John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Flow snowboard bindings

A little off the beaten path of my usual tech blog posts, this time around I thought I would blog about snowboard bindings. When I learned to snowboard over 10 years ago I tried a bunch of different snowboard bindings on rental. If you decide to learn it’s the best way to go before spending cash. In this time I had some really bad experiences. Everything from bindings icing, to bindings letting go on the lift (that was an amusing face plant … NOT). And I came to appreciate the bindings from a company called Flow. They have a rear entry binding that does not involve the usual sit on the frigging snow and do up some ratchets. I loved them so much when my kid decided to try snowboarding it was flows all the way!
Over 10 years in, countless wipe outs, smashing into trees, trips to here and there I decided this winter was the time to replace my ageing bindings. Surely they’ve only gotten better? Last year I replaced my boots with a pair of K2 and they were a HUGE step forward in convenience and control I can only dream for something just as much of a step forward.

So I decided to try the new Flow Fuse Hybrid binding. It’s a cross between a a standard rear entry flow and a ratchet binding. The old saying jack of all trades master of none comes to mind. While the binding has a great cam based system that lifts the top of the binding when you pull down the rear entry to make it easier to get your foot in, the lock out system on the ratchets which is integral to using the rear entry is poorly designed. It is easily hit unlocking the binding waiting for you to put any pressure on the top of the binding and the whole settings for binding is lost. Your left on the hill starting again with a fresh set of bindings to set the tightness in the cold. It’s maddening. I tried for weeks to accommodate these as they were a step forward in so many ways. But could not find a way to live with these bindings. The only solution I saw was to put a cable tie around the lock to insure it never came unlocked. It never was a problem once in the binding, it was all around the time while your foot was out of the binding. On the lift for example. All in all it was an abysmal failure IMHO and I gave up and took it back.

My retailer Corbetts was amazingly supportive. They did not give me a hard time at all. They had heard from a few other customers the same concerns. So they offered up the lower end Flow Flite binding. This has a much better locking system and makes no attempt to act as a ratchet binding as the hybrid did.
Now if this were a happy story that would be the end. Sadly it is not. Flow have created a spring system that flips the back of the binding back up on this binding that makes getting into the back of the binding an act only a contortionist might accomplish. You need to hold the back of the lock out in place, hold the back of the binding in place, slide your foot in, all the while sliding on the snow, and then snap it in place. For me it was almost impossible. And getting the foot out was equally challenging. Again hold the lock, hold the binding and slide your foot out. I was only able to endure this one for a week and gave up. Back to Corbetts I go 😦

Again they were supportive. They offered up only one remaining option (that they carry) for a rear entry binding, a GNU Street.

Low and behold, three bindings later I have one that is almost as good as my 12 year old Flows! The binding has a clever mechanism that when you pull the back down to get out the top of the binding pops up to make it easier to get your foot in and out. It takes two clips (the back of the binding and one on the side) to secure the binding Vs the one on the flow that only required one, but it’s still a huge step forward from the two I tried above. Woohoo, I have a binding I can now live with. It doesn’t get reset when kicked and works well. I put cable ties to lock the setting of the toe part of the binding since that will never get adjusted anyway. One less thing to come loose and reset it’s setting. Time will tell if the GNU is as durable as my old Flows, but at least my time on the snow is not being ruined by frustrations with poorly designed bindings. I do find the narrower strap on the top of the foot is more uncomfortable in comparison to the older flow, but at least I can live with the binding. I can only hope Flow wake up and realize they broke something that was near perfect. In trying to make it better they ruined it 😦 Waaaaa.

Thanks for listening, now we can return to our regularly scheduled tech updates 🙂

March 2, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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