Dial ‘em in for better performance.
I spend a lot of time checking out other riders’ gear when I’m out on the mountain. Nothing weird, mind you, I’m just the kind of à…ber-geek tech who’s intrigued by the unique ways riders personalize their gear, and fortunately, I’ve kinda made a living out of it. It beats the crap out of most jobs (although I’m still angling to be the guy who brushes sand onto swimsuit models), and it’s obvious the average shred cares deeply for their snowboard. I’ve seen sticker jobs that Michelangelo would’ve envied.
But I’ve also noticed that riders who are willing to spend endless hours customizing the appearance of their board don’t pay much attention to the crucial devices that hook their feet to these sliding works of art. I often see straps that don’t fit, highbacks askew, boot toes hanging over the edge and dragging in the snow. WTF? The artwork ain’t gonna help you stick that S-rail, but properly adjusted bindings might. So I reckon it couldn’t hurt to go over some binding adjustments that work for pros and will likely improve your ride as well.
Have the binding manual in hand when setting all this up, and don’t be afraid to read it before getting started. Be sure to gather up whatever tools the manufacturer recommends and to use the correct screwdriver for the supplied hardware. A number-two Phillips is not the same as a number-three Phillips, and a Posi-Drive is different than both-even though they all look alike. Tools are labeled … get the right ones.
Let’s assume we’re starting out with a brand-new set of ficaciones (that’s bindings, gringo). You’ve worked out your stance from reading the first Tech of this season, so I’ll skip that here and focus directly on the binding.
Grab your boots and place them in the binding baseplates. Leave the straps undone and look closely at the boot-sole-to-binding-base fit. Many bindings incorporate some type of toe ramp that helps reduce gaps between the front of the boot and the binding, improving power and edge feel in toe-side turns. The ramp should follow the contour of the boot sole when the boot is placed on it, with the back of the boot all the way back in the highback. This fit is a matter of personal preference, but generally, if the ramp is holding the boot off the baseplate, it’s too far back (probably contributing to excessive foot fatigue, cramping, and cold toes). When there’s a lot of daylight between the sole and the toe ramp, it’s likely too far out (contributing to toe drag).
Some bindings have an adjustable heel cup that will also help place the boot/baseplate in the correct alignment. Whatever your particular binding uses, check it and make any necessary adjustments.
Once you have the toe ramp worked out, place the binding on the board (no screws yet) at your anticipated stance width and stance angles. Take a look at where your boot toes and heels line up over the edges. They should be pretty close to equal. If they’re hanging badly in either direction, make the adjustment by where you locate the mounting screws on your disc. In some 4×4 systems, you’ll have to make a choice between stance width and toe/heel position because you won’t be able to do both.
Once the bindings are securely screwed down, take a look at the highbacks. There are a couple possible adjustments here.
First is rotation-the highback can be rotated in its baseplate so the top of the highback is parallel to the heelside edge. This provides good power for heelside turns and keeps the highback out of the way so you can bust knee-down, tweaked Japan airs.
Highback forward lean is next. Some love it, and others hate it. More highback forward lean results in better responsiveness (and usually more fatigue)-great for precision edging, bad for rail riding. And remember, they don’t have to be adjusted the same. I run more lean on my back foot because it helps me twist the board heelside and hook tighter turns … thanks, Craig.
Put your boots onn and lace them up “riding tight” and strap in. Check the forward lean and rotation to be sure you’ve got that right, then adjust your straps to where they’re evenly placed over your boot and comfortable.
Don’t forget that many bindings incorporate both strap length and position adjustments. Straps mounted higher up the binding provide more heel hold and turning power; lower mounting points feel more shifty. Think about where you like to ride the most and adjust accordingly. Again, both sides don’t have to be exactly the same. For example, straps mounted higher on the outside and lower on the inside provide power for turning but maintain tweak capabilities.
One important point to keep in mind for all these adjustments is everything is all about personal preference. Some of these may work for you, and some might not. But at least you’ll have an idea of some of the possibilities and check them out. It’ll change the way you ride.
Strip your bindings off your snowboard every now and then and eyeball them closely for cracks or worn parts. It might save your ass later.
No doubt Freddie Kalbermatten rotated his highbacks for maximum tweakability before busting this air-to-fakie at Hood. Photo: Dean “Blotto” Gray