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2017-2018 Fritschi Tecton 12

Fritschi Tecton 12

Fritschi Tecton 12

DIN Release Value: 5-12

Available Brake Widths: 90, 100, 110, 120 mm

Climbing Aids: Flat + Two Risers

Stated Weight: 550 grams (without brakes)

Blister’s Measured Weight:

  • Toe pieces: 280 & 280 grams (with screws)
  • Heel pieces: 330 & 328 grams (with brake mounting pieces)
  • Brakes: 73 & 73 grams (120 mm)
  • Total Weight per Binding (with 120 mm brakes): 683 & 681 grams

MSRP: $649.99 USD

Test Locations: Canterbury, New Zealand

Days Tested (so far): ~10

Intro

When you are standing on top of line and stepping into your skis, it is pretty confidence-inspiring to feel the CLUNK of the heel piece of an alpine binding snapping into place. Until this season, if you wanted that feeling while ski touring, you either had to settle for heavy and cumbersome frame bindings, opt for something like the CAST system, or you could go with the Marker Kingpin, which has been our favorite touring binding when it comes to combining uphill efficiency and downhill performance.

But this season, Fritschi has released the Tecton 12, which competes directly with the Kingpin. The Tecton is getting a lot of buzz because of its feature list that — currently — no other binding can match. The Tecton 12 has:

  • an alpine-style heel
  • a weight that’s lighter than the Kingpin 13 by nearly 100 g per binding
  • elastic travel in both the heel and toe (the Kingpin only has elastic travel in / at the heel)

We want to get more time on the Tecton 12 before offering our full review and comparisons, but we have had the Tecton 12 on snow, so we’ll offer our initial thoughts, impressions, and questions here.

Design

The Tecton 12 uses the same toe piece as the new Vipec Evo (review coming soon), which features 13 mm of lateral elastic travel and adjustable toe pins for different boot widths.

Fritschi Tecton 12 — Toe

This Evo toe piece has been updated from last year’s Vipec TUV (“Vipec “Black”) so that stepping in is easier, and Fritschi has added a small bumper that releases the toe in the event of an ‘over-the-handlebars’ fall. The lateral release in the toe already sets the Tecton apart from most other tech bindings, and we talk more about its potential safety benefits in our review of the Vipec TUV.

But then there’s also the Tecton’s heel…

The Tecton 12 heel piece shares many similarities with the Kingpin. It moves forward and back on the ski to switch from walk mode to ski mode; it has two climbing risers mounted to the front of the heel lever; and it has a plastic, alpine-style step-in mechanism (rather than metal pins).

Like the Kingpin, the Tecton heel piece holds the boot directly to a platform on the base of the binding, which means that there is a direct connection between the boot and ski rather than a floating pin interface, and the Tecton’s heel offers 9 mm of vertical elasticity.

Fritschi Tecton Heel in Walk Mode (Left) and Ski Mode (Right)

The Tecton 12 also features what Fritschi is calling “Power Rails”. These are basically protrusions of plastic that fit into the pin channels cut in the heels of tech boots, and they fill the space normally occupied by typical tech binding heel pins.

In theory, these Power Rails should increase lateral responsiveness and eliminate any play between the heel of the boot and the heel piece of the binding.

Fritschi Tecton 12 — Heel & “Power Rails”

Measured Weight + Comparisons

For reference, here are some of our Blister Measured Weights of AT bindings:

  • Fritschi Tecton 12: 683 & 681 g (120 mm brakes)
  • Marker Kingpin 13: 774 & 775 g (75-100 mm brakes)
  • Fritschi Vipec Evo 12: 595 & 595 g (110 mm brakes)
  • Fritschi Vipec TUV 12: 589 & 591 g (95 mm brakes)
  • G3 Ion 12: 636 & 641 g (105 mm brakes)
  • Dynafit Radical 2.0 FT: 652 & 653 g (105 mm brakes)
  • Dynafit Beast 14: 831 & 833 grams (105 mm brakes)
  • Dynafit Beast 16: 957 grams (120 mm brakes)

In summary, the Tecton 12 comes in almost 100 grams lighter than the Kingpin 13, and nearly 100 grams heavier than the Vipec Evo. So if you thought the Kingpin 13 was just a bit too heavy, take note.

