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Jan 24 2012

First Look: Rottefella’s NTN Freedom

 
Decision time can be a nail biting experience. At what point do you go ahead and make the plunge? When it’s time for a new binding or boot the question on the table is whether to stick with the duckbill (75mm) or switch to a duckbutt (NTN).

Getting off on the right foot with Rottefella's NTN Freedom.

Getting off on the right foot with Rottefella’s NTN Freedom.

Since its introduction in 2007 telemarkers are slowly being magnetized by the power and control that NTN provides. Those who spend most days burning turns have already fallen under the spell of NTN. With the announcement that the Freedom binding will have touring performance on par with 75mm offerings, NTN has even more appeal.

Telemarkers who earn more than they burn have been holding out for better uphill performance, at least 50° worth. Rottefella claims 90° but they’re talking about the range of motion possible at your knee, which is a combination of the range of motion of the toe plate, plus the flex of your sole, ankle, and knee. Based on a photo of a boot pivoted forward while in tour mode the ROM of the NTN Freedom is at least 50°. It may not be record setting, but 50° is plenty for making jack-knife sharp kick turns when you need them.

A solid 50° ROM is plenty for long strides and tight kick turns.

Like its predecessor the Freeride, there remains a light amount of tension while touring with the Freedom. Even though the pivot is not frictionless, it has way less resistance than when the toe is locked. If you’re just heading up a skin track, it is difficult to even notice. When you want to make a tight switchback, that resistance means you need to snap the tail of the ski just right, and with enough force to overcome the light tension to get the tips to come up. It isn’t anything a bit of practice can’t cure, unless you’re too lazy to learn.

Members of the backcountry media 'test' the tourability of the Freedom binding at Solitude ski resort before the lifts open.

That light resistance feels like a lot when you lift the toe plate with your hands in tour mode, but you can hardly feel it with your legs. There will, however, be a few other consequences to this. Firstly, ski tips will not float to the surface in super light fluff. This will be more evident the lighter the snow is, and less obvious as snow density increases, or the width of your ski increases. Also, that minor tension may take a toll on a big vertical day, sapping strength slowly but surely. However the good news is that light tension will allow you to do a side-stepping motion on a traverse without the tails of your skis dropping your way. For the majority of days and conditions though, the light resistance is an acceptable compromise to enjoy the many other benefits that NTN offers.

When I finally had a chance to handle the binding one of my concerns was that you would need to bend over to pull on the pink tab to put it in touring mode. Indeed, you can, but there’s really no need. To flip it in to tour mode, flip up the front lever with the ledge of your ski pole handle. This will release the clamp on the 2nd heel, but as it releases the cable tension in the binding it also causes the mode switch to pop up. With it accordioned up you can toggle the front lever back down leaving your boot clamped to the binding, but in touring mode. An easy maneuver, and you don’t need to bend over either.

Rottefella's Freedom will have two plate sizes.

To get the total weight under 3½ pounds and keep Rottefella’s touring mechanism – a design first seen on the Cobra Free and used with the NTN Freeride – required some serious rethinking. At a certain point weight does make a serious difference, and four pounds, while bearable, is pushing the limits of reasonable weight for a touring binding.

So Rottefella went back to the drawing board, so to speak.

Metal was pared back where ever possible, from skeletonizing the front lever to flat out eliminating the binding frame and mounting plate. I realized the necessity of the binding frame was questionable when I bent about four of them during a test for Backcountry magazine in 2008. They iced up on to the mounting plate and the plates were binding on the heads of the mounting screws. Since I didn’t have a hammer, I tried kicking them off and bent the frames in the process. Andrew McLean had big fun documenting that. After rebending ‘em with pliers they survived the rest of the test.

Current NTN customers will complain about the loss of the mounting plate but it simply had to go to keep the weight down. In addition the mounting pattern was changed from a 4-hole to a 6-hole pattern. This same 6-hole pattern will be adopted on future mounting plates for the NTN Freeride to make swapping bindings possible without drilling new holes, but swapping bindings between Freedom and Freeride won’t be easy.

Overall entrance and exit to the binding is the same as the NTN Freeride. It’s fast and easy, maybe even easier than the Freeride version.

