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Sep 16 2013

1st Look: Ambition – Tyrolia’s lightest AT binding

 

aAmbition - last AT binding to bat, but not the least worth considering.

Ambition – last AT binding to bat, but worth considering.

After touring with Tyrolia’s beefy AT binding, the Adrenaline I was impressed with how simple and easy the mode switch was to operate; on par with the original BAT binding, Fritschi-Diamir’s Freeride. No need to step out of the binding to switch modes, a nice feature between downhill pitches where you don’t need to use skins but want free heel freedom. Nor are there any noticeable limits in the ROM category. In short, it rocks.

The same is true of Tyrolia’s younger and trimmer brother, Ambition. The Ambition sheds an additional 10 ounces (280 g) per foot. Not an astounding difference, but noticeable underfoot and enough to be one of the lightest BAT bindings on the market, a perfect passport to backcountry adventure.

Notice the double-action on the mode switch?

Notice the double-action on the mode switch?

The Ambition plate is held locked to the ski almost the same way as Fritschi’s Freeride. The actual mechanism that holds the plate secure is a separate piece, inside the climbing post that doubles as the mode switch lever. The end result is Ambition offers four climbing heights – flat, low (5°), med (10°), and high (15°). You can shift on the fly and not have to step out of the binding to free your heel, although going from locked to low requires toggling the heel post up to free the heel, then down while your heel is lifted, to swivel the low post into position. In other words, it’s not simply three stages of lifting the post to achieve multiple levels, but up for flat, back down for low, up two notches for medium, and up three for high. Not rocket science, just not sequential through all positions.

Aluminum toe pivot frame for longevity.

Aluminum toe pivot frame for longevity.

One feature you might overlook is the pivot. For the Ambition, this binding is designed to go the distance as evidenced by a metal toe frame to hold the metal axle. Plastic frames are known to get sloppy over time, reaming out. No doubt you could wear this binding down that much too, but I’ll wager it’ll take a heckuva lot longer than with plastic.

That metal toe plate has a 42mm wide mounting pattern, as wide as Marker’s touted Extended Power Frame series, whose claim to superiority is a wider mounting pattern. It does make a difference.

Without actually skiing one, it looks like the plate for the binding offers about the same torsional rigidity as the Freeride. The widest part of the heel feet are about as wide. It looks to be more immune to ice than the Adrenaline because it doesn’t sport open cells for snow to pack in to. The snow can freeze to metal, but it won’t pack like the underside of the Adrenaline. Even so, these might require regular coats of silicone to keep snow from clinging to the plate.

Got crampons too!

Got crampons too!

The Ambition adds Tyrolia’s freeflex technology to a touring binding, allowing the heel to move fore and aft when a ski bends and compresses the toe and heel around your boot. The freeflex technology prevents the sensation of a flat spot, and allows the ski to flex more naturally, less constrained by the bindings rigid plate.

Adjustment of size is not as easy as with the Adrenaline where you just flip a switch up like the old Naxos. You actually need some tools, but a simple screwdriver does the trick. This is where the Ambition separates itself from the pack. All other plate style AT bindings have more than one plate size, so you need to decide up front on the small, or large plate size. The Ambition is one size fits all.

Telescoping rectangular plate is one size fits all.

Telescoping rectangular plate is one size fits all.

It achieves this minor miracle by adjusting both the length of the plate and the position of the heel post. The plate itself can only move in coarse, 10mm increments. To account for finer length adjustment, the binding heel itself can move +/- 5mm. The heel post can then be positioned to hold the plate down for the coarse size, or mounted on a track (perfect for rentals) to accommodate the full range of plate sizes.

The Ambition looks to be perfect for the skier who isn’t sending their carcass off cliffs on purpose and whose alpine boots are DIN standard, or an old pair of lugged AT boots without Dynafit fittings. It’s a great choice for short tours, and isn’t too heavy for long ones either.

A track for the heel post makes this an excellent rental rig.

An optional track for the heel post makes this an excellent rental rig.

The biggest problem with this binding? Lack of availability. The market for AT bindings is either in the light is right camp, or beefy is better. The Tyrolia/Fischer/Elan Ambition is dead center with the Freeride and it’s tough to make middle of the road sound sexy, even if it is the best choice for most skiers.

Tyrolia/Fischer/Elan
Ambition
MSRP: $ 425
Weight/foot: 2 lbs., 4 oz. (1030 g)
Sizes available: 260 – 350 BSL
DIN range: 4 – 12
Ski Brakes: 85mm, 105mm, 125mm
Ski Crampons: 90mm, 105mm, 120mm

© 2013
 

  • Kyle

    Marker does a good job of making everyone believe there bindings are the burliest out there. I am surprised I have not heard of these bindings until now. I’m coming off some marker dukes and am getting a new set up this year. Although I primarily ski resort, I hike a lot, and tour occasionally. I was planning on getting marker f12′s, but was unhappy about the free heel latch being under the boot, because I hate that on my dukes.

    These bindings look solid, about the same stand height as the f12′s, lighter than the fritchi’s and f12′s, and the free heel latch at the back.

    Do you think this binding is burly enough to withstand 20-30 days of resort skiing, with some park skiing? Will I be happy with these on 110 mm waisted skis?

    Thanks for the detailed write up on these bindings!

  • Dostie

    Burly enough for 30 days of resort pounding including some airtime in the park? No, I do not think the Ambition is the right tool for that. Perhaps Tyrolia’s Adrenaline would work for that, or the new Dynafit Beast.

    Though there are some who might use this binding (Ambition) on skis up to 110mm wide, I wouldn’t advise using them on anything wider than 100mm. For skis above 105mm I would want a binding that is more securely held at the heel in turn mode, like the Duke, Baron, Tour, Guardian, Tracker, or Adrenaline. Not the Fritschi Freeride, or Tyrolia Ambition.