You may want to consider buying alpine snowboard bindings from a small manufacturer
that can provide excellent personalized customer service:
- Bomber bindings, made by Fin
- Catek bindings, made by Jeff Caron.
These bindings are extremely durable. The baseplates on both are made from
7075 aircraft Aluminum – the strongest and most expensive Aluminum alloy readily
available. As a side benefit, they both qualify for duty-free status under NAFTA.
Catek (Caron Alpine
Technologies, Inc.) Bindings
Catek Olympic bindings, '05
Catek World cup bindings, '02
Catek bindings are a boon to people who want to independently adjust the cant,
lift, and binding angle. In particular, Cateks may be your only option if you
prefer a unique stance, or if you are knock-kneed or bow-legged. If you carve in ski boots, you probably need the flexibility of Cateks to get your knees where you want them to be. They are also
bomb-proof, made from sturdy machined aluminum. Catek manufactured three versions of highly-adjustable bindings:
- The older World
Cup series were available only as a bail type binding, and did not have a divot hole ring for setting the binding angle.
- Starting in
'03, Catek started selling the Olympic series, which comes in regular and step-in. It also featured a divot hole ring at 3 degree increments for setting the binding angle.
- The Catek OS2
Starting in '06, Catek discontinued the older models, and now sells the OS2, which offers more flexibility when setting the binding angle by eliminating the need for a divot hole ring. See the guide to setting up Cateks.
The Catek OS2
|The Catek OS2 works by first mounting the disc to the board, then mounting the powerplate on top of the disc. The angle of the power plate determines the binding angle. Both the disc and power plate have elastomer cushions.
The first model year of the OS2 bindings offered a disc that accommodated both 3D and 4x4 insert patterns. However, starting with the 2nd model year, the bindings come with discs that accommodate only one or the other. If you want both, you need to buy a disc kit for $69.
One guideline applies to the older Catek World Cup / Olympic bindings:
- For the first day that you ride Cateks, the quick-cant bolts will grind divots in the disk. With the Olympic bindings, the selected disc detects will get ground with deep divots. Which means you have to re-tighten the quick-cant bolts every 2 runs to make sure they don't come loose. After the first few days, the divots stop expanding, and you don't have to check for tightness as often.
Some guidelines apply to all models of Cateks:
- In recent years, Catek started using a binding plate with about 25% more flex, to provide what is basically a torsional spring, resulting in a softer ride.
- The cant and heel lift are adjusted with four quick-cant set screws. It's
fairly straightforward to get any cant/lift you want: See the Tilt
Calculator on Catek's web site. In addition, you can add more overall binding lift (to simulate risers) using the quick-cant screws.
- The order in which screws are tightened is important: First, set the position of the quick cant screws to the desired settings to achieve the cant/lift that you want. Then, tighten the kingpin. Then, tighten each cant screw an additional 1/2
turn to add tension to the kingpin so that it doesn't rattle loose. To remove,
first loosen the cant screws, then the kingpin.
- Some people use longer set screws to get a larger range of adjustment with
See the parts list.
- Cateks come with one of two sole plates: a short, 9.5 mm thick plate for
small feet or small riders, and a long, 12.5 mm thick plate for big feet or
heavier riders. The longer plate makes the binding stiffer.
- When moving Cateks from one board to another, you can preserve the settings
by backing off the single king pin and the tilt screws by an equal amount.
- For some models of the older World Cup bindings, the bails don't perfectly
form to Raichle boots, and riders have been known to do some creative welding
to make the bails more form-fitting. The bails on the Olympics were redesigned
to have better bail/boot fitment.
The amount of isolation you get with Cateks depends on the model. The diagram below shows a cross section of two models: An '02 World Cup, and an '05 Olympic. The drawings are to scale. They show the geometry before the screws are tightened, and before the True Flex Disc donut ring gets compressed.
The older World Cup, and also some older Olympic models, used a 5mm thick donut ring. Before the screws are tightened, there is a 1.3mm air gap between the metal disk and the board. After the screws are tightened, the donut rings gets compressed, but the disk does not touch the topsheet of the board - there is still an air gap. If you ride these Cateks all season, and then remove them, you will notice that the topsheet inside the donut rings is untouched.
Starting with '04, Catek moved to a 3.2mm donut ring. Before you tighten the screws, there is about a 0.1mm air gap between the metal disk and the board (nearly flush). When the screws are tightened, the metal disk makes contact with the board.
- Catek bindings with the older 5mm ring provide isolation from shock and vibration due to the air gap and thicker donut ring.
- Riders who have been on both old and new designs indicate that the newer design is great for freecarving on groom, but more jarring on non-groom when compared to the older model.
- The old and new donuts have the exact same inner/outer radius, so you could theoretically use the 5mm donut ring with newer Catek bindings. However, the thicker donut rings tended to cause base suck, which is why Catek moved to the 3.2mm donut ring.
- The donut rings on both designs also protect the board, similar to the TD1 bumpers.
- For the newer OS2 model, the green elastomer pads do not directly provide binding flex; rather, they protect the board, and allow the board to flex naturally, without distorting the flex pattern.
Catek Olympic bindings
- Starting in '05, Catek binding components are available in 5
flashy colors, and you can specify different colors for the different binding
parts. We're talking serious bling-bling.
- Catek redesigned the toe bails (for both regular and step-in)
that provide a better fit for modern hard shell snowboard boots.
- The Olympic bindings comes with two washers, and the placement of the washers must be selected based on the amount of total base plate tilt:
- For low tilt, place both washers above the base plate
- For moderate tilt, place one washer below the center disk, and one washer above the base plate.
- For high tilt, place both washers below the center disk.
