Jul 01 2014

G3 boots Enzo, Enzo-R lives on


G3's Enzo a great, late design.

G3′s Enzo a great, late design.

The latest bellweather for telemark skiing’s lack of popularity is G3′s decision to stop production of their Enzo telemark touring binding. According to sales manager, Gord Bailey, at the current rate of sales “it would take years” to sell off the number of bindings built for a minimum production run. There remains hope for Enzo’s future since the Enzo R, a non-touring version of the Enzo with fewer parts, will continue to be offered.

Timing is everything

This is an unfortunate statement on the importance of timing in product development. G3 was the second company to come to market with a telemark binding offering a free-pivot for touring efficiency with their Targa Ascent. The tele faithful were slow to recognize the value of a free-pivot for free-heeled bindings. More critical, however, was the shift in interest among backcountry skiers from telemark to alpine touring. AT offered the efficiency of a free-pivot for touring, and with a tech style binding, is a lot lighter.

In the meantime, other telemark binding manufacturers joined the free-pivot movement and improved upon the desire for a better touring telemark binding, all while interest in telemark waned. Enzo was G3′s answer to the shortcomings of their Ascent binding, and when compared to the rest of the field offered some compelling features – arguably the best immunity from icing on the planet, easy mode switching, and a sweet tele sensation that is smooth and strong. But it was too late to the plate.

G3 goes turbo on Alpine Touring

Onyx broke ground and was bloodier for it.

Onyx broke ground and was bloodier for it.

Meanwhile, G3 was not oblivious to the shift in market demand. They were the first company to develop a tech binding that wasn’t a mere knock-off of Dynafit’s revolutionary 2-pin design. The Onyx actually ventured into new territory and the market bludgeoned them by focusing on the shortcomings, not the exciting new options. It was the first tech binding to offer the ability to shift-on-the-fly from ski to tour mode without exiting the binding. Five years later, Fritschi’s Vipec offers the same feature. In addition, the toe-jaws have higher retention forces for improved elasticity and it is the first AT binding where every single binding is tested and fully indemnified.

Flip left. Flip right. One for medium, two for high. And it's "step-in!"

Flip left. Flip right. One for medium, two for high. And it’s “step-in!”

Sadly, it seems the Onyx was a bit premature as well with toe-pins and climbing posts breaking and, woe to the numbers nerds, weighed four pounds with brakes. Those issues have been resolved, but the public’s first impression was cast.

Building on their experience G3 will be introducing the Ion, a tech binding that keeps the elasticity and increased retention forces of the Onyx, with a much easier to enter configuration that threatens to bring step-in simplicity to the world of tech bindings. What a concept. Combined with a competitive weight of 2½ pounds per pair the Ion is poised to turn heads in the hot tech binding market.

The question is, will Ion’s design features be able expand the pie to secure a substantial slice of the market with pending offerings from Marker and Salomon, let alone the deservedly entrenched Dynafit? For the sake of progress and growth in BC skiing, let’s hope so.

© 2014

Related Posts:
A telemarkers view of Onyx
Enzo review
Onyx review
Ion 1st Look
Lou’s view on Onyx