UPDATE: Dynafit Beast 16 AT Binding

UPDATE: Dynafit Beast 16 AT Binding

Dynafit Beast 16 Binding, Blister Gear ReviewUPDATE: Dynafit Beast 16 AT Binding

Frameless Design

Rotating / Tracking Toe Piece

Stated Weight: 935 grams per pair

BLISTER’s Measured Weight: 957 grams

MSRP: $1,000

I now have a good amount of time on the Dynafit Beast 16, and can expand upon my initial look at the binding.

I’ve been able to directly compare the Beast 16 on snow to both tech and alpine bindings—all mounted on the same ski (DPS Wailer 112RPC), with the same tune (2 side edge angle, 1.5 base edge angle), and skied with the same boots (Tecnica Cochise Pro).

I have also tested these bindings extensively on the workbench, looking at how the bindings actually function. The idea was to locate each system’s shortcomings, examine their respective compromises, and determining how that translates to their on-snow performance.

Ultimately, conclusions about the performance bandwidth of the Beast 16 really depend on (a) your points of comparison and (b) what snow conditions we’re talking about.

In short: in terms of ski performance, the Beast 16 offers dramatically more control and better snow “feel” over a ski than a traditional tech binding, but at a small weight penalty. Compared to alpine race-heritage bindings, the Beast is not quite equivalent on hardpack, but it is indistinguishable in soft, consistent snow.

Before I go into detail about the Beast 16, we should discuss how tech bindings and alpine bindings work to provide context about the Beast, and then compare it to the functionality of the existing benchmarks.

A Little Background on Elastic Travel and Release Value

The elastic travel of a binding is the single most important aspect of a ski binding’s ability to retain or release a skier from the ski.

Elastic travel is the amount of distance a binding can move before the boot clears (i.e., “releases from”) a binding. So, for example, if a binding has a 38mm elastic travel value, it can move 37mm and still retain the boot. In a 20mm travel binding, you can only move 19mm before your boot will release from the binding.

The weight of the binding spring will control how much work it takes to displace the binding a given distance. For example, if you have a 200 pounds-per-inch spring, it would require 200 pounds of force to compress the spring 1 inch, or 25.4mm.

Release Value

You can then further tune the binding’s functionality by adjusting the “Release Value” of the binding—i.e., adjusting your binding up from a setting of, say, 8 to 10.

(Note: “Release value” is often mistakenly conflated with “DIN setting.” A DIN setting of “8” is a release value, but not all bindings are DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) certified. We’ll say more about release values and various certifications in an upcoming GEAR 101 piece.)

The release value of a binding is a measurement of the amount of “spring preload”—the amount of force required to move the binding initially.

Adjusting the spring preload does not affect how firm a spring is through its travel. The spring constant (lets say 200 pounds per inch) is exactly that—a constant for a spring.

So adding preload—e.g., cranking your bindings up from 8 to 12—simply means that the spring requires a higher force to initially compress it. It does not mean that the spring itself just got 25% stiffer.

In a binding with low elasticity, one must run a higher release value to compensate for the short release action of the binding to prevent unwanted release. By running a high release value on a low-elasticity binding, you are simply preventing the binding from entering its motion as naturally.

Doing this will certainly help to keep you in the binding, but it also introduces a higher likelihood of injury. In other words, cranking up the release value on a low-elasticity binding is a pretty sketchy fix.

A highly elastic binding allows a skier to use the binding at a lower release value, since they are relying on the travel (i.e., elasticity) in the binding to prevent unwanted release.

There is then less need to jack up the preload tension, because more elastic travel can occur, increasing the skier’s ability to recover from an awkward situation before (pre-)releasing. This promotes controlled support for recovery through the range of motion of the binding’s elastic travel, but also promotes a smooth release that is unimpeded by an overly firm initial resistance.

The Ideal Binding Trifecta

In a perfect world, then, one would ski a relatively heavily sprung binding with a minimal release value setting, with maximum elastic travel. This enhances the binding’s ability not only to release the skier from its hold, but also to retain a skier if recovery is possible.

 

Comments:

  1. Wow

    Seriously helpful stuff Marshal. Thanks for all the background information on bindings. I’ve heard a lot of it before in bits and pieces but your binding summary really helps with the big picture.

    I’ve been skiing heavier-ish skis in the backcountry for a couple of years now and sliding weight is without a doubt not as important as lifting weight when it comes to touring. I’m sure with a binding like this you won’t want to be skiing on a 1.3 kg ski anyway. What was the total weight of your ski/binding set-up?

    Probably going to wait at least one season before I try to get a pair of these, but for what I like to ride, these sounds like a giant leap forward. Thanks again for an independent and thorough review.

    • hey fraser,

      i agree. this is a free ride binding, not a rando binding. dynafit and others make 300-600g bindings too. the Beast clearly is not trying to replace the super light stuff.