- The Olympic has a base disk with a ring of divots to accommodate the quick-cant
screws, which prevents them from slipping. For the World Cup model, the set
screws stand on a flat base, and can bore indentations into the base if you
really crank them down. Over time, these indentations can become significant
enough so that if you want to relocate the set screws, you must move them
a minimum distance away from the original position, which means you lose a
degree of tuning resolution. You might want to bear this in mind when buying
For Catek models prior to '04, your need three hex wrenches to adjust all
the bolts: 4, 6, and 8 mm. Starting in '04, the Olympic model requires only
two: 4 and 6 mm.
- The Cateks come with donut-shaped gaskets, which provide vibration dampening
and shock absorption. The gaskets have gone through two incarnations:
- Prior to '04, the donut gasket was thick enough to result in an air space underneath the metal base plate. This air space provided more dampening, but also caused base suck and strain
on the inserts.
- Starting with the '04 Olympic model, the donut height was reduced, eliminating the air space. As a result, base suck is no longer an issue, but there is less dampening.
- Don't carve on Cateks without the donut gaskets.
|Starting in '04 (or more precisely, March '03) Catek moved from a 12mm spherical
nut to a 10mm nut. Which means that the old World Cup bindings, and the first
year of the Olympic bindings use a 12mm nut (right), but later models of the Olympic
binding, and all Catek Freeride bindings use the 10mm nut (left). Happily, you can
now buy a 12 to 10mm conversion nut, which allows you to mix and match parts
between the old and new Olympic models, as well as the Freeride model.The 10mm nut uses a 6mm hex wrench, in contrast with the 12mm nut, which needed an 8mm hex wrench.
Catek OS2 bindings
Starting in '06, Catek added a separate rotatable power plate, which bolts to the center disk. The power plate can be rotated without 3 degree restrictions to set the binding angle. 4 cupped platforms on the power plate provide the mounting points for the quick-cant screws in the baseplate. The power plate makes it easier to set the binding angle. OS2 info:
- The baseplate has cant/lift measurement dipsticks to help you figure out the settings.
- The green elastomer pieces go under both the main disc, and under the toe and heel sections of the power plate. The elastomers protect the board, and also allow the board to flex naturally into a circle when decambered.
Catek Freeride bindings
Catek introduced the Catek Freeride binding in '04, a version of the Olympic
that uses the same canting mechanism. It is highly responsive, and the binding of choice when riding stiff softies on a wider
all-mountain board. When originally introduced, the binding came with respectable
straps and a good highback, but some riders decided to keep using the straps
and/or highback from their existing soft bindings, primarily out of personal
preference. However, the after-market straps of choice were from the Nidecker
Carbon 900 bindings. In response to this trend, Catek started selling the Freeride
Pro in March 2004, which features straps from the Nidecker Carbon 900. All was
good, except that the Nidecker toe strap was a bit too short when used on the
Cateks. So Jeff sent out free toe strap extensions to all previous customers
(that's service), and now sells the Freeride Pro with longer Nidecker toe straps.
Facts about the Freeride series:
- When compared to other high-end soft bindings with carbon bases, the Catek
Freerides provide better power transfer to the board edge - by a lot. It gives you a very precise feeling of how the board is slicing through terrain.
- Because the bindings are highly adjustable, you can tweak the settings and
possibly get a more comfortable stance than with regular soft bindings.
- The Freerides have ample built-in lift, so you don't need extra lifters.
Overall binding lift can be adjusted using one supplied washer, which adds
3mm of lift. You can also adjust the total lift using the quick-cant screws.
- Soft boots have more flex than hard boots, allowing them to work comfortably
over a larger range of movement. Which means you may need more extreme cant
/ lift settings than in your hard boot setup. However, you should still tweak the bindings with small adjustments at a time. Start with both bindings flat, then add maybe 3º of combined inward cant/heel lift on back, then maybe 3º of combined inward cant/heel lift on front, then go from there.
- The Freeride bindings are super stiff, and do not offer a lot of shock absorption. You need to ensure that your
boots provide enough cushioning in the soles if you are landing jumps in the
park or the BX course. The spaces that are cut out in the binding plate allow your boot to flex a bit, and you can also put some padding on the metal base plate.
- There are two remaining issues with the highbacks that come with the bindings:
- It would be nice to be able to rotate the highbacks more toward the
heel edge of the board when using high binding angles (approaching 45º)
to get more leverage on heel side.
- The option of adding a 3rd strap to the highback would be nice. It is possible to do a custom mod to add a 3rd strap, but in this case, the highback also should be modified to be lockable.
- They are a bit heavier than typical plastic freeride bindings, but indestructible.
- The Freeride sole plate only works with the 10mm kingpin, which means that if you have an older baseplate using the 12mm nut, you need the 12-to-10 mm conversion nut. They do not work with the newer OS2 center disk/power plate.
- The Freerides have a somewhat narrow heel cup, so if you have large boots, make sure they can fit into the heel cup.
For 2007, Catek is introducing the FR2, which uses the new OS2 powerplate design. The bindings will be available later in the season, and details will be added then. However, there is one quirk related to these bindings: They come with discs that are compatible only with the 4x4 insert pattern. If you want to use them on Burton boards, you have to buy the OS2 disc kit for the 3D pattern, then use the OS2 discs with the FR2 binding. This work-around has to do with legal agreements between Catek and Burton.
Bomber TD1 bindings, 6º cant.
Bomber TD2 bindings, 6º cant
Bomber bindings are stiff, heavy duty bindings for carving. Previous to '04,
Bomber sold the Trench Digger (now called the TD1). For '04, Bomber discontinued
the TD1, completely redesigned the bindings, and started selling the TD2. For
both old and new models, the bindings are adjusted by selecting between one
of three cant/lift disks that come in angles of 0º, 3º, and 6º.
