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Dynafit Radical FT 2.0

David Steele reviews the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0 for Blister Gear Review.

Dyanfit Radical FT 2.0

First look: Dynafit Radical FT 2.0

Maximum Release Value: 12

Available Brake Widths (mm): 90, 105, 120, & 135

Toe Stand Height: 16 mm

Stated Weight: 630 grams

MSRP: $649

Mounted On: 2016 ON3P Billygoat

Boots Used:

  • Scarpa Maestrale RS
  • Dynafit TLT6

Test Locations: Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana; Hakuba backcountry, Japan

Days Tested: 25

Intro

Many people who want to ski in the backcountry find themselves somewhere between the two categories of (a) full inbounds gear and (b) ultralight AT gear: What is too heavy? What is too flimsy? What setup best combines the benefits of alpine control with the low weight and uphill ability emphasized by skimo influences?

My latest attempt to answer these questions came in the form of the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0.

David Steele reviews the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0 for Blister Gear Review.

David Steele on the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0, Hakuba backcountry, Japan. (photo by Bobby Jahrig)

And so far, the Radical FT 2.0 has brought together the characteristics of inbounds control and backcountry efficiency better than anything else I’ve used, and why you aren’t going to find me in a frame-style touring binding.

A Little History: Notes on the Dynafit Radical Family

This season marks my fourth on tech bindings, and so far, all of them have been members of the Dynafit Radical family: the original Radical FT, the Speed Radical, and the Radical FT 2.0. I’ve used these bindings for all types of skiing, ranging from powder touring, to dropping cliffs, to skiing ice and suncups high in the mountains. Throughout this time I’ve looked for the sweet spot in application for each of the bindings in my quiver.

David Steele reviews the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0 for Blister Gear Review.

David Steele in the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0, Hakuba backcountry, Japan. (photo by Ian Dahl)

• Dynafit Radical FT

Back in 2012, I purchased the original Radical FT hoping to gain better touring performance than my Marker Dukes without sacrificing that part of my skiing that involved dropping cliffs and flipping. Initially, I found that they were up to the job—I had no issues for the first year or so of use. After a winter of powder touring and cat ski guiding, I took the brakes off (against manufacturer recommendation) and used them for a summit and ski descent of Denali.

In the long run, however, the lack of a spring in the heel adjustment proved to be less than desirable. (It’s worth noting that Dynafit was thinking the same thing, and current versions of the Radical FT do have this spring.)

Unlike downhill bindings with a forward pressure adjustment, older pin bindings require a precise setting of the distance or gap between the heel piece and the back of the boot. This gap allows for the shortening of the distance between toe and heel that occurs when the ski flexes underneath, and between, the binding toe and heal.

However, once this gap has been eaten up by a particularly nasty flex of the ski, the heel piece contacts the back of the boot, and if there is no relief in the form of a forward pressure spring, the impact can place destructive force into the heel’s upper working components and the tower that it spins on. My second season on Radical FT’s, I managed to crack one of the heel posts with a botched, flat landing off a larger cliff.

• Dynafit Speed Radical

So I picked up Speed Radicals as a replacement, thinking that they were basically the same as the FT’s — minus the brakes. But I found instead that the lack of a brake offered less support and energy transfer, and put even more force into the heels when the ski was flexed.

Two warrantied Speed Radical heels later, I’ve learned my lesson: don’t expect lightweight tech bindings to hold up to the abuse of repeated, large backflips. Occasional airs are fine, but they weren’t designed for (and don’t tolerate) consistent sending.

My Speed Radicals have since been repurposed on skis meant only for ski mountaineering, and I’m much more confident with them in that role.

But this trial and error brought me back to square one, and going into this season, I wanted to add a more powder / freeride-style tech option to my touring quiver.

The touring performance of my previous Radicals remained important, especially the flat walk mode (something the Dyanfit Beast series lacks), yet I also wanted increased durability and retention.

Since I’d been locking out my toes to ski with both the Speed Radical and Radical FTs, I wanted to revisit the question of whether a bigger skier like myself (~190 lbs.) could ski a Dynafit in the recommended way, with toes unlocked…

• Dynafit Radical FT 2.0

The new Radical FT 2.0 seemed like a good candidate: the added turntable under the toe offered better hopes of a consistent rotational release, and the heel piece was bulked up. So I dove in, mounted them up, took one spin up the local hill to make sure my mount was good, and headed off on December 15th, 2015, for five weeks in the Japanese Alps.

It proved to be a good season to test touring gear in Hakuba. El Niño pushed in warmer weather than the area usually sees, and for the first two weeks I was there, we couldn’t ski to the base of the five ski areas in the valley due to the lack of snow.

Instead, we rode gondolas and lifts to tour into the alpine, where it had continued to snow. This set the tone for the whole trip. Over 75% of our ski days played out above the lifts, and for all of those days, I used my Radical 2.0’s.

David Steele reviews the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0 for Blister Gear Review.

