For those who see brakes on backcountry ski bindings as needless weight, the TLT Speed Radical is a solid choice. While the market is getting more and more crowded with a range of backcountry bindings, if you’re not looking for freeride capabilities, and you’re not weighing everything before it goes into your pack (which you’ve already weighed and cut extraneous features off of) there are actually just a few bindings that you’d really consider.
G3 makes a solid offering with the Ion LT, and the Plum Guide definitely has sex appeal with its machined aluminum construction, but neither has the pedigree of Dynafit – how could they, the snow leopard invented tech bindings.
I have been on Dynafit bindings since I began skiing a couple years ago. The first set that I used was the Radical ST, so changing to the Speed Radical basically meant that I was trading brakes for a 180g weight savings. I was happy to make that swap because I preferred a leash, and because the Radical lets you skin with your boot flat to the ski since the binding doesn’t need a structure to hold the brake up when you are skinning.
After doing some research I opted to add a pair of 6.4mm B&D shims for the toe to reduce the heel-toe differential of the bindings (WildSnow.com has a great chart here) from 14.3mm to 7.9mm. I have additional “gas pedal” shims in my boots for fit that reduce that differential another 4.5mm so that I have a very modest effective heal-toe differential when skiing.
I also opted to replace the Dynafit Ski Leashes with B&D leashes. The reasons for this were two-fold: 1. The Dynafit leash is much shorter and requires clipping on to something at the toe of your boot – on my Backland Carbon boots that would be the cable that provides the shoe compression (this is related more to point 2, below), while the B&D cable is longer, can be looped around the cuff of my boot, and allows the skis to be further away from me in a crash, as well as easier to put on with the leash pre-attached when in the backcountry where some times you just can’t be too careful while putting your skis on; and 2. The Dynafit leash does not have a high pressure break link in it – which means in a very gnarly crash or an avalanche you will either be stuck to your boards, or the leash will with break my compression cord for my boots or strip out the bolt that anchors it at the toe.
With a year on these bindings I have to say that I’ve been rather happy.
It seems that the durability of the rotation pin has been a problem in the past (the stop that keeps the binding turned perpendicular to the ski for the ‘flat’ tour mode), but I haven’t had any issues with them. Also, I’ve had no problems with the ‘rotation issue’ so far (the heel not locking securely and pivoting when using the lifters in the tour mode). But, in fairness I have spent only about a dozen days touring on these this winter since my son has been learning to ski and I have spent more time area skiing.
I will certainly say that running hardpack has been no problem. I know a lot of people who complain about tech bindings for in-bounds skiing, but I have always felt solidly locked in and like I had full control of my skis with these bindings regardless of the snow conditions.
There is nothing that stands out to me as a drawback to them other than the weight (I recently purchased the Dynafit Superlight 2.0 and that has definitely impacted how I think about binding weight now…). While a 365g binding isn’t a heavyweight by any sense, I have reached the point where I question how much of a difference all the bells and whistles on (what I would call) ‘Guide’-style bindings actually provide in terms of function. Are they worth the weight? Conversely, the Speed Radical is about $150 less than the Superlight 2.0, so how much are those 180g worth to you?
In the end, the Speed Radical won’t blow your socks off, but it also won’t disappoint you either. It has done everything I have asked of it well and without issue, and in my book that is worth a solid 3 peaks in the rating. They’re durable and reasonably light, they look good, but I don’t think you would ever call them sexy (like a Plum Guide). Plus, you have Dynafit standing behind them, which is a good thing because Dynafit has great customer service here in my experience. For that I think they deserve another peak.
My last thought is that Dynafit seems to have spent a lot of time in the last couple years focusing on the Freeride side of the market. Or the resort skier who may want to try touring also. I’m not against serving those markets and think that getting more (well prepared) people into backcountry skiing is great. I’d just like to see some of the innovation that they are bringing to other new bindings to a backcountry stalwart like the Speed Radical when they give it an update.
DYNAFIT SPEED RADICAL
Weight: 363g each, 726 for the pair
Heel-Toe Differential: 14.4mm
Boot Compatibility: Tech only
Brakes: None, leashes included
BSL Adjust: 25mm
Vertical Release: 4-10, adjustable
Lateral Release: 4-10, adjustable
Risers: Two, plus flat
Key features: Crampon compatible, adjustable retention, solid construction from Aluminum, Steel, and High-Strength plastic
Pros: A solid piece of kit that will do what you need without fuss
Cons: Doesn’t separate itself from the crowd of other bindings with similar features