Previous to '04, the cant/lift disks were mounted with the slope of the disk
in the direction of the long axis of the board, and provided limited combinations
of both cant and lift depending on the angle of the base plate. With the TD2, the cant/lift
disks can be rotated so that their slope faces any direction, allowing a wider
range of cant/lift combinations. This adjustment is handy because a lot of riders
prefer to have only lift on one or both bindings. In addition, the TD2 model
allows much greater control over the stiffness because the binding rides on
top of an interchangeable urethane ring, available in different durometers.
This design contrasts with the older TD1 models, where the binding was rigidly attached to the board, and two additional
bumpers between the board and base plate added minimal flex. Bomber Trench Diggers
come in either regular or Intec step-in flavor, with the step-ins somewhat stiffer
than the regular style. The step-ins require Intec heels that replace the heels
on your hard boots.
Bomber details - TD1 & TD2
If you attempt to unscrew the bolts from trench diggers, make
sure that you first remove or melt all the snow out of the socket caps
first: if not, your hex wrench won't be properly seated and you are guaranteed
to strip the hex socket. You can clear out the snow with a smaller hex wrench, an ice pick, or turkey skewers.
||All adjustments on TDs can be done with a 5 mm hex wrench. The base plates
are held to the cant/lift disks with bolts that have a 5 mm hex socket on the
top, and they sometimes require an enormous amount of leverage to loosen. A
small L-shaped hex wrench comes with Bomber bindings, but it's best to have
heavy-duty T-handle wrench in your gear bag, as well as a heavy-duty ratchet wrench with
a 5 mm hex bit, shown here.
If you swap the bindings
a lot, the bolts supplied with the bindings will wear out quickly. A set of Bomber bolts will handle maybe 10
binding swaps. Get extra bolts - order a pack of 50 bolts for $10 from The
Nutty Company (See the parts list) . They are more durable than the stainless/316 bolts that come
with the bindings. Other details:
- Both the TD1 and TD2 bindings can be upgraded to step-ins with an upgrade
kit. The kit will upgrade only one binding in the pair, and you typically
want to install it on the back binding. You also may need to order an Intec
heel for your boots.
- Unlike the Cateks, if you want to change the total tilt of the binding,
you have to shell out more money to buy a new disk:
- TD1 cant disks are sold
in second-board kit pairs on Bomber for $50. However, you can probably get cant disks
cheap on the Bomber classifieds.
- TD2 cant disks are $29 each (not a pair).
- The TD1 and TD2s can accommodate boots down to around mondo point 23. You
can go lower by flipping around either the heel block or the toe block so
that they face the opposite direction - just make sure you remove the
bail and turn it back around so that it faces the correct way. For small boots,
the heel and/or toe block may obscure the base plate screws, which means in
order to adjust the binding angle or swap the bindings, you need to remove
the toe/heel blocks.
- The bails of Bomber bindings have a micro adjustment - you unscrew the hex
shoulder bolts that keep the bail on the binding, rotate the eye
hook on the bail (in multiples of 360º only), and screw it back in.
The thread pitch on the eye hook is 0.9mm, so one turn will get you 0.9mm more bail length.
- The setscrew in the toe clip of regular Bomber TDs will grind a small impact
crater into your boots. You can replace it with a carriage bolt or a flat
- For both the TD1 and TD2, you can place shims under the heel and toe blocks
to get more lift.
- For both the TD1 and TD2, you can place gasket material under the heel and toe blocks
to get more dampening. This modification is recommended for the TD1, but is usually not needed for the TD2.
- The heel bail on standard TDs cannot be used as a toe bail on TD step-ins.
- If you are using older boots that are too wide to use with the Bomber bails,
you can widen the bails by swapping out the shoulder bolts. The shoulder bolts
provide the axles on which the bails rotate, and the shoulder is the smooth
axle part of the bolt that sticks out of the toe/heel block. On TDs, the side
of the bail with a spring uses a long shoulder bolt, and the side without
a spring uses a short shoulder bolt. You can buy long shoulder bolts and use
them in place of the short shoulder bolts, which allows the bail to widen
by about 1/4 inch, enough to accommodate non-standard wider boots.
- The binding screws may strip if you try to unscrew them without removing
all the snow from the hex sockets. If a screw strips, there are several ways
to remove it:
- Remove all other binding screws and rotate the base plate counter-clockwise.
- Try a brand new Allen wrench, or make the end of the Allen wrench flatter with a grinder.
- Tap on the screw head with a ball-peen hammer to reform the hex socket area of the head so that it will have a tighter fit with the wrench. If the wrench won't fit, bang it into the screw head with a hammer.
- Tap on the side of the screw with a chisel or center tap to unscrew it.
- To remove a bolt with a 5 mm hex socket, you can try using a size T30
- To remove a bolt with a 4mm hex socket, you can try using a size T25
- Use a dremel cutting wheel to slice a slot into the screw, then remove
it with a flathead screwdriver.
- Use a spiral-flute extractor, which is a left-handed auger that you can use with a tap handle. You first drill a starter hole, then use the extractor to unscrew it.
- Similar to the extractor, you can use an "easy out," which is a narrow left-handed threaded tap.
You drill a small hole into the screw, and then screw in the easy-out.
When the easy-out hits the end of the drilled hole, you keep turning it
counter-clockwise, and it removes the screw.
- There are many other home remedies, too numerous to mention.
Bomber TD1 Bindings
Bindings for carving require a larger footprint to distribute a large amount
of force over a larger area of the board, in order to avoid excessive stress
on the board inserts. However, a larger binding footprint will distort the flex
pattern of the board, allowing less flex underfoot, and result in dead spots
on the board. The Bomber Trench Diggers offer a good compromise by distributing
the force through compressed bumpers. Make sure the trench digger bumpers are
compressed when the bindings are tightened, otherwise the bindings can rip the
inserts out of your snowboard. Compressing the bumpers also keeps the base
plate from coming loose. If you are clueless, get the medium hardness (purple)
Pressure on the circular cant/lift disks of Bomber TD1s can create circular
impressions in the topsheet (usually half-circles). You can bevel the edges
of the disks with a file, or you can add a gasket underneath the bindings. If
you add a gasket, you have to increase the thickness of the bumpers by a corresponding
amount with a washer, and you might also need longer bumper screws and binding
screws. Older Donek topsheets are rather soft are more susceptible to breakage
from Bombers, so Donek provides a gasket to go underneath Bomber TD1 bindings, along
with shims of the same thickness to go between the bumpers and the base plate.
