ISPO 2017 — The Jewelry Of ATK Ski Touring


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 14, 2017      
Giovanni Indulti showing yours truly his Italian jewelry offerings.

Giovanni Indulti showing yours truly his Italian jewelry offerings.

ATK ski bindings are known worldwide for their beautiful metal work, not to mention distinctly Italian approach to colorization through various shades of aluminum anodize. They’re a favorite stop for me at ISPO.

(Note: ATK Race fans out there please correct me if I’m wrong about the “what’s new” below. Due to the language barrier and my intermittent attention to ATK, I lose track of their product offerings.)

ATK’s not having a booth at the OR show is reason enough to visit them at ISPO, but fun and ever-interesting conversation with owner Giovanni Indulti and his son Davide is a bonus. Indeed, I’ve been invited to a lot of factory visits and press trips, but never with the carrot of driving a loaner Ferrari to and from the hotel. Seriously, I need to go there and do a classic “WildSnow factory visit,” as apparently they’ve got a truly green production facility that’s second to none, what with a huge PV array on-site providing their electricity, and a methane powered 3 cylinder Toyota engine behind their HVAC. Sounds like the factory compensates for the Ferrari fuel economy? Visit is on the calendar.

On to the ski touring bindings. A couple of new ATK pushes for 2017-2018:

Firstly, ATK will continue to look for better distribution in all corners of the world but particularly in North America. Industry folks reading this, if you know of anyone with a skiing related and established importation/distribution business, it’s time to contact those guys about a “real” distribution gig for ATK.

Trofeo toe is used for an affordable race binidng as well as the SLR Logic light touring binding.

Trofeo toe is used for an affordable race binding as well as the SLR Logic light touring binding. Click to enlarge, note the single toe wing spring.

ATK’s other initiative is to bring their somewhat astronomical prices down a bit, with a couple of offerings in their “Race” and “Speed Touring” categories (“Speed” gear groupo is just above full-on racing in terms of weight). To that end, look at their new Trofeo race binding that’ll go for 279.00 euro here in the old country. This is a fully functional “price point” race binding that only weighs 145 grams! The weight magic happens because everything is compact and simplified. Release values are fixed, as a customer you’ll pick between 4,6,8,10 when you buy the binding. After that you’ll need to purchase additional heel units if you want to change the release tension. The toe is simplified as well, with springs on only one side of the toe wings.

Trofeo is repurposed as the SLR Logic, sold with rear boot-length adjustment plate, leash and crampon mount. Coming in at 180 grams at 379.00 euros. This is a sweet spot worth looking at if you want a “race” type touring binding.

If Trofeo is too heavy and you don’t like the fixed release (we most definitely do not), ATK’s other new binding is the SLR Release. Using the same toe machinery as Trofeo, SLR adds adjustable side release at heel and swaps U-springs for vertical release tuning. The binding is sold with Kevlar leash and crampon mounts included. The 135 gram weight is impressive, but know this binding is sold without rear boot-length adjustment plate. You could add the optional accessory adjustment plate, at 20 grams. Thus you’d end up at 155 grams.

Other than their race products, ATK’s best known binding is probably the RT. This is the ski touring grabber with adjustable toe lock strength for the uphill. That’s a feature we like, but most people find to be mysterious. ATK calls this their “U.H.V. Up-hill Hardness Variator” in their English catalog translation. After you quit chuckling, yeah, you can tighten a screw that changes how hard the toe wings grab your boot – ONLY IN UPHILL MODE AFTER LOCKING THE BINDING.

While they understand the need for heel lifters, my noob ski touring friends Bill and Virginia asked why would they need the ATK Up-Hill Hardness Variator? I’m actually not sure, since none of the literally hundreds of other tech bindings on the market have this feature. But it could be considered a safety adjustment, as you can tune how easily your boot releases from the binding while locked in touring mode — something useful in the event of an avalanche taking you while you’re on the uphill portion of a tour.

New for 2017-2018, RT gets a facelift to a 2.0 version. New features are flip lifters at the heel, full range of brakes (75,86,91,97), included boot length adjustment plates, “Hardness Variator” operated with 5 sided device instead of threaded fastener. All for 290 grams.

RT 2, impressive iteration of the RT.

RT 2, impressive iteration of the RT. I was having so much fun chatting with the Italians I forgot to snap a photo, so instead, a catalog page blogger cheat.