How does it feel when arcing?  .  .  . Like an NTN binding.

On an early morning tour at the recent Outdoor Retailer On-Snow Demo day Rottefella reps took pains to explain that the Freedom wasn’t as powerful, torsionally rigid, or as quick to respond as the Freeride. That may be true, but in two quick runs on scrappy hardpack the difference was hard to tell, even though I compared the two bindings side by side for half a run. My experience suggests the Freedom delivers powerful yet soulfully deep tele turns, and holds a solid edge on hardpack. For reference I was skiing in TX-Pro boots with blue springs at level 3 (out of 5).

Let freedom ring! Rottefella drops weight, adds more range of motion for better touring.

It is worth mentioning that not everyone in the media group was enamored with how NTN skied. Then again, I remember having to make adjustments to my telemark style when first converting from leather to plastic, and again from 75mm to NTN. Thus, the basic ‘feel’ of the Freedom binding is very similar to the Freeride and will require some technique adjustment if you’re coming directly from a 75mm cable binding.

I would be remiss if I overlooked one of the more compelling features of NTN — the release system. When the heel is flat it offers a safety release based on the tension of the clamping cable. It isn’t DIN rated or TUV certified, but it does seem to work. Plus, I’ll keep saying it, it has a quick release that could make it easy to jettison those skis on command if you’re riding a rumbling slab of doom. Just pull up on the front lever and your binding opens up and you get to say bye bye to those anchors formerly known as skis. This move ought to help you stay on top – but no guarantees.

Rottefella's NTN Freedom • 3 lbs., 4 oz./pair (1468 g/pr) • MSRP: $429 USD

Overall my first impression is that Rottefella has finally delivered a binding that not only provides powerful turns, safety release, convenient entrance and exit from the binding, and brakes, but now it comes with a touring feature that isn’t limited by a less than adequate range of motion. Rottefella is even planning to offer crampons to go with the Freedom binding. If you’ve been waiting for the promise of NTN to be fulfilled, there isn’t much reason to sit on the fence any longer, but you will have to wait until Fall 2012.

Related Posts
Review of NTN Freedom
Review of NTN Freeride

© 2012
 

  • teletilyouresmelly

    great review Craig!

  • Ddog

    indeed, thanks for a great review, I’m jumping off the fence!!! any preliminary thoughts on durability?

  • Ben Kadas

    Dostie,

    Nice review, balanced, glad to see someone has finally published a review that is not armchair. It’s amazing how much misinformation gets published on some websites by people who have no idea what they’re talking about…

    @Ddog: durability? Seriously, Rotte has a track record, all you need to do is some reading on TTips. User experience will differ, but suffice to say that durability is not NTN’s strong point.

    Rotte could have knocked the ball out of the park with the Freedom, they have the resources, they have had the time, but all we get is eleven screws, a new mounting pattern, marginal weight loss, loss of swappability, and less activity.

    In contrast to a simple binding like the Voile Switchback II, it is amazing to me that anyone could be enamored by Rottes latest offering. Of course Rotte is planning a revamp of the Freeride, but I imagine most of us can already see the writing on the wall…watch for the countdown timer coming soon to a Rotte website near you.

    TTS, it’s all the NTN bindings can be and more :)

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Ben & Ddog,

    It is too early to tell, but many of the items that contributed to the physical failures of the NTN Freeride are simply absent with the Freedom. And there are fewer parts overall. So that bodes well for long term durability. However, only time will tell and I’m not much of a binding abuser although I do have a friend who regularly breaks bindings who is confident the Freedom can survive his version of (ab)use. ;)

  • Ben Kadas

    Dostie, I agree, Rotte did strip away some of things that were causing binding breakage, such as stiff springs, the plate mount, and the oversized frame. However, without increasing spring travel they will still have binding failures resulting from the cartridges bottoming out, to include bent center tubes, broken/crushed tour wedges, broken toe bales, and broken central pivots. And now that the binding to ski mount is more solid and the “breakaway” components have been removed, what will give way first is the unanswered question. Like the BD 01 which now has a six hole mount but remains unchanged in regards to cartridge ROM, it’ll just take a little longer before they pull out ;)