You should use these gaskets to make sure your Donek warranty remains valid.
If you make your own gasket, you can use 1/32" material, like nylon, plastic,
P-Tex base material, or Delrin. See the parts section. You can also use disposable cutting board sheets.
You might also need longer screws.
|Older models of the TD1 came with center disks compatible only with the 4x4 insert pattern (right). If you buy older used bombers and intend to use them with Burton boards, make sure you get a 3D compatible center disk (left).
Other TD1 details:
- With the TD1 step-ins, it is not possible to verify with 100% certainty
that the pins have fully engaged unless you bring a dentist's mirror with
you to check the pin engagement from the side. If you have snow stuck to the
bottom of your boots when you step in, you may not get full pin engagement,
in which case the binding will release on your first hard turn. However, this
situation is rare, and some people have never experienced it. After clicking
in, hop a few times to stress test the boot/binding interface.
- TD1s allow binding angles between 20º and 70º. If you are riding
a very narrow board, like a skinny Virus, the base plates might overhang
the side of the board even when using the maximum 70º angle. If you have
small feet and don't need a long plate, you can use a hacksaw to shorten the
base plate to get more clearance. Some people actually use Bomber Skwal
bindings on the Virus boards.
- There are two possible positions for each bumper on the TD1: either close
to the edge of the base plate or further inward. For the 3 and 6 degree bumpers,
Bomber provides a washer that may be used to increase the height of the bumpers
if they are placed further inward. In addition, the optimal height of the
bumpers changes as you change the binding angle relative to the slope of the
- It's a good idea to periodically check the bolts that attach the TD1 cant disks to the board to make sure they don't come loose. It's also important
to make sure there is no dirt between the board and the cant disk, and no dirt on the bolt threads.
- For the 6º cant/lift disks, the screw used in the thinner bumper digs
into the topsheet. Stuff the hole in the bumper with boot fitting foam to cover the screw.
Or, you can use a file to grind down the head of the screw by about 1mm.
- The TD1 step-ins have built-in lift that provides more leverage. Bomber
previously supplied a lift kit for regular TD1s, but they are no longer available.
- In addition to the Bomber cant/lift disks, some people fab their own plastic
shims to use with the disks for additional control over cant/lift. A softer
gasket material can be used to soften up TD1s for racing.
- For older model years of the TD1, the heel bail on regular bindings and
toe bail on step-ins would tend to flop away from the binding, making binding
engagement a bit frustrating. Newer TDs have a spring on the bails to keep
them from flopping away. To add springs to the old models, you can buy a conversion kit from Bomber. You need to order a TD2 spring, a TD1 spring-enabled sole block, a TD2 spring-enabled lug nut, and a TD2 long shoulder bolt. You might also need to file down the side of the TD1 base plate a bit, since the new arrangement will need more clearance. Other methods that people have used the keep the bails from flopping down:
- Attach your leash to the bail, then pull on it to get the bail to stay
up while you engage your boot.
- Wrap a rubber band around the bail and tie it off to keep the bail up.
- Add an o-ring or a piece of vinyl between the shoulder bolt and the
binding to add friction.
- Remove the bail, bend it inward or outward, and then put it back on.
The tension will keep it up.
- In the first year of production, Trench Digger bindings had a smaller disk
(3.5 inches instead of 4 inches), and no bumpers. As a result, the bindings
tended to rip the inserts out of boards.
You don't want those.
Bomber TD2 Bindings
TD2 bindings have two major innovations:
- Unlike the TD1 bindings, which have a highly rigid connection to the board,
the cant disk of the TD2 floats on top of an elastomer ring. A center disk
is rigidly connected to the board, and has a lip that exerts preload force
onto the cant disk to compress the elastomer ring by .25mm. This preload-coupling
seems to disperse vibrations better than other bindings that use a more rigid
- Unlike the TD1 bindings, which require the cant disk to slope in the direction
of the long axis of the board, the TD2 cant disk can rotate to any angle around
the center disk. You are still limited to the fixed degree cant disk, but
now you can rotate both the cant disk and the base plate.
||The stiffness of the TD2 can be adjusted by swapping out the urethane ring
between the board and the binding. The ring comes in three hardness levels:
soft (yellow), medium (purple), and hard (red). All rings provide vibration
dampening, with the soft ring smoothing out the ride and the red ring providing
more direct power transmission to the edge. Each ring works independently of
the weight of the rider. The hard ring provides a stiffness comparable to the
TD1, however, a lot of people can't tell the difference between the various
TD2 ring durometers. Because of the urethane rings, you don't need protective
gaskets under the bindings to protect the topsheet of the board. Starting in '06, the yellow ring is softer, and the urethane is now solid plastic instead of translucent.
- Whereas the late-model TD1s had a bail spring to keep it from flopping down
in one direction, The TD2 bail spring prevents it from flopping down in either
direction. The spring is also 30% stronger.
- The TD2 is 25% lighter than the TD1, and is even lighter than some plastic
- The TD2 step-ins added a groove to the outside of the heel piece above the
Intec hole, so that you can lean over and see whether or not the Intec pins
- Both the Standard and Intec TD2's have the same stack height, so you don't
need lifter plates if you go with a standard TD2 up front and a step-in TD2
in the rear.
- The TD2s have a smaller overall footprint that better preserves the flex
pattern of the board.
- Finally, the toe clip on the non-step-in TD2s can be used as a bottle opener.
