Last week Bishop unveiled their first truly new binding since Fin Doyle created the Bishop – the BMF – short for badass mo’ fo’. At SIA’s on snow demo (30jan17) at Copper Mountain we got the chance to step into a pair, fiddle with the mode switch, and make turns on packed powder al dente. My first impression is it makes solid tele turns with power to spare.
The hallmark of Bishop control remains — the U-shaped metal knuckle that pivots off the back of the toe and latches to the real heel of any tele boot. Underneath are a pair of long compression springs with 15mm of adjustment range. The “cable pivot” is located roughly 70mm behind the 3-pin line so this is an inherently active binding that, even on the lowest tension setting, delivered plenty of control. It is easy to foresee a softer spring for those who like a more neutral feel. The springs I tested seemed more than adequate but there will be a few who still demand a stiffer spring.
Unlike most tele bindings that connect at the heel there is zero engagement delay with the BMF. With a typical heel cable there is always a delay before the cable starts applying tension, or resistance to heel lift. The sooner resistance engages, the quicker control is perceived. The typical way to overcome this is to simply make fast lead changes to minimize the “dead spot” without tension to balance against. With the BMF the Bishop design team added a coil spring around the pivot which wants to hold the plate flat against the ski. Spring tension exists at position zero and engages immediately as you lift your heel; quite ingenious and when you’re cranking turns I’m certain you’ll appreciate it.
It has the side benefit of preventing the spring plate assembly from bouncing around when you shoulder your skis. Ironically this convenience function was why the coil spring was added, but I think it benefits the sensation of the turn, something you’ll appreciate more often.
Ski brakes are available, but in this beta phase they aren’t very long and stuck out far enough that the opposing ski might get hooked on it, either skinning or shredding. The heel lever is suspended, creating a nice step-in function, but the brakes really compromise the convenience of the step-in. Theoretically that will change with practice over time.
Quack – Duckbill or Duckbutt
You can use NTN or 75mm telemark boots but each requires a different toe plate.
Although Bishop claims the BMF has a safety release capability it falls within the realm of being a “tele-release” meaning it is possible but unlikely, and even less likely if you’re using 75mm boots. I make it a policy to never test the validity of the release function in ANY telemark binding ever; the BMF was no exception. YMMV.
Switching modes is done by lifting the red plastic cap at the front of the binding. It pops up easily with a pole handle that sports a hook; one of the few specially designed backcountry baskets can do the same trick. If you have neither, bend over already and just flip it up to unlock the toe plate and you can now enjoy over 60 degrees unrestricted rotation, plenty of range to do whatever form of kick turn you’re capable of.
I didn’t test the touring function of the binding other than to shift into that gear. It has two climbing wires, yielding inclines of seven and 14°. The wires are under the boot plate, again, you’ll want a ski pole with some sort of hook to easily lift them. Uphill efficiency is determined by the numbers — in this case, the weight of the binding.
Although it is still in the beta phase Team Bishop is expecting the final weight will be four pounds per pair, hopefully less but probably not by much. Yes it’s a full pound heavier per foot than tele tech bindings, but the BMF doesn’t require your boot to come with tech fittings; you could even latch a 75mm leather boot into these but the BMF might be a cultural divide too deep to cross for a leatherneck. Besides, if you’re looking for this much tele control get a plastic tele boot already, okay gramps?
Bishop Binding Company
Estimated weight: 4 lbs./pair (1800g)
Size Range: One size fits all, mondo 22—31