    Seriously, it makes me wonder why folks continue to place all their trust and $$ with a major binding mfg who has consistently promised much and delivered less, and at a time when the best bindings are coming out the smaller mfgs like Voile, 22 Designs, Burnt Mount, TTS. Like one TTipster noted, it’s only on the “this forum” that duckbills have been dead and buried, the rest of the world continues to embrace the duckbill as evidenced by all the wonderful “new” duckbill bindings that were showcased at OR. Who needs a duck butt when you have a duck bill :)

    Eleven screws and a different mounting pattern? Really, how hard would it have been to make an adaptor plate that allows crossover use or better yet a base plate that is drilled for both tele four hole standard AND the new Rotte standard?

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Ben,

    That’s all speculation so I think it’s time to put the binding to the test before assuming it will just be more of the same with a different coat of paint. IOW – chill or be chilled. Capice?

    Also, it was explained in my post that the reason the mounting plate (and frame) were eliminated was to save weight. With no mounting plate, Rottefella wasn’t constrained to maintain the 4-hole mounting pattern that has proven to be insufficient for some telemarkers (a destructive minority), and they wisely chose to try something new. Do you know for sure it won’t work? Are you certain that the spring travel won’t be sufficient for you?

    Indeed, small manufacturers are truly innovating, but the price of innovation is high and few customers are able to discern the advantages those designs provide. Most just do what everyone else is doing and if the majority of users don’t break their NTN’s or pull out their O1′s, perhaps that IS good enough. Maybe not for you…but you’re a smart guy and you can build your own binding. Most folks don’t have the time or the skill.

    Unlike alpine skiers where bindings should be ‘invisible’, with telemarkers bindings do make a difference. So does technique. All equipment has limits and if you keep bumping in to limits with equipment, maybe it’s time to consider modifying technique to accommodate those limits. I like Steve Barnett’s take on that stuff. Technique may take some time to learn, but once you got it, you own it and it doesn’t cost a thing to maintain it, unlike gear that breaks. ;)

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

    What’s with the climbing bales? I see it has two bars? Is that really necessary? I can’t think of many situations where a 1/4″(?) of bale height selection made a difference on a tour. One bale is fine. BD’s got the height dialed in with the one bale…O1.

    Other than that, the weight thing kills the deal with me. Lou recently called this binding “weird” and I tend to agree. I never drove a Pinto either.

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    They’re just offering a choice between climbing bar heights. BD’s O1 comes with two climbing bales also, as does Voile. 22Designs and G3 offer a choice, but you need to decide up front whereas BD, Voile, and now Rottefella give the option out of the box.

    Most folks like ‘em high. I like ‘em low (if at all). If you don’t like the low one, leave it behind, or vice versa, eh? ;)

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

    I see that on my 01′s that you can choose either and dispose to the other. Yoga works for the lower bale height , so I just use the taller of the two on only the steepest trails. O1′s only came with the one height though a slot appears available for the lower height. I only got two bales, not 4 in the box. Maybe they will send 4 in the new “upgraded” O1.

  • antifa

    Really? Bashing on the freedom because it has two climbing bales?? Most AT bindings have at least two..

    I’m kinda disappointed about the weight and the resistance in touring mode. With the freeride it was mostly the resistance that was destroying the touring for me. The weight and restricted pivot I could get used to, but the resistance constantly drove me mad because of tip dive while skinning.

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

    I been bashing on NTN’s since day 1, bales too many or not. My opinion on NTN is known and not based on any actual performance testing by myself. I held and fiddled with it once and that was enough. But that is not unusual in the ski world based on some for the gear reviews I see.

    NEXT: A two pound free pivot telemark binding PLEASE…..

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Valdez Tele,

    Are you adamant about 2.0 pounds? How ’bout 2.25 pounds? If you can go over the line a mere 4 oz. then TTS is ready to rock your world. It will, however, require new boots. ;)

    Hint: Find a used pair of Dynafit bindings and then look for used TX or TX-Pro boots. Buy new liners and you’ll be good to go with a Telemark Tech System upgrade kit.

