Last week I had the chance to get a quick view on a freshly produced „Black Vipec“. In my view Fritschi adressed all existing problems and went even further. The ISO Standard for Pin Bindigs will have to be newly defined. But before speaking too highly, let’s see, what’s actually new.
DETACHING SPRING FROM PINS IN OPEN / STEP IN MODE
Those among you who put some more weight in the game or have strong legs probably had their Z-Value on the Vipec on 9 or more. If you stored your skis with the binding in open position you surely got in trouble with pin arms moving inwards to a point where stepping in was quite a hassle. This happened because the spring pressure in the binding was directly transferred to the pins. This was surely not a nice feature of the Vipec.
With the new Black Vipec the arms are detached from the spring once the binding is open. Therefore the arms will never again move inward, even if you set your binding to a very high Z-Value.
PERFECTION OF STEP IN COMFORT
You probably heard the joke: A group of people is skiing down a mountain but one guy still fumbles with his binding on the peak. This is the one with the Vipec. Well, there is something true about this story. The Vipec surely needed some patience to get in.
Fritschi changed two things to make the entry super easy. First they modified the boot alignment on the tip of the boot. This comes in the form of a rounded piece that makes sure your inserts will always align with the Pins, no matter from what angle you try to get into your Vipec.
The real game changer of the entry mechanism is the replacement of the bent wire with a shorter and lower placed pen. In the „old“, white Vipec the bent wire part was a little bit too high. Therefore your inserts were never perfectly horizontal between the pins and often missed the closing pins. With the new system your boot is guided exactly to the point where it has to be. Only when your Inserts are perfectly aligned, the pen gets enough pressure to let the binding close. I compared it at the shop with the entry comfort of the G3 ION (which I consider one of the best) and I did not see much of a difference.
WALK- / LOCK MODE MUCH STRONGER
In rare cases people using a Vipec lost a ski in a kick turn. This false-opening occurred because the friction to „lock“ the Pins was not enough for an aggressively executed kick-turn. Especially if your set Z-Value was low. But for Fritschi it was crucial to keep an opening mechanism also for a „locked“ binding in Walk mode in case of a fall or an avalanche during ascent.
The new Black Vipec will not have this problem any more as the friction or holding power in the Walk mode is much higher. While I was able to push the pins of the white Vipec sideways also in Walk mode this is not possible any more with the Black Vipec. But even the new Black Vipec will open at some point in Walk mode. But the resistance is higher. If you set your Z-Value at 8 the the resistance in „Walk Mode“ will be around a Z-Value of 12.
LONGER SPRING / LINEAR RESISTANCE / REDUCED RISK OF EARLY RELEASE
There is another special characteristic of the Vipec that needed to be addressed with a unique new solution. Your boot actually floats in the Vipec and therefore has only a very small friction. In all alpine bindings and frame bindings you stand on some kind of a plate with your forefoot. The friction between the sole of your boot and the plate of your Binding can increase the Z-Value set on your binding by more than one number. Even ISO allows an increase of the Z-Value of 30% by sole friction. That gives you a measure of the power of the friction that is eventually totally missing in the Vipec. Which is a good thing as you don’t want the Z-Value of your binding to vary depending on the rubber of your boot or the pressure on the plate. But with all the friction missing in the Vipec, some people experienced early openings and then usually set it on a higher Z-Value, which is rather a quick and dirty fix.
For the new Black Vipec the Engineers from Reichenbach came up with a new idea to address this „floating“ or „lack of friction“ issue, which is a side effect of a very smooth opening mechanism. Compared to the old Vipec the spring packed into the new binding is significantly longer.
A longer spring leads to a more linear resistance along the compression of the spring and thus ensures a constant Z-Value from the start of a shock on your ski and thus a constant holding power of your binding. While most alpine and touring bindings work with rather short springs, their Z-Value varies largely along the compression of the spring (low at the beginning, high in the end). This results in rather low holding power of the binding in the beginning of a shock on the ski. The Z-Value set on the binding and the according holding power will only be reached towards the end of the movement of the Binding. Thanks to the friction of the Sole this negative effect of the short spring does not lead to early openings too often. Below you can see the different Z-Values of a long and a short spring over the compression of the spring.
With the longer Spring built in the new Black Vipec, you will experience more stability as well as more safety. More safety for two reasons. First: You can more accurately adjust your Z-Value and the times where you had to set a specifically high value in the front piece are over. Second: Thanks to the much better holding power from the very start of a shock, you will hardly anymore experience pre-releases of the binding.
BIGGER METAL FRAME
Generally the front head got more metal framing, especially along the spring. The new Black Vipec is therefore 50 Grams heavier than the white one. But the extra rigidity should justify the weight.
BETTER FIXATION OF THE LENGHT ADJUSTING SCREW
In very rare cases the screw to adjust the length of the binding under the back head of the Vipec got loose. So the back head started to move backwards, which of course could have led to a surprising telemark situation. Which in some situations can get dangerous. To eliminate this risk, Fritschi made the arms holding the screw much stronger. On top of that, the new snow protection plates hold up pressure to the Screw as well.
SNOW PROTECTION PLATES TO ENSURE A SAVE CLICK WHEN SWITCHING FROM WALK- TO SKIMODE
When walking uphill the back head of the Vipec needs to be in the rear position. Depending on the snow conditions it is possible snow gets under your binding in the space around the screw. When shifting the back head to the front position to ski downhill, the potential snow under your binding is compressed and might prevent the Vipec from fully closing.
With the new Black Vipec this problem is solved with two snow protection plates on each side of the screw. See picture above.
WIDER SUPPORT OF THE SECOND CLIMBING AIDER
When using the middle position of the climbing aider, the second climbing aider arm is still pointing backwards. In normal operation this arm does not need to take any weight. Howeder, some skiers managed to stand on those arms or pressed on it with a pole. In that case the second climbing aider could have clipped out of the binding.
With the new Black Vipec this arm has a wider support to prevent it from clipping out.
In my view Fritschi addressed all smaller and bigger problems of the existing Vipec and came up with good solutions. The unique idea and the unmatched safety level remains the same. But especially the needs for heavier or stronger riders are better met with the new Black Vipec.
Together with the new Dynafit Radical 2.0, the G3 ION and the Marker Kingpin, the Black Vipec is surely a shooting star among pin bindings for Winter 1516.