I’ve been a fan of Hagan skis for a while now, so it makes me happy to see them jumping on the Dynafit-patent-expiration bandwagon to become the latest company to offer a tech binding to the public, beginning around last week. At a retail price of $600, the ZR comes in several hundred dollars beneath similar lightweight, tech style race bindings such as the Dynafit Low Tech Race or the La Sportiva RSR.
Meanwhile, the weight has been trimmed to 116 grams of binding per foot, making the Hagan ZR’s the lightest binders currently for sale in North America. Cool stuff, especially since there are several pretty sweet innovations built in.
First, since the ISMF keeps changing gear rules, actual racers out there will be stoked to learn that the Hagan ZR’s can be switched from auto-locking to manual locking modes. Word is that auto-locking bindings aren’t allowed this year, and I must admit I’d be pretty miffed if I showed up to a ‘real’ race and got turned away because of something like that. (It’s obviously wise to read the rules long before you head off to an International Ski Mountaineering Federation sanctioned race..)
Second, there are indents on the rear plate. A spring loaded plastic ball in the binding housing seats in the center indent, and provides tension against twisting forces arriving by way of the ski boot’s heel. In other words, the heel bindings will twist to help smooth an ejection – just like most race heels – but they’ll provide some additional resistance.
Third, the front binding’s locking piece includes a built in wheeled-groove system, which should help keep things not only centered, but rolling smoothly.
Besides those things, in my quick look at the ZR’s, I noticed the following points.
- The crampon retaining arms are BURLY. I don’t think spring approaches in ski crampons are going to be an issue here.
- The heels mount with four, rather than three, holes. I prefer that alignment, as I think it distributes the binding’s forces over a less centralized area than a three hole binding permits. Every little bit counts if you’re using a race binding to ski steeper slopes!
- Raising and lowering the heel piece’s toilet seat (hey, that’s what race heels look like!) is smooth as usual, and the ‘seat’ stays up just fine when it’s time to be in ski mode.
- No ice-cutter grooves in the front pins.
- I’m curious if any issues develop in the heel pins as they’re held in place with a small screw which provides little surface contact compared to some other designs. It is grooved out to mesh perfectly however, so hopefully nothing pops up, and my curiosity simply melts away…
Other points of note are that Hagan wisely offers an adjustment plate to fit these bindings. For a small weight penalty – and a 5 mm rise in heel height – Hagan ZR bindings mounted with the plate will offer the flexibility of skiing in different boots with different bsl’s, while using the same binding and ski.
Hagan also offers a skinny ski crampon (75mm width) which, with its aggressive teeth, looks like it’ll take a big bite out of icy slopes during long approaches.
As always, it’s cool to see some new stuff come available here in the States, even if it is technically a repainted ATK SLR World Cup binding. If you’re in the market for some new bindings, consider these lightweight marvels. For sale at Skimo Co.