  • kenaimountainskier

    I switched over this season to a 2lb TTS binded to DPS99 pure and I’m loving the tour up. I haven’t quite adjusted to the very active feel. I’m hoping with Mark’s upgrade kit to get TTS to feel like HH#3. As far as the freedom, I’m looking forward to how it tours.
    I liked how my HH in tour mode #1 handled on a long traverse. I’m
    guessing from Dostie’s review that the freedom will have similiar feel. Mounting the freedom to a pure ski sounds like a ton of fun!

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  • whitedirt

    I have been on the NTN’s for 4 years. In that time, besides breaking the TX-Pro Boots, I have broken 2 sets of the toe plates (the shiney chrome piece on the front) where there is a 90 degree bend. The 90 degree bend basically split.

    The Freedom binding looks great but, also looks like it is even more delicate than the recent NTN. Has anyone broken them and do you think the Freedom version is going to be durable based on how light they are?

    I have spoke to others who have broke the front throw more than once.

    Lastly, snow accumulates under the plate. Any resolution to this issue?

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    As for durability I’m simply not going to say just yet. My experience on the Freedom is limited to approximately 1200 vertical feet of turns on hard snow. It has fewer parts and the elements that I believe contributed to failures with the Freeride binding are missing (binding frame). Theoretically this will prevent many of the forces caused by stresses between parts to be eliminated but only time will tell.

    As for the snow buildup issues it appears Rottefella has dealt with this. There is a part under the foot which will chop the snow that tends to be packed underfoot, thus preventing buildup. By eliminating the frame, the ‘walls’ that tended to hold the snow in are gone, allowing snow to break up and fall off the ski. Theoretically.

    More on that after I can to do a more thorough review over time.

  • whitedirt

    I like the idea of eliminating snow build up and can see that in the shorter frame length. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the durability of the parts. After these issues have been resolved it might be the best Tele binding ever. I love them, but am tired of breaking them. After 20 plus years in the sport, it is hard to find a durable Tele binding that is not a side cable or heel throw platform.

    Thank you for the information.

  • http://www.enrichstore.com Enrich

    The new NTN looks interesting. Have been skiing the NTN Freeride this season and having a lot of fun on it and really enjoy the ease of use and popping out on occasion when needed.

    My view of this binding is that some ways it could be made with lower maintenance would be to move the cartridges from under the foot to next to the binding release bar in front of the toe. Then ditch the cartridges for springs. Having tubes to hold the springs on each side of the binding release bar with a plate that holds a cable running through the springs with threads on the end of the cable. Then at the end of the binding plate where the current tubes color show, have a U shaped “catch” that would attach to the under side of the foot plate and screw on to the two cables running through the springs. This would enable the binding to be lower or closer to the ski (not as high up as the Freeride) creating more of a freestyle binding. Also making the pivot point bolt about twice the size could strengthen the binding. Like front axles on mountain bikes have gotten bigger for this same reason.

    The tough part of the design is in making a release for touring. If the center lever for touring could be used to push the springs toward the tips of the ski, creating more tension, or to just unscrew the U piece to remove all tension.

    Also this system would remove the cartridges and use springs enabling a smoother resistance to lifting the heel.

    What do you think?

    with kindness
    Michael Gilbert

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Enrich,

    There’s a lot of things that sound simple that may or may not turn out that way in reality. Only way to prove your theory would be to build it and see. Or convince Rottefella to listen to you.

  • yugi

    How active is the Freedom?

    I’m hoping it is much less active then the Freeride and allows us to freely lift the heel while pushing on flats or traverses. Is this so?

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    It’s a bit too early to tell. There are only a few beta bindings available and none for long term testing. My limited experience indicated they were only slightly less active. My expectation is there will be some changes before next fall, but no one outside of the Rottefella inner circle will demo the changes until they arrive on retailer shelves in October 2012.

    The free-pivot still has a little bit of resistance when touring. Not a lot, it is hardly noticeable when skinning uphill but will probably sap your energy a bit on a long day. That also depends on how “free” you want your free-pivot to be. If frictionless, then none of the NTN bindings will do that. But, if you want NTN compatible, you could go with a TTS binding and have zero resistance in tour mode, adjustable power for skiing, at a fraction of the weight.

