For those wondering if NTN will survive, the odds are improving. It is no secret I’m impressed with the promises of a new telemark norm, but not the product. At least not Rottefella’s Freeride binding, not so far.
Rottefella’s NTN rocks in downhill. It’s the Duke of Tele, no doubt. It is better than any non-pivoting binding on the uphill, but noticeably inferior to anything free-pivoting 75mm bindings offer. As a result, it has not been a big hit with those who emphasize the earn as much or more than the turn.
I’m on record that NTN won’t catch fire until there are some more binding choices. Ones that offer respectable touring AND all the other features that make NTN compelling. Things like step in convenience, releaseability, superior torsional control, and a powerful tele-resistance.
There are now two additional options for the NTN system. One could argue that they are not true NTN bindings because they don’t use Rottefella’s patented 2nd heel. Instead they clamp at the heel, and mate to an AT or NTN style toe. They do work with NTN boots, which are the one part of the NTN system that has lived up to its side of the promise. If you’re willing to trade off some features for better touring, these are worth considering.
TTSThe newest edition comes from Mark Lengel, owner of Wasatch Ski Distribution, LLC. He calls it the Telemark Tech System, which sports a simple heel assembly mounted directly to the ski for an underfoot pivot point and a Dynafit Tech toe piece. With an acronym like TTS you can guess what this binding will be called if it catches on. Considering what it offers, it just might.
It’s light! The beta version is a little over one pound per foot.
It’s powerful. Mark Lengel claims it is the most resistive tele cable he has ever used, even stronger than HH#5. Considering the location of the pivot point, there’s probably some validity to that claim.
It has a superb range of motion for touring. At 90 degrees, more ROM than you need.
It is potentially releaseable if a DIN certified Tech toe piece were to be used. The new tech binding from La Sportiva might do the trick.
Is it step in? With a combination of a dynafiddle toe plus heel cables – “hardly” is more like it.
Having watched friends fiddle with their Dynafits longer than it takes me to snap on my heel throw cable binding I’m over the need for step-in bindings. In a lot of precarious places, I prefer the manual method for security. The combination, however, of flipping heel throws AND fiddling with my toe could prove annoying, depending on how coordinated I remain.
The Bulldog morphed into a lighter version, the Lite-Dogz while also offering a heel cable via a single tube mounted underfoot. The rigid tube makes it possible to securely hold a heel piece and complete the step-in functionality. With a few modifications to the dimensions of the toe piece, the Bulldog can now accept the symmetrical toe of an AT boot while holding the heel with step-in convenience and underfoot cable power. A lot of folks have been pretty happy with it (RTBulldog thread).
New for next year will be Spike Bulldog with dual spring tubes for more power, an improved ski brake, a metal baseplate, and two additional mounting holes at the rear for more retention power.
Update (Dec’13): Since penning this article Rottefella has added the Freedom binding to the list of options, so now there are four valid NTN bindings. TTS is maturing. It’s simplicity makes it ripe for a host of DIY variations, some of which have been publicized on this website (Mantis). And Spike continues to attract interest, again, for simplicity and functionality. The biggest issue with NTN remains the limited selection of boots, which isn’t much more than the number of binding options.