Other TD2 facts
- One major bummer is that center disks now come in two different flavors:
3D or 4x4, and the bindings are sold with only one or the other. You have
to shell out $25 for another pair of center disks if you want both types.
- There is almost no compatibility between the TD1 and TD2 parts. You can't use the
TD2 heel/toe blocks with the TD1. You can use the TD2 spring in the TD1, but only if you use the TD1 spring-enabled toe block, with a TD2 lug nut.
- The ExtremeCarving people love the vibration dampening characteristics of
the TD2 standard, as well as the small footprint. However, the TD2 has a bit too much overall height. Also, the ExtremeCarving people use the Titanium version, to prevent the bails from bending.
- Some carvers have reported that the new TD2 toe and heel blocks greatly wear away the soft toe and heel pads of Raichle hard boots.
- The TD2 Intec heel receivers tend to scrape the sides of some wider boots, like the UPZ and the Head.
Warning: If a shoulder bolt on TD2s is even a tiny bit loose, it will shear off. While you are carving.
Bomber TD2 Gold Digger Ti
- The TD2 Gold Digger Ti comes with Titanium wire bails, and Titanium shoulder bolts. The Titanium reduces the weight of the binding somewhat, however the major benefit would be for ExtremeCarving, which puts a lot of stress on the heel bail of a non-stepin binding.
Catek / Bomber comparison
For carving, there is a lot of discussion on the relative merits of the Catek
and Bomber bindings.
TD1/2 vs WC/Olympic/OS2:
- The Catek has more adjustability in terms of independent cant/lift, which
is the biggest factor when deciding between the Cateks or the Bombers. With
the Bombers, you are limited to the cant/lift combined angles that you can
get out of the three available fixed cant disks. Carvers tend to fall into
two camps: either they are very sensitive to lift/cant adjustment, or hardly
at all, so it should be easy to figure out the pro/con on this one.
- With the Bombers, you need to shell out $29 for each additional TD2 cant disk,
which can make experimentation expensive. You can often pick up used Bomber parts through the classifieds. If Bomber runs out of a certain angle of cant disks, then used versions will be as expensive as new versions.
- The Bomber bindings are simpler to set up, and to transfer from one board
to another. But not by much:
- When swapping Catek bindings, you need to remove the binding plate, then remove the disk, then put everything back together on the new board. With the OS2, you also have to remove the power plate.
- With the TDs, you have to remove the base plate, then remove the cant disk, then put everything back together on the new board. However, if you have small boots, you also need to remove the toe/heel pieces to access the bolts that hold the base plate to the cant disk.
- The toe bail lever on both brands of regular bindings tends to bang against your topsheet, and also flop forward and catch on the toe side edge. You can wrap the lever with a combination of foam and duct tape.
TD2 vs Olympic / OS2:
- The TDs allow you to change the stiffness by using a different urethane ring, whereas the Cateks have a fixed stiffness that may be overly stiff, especially when used with some lively boards.
- The older Catek bindings came with a disc that accommodated both 3D and 4x4 insert patters. Discs in newer models accommodate only one pattern, and you must choose between 4x4 or 3D; if you want both, you have to shell out for an OS2 disc kit, which is $69. The TD2 comes
with either a 3D center disk or a 4x4 center disk: If you want both, you need
to shell out an extra $25 for another pair.
- The TD2 seems slightly softer than the Olympic short plate (even with the stiffest urethane), which is slightly
softer than the Olympic long plate.
- The TD2 has a groove on the outside of the heel piece so you can lean over
and see if the Intec pins have engaged. The Catek heel pieces don't have the
groove, because Jeff decided it was better to maximize the strength of the
binding where the pin imposes the most stress and wear.
- One minor issue with the Olympics is the limitation of 3º adjustment
detents on the center disk. It's not a big deal when setting the angles of each individual binding,
but some people want more precision for the splay between bindings: the difference
between 3º and 6º of splay can feel large, and you might want 4.5º. This issue isn't a problem with the OS2.
- The Olympics have a tad more built-in lift than the TD2.
- TDs can be adjusted with a single 5mm hex wrench, because Bomber
fabbed custom M6 binding screws with 5mm socket caps instead of the normal
4mm. Cateks require either 3 wrenches (prior to '04), or 2 (starting with
- The Catek M6 binding screws have 4mm socket caps, which are more susceptible
to stripping. But you can replace them with the custom M6 x 12mm Bomber screws
that have a 5 mm hex socket cap - they are the screws used to tighten the Bomber sole block to the base plate.
- A lot of carvers like the vibration dampening of the TD2's preload-coupling,
but there has not been much head-to-head comparison with the Olympics. As
of yet, pro racers do not seem to prefer either binding, favoring bindings
from F2 or Phiokka. One exception is Jasey-Jay, which rides Catek Short plate step-ins.
- Both Catek and Bomber are very responsive to customers spare parts needs.
- With both standard bindings, the toe lever once again can bang against the topsheet and/or catch on the board's toe side metal edge. However, with the Bomber TD2, it is possible to use the front toe lever bail, but with the Intec heel block, and use the spring available in the Intec heel block to keep the toe bail lever from crashing down onto your board.
Bomber Bishop Tele Bindings
Bomber also makes bomb-proof tele bindings, the Bomber Bishop. These bindings have a major benefit for the backcountry: If you are trekking out into the middle of nowhere, you really can't afford any breakage. Every year, Couloir Magazine runs a binding review issue, and does a run-down:
- In the October 2006 issue, Zach Davis profiled his backcountry gear setup, which includes modified Bomber TD2s. Later, in the formal reviews, Couloir says "Want power at the upper end of the scale plus the torsional rigidity of a plate binding? The Bishop is the answer."
- In the December 2005 issue, Couloir listed the Bomber Bishop in the comparison chart, but forgot to include Bomber in their gear roundup, despite the fact that Bomber purchased a half-page advertisement in that issue. Scandalous.