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    My updated view on the activity, or what I would prefer to call the tele-resistance (often called the power) of Rottefella’s Freedom is that it is more akin the Voile’s Switchback. My initial comparison was flawed because not only were the bindings mismatched, so were the skis. I’ve done side by side comparisons of many bindings over the years, but to make the comparison valid the skis need to at least be similar in width and length, ideally the same model ski. So my initial reaction was a bit off. Saying it is the same as a Switchback isn’t exactly accurate either, for the same reason. I’m relying on experience and the sensation of the two bindings via memory, not a side by side comparison.

  • tele.skier

    Binding geometry designs have changed tele-technique in the past. NTN’s geometry doesn’t create a lot of ski tip pressure by lifting the boot heel with an underfoot cable attached to it. A whole generation of tele-skiers have been wiened on this single effect. I call the last 10 years of telemarking the “hammerhead era”, because it was dominated by the very active bindings, altering the average skier’s technique to include a greater proportion of binding generated tip pressure to help steer the tips of the ski aggressively.

    NTN is mechanically different than the mechanics of underfoot heel cabled bindings. IF a skier’s technique is based on driving tip pressure into the ski with excessive binding activity, they will NEVER prefer an NTN binding, because it’s not mechanically designed to generate the greatest amount of ski tip pressure though POGO STICK levels of sprung heel retension…. In fact, NTN is actually a FREE heel…

    There are other advantages to NTN’s design, like a “more underfoot” boot/binding interface which leads to less lateral deformation of the boots and the greater feel in ski edging power.

    Skiing NTN requires a technique adjustment. IF a skier is looking for binding generated tip pressure they will be disappointed with NTN, but there’s really no way to say whether heel cabled or duck butt connections are BETTER since they require slightly different technique and don’t generate the same proportion of forces….

  • teletilyouresmelly

    tele.skier- I don’t really understand the comment that it’s a “free heel”- I mean it is a tele binding, but there’s alot of resistance- the “regular” NTN skis similar to a HH 4 or 5 to me- seems to drive the ski tip similarly to me

  • tele.skier

    TTYS, I have talked about the differences in binding generated forces quite a bit on TTips. Possibly the best example of the difference in binding generated forces is illustrated by the single most adjustable binding, the Hammerhead. A HH set on postion 1 pulls on the spring at an angle nearly parallel to the ski, so lifing your heel on setting 1 generates very little tip pressure. IN contrast HH set on 5 generates a much larger downward force on the ski tip when the skier lifts his heel. As I have also stated repeatedly on TTips, the developement of this binding mechanical geometry (*by mike miller) spawned a tele-technique, either partly or in some extreme cases completely based on this binding generated tip pressure..

    NTN does not have the ability to change the angle at which it loads it’s spring resistance. Since the bellows flex point is also very close to the point of boot attachment, a skier’s heel can rise and generate almost no tip pressure. This effect was called “a dead spot” by some of NTN’s critics. It should be noted that skiers who report this dead spot, do so because they aren’t generating the tip pressure forces that they have incorporated into their technique.

    NTN is a lever, just like any other binding. I don’t think it’s skiability is better or worse than any other good tele binding if the skier’s technique fits with his choice of bindings.

    The real deficiency of NTN is it’s resistance in tour mode. My buddy finally picked up a pair of used NTN boots and skinned one lap on NTNs and thought the free pivot was horrible compared to his normal Switchbacks. Many skiers have reported similar impressions.

    I think the freedom binding really needs this true free pivot improvement…. because it skis great (for my technique at least)

  • Ben Kadas

    @teleskier: all bindings are “just levers”, whether alpine or telemark, we pull up from the heel and/or press forward on the cuff, it’s a chicken or egg argument. 

    Some folks like a more neutral feel, so they prefer neutral bindings, others want more resistance, so they prefer a more powerful binding. As telemarkers, we all know what it feels to get too far forward, the “over the handlebars” sensation. Alpine skiers solved this problem by adding heels, telemarkers solved this problem by stiffening boots and adding “active”  heel retention.