      I am skiing them on a pair of DPS Pure3 Wailer 112 RPC’s – so a stiff rockered 115mm waist ski that comes in about 2000g.

      cheers!

  2. Nice write up on the bindigs pieces and functionig! Now I just have to wait for a little brother beast 13 or so for 60% of the price and lighter! :-) This bindings have great improvements over other tech bindings, but I wouldn’t say that a 50% increase in weight is small. I’m not quite sure what’s the target market for dynafit on these bindings, looks like they wanna kill dukes and guardians, but the price is steep, also I don’t think that anyone using tlt 5 or even heavier boots like mercury or maestrales and lightweight 100ish waist skis that would cut off straps on a pack to reduce weight will think about these. I really think that it does really have a place specially with great stiff touring boots coming up right now like freedom and vulcan, sherpa, k2, etc… that would give you a great do it all combo paired with a reasonably light and fat ski. But at $1000 would make bindings the most expensive piece of that combo in most cases and it’s usually the cheapest!

  3. Thanks for the excellent review.

    Is there any chance some of the design elements in the BEAST will trickle down or be incorporated into the Rads/Verts?

    • That would be great scottyb, but I believe and looking at the past releases that something like vulcan/mercury is more likely to happen instead of adding features to radical/vertical. Something like a beast 12 or beast 13 would be my guess!

    • hey Scotty and Marcel,

      I really have no idea what Dynafit might be planning long term, so all the below is pure conjecture… which is generally more fun than facts anyhow!

      but a few things:

      1. I don’t really see any obvious places to make the beast *that* much lighter than it is, outside of really stripping down the toe, or compromising functionality… or entirely new molds for most of the metal parts in the toe… which would make the binding MORE expensive, not less. maybe a Beast SL that is $1200 and 800g or something, but i am pretty skeptical of a baby beast (IMO).

      2. a 13-spring would only save maybe 50g per binding. at that point, who cares if its 900 or 957g? its not like going from a 16-spring to a 13-spring would make the bindings any less expensive.

      3. the radical ft12 is $600 and 600g. so a baby beast would for sure be heavier than that and more expensive. why buy or build an $800-900 800-900g baby beast when you already have a $1000 950g binding. especially if there is no competition in terms of performance in the marketplace? dynafit would just be cannibalizing profit from themselves at that point.

      4. i really don’t see the tech in the beast to be compatible with the vertical/radical stuff. i just don’t see how they would function together. The Beast was designed from the ground-up, other than the boot standard not really changing, i don’t see ANY similarities in the bindings that would be cross-compatible.

      5. i would be absolutely SHOCKED if Dynafit expanded on the beast range at SIA/OR 14, given the limited release of the beast for 2013/14. I would think the line may see additional Beast options in 2015.

      all just guess-work on my end. no basis in fact.

      • Those guesses make good sense to me!

  4. Thanks for the review.

    And now a review of the Fritschi Zenith 12. ;-)
    Maybe the better option as long as you don’t need to din > 12. We will see.

    • euroskier,

      the zenith12 shown at OR/SIA/ISPO was a rapid prototype made out of plastic printed with a CNC printer. i believe only 1 rapid prototype existed in the entire world this season, because the fritschi rep left SIA with it to take it and show it at ISPO.

      it is not even remotely close to being a skiable product at this stage.

      expect actual snow reviews to begin in a year or maybe longer, would be my guess.

  5. Hi Marshal,
    Yes it was only a rapid prototype (the mock-up looks pretty cheap).
    Will for sure take some time that we can test one.

  6. Great analysis & discussion thanks.

    Recently swapped out Rossignol alpine bindings for Dynafit Radicals on a tuned pair of 188 stiff Bro Models for a one-ski inbounds/slackcountry quiver.

    The result feels to me like the skis just got sharper, giving a tighter connection to the ski & I kind of like it.

  7. Wow – that was a great review. Easily the best binding review I’ve ever read – extremely educational.

  8. wow – I learned a ton

  9. great review.

    is there any chance you could post the mount spacing for the toe and heel? I’m mainly wondering if any of the screw holes match any previous dynafits (rads or verts). I’m thinking of mounting some radicals using inserts at the moment, and thought it would be god if they at least shared some screw holes so I can swap between them.

    • hi there ryan,

      the beast for sure does not re-use any holes from radicals or verticals.

      i remounted a beast to a ski with verticals bindings previously, and think i have to go -.5mm to get away from confliction.

      hope that helps?

  10. Oh plz give this site a printer friendly option.

  11. Do you know when the release date is? I assume it’s going to be difficult to get one of these… even with the steep (but likely deserving) price.

    Thanks in advance!

