Tele Tech Chronicles: State of the art

Telemark Tech bindings are here to stay. When Mark Lengel first proposed the idea of the Telemark Tech System (TTS) skepticism was the typical response. That’s a near universal first impression of the confidence inspired by the lowly 2-pin tech toe, also known by its founding brand name, Dynafit, or other terms like low-tech, pin-tech, or merely as “tech” when spoken of over beers at the trailhead. Mr. Lengel knew better; those tiny pins can bite tight on the tip of a boot, which meant they might work for tele. As time always seems to prove with the puny 2-pin toe, it is unquestionably tough enough, especially I dare say, for tele.

Tele Tech
An up to date OMG TTS binding.

In a nutshell the TTS takes the basic telemark cable binding and replaces the 75mm toe plate with a tech-toe. Of course, this necessitates an NTN boot with tech inserts at the toe. In theory you could get extreme in the do-it-yourself tangent and install inserts in a pair of duckbilled boots but what value would a PhD in tele minutia get you? I mean, talk about the potential for injury. And besides, Salomon already proved you can’t just “solder” those things on.

Uphill Benefits of the 2-pin toe

There are two advantages inherent in the tech toe. Not only is it lighter weight overall, the touring efficiency with a Dynafit-style tech toe is unquestionably the best there is. When you skin with 2-pins, you only lift your boot. With all other free pivot bindings you’re also lifting part of the binding — some more than others.

Tele Tech
Dynafit caliber touring efficiency. Lift the heel, not the binding.

Equally important is the downhill performance which delivers superb edging thanks to the lateral stiffness of the pins. Again, you wouldn’t think those two pins could hold so tight, but results prove they do.

Downhill benefits

Though not a benefit of the 2-pin toe per se, depending on where you position the cable, a telemark tech binding can yield nearly any level of activity on the Hammerhead scale, potentially even higher.

Change the connection from the real heel to the NTN second heel and the results are, arguably, even better. Those who have adopted Meidjo, the first 2-pin NTN binding, consistently report the engagement is faster and smoother. This shows up as less tip pressure when initiating a turn and more edge control thanks to superior lateral connection via the tech pins.

Can you believe it?

If you’re among those who can’t believe it until you see it, or need to try it yourself, I must remind you that with Dynafit-style tech toes it becomes a matter of faith whether it works or not. You sort of need to believe it before you see the results. On the other hand, if the endorsements of others give you enough confidence to try it, that should suffice.

In case you wondered who else believes in tech for tele consider the M-Equipment in France, mythical Moonlight from Norway, and Italy’s Kreuzspitze, all across the Atlantic. The new 2nd heel hook on 22D’s Outlaw-X is a result of experimenting with a future tech toe binding. Add to that an untold number of garage-band do-it-yourselfers. Since imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery there are a lot of people who admire TTS for its lightweight, simplicity, and control. It isn’t mainstream yet because it either requires a willingness to fiddle with the binding beginning with mounting and sometimes merely getting in to the binding. Fiddling about is an unavoidable part of the Dynafiddle legacy. However, when done right, the operational fiddle-factor is usually low. YMMV depending on snow conditions.

Tele Tech
Meidjo (pr: may-joe) combines a tech toe with NTN connection.

So simple you can DIY

The overriding appeal of the TTS system is its simplicity and light weight. If you like earning your tele turns a TTS rig of some sort is in your future. To keep it simple, you can get the full TTS binding from Olympus Mountain Gear. It is recommended as a first foray into the TTS world if you have the tools and mounting know-how. Alternatively, if you already have a set of tech toes in your quiver, or prefer another brand, get the TTS cable kit and you can join the ranks of the TTS do-it-yourselfers.

Here’s the other thing. Because it’s so simple you may be tempted to build your own cable assembly. For those with the right tools and some design experience, especially with the advent of 3D printers, it is possible to come up with a pretty slick system that can provide equal or better performance. At the least, and this is the heart of the DIY movement, you can create micro adjustability to fine tune the cable position to a degree not yet commercially available.

In future articles on this subject, Telemark Skier Magazine will show you how to optimize the cable position, install inserts, plus some examples of home-brewed cable assemblies for OMG, Dynafit and G3 tech toes.

Related Posts
Tele-tech Chronicles: Picking your toes
Tele-tech Chronicles: Use the Force Luke

© 2017

7 thoughts on “Tele Tech Chronicles: State of the art

  1. Thanks for this thread. I have more than 200 backcountry days on tele tech variations, starting with Mark’s OMG TTS. Interesting to see TTS becoming a generic term, a la Kleenex. Perhaps the easiest intro to the tele tech world is the B&D plate, which fits into the standard (?) telemark 4-bolt pattern and uses the Voile rods. No drilling required. If you don’t like the turn, revert to a standard tele setup without your skis looking like Swiss cheese underfoot. You will like the uphill, so it can make for a dilemma.

    So far for me, no variation of tele tech can match the downhill feeling of a true tele boot (Black Diamond Custom, I love you!) with a Voile Switchback or Axl, my Utah backcountry standards (150 lbs, not a hard charger, have never sharpened an edge. Still ski this setup on lift days.). Lots of variations of TTS mounting the heel rod plate as far forward as possible, as well as using all three positions on the standard TTS recommended mount position. The B&D, by contrast, has a very soft feel, using Voile Switchback x2 cartridges. Would love to find a heel tension somewhere in between these. All skied on Scarpa F3 (orange) and old Scarpa F1 (green) boots.

    The boots are the real limiter. Until someone can figure out a reliable tele boot with tech pin hack (look at what Cast Touring of Driggs, Idaho, is doing for downhill boots), tele tech adoption will be slowed. A few tele folks have told me that the Cast system couldn’t possibly hold up to the bending of the tele boot. But folks thought the Dynafit toe couldn’t hold on for a tele turn. I have 200+ days of evidence otherwise.

  2. I have both Meidjo 1.1, 2.0 and a TTS set-up. The TTS is the B&D plate with Dynafit toes and a Voile Hardwire back end. Overall, the reduced weight is a bonus, as far as I am concerned, with both options over Freedoms and 7tm their predecessor. The Meidjo has the best ski feel with the underfoot claw, but has a real problem with snow build up in warmer snow conditions. That was the reason I added the TTS set-up for PNW Spring/early summer touring. So far the TTS has had minimal snow build-up and will be my go-to for late season touring. Mid winter I’ll use the Meidjos.

    Previously, I had an issue with the Freedoms also in warm Spring snow, it built up underfoot and stopped the brake releasing when I took the ski off at the top of a climb. Fortunately I caught the ski before it took off on me. The good old 7tm’s never had a snow build-up problem, but I don’t think I’m going back to 75mm 🙂

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