Breaking down Meidjo v2.0: Pros & Cons

The more people try Meidjo, the more are compelled to switch to it. The ones most tempted are those considering switching from the duckbill to an NTN boot with tech inserts for better touring. Those who already switched from 75mm to NTN are generally less impressed with Meidjo; they tend to tour less and they prefer a more active tele binding, one that delivers more telé-rêsistançe. On the activity scale the Meidjo does not set any records on purpose. Pierre Mouyade, Meidjo’s inventor says, “I was looking for the nice sensation, not necessarily the strongest.”

There's a lot more to Meidjo than just cables, springs, and a toe box.
There’s more to Meidjo than cables, springs, and a toe box.

Turning Performance

In relative terms the Meidjo is most like Voile’s Switchback, both in terms of its touring efficiency and downhill power. Meidjo and Switchback have more than adequate power when your rear leg is fully weighted. It is in the initiation phase where things are different. Switchback engages slowly, which is downright delightful in powder. Meidjo is similar, but it engages faster, because the tension vector originates below the sole, not above it. Thus, Meidjo imparts more confidence on hardpack.

Longer springs in v2.0 for deeper tele turns.
Longer springs in v2.0 for deeper tele turns.

Telemarkers who have experienced any form of tele tech binding realize the 2-pin toe imparts a lateral rigidity lacking in 75mm bindings; this is improved even more when hooked to the 2nd heel of an NTN boot. Better edging is a common theme among NTN bindings, and now tele tech bindings too; Meidjo is both.

A practical consideration is how low can you go with Meidjo? Thanks to longer springs in v2.0 you can get lower with Meidjo now. You still might not get quite low enough for knee-to-ski moves, but close enough that the potential for ripping the binding out of the ski is dramatically reduced although I still highly recommend inserts on the four rear holes of the toeplate.

There have been plenty of reports of breakage with Meidjo but it is important to be able to distinguish between problems with first year parts (v1.x) and this year (v2.0). A recent report of the spring box cracking turns out to be from the first batch of plastic (2014, v1.0) that has since been revised. However, reports of the flex plate in front of the springbox breaking, or the pins it pivots about wiggling loose do mean perfection is yet future.

Flexor Flaws

The Elk filed this photo evidence of the flex plate breaking.
The Elk filed this photo evidence of the flex plate breaking.

Per reports on Backcountry Talk, the probability that a flex plate will break is largely dependent on whether snow glams on to the metal toe plate beneath it, a strong possibility in a humid snowpack, like on the Wet Coast. The problem isn’t so much when touring, since the flexor plate doesn’t move then, but when turning it can pack up fast and furious. The exposed metal under the flexor surface needs to be covered in a plastic skin, like G3’s Enzo. In the meantime, users have had mixed success putting duckt tape over the metal or putting foam in the toe cavities, especially behind the pins seems to help minimize snow buildup.

Regardless, the pins holding the flexor to the toe frame do still wiggle loose so you need to check those regularly, at least daily if not more. Although the pins are pressed in with a higher force this year, apparently the plastic has a tight enough grip it can still cause the pins to spin out.

Touring Toe Lock Out Fixed

Check the flexor pins daily.
Check the flexor pins daily.

In tour mode, the most important thing – locking the toe pins shut – has definitely been fixed. The solution was to adopt the classic toe lever that is lifted to block the ability for the jaws to open. Now when you lock out the toes, they don’t let go, at least not without severe and unusual force. And it’s easy to lock with a ski pole grip by hooking under the lever and lifting.

In version 1.x, a block of aluminum was toggled under the lever via a pole activated switch. Seemed ingenious but it was different enough that users were confused about how it worked, or had issues aligning the tip of the pole to toggle the lock on or off. Plus it was prone to operator error when installing. Those problems are now history.

Other Touring Issues

There remain a few issues with tour mode though. The one most complain about is the overall fragility of the heel post. The the wire climbing bale, which offers a relatively high climbing post (50mm above flat), can’t keep itself up. It doesn’t really lock in position and falls down easily, rendering it functionally useless. The lower, plastic climbing post does stay upright, but it isn’t exactly a stout block you can stomp on and expect to last very long. If you’re planning to use Meidjo a lot earning your turns, you’ll be looking for a 23mm alternative, none of which are optimized for use with Meidjo. (Wanted: ~20mm high HammerHeel w/5mm shims)

Filling the toe cavities with foam helps reduce snow/ice buildup underfoot.
Filling the toe cavities with foam helps reduce snow/ice buildup underfoot.