Oh, and lest I forget sweet Virginia while basking in my male delusions of grandeur, the new RT 2.0 Lightweight is an RT 2.0 with lower release value settings, 4 through 8. Anodized in a nice blue as well that wouldn’t bother me on my own feet, though I’d prefer the men’s model in black with gold accents. Better matches my race suit.

An industry trend in bindings continues to be ease of use. With mixed results regarding tech bindings, as we all know. ATK’s nod to this is a rework of the trigger zone in most binding toes, so it responds more firmly to the step-in. They call this their “Easy Entry System.” With some boots it’ll probably be terrific. Yet, in my opinion the annoyance of worn out boot soles not triggering closure of tech bindings doesn’t show any sign of ceasing, not with ATK or anyone else. (As always, someone needs to step up to the plate with Tech 2.0, but don’t hold your breath.)

In a world where it seems every company’s goal seems to be to “go vertical” with everything from boots to socks, I like how ATK has kept their focus on bindings. The only significant deviations are their workstation ski vise system (that functions sweetly specific to tech bindings), some ski poles, and one model of carbon shovel designed for racing (appears too weak for touring, but might be worth a torture test).

More, as far as I can tell no other company making tech bindings has ATK’s range of add-ons and accessories. Examples: The only “universal” ski brake you can add to virtually any ski binding; numerous adjustment and swap plates; stomp blocks; titanium screws that’ll up your weight weenie rating by 16 points.

What with an outfit such as ATK as a competitor in the tech binding world, I’m optimistic that what’s been a tiresome drone of durability and design problems is quieting down to a dull murmur. In other words, we’re seeing mature states of design cropping up everywhere. Including ATK.

Translation note to Giovanni and Davide: I hope you don’t mind me joking about the “U.H.V. Up-hill Hardness Variator,” which in English does elicit a chuckle. If you’d like a possibly better English term, perhaps “Touring Lock Tension Adjustment,” or “Uphill Lock Tension Adjustment.”

Comments

29 Responses to “ISPO 2017 — The Jewelry Of ATK Ski Touring”

  1. iBjorn February 14th, 2017 8:54 am

    Any news on the ATK Newmark tele binding?

  2. Jeremy C February 14th, 2017 10:00 am

    At the opposite end to the race bindings, but a Mountain/Freeride/Touring guide I ski with regularly rates the ATK Freerider 14 as the best tech binding he has ever used. I followed the Dynafit path with Radical ST2’s and Beast, but maybe these would have been a better choice. Excellent performance at only 395g (including the Wildsnow offending brakes ;-)).

  3. Robin February 14th, 2017 10:51 am

    Thanks for the coverage, Lou. I and several of my touring partners have used this binding for several years with reliable performance for both the up and the down, including the brakes. Important ways to mitigate the cost are via use of the boot length adjustment plate for the heel to accommodate different boots, and Quiverkiller inserts to swap the bindings between skis. This doesn’t compromise the goal of weight savings that drove the initial purchase. Thus I can use a light LaSportiva Cyborg boot for tours and the Spectre 2.0 for lifts (?blasphemy) without a performance penalty. Note that I’m 70kg and avoid moguls and air so I can’t speak for the plus-sized set. I’m surprised more skiers aren’t using this set-up, particularly if getting the vertical is your goal. Perhaps it’s a combination of fashion, price, and availability. Glad to hear from your article this may be changing. Every time I go on a hut trip, guides and guests are surprised at the lightness of this setup – currently on either a Movement Response-X or BD Carbon Convert. I still use and enjoy Dynafits on other boards so don’t take me for a weight snob, I just wish to attest to the satisfactory long-term performance of these bindings for me if others are poised on the edge of decision. Cheers

  4. Buck February 14th, 2017 11:33 am

    re the raider 14 brakes : they are a little spindly/thin and I wonder how much stopping power they have for a fast moving ski. I’ve only had one fall/release in the 2 seasons I’ve had them and the ski stayed put. Not a lot of data…

    But at all transitions they definitely keep the ski in place. I’ve been exclusively a no-brakes Dynafitter for a long time. When I bought the raiders I figured I’d take the brakes off, but decided just for the hell of it to leave them on until they annoyed me or got stuck or failed to deploy – but that hasn’t happened yet. Well above 100 days, each day has multiple laps, and at each transition the brakes have deployed quickly without a hitch when I exit the binding, and re-engaging the brake before heading downhill is easy.

