One thing is clear after checking out 22 Design’s Lynx. Some of the details may change by the time Lynx is produced by the thousands but Lynx confirms that the core components of a 2-pin tech toe and spring tension on the 2nd heel yield the best tele sensation I’ve ever felt in over 30 years of dipping the knee.
For the neophytes and grey-haired doubters, the low-tech toe yields the best lateral power transfer ever for a telemark system. The edging power of the first NTN binding was impressive, but snapping tight at the toe of the boot with metal pins only ups the ante. Of course, the low-tech toe also delivers the most efficient ski touring possible; there is no resistance to lifting your heel and you only lift the boot, not the boot and binding hardware like with a plate or 75mm telemark touring binding.
NTN Power Train
The part of the turn equation that you’ll notice most, especially if you’re coming from a binding where the cable connects at the real heel, is how smooth the power transfer is. With heel cables each inch of heel lift increases tip pressure on the ski. When the spring tension is applied to the boot at the second heel, effectively in the middle of the sole, the resulting power transfer feels smoother because the lever arm is shorter with less pressure applied at the tip. The result reminds me of the sweet flex of leather with the power of plastic. How Lynx does that is unique, borrowing some from 22D’s past, with a new spin for the future.
For the average skier the mechanics of how the Lynx achieves the magic tension that is possible only with an NTN connection is less of a concern than the sensation it delivers. To which I can say it’s on par with the fantastic performance of Meidjo or Outlaw. I skied Lynx side-by-side with both and while there are differences, they are subtle.
For comparison the Outlaw had a standard spring set on 3, Meidjo was also set to 3 with a doubled-up standard spring, and Lynx was at the “factory” setting as determined by Chris and Collins. Of the three, Lynx engaged the fastest, while Outlaw had the most power. In a quick survey of three other Lynx testers at the WWSRA demo at Copper mountain (Jan. 29-20, 2018) they all said the Meidjo was slightly stronger, or more active than Lynx, as evidenced by a stronger rebound at the end of the turn. To my reckoning, Meidjo and Lynx were nearly indistinguishable.
With the Lynx tele-résistänçe, the tension that adds control to the rear ski, comes from the combination of steel compression coil springs (classic 22 DNA), and two strips of composite fiberglass acting as a leaf-spring. The second heel claw is positioned on the rear sheet with a two-position cam on the sides that holds the claw upright for turns, or tipped back for touring so it can’t grab the duckbutt or get in the way of the boot sitting flat.
A pair of coil springs sit underneath, connected at the back of the toe baseplate via braided steel cable to a yoke that ties the claw and rear composite leaf together. There is an adjustable steel plate that determines where the leaf-spring bends upward. It is held in place with the same slick pin used to adjust cable pivot location on the Axl or Vice.
I tried all three positions and the difference was subtle at best. On my first comparison I thought the forward position was more active than the rear. Ha! Thankfully the slick pins were relatively easy to swap in the field. (Note: To get past the second side you need to wiggle a bit until it pulls through.) I moved the pin from the rear to the front and still could barely tell the difference. Maybe with a placebo pill I would be more perceptive.
I think the effective pivot location for the spring tension is dominated by the location of the cable anchoring the coil springs. The relative bending position of composite leaf-springs does affect the perception of power when initiating a turn, but once the heel is lifted more than, say seven degrees, the tension from the coil springs dominate and there is no discernable difference between any of the leaf bending positions.
The Lynx beta spring used a round wire coil spring and the final will definitely use flat wire springs to allow for more compression travel distance. There will probably also be a stiffy spring option. It is possible that Lynx could be more ‘active.’ However, Meidjo or Outlaw could be noticeably more active too. The main point is that the performance of all three is more similar than different, all sharing nearly immediate engagement and a smooth power curve that won’t overdrive the tips of your skis like bindings that connect at the real heel.
Step-In & Mode Shifting
Whether I chose one over the other would be more a matter of other factors than the tele sensation they deliver because all are the best there has ever been in the tele kingdom. For the best touring efficiency, a 2-pin toe is the way to go. For simple mode shifting, Outlaw takes the cake, but Lynx is only slightly more fiddly, requiring you to step out of the toe to retract the claw, then re-connect the toe pins. For step-in convenience, Outlaw doesn’t require precise toe alignment, but the second heel connection of the Lynx takes less downward force for the claw to snap on.
The toe piece of the Lynx felt like a competent execution of the classic low-tech design. There were no alignment bumpers but the pins were close enough that it was easy enough to visually line up pins with inserts and step in first time about 90% of the time. The pins closed with a reassuring snap – stronger than a Dynafit but not quite as forceful as a G3 toe. With practice anyone can get in as easy as I did but newbies to the 2-pin realm would appreciate some form of visual alignment. Whether that’s in the final production version will depend on patent issues.
Touring performance was not tested, but there is little doubt Lynx will be as efficient as any other 2-pin binding weighing a pound per foot (480g).
As with any other telemark binding, Lynx has standard telemark releasability — possible but unlikely and definitely NOT certified. I can imagine the claw retracting if there were enough sideways force and the 10° bevel on the sides of the 2nd heel helps it potentially slide out. But it is not a feature that is claimed or promoted. Outlaw isn’t releasable either but, thankfully, there are certainly recorded incidents of it happening.
Fuhgetaboutit! This is a touring binding. Brakes add weight and no one has developed a telemark ski brake that retracts inside the plane of the ski edges. If and when 22D has the inspiration to develop that it may be incorporated. If you must have brakes, get the Outlaw or Freeride. Otherwise, get a leash with a small gauge wire loop “calibrated” to break in an avalanche.
As of this writing the Lynx heel post has yet to be developed. Due to the low profile the standard heel posts for Axl and Outlaw are so tall they prevent the boot from dropping low enough for the claw to slip over the second heel. So for demo purposes a Vice heel post was used. The ideal climbing heel post for Lynx may be even lower, which raises the possibility that 22D’s spring activated climbing wire may be available on a shorter post that can work with competitor’s tele bindings. If we’re really lucky, it will have the option to switch between a low and high wire.
No dedicated Lynx crampons at this point, but the slots are there for them, so they will be an option. When? Hold your horses cowboy! It’s still beta season for the Lynx and too early for anyone to know. There might be a Dynafit or B&D option that works already. There’s also Skeats in a pinch.
No doubt when the conditions are ripe for icing there is bound to be some collecting around and under the toe springs. The activity adjustment bar is steel, so that’s bound to collect some too. However, I don’t foresee it clinging to the composite plates, and with the claw remaining open, it won’t collect there either. Thus, the forecast for Lynx icing up remains possible, but not catastrophic.
So what’s the bottom line? The Lynx appears capable of turning 22 Designs into the world’s premier telemark binding company. It sports a similar downhill feel as Outlaw, with the touring efficiency of Dynafit’s legendary low-tech system, combined with 22D’s reputation for durability. Loyal 22D customers will appreciate the use of their classic Hammerhead 6-hole mounting pattern. When compared to other low-tech bindings that have zero telemark capability, and especially compared to the one that does, the price sounds reasonable too.
22 Designs plans to produce a limited quantity of 500, available November 2018.
Estimated MSRP: $500
Estimated weight (per/binding): Small – 17 oz. (480g) , Large – 18 oz. (500g)
Mounting: 22D 6-hole