Salomon / Atomic SHIFT MNC Binding

UPDATE — 3.12.18

Jonathan Ellsworth and I have both spent more time in the Shift MNC, and we’re ready to weigh in with our thoughts. Spark notes version: we are both very impressed.

Sam Shaheen:

I now have about 20 days on the Shift, about half touring and half in the resort (several of my resort days have been using alpine boots). I’ve skied the Shift on two different skis — the 18/19 Atomic Bent Chetler 120 and the 18/19 Salomon QST 106.

  • In my last update, the primary questions I still had were:
  • How similar is it really to an alpine binding in terms of downhill performance?
  • What is the final verdict on ease of transitions?
  • Will durability be an issue?
  • Will we have problems with icing?
  • Are the 2 and 10 degree climbing risers enough?
  • Is the brake lock mechanism going to be an issue?

Let’s dive right in. The biggest and most important question to answer is the first one, how similar does the Shift feel in terms of downhill performance compared to an alpine binding? I’ve now had the Shift in a variety of conditions, with strong alpine boots, hammering inbounds laps, and I can’t say with any certainty that it performs worse than an alpine binding. In fact, I really can’t seem to tell a difference. The Shift’s power transfer is excellent, it has a damp ride, and I haven’t pre-released (and I have released when I needed to). I typically ski a Marker Jester or Griffon, or Tyrolia AAAttack, and I can’t discern a difference in performance between those alpine bindings and the Shift.

I have experienced some annoyance when adjusting the AFD to account for boots with touring vs. alpine soles. When adjusting the AFD to go from touring soles to alpine soles, I tend to get some play and have to bump up the AFD a touch more after a lap or two. But after that, my boot is held in quite securely.

Sam Shaheen and Jonathan Ellsworth review the Salomon / Atomic SHIFT Binding

Sam Shaheen on the Salomon / Atomic SHIFT Binding, Telluride Ski Resort, CO.

When it comes to ease of transitions, I’ve continually had fewer and fewer issues the more I use the Shift. After about 5 touring days, transitions on the Shift became second nature to me. And though I don’t often catch the pins in my inserts when stepping in on the first try, I get them about as often as in a Dynafit Radical 2.0 or G3 ION. I haven’t found transitions with the Shift to be any more finicky or involved than any other touring binding I’ve used.

Though I haven’t had the Shift for a full season of hard use, the 20 or so days I have on the binding so far haven’t caused any undue wear and tear on the binding. The binding works great and looks great. So far at least, there have been no durability concerns — I’ll be sure to update this if that changes though.

When I first got this binding, I was very worried about icing. It seems like a complicated design with many moving parts that could easily ice up. So far though, I haven’t had any issues with either the toe or brake lock mechanism icing up (and that includes many days touring in Japan in heavy, wet snow where my partners were having icing issues with their tech bindings). I’ve been very surprised by the lack of icing on the Shift — so far so good.

One rather contentious topic concerning these bindings is the decision to use only one riser setting at 10° and a “flat” setting of 2°. In my experience, the 2° is fine for flat approaches. I can’t tell the difference between flat setting on the Shift and flat setting on any of the other touring bindings I’ve used.

However, the single 10° riser has caused me a few issues. The design team at Salomon argues that 10° is the ideal pitch for an efficient skin track and therefore it’s the only riser angle you should need. Although I agree that 10° skin tracks are quite efficient, the problem I run into is that most other people in the world have bindings with a lower (~7°) and higher (~13°) riser. As a result, skin tracks that I don’t set on the Shift end up being about 7° or 13°, which means following on the Shift often puts me right in the middle. This hasn’t been a huge deal, but is worth noting as it can be annoying.

Finally, I have continued to have issues with the brakes coming unlocked while skinning. This usually happens on steep, icy, and technical skin tracks when my skis incidentally bump each other and unlock one of the brakes. Salomon has indicated that they are aware of the issue and are planning to tweak the brake lever to address it. We’ll be sure to update this review once we have the details of their planned update.

Jonathan Ellsworth:

Sam has already done a really good job of laying out a bunch of information on the Shift, and if anything (and as I noted in our GEAR:30 podcast), I think Sam has been more cautious and reserved in his initial (very positive impressions) than I am tempted to be. Because so far, I have been blown away by this binding. Here’s why:

Ease of Use / Fiddle Factor

Sam did a very good job of really detailing / nitpicking issues of stepping into and out of the binding. But honestly, in my experience so far, I find these bindings really easy to work with. Figuring out how to step into and out of them took 3 seconds, and once you have figured that out (it’s super simple), given that I’m not rando racing, I find everything about the stepping into and out of process to be quite straightforward, and have had no issues transitioning from ski to walk mode. (And I should say that, in general, I have a pretty low tolerance for equipment that comes with a high fiddle factor.)

