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release bindings

chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
Slalom hardshell bindings seem to be quite popular, but in the UK they (and any binding) are horrendously expensive (double your dollar figure and essentially that's what you pay in the UK after import takes and shipping etc).

So as I'm handing with making things, I was thinking of modding some snow ski / telemark kit. How do the reflex style binding actually release? It looks like you lock in at the front toe hoop and the rear section clips in, does this have a spring system in it to allow OTF and lateral releases? It looks like it just locks down and that's that so how does it release?.


  • skialexskialex Posts: 1,164 Mega Baller
    Reflex is primarily a French company, their products are not that expensive in Europe compared to the US made hard shells and sells cheaper than in the US. So why not buy hard shells in Europe tax free and cheaper than buying from the US?
    Olivier Fortamps in Belgium has great deals.
    On the other hand if you are really good with modifications and crafts, you can combine pieces from inline skate and alpine skiing and make your own. Look for silvretta 400/404/500 or Sl bindings and Roxa, Roces or Valo or anything similar for shells.
    Think though, that if you are not 100% confident and knowledgeable does it’ worth putting yours body and health at risk though.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    I'm trying to understand how they release, I can see how MOB etc work but the reflex ones I don't quite understand - but I've only seen them in pictures.

    I presume there is a spring that compresses and allows the buckle to rotate as the spring shortens?

    I didn't realise Reflex were French - not bad pricing from Olivier Fortramps, but I like to build things - what can I say!?!

    I've been building carbon composite wakeboards for 7odd years, cars for 25 and I'm a structural engineer - I'm pretty confident I can make it work!!
  • PatMPatM Posts: 788 Crazy Baller
    It is nice to build things, but if you don't get your design right you will be writing a bigger check to the doctor/hospital. Not worth taking the risk with your health. Buy the Reflex
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,566 Mega Baller
    @chrislandy the reflex system uses a Silvretta ski release.

    The older ones are more clear, the "bail" of steel wire sits at a slightly rearward angle, the release body pivots around the lower bar and has a spring inside that pulls down on the top hasp. The tighter the spring the harder the top hasp grabs the top of the steel bar.

    The distance from the toe to the release unit and the height of the "heel ledge" on the boot is critical to the function of the release as the unit requires downwards pressure.

  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,600 Mega Baller
    If you’re considering a “from the ground up” build, spend a good bit of time understanding your release pressure in specific places (turn, into first wake, off the second wake, for example). If your setup prereleases, or releases when it shouldn’t, you’ve got a very long uncontrollable lever that’s is about to turn with your back foot still attached to the ski.
    Sounds like you’ve got the education and skill set but, do you have the muscles, tendons, and bones to handle the testing phase? Good luck!
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,600 Mega Baller
    edited December 2019
    And the Silvretta/Reflex release relies on upward pressure until it reaches a threshold, then it releases.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    How come we don't use the ski style front section? They have a nice adjustable release for lateral / twisting falls. From the Silvretta buckle it looks like it would only release on an OFT fall?
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,566 Mega Baller
    I've done a fair bit of fiddling with releases. Mostly using parts from FM and have settled on using @mmosley899 stuff.

    What lead me down the road to fiddle was that I liked hardshells but really wanted to move towards either a hybrid rear or a rear toe plate. I had used reflex style on a trick ski but when I tried it on slalom I had a few strange releases and just wasn't comfortable with the idea. I then tried a hybridization of the FM parts somewhat similar to what Mike was doing with his then OB4 stuff (recall the parts FM uses are just grafted from Voile's releasing 75mm telemark rig)

    My difference was that unlike Mike I was trying to avoid any plate on the bottom of the boot- this is still to me the true future of the MOB an actual boot with the engagement surfaces built in, sold left right and xs-xl that just snap right into the system. So I had the aluminum release plate from Voile screwed into the toe of the shell, this put it right on the ski. I then didn't want anything really behind the front shell So I head molded a cup that the rear of the shell sat into, I got that working OK by sanding the shell and using a file to make a small retention ledge into the shell it kept down enough to do the job but the plastic I was using for that cup didn't have enough structure as I trimmed it to keep the shell flat on the ski. In the earlier versions of the now MOB the sole plates were aluminum and kind of narrow towards the heel which didn't keep the boots flat enough either but his new G10 stuff does.

