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OB4 Systems Review

MattPMattP Posts: 6,205 Mega Baller
edited June 2014 in Reviews
The Overall Binding 4 System (OB4) is the newest releasable binding system on the market for Slalom, Trick, and Jump. From the first time I saw the product in person I was impressed with the way the system has been designed with every attention to detail utilizing anodized aluminum, high grade plastic and stainless steel parts.

Before I made the switch to the OB4 I rode a hardshell releasable system that I trusted for the past 4 years. One issue I always had with my previous system was the inability for the binding to release in a rotational fall. I injured my ankle last season in a fall where there was no pull from the heal which was the release point for that system. I looked at all the systems on the market and finally settled on the OB4. The OB4 System’s style of release in my opinion is the safest at this time for double hardshell and RTP skiers because it can release in out-the-front, out-the-back, rotationally or any combination there of in a fall.

With any kind of spring controlled release system there is a trial period to figure out the release tension that works best. From the factory the release will be set at a standard tension based on weight, height and skiing level. From there the tension of the spring can be adjusted to better suit the users skiing style. I believe it took me about 4 or so sets to get fully dialed in. I have released from the system from both my slalom and trick skis multiple times. Every time I released I felt that I should have and I now fully trust the system to hold me in when I am pushing myself to my limits when it comes to rounding buoys and attempting new tricks.

One of the best features of the OB4 besides the multi directional release is the ability to use your current hard-shells or mount any kind of shells you desire. I was able to mount the shell I have been using for the past 4 years right onto the OB4 binding plate in a matter of a few minutes with the hardware provided from the factory. This made the transition to the new system that much easier. From my first set on the OB4 I did not feel that the system required me to adjust my skiing or compensate for the change in systems. Another great feature of the OB4 is the ability to adjust the rotation of your bindings on the binding plate which is not always an option with other hardshell systems.

There has been some talk on the forums about the weight of the system. I have been told it weighs less than a rubber binding set up and compared against my previous system the OB4 is only a few ounces heavier. If you are that concerned over weight then don’t eat that donut for breakfast!

One thing I noticed about the OB4 was that the binding plate raised my binding off the ski higher than I was previously used to. I thought that this was not going to be conducive to my skiing. After my first set on the ski I could not tell a difference in performance of my skiing with my front binding raised.

The OB4 does require a set of inserts near the release mechanism that do not come standard on all skis. The forward inserts that come on HO (& possibly Connelly) skis are in the correct location. I did not want to add inserts to my ski right away so I have been using 3M auto trim tape to hold down the release with great success. I will be tapping my ski for 2 new inserts to allow for easier binding adjustment. Mike at OB4 can give you step by step instructions on how to tap a ski for inserts. I do not see an issue with long term use of 3m auto trim tape but it will need to be changed out from time to time and it also limits the ability to quickly make a binding adjustment. I have a workaround in my mind to avoid taping for inserts that allows for normal binding adjustments without chaining out the tape but will have to work with the guys at OB4 on it.

On my first set on the ski I felt and heard a knocking from the lever which looses some of its tension when the binding plate is engaging the spring. I would feel the lever when I was in my glide and coming off the second wake. I switched off a system where a clicking sound comes from your feet meant you were no long attached to the ski so it was not a comforting sound to hear. From the factory there is some velcro on the lever and release unit. I personally added some 3M Duel Loc to the tip of the lever and release unit to hold them together. I also added some 3m backed rubber to fully absorb the side to side movement. I feel that these modifications do not compromise the releasability of the system and I now do not notice any movement or sound coming from the release. I also PlastiDiped the rear half of the heal block where my rear toes touch the metal to smooth out the edges so it was not as harsh during a release.

The service is second to none from the guys at OB4 Systems. Mike was more than helpful with setting up the system and was prompt in responding to my questions regarding maintenance and spring adjustment as well as about installing inserts. With any product there is always R&D going on for the next generation and they guys at OB4 are already thinking of ways to improve on this great product. To repeat what I have said above I believe the OB4 to be the safest system on the market for RTP & double hardshell setups. If you are looking for a new system or want to move onto something you think is a safer product do not forget about giving the OB4 a try.

You can contact OB4 Systems on their website or contact @mmosley899‌ in the forum.