    You can’t make telemark better by reducing the options. Telling folks that neutral is better is akin to throwing out thirty years of telemark innovations in design and technique, and that’s just silly. Different gear and different styles necessitate different needs, so big boots go with powerful bindings. NTN was never designed to be a powerful binding or they would have maintain the machanical advantage of heel retention.

    How about this: let’s call it quits to this argument over changing ski techniques to match the binding. NTN is a binding designed for a turn, not a turn designed for a binding.

    If you want a free pivot telemark binding that is lightweight and powerful, has fewer mounting screws, and fewer parts that can break, check out TTS. I have two seasons on my hybrid TTS and they are the holy grail in all ways. 

    And for those looking to entertain themselves over the dry months of summer, consider this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31KZJ_k8bYU

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    @NurseBenK and tele.skier,

    I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with both of you over the phone and know that both of you are truly passionate about backcountry skiing, particularly the telemark flavor. But, there is a semantical breakdown in communication here. Ben you address tele.skier’s request for a neutral binding except he never said anything about a neutral binding. He said he wanted a free pivot and by that he means a touring pivot without any resistance. So far there is not a single NTN binding that provides a truly free pivot for uphill skinning. Both the Freeride and Freedom bindings have a noticeable amount of resistance in touring mode. It is a LOT less than for making turns, but there is some resistance nonetheless.

    I think NB and TS would both agree that to each his own as far as how much tension, or activity, or tele-resistance any given telemark skier may prefer for downhill skiing. For most, it is what they are used to, whether that be Hammerhead #2, #3, #4, or #5 or the relative equivalents that exist. In my last conversation with TS he was able to explain the difference many people experience with NTN in a way that I hope I can re-iterate in the not too distant future when I provide an update on the Telemark Tech System, or future NTN reviews.

    Those of us who tele know that you need to adjust your technique between leather and plastic boots, and between a 3-pin and a Targa, or a 7tm and a Hammerhead, or a Switchback and NTN. There are similarities for many, but there are differences and those differences require an adjustment to technique or you will be “over the handlebars.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1814475647 Barry Ritchey

    Maybe I missed this but I have a question:
    Does the lack of a mounting plate mean the Freedom can’t be easily moved from ski to ski… this would only be possible with the Freeride?
    Or is there a new plastic plate that works for both Freedom and Freeride and bindings can be moved between skis?
    Also, anybody know if the mount includes holes for the older 4-hole pattern? I hate to Swiss-cheese a ski if I don’t have to…
    -Barry

  • Dostie

    You missed it. ;)   In order to make it light, the plate was jettisoned.  The common cure for making bindings swappable without plates are called inserts. They require extra effort to install, and extra precision, but worth it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1814475647 Barry Ritchey

    Just before checking back to this thread, I had called Scarpa and talked with Paul. He confirmed that only the Freeride works with the new plastic mountain plate, which would allow for ski to ski movement of the binding. As you just mentioned, ski to ski movement of the Freedom requires inserts. Think I’m converting to the Freeride and two sets of plates for my two resort/teaching skis and will ski another season on Switchback with my BC skis. A partial plunge from 75mm to NTN. :-)
    Re: inserts
    I’ve always been poised to do it, but I like to turnover skis every two years and inserts seem to turn people off. Especially if the insert set doesn’t match the binding they want to run.

  • tele_skier

    The new plastic base plate for the Freeride binding is now the same screw pattern as the new Freedom binding,… SO,….. if you buy the new baseplates and mount them in threaded inserts, then you can switch between the freeride base plate to mount a freeride binding OR bolt the new Freedom binding right to the ski via the threaded inserts.

    *The old metal baseplates for the freeride binding have a different screw pattern than the new freedom binding, so there’s no simple interchangability between them.

  • michael metz

    I took my freedoms out for a test ride on some softened
    suncups on Sat. Not the best conditions but I got a fair amount of climbing to
    try the new tour mode, and also a feel for the downhill, taking into account the
    bumpy conditions.

