After six years Black Diamond’s O1 will feature a six-hole mounting pattern. As with all other telemark bindings using a six-hole pattern, it doesn’t match any other binding on the market. That’s the bad news. The good news is the two extra holes extend the overall length, and thus the retention surface area of the mounting pattern. Though too early to tell for certain, this ought to eliminate the potential for O1′s to pull out of skis.
It had to have been an embarassing moment when a photo of Nick DeVore, a sponsored BD telemark athlete, made the rounds on the internet holding up his skis after a fall with the O1 binding torn from the ski. Though I’m willing to admit that the number of people who manage to do this is smaller than the amount of attention it attracts on the internet would indicate, nonetheless the tendency for O1′s to be pried from skis is more likely than bindings with a six hole pattern like the Axl or Hammerhead.
BD’s claim that mounting the O1 with less than perfect precision is the largest contributor to failure. While that may be true in some cases it simply failed to account for the reality that few bindings are ever mounted perfectly. The extension of the mounting plate and two additional mounting screws at the rear of the binding is bound to eliminate the problem of the O1 being pried loose from the ski, but it will take a few years for awareness of the fix to filter into the consciousness of the average pinhead. Aside from making the O1 more immune to flawed mounting technique the only obvious change is the color scheme, from green on gray, to green on black. Everything else that made the O1 one of the more popular free-pivot tele bindings in the backcountry remain, including the most intuitive mode switch on the market, underfoot cable routing for fast turn engagement, and a selection of spring cartridges to adjust the tension the cable provides.
Changing springs is still a tedious operation, but one that is rarely done. If you’re using a lower cuffed, 3-buckle boot the mid-stiff cartridges will probably work well, and for beefy, 4-buckle boots the ridiculously-stiff cartridges are the popular choice.Range of motion in tour mode is still a healthy 60° plus and yes, ice occasionally builds up on the underbelly of the toe plate which frustrates switching back to turn mode. It doesn’t happen too often, much less than an Ascent, but a lot more than a Switchback.
For those who want a full featured tele binding, BD’s O1 is one of the few that offers an optional ski crampon that fits between your boot and the spring cartridges. Thus it lifts with your foot to reduce friction when striding forward, but bites into the snow as your heel comes down.Black Diamond’s improved O1 with a new, 6-hole mounting pattern still provides an excellent mix of functionality for telemark mountaineers. The mode switch is easy to operate, tour mode provides a huge range of unrestricted motion, and a pair of under-foot routed spring cartridges deliver more than enough power to control any ski you pair them with. If you’re still using a simple cable binding, you won’t regret upgrading to the Oh-one one iota.
Weight: 3 lbs., 12 oz.