If you have any questions regarding my review you know the drill post them below and I will respond. I was waiting to get some video and pictures of the OB4 in action before I posted this review but I was unable to get some in time.
BMG73JJVDMZNBulldogTylerRwebbdawg99ScarletArrowThan_Boganchris_loganSkiJayIts_FunthagerToddLELDIABLO

Comments

  • Its_FunIts_Fun Posts: 4 Baller
    @MattP Great review. I also have been using the OB4 system since May. I second the attributes that you have listed.
    One thing I would recommend to skiers is to dry land test the release as is shown on the video on OB4's web site. This was my first time with hard shell boots and I thought I had them on tight enough, but the first couple dry land tests my foot just moved in the boot. When I had the boot on tight enough, the release worked just like on the video. If you use double boots test one foot at a time.
    E_TThan_Bogan
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,782 Mega Baller
    Very helpful. I'll remember to be aware of some of the issues and potential fixes.

    I don't suppose anybody can comment on a transition from rubber boots to some type of OB4 boots?

    If not, I'll eventually be someone to comment on that! But it's going to be a long process and I want to be sure to work closely with Mike M before I report anything. I'm already 100% sold on the superior release, and I have my fingers firmly crossed that we can find a boot setup that will feel natural to me. (For those who don't recall, I've tried Fogman hard shells years ago and didn't ski well on them so went back to rubber. I have a lot of optimism about the softer roller blade boots, but it's gonna be a process...)
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,051 Mega Baller
    @Than_Bogan if you are trying the fairly soft roller blade boots I don't think there will be a huge transition. Those boots don't look too different fron a Strada and I switched from rubber to a Strada very easily. The Reflex felt very strange even compared to the Strada.

    I will be interested to see the bindings.
    Mark Shaffer
    Than_Bogan
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 681 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @Than_Bogan I put my business partners, Eric and Marianne, in the OB4 system boots from rubber at the beginning of the season. They had no problems getting used to the boots within a few sets.
    Mike's Overall Binding www.mobsystemrelease.com
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,782 Mega Baller
    Sweeeeet! Fingers firmly crossed.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,205 Mega Baller
    @Its_Fun‌ Yes a dry land test is possible. That video is one I actually made and should have posted in the review. Thank you for bringing that up.

    @Than_Bogan‌ The shells OB4 has in stock right now are not super stiff like a Reflex, Fogman or a Goode shell. I think the transition with the OB4 shell would be much easier coming off rubber like @Chef23‌ stated. I know OB4 is also talking with binding suppliers as well to have multiple options available.
  • BlueSkiBlueSki Posts: 822 Mega Baller
    @MattP, I know some move their bindings back a bit when moving to hardshells. Did you have to do that going from your old hard shells to the OB4?
  • thagerthager Posts: 5,012 Mega Baller
    @MattP Bravo!!! Well written!!!!
    Stir vigorously then leave!
    MattP
  • maddogmaddog Posts: 4 Baller
    I am in the process of researching bindings for my son, 2yrs ago he tore up his ankle while in Conley sidewinder lace up bindings 1yr later he got onto HO exo pro boots and plate bindings, seemed to work ok but this years it was a repeat of 2yrs ago ski either skipped or dove on the 1 ball at some point he came out but not before he bent the binding plate almost 4 inches up on the back heal. He not happy going to miss another season. Just saw this system for 1st time and as a old freestyle snow skier it seems impressive , will his HO exo boots work with this system? He is a big young man 6-4 about 210 will this system hold him in and release when needed. Need my partner back on the water.
  • webbdawg99webbdawg99 Posts: 1,067 Mega Baller
    @maddog You can most likely mount the Exo shells to the OB4 plate. You would have to drill through the bottom of the shells....but no big deal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a tunnel on the bottom of those boots? The question is if the ob4 plate would fit in that tunnel. If not, you'd probably have to trim off the plastic that creates the sides of the "tunnel".

    I bet if you send your boots to @mmosley889, he could figure something out for those shells.
    MattP
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 681 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @maddog the good news is that the OB4 hole pattern works perfectly with the HO EXO hole pattern! Also my son is the same size as yours, and he jumps and slaloms with his OB4 System bindings. But you would have to trim off the extra plastic to make the boot bottom flat, so you could attach it to the boot plate. As @webbdawg99‌ said, send the boots to me...
    Mike's Overall Binding www.mobsystemrelease.com
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
    jipster43
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 681 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @BlueSki‌ we used Matt's Reflex boot on the OB4 system, so there was no adjustment needed from the position of the boot that he was accustomed to...
    Mike's Overall Binding www.mobsystemrelease.com
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 681 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @MattP‌ I should have boot shells and liners from a new supplier soon, hopefully the product samples will be shipped this week... The current semi soft shells will still be available,also.

