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Been out touring six days on Guardians now that its been snowing in Tahoe. Overall I'm not too impressed. I find that the big "selling points" are kind of bullshit, and that they are pretty much of the same or less quality than the old dukes.
First off, they feel cleaner to skin in. Thats the major benefit I've noticed. Pivot is really comfortable and well placed, and I feel like I can take huge strides.
Unfortunately there is no flat position for long flat tours, but I guess thats not really what these bindings are made for.
Otherwise I don't see much improvement. Ok, so it sits a little lower than the duke, thats a plus.
I'd like to speak on being able to lock/unlock while standing in the binding. Thats such a fucking stupid selling point. Unless you're arms are those of a gorilla, you have to take off your ski anyway to remove your skins. Second, its really easy to accidentally click back into ski mode while trying to put up the risers. Stupid.
I've also noticed that these bindings do indeed get ice buildup. Snow and ice jam up underneath the front pivot plate, so thats not really improved over the duke. Its not a huge detractor on either binding though (for me at least).
Finally, about the burliness. For a binding that is supposed to basically have the performance of an alpine clamp (and weigh twice as much), these things fall a little short. A couple people mentioned that there is play in the heel, I find that to be very much apparent. I originally purchased these because I was hoping they would get less slop overtime than the old dukes, but to me it seems like they are already starting with more movement. Because of the way the metal hooks grab the bottom of the heelpiece, there is lateral sliding between the two. In addition, the hooking plate is loose in the groove it sits, providing a full range of unwanted motion. I had these mounted twice to adjust the position on the ski, and both times I noticed the same issues. Just doesn't seem like the bomber performance I was expecting from a heavy ass $450 binding.
Bottom line is this: I know I took a gamble with a first year binding, but I just can't trust the downhill performance. Bummer Salomon
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