Sam Shaheen and Jonathan Ellsworth review the Salomon / Atomic SHIFT Binding

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Salomon / Atomic SHIFT Binding, Telluride Ski Resort, CO.

Climbing Risers

So far, I’ve liked operating these. I’d say they’re easier to use than the Marker Kingpin, though they aren’t going to unseat the G3 ION as being my favorite / simplest risers to use. And while I’ve heard a bit of grumbling about a lack of a 3rd riser, I won’t be petitioning for a 3rd. If you are someone who has gotten along okay with the Marker Kingpin risers, I think you’ll be just fine with the Shift’s. But Sam raises some legitimate points above about riser angles, so I trust that most people will be experienced enough to know whether this is a deal breaker for them.

Uphill Performance

Is there anything I don’t like? No. Especially not given what I’m about to say in the “Downhill Performance” section.

And to be clear, I have been on record for being against frame bindings for a long time. They’re heavy as hell, they’re not great to walk in, etc.

Conversely, I don’t mind the weight of the Shift at all (as someone who has been perfectly content with the weight of a Kingpin), I like walking uphill in the Shift, I don’t find them to be a pain in the ass to operate, and I personally have yet to experience any issues with the brakes.

And then…

Downhill Performance

I have skied these inbounds at Telluride in some pretty steep, consequential terrain, and I had no reservations about being in the Shift. I was skiing in my HEAD Raptor 140 boots with Zipfit liners (my current favorite inbounds setup), and the Shift wasn’t a limiting factor at all. In fact, when A/B/C-ed against Marker Jester and Tyrolia AAAttack alpine bindings, I could not detect a difference in performance. Might there be? Maybe. Could I notice any? No.

Sam Shaheen and Jonathan Ellsworth review the Salomon / Atomic SHIFT Binding

Jonathan Ellsworth on the Salomon / Atomic SHIFT Binding, Telluride Ski Resort, CO.

So to be able to go uphill in a binding that I like as much as a Kingpin, then go downhill on a binding that has the same DIN certification and same / similar power transfer as a good alpine binding … this binding is ticking all of the boxes — for me.

Bottom Line (For Now)

I am a very big fan of the SHIFT so far, and look forward to touring on it a whole lot more.

21 Comments

  1. Valyo March 13, 2018 Reply

    Great review guys!

    Sounds like the binding a lot of us have been waiting for a long time.

    Quick question about DIN. Do you find the 6-13 range enough for hard charging in variable conditions, drops, etc? Seems like a tad lower than what most of the hard charging freeriders would prefer. Don’t know if Salomon plan on making a higher DIN version.

    Thanks!

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen March 16, 2018 Reply

      Hey Valyo,

      DIN setting is definitely a matter of personal preference (and we recommend you let your local shop set it for you), but if the 6-13 range works for Salomon athletes like Cody Townsend and Chris Rubens, then I think the rest of us should be just fine.

    • Cody Townsend March 31, 2018 Reply

      Hey Valyo,

      To answer your question and respond to Sam’s assertion, I was once skeptical of DIN 13 maximum. Early in the design process of the SHIFT we pushed for up to 16. But as I started to ski more and more on the Warden 13 binding because of it’s MNC and my full-time MTN Lab boot use, I started getting comfortable at DIN 13 and was learning I didn’t need a DIN 16 binding… and this is from a guy that’s 6’2″ 190lbs. From there, I still went into the SHIFT with a skepticism about the DIN 13 max. This season, I ended up filming my entire MSP films segment on the SHIFTs set to 13 and never had one single pre-release or unwanted release. Subsequently, I did have them release on two pretty good tomahawks…one release which I believe saved me from a season ending injury. Anyways, this season I’ve skied high consequence spine lines, jumped a multitude of 40+ and 50+ foot cliffs and skied some pretty chopped up snow and high speeds with no unwanted releases. For proof, check some of my recent instagram posts from BC…all was skied on the SHIFTS. So ultimately to answer you’re question, fuck yeah they’re good for charging.

