TUV certified, we suspect the plan might be to use this brake on other projects that might be going for a certification. An insider in Chamonix got me thinking about this, as he’d seen something interesting getting tested. Lou

  26. szaraz levente February 23rd, 2017 6:27 am

    I do not need a TUV certificate brake, I only hate the wire wich connect me to the ski :)), and i would be happy if i can switch the wires to brakes

  27. Lou Dawson 2 February 23rd, 2017 6:43 am

    Agree, someone needs to forget about TUV and all that sort of thing and just make a nice brake we can swap onto nearly any ski touring binding system. Plum has potential for that, as do Trab and Salomon. I don’t get why none of these guys see a viable market, I’m certain it exists. Case of corporate navel gazing? Lou

  28. Matus March 5th, 2017 11:43 am

    Any update as regards the exact weight of the brakes?

  29. Lou Dawson 2 March 5th, 2017 4:53 pm

    Matus, you need a good scold, look through a few comments above (smile). Lou

  30. Matus March 6th, 2017 12:27 am

    I have read the comments. And I got an impression that 90g is info from manufacturer that needs to be confirmed:

    “I’ll check this when I get home, but 90 is a good operative figure, probably for the medium width brakes.”

  31. Lou2 March 6th, 2017 5:34 am

    Ok, sorry, I’ll verify. Lou

  32. Matus March 6th, 2017 6:02 am

    Thank you.

    BTW, there is almost zero information about these brakes on internet. Any info when they become available? A short video how they work would be more than welcome.

    Atomic biding + brakes seems to ne a nice competion for ATK Raider. Maybe this will by my next binding.

  33. Lou Dawson 2 March 6th, 2017 6:41 am

    Hi Matus, the intact non modified brakes I have I’d call 95 mm in terms of max width, they add 96 grams to the weight of the binding (including the additional stud and screw). The 85 mm brakes would weigh a few grams less. Remember that there is probably also a few grams deviation due to manufacturing. So far, with quite a bit of use, I’d call these to be super well designed. Elegant, even…

  34. Paul June 25th, 2017 1:32 pm

    Hi Lou

    Why not just use teh kreuzspitze removable brakes, ingeniously simple design and teh slide into the existing crampon slot on all dynafit compatible bindings

  35. Paul June 25th, 2017 1:34 pm

    sorry typos… corrected version see below

    Why not just use the kreuzspitze removable brakes ?

    Ingenious + simple design and they slide into the existing crampon slot on all dynafit compatible bindings available in 75, 90 or 105 afaik (i use 90 and 105’s )

  36. Paul June 25th, 2017 1:53 pm

    I would say that yes you can use either kreuspitze or atomic. Depends what you prefer.

    Seems that Atomic is stronger brake and does not have to be removed from the ski.

  37. Lou Dawson 2 June 26th, 2017 9:04 am

    If a person really does want to rig an aftermarket brake, I’d say a careful evaluation of available options is essential. The Atomic-Salomon brake is super nice but may require bit of tweaking to get it working, such as shimming the height.

    Blog posts such as this are not blanket recommendations.

    Lou

  38. Andrew Nock January 7th, 2018 11:52 pm

    This mod can work really really well for speed turns – and it ends up being affordable. The salomon brakes are 49.99.

    I went a bit further to work out shim it to the right height, add a svelt 3/32 carbon plate to allow it use the existing heal screws (like salomon intended) and 5th single easy-to-add screw (better than the hidden one salomon used). With this it is readily moved between skis.

    How might I upload pictures?

  39. Lou Dawson 2 January 8th, 2018 8:44 am

    Hi Andrew, that sounds excellent. Send photos to email using “Contact” option in menu above. Thanks, Lou

  40. Cody December 27th, 2018 11:26 am

    Tangential related to this. I was looking through the ISMF just for kicks and found this.
    “The use of ski brakes is extremely recommended for 2018/2019 season and will be
    compulsory from the 2019/2020 season on.”

    And at first I thought of this mod since it’s less likely to break (no pun intended), not a huge weight penalty (unlike other automated systems), and would only add a second or two to transitions. BUT this part of the rules seems to disqualify this (or any) mod.

    “No other compulsory equipment may be modified.”

    So it’ll be interesting to see what Dynafit, PG, Plum, and the other players will come up with to adhere to this rule while still giving racers an edge. ATK already seems to be in the best position with their toe mounted brakes. I hope it trickles down to us non spandex peasants.

  41. TimZ December 27th, 2018 12:10 pm

    Cody, Also see the brake adjustment plate from ATK: https://www.atkbindings.com/en/prodotto/accessories/touring-ski-brake-80-gr/

    Only 45gr heavier than an adjustment plate alone. I expect they will sell a non-adjustable version in a few years if this ISMF regulation actually has teeth.

  42. Cody December 27th, 2018 12:18 pm

    TimZ – Crazy to think that the adjustment plate + brake assembly is only 8-10 grams lighter than their lightest race binding. Sure competitors are not going to be stoked about putting essentially 2 pairs of bindings on their skis 😛

    I’m just hoping that like with F1 or other high end auto race series it pushes the manufactures to engineer solutions that make their average products better.

  43. TimZ December 27th, 2018 12:30 pm

    Cody, I agree. I think there is lots of room to improve this. The brake portion weighs 40gm, so there is only 5gm over the old adjustment plate. That leads me to think that they could add it to race bindings for about 45gm.

    It looks like ATK is using aluminium brake arms and Trab is using titanium brake arms. So maybe not a huge potential to reduce weight there. Carbon rods may save a bit.

    The other question is will there be considered part of the binding, so there will be no allowed mix and match with different brands. This could be a huge opportunity for a binding manufacturer to lock in a new user base

    BTW it looks like Trab is slightly ahead of the game with an adjustment plate-less brake for their race binding. Though it is pretty heavy still at 62gm. https://skimo.co/ski-trab-brakes

  44. Kermit Lohry December 28th, 2018 2:34 pm

    I just mounted the Salomon Mtn (with bnd leashes) on a new pair of skis and first day out snowkiting with them crashed hard and both skis released (bnd fuses blew) and one was buried under the snow. I finally found it, but without brakes it could have easily bombarded down the hill. I’m thinking for the extra 45-60g over a leash, it might be worth it to have a ski that stops when released. Anyhow, on my next pair, I plan on trying brakes and we’ll see how they work out. I’ve never had brakes on my skis; is there any downside besides the weight?





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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