- In the December 2004 issue, Couloir gave the Bomber Bishop top marks for Freeride skiing and riding in the park/pipe. They are a bit too heavy for racing, but Couloir says "The underfoot plate adds extra leverage for getting skis on edge, and its distinctive mass pushes through the toughest snow conditions with ease."
Bomber Skwal Bindings
You'll want to use the Bomber Skwal bindings on those really skinny Virus and Trans boards.
F2 makes several hard plate bindings, which are lightweight and offer very
good response without the jarring stiffness of Bombers/Cateks. They also have a low profile, which allows your boots to be close to the board for more responsiveness. For these reasons, F2 bindings are
preferred by a lot of pro racers. Plus, they are less expensive than Bombers
or Cateks. F2 makes several plate binding models, but carvers should look
- Race Titanium: Non-Intec, two sizes (medium and large), 5.5mm bails. A somewhat flexible
binding, but considered more solid than the Burton Race bindings. The base
plate is all-metal. Parts of the toe and heel pieces are plastic.
- Intec Titanium: two sizes (medium and large), 6mm bails.
- For the Race Titanium and Intec Titanium:
- They are lighter than the Cateks and provide more flexibility.
- They do not have dampening bumpers. As a result, they have a lower profile
than the Intec Titanflex, which is why they are preferred by the ExtremeCarving people, and by racers.
- They have front-bail height adjusters, but the adjustment wheel sometimes comes loose, which is a pain.
- Starting in '05, they have Teflon Intec heel pieces to prevent the Intec pin
from gouging the heel receivers, and to prevent ice build-up.
- Intec Titanflex: two sizes (medium and large), 6mm bails.
- They have a small footprint, so they are more amenable to narrow race
- They do not have front-bail height adjusters.
- They have an aluminum base plate on top of dampening bumpers, which
raises the height of the bindings compared to the Intec Titanium.
- Be careful when swapping the bindings - the bumpers fall off
- Parts of the toe and heel pieces are plastic.
- The bails are somewhat wide for Raichle boots.
- Starting in '05, they have Teflon Intec heel pieces to prevent the Intec pin
from gouging the heel receivers, and to prevent ice build-up.
Other issues with F2 bindings:
- For all F2 bindings, the steel T-nuts that fasten the toe and heel pieces
are not made of stainless steel and often break, so you should replace them
with stainless steel T-nuts.
- Many of the F2 bindings come in two sizes: medium or large. The large size generally fits boots mondo point 27.5 and larger. However, if you have a narrow board, the large size bindings may have a baseplate that is too long, and overhangs the board. So, you should get the smaller size, if it fits your boots.
- The F2 Intec heel pieces are highly durable, since they are made out of steel. Even the older models without the teflon coating tend to be more durable
and gouge-resistant than the aluminum heel pieces of Bomber/Catek bindings.
- Previous to '05, F2 made the Conshox, a long plate that spans underneath
both bindings to provide enhanced suspension. It seems to work well for F2
boards. The Conshox provides 8 mm of elevation. If you use the Conshox with
bindings that have a built-in elevation, like the Intec Titanflex, the combination
might provide too much lift. Starting in '05, the Conshox is integrated into
the F2 boards and is no longer sold.
- F2 no longer sells binding disks for 3D hole patterns. You can either fabricate
your own disk, or use the Burton elevator or Unicant as a 3D to 4x4 converter.
- Unlike a lot of other bindings, the front bail wire on the F2 step-in bindings
is spring loaded and does not flop down.
- F2 and Proflex merged their product lines. Proflex bindings are still available used. F2's parent company is Boards
& More GmbH, in Austria.
Snowpro bindings are sold in the US by Dan
- In addition to a regular binding, Snowpro makes a step-in model that uses
the F.A.S.T. step-in mechanism: Snowpro F.A.S.T. bindings appeal to people who prefer
to have the step-in mechanism in the binding rather than the boot. There are a few details about the F.A.S.T. binding:
- The F.A.S.T. bindings come with no lift or cant shims. The bindings have 3º of fixed inward cant, and no lift.
- The F.A.S.T. bindings come with a lever release only on the back foot: it's assumed that you will keep your front foot in the binding all day long, and will only need to use the lever on the back binding.
- Similar to the F2 bindings, they are somewhat less stiff than the Bombers
- Starting with '04, Snowpro bindings come with an aluminum disk for more
stiffness and durability.
- Some Snowpro bindings come in two sizes: medium or large. The medium bindings have 2 screws for the toe and heel block, whereas the large size bindings have 4 screws in the toe and heel block.
- They are not compatible with the 3D hole pattern, and 3D disks are not available.
However, there is a way of mounting the bindings on
3D boards that works but doesn't allow finer variation in the stance width.
|Starting in '06, the IBEX company bought out the molds for Burton race plates, and these are now offered as the Speed TC.
Other '06 Bindings
DeeLuxe/Raichle X-bone bindings:
come in plastic and carbon, in three styles: regular, Intec, and F.A.S.T. The F.A.S.T. model is sold on the Goltes website.
- The center bolt is
a potential single point of failure, because it holds everything together and
absorbs a lot of force, which makes some carvers nervous. On the other hand,
it's quicker to move the bindings from one board to another.
- The center disks
come in either 3D or 4x4, and you can get extra X-bone disks to use as a second
Spirit Snowboards, in Italy:
World cup Slalom
World cup Giant
Phiokka, in Italy:
- The PH-1 bindings are great for freecarving. They are similar in feel to
the Bombers, but maybe a little softer. The 6mm bail option is recommended over the 5mm bails. It requires
3 hex wrenches for full adjustment: 3mm, 4mm, and 5mm. It is 3D and 4x4 compatible,
and the footprint is 14.0 cm in diameter.
- The PH-69 and PH-46-6 have a lower profile, and are preferred by racers.