    We will be at the Big Dawg event this weekend, come check us out...
    Mike's Overall Binding www.mobsystemrelease.com
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
    MattP
  • Its_FunIts_Fun Posts: 4 Baller
    @MattP you are welcome.
    @madddog very sorry to hear about your son. I hope he heals up quickly and fully. I would encourage you to look at the system for yourself also, so you are healthy to ski when your son is able to come back.

    Everyone, please be smarter than me. I waited to invest in safety water skiing gear until after I was hurt. With my motorcycle I bought all of the saftey gear up front, right away. Thankfully, I have not yet needed the motorcycle safety gear.

    We all know people who have been hurt waterskiing when a better release system and/or skier buoys (both for me) would have helped. Sadly we hear skiers report in on Ball of Spray all too often, "my season is over." As skiers we will buy equipmnet in the hope to pick up couple more buoys, that extra trick or two, or a few extra feet jumping. Compare that to: I do not get to ski at all again for a year!

    Sorry, I am pretty passionate about helping any other skier I can to avoid not being able to ski, doing the hard physical work to come back from injury, the pain, and money wasted on medical expenses instead of being invested in boat gas!


    jipster43
  • jipster43jipster43 Posts: 1,441 Crazy Baller
    @maddog I went from Fogmans to Stradas and hope to be in Stradas/OB4's soon. The Stealth bindings with the Gator Mod are possibly just as safe as the OB4's, but I like the straightforward simplicity of the OB4's and the ability to run my current boots with them. I'll be placing my order soon!
    mmosley899MattPThan_BoganE_T
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,589 Mega Baller
    Are there options on widths with present boot, narrow option?. I wear a 13b shoe. Some of the hard shells I've tried were too loose on my foot.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,782 Mega Baller
    @Gator1 VERY interesting analysis. I'm going to take my question to a new thread because it doesn't have a lot do with OB4 specifically.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
    MattPHorton
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,205 Mega Baller
    @gregy‌ I'm sure you would be able to find a narrow binding option or be able to use a thick liner to fill the space.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,782 Mega Baller
    The OB4 system is lighter than it looks, but a little heavier than some other binding systems. But weight at the bottom of your feet basically makes no difference: it has very little moment (aka swing weight) because it's not near the ends and it doesn't add appreciably to line tension because it is directly supported by the water.

    I actually am finding that it FEELS significantly lighter than any previous boots I've been on. I can't exactly explain why or even exactly what I mean by that, but I just feel really agile.

    As far as flex, the aluminum plate is very flexible and has all slotted screws so I'd expect very little flex impact if mounting with screws. I have actually mounted mine with Dual-Lock (much thanks to your good advice, @scotchipman!), which I think has even less flex impact. At some point I hope to post pictures of how I laid it out because it's kind of important to load up plenty in certain areas. And you have to use black 250 to black 400.

    I don't think there would be any advantage to mounting two single boot systems. In fact, I'm not sure that would really work, but I'll defer to @mmosley899 and/or @MattP who have actually seen the single boot system in person.

    I am currently about 95% sure that I am making a permanent switch to OB4 (after 35 years of rubber), and I hope later this summer to write up something along the line of A Complete Idiots Guide to OB4 to share a lot of the technical details I've picked up.

    For anybody already using any kind of non-releasable boot, I think pretty much the only possible reason to NOT go OB4 is the cost. But how much is a season worth? :)

    Full disclosure: There is a slight chance that I may become an "official" rep for OB4 at some point, but that's entirely because of how impressed I am by the system, not because OB4 has offered me such a position.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
    wskierjipster43
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 681 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @scotchipman‌ & @Than_Bogan‌ , the OB4 mounting plate is thinner and more flexible than either G10 or carbon fiber, I have both... As for letting the plate float, all the screw holes are slotted so you can let it float. The addition of a micro adjust attachment point helps. Additional overall weight or swing weight is minimal compared to rubber bindings. As for the overall flex of the skis, they are designed with the addition of bindings and plates in consideration, so effect on the performance is negligible...
    Mike's Overall Binding www.mobsystemrelease.com
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • jipster43jipster43 Posts: 1,441 Crazy Baller
    Someone once told me they flex tested dual lock vs screws and found the dual lock to be stiffer. I don't know details as to which plates they were testing, but I remember it was compelling evidence that dual lock was actually stiffer.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,847 Mega Baller
    @mmosley899‌ Mike is at nationals with his binding system. The new shells look top notch. We were discussing solutions for two skiers sharing a trick ski but with different sized feet. With a reflex solution, the plate's would have to be swapped each time due to the difference in shell size/length. With his OB4 system, just buy a second rail and shell. Skier 1 pops out, and skier 2 pops in and off they go!
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
    chris_loganjipster43SkiJayHorton
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