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

    the brakes being on the toe but separate, and not interfering with heel rotation or step in is a big plus, too.

  5. Michael Hagen February 14th, 2017 11:49 am

    Hello Lou,

    I hope you had a chance to visit the Hagan booth which was around the corner from ATK and you will be doing a report on it.

    Two of ATK’s best and most popular bindings, as well as many accessories, are being distributed in the U.S. by Hagan, in the form of the Hagan Ultra and Hagan Core.

    The Hagan Ultra is our branded version of the ATK SL EVO World Cup binding. Changes for next year include a Monolink toe piece, which is the main contributor to a drop in weight to 110 grams as well as more durable and adjustable heel pin cover plates.

    The Hagan Core is our version of the ATK Raider 12 2.0. It has several big improvements on the previous version, including much easier to use magneto heel flaps, much improved toe step in, a 30mm heel adjustment range, one tool (Phillips screwdriver) for all adjustments and the Elastic Response System that allows the ski to flex naturally under the boot during compression.

    We also supply many accessories including adjustment plates, safety leashes, the (super high quality) workstation and the unique “universal” ski brakes you mentioned.

    The Hagan Ultra is an improvement on the Hagan ZR, which has been very popular in the U.S. The Hagan Core is a new addition to our product line – the first Freetouring pin binding in our line up. Both will be available next season, although I have limited units now for retailer review. We will add additional ATK products as demand warrants. So please let me know what you are interested in.

    Insurance and liability are huge costs and issues, as usual. This has caused us to initially focus on the most reliable and most popular bindings.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Hagen
    Distributor, Hagan Ski USA

  6. Jürgen February 14th, 2017 12:12 pm

    Hi Lou RT 2.0 has only a one step heel lift – right ?
    Thanks !

  7. Olivier February 14th, 2017 1:03 pm

    I cannot really understand now the difference betweeb the rt 2.0 and the raider 12. It is more or less the same binding. It is a pitty for me that they have put brakes on the rt 2.0
    Big advantage of the rt in my view was that he was simple with no breakes but a perfect heel. Specially because atk brakes are not really working well.

  8. Lou 2 February 14th, 2017 2:03 pm

    Hi Michael, I really really appreciate you dropping by and clarifying what you guys are doing with ATK. I wasn’t covering skis at ISPO so I did give a look see on the Hagen booth but did not have time for a sit down, IMHO the main focus of Hagen is still skis, though I appreciate you guys helping get those ATK bindings to the U.S. As for the skis, as always when we ramp up things for some testing we’ll be in touch. Also want to do some tours with you back in Colorado! Lou

  9. Lou 2 February 14th, 2017 2:04 pm

    Re ATK and other brands… in our opinion, Dynafit isn’t the only company with too many bindings! I’m not sure how even a shop employee with the brain of Einstein can keep all this stuff sorted out. Lou

  10. Greg K February 14th, 2017 5:21 pm

    @Olivier: The Raider and RT have always been closely linked. You could even basically convert an RT into a Raider buying the AL02 heel lifter and brake accessories for the RT.

    From what I can see, the RT 2.0 has a little less options on the heel lift (two positions vs. four on the Raider 2.0), lack of the Raider’s elastic response tech in the heel piece, an additional 5mm of adjustment in the heel plate (only 25mm on Radier 2.0), and less options on brake width (max 97mm vs 120mm in the Raider 2.0). Also it’s 60g lighter per binding.

    I’ve heavily invested in ATK bindings in my ski collection due heavily in part to trying a bunch of different skimo race skis and trying to work with two different boots in the quest to figure out what I like best for my fledgling racing interests. I’ve used the RT, SL-R, SLR Release, Raider 12, WC Evo, and R.C.A. I’m always impressed by the machining quality and how well the bindings have worked. The SLR Release is in my opinion one of the best bindings available for the skimo crowd looking for familiar race style/weight but with more features.

  11. Jonah February 14th, 2017 7:37 pm

    Ditto Robin.
    I’ve used the atk rt for 3 years of fairly aggressive touring. Best binding I’ve ever had. Thanks Lou, for the write up on Atk.

  12. Dan February 15th, 2017 1:40 am

    I’ve skied ATK for the past year or so, and can also say they are outstanding bindings – reliable, durable, great build quality and user friendly.

