Dynafit has offered the TLT Speed Radical binding design for 2011/2012. By now, many of you have seen – and some even bought – these tech binders. Rather than solely spinning the heel piece to achieve different heel lifts (or locked in, ski mode) as past generations of Dynafit bindings required, the Radical design offers a speedier, easier riser height adjustment.
Two risers mesh together and await the user employing their services. One riser position – attained by flipping one lever – for more moderate skin tracks, and a maximum height selection – attained by flipping the second riser into place – for even steeper skin tracks. Voila, all was radically designed.
The news has been out for several months about the TLT Radical series requiring a technical upgrade. The reason for the upgrade is that a weak pin sometimes breaks on some users in the field. Dynafit calls this a non-critical upgrade, and it sounds like it’s probably not a huge deal.
A bigger deal involves the Radical binding failure I witnessed today. The upper plate on the Dynafit TLT Speed Radical’s heel piece is presently made of plastic. The two risers are attached to this plastic plate. Put too much stomp into your step while the risers are employed, and you’re looking at what my ski partner experienced today: risers that completely break off and fall into the snow. Ouch. After he noticed the issue and I sifted through some snow, I found the pieces. The plastic had broken into numerous parts.
Of bigger concern is that when this happens, all ability to utilize any sort of riser is eliminated (on one side), and the skier is left to tour with their boot flat on the ski. Not too efficient when it comes to climbing up the skin track! I suggested my partner twist the heel piece to at least achieve one modest climbing position, as in the way older Dynafits function. Within about 50 steps, the heel piece had rotated clockwise a ¼ turn, and his boot was flat upon the ski once again. These binders are simply not designed to offer a riser mode without their incorporated, flip-style risers.
It seems that once this failure occurs, the user is going to get a good old fashioned calf workout during their efforts to get back to the car. Have you ever tried ascending steep skin tracks in flat mode, with no riser at all? Not too fun.
Guessing this won’t be the last time a Dynafit TLT Speed Radical breaks in this way. Time to offer up an (ever-heavier) metal plate to replace the weak plastic part? The classic TLT Speed binding used a metal heel plate which withstood all sorts of abuse. It would be a shame to see the new Radical Dynafit bindings suffer durability issues, after so many other Dynafit models withstood the tests of time so well.
Tests of time? The last pair of classic TLT Speeds I used regularly had seen about 500 skier days. They exhibited little sign of damage on the metal riser plate, aside from the expected cosmetic wear. Today’s Speed Radical incident happened with a pair of bindings that had seen a maximum of 15 days in the field. Inauspicious. Time to beef it up, Dynafit?