Fritschi Freeride Plus 2006 – flex testing a backcountry skiing binding

Post by blogger | August 18, 2006      

By popular demand, the flex test is back! We compared the 2005 Fritschi Freeride (white toe wings) backcountry skiing binding with the latest 2006 model “Plus” (black toe wings.) During one test cycle the flex measured exactly the same, while during another the 2006 was stiffer by a hair over one unit. To the skier in the field these bindings are thus virtually equal in flex, though we’ll rate the 2006 on the chart as one unit stiffer. Full bench review of these bindings soon to come, new model might have a slightly more solid feel due to several new design features. Click here for original flex test, updated.

Flex testing Fritschi Freeride backcountry skiing binding.
Flex testing late model Fristschi Freeride backcountry skiing bindings.

Note the supports under the boot heel area of the new Fritschi are slightly wider. Guess would be this might give the binding a slightly more solid feel, but based on the bench test we doubt it would be significant. Best reason to upgrade would be the “anti insta-tele” feature of the new model — more about that soon.


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6 Responses to “Fritschi Freeride Plus 2006 – flex testing a backcountry skiing binding”

  1. Karl August 20th, 2006 10:40 am

    Lou – if you’re going to run through a series of tests again, would you mind testing the deflection on some other alpine bindings too? I’d be interested in seeing the results on some other brands, such as Look/ Rossi (old Pivot/ Axial, or newer PX2 etc, or the P18/FKS race bindings), or Salomons (997s, 900s, 912/914s, etc), or whatever else you have available. Thanks.

  2. Lou August 20th, 2006 3:53 pm

    Hi Karl, good suggestion, I’ll do a few alpine bindings. Main problem is that to really fit them in the chart I’d have to test everything over again as my test setup is temporary. However, If I’m doing a couple of bindings I can compare an alpine binding and interpolate where they are in relationship to everything else. So I’ll do that when I can.

    Another problem is that to do a valid comparison I have to put the randonnee boot in the alpine binding, and doing so is a hassle (if it wasn’t for Dynafit, I’d just use an alpine boot for all the tests).

    That said, all ski bindings have more slop then most people realize, and it becomes an exercise in hair splitting to get too concerned with it. (Over the years, telemarkers proved this to be the case, as they skied well with very sloppy boot/ski connections.) It’s worth knowing about and quantifying, but if you’re out of the range of the really loose bindings such as NXO1 there are many other things that are more important. If it hadn’t been for bindings like the Pure and NX01 coming out, I probably wouldn’t have started doing this testing, as most bindings fall in a stiffness range where you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference while skiing. But when the looser bindings came out, I thought it was worth trying to show how all the bindings compared.

  3. Karl August 21st, 2006 7:30 pm

    Thanks Lou — looking forward to seeing the next round of test results.

  4. Jonathan Shefftz August 22nd, 2006 6:26 am

    “Another problem is that to do a valid comparison I have to put the randonnee boot in the alpine binding, and doing so is a hassle (if it wasn’t for Dynafit, I’d just use an alpine boot for all the tests).”
    – I agree that this would be a hassle, as well as somewhat meaningless, since skiing an AT boot in a downhill binding is a potentially unsafe and certainly atypical practice.
    – However, how about test a downhill boot (or a downhill-binding-compatible AT boot like the Tornado, Adrenalin, Endorphin) in some Diamirs, Naxos, a recreational downhill binding (like you’ve done before), a consumer race binding (i.e., release setting up to 12 or 14), and a real race stock binding (i.e., release setting in upper teens or higher)?
    – You’ve already done a great job of showing the variation among AT bindings, and how the best compare well with recreational downhill bindings, but for those of us who also have higher-end downhill bindings, I’m sure many of us would like to see how our AT bindings compare to the presumably tighter couplings of higher-end downhill bindings. (Unfortunately I can’t provide the answer based on my experience because all my race bindings are on race skis, and my Diamirs of course are not, so it’s an apples-and-oranges problem.)

  5. Lou August 22nd, 2006 6:48 am

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’ll indeed work on that. It would be instructive to compare a few of the stiffer rando bindings with some higher end alpine bindings, and I can do that by using an alpine boot in all bindings.

    But here is the problem. Part of the torsional flex you get with AT gear is caused by the rubber of the boot sole compressing. (One reason Dynafit rates so much higher is it eliminates this.) I could eliminate the “sole squish” factor by using a hard sole boot for all testing, but that would be unrealistic because most AT skiers use boots with rubber soles (for good reasons). In other words, I’ll do something to compare an alpine binding with Naxo and Freeride and perhaps a Dynafit if I can figure out a way to put a hard sole on a Dynafit compatible boot, but I’m not going to try and plug the results into the complete chart, as using different boots would give false results.

    More, I’ll have to just use one or two alpine bindings as I don’t have access to a ton of that stuff. Alpine bindings? Yuck!

    FYI, the way my test setup works is it uses the exact same boot and lever arm for every binding. Thus, any contribution the boot makes to binding wobble is consistent in all the tests. The boot flexes quite a bit when we yard on it, but it flexes the same for each test so it gets cancelled out of the results. Sole squish is also consistent, but of course eliminated with Dynafit as it should be, since that how Dynafits work in real world use.

  6. Jonathan Shefftz August 23rd, 2006 8:35 am

    Lou, thanks for the clarification.

    Conceptually though, the test could work like this:

    1. Set up a Garmont Adrenalin with plastic soles in a race stock alpine downhill binding, consumer race binding, recreational race bindings, various Naxos, various Diamirs (i.e., tests the effects of AT vs. downhill bindings, setting aside impact of squishy vibram soles).

    2. Swap in the vibram soles, now test with various Naxos, various Diamirs, various Pures (i.e., when compared with #1, tests the effects of squishy vibram soles, and also brings the Pures into the mix).

    3. Take a Dynafit FR Aero or Spirit 4 and test with various Naxo, Diamirs, Pures, plus Dynafits (i.e., once the Naxo and Pure differentials are accounted for between #1 & #2 and then between #2 & #3, we can achieve a meaningful comparison between Dynafits and alpine downhill bindings).

    And I know, quick & easy to suggest, but more difficult to actually pull off, but this allows for some calibration that could isolate the effects of the bindings.


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