I took the leap and swapped out some nearly-new Freeride bindings for some Freedoms last year, and despite a few bugs, I am ecstatic about the upgrade. The advantages extend far beyond the weight savings and the pivot range. Somehow the mechanism is a much better match with my boots (TX Pros), with a nice smooth flex. I'm not the "knee-to-ski" type, but the Freedrides had a slightly restricted ROM that would force your foot to move in the boot when you try to drop deep. Whereas with the Freerides I was always tempted to crank up the resistance to gain more control (and sacrifice releasability), with the Freedom I discovered that relaxing the tension enabled my turns to be more nimble and snappy. After several trips to the resort I found I was skiing my best when the blue tubes were cranked down to 1-1.5. Seriously. Paradigm shift for me. I think it helps that these engage quicker when you raise your heel, but bottom line, I was just turning more easily. Moguls were fun again. No more thinking about or prepping turns, just snapping them.
Setup: TX Pro 29.5, Blue springs, setting 2.5
If you've got your 75mm set up dialed in and you like the way it feels, then by all means stick with it. For all of it's advantages, NTN has a very different feel than your 75mm. The best way to describe it would be "mechanical." With all of the additional power comes a sort of detachment as the boot and binding do most of the work. Organic transitions tend to give way to more of a clicking in and out of position and more hockey-stop style turning, especially on groomers. You can see this stylistic difference in a lot of youtube videos.
After practicing on groomers I finally got these out for some backcountry and mountaineering trips, and to my surprise they were fantastic. I know these were designed with the downhill in mind, but I felt totally comfortable on the climbs and even some long flat tours. Personally, I find it very helpful that these have a somewhat limited range of pivoting--it makes kick turns and now clearing much easier, and translates more of your leg-work into forward ski motion. Granted, these bindings are still much heavier than they need to be, which is evident in the new Freedom binding.
Now, most important, test your new equipment thoroughly before hitting the slopes. Particularly, BENCH TEST THE RELEASE MECHANISM repeatedly. Adjust your spring cartridges to a level at which you are comfortable with the release. I find that blue cartridges turned past '3' are very hard to wrangle out of the binding. Release will be inconsistent until the bindings have worn in the bill of the boot a bit.
I'm two full seasons in with the TX Pro and I have to say that I just don't think about them very much anymore. I put them on, and I ski. No complaints. There was a slight issue with pinching/hot spots in the heel when I would drop a knee early on, but this went away completely after I switched from the NTN Freeride to the Freedoms. I don't know the reason for this, but it seems like the the flex of this boot just matched up better with the Freedoms. Either touring or in the resort, now it's just like I'm skiing in my favorite old pair of sneakers. I was reluctant at first to go up to a four-buckle boot, but with these, there was a very small weight penalty for a major increase in comfort. I'm on the taller side and the cuff of my old T2X's hit my shin and calf in an awkward spot. My legs are definitely grateful on long resort days. What else can I say? Scarpa did a great job dialing these in. Any ski day, these are the last piece of equipment I have to worry about.
I've got to say that this ski turns beautifully on the descent and the extra width keeps you on top of soft snow. I love this type of ski, especially when you just want to get out, get some laps, and work out your tele turns. However, on the 185s I tested, the scales were not well cut and finished. In a head-to-head test, the Annums do not climb as nearly well as Karhu 10th Mtns, which is unfortunate because they appear to be designed for more aggressive descents. I don't know if the differences in climbing ability resulted from the shallow scales or from differences in camber, but I'll be first in line to get a pair if Madshus makes the necessary adjustments.
I've had the Ascents for four years now and have logged on almost a hundred ski days with them. No mechanical failures and the bindings still function like new. I ski about 70% backcountry and 30% resort (hey, gotta practice turns before hitting the couloirs) and although they don't look beefy, they've always responded beautifully when dropping some parallel turns on steep terrain. I'm driving these with G3 Reverends (93mm waist) and Scarpa T2X...pretty mainstream. Yes, on my version, the heel lifts would fall down occasionally, but there's a counterintuitive fix: lubricate the heel pivot joint with some bike chain oil. then the elastic can oversome the friction of the joint and will stay in the contracted (up) position.
Will the heel on the Alpina BC 1575 accommodate a telemark binding? Are these designed to be used with cables?
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