    • I’ve just seen that the beast will be available at backcountry, but you can only buy in a package with boots and ski! Other than getting the $1000 bucks you will have to pay for skis and boots from them as well… I’m not sure if this is due to the retrofit it’s needed in the boots or not. So bc is a pretty big company that can get what they want, so I doubt the beast will be available in many other places if any at all. also I have no idea how dynafit will do that since you can’t purchase direct from them through their website…

    • great question. i believe the beast binding is enroute to the US as we speak, so i would assume it will arrive to dealers in the next month or so, give or take.

      I do know that they are not available to buy online in a conventional sense, since they have pretty specific requirements for mounting to the ski, and the metal horseshoe to the boot. i would suggest to talk to the dynafit competence centers.

      hopefully that is of use.

      • spot on advice as usual. thanks marshal… just got hooked up by a competence center.

  12. For downhill performance at the resort, how would the Beast compare to?
    Rossignol FKS or Look Pivot bindings?
    Other alpine bindings?
    Guardian/Tracker, Duke EPF, or Tyrolia Adrenalin?

    Thanks in advance for any insight y’all can share

    • hey sandy,

      put it this way, nobody is exactly racing these things on the wc ski circuit. they simply are not race bindings. not trying to be. so, well… whether you, me, or anyone, actually needs a race binding inbounds is a different question. i think they replace alpine bindings for plenty of people, but mostly for people that ski regular dynafits, AT boots, fritschis, whatever, then sure. they are probably fine.

      but if you ski 95mm last plug boots with 18 DIN bindings, then no, i don’t think so.

      super subjective here, and the mountain really matters. the more hardpack/chalk/variable, the more you need alpine gear. the more big, expansive, and lift-access backcountry the mountain is (think whistler, jackson, revelstoke, engleberg/titlis, chamonix, etc), the more a beast might be a legit everyday binding.

      hopefully of use?

  13. Fantastic review Marshal! As a bit of a binding weenie myself, its nice to see a good breakdown of all the things that makes bindings feel the way they do when we ski them. Very helpful!

    A couple quick question for you as well. I was curious to see how you would feel about these bindings on a wide platform true twin. As soon as I heard about this binding I figured it would be a great match on a pair of Kastle XX110 Wests as a jibby soft snow ski that could shred in bounds natural features, and be my dedicated backcountry ski as well. Part of that equation, at-least for me, is being able to land switch if need be while getting funky on natural features. How does the retention stack up for switch skiing? (speculation is fine if you don’t spend a lot of time going the wrong way) Also how do you feel about this binding setup true center? Would you see any negative side effects from the bindings perspective?

    • Also, quickly about me as a skier. Born and raised North-East skiier comfortable hitting firm conditions without remorse. Newer to the big wide open west coast thing. 205lbs, agressive, strong.

    • hey tim,

      thanks for the question. sure, i bet you could ski switch on them, but i am pretty skeptical of them being an everyday inbounds binding for someone at your size airing all over the place.

      there are of course plenty of folks that will ski the beast everyday well, but i think the beast is really a high performance soft-snow binding, not an everyday firm snow binding.

      so to answer your question, it really depends on how fast you plan to ski on hard/variable snow? i don’t see that forwards or backwards would matter.

      hope that helps?

  14. So my one question is the modification to the boot. When the plate is added to the heel can the boot still be used with fritchi and dukes

    • hey yon, i did not actually release test the piece with another binding, but it clicked in with correct forward pressure on a pair of p18′s. i would just double check the forward pressure on the other bindings, but i think you would be golden.

      • Similar question about boots. Does the boot mod count out boots that have swapable heels? the Scarpa SLs, etc? trying like heck to get my hands on some of these beasties…we’ll see.
        cheers!

      • Marshal,
        I did purchase a set of the beast. Put them on Prior Husame XTC. The boot is BD Factor Mx with swappable soles. I contacted Dynafit because I didn’t like how hard it was to lock out the ski brake in tour mode. I had to slam the heel down. They have already put out a retrofit for this problem and everything works better now. I have had one day at the resort with them and I am pleased with the performance. They feel similar to a traditional binding. Dynafit, however said that the modification to the boot, once done, can only be used on the beast binding. My rock skis have fritchi bindings and I have dukes on a ultra wide set of skis. I’ve played with the boot some in these other bindings and I can’t really see any sort of problem. It is a shortfall of the beast if the dedicated boot does not play well with others. I would be curious if someone out there is doing some testing to see if in fact its ok to run the boots in a traditional binding.

  15. These bindings look and sound perfect for me. Two questions;
    Will my 2014 Salomon Quest 120s (29.5) be compatible with these? (I have the toe and heel tech inserts)
    and
    I just got a pair of 2013 Liberty Helix 187s, is this a good ski to mount them on?

Questions? Comments? Tell us what you think.








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