David Steele on the Dynafit Radical FT 2.0, Hakuba backcountry, Japan. (photo by Rachel Delacour)

In addition to my touring days on the Radicals, a buddy’s brother managed to forget his ski boots for his visit, so I loaned him my inbounds options and skied two days exclusively in the resort on the Radicals.

NEXT: Downhill Performance, Touring, Etc.

8 Comments

  1. Blister Member
    Slim February 22, 2016 Reply

    So what about the comparison to the Marker Kingpin? A lot of the general statements are similar in that review.

    • Author
      David February 26, 2016 Reply

      Slim,

      We’ve been making this comparison a bunch ourselves, and we’re sorting out the details of how to make that happen.

      Cheers,

      David

  2. Dorian April 9, 2016 Reply

    Will you demonstrate this Rad 2.0 transition you speak of with no removing of your skis?

    • Author
      David April 11, 2016 Reply

      Hey Dorian,

      Worth noting that the no-ski-removal option only works when going from uphill to downhill.

      Here’s a video that covers the basic skin ripping technique.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4COxe-miIJs&ebc=ANyPxKr44-rTqbTqy983xt3toUN1J9vzte_4iRzdO707accv5cHGgQHfX5P9tk0AoDZYTTblr91YRKNxX5Dyp59oAVbUvMxOvw&nohtml5=False

      Note that they actually skip switching from uphill to downhill binding modes in the video. With the Radical 2.0, here are a couple of specifics:
      -To engage the tour mode and lock the brake up, the heel piece makes a quarter turn clockwise and then stops. So it follows that to disengage tour mode for ski mode, you push it back a quarter turn counterclockwise. This is counterintuitive if you’ve used the other Radical family bindings, but I assure you that it makes far more sense with the Radical 2.0.
      -To flip the heel from tour to ski mode, some people reach down and do it by hand. Personally, I put my first climbing riser down, then insert my ski pole tip into the hole of the highest riser, and use that leverage to rotate the heel piece. Be careful while learning this, as you can break your pole if you’re not gentle with it. One tip: it’s very helpful to push the ski back, as if you were striding, to give yourself some clearance to work.
      -I do this process with my toe still locked in ski mode on the Radical 2.0. Because of the turntable up front, getting good pin alignment in the heel proves difficult when the toe is not locked in ski mode. Once I click the heel down, then I switch the toe to ski (unlocked) mode.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,

      David

  3. David September 14, 2016 Reply

    Great review David. Was looking for comments on icing up under the toe piece and on top of the brake as I had experienced those issues often during last winter and spring. I have never had these problems on my other set-ups (Radical FTs; and ATK RTs which are undoubtedly my favoured ski-mountaineering binding). The build up of wet snow and ice between the boot heel and the brake plate can be frustrating, but I wondered what your thoughts are about the ability of the boot to release at the toe should there be so much snow under the locking lever that you cannot depress it to step out from the ski. Like you, I have had this problem. I contacted Dynafit at the end of the spring, but they never responded. Just emailed them again as my armchair dreaming turns from summer-time kitesurfing to ski touring and mountaineering. Thank you

    • Author
      David September 15, 2016 Reply

      David,

      In the few times I’ve had ice up problems with my Dynafit toes (including my Radical FT and Speed Radicals), it’s been all about transitioning from warmer to colder snow conditions. Examples: a skin track up a solar aspect that’s getting cooked, then switching to a north aspect that’s still cool, or ascending far enough in elevation that winds froze snow that had traveled from down lower on a given peak.

      As I mentioned in the review, I had a couple minor issues with the Radical 2.0 icing up. I’d bet that it does affect the releasability of the binding in the toe, but don’t have any conclusive proof to offer for that hunch. I could see testing it with a DIN tester between non-iced and iced up versions at the same temperatures to get a feel for measurable results, but I don’t have access to that kind of equipment.

      Mechanical apparati with small tolerances in the real world are always going to have their small problems, and I think that some vigilance and a pocket knife are the best ways to ensure that you’re getting a proper release when the conditions that brew ice-up appear.

      Cheers,

      David

  4. Brian Lindahl September 16, 2016 Reply

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had a pretty scary pre-release due to buildup underneath the toe springs (not ice, but frozen mud buildup). It appeared that I had stepped in correctly, no problem, but when I dropped in and made my second turn in pretty gnarly refrozen conditions, the ski popped off very easily. This was a pretty steep no-fall line and I luckily managed to self-arrest. It was quite scary. Now, if I remove my skis before transitioning to downhill, I clear underneath the toe piece every time.

    At the time, I didn’t really know why the release had happened and didn’t trust the bindings for the rest of the run and skied extremely conservatively (mostly sideslipping). After playing with the binding, I was able to figure out why the pre-release occurred.

    I actually caught it on video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUDYvLKckBk

  5. Elias March 6, 2017 Reply

    What about doing 360, cliff jumps and similiar stuff with this FT 2.0? Is it really stable enough, even mounted on wide skis – like 110 mm (or higher) under foot?

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