Mount Pattern

For those that have used the old Vipec TUV or Vipec Evo and are interested in the Tecton 12, you’re in luck. Fritschi uses the same mount pattern for all three bindings. This is a nice touch, and something we’d like to see across other brand product lines to avoid having to drill new holes for every new binding.

Initial On-Snow Impressions

We still want to get more time in the Tecton 12 (and more time A/B-ing it directly against the Kingpin 13 and other bindings) to put together our in-depth comparisons and conclusions, but after some initial testing, we’ve been impressed.

Like every tech binding we’ve used, the Tecton 12 goes uphill nicely, and the Tecton’s new Evo toe is easier to step into than the toes on previous iterations of the Vipec. The heel risers have been fairly easy to actuate with a ski pole so far, and switching the heel between ski and walk modes has felt smooth and solid.

In terms of downhill performance, we are currently willing to say that the Tecton 12 is at least in the same ballpark as the Kingpin 13. This is where we’ll need the most time to offer direct comparisons to other bindings, but the power transmission of the alpine-style heel of the Tecton 12 is impressive, and when combined with the added lateral release in the toe, it makes the Tecton 12 a compelling option for those looking for increased downhill performance over traditional tech bindings.

Our good friend Ally Kerr (owner of Gnomes Alpine Sports in Christchurch, New Zealand), has actually put more time on snow in the Tecton than we have so far (he’s got about 10 days), so we thought it would be worth sharing his initial impressions that he shared with us.  (Ally is 6’0” / 183 cm tall, weighs 180 lbs / 82 kg, and the Kingpin has been his go-to touring binding, for the past several years. He’s got the Tecton mounted to the 188 cm Rustler 10, and most of his days have been in the Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 boot.)

From Ally:

“The updates on the toe unit over the Vipec Black makes it even easier to line the boot up, add a slight pressure downwards at the toe and the wings/pins snap into place…

Sam Shaheen reviews the Tecton 12 for Blister Review

Ally Kerr on the Fritschi Tecton 12.

The new auto height toe bumper means less work to do in the initial setup or if you change boots. Changing from walk mode to ski mode has been seamless, with a solid lever that gets cocked into position. Climbing aids are easily accessible and flicked up or down without issue. Skiing in bounds I have hit some extremely variable snow and have had no issues with pre-release, I have felt some lateral toe movement (elastic travel) where in other pin bindings I may have released in unwanted circumstances.”

A week or two later he then added:

“I have had a few more days on the Tecton, two of them skiing inbounds, and I’m charging around with full confidence now.”

Sam Shaheen reviews the Tecton 12 for Blister Review

Ally Kerr on the Fritschi Tecton 12.

We’ve spent a lot of time skiing with Ally and comparing impressions about gear with him, so we trust him. Now we’ll just see the extent to which we agree with him….

But we feel comfortable saying this: if you want to know whether we think the Tecton 12 looks like a legit competitor to the Kingpin, our early impressions and experiences with the Tecton 12 indicate that it is.

Questions

For now, then, we’ll leave off with some of the questions we’re still most interested in answering:

(1) The Tecton 12 is composed of a lot of plastic, which is likely why it’s coming in almost 100 grams lighter than the Kingpin 13. Will this have an impact on the Tecton’s long-term durability?

(2) How does the Tecton 12 compare when skied back-to-back against the Kingpin 13? Does the Kingpin 13 still feel like it has the best-in-class power transfer that we love so much about it? Or is the Tecton 12’s just as good? Or even better?

(3) How does the downhill performance of the new Vipec Evo compare to the Tecton 12? Is it similar enough to make the weight savings of the Evo (~88 g per binding) interesting?

(4) Do the Tecton’s “Power Rails” really make a noticeable difference on snow?

(5) With elasticity in both the heel and toe, how different does the Tecton feel compared to a traditional alpine binding? Will the Tecton solve the pre-releasing issue that some other tech bindings have faced in the past?