    Bindings are noticeably lighter on my 176 starlets,
    which last season had freerides mounted. I think the skis and bindings are just
    at 10.5 lbs or so. The tour mode is nice. I don’t feel as much resistance as the
    freerides until I get to pivot angels above 30 degrees or so. Kick turns on the
    steeper suncupped slopes were so easy. Transitioning into tour mode is also
    easy. Flip up release lever and push down with pole. Binding remains in tour
    mode. I’ll never need to reach down to pull the pink tab.

    Downhill feel
    seems better than freeride to me, but kind of hard to tell on the bumpy
    conditions. I don’t need a lot of activity so I’m skiing blue on 1. I don’t get
    the hingy feel that I didn’t like about freeride. Much smoother flex it seems,
    maybe because of the ramped toe. I think knee to ski types will like this one
    better. Lateral control didn’t seem much different than freeride, parallel turns
    felt powerful.

    a few more comments:

    - The screws that come with
    freedom are a bit larger dia than the ones for freeride. I tried to drill using
    3.6 mm and tap just as I had done with 6 or 7 skis that I had previously drilled
    for freerides and I had all kinds of problems. Ruined one of the holes. Thanks
    to tele.skier for saving me. I’ll try using my 4.1 mm bit next time.

    -
    It’s a little trickier kicking into the freedoms with the ramped toe and what
    seems to be a little stronger brake spring. Probably just something to get used
    to, but for now I press the brake down with the boot and push forward while
    tipping the toe. Slides in easy that way.

    - A friend of mine had a lot
    of trouble always kicking open the tour lever while downhilling. Not sure how he
    does it. Anyway, the freedom has the tour lever kind of recessed between the
    sides of the release lever, so this should help.

    - I could do without
    the double climbing wires, as the short one is not much use to me. Not a big
    deal. It’s not in the way, and not much weight. The taller one comes up easily
    with my pole handle and can be pushed down with my pole basket or handle.

    I’m kind of biased, but so far I really like them. I’m anxious to see
    how they do in the powder with snow buildup and icing. And hopefully durablility
    won’t be an issue.

  • Dostie

    Interesting observation on the screws. Last time a manufacturer tried ‘improving’ the screws he caught hell for going non-standard (the final version of Rainey’s Superloop w/torx headed screws and a weird thread pitch).

    Good to hear some independent corroboration on the downhill. I think I even over stated it a bit, but your comments add the right moderation.

    I’m opposite of you – would rather throw away the high climbing posts, but it’s not that hard. Just pop off the plastic cover and disconnect ‘em.

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  • PQ

    I know many people will love having the brake on the NTN.
    However a significant percentage of people using dynafit/tech bindings remove the brake – or have bindings that don’t come with brakes. In fact, I don’t know anyone that uses brakes on them…

    So…. can you mount the NTN Freedom sans brake?
    I’ve never seen photos of the underside/brake attachment…

    How much weight would be saved by doing so?
    I would guess that removing the brake would get it down to 1300g/pair (which would make it the lightest pivot binding other than the TTS system…).

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  • Philip Fay

     Hi whitedirt, I have used the freeride for 3 seasons now and in the back country I had snow packing between the plate/ boot…..uncomfortable and heavy I cut a piece of roll mat (foam camping mat) and jammed it in between the binding/ under foot.  I no longer have this problem w/ Tahoe snow at least.

    By far the worst problem I have had is that the spring cartridges have completely unscrewed when riding, luckily I was going pretty slow both times it has happened after riding hard. The boot just comes off the binding.  I then hiked back up the groomer looking for it.  Obviously, if this happened at speed, in powder or back country it could be very severe consequences. you would never find it.

    It took me some time to figure out that it had in facted unscrewed, initially I thought I had stripped the threads from the cartridge. Getting them back in on the slopes is remarkably difficult, you need pliers (to pull the cable tight) and a screwdriver. Along with a string (I use laces) to compress the binding while adjusting.

    I have now used a threadlocker to prevent this from happening (after cleaning out the spring carts with car brake cleaner) and for a visual reference I have used a permanent marker around where the cartridge enters the binding. Its been a week without problems. 

    I advise everyone w/ NTN bindings to check there settings every day prior to riding otherwise risk serious injury at some point if you are riding hard.