In the world of software I’m completely over the perpetual upgrade program. Hardware, however, cannot hide upgrade claims without visible proof and thus it is easier to see if the changes support the upgrade claim. Such is the case with le Meidjo for the 2018 season. It is easy to see now why Pierre Mouyade was reluctant to claim earlier changes did not warrant a full upgrade version. To be sure, all prior changes have improved the performance of Meidjo, but not significantly for two critical areas; icing and the constantly collapsing heel post. In the official version 2.1 those are addressed and the improvements are undeniable even without actually testing them.
The most obvious improvement is to the heel post. I still wouldn’t say it can withstand severe stomping, but it will definitely be easier to flip up and should stay upright once lifted. The key to staying upright is a stronger internal spring that causes the post to flip up with a confidence inspiring snap. The old post lifted up, but did not inspire confidence to stay there. To make it easier to lift, wings were added on the side so that you can lift the lower post with a ski basket.
As to whether a heel post should be able to withstand some stomping abuse, I agree it should put up with it occasionally, but not relentlessly. In my experience, if I need to stomp, it is to improve traction for a step here or there. When it becomes regular, that’s usually because I’m attempting a traverse on icy terrain at too steep of an angle. The better course of action is to flatten out the angle of attack and add ski crampons. Either that or put the skis on my back and use boot crampons. Over the long haul, stomping is not the best solution.
Snow Magnetism Upgrade
It doesn’t matter what binding you have, if you have excess moisture in the air and cold snow, snow will cling to the binding. Over time it will become ice. With the wrong mix it will happen relatively quickly, and can impinge on the function of the binding somehow, someway. Meidjo has been prone to above-average icing problems because it had lots of cavities and metal for snow to collect in and get packed into ice. In all cases it caused mild to severe boot jack where your boot cannot stand flat. In a few cases it caused the flexor plate to break, and in others the springs on the plastic red shift thingy were damaged.
To counter the icing issues the zone where the cable rod is secured, under the flexor plate between the toe and spring box, was completely revised. First, the metal bracket securing the cable rod is redone. It is simpler, with a wider footprint at the rear for large sized bindings. This means a new mounting pattern for size large, but the previous mounting pattern continues for size small.
The revised bracket allows for a snow shedding plastic roof to cover the rear of the toe unit. It has a beveled shape so snow spills off to the sides, especially as it is actively packed, like when you’re cranking out turns deep in the fluff.
The new bracket also makes it possible to add or remove ski brakes without having to remove mounting screws on the rear half of the toe assembly. Just pop off the plastic cover, slide the brakes in, and screw the cover back on. In addition, the springs for the brake have been beefed up – thicker and stronger than previous versions.
Shift Lever Upgrade
What has been added is a lip on the tip of the red shift bar and a better touring wire that holds the spring box down and retracted for touring. It was possible for the red shift bar to jump over the bumper that held the spring box back. Once it jumped over, it would also slip out from under the touring wire. This caused the spring box to slide forward where it might latch onto the boot. Also, if the touring wire let go and the shift bar did not jump over the bumper, it would cause the spring box to spring up and definitely, not maybe, hook onto your boot. This was annoying at the least, severely annoying in the latter case, so to prevent either from happening, Pierre made changes at both ends of the red shift stub.
There is now a small lip at the front of the red shift bar that hooks under the black plastic bumper to hold the spring box up. When in tour mode, it acts like a hook to keep it from jumping over the bumper.
At the rear, the wire hook that holds down the rear end of the red shift stub now has a locking bumper itself, to stay upright when lifted, and there is also a slight lip at the rear that the wire is held in place by as well.
There are a bunch of other more subtle changes that, unless you know what to look for, you might miss. The top ledge of the 2nd heel hook has been trimmed at the corners so boots release from the spring box easier when exiting or releasing from the binding.
The ribs in the flexor plate have been improved. In earlier versions the material was thinner at the ribs, making them materially weaker. Now the ribs are the same thickness throughout making them mechanically stronger while still allowing the plate to flex.
Is this the best Meidjo ever? Without a doubt. Is it strong enough for backcountry abuse? That remains to be seen but it is easy to see that by dramatically reducing the ability for snow to grow under the binding, the outlook for longevity is greatly enhanced. The current version has plenty of people using it without trouble, but not without requiring regular snow maintenance. Even with the improvements, there remain places where snow can get trapped. You’ll still need to clear snow from the claw before latching onto the duckbutt and check under the spring box as well, but the amount of snow that clings and grows should be a lot less. That bodes well for longevity but I’m cautious about labeling Meidjo bombproof. The magic red shift stub is a critical element in the function of Meidjo and plastic parts require time to earn trust. Nonetheless, if you tour a lot, you need to test drive Meidjo this year. You will probably find the sweet tele sensation it delivers and the enviable, 2-pin touring efficiency is worth the bit of maintenance it requires.
The M Equipment
Weight/binding: (SM) 490 g • 17 oz., (LG) 500 g • 19 oz.
Optional: Ski brakes, crampons, AT heel