Another, less common problem is the springbox spontaneously switching from tour to turn mode. To lock the springbox down you cock it like you’re setting it to make turns, then push it flat and flip the touring hook over the back of the red stub to hold it flat. This holds the springbox flat and extended so it can’t grab onto the duckbutt of your boot. Except occasionally the red stub disconnects itself. The touring hook doesn’t let go, but the other end of the red stub, which is propped against a black plastic bumper, hops over the bumper disconnecting itself from the touring hook. At this point the springbox is no longer extended, and if your boot isn’t raised via a climbing post the hook will grab your boot. This requires you to stop, exit the binding, reset the touring hook, and click back in at the toe; an annoying PITA. A fix is in the works, but you can also fix it yourself if you’re plagued with this issue regularly.

Grind the corner of the bumper down, and glue it flat, to hold the red stub in touring mode.
Grind the corner of the bumper down, and glue it flat, to hold the red stub in touring mode.

One final note on the touring hook. Flipping that hook off when I transition back to turn mode at the top of a climb requires pinpoint accuracy in a location I can barely position my pole in, let alone see what I’m doing. It would be nice to have an easier way to toggle the touring hook on and off.

Perhaps the most common icing issue is the butthook clogging with snow, preventing the spring box from clamping on to the duckbutt of your boot. Depending on the quality of the snow, this may simply require stomping your boot first to clear the snow, or in worst case scenarios, require you to chip ice out of the claw area before it can connect to the second heel. Anyway you cut it, it’s a pain to deal with.

Ski Brakes

Now builds up on the hook, preventing easy entry after skinning.
Snow builds up on the hook, preventing easy entry after skinning.

One of the features that was eagerly anticipated is the addition of ski brakes, now available with v2.0. If you don’t want to be tethered to your ski if it comes off, then you want brakes. However, it seems that the inclusion of ski brakes on tele bindings still needs some refinement, and not just for Meidjo. Without brakes, latching in to a NTN tele binding is easy, with ’em it is not. In the case of Meidjo, the simple act of lining up the front of your boot with the alignment posts is lost by having to simultaneously press down on the brake. With practice it gets easier, but only on flat groomers; in deep snow or angled ground it is nigh impossible to get them on. Furthermore, the dang things squeak when touring, disturbing the relative silence of skinning. Unless you absotively must have brakes, I recommend finding a leash you can learn to love, at least for powdays in the backcountry.

Locked Heel option

There are a small but significant number of telemarkers who want the option to occasionally lock the heel, without switching rigs. Meidjo offers that ability with an optional low-tech heel. For starters, this heel doesn’t rotate to switch between tour and downhill mode. Instead, the spring steel tangs extend into the heel insert of the boot, or retract. When extended and engaged, the heel does not operate independently of the 2nd heel connection, but in combination with it. Therefore, it has a very low release value on its own, effectively increasing the existing lateral release value of the Meidjo by only one. Secondly, it doesn’t replace the existing climbing post, but is attached behind it. This makes flipping the post up less convenient, and eliminates the taller climbing wire (which is worthless anyway). Because it is designed to integrate with the existing heel post it only adds two more mounting holes.

Conclusion

Many of the remarks above address the issue of overall durability. Depending on the nature of the snow that you’re in, some of these may or may not be an issue for you. If you’re getting Meidjo because you want a lighter weight, more efficient binding for ski touring, Meidjo may be what you’re looking for. If you want an NTN connection to the boot at the second heel, Meidjo is definitely what you’ve been waiting for. Wet coast skiers will need to be creative with ways to reduce snow packing underfoot, wait for further improvements, or stick with proven 75mm bindings.

If your motivation is for a binding that has ski brakes and safety release in an NTN package and you don’t want excess tip pressure in powder, Meidjo beckons. And for those who’ve been holding out for it, you can add the security of a locked heel very easily if you really want it.

Bottom line: Meidjo skis great. It holds a solid edge on hardpack and doesn’t over drive your tips in soft snow. As a tele tech binding it’s lightweight and it tours beautifully. It has some flaws that can annoy you, but those can be overcome or overlooked. While a few early adopters have already abandoned Meidjo for some of the reasons mentioned above, the majority are happy with it. A few of these have had some breakage but are more than willing to forgive and forget, even buy another pair to help support the perfection of the pink pony if only they could get better customer service, which suggests demand exceeds deliverability. My bet is Pierre is working harder at fixing the flaws mentioned above than promising any more parts prematurely.

The M Equipment
Meidjo v2.0
MSRP: €450 ⋄ $600
Weight/binding:

Optional ski brakes
MSRP: $
Weight/brake:

Optional crampon clip
MSRP: $
Weight/clip:

Optional Low Tech Heel
MSRP: $199
Weight/heel: 4 oz. (115 g)

Related Posts
First Look: Meidjo
Upgrade details for Meidjo v2.0
Backcountry Talk: Meidjo Experience
Backcountry Talk: Meidjo coming soon
 
© 2016