    Anyway summary - this was a fun project, If I were you I'd just look into the fact that when Mike ships systems it looks like a bunch of loose G10 and plastic bits in a box with screws and washers. I'm sure if he shipped it to you as used ski parts you'd get it <lots of extra import stuff then you can find a boot local.
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 688 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @chrislandy you are correct, the silvretta type release only releases one direction, up from the heel. That action may be sufficient to release in a majority of water skiing falls.

    In a more twisting or sideways fall the toe release mechanism will work better to prevent ankle or knee injuries. Unfortunately most common snow ski boot toe releases are made to work with a very thick/tall boot base. As @BraceMaker noted, excessive height off the ski is not desirable for water skiing. I have worked to eliminate as much height as possible within design parameters.

    I do agree that a boot with an integral boot plate and connection means would be ideal. However the reason we use skate boots as water ski boots is because of the extremely high cost of production of molded boots. That requires large quantities of production that the water skiing market does not support. That is compounded by the fact that one style boot is not comfortable and does not fit everybody’s foot.

    One option that has worked well with my customers is to use the Radar line of boots because they have a thin flat base upon which I can attach a thin flat boot plate. However the boots are not an injection molded hardshell and do not fit every foot. That can be adjusted somewhat with the moldable liners.

    I have not been offering a specific boot with my release system because of the need of so many different styles and fit. It is extremely important that a skier have a comfortable and functional boot for their particular needs. I am currently working with a boot manufacturer to produce a new hardshell boot that I think will work for a lot of skiers. I do not plan to make that an exclusive boot to the system. I still want skiers to be able choose the best boot for their needs.

    If you want to stay low budget, you can adapt most any hardshell or semi hardshell skate boot to my release system. Roxa Skates are readily available in Europe and make some great choices. Since you are an engineer, you can easily make your own mounting plates and boot plates from aluminum or fiberglass(g10). However the release mechanism itself is much more difficult to build and test. All my release parts are built specifically for my system and have been thoroughly tested with years of use. All the parts are built with extremely high tolerances on cnc milling machines. Even the stainless steel springs are custom made for my release system. It is not cost effective to build one or two.
    Mike's Overall Binding
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,566 Mega Baller
    @mmosley899 I've got a picture to send you soon.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    are the G10 / carbon bases typically 3/16" , 1/8" or 1.4" thick?
  • Stevie BoyStevie Boy Posts: 2,193 ★★★★Quad Panda Award Recipient ★★★★
    edited December 2019
    In my experience, fiddling around trying to put something together from scratch, is time consuming and can work out just as expensive as buying somthing that has already been sorted or tho there are people who want something different for what ever reason, that are prepared to spend the money and time experimenting, in most cases most people modify the boot or system to fulfil their needs.

    @mmosley899 probably has the best and most versatile system available, not sure but I think the only system that allows for lateral release.

    Your safety + what you feel comfortable with is paramount, but no binding is 100% garunteed to be safe.

    You can purchase Reflex Binding System from here based in France.
    There is a dealer based at Denham Waterski Club UK, I will try to dig his name out. STEVE ?

    If you could try one, it would be a good idea, they are not for everybody,

    Addicted To Carbon Fibre

  • skialexskialex Posts: 1,164 Mega Baller
    @chrislandy you are in the UK right?
    I’ll tell you thickness in millimeters.
    Reflex G10 or “carbon” plates are 3mm thick
    Goode is using a 4mm G10 plate in the powershell system (on their mechanical release system they use reflex G10).
    You can use either 3 or 4mm or in between.
    Just don’t buy prepreged carbon sheets. They are very rigid, less flexible than any thick aluminum plate and they will wear out your cutting/drilling/grinding tools very fast.
    I have tried 2mm prepreged carbon and they where still very rigid.
    I would go with G10 3mm.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    @Stevie Boy thanks for the concern, but I like to make things :) I get more pleasure these days making a wakeboard than riding one, building a car than driving it etc... so when I see a skate boot with a couple of ski binding clips and a release clamp bolted to a sheet of carbon fibre/G10 fibreglass/aluminium, I just think... I can do that