    There was so much hype about the Kingpin, when there really should be more hype about bindings like the RT 2.0. With the freeride spacer, it delivers outstanding performance (especially with power transmission to the ski) at under half the weight.

    And of course there are the lighter options like the race bindings discussed above.

    I get some of the above comments about the brakes, but I use leashes most of the time anyway. If they were beefier, they’d add weight that we’d all complain about.

  13. Greg February 15th, 2017 7:40 am

    Lou/Michael/Anyone: are the brakes removable on the Raider/Core toe piece? I would love a light binding with no brakes but with “flip” heel risers and a flat on ski mode.

    Also, Michael, any idea when the Core binding will be available in the US?

  14. Lindahl February 15th, 2017 7:40 am

    “Yet, in my opinion the annoyance of worn out boot soles not triggering closure of tech bindings doesn’t show any sign of ceasing”

    FYI, Lou, the Vipec has a solution for this. With the toe lever in ski position, push down on the lever so the jaws open, insert your boot and release. No step-in trigger or force needed. I use this technique a lot in deep light powder.

  15. Lindahl February 15th, 2017 7:49 am

    I’ve owned and skied the ATK Free Raider 14 a lot. Yes, the brakes should be removable on the RT 2.0. They should weigh about 50g, so the RT 2.0 without brakes should be around 240g.

    The RT 2.0 does appear to have all 4 heel lifter heights that the Free Raider series has. That image is a 3D rendering and makes the 2 flaps LOOK like 1 singular flap.

    Unfortunately this is 20g more weight than the RT 1.0 (175g) with the optional adjustment plate (20g) and optional heel flaps (20g). Its a shame they got rid of it.

  16. Lindahl February 15th, 2017 8:00 am

    Oops, I take it back. The RT 2.0 does appear to only have 1 flap, and thus only 3 positions, not the 5 positions of the Free Raider series. A shame, especially since the high riser requires you to reach down and rotate. They should have used the heel lifter design from the Free Raider 1.0 series that allows you to rotate by ski pole (similar to their AL02 accessory for the RT 1.0).

    Also, yes the brakes are very weak. They’re more designed to keep the ski from moving during transitions. They won’t do much to stop a ski after release, during a fall. I’d just remove them and add leashes.

  17. Max Taam February 15th, 2017 10:00 am

    Lous,

    Thank you for reviewing the ATK bindings. I have skied on the ATK’s that Hagan has imported for several years now and have loved them! Not only do I put them on my Dynastar skimo skis but also the Dynastar Mythic Light (1100g with a binding in a 170cm). Hopefully we will start to see more of them stateside.

  18. Lou Dawson 2 February 15th, 2017 10:18 am

    Yeah Max, I’d like to see the actual ATK brand as a fully imported offering, with full warranty support, all accessories available, etc. That’s what Giovanni told me he’s looking for. But the Hagan re-badged versions will clearly do in a pinch. Lou

  19. Michael Hagen February 15th, 2017 10:35 am

    Greg – Yes, the Core/Raider brakes are easily removed in a few seconds. And they can be swapped for different brake widths. The binding works perfectly without brakes. As an option, the Kevlar safety leash can be used instead of a brake. There is a leash hollow in the toe lever. The Core binding is available next week in the US in limited quantities, and will be fully available in the fall.

    Olivier – Greg well explains the differences between the RT and Core/Raider heel. I would add that the Core has a wider base plate. It does have 30mm heel adjustability. Also the Core lacks the “Uphill Hardness Variator.” I suppose if it had the Hardness Variator, that would make it Hard Core. 🙂

    Olivier and Lindahl – It should be noted that the “claws” on the brake arms are wider on the Core bindings than the “1.0” Raiders. Whether this significantly improves stopping power I can’t say, but as Buck noted, brakes on the toe piece have the advantage of being “always active” and not interfering with heel step in or release.

    Lou – Backcountry skis are definitely still Hagan’s “Core”, but we have expanded our backcountry realm and now offer 4 bindings, boots, skins for all skis of course and next season a ski touring 25L backpack and 240 gram helmet. I’ll definitely try to head your way for some tours and “product testing.”

  20. Tom February 15th, 2017 11:30 am

    My wife and I now have about 5 tours on our Raider 12 2.0’s and we love them. A really good test is from my wife who finds them easier to use, and more solid in the connection feel to her previous Dynafit Vert ST’s. They definitely have a more solid connection at the heel, whereas my Verts always had a bit of play. I want to order a pair of “freeride spacers”, but not sure if they would help the already solid feel.