(6) How effective is the Tecton 12 as a 50/50 binding, and how comfortable would we feel using it inbounds — and how comfortable will we feel recommending it as a 50/50 binding?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The new Fritschi Tecton 12 is definitely an intriguing product, and the Marker Kingpin now has a direct competitor in the “tech bindings with an alpine-style heel” category. The Tecton’s design incorporates our favorite aspects of the Fritschi Vipec, and adds better power transfer in the heel. Again, we’ll continue to get more time in the Tecton 12 to compile our full review, and we’ll update along the way. But so far, we’ve been impressed, and we look forward to comparing it to several other tech bindings this season.

Stay tuned…

8 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    nyckfull October 27, 2017 Reply

    Expecting to make my first turns on these next weekend, super excited!

  2. swissiphic October 28, 2017 Reply

    What’s the stack height at heel and toe compared to other tech and frame binders. Looks kinda tall.

    • ski acro November 21, 2017 Reply

      Stack height at toe will depend on how much rockered the sole is underfoot. For the record, this is what I have measured with a Salomon MTN Lab size 26.0 shoe :
      – toe stack height at lowest point = 24 mm (including 3 mm clearance between sole and toe unit upper surface);
      – heel stack height at lowest point = 27 mm.
      The resulting ramp angle is therefore 3 mm.
      Compare that with the stack height of the Diamir Freeride Pro frame binding of about 39 mm.

  3. Lee Lau October 29, 2017 Reply

    Swiss/G. Can’t recall front and rear stack heights. It’s in a Wildsnow review. But the delta is just 10mm so it’s more modern stack wise than the older Dynafits

  4. Jackson Keogh October 30, 2017 Reply

    After they have been tested more extensively, I would be really interested to know if any issues are revealed due to heavier snow clumping between the moving parts. For example, on the Kingpin I have found that spring snow tends to clump up between the brake platform and the carbon strip/plate, preventing the brake from being stomped down far enough to initiate its locking mechanism while in walk mode. Thanks, these are an intriguing option.

  5. Michael November 2, 2017 Reply

    I have been struggling with a variety of touring setups in the past few years. I have dynafit radical FT and have paired it with the la sportive spectre (which I didn’t like) and then to the Salomon Quest 130, and a dynafit stoke to a line sick day 110. basically I have not been able to get a setup which feels like I can get a strong turn, or have the stability closer to that of an alpine setup. I never really thought that the heel piece of the dynafit radical may be the problem, and the kingpin or the tectron might be the answer. Do you feel that this type of heel piece may be my solution to the ‘weak’ feeling of my previous touring setups which I have been blaming on the boots and skis?

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen November 2, 2017 Reply

      Hey Michael, the short answer is: perhaps. Each part of a setup (skis, bindings, boots) contributes to the total feel and power transfer. However, the binding is probably the most difficult to single out as most of us are used to skiing on alpine bindings that are fairly refined and all feel quite similar.

      In my opinion, touring bindings are definitely the least refined piece of the typical touring setup. Traditional tech toes offer good power transfer but suffer from a very harsh ride and inconsistent release behavior while the pins of a traditional tech heel offer next to zero torsional power transfer to the tail of the ski due to the “floating” nature of the heel and the design of the pins.

      Newer tech bindings address these issues in different ways and definitely offer considerable performance improvements over bindings like the Radical FT. The Tecton, Kingpin, Vipec Evo, Ion, and Radical 2.0 will all offer better power transfer than the old Radical. I think that poor tech bindings contribute to “weak” setups without good power transfer, especially in the tails — like driving a Ferrari on a gravel road.

      Try giving your binding an upgrade. I can’t say that switching to a Tecton or a Kingpin will certainly alleviate your issues, but it will definitely help.

  6. WimD November 16, 2017 Reply

    Any idea when the review can/will be updated with the comparison between the kingpin and the tecton? I want to buy new bindings, but it would be interesting to know if the tecton’s really are as good as the kingpins? They are a bit more expensive but lighter…

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