- The discontinued Highlander bindings are preferred by racers. These bindings have a low
profile, keeping your boots close to the board for high responsiveness.
It has an F2-style center disk with a gasket that provides vibration dampening.
All adjustments can be made with a #3 Phillips screwdriver. It has a smaller
10.5 cm diameter footprint that preserves the flex pattern of the board. Prior to '06, the toe and heel pieces extended over the board with a very small amount of clearance, causing the binding to rub against the topsheet of the board when the board flexed. For '06, the bindings should have more clearance. Also starting with '06, the bails are now 6mm.
- The discontinued Macho has been re-introduced for '06. It is similar to the highlander, but has 5mm bails, and a much harder gasket on the bottom, which provides a more direct connection between the rider and the terrain. It is also one of the lowest-profile bindings available.
Several manufacturers have borrowed heavily from OEM factories: Pogo, Volkl, Hot, Virus
Rabanser Snowboards in Italy
Sells the IBEX and Phiokka bindings.
Bindings available in Korea:
- S5, Available
or step-in. The step-in model has "skid plates" over the Intec holes that can be replaced. Here is another shot of the S5.
Bindings available only in Japan. Step-in versions of these bindings often use a proprietary mechanism that is not Intec compatible:
- ACT makes in
regular and step-in bindings.
- SHR makes both regular and step-in
- G-Style makes Intec Step-in bindings,
using a lever-mechanism in the binding. They are not Intec compatible.
- M-Proto Makes a line of bindings that use a proprietary step-in standard.
These companies no longer make hard plate bindings. You might find older used
bindings for sale:
Burton previously sold several hard plate bindings, all of
which are made out of plastic:
- Burton Race plates are regular style bindings that are less stiff than Bombers
or Cateks. Some people like the softer feel. Chris Klug races on them.
- Burton Carrier bindings are regular style bindings that are softer than
the Race Plates and highly prone to breaking. Very few of these bindings are
still around because most of them have already broken. They are OK for light
weight riders. If you are > 160 lbs and ride carrier bindings, and they
don't break, it means your technique is bad.
|Burton Physics step-in bindings have vertical pins at the heel of the binding,
which mate with metal rings in the boot heel. They come in two versions: the
Carrier Physics, with a front bail, and the Race Physics, which come with
a pair of front hooks called speed hooks (shown). The hook mechanism is definitely
stiffer than the toe bails of other step-in bindings. You must be careful
to verify that you have correctly engaged the speed hooks before you put your
heel down, otherwise you can either pop out of them, or have extreme difficulty
releasing from the binding. But as long as you verify the toe hook engagement,
you will never pre-release from a Physics binding. Even though they are plastic, the Burton Physics with the speed hook are almost as stiff as Bombers/Cateks, because there is zero play in the boot/binding interface. Any Intec-compatible boot can be used with the Physics, as long as you use the wire toe bail instead of
the speed hook. Sigi Grabner races with the Physics.
- The Burton Spark Automat bindings are an older step-in model similar to the
- The Burton Step-in race plates: They have a heel mechanism that latches,
controlled by a lever on one side of the binding. You place your toe in the
toe bail, and step down on the heel to engage. To release, you pull the lever.
In practice, stepping into the bindings was not always automatic, and usually
required pushing on the lever to help the mechanism engage.
- The older Burton quick-adjust bindings allow you to reposition the binding
sole blocks using a single adjustment, and were used in rental fleets.
- The Burton Performance bindings look like the Carrier bindings, but the toe/heel pieces each have a single screw in the middle of a lever that keeps them in place. You loosen the screw, then you can flip the lever up to adjust the fore/aft position.
|The Burton Carrier step-ins. They have toe and heel bails, and a clip is
located on the heel bail. They operate similar to ski bindings. You place your
toe in the toe bail, and step down on the lever pad, causing the
heel clip to pivot up. To release, you press down on a heel clip. However, these bindings only work well with certain models and sizes of boots. If your boots are a bit narrow, they might wind up twisting out of the bindings. The bindings look rather sloppy, however, if your boot has the proper fit, you will not pre-release out of them.
Other Burton issues:
- A while back, Burton sold aluminum binding disks for more stiffness. You
can still find them sold on eBay.
- Most Burton bindings come with two pairs of disks: one for the 3D mounting
pattern and one for the 4x4 mounting pattern. Burton also sells combo-disks,
which have cutouts to accommodate 3D and 4x4 hole patterns When buying used
Burton bindings, ask which disk(s) are included.
- You may need to occasionally replace the wire bails of Burton bindings.
- The Varicant is a set of shims that go between the binding base plate and
the toe and heel pieces of the Burton Race Plates. They don't work with any
other binding. You can add lift and cant for angles between 0° to 4°.
- The plastic on some older models of Burton Race Plates were prone to cracking
and were recalled by Burton. If possible, avoid bindings made of translucent plastic.
Starting in '95, Burton switched to the current standard binding disks.
Disks from previous years were smaller, which means the earlier bindings/disks are not compatible with the current disks/bindings.
||Some Burton bindings include extra pads that go under the bindings to vary the
stiffness: red (soft), blue (stiffer), and gray (stiffest). If you buy Burton
bindings used, ask if extra pads are included. On Burton bindings, the teeth
on the center binding disk will mesh with teeth on the binding. If there is
any debris under the disk, it won't be able to provide holding pressure to the
binding, causing the teeth to lose grip, and the binding will spin while you are carving.