    Maybe Michael will be able to help me out with the spacers. BTW, Michael it’s be nice to see the new Core binding on your website.

    Thanks Lou.

  21. Martin February 15th, 2017 12:14 pm

    iBjorn: I mounted up a New-mark yesterday, fresh from the Norwegian distributor. Usual ATK fit’n’finish for sure., but I am sceptical about how it is supposed to work without traditional tele spring cartridges.

  22. Silas Wild February 15th, 2017 2:07 pm

    Wow what a big number of new bindings from ATK. Is the SLR Release the closest model to the former ATK RT (sold in the US for a year or so as the Sportiva RT: https://www.wildsnow.com/4977/la-sportiva-atk-tech-binding/)? The RT definitely had problems with the toe pins loosening after 20-30 days for most users. What is the price of the SLR release?

    How about some reviews of next years new backcountry skis? Thanks.

  23. Greg K February 16th, 2017 7:22 am

    @Silas. The SLR Release is more a modification of the SL-R race binding (which is what the Hagan ZR is). It gives it adjustable side release as well as adjustable vertical release via swappable u-springs. The heel piece was also modified with a 360 degree track for the spring-loaded bearing so the heel now has a heel-flat position, and two lifter positions all at 132 grams (minus screws). The toe piece now has an optional crampon slot vs the permanent one in the SL-R.

  24. Kristian February 16th, 2017 9:08 am

    Been skiing the AT Raider 14s. They are excellent!

    Added bonus of the ATK front brake is that the loops are great for threading a locking cable when you are at the base of a ski resort to safeguard your super pricy carbon skis and ATK bindings.

  25. JMski February 16th, 2017 11:02 am

    Michael Hagen’s response above includes the sentence:
    “…I would add that the Core has a wider base plate…”

    Is the base plate wide enough to locate the screws in the Volkl “H” mounting reinforcement zone?
    If so, are these plates going to be avail/sold separately?

  26. Buba February 16th, 2017 12:29 pm

    I too am curious about the mount pattern in the toes. It seemed all the older models (with the exception of the Raider 14 that has a very wide mount pattern, many too wide?) have a very narrow mount pattern in the toe. Perhaps equivalent to the old Dynafit pattern but lacking the front screw (please correct me if I am wrong here). I’d love to see ATK move to something closer to the radical pattern.

  27. Greg K February 16th, 2017 2:58 pm

    @Buba, ATK’s typical front pattern has been 30 x 27 which is effectively the de-facto dynafit “classic” standard of 30 x 26.5 with fastener tolerances as they are but you need to be careful if mixing the two (i.e. check things don’t move as they are tightened).

    I can’t comment about the history of why that was chosen, but I can speculate that this remains in race bindings due to the typically narrow 65mm underfoot dimension of a skimo race ski. I’m not an engineer so I don’t how well a wider pattern would work with skimo matchsticks.

  28. IBjorn February 17th, 2017 10:46 am

    @Martin: please share your thoughts on the Newmark binding, either here, post a short review at telemarktalk.com. I guess that a lot of people are interested.
    Best regards

  29. Michael Hagen February 17th, 2017 8:49 pm

    I will put the Core (and Ultra) on the website shortly, Tom. I will have the free ride spacers soon and currently have most Hagan/ATK accessories/replacement parts including ski crampons, adjustment plates (three models – the R01 “personal” model with 30mm adjustment range, R04 with 60mm range ideal for demo/rental and R08 for wide skis), U springs, heel cover plates, leashes, universal brake, “automatic” mounting jig, etc.: http://www.haganskimountaineering.com/collections/accessories

    The ATK workstation will be available in the fall. The workstation is rather amazingly well designed and built for mounting and servicing skis with pin bindings. I have to admit the price corresponds to the quality.

    @JMSki – I intended to, but didn’t, specify that it is the heel piece that has a wider base plate, at 45mm wide by 60mm long. The toe piece remains at 30mm wide by 27mm long. If you need wider, try the R08 plate.

    “reliable, durable, great build quality and user friendly” are the attributes we are striving for in all our products and a reason we partnered with ATK on the Hagan Core and Ultra. Glad you feel we are on the right track, Dan.

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