      • Valyo April 18, 2018 Reply

        Haha thanks a lot Cody, fair enough :)

  2. Alex Mok March 13, 2018 Reply

    Hi Sam, Any specific information about the shift combined with the Bent Chetler and more specifically how it performed in Japan? Would it make a good 50/50 ski for the whole season? Thanks

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen March 16, 2018 Reply

      Hey Alex, the Bent Chetler / Shift combo is an awesome set up. If you ski mostly pow, then it could make a good 50/50 setup. However, I would generally recommend a skinnier ski for dealing with variable conditions and corn/ice in the spring.

  3. Andrew March 13, 2018 Reply

    I like that they are lighter than downhill bindings, does this mean the only negative vis aMarker Griffon would be the price?

  4. Blister Member
    Vincent March 15, 2018 Reply

    Do you know of any plan for a lower DIN Shift? With a minimum DIN of 6 this leaves out lightweight and older skiers. It would be good to see a 4-12 or 4-13 DIN model. What’s the rule of thumb regarding setting a binding at it’s minimum DIN?

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen March 15, 2018 Reply

      Hey Vincent. We haven’t heard plans for a low DIN Shift model. However, the bindings are tested to TUV standards across the full range of release values. The binding should be just as consistent when releasing at 6 as it is at 13. Skiing at the minimum DIN shouldn’t be an issue.

  5. Stuart May April 16, 2018 Reply

    Hi Sam,
    Thanks for the review, this binding sounds like a game changer. I contacted to Salomon to find out about the mounting pattern… is it the same as a STH2? They wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me. I am wondering if you could tell me…

    • Sam Shaheen Author
      Sam Shaheen April 17, 2018 Reply

      Hey Stuart, the Shift has an all new mounting pattern.

  6. Richard Valentine April 25, 2018 Reply

    Jonathan & Sam,

    As usual, great review. Just curious about the drilling footprint of this binding; in other
    words, how many holes need to be drilled per ski. The fewer the better in my opinion,
    if there’s the need for remounting (I think the Schizo has 9 holes per ski, for example),
    if anything goes wrong with binding performance, durability, etc.

    Also, does the heel piece slide onto a metal or plastic track? I don’t like plastic tracks
    as is the case with the Marker “Royal Family”.

    Thanks.

  7. Jane Shearer July 24, 2018 Reply

    Great review thanks. Any update on the unexpected brake release issue?

    • Cody Townsend July 28, 2018 Reply

      Hey Jane,

      Yes. That was a problem that popped up in the first sample production run that was given out to athletes and testers. It was identified and fixed before they went into the actual production. Quite often tiny little things pop up between the phases of small batch testing and production runs…hence why the do a non-public production run to test before releasing to the greater public. It was a small plastic mold tolerance that was a mm or so off and I have been assured that it has been fixed.

  8. Jeff August 13, 2018 Reply

    Awesome review! I always enjoy reading your gear reviews, and it’s nice to hear what you have to say about the Shift binding after spending a considerable amount of time on it.
    With that said, Im 6’2” and weigh around 182. I just bought a pair of Moment Wildcat aka Bibby Pro in a 184 length. I plan on using this as a 50/50 ski, and was wondering if the Shift binding would be appropriate for this ski?

  9. Gareth August 29, 2018 Reply

    I noticed that the Atomic shows a DIN of 5-13 and the Salomon shows DIN 6-13. Is this correct?

  10. greg September 3, 2018 Reply

    Regarding brake widths, I’ve seen reviews indicating the brake arms are quite wide for their stated width. If I’m fitting for a 105mm ski which brake is ideal? Is that design / answer likely to change as Salomon responds to the ‘clicking together’ issue highlighted in the review?

  11. MM September 8, 2018 Reply

    Curious how mogul skiing is in these bindings. I see “variable” terrain but no mention of bumps?

  12. johan hedvall September 10, 2018 Reply

    Can you change the brakes to different sizes?

    Cheers

  13. David Golay September 17, 2018 Reply

    Do I understand right that these should be able to be used with a standard alpine boot if needed (obviously in ski mode only)? Seems like the only potential issue would be getting the toe height adjusted low enough, right?

  14. FF September 20, 2018 Reply

    Question about afd adjustment on Salomon shift bindings. When i’am trying to adjust afd to boot with ISO 5355 sole, I can’t get afd that low that afd do not touch boot sole. I turn the screw to the left to the maximum and still afd touches the boot sole. According to Salomon tech manual 2019 it should be 0.5mm gap. Am I doing something wrong?

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