As a solution, you can add a gasket under the main binding (in addition to the
pads), which raises it up, and allows the center disk to apply greater teeth
Low-end Burton bindings, like the Burton Carriers did not always include a cant/lift disk, so if you buy them used, ask if a cant disk is included. The cant/lift disks that came with Burton bindings typically had a non-adjustable fixed angle, always sloping in the direction of the long axis of the board. Some of the cants had removable center metal pieces, so you could swap out a 3D piece with a 4x4 piece. However, the metal centers do not allow conversion between 3D and 4x4. For some of the Burton cant disks, the screws that attach the center metal pieces to the board need to be shorter than the standard binding screws: It's safe to go with 12mm long screws (flat head screws are measured using the entire length, including the threads and the head). When attaching your bindings to the cants, you can use the screws that come with your bindings. The following is a list of cant/lift disks, and the actual measured angles provided by those disks. The actual measured angle seems to differ from the advertised angle:
- (top left) Small-diameter round wedge, non-removable center (3D or 4x4): 6.5 deg. These disks have a diameter of about 16cm, which is way too small for hardboot bindings. The toe and heel pads of your bindings will overhang the cants.
- (top right) Hexagonally shaped wedge, with removable metal center (3D/4x4): 7 deg. These are the wedges that came with the later model year Burton Bindings. If you buy one of these, make sure you get both a 3D and 4x4 metal center.
- (bottom left) Large-diameter circular wedge with "radiating fins", with removable center (3D/4x4): 7 deg
- (bottom right) Large-diameter circular wedge with "radiating fins", with non-removable center (3D or 4x4) : 3.5 deg
The "Universal cant" or the "Unicant" (Burton has used both names to describe the same thing) is a set of two stacked disk shims that allow you to dial in
a cant/lift angle from 0º to 8º in 1º increments. Unlike the
Bomber TD1 cant/lift disks, you can rotate the position of the Unicant on
the board in 15° increments to achieve various combinations of cant and
lift. The Unicant can be used with many types of bindings and fits both the
3D hole pattern and the 4x4 hole pattern. Unfortunately, the Unicant has a few "issues":
- With a diameter of
19 cm, it adds to the footprint of the binding, distorts the flex pattern
of the board, and creates dead spots.
- The Unicants also have about 1º
of rotational play, which is really annoying.
- The bolts that hold the Unicant
to the board (hidden under the binding) tended to come loose.
- The Unicants
tended to break easily, and that's probably why they were discontinued.
The big complaint with Burton is the 3D insert pattern. For carving, 3 inserts really doesn't feel safe. To add insult to injury, Burton introduced the Uninc Freeride board in 2005 with "2X Technology," a 2-hole insert pattern. Rather than kill off this failed experiment, Burton continued the Uninc.
|Fritschi made the F41 bindings: Similar to the Unicants, they have two disks
stacked on top of each other: the bottom disk can rotate to create lift/cant.
Fritschi also make rat-trap style step-ins: They have toe and heel clips.
There is a protruding lever on the toe clip that causes it to close as you
step in. To release, lift the toe clip.
|The Emery Course binding has a vernier system that allows you to adjust the binding angle in 1º increments. As shown above, the baseplate has a ring of 36 holes, each separated by 10º. The bronze-colored center disk rides on top, and has a ring of 40 holes, each separated by 9º. For any single degree binding angle, you can find 4 holes (separated by 90º spans) in the center disk that match up to 4 holes in the baseplate. The Emery also has a very low overall height of 24mm.
Emery bindings use pozidriv screws (left). Notice the diagonal slashes on the screw head. For these screws, do not use a Phillips screwdriver. You must use a #3 pozidriv screwdriver (right) to avoid hopelessly stripping the screws.
Other Discontinued Bindings
- FIN'S Race Carbon bindings had medium stiffness and were preferred by the
ExtremeCarving people. No longer manufactured.
- Head makes the Stealth DNA and Stealth DNA Intec.
- Trident Sports made the Rattraps: All-metal, they were stiffer than the
Burtons but softer than the Bombers.
Scott made the Strike binding.
- Elfgen makes the Vario (non-step-in), and Voodoo makes an Intec binding.
- 19.94 bindings, made in Varallo Sesia, Italy.
- Mistral made their own bindings before they were acquired by F2.
- Nitro made several bindings, all of which are really funky-looking, in an
Austin-Powers sort of way.
- Crazy creek, make in Switzerland. (OEM from F2, Fritschi, and Elfgen)
- Oxygen (OEM from Fritschi)
- Heavy Tools
- Blax (OEM from F2)
- LOFO - very old, 5-hole insert pattern.
- Crazy Banana
||In the Paleozoic era of hardbooting, the first bindings to emerge were two-piece
bindings: You attached the binding toe piece to the board using two inserts,
then you attached the binding heel piece using two more inserts (just like
ski bindings). Every time you wanted to change the angle, or stance width,
or setback, or toe/heel bias, you had to drill four new holes into your board.
Angle markings were printed on the topsheet to assist with binding placement.
Boards would soon become riddled with new insert holes. A lot of people added
inserts but didn't bother to cover the back of the inserts with recessed P-Tex,
meaning it was necessary to keep the board very high on edge at all times.
|Later, "plate" bindings emerged, which used the same insert locations
as the two-piece bindings, but consisted of a single plate that spanned both
sets of inserts. Shortly thereafter, Burton 5-hole Variplate bindings were
introduced, which had the same two pairs of inserts as the two-piece bindings,
but also had a hole in the center for more stability. The 5-hole Variplate was even available with a heel wedge. Other examples included
the 5-hole circular insert pattern of Sims Freecarve boards, and the 6-hole
pattern of Hooger Booger.
||The first line of Catek plate bindings were the "CAT No.7" series,
introduced in 1993. Affectionately called CAT-traps, they had a non-pivoting
toe bail, with a heel clip instead of a toe clip. The toe bail consisted of
a U-bolt that spanned the entire length of the binding and attached to the
heel piece via threads. It was necessary to customize the binding to the length
of the boot sole by cutting the U-bolt with a hack saw.
|Later, Burton came out with the 3D rat trap bindings
||Bomber Toaster bindings predate Trench Diggers, and were used with snowboards
as well as ski boards. They had an elastomer gasket that spanned the entire
binding, and could be rotated to any angle.
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