A couple weeks ago, I was able to do a fair bit of ski touring on the new 2011 Dynafit Radical FT binding due out this fall. Dynafit touts the Radical FT as a true step-in tech binding and includes it in it’s FreerideTouring category of bindings.Â The Radical FT has many nice improvements that cross over to the whole Radical line up (TLT Speed, ST and FT) and I could see mounting it on a ski setup to be used use at a resort and in the backcountry, or for skiing a resort like JHMR, where you might enjoy the benefits of a tech-style binding when outside the resort boundary, but also want some beef for when you enter back onto the piste. Here is a run down of some of the features of the Radical FT and my experiences with them.
Dynafit Radical FT toe-piece.
Improved Toe Lever Design– Now pointier in the front, the toe lever has a lower profile and also makes it harder to use the tip of your ski pole to push it down, which tended to inevitably chip the now, “older” levers. I was still able to knock the lever down with my ski pole tip, but it was harder and I can see why Dynafit is trying to keep people from doing it.
4x Torx Screws– Torx screws tend to be harder to strip and allow you to tighten screws down more. Iâ€™ve never had a problem with the old posi-drive type screws and mounting, but the torx screws should help in snugging down the base-plate, as there can be some issue with this when mounting if you are inexperienced at installing Dynafit bindings on your skis.Â Iâ€™m not sure why the heel-piece screws still remain posi-drive thoughâ€¦but they do. There are now only 4 screws (instead of 5) in the toe-piece as wellâ€¦which simplifies things and helps shave weight.
New Mounting Patten– The mounting screws on the toe-piece are spread out a bit more than the older Dynafit pattern. The rear two are in the same location relative to the pins and base-plate, but the front two are pushed forward a few millimeters. This still allows you to use the same rear holes when remounting to a ski that had 5-hole Dynafit bindings on them and you only have to drill new holes for the front screws. Though Iâ€™ve never had a Dynafit binding pull-out, this is bound to be an issue with the bigger boots and skis, and harder use people are putting tech bindings through these days, so a stronger mount is welcome.
Power Towers– These static â€œtowersâ€ that are part of the base-plate add strength, rigidity and protection to the â€œwingsâ€ and pins on the toe-piece. They also make lining up the pins and sockets on your boots easier and allow for better step-in functionalityâ€¦even with boots that don’t have proprietary Dynafit fittings. Â I was still able to use the â€œroll techniqueâ€ when getting into these bindings, but it wasn’t as easy or helpful as when doing it on Dynafits without Power Towers..
Aluminum Base Plate– Not only sexier than the older steel construction, the forged aluminum base-plates will hopefully be stronger and more durable.
Improved Crampon Slot– Iâ€™m currently in a â€œsans ski-cramponâ€ stage of my life, but the fully metal and larger diameter attachment point is sure to make putting on and taking them off easier, as well as make the connection point stronger. The downside is that none of your old ski crampons are compatible any more. I have three sets of ski crampons in the closetâ€¦so this is not good news.
Shock Absorber– Another feature aimed at hard users, one is now able to choose between whether to have the bindingâ€™s toe and heel connecting plate â€œfree-floatingâ€ or â€œlocked outâ€. The â€œOnâ€ position aims to keep the distance between the toe and heel piece more static, which in turn helps reduce fore-and-aft pre-release when the ski is reverse flexed.Â The â€œOnâ€ position also engages some rubber ABS pads, which try to reduce the chatter when skiing on firm snow. I skied these bindings pretty aggressively in different variations of powder and corn snow and the ride was smooth, yet powerful.
Pressed Carbon Plate– Stronger and more rigid than laid out carbon fiber, the plate locks into the toe-piece when in the “On” position, adding more torsional rigidity into the system.
The plastic sub-plate not only stacks the binding, but also adds
some support to the aluminum plate on the sides.
6mm Stack Height– Iâ€™ve seen people make mounting shims out of cutting boards to use with their Dynafits, but Iâ€™ve never really felt the need for them. I guess an increased stack height allows for better leverage and edge power on firm snow though, as well as reduce toe-piece drag when on the groomersâ€¦which I can see as a plus for the FT version.Â Also of note is the 75mm effective width of the binding, which helps further still with power transmission on fatter skis.
Dynafit Radical FT heel-piece.
Brake AFD– For those that use Dynafit brakes, the AFD helps to allow for smoother and more consistent releases. These new brakes are compatible with Vertical and Comfort models of Dynafit bindings as well. I tend to forgo the use of brakes mainly to shave weight.
25mm Adjustment– Itâ€™s nice to have a good amount of adjustment for different boot sole lengths so you can use all the boots in your quiver with the same ski. Iâ€™ve had to remount bindings before when sizing for new boots with different BSLs which sometimes can be problematic depending on the location of the previously drilled holes. Adjustment=Good.
A small flange on the lowest heel post makes flipping it forward easier.
Speed Steep Climbing Bars– When the Click-Clack came out a few years ago, I ran out and got some, but ended up breaking them in a day or two. It was a cool concept, but a failure in design. This new rendition of the moveable heel posts looks to be quite beefier and the small tab on the lowest bar makes flipping it forward with your pole easier. Though moving the climbing bars forward was easy, I struggled a little with moving them backward with my ski pole. Mostly having trouble with the tallest post, it would sometimes only flip back halfway. Iâ€™m sure there is probably a better a technique than I was employing to flip them backward, but had a hard time figuring out what it was.
Clockwise Rotation– In an effort to address the problem that can sometimes happen when you are touring and your heel piece automatically rotates into ski more from touring mode (usually caused by the heel piece bumping against something or snow build-up), the Radical heel-pieces now only rotate in a clockwise direction. While it is nice not to have to worry about the â€œauto-rotateâ€ problem, it does now require a full Â¾ turn to move the heel-piece from tour-mode to ski-mode. You also canâ€™t use your ski pole to rotate the binding anymore, so you will have to bend over or remove your skis to rotate it. I rarely have issues with the auto-rotate thing, so I have mixed feelings about the clockwise only rotation.
As resort accessed backcountry skiing becomes more and more popular, I can see the Radical FT being a really good choice for someone who wants to put a tech-style binding on a cross-over backcountry/resort setup.Â As a more weight conscious skier with mostly backcountry only skis, Iâ€™m looking forward to the TLT Speed Radical binding, which is a stripped down version of the FT. All and all, some of the changes in the Dynafit Radical bindings are welcome, yet some will take a Dynafit user of 15 years some time to adjust to. But I keep telling myself, changeâ€¦is good.