As the snow stacks up in the hills, so does the test gear in the Off-Piste Mag shop. The latest new tech for testing is the new Dynafit TLT Speedfit binding.
The Dynafit tech binding design has seen a steady evolution from the original Dynafit TLT to the now feature-rich Radical 2.0 and Radical ST bindings. The Radical models feature forward pressure in the heel, dynamic toe rotation and multiple refinements to drop weight and maximize release value consistency. Well, with all of these positive advancements in binding tech comes complexity (read cost) and added weight. For those looking for reliable simplicity, Dynafit launched two new bindings of note for 2017/18 – the TLT Speefit and TLT Speed. They are simpler, lighter, less feature laden and less expensive.
Dynafit TLT Speedfit vs Speed
The new Dynafit TLT Speedfit and TLT Speed bindings are functionally the same. The difference between the two models is in materials and release values. The Speedfit uses steel in the toe unit, the Speed uses aluminum and weighs in 25 grams lighter per pair. Both models have a fixed vertical release value estimated at 8, while the rotational heel release is adjustable – 5-10 for Speedfit and 6-12 for the Speed.
The Speed bindings are not simply a reissue of the older TLT models. They deliver a new toe piece design featuring a longer lock lever. They also use a redesigned heel unit featuring a fixed vertical release value of 8 and adjustable rotational release plus a new simple, yet effective heel lift design.
The Speedfit binding weighed in at 354 grams per binding on our scale – including all hardware but no brake, which is available separately. So the pair weighs in at an impressive 708 grams / 1.5 lb per pair (no brake). Yes, that’s light. For comparison, here are few more tech binding weights: Radical ST 2.0 w/brakes = 1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs; the G3 ION 12 w/brakes 1.25 kg; G3 ION LT no brakes = 920 g /2 lb and the Fritschi Vipec no brakes = 1kg.
The Dynafit TLT Speedfit and TLT Speed bindings are not for everyone. There is no forward pressure in the heel, toe alignment tabs or dynamic toe piece rotation as found on the Radical models or on some of the competition. The Speed series also have a fixed vertical heel release value of 8. You can still set the rotational heel release value between 5-10 for the Speedfit and 6-12 for the Speed, but the fixed vertical release is definitely not for everyone.
The Speed models are dedicated touring bindings for skiers less concerned about the latest tech and more concerned about simple reliability. Think fewer moving parts and ease of use. Although we did not use brakes for our testing, brakes are available for both the Speedfit and Speed.
It’s nice to see simplicity playing a role in design, nonetheless the devil’s advocate might counter, “Why would you leave improved safety and release reliability behind?” Well, the luddite might reply, “I’ve skied the basic edition for more than a decade without feeling the need for added technology; why start now?”
Ski Touring on the Speedfit
With a month of touring on the new Speedfit, I have settled into its nuances and have a few observations worth sharing but no significant complaints. First, the boot is not quite flat in tour mode – meaning the heel sits a little high. It is not too significant when compared with the Radical, but for those who prefer a flat position, you can make achieve this by setting the heel closer to 90-degrees rotation versus the intended 180 (see images). The flat position is not the intended use (it doesn’t not lock into this angle like it does at 180-degrees) but it’s been working well.
I have also experienced the toe lock lever occasionally getting knocked down to ski mode when ripping skins. For those who like to rip skins without removing skis, it’s possible to make the boot toe hit the binding toe lever when pulling the move to kick your tail in the air. If you remove your skis when pulling skins and are thinking, “What the heck is he talking about?” you can just ignore my statement.
All in all, the Speedfit is proving to be the simple, bomber and functional choice from the growing list of Dynafit binding options. It’s sure to please those seeking a lighter, simpler tech binding.