    @skialex Yes, in the UK, but as most here are in the US I tend to quote inches rather than mm to make it easier. I was going to make my own plate and toe hoop tbh, I have access to a composites workshop :D

    is the idea that the binding plate isn't so stiff that it increases the stiffness of the ski? i.e. you need a little flex to allow the ski to work?
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 688 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @chrislandy I am using 3mm/.093” g10 for mounting plates. I have been testing these for over a year with no problems. You want the mounting plate to flex as much as possible with the ski. If the plate is too stiff, the ski will only flex at the ends of the plate, causing stress at those points and changing the performance characteristics of the rocker built into the ski.
    Mike's Overall Binding
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,566 Mega Baller
    Just make sure when using thinner plate with a reflex style system that the front horseshoe stays square to the plate when buckled and release tested. If the plate can flex between the release and the horseshoe it can allow the release to slip off the heel ledge with out tripping.

    Maybe less of an issue if you do a JB weld blob to bed the boot but I suspect this is where some of the adaptations such as larger washers around the base of the horseshoe, double toe loops and such came from
  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 992 Crazy Baller
    edited December 2019
    Building a system is one thing

    but not understanding what release and forward pressure is the system will not work properly

    without proper forward pressure you will never stay in. even with the binding spring set as tight as it will go

    do you know how to set up a alpine binding correctly ? if no don't go down that road.

    I have been playing with waterski release bindings since 1986 built to first production release system in 1989 ARC ( now it is the MOB system same plunger release with a leaver)

    I have skied in lots of boots and many modified shells.

    even if you buy a reflex it needs to modified to ski good IMO

    the sole needs to be flattened and the lower cuff cut down. or it hinders your performance.

    The Adams crew also does a lot of the same mods on there boots

    Best of luck!
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    Thanks @Deanoski I've got a few parts coming now so once they are here I should see if the idea works or whether I need to fall back on pre-proven.

    I've got 5-6 months of rubbish weather now to get it sorted ;)

    Any yes, I have done a few snow ski setups in the past (good few years ago now) but they were more the traditional rear binding with the horizontal rear spring rather than the silvretta or Voile pin releases (hence the original question about how the reflex ones worked)
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,566 Mega Baller
    Intriguing - what's that plate made of plastic? Looks like it has plastic ears do those clip the rear toe or just block the release body?
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    The plate is aluminium painted to look nice ;)

  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 992 Crazy Baller
    That is the same shell HO uses nice job on the system
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,600 Mega Baller
    It looks great. I’m excited to see another possible release system in development
  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 992 Crazy Baller
    With the low dins we use fir waterskiing you could use a jr toe 2-7 din lighter weight
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,566 Mega Baller
    @chrislandy thanks for the message for those in the know this is a stand off to support the release body pivot off the plate.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    @Deanoski I had thought of that, it's set towards the lower adjustment currently (4) which seems to work on dry testing. Depending on what happens, it may be worth a go once it concept is proven.

    If/When there is a second iteration (most likely for the trick ski I'm planning) I've already got a few ideas for improvement.
  • pregompregom Posts: 311 Baller
    Interesting concept. All the best with your lake test tomorrow. We are looking forward to reading your report on it.
  • chrislandychrislandy Posts: 188 Solid Baller
    Well, it worked.

    It's just a shame my skiing skill didn't match the boot performance!

    With the falls and very very poor deepwater starts (need to work on my fitness post lockdown!) I was in the boot for 20mins and didn't cramp, rub or feel off. The boot angle was fine (for me) and didn't force me to weight my foot in the wrong place.

    All in all, a success.

    oh, and the ski didn't sink either, which was a bit of a worry!
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