The binding pictured is the Freeride, not the Freedom. Here's a picture of the Freedom...At the front of the binding, at the pivot point, you can see there's a "Torx" style screw (on each side). I've found that this screw tends to back out. Once I applied some locktite to it, the screw stayed in place very nicely. It has a greater range of motion than the Freeride, both in the tour mode and in the ski mode, so it feels a little more like a classic telemark binding. I love the way it skis, the convenience of step in, and the ability to release - an ability I've used! The way in which it attaches enhances edge control. I have 80 days on 2 pair with no issues. In one season, I broke 2 toe pieces on the Freeride, however, which has a more active feel earlier in its initiation (it takes a bit more forward pressure to "break the bellows", on the Freeride) which takes a while to get used to. There was no "getting used to" the Freedom...it was easy to ski on the first run. If you are inclined to parallel turn, or turn flat footed, like on a run out if you're just too lazy to make every turn a tele turn, for instance, the Freedom has a slight "pitch up" on the toe piece that makes skiing flat footed a bit easier, as well. I have them on a pair of Armada JJs and a pair of Rossi S3s. Also, the ski brake on the Freedom seems easier to bend to fit the width of your wide skis than the Freeride's brakes, which means you may be able to make the brakes work on a wider range of widths.
The design is good. You put the neoprene knee pads on and the knee/shin guards are held in place. The guards are good. The underlying knee pads wont last two rides as the stitching will fail almost immediately. I like them enough that I'm not returning the second pair, just sewing them up myself, but this is pretty bad manufacturing quality.
I'm thinking 178, and if you mount them +2, that should put the ball of your foot right over the mid point of the ski (overall, and running surface too, as the rocker is pretty symmetrical).
They are a tad short for you, IMO, but if they work and you love them, why bother? Of course, he who dies with the most JJ's wins, so it's a tough call!
I'm 5'9" and 160. On telemark gear they do NOT feel too long. Mount them as recommended by the manufacturer.
If you weigh more than about 150 pounds, I'd think the 185 would be a good choice. Especially with Alpine gear. But it's not just a powder ski. It's a great all mountain ski. You'll probably retire your S86's for anything but skiing the bumps.
The Freeride is a more active binding than the Freedom. The Freedom is more like a Hammerhead on 3, maybe a bit more, whereas the Freeride is more like 4. This doesn't completely capture the difference, though, IMO. I found it harder to get used to the Freeride, as it took more pressure to "break the bellows" so to speak than on the Freedom. The Freedom skis more like a conventional telemark binding. The tour function has considerably more range of motion with less resistance. If you want the conventional feel and may do some backcountry, I think the Freedom is a better choice. If you don't mind more weight and you want a bit more edge control in bounds, the Freeride may be a better choice.
Check the pivot bolts. I have 2 pair. All 4 had backed out.
Powder, carving groomers, they just do everything well. They are a bit wide for bumps, of course, but they're even usable there.
As Ian said, the 185 or the AK. I'm 5'9" and 165, my son is 6'1" and also 165. We're both skiing this ski in a 185 on telemark gear and they are awesome skis. Because of that, neither of us would use the AK, but on Alpine gear you could. It's just so much fun in a 185, that that's what I'd use. Everyone west of Kansas should dump whatever ski they're on and get JJ's! They get 6 stars.
Note my answer above, skied on NTN Freedoms and Scarpa Terminator X three buckle boots (they were plenty capable of pushing the ski around in a 188).
Funny you should ask. I have a pair of 185 JJ's mounted boot center over the recommended mounting line with the NTN Freedom binding (telemark) and the Scarpa Terminator X three buckle boot. I've been on these for 3 years now and can't say enough good about them. Two days ago I was skiing with a buddy on 188 S7's also mounted with the Freedom binding. His boot is a bit bigger, mounted boot center over the recommended mounting line. Because of this, skiing it in my boot puts me about .5 to 1 CM forward, at most (not enough to be a big issue IMO). The S7 felt a bit lethargic compared to my JJ's - the tails didn't seem to come around as easily. The conditions were about a foot of new snow, slightly cut up at The Canyons Resort, on Dreamcatcher, if that info helps. If you like the rocker design and want something lighter than both, for backcountry, you might consider the S3. I found them to be a hoot and very easy to drive. I also found the S3 fine for groomers in Utah (back east, I'd go for something more along the lines of the E98). If you are willing to use the S7 in the BC and you don't own the JJ, you need to try them!
Best flannel style shirt I've ever owned. First one I've ever owned that had sleeves long enough that didn't shrink after washing. Made in three colors. Bought all 3.
British Columbia?! 98 mm...MINIMUM!
Okay, FH, skied them today. I'm 5'9", 160 lbs and 60 years old. They are 168 Cm, mounted boot center +1 CM, Scarpa Tx on Freedoms. This puts the ball of foot just about center. I bought them as a bump/park ski. They have the same running length as the 185 CM JJ, about 44". The first run they were a bit over reactive to input (squirrelly, but only because they were very responsive). They would be too short as a one ski for everything, for me, but I think they will work well for my application. They ski switch effortlessly and are quick edge to edge. Mounted Telly, I'd go 0 or +1, alpine you could go -2, but the sweet spot is huge, so it probably doesn't matter. Unlike the JJ, as you put them over on edge, a longer segment of the edge engages (the widest part is forward and aft of the rocker) and this is slightly noticeable in carved turns (may have contributed to the squirrelly feel the first 2 runs or so), but not necessarily in a bad way, it just continues to increase in engagement. FH, you should go for the 178, IMO, as an all mountain ski. Given the rocker design, 178, even mounted forward, tip dive will NOT be a problem!
Rossignol has recommended lengths on their site. BTW, Looking at the 168 Cm S3, it has the same length on the snow as a 185 Armada JJ (about 44"). I only know this as both are in my basement! I picked up the 168 S3 as a dedicated bump/park ski with NTNs and the Scarpa Tx (mounting +1 cm to put the ball of foot about centered on the running surface), and I'm 160 pounds, so we'll see how that works out, but 178, I think, is what the Rossi site would recommend for you.
They come standard with 110, I doubt they'd switch it out, but the Freedom's ski brakes, this year were flexible enough that I was able to bend them out enough to work with a 115 mm under foot ski, easily. You may want to try out the 110 before you drop $40 on the 125. It's only 1/3 of an inch on each side.
Just got back from BC with my last year's skis to compare. Kirk has it right. The new Freeride and Freedom both have wider hole patterns than last years (and years before) Freeride. The current year Freedom and Freeride have the same hole patterns, as Alex mentioned. BTW, the ski brakes they come with are not quite wide enough, out of the box, for my Armada JJs. However, with some minor bending, they seem to fit.
Love it so far. 185 Cm Armada JJ's fit inside with about 2" to spare. No need to put them in sideways. Attach easily and don't interfere with the back hatch on a Ford Escape.
The good: I love the way this skis. Great edge control, great feel, easy in/out. The good is really good.
The bad: After about 20 days, I cracked both toe pieces. Now, today, on day 66 (46 on the replacement) I've cracked another.
The (not ugly): Thank goodness I bought these from backcountry. I will be returning them. I have the Scarpa TX boot, which I'll hold on to until next season when I'll try next year's model. I don't want to give up on this set up, as I do love it, but I may be forced to. I'll stick with it for a while, but I can't say I recommend someone else pull the trigger due to durability issues. Having said that, if you get them from backcountry, at least you know you'll get full satisfaction if things go wrong! I've included a picture of the damage I've been getting.
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