There are a couple of solutions available for skiers looking to swap between two sets of bindings on a single pair of skis or use one set of bindings on two pairs of skis, Binding Freedom and Quiver Killers. I recently installed a set of Binding Freedom inserts to accommodate Marker Tours and Dynafit Radicals on a set of skis. Originally a plate-based system, where you mounted a machined plate to your ski that allowed binding swaps, Binding Freedom has evolved to become binding-insert-based. This means you mount threaded inserts in your ski to match the bindings you wish to swap. Once installed, it’s like the inserts on a snowboard or the system K2 once offered on their telemark ski line. It’s a cleaner and lighter system than using plates, though it does require a fair number of holes to be drilled if your setting up one ski for two bindings. Of course, you could have a qualified shop do it but, by its very nature, it seems like it’s gonna appeal to the DIY crowd.
I chose a pair of skis that had already had both Markers and Dynafits installed at one point in their life, so all I needed to do was redrill the two different binding patterns with the special insert-sized bit (6.5mm) and then follow the straightforward insert installation process. Binding Freedom is now part of Sun Valley Ski Tools (SVST) and you get all of the tools and parts required for the process through SVST. The inserts themselves are all the same, but you must specify your binding models, so you get the proper length and head style on the screws that thread into the inserts. The helpful folks at SVST have it all lined out for ya. They also have an impressive variety of paper jigs for just about every ski binding available for download on their website. These paper binding jigs are key if you need to drill the ski for the first time for one or both of the bindings.
Here’s the big picture process:
1. Drill the ski for the appropriate binding mounting patterns. This is done with the special insert bit that drills a hole to accommodate the insert. If your ski is already drilled for one binding, you can simply re-drill the existing holes with the insert bit – that’s what I did and it worked great.
2. Clean and deburr each hole – this helps reduce volcanoing around the hole and helps keep the inserts easy to flush mount.I recommend spending the extra $19 on the deburring tool if you don’t have one. But you can also do it with a sharp utility knife.
3. Tap each hole by hand – the basic tap handle works great for this, but take your time and make sure you run it straight.
4. Dry-fit each insert to test the depth and fit – sounds tedious but makes a difference and only adds five minutes per ski to the process.
5. Install each insert with epoxy (24-hour cure – not 5-minute) using the special insert installation tool being sure to run the inserts down flush with the ski’s topsheet.
6. Let cure, sand any excess epoxy on top sheet and mount bindings using new machine screws and a threadlock compound like Vibratite.
Overall, the project went well. I’ve mounted a lot of skis over the years but have never installed inserts before. There’s definitely a learning curve but the tips to dry-fit, clean and deburr the holes will help keep the install smooth. A countersink bit would be helpful for the deburring too. I’ll emphasize, though, that if you’re not a tinkerer or a DIY binding person, you should think twice about doing this yourself. It’s not rocket science, but it does require careful, methodical work and experience with tools. The project gets a little bigger if you are drilling the skis for the first time and are using paper jigs. It can certainly be done, but the paper jigs require another degree of measure-twice-cut-once attention to detail. In other words, being careful to double check everything and move slowly.
I had a little trouble with the insert installer tool, but SVST has since revamped the tool (as of 1/1/15) for better fit tolerance and is using higher grade hardened steel, so make sure you get the new one.
Another potentially excellent use for these inserts is for hole repair on any binding mount. They are like an uber heli-coil. It’s worth having a few in your ski bench kit just for that reason. Also, skiers who have experienced problems with tele binding pull out should consider the Binding Freedom inserts option for creating a bomber mount.