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Jan 27 2011

OR W11: And then there were three (NTN)

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.

 

TTS

The Telemark Tech System. Light, powerful, & fiddly. Click to enlarge.

The 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.

 

Spike Dog

Meet Spike. Step-in, free pivot, underfoot resistance. Click to enlarge.

The other option has been around for a year now, the RTBulldog from Burnt Mountain Designs in Vermont. Louis Dandurrand’s stroke of genius, the first step-in 3-pin binding rocked the tele world with his adaption of a wrap-around toe piece ala the Hammerhead, and a pivot for the toe piece to “open.”

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.

 

© 2011

 

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.

Related Posts
Spike
TTS: Version 2.0, Mantis, Dynafit goes bisensual
Rottefella’s NTN Freedom

  • http://www.thompsonpass.com Valdez Telehead

    Thanks Craig for this review. The TTS looks the most promising. I still think a “heel lock down” feature to allow for alpine turns would be a nice addition to any telemark binding. Also agree with you that a step in feature is not that big of a deal, especially if it adds bulk and weight. Obviously some great “tinkerers” in the industry are working on these binding issues and that is good.

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Am not completely convinced of the need for a heel lock down for myself personally, but do agree many want it. Think a combination of Dyanfiddle toe plus a cable that hooks to the second heel and a small, racing style Dynafit type heel that slid fore or aft like G3′s Onyx would do the trick.

  • 300winmag

    I guess I’m too “old school” but I still like my Voile release bindings. No DIN settings but they work for me. The old Besser binding principle seems to release when I need it. Having tobogganed my share of injured Nordic skiers I think release free heel bindings are finally coming into their own.

    I DO like the looks of the Burnt Mountain RT Bulldog binding. Seems like a good idea that is simple in its design.

    Eric

  • http://www.thompsonpass.com Valdez Telehead

    The other day I did what I have done so many times and buried a ski tip at speed. As my tip began yanking me to a STOP!!!, the flex of the telemark boot and the slow bend of the free-heel came into play and like a rubber band I slowly stopped. If I have been on AT gear it would have released and if not broke bones or ligaments. I think that is an advantage of some non-releasables. Of course leathers made things even more forgiving, but that was then and this is now. One reason why I began backing off big and burly telemark boots was that there was no forgiveness.

  • snowy

    Ahem… Dostinator update please…

    Craig, your dynafit comments make me think that’s not going to be an element of the mythical Dostinator. Too bad. I think the TTS is on to something but hasn’t quite completed it…

    Joe

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Pssst.

    Loose lips sink ships. ;)