At the recent Outdoor Retailer show 22 Designs introduced the Vice, a non-touring version of the Axl that signals the inevitable end of the Hammerhead design. The decision to retire the Hammerhead is purely economic since it has been one of the most influential designs in recent telemark history and carries significant sentimental appeal based on a large customer base that is adamantly vocal about the binding’s superior power and control. Except that Axl has demonstrated the same level of control with even easier power adjustment.
Rather than continue to source two different sets of parts, the Vice allows 22 Designs to offer the same power as a Hammerhead, in the form of an Axl, without a free pivoting toe. By using the same spring components economies of scale can help them remain competitive with reasonable pricing. And the Vice will be cheaper than Hammerhead, and more powerful. Many have already noticed that Axl is slightly more resistive than Hammerhead #3 – #5.
Like the Axl, the Vice will allow for three pivot locations for the cable but the Vice moves the Axl pivot locations a smidgen more to the rear to further increase tele-résistänçe. In addition the toe plate will have a 3° ramp angle for faster turn engagement. And like the Hammerhead, although it isn’t as efficient as the Axl for earning turns, you can remove the Slic Pins for HH#0-like minimal resistance for easier touring. It’s better than keeping the tension high if you’re skinning back from a short sidecountry jaunt, but certainly not as relaxing as a free pivot.
Will Hammerheads fade away? Eventually even these too shall pass. However I suspect the trademark blue snout in front of duckbilled boots will linger for as many years as it set the standard by which other bindings are judged.
For those who have complained about the lack of a ski crampon option for telemark’s power leader, 22 Designs will be offering a crampon next year for the Axl. The crampon will clip on to the rear spreader bar of the toe plate, resting underneath the spring cartridges. Because it hooks on to the rear bar, it can pivot as your heel is raised, to reduce drag, and bite into the ice underneath as you step down.
Weight: Small – 3 lbs. (1.36 kg) • Std – 3 lbs., 4 oz. (1.46 kg) per pair
Sizing: Standard fits > 25.5 (mondo), Small fits < 25.5 (mondo)
Weight: 10 oz.
Size: 92mm & 110mm